This article contains images and discussion on the topics of abortion and sexual assault and may be emotionally distressing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
I don't believe that myself or any of my fellow Warhawks could have predicted what this day had in store for us; We weren't prepared for a fight. Nobody expects to leave class, cross the campus, and be bombarded by groups of high school aged kids holding highly graphic and highly fake pictures of "aborted fetuses."
Nobody expects to have people forcibly handing you pamphlets chock-full of bias and outdated statistics, and personal opinions. Nobody expects to be walking to their next class and be stopped and asked, "why do you like killing babies?", or be called a "murderer."
As the Vice President of UW-Whitewater's intersectional feminist student organization, Fearless United, I felt that it was my civic duty and personal responsibility to make sure that my fellow students had an ally and had a voice to fight back with. I sat down at a table directly in front of the demonstrators, wrote out a simple sign in a notebook, and held it up.
After about 10-15 minutes of sitting, one of your members walked over to me and asked if he could sit and talk. I will admit, I was pleasantly surprised, so I readily accepted. While I knew that nothing either one of us would say would change our beliefs, I do believe that far more can be accomplished when you sit and talk, rather than shouting and yelling insults and attacking each other.
We talked for maybe 10 minutes and disagreed in every possible way. Every "what about this?" was met with a "well no, because." That's usually the nature of civil discourse, agreeing to disagree.
One of your members talked to me about fetuses being "ripped apart" as if that is how a standard abortion works. When I explained that the form of abortion he was talking about is called "partial birth abortion" and has been illegal since 2003, he had no answer and fell back on talking about, "life begins at conception" (I heard that phrase probably 100 times in the two hours I sat there).
An important lesson I tried to explain to your members was that being "pro-choice" doesn't mean you are "pro-abortion." It means that you support a woman's legally protected right to choose whether they want a pregnancy or not. You don't have to agree with abortion personally, but it doesn't mean that just because you don't believe in it, nobody else should. What people choose to do is none of your business, and it has no impact on the way you live your life.
Approximately one hour and 30 minutes later, another two people from your group came over to talk to me. It was a very respectful, deep, and personal conversation and we got to know one another pretty well. My goal wasn't to antagonize or fight with you, instead, it was to learn about what your underlying thought processes were; to learn why you believe what you do.
After the talks, I was hopeful that your shock and fear tactics were just the decided way of portraying your message and getting attention, and that maybe we could be civil and respectful of one another, despite our political and spiritual differences.
Boy, was I wrong.
I'm honestly not sure what your goal was by coming to our campus and disrupting our day. We both know that no opinions would be swayed or changed because of what either side said.
The big question is: Why did you bother to come? Was it to get a reaction? Was it to cause division? Was it make yourselves feel good? Well, you certainly got a reaction and you certainly TRIED to cause division.
Few things disgust and infuriate me more than the indoctrination of children into hate groups. Brainwashing and using children as pawns in an attempt to force your radical and unchristian beliefs onto a population of people that do not share your values just makes you look weak and scummy.
Several of my fellow counter-protesters spoke to your children and asked them, " Do you know why you're here? Do you understand what is going on? How long have you seen pictures like those?" Unsurprisingly, they got responses such as, "Mommy and daddy said we were going to a church party", and, "since forever."
How dare you forcibly indoctrinate and subject your children to religious brainwashing! How dare you expose them to grotesque and utterly fake images, conversations that are highly inappropriate and impossible for them to understand. How dare you relinquish your children's ability to learn with an open mind!
Denying your child the ability to learn and grow and think for themselves is honestly borderline abusive. Stunts like that are part of the reason why nobody takes you seriously and why nobody outside of your lifestyle agrees with your message.
You started harassing our LGBTQ students once you finally realized that we had no interest in your abortion propaganda. Calling them "sinners", telling them that they would "burn in hell", making them cry and making them feel unsafe in a place that should always be safe.
You dishonored sexual assault survivors by telling them that a pregnancy is "something positive" to take out of being raped; that "rape is a preference." What kind of sick logic is that? If you're all so dedicated to fighting for the lives of children, then start fighting for the lives of all the children who are sexually abused by pastors and priests.
Making the decision to get an abortion isn't something that is made easily or with glee. The decision to abort is difficult and traumatic in the best of circumstances. It's something that one carries with them for the rest of their life. I have friends who made the decision to abort, and even years later, they still tell me that it was the hardest choice they ever made.
You talk about the child's right to life, but what about the mother? Doesn't she have the right to live her life too? If a pregnancy disrupts her life plans, doesn't she have a right to choose which path her life goes down?
And before you say, "well, then don't have sex", just don't. Safe, consensual, and casual or committed sex is fun, enjoyable, and a normal part of the human experience. People are going to have sex for love and pleasure, not just for procreation. It's just how we are.
I do believe that everyone is entitled to their own views and beliefs and that disagreements and differing opinions are part of a healthy society. However, the next time you want to step foot on our campus, bear these words in mind:
If you bring hate-speech to our campus, your words will be drowned out with cheers and praises for those you berate. If you use little children as pawns to push your beliefs on our community, you will be called out and shamed. Your hate has no home here.
The First Amendment and our open-campus policy may protect your right to gather and demonstrate, but it also gives myself and my fellow Warhawks the right to protect each other, and tell you to shut up and get lost. You may be "welcome" to come on to our campus, but you WILL NOT be welcomed.
You left when it started raining, to which we cheered jubilantly. Looking at it through a religious lens, one could argue that the storm was an act of God, telling you all to disband and leave us alone; to punish you for being such intolerant, hateful Christians.
The Second Commandment tells you to "love thy neighbor as thyself", not "berate and harass your neighbor for their life choices." If your God is all-powerful, perfect, forgiving, and is the only one who can pass judgment, then worry less about what other people are doing and focus on your own lives.