Last October on a trip to UC Berkeley I walked by the political tables near Sather Gate and saw about three young women at the anti-abortionist table along with the usual grisly photos of dead fetuses. I didn't engage them in any argument at all but just looked them and their photos over carefully. My generation fought for their right to have those tables, to have free speech, and to have their photos. Good that everybody has free speech.
But here's my free speech. I think those photos at the anti-abortionist table were deeply offensive. I thought those photos were pornography for political ends. These photos showed violence agan and again--an unrelentless vision of violence in order to upset people. I've once seen a violent Hollywood film with humans getting killed in awful ways every ten minutes that I thought the film uses pornography of violence which degrades human life.The anti-abortionist with their terrible photos use a similar pornography of violence that degrades human life.
But the anti-abortionists show photos which are the visual equivelent of a kick-in-the-stomach. Arguing that way is deeply dehumanizing --dehumanzing to the audience in particular. I think that the anti-abortionists by showing pornographic photos of dead fetuses or verbal equivalents--there is a verbal pornography of violence that lists one grisly death after another-- are undermining their own arguments.
The anti-abortions don't engage in argument appealing to the audience's logic or reason. When we got free speech on the Berkeley campus, we engaged in arguments appealing to logic and reason month after month. I would hope that the anti-abortionists quit such ways of arguing and instead argue from facts showing where the sources for their facts. It's not enough to throw out a random statistics--people lie with statistics every day of the week--but one needs to show where these statistics come from.