The aborted fetus on the sign the girl held looked like a wild panther had mauled it and then crammed the carcass in a blender to make smoothies for its cubs. I turned to my friend and told him I was hungry for veal.
The girl who held the poster, a student from the University of Redlands, stood silently while around her the growing crowd debated abortion and good taste. I don’t know how valid her pro-life arguments were – some of the pictures looked doctored – but part of me thinks she was just trying to get people to talk. It looked like the crowd’s reaction was old news to her, maybe even a relief. She had successfully completed her job of angering the masses and making them think, even if it shut down their abilities to use their indoor voices.
When I asked the demonstrator about her experiences at other colleges, she told me that this was one of the nicer campuses she’d crusaded through, despite all the screaming and yelling. At Berkeley they were classy enough to spit on her and shout, “fuck off.”
The couple next to me argued that the posters were grotesque and obscene, and for a while I agreed with them. However, the demonstrators sought to stir emotions. While well-employed subtly is a virtue, sometimes people need a good blow to their sensibilities. For a generation of students with short attention spans who love to lie about how sensitive they really are, the girl and her cohorts delivered a much-needed kick in the ass. They knew their audience and how to get them screaming.
And scream they did. Next to her preached a blond brute, a six-foot poster child for the Hitler Youth. When he proclaimed that anyone who didn’t believe in God was a fool, the crowd burst into moans and cruel laughter. He argued with a woman over the existence of a universal morality. He claimed a definite right and wrong, while she shouted that everything is relative. Something tells me that if he ever commits a crime, God will forgive him before he goes to the chair, and she wouldn’t scream so much about subjectivity if her mother was raped.
The whole event reduced the crowd to a writhing mass of heated emotion, the primordial stuff that spawns intelligent thought once the temper has cooled.
I never heard the girl, who said she’d been holding signs since the tender age of 10, raise her voice above a whisper. With gruesome pictures, she set out to make a point, and succeeded. The whole purpose of activism isn’t to generate intellectual debate. That comes much later. Activism should stir the blood and destroy apathy.
UCSB needs more of this sidewalk screaming, and if it takes gore with a purpose, then so be it. It pulls people out of the silence they’ve grown too comfortable with. Even the misinformation the pro-lifers spewed yesterday is better than silence. If someone’s blood boils hard enough and long enough, they’ll seek out the truth and expose it.
As the yelling peaked, folks from the Women’s Center came out and started distributing their Spring Quarter calendars, an intelligent move to both plug their organization and respond to the demonstrators. They slipped in nice and subtle after an angry woman came, kicked the signs and ran off. The blond pro-lifer decided to chase her down and sick the police on her, like a good law-abiding Aryan, destroying what little respect I had for him. Then that was it; everyone went on their merry little way, their blissful thoughts returning to how they alone are the spindles on which the Universe turns.
The police left. The demonstrators packed up their nasty images and departed. I asked her where they were headed, and all she could tell me was that they’re heading up north for a while. Their whole fiasco was in bad taste, stretching from the pictures of aborted fetuses to the ignorant arguments offered by the crowd. Sometimes, however, the flavor of gore and the smell of feces awaken the mind much better than any sugar coating will.
Daily Nexus Assistant Opinion Editor Steven Ruszczycky faints at the sight of blood. His column appears Tuesday … pending consciousness.