Extremism can push First Amendment to the limit

Photo Courtesy of  http://www.news.ucsb.edu/

The Constitution says that the First Amendment provides Americans with four basic freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. Because of these liberties, individuals are allowed to be bold in what they believe in, especially on a U.S college campus.  

According to Middle Tennessee State University, free-speech zones are designated areas on college campuses for political conventions, specifically for protesters and demonstrators to exercise their right to freedom of speech.

Florida State University has reputation for its open spaces where students and others are allowed to exercise their liberty.

A pro-life/anti-abortion group visited FSU to spread its belief system and enlighten those about the “truth” regarding abortion.

On their website, createdequal.org it reads: “Abortion is injustice fueled by ageism —discrimination against the youngest of humans.”

The website clearly displays how explicit and abrasive their approach to fighting for the end of “dismembering, decapitation, and disemboweling of someone no less human than you,” according to their website.

Created Equal brought a very graphic video, or in their words, a display of “severe injustice” that showed a live abortion on a 10-foot by 12-foot screen in the middle of the campus.

A line of warning signs for the graphic images followed the walkways up to the video screen and Student Affairs staff was be on sight to comfort those that may feel distressed from the abusive imagery.

The advocacy group is known for its bold approach to showcasing their beliefs about abortion. Controversy is an inevitable state for a subject such as this one because having a certain control over one’s body is being challenged.

FSU is one of six universities that the group had planned to bring the presentation to leading up to the Nov. 6 midterm election that just passed.

According to WTXL.com, pro-life students believe there should be a sense of empathy when exercising freedom of speech.

"They're not asking to be exposed to this. These pictures are very gruesome and if you want to talk about anti-abortion, you can do it in a calm way that is not hurtful,” Millie Zehnder with Planned Parenthood Generation Action told WTXL.

A certain level of extremism crosses the line and is inappropriate. Although the organization posted warning signs of the graphic imagery, there was still a major shock factor involved that is completely unnecessary.

Citizens of this country are being bum-rushed with violent and graphic news stories almost daily; it’s only expected that there will be some sort of mental impact due to the visual experience one has.

On PsychologyToday.com, Deborah L. Davis writes, “Whether the violence is real, reenacted based on real events, or fiction, when you witness cruelty and empathize with the victim, you experience the trauma vicariously.”

Society’s climate of violence does not make it any more excusable for advocacy groups to deliver their message with insensitive efforts.

Reaching an audience doesn’t require a dogmatic delivery. Sometimes less is more and human to human connection through vocal communication is all the shock factor you need.