Sunday, March 27, 2005


Rivard: "Freedom of Assembly for me, but not for thee"

In Robert Rivard's Sunday column, we are treated to the appalling spectacle of the "editor and executive vice president" of the San Antonio Express-News advocating the denial of our First Amendment right of assembly.
It's a shame that the leadership of the University of Texas at San Antonio wasn't able to mount a serious legal challenge to last week's bizarre and offensive anti-abortion exhibit staged in the heart of the main campus near Sombrilla Plaza.
Rivard goes on to subjectively describe the images displayed as "tasteless", "offensive" and "obscene". This, from an editorial board which derides Conservative Christians for supposedly inflicting their own vision of morality on the rest of America!
Anti-abortion advocates have successfully sued both the University of Texas and the University of Houston in recent years to gain broader access to campuses. It's doubtful, then, that there will be any significant challenge to Justice for All's graphic and revolting traveling road show.

A legal challenge might have made another equally important political point. Right now, different courts are offering different interpretations of what constitutes free speech and assembly.
So, Rivard concedes that our judicial system has already certified the right to display these anti-abortion images - yet he maintains it is "a shame" no legal action was taken. We conclude that Rivard is recommending a nuisance, or SLAPP suit, in order to harass the anti-abortion protest. Interestingly, the SAEN vigorously opposes such unjust harassment suits (and quite rightly) when they are aimed by developers against aquifer activists...but apparently it's open season on abortion foes.
While the anti-abortion groups have silenced any challenges to their right to assault students, faculty and other passers-by with traumatizing images...
"Silenced"! So now it is the abortion protestors who are doing the silencing. You can almost sense the moral dilemma Rivard has backed himself into. He seems to realize the repugnant position he has taken against free assembly, so he inverts the picture to cast blame on the citizens who are exercising their rights of free speech and assembly. In his mind, it's not Rivard threatening their freedom to assemble, it's that the evil abortion haters have "silenced" their opposition - and, we might note, through the legal system usually so worshipped by Rivard and ACLUniks.

Let's try a little counterfactual exercise here. Say a pro-abortion group wanted to mount a "Save Roe v. Wade" protest at UTSA. The university takes legal action to prevent them (I know, it's difficult to imagine public school officials opposing abortion, but bear with me). The legal action is denied, the protest goes on. Is it even conceivable that Rivard would write that the pro-abortion group had "silenced" the challenges to their protest!?
Try mounting oversized images of Iraqi torture victims on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in a way that prevents lawmakers from entering or leaving the building without being filmed with the images as a backdrop and see how long it takes for someone to invoke Homeland Security concerns.
So, if some theoretical stifling of dissent is conceivable in Washington, that is enough to justify, for Rivard, actual suppression of free speech here at UTSA. In RivardWorld, it turns out two wrongs do make a right!

In any case, what does this have to do with Washington? Let's stick to apples and apples: "Try mounting oversized images of Iraqi torture victims on the grounds of UTSA..." Um, I'll bet it has already been done, and applauded by the administration.

If this were a regular left-wing hack, this rambling, incoherent rant - in the editorial section - would not be worth remarking on. What makes it so is the writer: Robert Rivard, who is listed as "the editor and executive vice president" of the San Antonio Express-News. This is the man who has ultimate editorial control of each and every news article printed in our only local newspaper. In this column he has revealed himself as so vigorously pro-abortion that he literally is ashamed that a completely legal anti-abortion protest was not suppressed by legalistic maneuvers. How can any anti-abortion group in the city possibly expect to receive even-handed treatment in news articles which are controlled by Rivard - an editor who is such a strident opponent of abortion foes that he proudly writes a column to that effect for all to see?

At this point, we need to ask: why does the SAEN not have a position of ombudsman?
As a student at UTSA, I had the opportunity to see the images displayed in the court yard both Monday and Tuesday during the exhibition.

I must say that when I saw students unpacking a large trailer at around 7:00am, I instantly thought, "I wonder what kind of liberal propaganda are we going to be exposed to today..." But I was surprised. Once I saw what the exhibit really was, I honestly had to sit down and question myself. Have I been to critical with the liberal administration?

The exhibit was well done. No screaming. No shouting. The whole focus was on the images. I think it was a very peaceful and academic way of opening some real dialogue.

Of course, what you probably didn't hear about was how 4 different school groups mustered about 15 pro-choice supporters to march around the pictures and bang on their buckets with T-shirts that bared the image of coat hangers. They made absolute fools of themselves. Everybody there saw the difference in how either side makes their point. One with images that bear the results of a "medical procedure," and the other with a bunch of angry people shouting and banging.

I was unaware that the University was basically forced to allow free speech and equal representation.
UTSA doesn't need to show pictures of abuse victims in Iraq. That job is already taken by the Express-News. How many stories, and how many pictures about Abu Ghraib did they run? Thank you for balancing them out with your "Pic of the day" feature.
It is also quite revealing of Rivard’s liberal leanings when he repeatedly calls the event “anti-choice” even though the events organizers used the term “pro-life.” It is fine with me if he wants to argue semantics. You see, Mr. Rivard isn’t pro-choice as he would have you believe. In reality he is pro-infanticide, aren’t you Bob?
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