“Zero Tolerance”: the threat to free speech at UNSW

Is anyone else shocked at the furious opposition to LifeChoice UNSW? There were four pieces in the latest Tharunka, all of which were either openly or thinly veiled against the club. A letter by our president in the editorial section garnered a rather snarky response from the editor longer than the letter itself!

I’ve been stewing over as to why this might be the case, and have realised the answer is Zero Tolerance. The Zero Tolerance of “free thinkers” for opinions and ideals contrary to their own. Tharunka’s opinion piece “Real Choice not LifeChoice” by Kylar Loussithikan was the epitome of this classic irony in which those who parade under the banner of freedom, are in fact profoundly close-minded.

The entire work was predicated upon the unspoken assumption that “abortion is a human right” and thus any club “restricting individual choice” that is the right to abortion should automatically be delegitimized.

Fundamentally, the refusal to affiliated LifeChoice UNSW is an insult to free speech. It is an unacceptable discrimination that ARC has not exercised to other groups holding moral views and a deliberate movement to suppress the opinions and views of a pro-life club. Peter Singer acknowledged this in an article about the Sydney LifeChoice group, “A university, in particular, should be a place where ideas are able to be freely expressed. Students should be challenged to defend the ideas they take for granted.”

Indeed this is what LifeChoice UNSW intends to do, but let us clarify exactly what LifeChoice is. It is a pro-life group, thus like so many other groups on campus it takes a particular moral standpoint. This does not, as the article purports, exclude the possibility of discussion rather as Singer points out challenges the student body on values they take for granted thus catalyzing discussion and debate. This is why we encourage people of all views and standpoints to come to our events.  LifeChoice is not a single issue group it deals with both euthanasia and abortion, it is a group about love of human life and human dignity. It is not a lobby group, it has no activity in contacting politicians. it is a secular society run and composed of people from all walks of life, areas of study and beliefs.

The right to life is an inalienable human right acknowledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right to an abortion is not. To flippantly entitle an action a “right”, simply because one believes it should be, degrades the value of rights which have been enshrined in international conventions.  Assumptions that abortions are an inviolable human right confuse the issues that LifeChoice UNSW aims to promote discussion on. Human rights need to be protected, so we need to be very clear on what our rights are.

So let’s stop the pseudo-fascist sentiments and let’s have a serious discussion.

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