It’s not a matter of Freedom of Speech

JHU Voice for Life (VFL), a group of students which pledges to “defend the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being from conception until natural death,” applied to the Student Government Association (SGA) earlier this month for approval as a University-recognized student group. An offshoot of an earlier student organization founded in 1995, the new group seeks to “help eliminate the root causes of abortion” by engaging in “sidewalk counseling, prayer and protest at clinic[s]” and by displaying “fetal models in [the] Breezeway.” In a majority vote, the SGA denied VFL student group status, citing these activities as potentially offensive and harassing. VFL appealed to the SGA Judiciary Committee, invoking the guarantee of freedom of speech. The Judiciary Committee will hear the case in April and decide whether to uphold the SGA’s denial.

The editorial board feels that this case is not a question of free speech. By refusing to grant the title of student group to VFL, the SGA is not forbidding group members from voicing their opinions. These students are still free to pray and protest at abortion clinics. They are still free to display photos of unborn babies and distribute rubber fetuses to passersby on N. Charles. They are not free, however, to engage in such activities under the sponsorship of the University with funding from the Student Activities Commission.

This case revolves instead around the fundamental duty of the University to protect its students from undue harassment. VFL is not appealing to the Judiciary Committee for the sake of freedom of speech. It is applying, rather, to receive University sponsorship for potentially offensive behavior.

Rubber fetuses and plastered photos of aborted babies on the Breezeway infringe upon the University’s Anti-Harassment Policy, which precludes an activity which is “so severe or pervasive that it interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment.” Students at a private university on University-owned grounds should not be forced to view images of fetuses on school property.

The University ought always to promote tolerance and acceptance. It need not, however, provide funding and resources to those who wish to promote intolerance in the name of freedom of speech. Were the Judiciary to approve VFL, the group will likely have access to SAC funds and University vans which carry the Hopkins logo and name. The University should not allow its name to be associated with the restriction of abortion rights and harassment of students exercising their legal right to choose. Just as The News-Letter has discretion to deny the publication of articles which some might perceive as offensive, so too does the SGA have discretion to deny groups which will infringe upon the University’s established policies and obligations.

The editorial board commends the SGA for denying group status to VFL and urges the Judiciary Committee to uphold the SGA’s majority vote.

95 Responses to "It’s not a matter of Freedom of Speech"

  1. Eric   March 28, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Freedom of speech doesn’t just apply to speech you personally deem to be acceptable. This article quite clearly lacks a fundamental understanding of the most basic Constitutional principle in the US. Would you also oppose a pro-abortion (“women’s rights”) group obtaining approval from the SGA? I’m sure their speech is considered offensive to people who are pro-life.

    • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      I’m sure the “pro-abortion” group of which you speak would not post pictures of fetuses along to way to class. ergo, no, the SGA would not reject such a group. Another note: we attend a private university; this isn’t congress.

      • James   March 28, 2013 at 9:43 pm

        I think you’re assuming that these fetal models would be bloody, gruesome representations of what happens during an abortion. What if they were simply plain, rubber fetuses showing the development of an unborn child at certain stages during a pregnancy? Certainly there are rubber models that are provocative and hard to look at, but to assume that the VFL would only use such models seems to be a biased assumption.

      • Mike M   March 28, 2013 at 11:59 pm

        A fetus is offensive? How??

        • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 30, 2013 at 6:19 pm

          Out of context, a fetus is completely unoffensive. A fetus, out of context, represents a natural cycle of life. If I led a biology club, and for mere objective reasons (not connected to the abortion issue) posted pictures of a fetus or embryo, the posters would not be offensive.

          However, in the context of the abortion issue, a fetus imparts other meanings. In the context of the abortion issue, showing a picture of a fetus is offensive, and for a few reasons. It harks to a very difficult and personal choice, one that involves faith, family, relationships, physical and emotional health, finances, and very difficult choices.

          To show a fetus in this context also imparts shame on a woman who, already faced with a very, very difficult decision (either already, currently, or at a later juncture). “How can you kill that thing inside of you?? Look! It’s a baby with arms and legs and a face and everything.” Fine, if someone already feels that way, they are entitled.

          But posting these pictures are used to categorically delegitimize personal factors that encourage women to terminate their pregnancies, and the decision itself, which is wholly personal. Factors to which you and everyone else, should not be privy, unless you choose to consider terminating a pregnancy.

          • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 30, 2013 at 6:20 pm

            * But these pictures

          • Mike M   March 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm

            By your definition here, ANY anti-abortion statement would be impermissible. That sort of attitude seems totalitarian, and counter to the values of a university.

            You’re also implicitly belittling women who have abortions. Are they incapable of standing by their decision when someone else disagrees with it? Presumably they know what a fetus looks like. Everyone should, and it definitely should have come up at some point during the decision making process about an abortion. They might not like that someone else disagrees with their decision, but that’s life.

            I highly doubt that you would look at any other issue the same way. Will Students for Justice in Palestine be forbidden from using visuals so as not to offend students who have supported Israel, are Jewish, etc? Other campuses have SJP groups that have engaged in some pretty offensive and inflammatory conduct. As far as I know, though, the only time they were banned on a campus was when they created such a disturbance that the cops had to come and then they resisted arrest. They were (rightfully, though I probably disagree with them on most of their claims) approved at Hopkins.

            The idea that a group should be preemptively denied official status because something they do might possibly offend someone is absurd. The people opposed to the group need to grow up. Anti-abortion students had to put up with signs, t-shirts, etc., from Students for Choice that directly insulted them. They got over it. No one has an inalienable right to never be offended.

          • tom   April 1, 2013 at 5:58 pm

            You have made the Pro Life groups case. Your argument is primarily that the SGA should be inclusive of those that you and they agree with and should suppress those that you disagree with and find disturbing. Yes, you attend a private university, but it is one that theoretically supports the constitution and bill of rights. So my response to your last sentence is : So what?

    • Zoe   March 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      You clearly lack the fundamental understanding of the most basic reproductive rights group- that is CHOICE. The choice to make the reproductive decision that a woman and her doctor see fit. NOT one directed by the state.
      Pro-abortion =/= women’s rights. Before you bash part of this argument make sure yours is legit.

      • James   March 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm

        The very idea that the continued existence of the fetus is a decision that should be made by a mother is an opinion, one that is at the forefront of the debate surrounding abortion. You are fully entitled to that opinion, but you are not entitled to try and use that opinion as a fact and justify a decision because of it.

        • Burnest   March 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

          I guess being in America, people aren’t so happy whenever someone tries to restrict the control they have over their own lives.

          • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 30, 2013 at 6:08 pm

            James- exactly. Same goes for the VFL.

      • tom   April 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

        Zoe, the issue here is not one of whose argument is valid. The problem is that one side, the pro choice side, is through university groups suppressing the rights of the pro life side. I would make the same argument if it was a university that has primarily a pro life mindset tried to suppress the pro choice groups. What is particularly telling is that the university paper supports this disenfranchisement of pro life students based on reasons that are clearly bogus.

  2. John   March 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you, SGA. Freedom of Speech is not the same as the Freedom to Shove Opinions in Peoples Faces. If the VFL wants to spread their message, they’re welcome to do so on public property under the protection of the 1st Amendment. That does not grant them impunity to do so anywhere they wish simply because they want to express their opinion. That’s how it is for every other organization in the country, and they are no exception.

    • James   March 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      So, what about groups that shout “free condoms!” and shove them in front of people as they walk by the breezeway? If someone is opposed to pre-marital intercourse or birth control, as foolish as that idea may seem to you, isn’t it reasonable to think that that person would be offended? Or how abou the rainbow flag that was hanging in the breezeway for the better part of the fall semester? If someone doesn’t agree with the gay rights agenda, couldn’t they have been offended having to see the flag every time they walked by the breezeway? I’m not necessarily arguing that these should be banned, but I am saying that editorial board seems to conveniently sidestep these examples where other groups, largely pro-choice groups, engage in the kind of activism that is being criticized when it comes to VFL.

      • John   March 29, 2013 at 2:50 am

        A rainbow flag might have been a better example if there was an extremely graphic depiction of homosexual sex on it. Condoms might be a good example if the activists were shoving them onto dildos and waving them in your face. Keep in mind that there are doubtless people on this campus who have had abortions, which is an extremely difficult choice. Being unable to find a place safe from this kind of forced-fear would be horrible for them, but I cannot fathom a person so homophobic that a rainbow flag would traumatize them.

        SGA would very likely have allowed this group to acquire existence (for lack of a better phrase, my apologies) if their methods were not so obviously designed to play to emotions, drown out facts (like the fact that many of their pictures actually depict late-term *miscarriages*, rather than abortions), and scare people.

        This is a private college campus ostensibly dedicated to the pursuit of truth and knowledge. A group that relies on fear, misinformation, and shock to push their agenda has no place on this campus.

        • James   March 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

          Where are the pictures of miscarriages, rather than abortions? I’m not arguing that they don’t exist, but I haven’t seen any pictures while going through the VFL website, that’s why I’m asking.

          The pictures and images are not what traumatize; it’s the experience of having an abortion. That’s not to say that the group should be free to throw unnecessarily graphic material at passerby, but to pin the trauma of an abortion on a pro-life’s group activism seems to be stretching it.

          And how is peaceful sidewalk counseling, and the use of fetal models and images (not all of which need to be graphic), obviously designed to play to emotions, and drown out facts? The first part, definitely. But doesn’t the pro-choice side do that as well? Both sides play heavily to emotion, if only because abortion is such a deeply personal issue. But drown out facts? Unless you’ve been sidewalk counseled, or seen the type of material and heard the things they would say on the breezeway, isn’t it presumptuous to say that these things would be void of facts?

          I’m not arguing that pro-life activism cannot be, or never is, insensitive, too graphic, or over-bearing. I am arguing that not all pro-life activism is, and to dismiss a group because of the most extreme things they might do is unfair. All groups have the ability to go out of line. The point is, there are also ways that VFL could do these activities peacefully and considerately, and they should be given the chance to do so.

  3. Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    I’m proud of the Newsletter for articulating this point. This group also, categorically, slams abortion as a result of rape.

    At a school that promotes freedom (of choice), science, and cutting-edge health, this group and its intended actions are antithetical to everything to this university stands for. Freedom of speech is positive. Harassment regarding people’s personal choices with regards to their bodies is not.

    • James   March 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      “At a school that promotes freedom (of choice), science, and cutting-edge health, this group and its intended actions are antithetical to everything to this university stands for.”

      So, the university has taken a formal stance on the abortion issue? That would be against university policy. Again, you try to use your opposition to the pro-life agenda as legitimate reasons for silencing their voices. Also, you assume that the VFL will be engaging in activity with an over-bearing, antagonistic, purposefully offensive attitude. You are free to have deep convictions and express them unequivocally. The point is, let others do the same.

      • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm

        JHU doesn’t have to take a formal stance. It takes one de facto when it promotes “freedom (of choice), science, and cutting-edge health.”

        • James   March 29, 2013 at 11:11 am

          And you believe that peaceful sidewalk counseling and breezeway displays by a pro-life group are anti-freedom (of choice), ignorant of science, and in opposition to cutting-edge health?

          There are rational arguments in support of the pro-life side. There are scientific realities and health concerns that also weigh in favor of the pro-life agenda. As firmly as you might hold to your beliefs, and as right as you might think they are, please don’t make the mistake of believing that people with views different to yours can’t have rational, strong arguments to suppor their beliefs.

          • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 30, 2013 at 6:04 pm

            Don’t assume that about me, that I necessarily think people with different views are irrational, etc. That’s a long-shot conjecture.

            Sure, there are heath concerns associated with any health practice. That does not mean that we deem these medical practices illegal.

            Besides, you are forgetting some important issues at hand here. This group is not necessarily advocating for tacit tactics. Moreover, this group rejects abortion in cases of rape. I’ve noticed you never mentioned any of these points. Perhaps you don’t know enough about this group to mention those things. I suggest you do some research if you haven’t already.

    • tom   April 1, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      But, somehow, it OK with you for groups you support to shove their opinions in peoples faces. There is a strong odor of hypocrisy in the air.

  4. Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 28, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    sorry, abortions after rape*

  5. Publius   March 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Sad day for the News-Letter – it used to wholeheartedly support free speech.

    • Christine   March 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      ^ Should probably take note of the fact that this piece is an Op/Ed, as are the other ones you cited. Also that the Newsletter was responding to protests that took place off-campus, which is in line with the opinion of the piece at hand. Protests can and should happen on public property under the protection of the first amendment. Those protests would not have been allowed or celebrated as acts of freedom of speech if they occured on private property or with funding from the university.

      • Publius   March 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm

        So students at public universities should get more rights than Hopkins students? Please justify that. And Hopkins can punish a student for speaking on the sidewalk if it wanted to.
        Also, the Rove and Free Speech-Abortion articles were Editorials, not op-eds.

        • Gilbert Brennan   April 3, 2013 at 1:03 am

          Yes that’s correct. To clear up your ignorance/lack of intelligence and arrogance in posting such a question Hopkins is a PRIVATE INSTITUTION. Public institutions that receive federal/state funding have to abide by higher laws and followings. Hopkins is private, and has much more freedom and discretion in however they handle things. Don’t speak before knowing anything

          • Publius   April 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm

            Seriously? Arrogance? No need to get personal – I am well aware of the distinction between public and private. My point was that supporters of censorship here should have to justify it. Hopkins claims to follow principles of free speech and expression, and Hopkins using its own First Amendment right to censor student speech is sickening and those who want to do it should justify it.

            In the 1980s, private universities claimed it was their “right” not to have female athletics. Guess what? Congress thought otherwise and made that illegal for all schools that accept federal money with Title 9. Do you support that too?

  6. Kevin Parrish   March 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    I remember having to dodge the protesters my senior year of Spring 2011 who were holding up signs with pictures of aborted fetuses on N. Charles. Being pro-choice and an atheist not only did I not agree with their arguments but I was offended.

    Ironically, the editorial board wrote about this incident in which they adamantly defended the protesters right to voice their opinion in the name of liberty ( This brings the editorial board face to face with its pass self over whether this is harassment or not. I contend, much like the 2011 version of the editorial board, that this behavior is essential to the purpose of freedom.

    This group was rejected for its beliefs. If they planned to hold up signs of soda in opposition to Bloomberg’s soda ban and passed out free soda to passerbys it would be doubtful that they would have been rejected. But suddenly if you change the content and the materials this type of engagement is considered harassment. Moreover, the fact that obesity kills so many people in this country it is not hard to imagine at least one person who would be offended by the promotion of a product that contributes to the death of so many people (I’m sure somebody thinks the ban is a good idea).

    The truth is, I did not have the right to not be offended by the promotion of their ideas. There is no “Freedom from speech”, contrary to some who might use their freedom of speech to promote the idea that there is freedom from speech.

    Frankly, I am offended by this article (bad job news-letter at not filtering this one out). The editorial board’s assumption that the group is guilty of harassment before it has been committed, and their labeling of this group as intolerant while simultaneously pushing for the censorship of a different viewpoint than pro-choice is disgusting and proposes a standard of rights currently only seen in the worst places on this earth.

    Human discourse is the single greatest motivator of academia, politics, philosophy, and morality. To silence it is a disservice to those great orators, like MLK, who have died for speaking against the grain of the popular moral consensus.

    • Conor   April 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      this is such an excellent point – no matter what side you take on the pro-life/pro-choice debate you should read and understand this.

  7. Eric   March 28, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    It’s hard to imagine a situation where one could assess, ex ante, whether a presupposed action would be “harassment”. The group should be approved and then, if it were found to be harassing students, punished accordingly. I also find it hard to believe that simply and peacefully posting accurate photos of a procedure to be harassment. It’s certainly fair to restrict the group’s protests to certain areas, etc., but to prevent them from even assembling as a group because of what they believe in is quite contrary to the freedom of speech the university purports to encourage.

    • John   March 29, 2013 at 2:52 am

      It’s actually not entirely accurate. Much of their information is very poorly sourced, and a good portion of the pictures actually depict late-term miscarriages rather than abortions. Abortions that late into the development of a child is illegal in most states.

      • James   March 29, 2013 at 11:18 am

        Most states, but not in Maryland, and that’s where this pro-life group would operate.

  8. Someone   March 28, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Compared to not, being a student group means being able to use resources that the university provides: potentially money, space (academic & outdoor), vans, meeting space, and advertisement in dorms.

    Here’s why them being a student group wouldn’t really matter:

    Money: Ultimately, anything this group would want to do requires some input of money, so SGA Finance Committee could just choose to give them no or very little money and they would have to fund their own operations. SGA has the right to finance what they want, so they can finance the group adding to the important discussion about abortion, and choose not to finance cruder operations. If they want to put together strong programming that adds to the abortion discussion right now, they could just co-sponsor with groups now for events.

    Space: Space reservations need to be approved, so if they try to reserve a space on the Breezeway with crude advertisement, they can just be rejected. Van rentals cost money, but if they don’t rent the vans here, they can just get some

    Vans: They would still have to pay for the vans out of their student group account, which could be left empty by SGA. They could do a fundraiser to get money for vans, but how many students are going to buy brownies from this group anyway?

    Advertisements: They are already allowed to hang up advertisements in public spaces. Dorm advertisements require approval of Res Life, so they can just decide to reject those advertisements.

    Meeting Space: You can reserve space to hold meetings at a consistent time and place during the semester as a student group. Plenty of people do work in groups without designated meeting spaces. If VFL really wanted to, they could just be diligent and reserve the same room in Brody for their meetings and operate all the same as not a student group. Being a student group won’t make having meetings much different.

    I might be missing something, but there is sufficient oversight here to prevent the group from really putting “Rubber fetuses and plastered photos of aborted babies” anywhere on campus.

  9. Confimation Bias   March 28, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Ok, so the Newsletter says that this new VFL group is “an offshoot of an earlier student organization founded in 1995.”

    Does the Newletter have actual proof that a former radical organization in 1995 is connected to this newer one in 2013? Seems a bit of a stretch doesn’t it?

    According to another article on VFL, their leader says that:
    “In the case of Voice for Life’s involvement in the practice of sidewalk counseling, our members frequently stand on the public sidewalk outside the abortion clinic on N. Calvert Street, and speak to women in a peaceful, non-aggressive manner, hand out literature, provide information about life issues and the abortion clinic itself — in an effort to persuade the individual (it may be the parent, boyfriend or the woman herself) not to have an abortion, and to choose life for the child in the womb.”

    It doesn’t seem it is their intention to be in people’s faces or wanting to confront people directly.

    Perhaps we are on a case of confirmation bias. Poor editorial indeed.

    This comment isn’t to support either sides, just to dissect the problems with this article.

  10. P Stoler   March 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I find it so unbelievable that killing a baby is not offensive but showing what you’ve killed IS offensive! Rev. King said that the day will come when one can clearly see what you are attempting to kill and then we will think differently about what we are doing by abortion. But those that want the use of abortion as a means of birth control don’t want to SEE the truth of what they are doing so they throw these groups off campus. You can pretend that you aren’t killing a baby by calling it a fetus or a blob or a bunch of cells, but it’s still a baby and it’s still the taking of a helpless life – and you are bullies for doing it. There are health reasons for abortions, but you need to SEE what you are doing when you end that life that you created.

    I also find it ironic that the party of PRO CHOICE tells us that in NY city hospitals, mothers of new borns should be harassed if they choose to bottle feed their babies and not nurse them. And it is this same party of PRO-CHOICE that wants to force bikers to wear helmets, limit the size of your big Gulp, take your salt away, take your guns away, take your right away to say Merry Christmas, take your cigarette smoking rights away (but you can get high on marijuana and blow the smoke in someone’s face) and force you to go on a gov’t run healthcare system that you don’t want to or else pay a fine.

    If we get rid of every group or every word that may “offend” someone, then we will have no groups and no words. I find pro Palestinian groups offensive, and I find Pro gay rights groups that force their way into my restroom to be offensive. I find Democrats offensive and college freshman to be offensive! But I don’t try to get rid of them. Give me a break – grow up and grow a set of balls and stop whining about everything that offends you and just deal with it!!

    • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Not every woman (or man) shares your view, that a fetus is a baby. Certainly, many major religious traditions REJECT the idea that a fetus is a baby, and certainly, many secular individuals and groups reject this notion, too.

      Question: if a white supremacy group wanted funding from Hopkins, should this school just “grow a set of balls” and “deal with it?” What about a Jihadist group? I’m not comparing the VFL group to any of these. Rather, I challenge this narrow belief of yours that any group can exist at a private institution. Freedom of expression necessarily imparts (and should impart) limits in the academic arena.

      • James   March 28, 2013 at 9:53 pm

        Exactly! And not everyone shares your views! And you provide no factual, defined grounds as to what groups should, or should not, exist on campus. You’ve made it clear that you disagree with the pro-life agenda, but your disagreement is not legitimate grounds for dismissal of the opposing view.

        • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 28, 2013 at 10:54 pm

          To what exactly do you say, exactly?

          • James   March 29, 2013 at 11:19 am

            “Not every woman (or man) shares your view, that a fetus is a baby.”

            That was my point. Not everyone shares the same views.

          • alumna   March 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm

            Correct, James. Therefore Hopkins students who believe that life does *not* begin at conception should not have their tuition dollars siphoned to a group that stigmatizes abortion *even in the case of rape*, opposes stem cell research, and wants to target women who have abortions for moral judgement by shoving fetus pictures at them in their school.

          • Mike M   March 31, 2013 at 3:58 pm

            Was it, then, inappropriate for the university to approve Students for Choice? If students who support abortion shouldn’t have their money siphoned off to support a cause that they don’t support, shouldn’t that go the other way?

            Really, on those grounds, it seems that the university shouldn’t recognize the College Democrats, College Republicans, Students for Palestine, any of the groups that support Israel…

            The standards that you’re suggesting are not the ones that the university has used in the past. They’re not the ones that the SGA used at the same meetings when reviewing the applications of other groups.

  11. Josh   March 28, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    I find it interesting that this has become a freedom of speech issue. The SGA itself has no responsibility to protect freedom of speech or freedom of expression. Under most circumstances, they certainly should do so. This is a private university, however, and in matters such as these, the SGA and the University have a right to do what they please. If a group of aspiring pornographers wished to gain SGA recognition in order to facilitate the creation of adult videos – the right to do so we protect wholeheartedly in the public arena – the SGA would have no responsibility to consider matters of free speech. What the SGA ought to do in these situations a different matter from what they have a right to do: accusing the SGA of violating the First Amendment claims that they overstepped their powers, or have done something illegal; criticizing their decision based on disagreement over values seems like a more productive way to proceed.

    According to their constitution, the SGA exists to “strengthen student unity, represent student interests, and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas.” Being that the “student interests” are as diverse as our student body, the SGA will undoubtedly make some decisions that upset some parties. The SGA is also beholden, however, to the values of the University itself. As this editorial points out, “These students are still free to pray and protest at abortion clinics. They are still free to display photos of unborn babies and distribute rubber fetuses to passersby on N. Charles.” The SGA did not – and indeed, could not – ban VFL members from exercising their rights as private citizens; they have merely prohibited them from doing so under the University’s aegis.

    As with the pornography example, SGA’s decision not to recognize VFL reflects their judgment as to how best to balance what they perceive as the values of the university, the desires of students at large, and the desires of the members of VFL. At the end of the day, it is a value judgment. If students disagree with this decision, they have recourse: get more involved in student government. The article is well titled; this is not a matter of free speech – or at least not mostly. For better or for worse, it’s a matter of what this University stands for.

    • Mike M   March 29, 2013 at 12:22 am

      “f a group of aspiring pornographers wished to gain SGA recognition in order to facilitate the creation of adult videos – the right to do so we protect wholeheartedly in the public arena – the SGA would have no responsibility to consider matters of free speech.”

      Funny you should mention that. About six years ago, the university used student activities money for an event where pornography was distributed, including to minors, under the guise of free speech.

      More recently, they funded the promotion of mutiny (yup… murder of officers in our military), and hid behind free speech on that one, too.

      “What the SGA ought to do in these situations a different matter from what they have a right to do: accusing the SGA of violating the First Amendment claims that they overstepped their powers, or have done something illegal; criticizing their decision based on disagreement over values seems like a more productive way to proceed.”

      The SGA/SAC is legally bound by its own policies, though. Especially since it takes donations from people who trust that those policies will be followed. The justifications given for denying funding to VFL are pretty tenuous. I think that it’s obvious to everyone that this is a matter of viewpoint discrimination, and is not actually consistent with stated SAC funding policies.

      • Publius   March 29, 2013 at 12:48 am

        SGA’s constitution has multiple sections that protect “free speech” rights and it is is constitutionally bound to follow it. See below. If denying a group because of its beliefs doesn’t violate free speech – please tell me exactly what does…
        SGA Constitution Section 5:
        “Students have a right to free speech in all matters relating to the SGA. The spirit of this sentiment shall be extended to all student activities on the Homewood campus.”

        Section 9.02:
        9.02: “No student referendum nor SGA act may influence the conduct of a group or inhibit its right to expression, except if their conduct violates university regulations or local, state or federal laws.”

    • James   March 29, 2013 at 11:35 am

      “SGA’s decision not to recognize VFL reflects their judgment as to how best to balance what they perceive as the values of the university, the desires of students at large, and the desires of the members of VFL.”

      So the way to balance these values is to deny the right to free speech for a minority opinion on campus? The freedom of speech has never needed to be protected for a majority. It exists to ensure that those in the minority still have a say.

      “If students disagree with this decision, they have recourse: get more involved in student government.”

      I think it’d be hard for the VFL to get more involved than it is without running for elections. They’ve gone to town hall meetings, spoken with the SGA, are now going to the judiciary.

      “The article is well titled; this is not a matter of free speech – or at least not mostly. For better or for worse, it’s a matter of what this University stands for.”

      So the university is pro-choice? Against dissenting opinions? What does the university stand for that would keep them from approving a pro-life group that wants to engage in peaceful sidewalk counseling and displays on the breezeway?

  12. alumnus   March 29, 2013 at 1:13 am

    SGA has an interesting (dubious?) take on it, in the original news story that inspired this editorial:

  13. alumna   March 29, 2013 at 10:13 am

    The actions of this group are discriminatory against all women because it advances the viewpoint that women who exercise choice and end their pregnancies are morally reprehensible. If a group were to stand there with flyers saying, “Hey black people, it is morally wrong for you to be free. You should really think about going back to being slaves” there would be no debate about ‘freedom of speech’.

    Furthermore, this is not even a freedom of speech issue – it is asking the women of Hopkins to PAY for a group that denigrates their right to reproductive and sexual choice.

    And what this group is saying is so much more offensive – it is saying that women are bad people unless they support unwanted pregnancies to term. It is saying that once women become pregnant, their bodies should become *property of the fetus*. Even someone who believes in fetal personhood has no right to ask for students’ money to harrass people by aggressively broadcasting at person A’s school that person A is a bad person for not choosing to support person B (if you like!) *inside her body*.

    Bodies are the most fundamental of human rights, more fundamental than the right to marriage or the right not to be enslaved. Without a right to one’s body, none of the other rights are possible. I think it is amazing that we are all so entrenched in misogyny that female bodily autonomy is even up for question like this. That groups judging people for exercising their rights to bodily autonomy are still things acceptable in polite society, and that they still dare to even ask for Hopkins money. I am so, so glad, and I have never been prouder of Hopkins, that this group was denied this money.

    And a final note: one in three American women have abortions. Being confronted with graphic anti-choice images of fetuses *at their workplace/school* should be grounds for a harassment lawsuit.

    • James   March 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Everything you said is opinion. To state it as fact is poor reasoning.

      The mission of VFL from their website is: “The mission of Johns Hopkins University Voice for Life is to defend the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being from conception until natural death, and especially to be a voice for the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society threatened by abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of human embryos for research. Members seek to foster a culture of life at Johns Hopkins University and in the surrounding community, to educate on life issues, and to help those in need so that life is a promising choice.

      VFL asserts that abortion is a sign that we as a society have not met the needs of women and that we need to work harder to provide women with the resources they need so they don’t feel coerced to choose abortion. Women deserve better than abortion, and we strive to help eliminate the root causes of abortion.”

      Nothing there about women being morally reprehensible. The main focus is on protecting the unborn, the secondary focus is on providing women with legitimate alternatives to pregnancy. You may dislike the pro-life agenda, but using vitriolic rhetoric to knockdown straw man arguments is unhelpful to the abortion debate.

      • Burnest   March 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm

        Oh right! It’s true that a woman has never been coerced into going through with a life-threatening pregnancy or having a child for whom they were unable to care. Denying a woman’s ability to choose her future is clearly the healthy option.

        • James   March 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm

          The phrase “choose her future” assumes that a) the fetus should not be regarded as an individual human, or that b) the woman takes precedent over her child, both of which are opinions. You completely disregard the reality that the fetus may be considered a human who is worthy of protection. Also, VFL does acknowledge the reality of unplanned pregnancies, which is why on their site they have links to help people who are pregnant, but do not want to opt for an abortion.

          • Burnest   March 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm

            A) This is not a necessary assumption for my position.
            B) This is more the issue, right? Which is “more” of a person? The unborn child or the mother whose welfare is tantamount to the survival of said unborn child, the one with the actual concerns and safety hazards to actively avoid and think about.

            Personally, the health of the person who’s already living takes precedence over that of the “person” who hasn’t even taken its first breath. If doctors could consistently ensure the continuing health and happiness of mother and child, even in unplanned or dangerous scenarios, then that’d be a slightly different debate.

            Also, I agree that information on abortion alternatives. Turns out, abortion clinics and websites also provide such useful resources.

          • Burnest   March 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm

            To be fair, at this point, I’m not even arguing against the group’s right to have a peaceful protest, distribute information, or even show pictures of fetuses (no matter how disturbing that may be to certain individuals). Looks like I jumped into an actual abortion debate.

            Are there any other ideological organizations that use school funding to engage the student body in such a manner? I’m actually interested to see what the proposed displays look like.

      • alumna   March 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm

        Publishing pictures of fetuses on the breezeway is a fine way of “meeting the needs of women and working harder to provide women with resources they need”.

        It’s a shaming tactic, plain and simple. It propagates abortion stigma and marginalizes women who choose abortion.

        And the fact that people of different racial backgrounds should be treated equally and equally respected is an ‘opinion’ too, just like the opinion that women should not be harassed at their workplaces about their personal choices regarding their bodies.

        • James   March 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm

          …or maybe pictures of fetuses could be informational by showing women what the fetus looks like at certain stages of development? You are making the connection between pictures of fetuses and the shaming of women, because you want it to be spiteful, when it doesn’t have to be.

          Yes, it is an opinion. But there were facts that were inherently incorrect in regards to discrimination, such as the idea that people of different races are have significantly different biological make-ups. The idea that an abortion is a personal choice, meaning a choice that affects one individual, disregards the belief that the fetus is a human life and worthy of human rights. It assumes the pro-choice belief about the fetus.

          • alumna   March 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm

            Hmm….if I was a pregnant woman considering abortion vs adoption, I’d be really interested in what a fetus looked like! That would be incredibly helpful to me in deciding whether or not to bring a child into the world! Way more helpful than say, financial aid, better medical coverage, or longer maternity leave.

            If I were to become pregnant right now, I would abort immediately and without regret. Nothing – no picture shoved in my face, no sudden increase in my resources – would change that. And there are many others like me.

            *However* there are certainly women out there who decide to end a pregnancy purely due to financial difficulties and practical constraints. They may want to keep the child but not have the resources to raise one. In these situations, showing them fetus pictures is just emotional torture and completely useless for all concerned. They’d likely still abort, but be sadder about it.

            If the VFL REALLY cares about “meeting the needs of women and working harder to provide women with resources they need”, and “eliminating the root causes of abortion”, then here are some ways to do that:

            – fundraise and create need-based scholarships for pregnant students
            – fundraise to create an on-campus daycare for students with children
            – Campaign for better school medical insurance coverage for pregnant women and infants
            – campaign for better maternity leave, better class policies about maternity leave, better safety regulations for pregnant women in the science labs.

            VFL, I hope you read this.

        • alumna   March 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm

          And no, you can’t pretend the fetus pictures are purely educational when there is a clear moral agenda attached. The message with those pictures is ‘Don’t abort – abortion is bad, wrong’. And that is the specific targeting of a demographic: women who have abortions. That’s 33% of American women. It says that these people did bad, wrong things. That is harassment, and the stigmatization of this specific group. And that is why Hopkins should not pay for it, just as it should not pay for the targeted harassment of any group.

          • Mike M   March 30, 2013 at 10:09 pm

            Wait… so, saying that something is wrong is harassment? Are you kidding?

          • alumna   March 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm

            No. They are free to say whatever they want in public. But *it should not be funded/sponsored by a workplace/school*. Hopkins has a responsibility to provide a safe and hostility-free environment for all its students. This means not sponsoring groups that stigmatize particular demographics. It means not sponsoring branches of the KKK who try to show black people images of lynchings. It means not sponsoring radical animal protection groups that brandish slaughterhouse pictures at students who eat meat at the school dining hall. It means not sponsoring anti-gay groups who wave around slogans that certain kinds of sex are immoral. It means not sponsoring groups that harass women who have abortions by showing them pictures of fetuses meant to shock and shame and hurt them.

  14. Burnest   March 29, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Playing Devil’s Advocate, now. Why wouldn’t they focus on the positive aspects of protecting life. Instead of going for shock value of bloody remains of potential tax payers, why not go with children romping through a park with their parents?

  15. Kevin Pymm   March 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    SGA and the University is just trying to keep it classy ladies and gentlemen. That’s it.

    • alumna   March 29, 2013 at 6:09 pm


  16. Kevin   March 29, 2013 at 1:53 pm


  17. Publius   March 29, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Great analysis from FIRE basically highlighting how the News-Letter’s analysis of this issue is 100% wrong:

  18. P Stoler   March 29, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    To Caitlin: You can call a fetus anything you want if it makes you feel more comfortable killing it. You can say you aborted a blob of cell instead of saying you aborted the life of a baby. But it is what it is. All you are doing by calling it what you want, is making yourself more comfortable with what you are doing. You can justify anything you want if you try hard enough.

    As for a group that is a white supremacy group – ever heard of the KKK? they are the radical wing of the Democrat Party – I know that will shock you, but study your history. And guess what – they have the right to exist and march down the street in any city. do I like it? No. does it offend me? Yes. But you are just being a petulant child to try to get rid of anything that offends you. If the group is threatening, or harassing or promoting violence or the overthrow of gov’t – that is a reason to kick them off campus. But if they are “offensive” and that is their only crime – then tough. Stop whining for the Principal to fix everything. This is life, and there are going to be lots of things that will offend you. Deal with it.

    • Hopkins Student   March 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      “You can call a fetus anything you want if it makes you feel more comfortable killing it.”

      Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly why we cannot and should not approve this group. If there is such a heated debate like what we see in this column EVEN before this group gets recognized, chances are it’s going to turn in to something worse once it actually does. As for the quote above, I say this is another CONCRETE reason why we shouldn’t. We can’t assume people kill babies COMFORTABLY. I’m sorry but that’s naive. The group’s very existence is a sign of siding to a view. It’s a subtle fact, but it’s true. But to have another group that supports the other view, poor SGA’s gonna have to deal with potential oppositions that may or may not get out of control.

      Everyone needs to take a chill pill. Just take a deep breath. No one’s stopping anyone from believing in one way or another. We’re all just concerned that approving a group like this will send a wrong message. Is this going to stop VLF supporters from holding their views or practicing their views? Probably not. If so, then you guys weren’t committed to this stance to begin with.

      It’s great that Hopkins students are taking the time to think about this issue and expressing their views. Having a forum like this from time to time may be an academically enriching experience. However, approving a group to proliferate their views one-sidedly, thereby intruding on students’ FREEDOM from HARASSMENT, is problematic. Parts of these comments are superfluously offensive; please don’t retort and ask WHICH PARTS. We all know the words that we use for strong opinions can be offensive, as is the case here.

      For the record, it’s really a stretch to say that the SGA is impinging on Freedom of Speech. Should all the groups that have been rejected by the committee appeal on behalf of their freedom of speech? Come on now, let’s stop with the drama right here, right now.

      • Mike M   March 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm

        A heated debate at a university? We can’t have that!!

        There are countless groups on Hopkins campus (and pretty much every campus) devoted to advocating particular viewpoints. I don’t know if they’re currently active, but Hopkins approved the NARAL-affiliated group Students for Choice. I found them to be dishonest, rude, and a general nuisance (and not solely because I disagreed with their mission) but, even so, I think that it was appropriate that the university recognized them as a student group.

        Being exposed to views that you disagree with is NOT harassment. The activities that VfL proposed to engage in are Constitutionally protected activities (the Supreme Court specifically ruled that they are), whereas harassment is, quite obviously, not Constitutionally protected. If the SGA wanted to chuck legally established definitions of harassment to invent one so absurd, they at least would have had to have applied it consistently… and, obviously, they haven’t.

        The university, as a private institution, has the right to determine what it will and will not recognize. Even to the extent that there’s a free speech issue, private institutions are free to restrict speech. But, what it doesn’t have the right to do is to violate its own policies (as laid out in the student handbook, the SGA Constitution, etc.) The courts have regularly held private institutions accountable for failures to abide by their established rules. These policies form something of a de facto contract with students, employees, and donors. In this case, the SGA’s decision is inconsistent with its own constitution. That makes it, very likely, unlawful… and if the university doesn’t reverse the SGA’s decision, then I hope the courts get a chance to rule on it.

        • Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner   March 30, 2013 at 6:06 pm

          P. Stoler:

          Don’t assume I know less about history than you do or not enough to understand groups like the KKK. Au contraire. The issue is whether or not these groups should be using TUITION MONEY from JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, a private institution. The US government is not a PRIVATE INSTITUTION.

          Looks like I’m not the one that needs to check my comprehension of history and government.

  19. P Stoler   March 30, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Great that you know some history Caitlin. If we allow students to pick and choose which groups to allow on campus based on whether or not we agree with them or whether or not they offend us – we would have no groups. I’m sure that the pro-choice groups offend the groups that are not pro-choice. You are at an institution for higher LEARNING, you are supposed to learn both sides, debate both sides, and decide for yourself what you are comfortable with, but you are not supposed to SILENCE one point of view because you happen to disagree. That’s ignorant.

    As for a response to HOPKINS STUDENT – it is the same response to you as I have given to Caitlin – if you disagree with someone – then your solution is to silence the other party?! That’s very mature and very American!!!!! NOT!! So your solution, because you disagree, is to shut up the pro Life group because people might catch on to what they are saying?? Or you fear they might take over – like the pro Choice groups have done?? What makes the pro Choice group anymore valid than the pro Life groups opinion? What makes the pro Life group propaganda but the pro Choice group good thinking? Because YOU say so, are you the final arbiter of truth? Is this a dictatorship where we shut down those people with a contrasting view. Over the course of history people’s opinions of things have changed. I think when one sees what a 9 wk fetus looks like or a 14 week fetus, one may change their mind. They may not but they certainly should see all of the information possible before making a decision.

    Personally, I think the pro Choice movement has brought this on themselves because they have pushed the buttons of abortion to the extreme of now allowing an abortion up until the time of delivery. Planned Parenthood just made a statement in FL that if the mother wants an abortion and the baby survives the abortion it should be the mother’s right to have the baby terminated – that’s killed in any other language. We’ve crossed a line when we justify this. So now the pro-Life movement is taking a stand. I think they should. If someone that murders a pregnant women can be charged with 2 murders than the pro-Choice movement has crossed a line. You are in college – this is where you debate this. This is where you think – you don’t silence your critics for your convenience. There are consequences to your actions. Think and hear all sides before you do something that will affect you, society and the life you are taking.

  20. alumna   March 31, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Since we seem to have an open forum going here, I invite everyone to read about abortion stigma – its causes and consequences, and how harmful it is to the establishment of a society where men and women are equal and free.

  21. Another Alumna   April 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Let’s use a less-heated example. Let’s assume everyone has friends who are both omnivores and vegetarians/vegans. The omnivores find the consumption of animal products, including meat, to be ethical. The vegans find consumption of animal products to be unethical.

    If a group of vegans wanted SGA funding to provide vegan recipes to any student who requested them, and hold discussion groups about veganism, that would not harass any omnivore. If a group of vegans wanted SGA funding to post pictures of animal carcasses outside the dining halls, picket CVP for selling burgers, and display models of animal fetuses on the Breezeway, that would certainly harass the omnivores. It’s a difference of behavior, not belief.

    I’m avowedly pro-choice. Students for Choice has the keyword of ‘choice’. Any student could choose whether to take one of our condoms, get information on local clinics from our website, or learn about abortion rights. Our SGA funding was used to given students options, not to demand they take our viewpoint. SFC never made posters of the famous photos of the women who died from illegal abortions. We never demonstrated the miserable reality of coathanger abortions with uterine models on the Breezeway. We certainly never stood outside local churches demanding that local residents hear about our views as they went in.

    If VFL wants to create a website with lists of adoption agencies, fine. If they want to hold a diaper drive for children living in poverty, that’s lovely. But they absolutely do not have any right to harass other students with their viewpoint.

    • Mike M   April 2, 2013 at 10:52 am

      A vegan group should have the right to display images of slaughterhouses if they want to. I could see saying that they cant have bloody pictures in the dining hall, but honest depictions of things have to be allowed on a college campus, even when they’re unpleasant. They can’t stop me from eating a delicious bacon cheeseburger, but Incant stop them from making the (I think, incorrect) case that that’s inhumane.

      Also, VfL didn’t say that they were going to bring giant bloody banners (I’m not sure that they shouldn’t have the right to do that, but even being anti-abortion, I find that tactic obnoxious and unhelpful). They said that they were going to have fetal development models. Regular, not bloody, fetus-sized pieces of plastic or rubber. That’s hardly grotesque.

      • alumna   April 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm

        The degree of gore is irrelevant to whether something is harassment or not. See my response to Miki below.

  22. Moderate Student   April 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I see nothing wrong with this group getting funding when groups that promote homosexual behavior get funding from the school. It is absurd that the University also promotes funding for giving out free condoms. This society has no morals and everyone is just having unprotected sex and having children that get aborted. Think before you act people because the consequences are big. It’s a very touchy subject… but I think the SGA and the CSE are both boards that think they have some actual power when in reality, when you graduate you don’t have anything. And in fact even when you are here no one cares about you or respects you… Congrats you held class office at this school, and planned events that no one goes too. And another thing, you guys are all soft, I have more power than any of you fools… SGA thinks they are someone… bunch of bums if you ask me who think they are special. You are all tools and need to be kicked out.

  23. Concerned Parent   April 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    But ‘Students for a Free Palestine’ — with links to openly violent anti-semitic groups — apparently are free to operate under the the auspices and funding of the University’s student organization.

    Sorry JHU – this is selective favoritism and discrimination against a Christian group which acts on it’s beliefs. You are saying you approve of some (SDP for example), and not others.

  24. Miki   April 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    It isn’t a matter of does the SGA have the right to deny this group recognition; it is should they. There are two sides to the abortion issue and to deny the right of those that oppose abortion the same right that persons with the opposite viewpoint enjoy is not right and certainly not in keeping with the idea of a university where all sides of an issue can be freely explored. Would a Reproductive Freedom group be denied the right to exist? I think not. Every totalitarian government acts exactly like the SGA did in this case.

    • alumna   April 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      A reproductive freedom group would not harass any students or employees of Hopkins. It would not imply or declare that any students or employees of Hopkins are murderers. Even the most graphic images of women who died of illegal abortions that a reproductive freedom group COULD use (and Hopkins’ ‘Students for Choice’ never stooped to such irrational and emotion-invoking tactics) would *still* not be harassment of anyone on campus. Those images would cry, “People, here is what happens when abortion is not legal and when women who don’t want to be pregnant don’t have the option to safely abort.” This does not personally attack any student or group of students on campus.

      But when pro-life groups show fetuses (bloody or not), coupled with the message that such fetuses are *people*, then they are saying: “Hey, pregnant ladies, if you abort, *you are taking a life*.” ie, if you abort, you are a murderer.

      That is emotional harassment of women who abort, and an incredibly personal kind of attack. That is targeted bullying. That is something that students should not be subjected to when walking to class. That is something Hopkins should not fund or sponsor.

      Now, if VFL wanted to bring in speakers, hold meetings, and in that way try to convince people that an embryo was a person, I would not consider *that* harassment. *Classrooms and auditoriums* are forums for discussion and the broadcasting of potentially controversial/painful ideas. Journals and magazines and newspaper comment columns are places for debate – that way if people are upset, they can choose to leave. But people’s schools (outside of auditoriums) and workplaces should be harassment-free. Especially free of forms of discriminatory harassment: harassment that hits a subgroup of students group harder than everyone else.

      • D Escalera   April 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

        Is it really true that this would be harassment for ALL women who have aborted. Don’t you think there are women who regret their abortions?

        The VLF’s purpose is to present a viewpoint to people about to make a choice on abortion. They are not intentionally trying to emotionally damage women who have already done such a procedure. If we truly take the words pro-choice literally then that viewpoint needs to be considered by any person attempting that choice. Thus, any person who does choose one way or another can stand more firmly by their choice.

      • Mike M   April 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

        1) The breezeway is used to advocate all sorts of causes. It’s clearly a forum at the university. It’s antithetical to the most fundamental American values to forbid peaceful advocacy of viewpoints in such a forum.

        2) If you made a case for anything, it would be for restricting use of the breezeway, not for denying student group status, which is a prerequisite for reserving classroom space. The only reason that denying student group status would be necessary is if the university allowed access to the breezeway for any student group to engage in advocacy. Of course, they do allow that, demonstrating the area’s status as an open forum.

        3) The specific activity to which the SGA objected was sidewalk counseling, which would be conducted off campus, on a public sidewalk (presumably around the corner of Calvert Street and University Parkway). Obviously a public sidewalk is a “free speech zone.”

        4)It’s not harassment. Neither you nor the SGA get to determine what constitutes harassment. The term harassment, for official purposes, has an established legal definition, and the law doesn’t care how anyone feels about it. The JHU Office of Institutional Equity (the lawyers) has stated that it not only isn’t harassment but is protected speech on campus. This is consistent with the case law on the topic and any sensible reading of university policies.

      • Gail Finke   April 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

        But what you said is true. A woman who has aborted her child has taken a life. She has taken the life of her own child.
        If a woman finds that hard to face, then she needs compassion and help. But it’s reality. Pretending otherwise is not intellectually honest.

      • Gail J.   April 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm

        Perhaps what they are trying to do is to have us think about these abortions BEFORE we get pregnant. In other words – we 100% do have freedom of choice – please consider this BEFORE you decide to have sex. We need to think about this in a different light. We don’t want women to feel bad who have had abortions. We know that many women feel bad AFTER abortions. We want women to think about this BEFORE they even get pregnant, because we don’t want them to have to go through those feelings. The message of this group is not to harm women who have had abortions, it is to encourage us to think differently about sex and the potential consequences of those decisions. If they can change the minds of just a couple of women to think about the consequences of unprotected sex (and a potential abortion), then this is a positive change that this group can bring about. This has to be a respectable position from all groups on campus and one certainly the SGA could get behind.

  25. Bob the Replier   April 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    So to summarize: A woman’s “right” to kill her unborn baby or not – good, a woman’s right to talk about it – bad.

  26. P Stoler   April 2, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Bob the Replier – You got it. That’s exactly what they are saying. And if you say something or show a picture that they don’t like – it’s harassment. If you made the decision to abort your baby, then guess what, you’ll have to deal with all the consequences that go with that decision. And you may be haunted by that decision with or without the VFL. Better to hear and see all sides, BEFORE you make a decision that will affect you for the rest of your life.

    I can’t believe that you can go into a clinic and go through an abortion but you can’t stand having to look at a fetus in the womb because that’s harassment! Give me a break.

    Miki – I concur. We must not exhibit signs of a totalitarian government because we don’t like someone’s opinion. God help us if that day comes – and we are getting frightfully close. The United States is supposed to be the beacon of the world -showing how people of different opinions can express them as passionately as they want and still get along. Surely, you can survive looking at pictures of babies in the womb – if that’s harassment, then you have a rude awaking waiting for you when you get out in the real world.

  27. Pro Life Mark   April 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    If the editors of this newspaper can read, their editorial has arisen a total dissent with your editorial. This being the case, where’s the free speech rights of the pro-life group?

    Your opposition to funding the group is only a personal one at most. Did the newspaper take a poll to gauge the student body if they oppossed funding the pro-life group? The SGA claims to represent the student body and this newspaper claims to be the voice of the student body so where’s the proof the student body opposes funding the pro-life group.

    So put up or shut up and fund the group.

    • Pro Life Mark   April 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      BTW, the denial of funding was claimed to be in part to prevent harassing students.

      Well, if this is the case, seems the SGA is violating the university code of conduct harassing the pro-life group because it disagrees with the group’s sidewalk counseling activity, which btw has been successfully upheld as protected free speech in various courts around the country.

      JHU is supposed to be one of the more prestigious higher educational institutions of the U.S. Well, seems the SGA lacks the basic fundamentals of the United States Constitution of Free Speech. The reps of the SGA and this newspaper should be expelled for failure to respect one of the basic freedoms of American citizens.

      • Sarah   April 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        Free speech, as protected by the government, does not necessitate that it be protected by private institutions. A university denying funding for a group’s speech is no more in violation of the “basic freedoms of American citizens” than is a parent banning curse words in their home.

  28. Libertarian Lenny   April 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    The solution to this problem is not to have the student government approve or fund any groups. Return that money to the students.

    • Saladi's   April 7, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      Sorry, that makes too much sense. 🙂

  29. Mike Sarkisian   April 5, 2013 at 4:44 am

    SGA extracts money from students of all views! To force one group to pay for activities of a group opposed their own view while denying them the same ability is not only unfair, but antithetical to any fundamental democratic principle. In the case of John Hopkins, it is a contractual violation of their written policy of supporting free speech. Dump the references to supporting free speech and quit forcing money from the students and JH can then do what it wants. In doing that, debate goes away and along with learning. It appears that learning has already been severely limited already!

  30. Andrew   April 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Yet another sad example of intolerance by the least and dimmest, e.g liberals. You who spout off about rights are the first to deny them of others who disagree with you. You say you want diversity, but then you narrow the definition to suit your own political positions. You’re hypocrites of the first order.

    Every Jew on campus should complain about the Students for a Free Palestine for linking to antisemitic sites. Test the SGA and see if they’re intellectually honest or just liberal wimps who can’t handle debate and disagreement.

    Ridiculous. JHU should be ashamed.

  31. Orange Soda   April 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Attention all: I feel harassed by the SGA’s decision.

    Having proved that harassment has been committed by the SGA, I hereby invoke the magic of “being offended.” All will now bow to my wishes. The SGA will reverse its decision, allowing VFL to become an official student group.

    While we’re at it, as reparations for this assault on my personal freedom to walk to class without any discomfort whatsoever, I demand that the SGA provide me with 50 hours of recorded audio material, in lossless .flac format, consisting of soothing classical music and ocean sounds.

    Get moving, SGA. Fulfill your duty to protect me from harassment, which apparently trumps everything else, including and especially your duty to promote diversity of thought and exchange of ideas.


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