I’m getting on my way to speak about communicating life principles at the Medical Students for Life conference (closed to the public) here in Ottawa in an hour or two. However, I thought I’d do a quick debate report, from last night.
It was well-attended. Stephanie Gray gave her tour-de-force. Logic and reason, whether you agree with her or not, are her tools. She was clear and concise and presented arguments as to the humanity of the unborn from conception onwards, and why doctors should not at any point kill.
Her opponent was a man of good humour. He was from the Atheist Society. And while abortion was clearly not “his thing” he gave a valiant effort where many, many would not tread. I know they tried and tried and tried to get others to debate the issue, but apparently pro-choicers are in retreat. Their big line these days is that abortion is “not up for debate.” So I went to Jovan Moralis, which was the fellow’s name, I do believe, and congratulated him for showing up last night. I suspect he is getting flak from both sides, because he didn’t keep the silent consensus some of his more radical friends espouse.
BTW, he actually showed a birth video. His point was that birth/labour is hard and women should not be forced to go through that. It was hard to watch. But at the end, a full-on baby popped out and…what do you know… most people kind of recognize the miracle in that. What I noticed was a brief flash that the camera made toward the mother’s face, and she looked, wait for it, overjoyed. In the words of one Brigitte Pellerin, most women do love their little parasites.
He did say at one point in trying to get his peeps to quiet down “I’m a fan of civility too,” by way of trying to get them to shut up. He should have been way firmer. But he was inexperienced, this was his first debate, so I will forgive him that.
During questions, this older (maybe 60ish) lady with an accent that may have been Trinidadian stood up and said something along the lines of “I’m old and you should all listen to me.” Miraculously, because she was spunky and kind, and perhaps because she did look like a grandmotherly figure, people did and no one swore at her. She said, why so much “pro-life” and “pro-choice”? Then she went on to say “I’m pro-purity” and she bemoaned the hyper-sexualized state of campus life. It is possibly the only time that I have ever heard someone stand up in a forum like that, ask no question at all, and I was rather grateful. She was a breath of fresh air, a moment of relief from what was otherwise a difficult, emotional evening.
Why do universities design dungeon-like auditoriums where there is no light, no beauty, no….nothing!? No time to download my photos this morning, but it’s a dark, unhappy place–universities today. I say that based on my next section more than the architecture, though the building doesn’t help.
Friends, there were troubled folks there last night. People holding signs that said “pro-choice is pro-life” and “I hope the fetus you ‘save’ is gay.” (Yes! Why not?) Some of those people holding signs swore loudly *at Stephanie* throughout her presentation. Her presentation started and there was loud laughter at her, from the back. People shouted “liar” and “witch” and “this is bullshit” throughout.
When Stephanie made the point that personhood is an evolving, changing term and that women once were not designated persons, neither were black people, neither were Jews, some guy lost it, started shouting at the top of this lungs, “I am Jewish and this is bullshit.” I believe he may have been removed, I’m not sure. No one is quite sure why what was a passing comment set him off, but I get the feeling these folks live in a precarious world, and are wholly emotionally unequipped to deal with… much. They seemed angry. They were angry.
I showed up with my camera. To take photos, yes, not so much as a reporter but because I have a fancy new camera and I am learning not to use the automatic feature. I took photos, clicking away and at one point I was standing up taking some shots of Stephanie and Jovan in the cross-examination period. At some point here, some of the folks with signs started shouting so I turned the camera on them.
So we have people who came to a public debate, with signs, who subsequently started shouting. I took a photo or two of them, yes. And they see this and start gesturing at me to come on over. Mid debate. Sorry, no. Not gonna do that. They sent someone over, a lovely girl actually, who tells me they want me to stop taking pictures of them and further to delete the photos I have. I smile and nod, but inside I’m thinking “my camera, my choice.”
You don’t go to a public debate, with signs, make a big stink and then demand no photos. Sorry folks. I will post any that turned out later on.
I left the debate with my stomach in knots and a headache, which was thankfully relieved by a beer with friends.
Gotta run now, but there’s a short update from where I was sitting.by