censorship, christians, culture, education, Halifax, media, religion, religious right, willful blindness to absurd extremes

Shenanigans, Sir.

Ok, I can to some extent understand the willingness to remain ignorant on a particular subject. Additionally, I can comprehend the fact that some people are possessed of such naiveté that they are surprised by the reactions of people to the expression of certain opinions or views. Fine, I’m sure it happens to farmboys and people from isolated communities all the time.

But, I find it hard to believe and accept that, if you are equating a woman’s legal right to choose what happens to her body to the fucking holocaust, and you are surprised that some people take offense, I’m sorry, you are one dumb mutherfucker.

Let me regroup for a moment. Jojo Ruba, a representative of the pro-life group the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, was scheduled to give a lecture on Thursday evening at Saint Mary’s University. According to the published report, Ruba was invited by the SMU pro-life group to deliver a talk entitled “Echoes of the Holocaust”. His lecture, however, was interrupted by the Coalition for Choice, who chanted over Ruba’s speech and blocked his overhead slides. The event was shut down, and Mr. Ruba was escorted from the room.  A short video of the incident was posted on YouTube on Feb. 6:

Wow, those are some clever chants, there. I particularly like the “When you get pregnant, let us know”.  It is totally weird watching this happen in a room in which I have sat on many occasions.

According to the video’s description:

A smaller number of students and media were able to make their way to a second location where the presentation and question period concluded peacefully.

So if this statement is in fact true, he did deliver his message. This is important to keep in mind as we continue down this slippery slope.

To indicate, even in jest, that making the association between women choosing to access a legal medical treatment and the systematic slaughter of millions of individuals would not elicit a negative reaction is to display a level of denial somewhere between Dick Cheney and Steve Harper. The organization has encountered trouble before, so why does this come as a surprise?

Look, my views on this are abundantly clear: I am pro-choice, and that’s that. To try to elicit sympathy is idiotic at least, and coldly calculating at most. I take issue with the way the Chronically Horrid has semantically constructed their story to make Ruba the aggrieved party, while (if true) the fact that he got to continue his talk was left out. The way the story, and the accompanying video are contructed, the protesters are unequivocally the villains – remember when the white supremacist guy came to town and tried to do the same thing? Fortunately, he failed. This guy might not.

So, we know what my opinion is, but let me throw you a curve: while admiring the dedication and passion exhibited by the protesters, and my agreement with their overall message, I believe the protesters have probably set their cause back rather than enhancing it by disrupting Mr. Ruba’s presentation. What would have worked better was an attempt to involve him in a reasoned debate in which he would discuss, objectively, the premise of his abhorrent association. He would only be able to make assertions based on faith, or that had no basis in fact but in doctrine, and you, young, energetic, chant-composing protesters would have proven that your university has prepared you to meet all comers and dispel all superstition by engaging in rational discourse.

Which is what you should have done, instead of reinforcing his view of pro-choice activists, and the view of everyone who agrees with him. Check the label on the YouTube video – not a lot of admiration or sympathy in


Is there?

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to let people talk, talk, talk until they hang themselves with their words. Sooner or later a ‘crusader’ who goes around spouting offensive nonsense like this will get his just reward, and it ain’t gonna be heaven, brother. Once they stop, ask them questions, demand they prove what they say is true, and remember not to rise to the bait of trying to prove it isn’t true – that’s not your job, it’s the claimant who always has the burden of proof. Once you have confronted superstition with logic, fear with reason, and willful blindness with a clarity of vision, people like that will have no choice but to scurry under the big crucifix-shaped refrigerator they scurried out from under in the first place. The louder you shout, the louder others shout to be heard, and so on and so on. Let your words and your education be your weapons of choice – and in this case, I do decidedly mean ‘choice’.


16 thoughts on “Shenanigans, Sir.

  1. Sci-Fi author Geoffrey Landis has a really good quote on his website that applies here very well: “Pay attention to the words you say when you try to curtail speech of people you don’t like: they are the same words you will hear when others take away your right to speak”

    As for your view that the students’ actions are counter-intuitive – I have to agree, it’s ideological wanking – they get satisfaction, but anyone on the fence on the issue will find themselves sympathizing with the pro-lifers here. I do, however, agree with the protestors’ view that the university chaplain shouldn’t have been there – my girlfriend is one of the Chaplains here at MUN, and she and the Anglican chaplain (both pro-choice, BTW) have had to battle the Pentecostal and Sally Ann chaplains about this issue – basically echoing the viewpoint quoted in the story, that the chaplains have to avoid taking sides in this battle…


  2. The pastor’s presence or absence wasn’t clear in the story, which was why I didn’t touch on it. The only referennce was that the room was booked by the chaplain, which is bad enough, to be sure, but ‘participating’ wasn’t quite clear – physically present or booking the room only?.
    I’m definitely with you if he/she was there. The student who commented about the chaplain being at the university for all students may have said it best.


  3. Excellent rant! I agree with every point you have made. The whole issue behind pro-life and pro-choice has created a whole band of “idealiolical wankers” (thanks dan for the title) on both sides. Pro-lifers can be as petty and stupid wrt to their side of this issue as well and I am embarrassed that they act in this sort of way. I have been a sort of a “pro-life” person with a smattering of “pro-choice” for many years because I am aware that women need to have control over their own bodies and not have some other power making the decisions for her. On the other hand, I hope that women will be responsible enough with their own bodies so that abortion would not be necessary except in the most extreme cases. However, in our real world, we have pro-lifers who would rather see a women die and save a nearly brain dead child, and we have pro-choicers who use abortion as a birth control pill. Both scenerios are ugly. I guess I am more specifically, “pro-responsibility”

    It is unfortunate, in our real world people have lost the ability to sit down and talk/debate intelligently. Our world has become a strong believer in the loudest/stupidest wheel gets the grease (15 minutes of fame on the internet/TV) or whoever is louder or more violent is right.
    As a side note, the internet or rather specifically youtube has made it a lot easier to catch/identify these idiots and have them sent to jail.


  4. Paul: great comment. It hearkens back to some of Kevvy’s excellent stuff about how adults are being treated like infants – sad but true. Using the lowest common denominator leaves those of us with a smattering of sense feeling pretty damned frustrated.


  5. “However, in our real world, we have pro-lifers who would rather see a women die and save a nearly brain dead child, and we have pro-choicers who use abortion as a birth control pill.”

    I’ve never met anyone who uses abortion as a birth control pill.


  6. I haven’t met any, Dave, but I know they exist – I remember a Heather Mallick column from the Grope and Wail where she spoke of friends of her who had had multiple abortions. Personally, in that case, I do agree with abortion – but mainly because anyone that stupid probably shouldn’t have children anyway….


  7. Good point on the ideologues on both sides, Paul. One of my favourite authors is Robert Sawyer, he’s a sci-fi author based out of Toronto. One of his best stories, IMHO, is called “The Terminal Experiment” (and I’m not alone in that opinion, since it won both the Hugo and Nebula awards that year). In it, a neurologist who is trying to develop a more precise method of detecting brain activity, discovers a brain pattern that leaves the body after death, a pattern many believe is a soul. Upon further experimentation, he discovers that the pattern is absent from the fetus until the 12th week of pregancy. What I liked, and found extremely prescient, was the effect that this had on the pro-life/pro-choice debate – namely, not a fucking bit.

    Incidently, Flash, my girlfriend agrees with you, in fact she’s of the opinion that even booking the room is overstepping the boundaries.


  8. Dave, I haven’t met any personally as well, but I do know they exist. I am sure there are many doctors who have heard the line, ” but I thought I could not get pregnant a few days before my period” or ” If my parents ever found out…”. For those individuals, they wanted to have sex, but they did not want to use the right precautions because they thought it was the wrong time of the month or some other reason. Therefore the abortion becomes the backup birth control.

    We don’t hear about it because it is a very personal thing and most people really don’t want to spread the fact they had an abortion.

    Dan, good point about women with multiple abortions.


  9. And Dave, if you want to find out just how stupid the human race can be, there is no better source than the Wellspring of All Things Idiotic – the Jerry Springer Show. There’s been at least one episode I’ve seen of teenagers who refused to use birth control, because of various reasons – ‘too much trouble’, ‘proves you don’t love me’, etc….


  10. As for my own opinion, I’m pro-choice, with limitations – I think if the fetus is advanced enough to survive out of the womb with help – maybe someone could help me with this, but I think preemies have survived at 7 months, then I’d be uncomfortable with an abortion. I also suspect I might change my mind if an artificial womb ever became truly viable. I’ve also come to an uncomfortable realization about myself, based on my reactions to a couple of recent news stories – the single woman in CA who’d been implanted with octoplets to go with the 6 children she already had, and the 60 year old in Calgary who’d just given birth to twins. In both cases, I question the wisdom of these actions, but I have to be honest enough to admit that if I support a woman’s right to choose an abortion, I have to support a woman’s right to choose pregnancy, however ill-considered I think it.


  11. I’d just like to pipe in, that if the Chaplaincy shouldn’t have been there, then neither should the Women’s Centre have been protesting. Both should be neutral parties. There ARE pro-life women after all. Kinda makes me sad that now pro-choicers can’t get spiritual guidance and pro-life women can’t have a safe place to learn about gender issues.


  12. Chili – there’s a vast difference between an advocacy group such as the Womens’ Centre protesting this event, and a University Chaplain sponsoring it. The first is a group of unpaid volunteers arguing against a position they disagree with, the second is using a paid official to give the impression that the University backs their message – which is misleading at the very least, if not a downright underhanded lie.

    As for ‘pro-choicers can’t get spiritual guidance’ – what the hell are you talking about? Along with pro-life women, a group which none of us have denied exists, there are pro-choice chaplains – both the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church, have adopted a gradualist approach towards abortion – and even the more fundamentalist chaplains and padres I’ve met wouldn’t deny guidance in these cases. As a matter of fact, I find it interesting that since you obviously read my post on the Chaplain, that you deliberately ignored and/or distorted what I said about this – and since one of the chaplains in question is my girlfriend, I have to say that I’m not really impressed with so-called Christians such as yourself who think the Commandment against bearing false witness doesn’t apply to them…


  13. First of all Dan! the women’s center gets an estimated $24000 a year ( $2 )every semester by every student. The chaplain is a service paid for by the arch diocese of Halifax, the chaplaincy provides services to all SMU students freely. Now as his views , he is a catholic priest meaning he is obligated by his vocation and religion to believe that Life begins at conception. The womens center is obligated to provide support for all women ( that includes pro-life women) So if you are going to talk about using authority and influence of a school official paid or not, you should really get your facts straight.


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