Give free speech a chance

It’s not every day that a student society which has yet to hold its first event or even affiliate with Arc is the subject of four of the snarkiest hack jobs in a single Tharunka issue. Such was the case recently with LifeChoice UNSW, a club started to promote pro-life perspectives on the issues of abortion and euthanasia.

Nowhere has this opposition to our club been wackier then when Kylar Louisskian triumphantly declared us duplicitous because we aim to promote discussion while adhering to a set of philosophical principles. We have never pretended to espouse both pro-choice and pro-life views, only that we want to have a chance to express LifeChoice’s pro-life perspective.

Clearly our illustrious editor doesn’t understand the concept of student debate. Discussion in the real world requires dissenting perspectives. And that’s exactly what LifeChoice wants to provide: an alternative perspective on how we can approach issues of human rights, dignity, and personhood. We create discussion by hosting speakers and events which promote our view allowing our fellow students to engage and debate with those ideas.

Loussikian’s accusation could be made against literally any society on campus. Where was the protest when the Greens held their regular ‘politics in the pub’ event last week, clearly preferencing a particular set of ideological principles? I had a look at the UNSW Atheist society Facebook page, and shock horreur, not a single article in favour of a theistic worldview.

Every fair-minded student recognises that the purpose of these clubs is to provide a means for like-minded students to come together, discuss their views, and then present them to the wider university community. This doesn’t preclude intellectual discussion, but, on the contrary, gives it a solid foundation of rational principles.

Complex ethical questions deserve to be rigorously debated. This is especially true at a university, the marketplace of free ideas in our society. LifeChoice is about promoting ‘the dignity of all human life’, from the unborn to the elderly and everyone in between. We choose to discuss abortion and euthanasia, not because we hate women or freedom, but because we feel these issues intersect with the fundamental questions in our society: the beginning of life, and what it means to be a human being.

A lot has been said about LifeChoice: who we are, what we stand for, and why we exist as a club. We’ve been called ‘moronic sycophants’, radically political, deranged, and even misogynistic. None of this even faintly resembles reality.

Despite Loussikian’s protests to the contrary, this has everything to do with free speech, not just for pro-life students but anyone who disagrees with the narrow ideological agenda of our campus elite. This is about the disenfranchisement of a segment of students, on the basis of their ethical views.

We want to contribute to intellectual discourse at UNSW. We can’t impose our views any more than other students. We don’t want to see law changes, or lobby any politicians. We simply want to express our views, have them heard and challenged at our university. NoVaticanconspiracy. No duplicity. Just straight-up, students doing what students do best.

Anna Fernon,
President, LifeChoice UNSW

An edited version of this opinion piece is published in Tharunka.

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