At Oxford, no less! The story this week shows how discourse on college campuses has become utterly homogenized. It began when the Oxford Students For Life (OSFL) announced they planned to sponsor a traditional debate on the affirmative motion: “This House Believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All.” Two individuals were scheduled to deliver their responses to this motion. Arguing in favor of the motion, historian Timothy Stanley is an author and blogger who writes for the UK Telegraph. Disputing the motion, Brendan O’Neill is a columnist and blogger who writes for the UK Spectator and edits Sp!ked, an online magazine.The debate was scheduled for Tuesday night, November 18th. When the chosen venue at Christ Church (the Blue Boar Lecture Theatre) withdrew its permission for the event and another venue could not be booked, the event was cancelled. If you want to read more about the controversy, these are some helpful links: summary at BuzzFeed, the Oxford Students For Life website, a report detailing the “College Censors” vote to withdraw their permission, commentary by O’Neill after the event was cancelled, another summary from vox.com, and finally, links to the statements with which Stanley and O’Neill planned to present as their debate opened … if they hadn’t been banned from the public square.
I also want to include the blow-by-blow commentary of Executive Director of Right to Life Peter D. Williams, who carefully dismantles (with numerous additional links) the claims of those whose efforts successfully quashed this exercise of free speech.
It’s not my intention to rehash the excellent reports to which I’ve linked. However, I must wade into these treacherous waters to comment about two writers who believed the Academy was the most appropriate place of free and open inquiry. How dare these two empty-bellied, uteri-bereft individuals demonstrate such temerity?! How dare they act as though human reproduction is a shared endeavor?! Apparently, they failed to read the memo about male opinions being banished from any and all discussion about abortion?
Of course, I jest. I can’t help but recognize the short-sightedness of women who adhere to the my-body, my-decision orthodoxy … and yet, they seem to ignore the fact they don’t achieve pregnancy without the essential male contribution! If men carried pregnancies, I daresay, women would demand equal say in determining the destiny of those fetuses. Messrs. Stanley and O’Neill have no right to speak on abortion because their bodies lack a uterus? Contemptible! O’Neill offered the perfect response: he noted on FaceBook his intention to “self-identify as a woman” for the 24 hours preceding the scheduled debate.
At first, I didn’t want to ridicule the laughable contention that such an open debate of abortion posed “… a detrimental effect on marginalized groups” potentially causing Oxford students to feel “uncomfortable” and a threat to their “mental safety.” On second thought, I realized these arguments are more than laughable; they embrace the (once-rejected) pre-feminist mantle of women as helpless weaklings, unable to do anything without the overarching assistance of the perceived patriarchy. Really?
Oh, dear! Protect me from these brutes who threaten me with discomfort and mental duress! I am but a helpless female! I’m the damsel in distress (Sweet Sue) in need of rescue by the tall, thin Jones, slow-walkin’ Jones, slow-talkin’ Jones, the long and lanky Jones.
Seriously. Are these Oxford women actually prepared (and anxious) to go down this road?
Readers of this blog know I’m staunchly pro-life. However, my stance has never been based on an insistence to shut out and silence anyone who holds an opposite view. On the contrary, every discussion I have with a supporter of abortion is illuminating. What bothers me most is the homogeneity of thought that appears to have captured Oxford students! What’s next? Book burning?
Oxford isn’t the only place where groupthink has taken hold. Instances abound all through the media. Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson became a target when he expressed his personal and traditional view on natural marriage. Jay Leno recently cancelled a scheduled Las Vegas speech for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (a pro-Second Amendment education and safety group) due to criticism from a gun-banning lobbyist group. The Duggar Family (my friends) have likewise been a target for groupthink bullies. A current petition on change.org seeks to have their television show cancelled because of their closely-held moral convictions.
Opposing points of view have been a hallmark of Western culture. The quote “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say (write) it” has been attributed to various authors. We should be able to debate – in a sane and rational manner – the detrimental effects of abortion on a culture. We should be able to question whether or not an “abortion culture” even exists in Britain. Because human reproduction is part of the HUMAN experience – not the exclusive purview of the homogametic sex – both males and females should be able to express their viewpoints without fear of retribution or societal excommunication!
Instead, what this past week proves is that students at Oxford have accepted a disastrous doctrine … that rational discourse is no longer safe, it is borderline illegal, and most consequential of all, it will be increasingly rare. Stepford Students in extremis.