November/December, 1998 Volume XIII Number 3
Anti-abortion signs anger students; assaults follow
Provocative images of murdered babies, holocaust victims, and racial murder are thronged by outraged students.
Lawrence, KS - Anti-abortion billboards comparing aborted babies to the corpses of Holocaust victims sickened and angered students at the University of Kansas during September's Jewish holidays.
The display of cloth signs went up Sunday on the lawn of a dormitory. One student was so angry that he drove his car into the display, nearly hitting a young woman with the group, university police Sergeant Troy Mailen said. The student was arrested.
The next day, a student attempted to knock one of the signs over and ended up punching the man holding it, Mailen said.
Simone Fischer, 20, a student from San Antonio, said her first impulse was to tear down the signs when she saw the swastika and a photo of Holocaust victims headlined "Religious Choice'' next to abortion photos headlined "Reproductive Choice.''
"Being the Jewish new year, one of the most sacred days, and I see abortion being compared to Jewish graves and the Holocaust, I did not feel welcome on my own campus,'' Fischer said. "My feeling was shock and then anger. I felt violated.''
Rosh Hashana, the two-day Jewish New Year holiday, began at sundown September 20. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, was the following Tuesday.
The man who organized the week-long display said he would make no apologies for the Holocaust comparison. He also said the timing with the Jewish holidays was not planned.
"Abortion is genocide. That's the whole point,'' said Gregg Cunningham, director of the Los-Angeles-based Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. "Frankly, I'm weary of genocide snobs who focus solely on their causes.''
The group took the signs to Pennsylvania State University for a similar protest during Passover and has 15 to 20 more protests planned at campuses across the country, he said.
Cunningham and the Wichita-based Heartland Life Network arranged the protest through a club for Christian law students that was formally organized earlier in the month. University Chancellor Robert Hemenway canceled all campus tours involving children and sent a rare e-mail to all students and faculty saying the university regretted that the displays had "caused a great deal of distress to many members of our community.''
A pro-life activist debates students on the comparison of abortion to the holocaust.
But he explained that the university needed to maintain its role as a forum for free speech.
The billboard also showed a photo of a civil rights-era lynching over the words "Racial Choice.''
Jonathan Macklin of the Black Student Union called the use of the lynching image irresponsible and said it trivialized a terrible time in the country's history.
Cunningham defended the use of the comparison, saying it was the same shock technique a professor would use to teach about the Vietnam War or the Holocaust.
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