A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Ninth Circuit ruling on public display of abortion photos is a win for social reform

Gregg Cunningham [Director, Center For Bio-Ethical Reform]: "Why does it matter that hecklers be denied a veto over offensive speech? Social injustice will always flourish where it is ignored and trivialized. Oppressors are most ruthless when their abuses can be concealed. It is, therefore, the responsibility of social reformers to drag these travesties out of the darkness and into the light. They must relentlessly confront the culture with evidence of society's complicity and complacency in the commission of great civil wrongs. Awareness of injustice must be forced and it must be made unavoidable. Ignorance and denial are always most effectively overcome when activists compel the public to view shocking photos which emphasize the humanity of the victims and the inhumanity of the injustices by which they are being victimized.

Nobody ever wants to see these pictures and the activists who display them in the public square invite terrible retribution. Photos of children being abused by cruelly exploitative employers sickened parents (and consumers) who profited from child labor and didn't want to know how badly their children were being treated. Photos of black people being beaten to their knees for trying to register to vote shamed America before the world. Photos of animal rights abuses and battlefield atrocities and death camp horror evoke feelings of guilt in those who perpetrated as well as those who permitted these terrible acts.

Society's reflexive response to these pictures is to silence the messenger (easy) instead of halting the injustice (hard). Child labor activists reported that the public was angrier at them for showing the photos than they were at those who abused the children in the pictures. The Ku Klux Klan routinely attacked press; photographers and destroyed their cameras before attacking the black civil rights demonstrators who were their real targets. Pro-abortion activists often and attack or threaten pro-life activists with physical violence (see threats at http://www.abortionno.org) and attempt to cover-up or destroy aborted baby photos we display in public.

Our Center for Bio-Ethical Reform's 9th Circuit Appellate Court victory against the Los Angeles County public schools and Sheriff's Department may have angered pro-abortion activists and even the public, but if bureaucrats can ban our aborted baby photos from public streets, no picture is safe from censorship and social injustice of all sorts will eventually abound with impunity. Without rigorously protected speech, social reform is simply impossible. Society will shout down the reformers every time."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

Support JURIST

We rely on our readers to keep JURIST running

 Donate now!

About Professional Commentary

Professional Commentary is JURIST's platform for newsmakers, activists and legal experts to comment on national and international legal developments.

Hotline welcomes submissions, inquiries and comments at professionalcommentary@jurist.org.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.