“I’m frustrated as a student who happens to be pro-life,”
-Jose Espinoza, student
Associated Students Inc. Senate discussed concerns with the Genocide Awareness Project’s anti-abortion display and its impact on the students at Wednesday’s meeting.
During the meeting’s public comments portion, Long Beach State student Jose Espinoza took to the podium to give his stance on the pushback against the anti-abortion group’s installation.
“We in the pro-life community here on campus are being demonized just because some people don’t like the graphic images and some people happen to be criticizing the organization that I personally invited,” Espinoza said.
The display, which was erected at the Free Speech Lawn Oct. 9 and 10, contained explicit photos of fetuses alongside images of Holocaust victims, making comparisons between the two. Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for the Jewish community was Oct. 8 and 9.
Espinoza addressed the heavy criticism over GAP’s display including photos of Holocaust victims and defended the organization’s display because it was free speech.
“Some people have criticized [The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform] due to the fact that they had images of the Jewish Holocaust,” Espinoza said. “It’s not CBR’s intention[…]to offend anyone in the Jewish community. CBR’s intention is to expose the truth of the reality of abortion, whether the student body likes it or not, it’s personal free speech.”
Sen. Taryn Williams, who is Jewish, shared her experience with being inundated by student reactions during her observation of Yom Kippur.
“While I was at home Wednesday, fasting, my phone was ringing non-stop, so I wrote down a comment,” Williams said.
Williams followed the statement with a speech she prepared:
It seems to be a huge oversight to have posted photos of dead Holocaust victims on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, a day that we abstain from food and water for 25 hours and remain in prayer and reflection.
Just because CBR finds abortion obscene, does not justify exploiting the Holocaust in an obscene way. Offending all Jews by desecrating our ancestors does not actually advance the pro-life cause. I am requesting a public apology on behalf of the Jewish population on campus[…]
They gave so much forethought and consideration to unborn babies, but not so much to the group whose images existed side by side with them. By making a comparison, they made it a target and an option to debate the reality of the Holocaust. Furthermore, it is an infringement on our religious rights and undermines an important holiday.
Williams’ speech was met with agreement all around the board and in the audience. Sen. Daniel Galindo spoke up in agreement and acknowledged the importance of free speech, but noted his support for the Jewish community.
“Although I respect everyone’s right to free speech [because] it’s essential to our democracy, but with that, [there is] the right to not only criticize, but also receive criticism for your actions,” Galindo said. “I would like to publicly stand behind Sen. Williams’s request for a public apology from the Genocidal Awareness Project.”
The next ASI Senate meeting will be held Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. in USU 234.
This article previously reported inaccurate information in a quote and was corrected on Oct. 17 at 9:04 a.m.