YOU may have noticed that the only people denying there’s such a thing as ‘cancel culture’ are those doing the cancelling. When exposed, they assert that ‘free speech has consequences’ – a warning that sounds like a veiled threat, the sort a mobster makes in a third-rate movie.
For the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), it is clear that pro-lifers in the West are increasingly up against a ‘woke’ mob who can get their way only through slander, intimidation and, when all else has failed, violence. All the things that pro-lifers today are falsely accused of, pro-abortion activists do as a matter of course every single day – and it is getting worse.
In October, a female SPUC staff member was invited by the pro-life Edinburgh Life Society to speak at Edinburgh University. Her talk was intended to be on the growing issue of coerced abortion in the UK, recognised in a recent BBC poll which found that 15 per cent of British women have experienced some form of pressure or coercion to abort an unborn baby.
This is a serious subject which must be discussed and dealt with urgently and honestly, not only for the sake of women and their unborn children but also for our society, which aspires to protect all citizens from abuse.
As SPUC’s speaker began to engage with students on this matter, she was disrupted by pro-abortion student activists with megaphones determined to cancel the event. ‘Stop this talk right now,’ they shouted. ‘We are disrupting this talk . . . Stop this right now. We are claiming this space . . . We are not allowing this to happen on our campus.’
A vocal and vitriolic minority of students succeeded in cancelling not only the free speech of student pro-lifers but also the right of other students to hear what our speaker had to say about coerced abortion.
The cancellation of free speech at Edinburgh University is not an isolated incident, unfortunately. In recent years, UK campuses have become increasingly hostile environments for pro-life students who want to voice their opinion as they are entitled to do in a free society. For pro-life students, universities are unsafe spaces where they are regularly subjected to abuse and even death threats, as happened to a pro-life student group at Exeter University last year.
‘Someone beat him up’, one person posted online when referring to an Exeter pro-life student. Another comment read: ‘Fav place in Exeter gonna be the BOTTOM of the quay if u int careful.’
A pro-life student group at Oxford University had their freshers’ stall trashed by fellow students – a hostile act intended to cancel pro-life free speech. It is shocking when such an act takes place on campus, one predicated on the free exchange of ideas, especially at such an elite university as Oxford. Yet pro-abortion student activists in the UK are increasingly turning to the abusive tactics used by their counterparts in the United States. Our great worry is that such ‘activism’ will turn to violence.
Since the overturning of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court in June this year, pro-life individuals and groups, as well as churches and pregnancy centres, have been subjected to a wave of violence in the United States. One pro-abortion militant even attempted to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
A pro-abortion militant group called Jane’s Revenge declared ‘open season’ on pro-life pregnancy centres. ‘Through attacking, we find joy, courage, and strip the veneer of impenetrability held by these violent institutions,’ the group proclaimed in a menacing letter. Such extreme rhetoric is a clear projection of violent intentions. A few weeks ago, the same group threatened to ‘shoot up’ a Catholic venue hosting a pro-life student workshop in Nebraska.
There is a real danger here that such militants, in the US and the UK, will ultimately make good on their promises. But so far, little or no action is taken to protect pro-lifers.
The pro-life movement is on the front line of the battle for free speech in the UK. For the most part, it is fighting alone, though the threats against it are merely the sharp end of a censorious spear wielded against Western democratic freedom as a whole. Censorship is being institutionalised by the state through the imposition of so-called ‘buffer zones’, outlawing pro-life speech and even silent prayer within the vicinity of abortion facilities. Thoughtcrime has become a terrifying reality in the UK, underwritten by our own Supreme Court, an appalling assault on religious and democratic freedoms once held to be sacrosanct.
While pro-abortion ideologues say they want to protect women from the pro-lifers, the violence, threats and intimidation are coming solely from the pro-abortion side, which cynically attempts to impose censorship by claiming it ‘protects’ women from the opinions and help of pro-lifers, who seek to help women and ultimately save a life.
We are living in an upside-down world where prayer, including making the sign of the cross, and open debate are said to be intimidatory and even violent acts, yet the avowedly violent rhetoric of pro-abortion activists are considered loving and protective acts of social justice. And so, nothing is done to protect pro-lifers and everything is done to further enable anti-free speech pro-abortion militants.
While others may be indifferent to the debate on abortion or unsympathetic with the pro-life cause, they ought to take note as on another issue in which they may be deemed not ‘woke’ enough, the mob will eventually come for them too. First, they came for the pro-lifers, then they came for you.