NomDebPlume's 2½ Cents

Because I have an opinion about everything…

A Different Kind of Free Speech – Keeping Silent for One Full Day


Students Day of Silent Solidarity
October 24, 2006

The premise is simple: Keep silent for one full day to draw attention to the number of abortions since the passage of Roe v. Wade, January 22, 1973 – more than 4000 each day.  The performance is much more difficult… for someone who talks as much as I do, I would say it borders the impossible.  For the students who participated last year, they learned just how difficult it can be to exercise “Free Speech”, even when there is no speech involved at all.

Prior to the Day of Silence, coordinated by, students notify the faculty and administration at their schools of what to expect so there will be no surprises, yet once the day arrives, some participants are still confronted with problems.  Last year’s Day of Silent Solidarity included students from over 1200 campuses, although many faced opposition, harassment, name-calling, and a few were even suspended from school. 

While being silent, the students also pray: for the mothers, the doctors, and for those still struggling with the decision to abort.  They consider this the most important aspect of the day, really.  Additionally, they wear red armbands and can choose to put tape over their mouths.  They may also write a word on the tape that symbolizes why they have chosen to keep silent for the day, such as “LIFE” or “SILENCED”.  Many choose to wear a shirt with the word or a slogan as well. 


Oddly, their choice to exercise their free speech in this manner is considered offensive by some, including teachers, on occasion.  There have been incidences of faculty comparing participants to racists, and punitive measures have been taken against others at some schools where administrators considered the wearing of a pro-life slogan similar to wearing a confederate flag to school.  Yet the choice to abort a baby has become commonplace; this month’s issue of Ms. Magazine helps to put the topic in societal perspective:

“We are now starting a new petition, beginning with the names of some of the original 1972 signers. They signed to save lives and to spare other women the pain of socially imposed guilt.” Their purpose was “to repeal archaic and inhuman laws.”

We recognize that, still, not every woman will be able to sign—33 years after Roe— even though abortion is a very common, necessary and important procedure for millions of women in the U.S…”

When asked about their armbands, tape or silence, students then hand out flyers that include facts about abortion and the development of life in the womb.  As one might imagine, this is volatile material in a school setting – in most settings – nowadays.  While some students do get harassed, overall, the message does get out.  It is difficult to ignore a person who refuses to speak and with red tape over his/her mouth.

Whether the others in the school agree or disagree with their courageous classmates willing to take a stand about something they feel so passionate about, one thing results: students and staff alike are forced to pause and think.  If only for a nanosecond, the silence of these brave souls speaks volumes for the souls who will never say anything at all.


      For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.      Psalm 139:13




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18 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Free Speech – Keeping Silent for One Full Day

  1. Wow Debi, I’ve never heard of this before. I think it’s quite courageous just by virtual of the fact that it is so politically incorrect.

    I had to laugh at Ms Mag’s quote: ‘They signed to save lives and to spare other women the pain of socially imposed guilt.” There purpose was ‘to repeal archaic and inhuman laws.’ So a woman who is caused guilt by society is tantamount to being put in a conentration camp or something? And being pregnant is inhuman? boggles the mind.

    And as usual – apparently ‘free speech’ is only for the chosen few and only ifyou agree with them.

    I’ll be honest – I can understand the pro choice view – I believe it is a private decision and the person must live with their choice. However, the vehemence and hatred that this ‘group’ seems to lavish upon those whose choice is different from theirs borders on maniacal.

    And, abortion should not be considered a Constitutional ‘right.’ For one thing it isn’t a right that can be afforded all Americans (men are still Americans, aren’t they?) A personal behavior isn’t a right – it’s a choice. This whole issue gives a headache. I want a magic pill that will erase all the politically correct crap out of our lives. Oy.


  2. I’m with you, Annie… political correctness is a curse. It’s become an excuse not to even think of the difference between right and wrong anymore… “let’s just do what looks right” – OR – what keeps the most people quiet, I think… :-/

    I am so impressed with young people who have chosen to take a stand about something that is so important to them and are willing to suffer the consequences for something they believe in. It’s hard to find many adults who will do the same anymore.

    And yes, I believe men still are Americans who should be involved in this choice, contrary to what “Ms” would suggest. Although, they are of the opinion that, in addition to “sparing other woman the pain of socially imposed guilt” the women who signed the abortion petition were “saving lives”. To me, this qualifies as an oxymoron, so I don’t know how credible their opinion would be….

  3. Yeah, I can’t get the ‘saving lives’ reference either. The fact is (which they don’t want you to know about) is that abortion was legal in 48 before Roe v Wade came into being. So women were not going to back alley abortionists (as they like you to believe) and taking their lives in their own hands.

    It’s a bill of goods, propagated by women who hate men and probably suffer from some serious self-loathing. And really isn’t it a covert means of population control? When it comes to pro-choice, it seems the choice you have is theirs.

    I wish people would wake up and use their noodles on this one. But alas, women have been convinced they ‘need’ that backdoor of abortion as a solution to the fact that they make some bad choices before an abortion becomes an issue. If they wanted to help women, why not help them to make better choices in thier relationships and their sexual practices? Just a thought.

  4. Well put: “the only choice you have is theirs.” They need to realize there are always other choices. It boils down to personal responsibility, which is not a popular theme.

    I know someone: a 38-year-old widow with 3 relatively young children. She was dating someone, things got serious, the pill didn’t work… now she’s a 43-year-old widow with 3 older children and one more, much younger. In no way was having another child a good idea, but abortion was not an option, either. First you play, then you pay.   And sometimes, you get surprised and are blessed… :-)

  5. You know Deb,
    I think the abortion issue is part of a larger problem. This society has evolved into an ever-demanding shrine to the self. Selflessness, compassion, understanding, taking the tough road never seem to enter people’s minds. It’s unsettling to me – to see our population becoming such self-centered egotists. When that changes maybe this will change.

  6. So “WC” also stands for “WISE CHICK”. You are exactly right.
    Unfortunately, it seems the next generation is even more selfish, and less likely to take responsibility than the last.

    But we can still hope and pray for change….

  7. LOL – wise chick???? I’m not sure I would say that. I have my fleeting moments of lucidity… But I agree, personal accountability needs to have a big comeback.

  8. I’m not entirely sure exactly where you ladies stand exactly on the issue (it does have a myriad of shades), but even though I’m “Pro Choice” I support peaceful protest (though I’m curious how this isn’t a similar emotional appeal to what the infamous Michael J. Fox commercial). There is also a similar day of silence to protest violence against homosexuals and I think it’s a great way to get raise awareness.

  9. I was in the neighborhood, and somehow ended up at your website. I enjoy reading different views on subjects and respect the opinions of people wether they agree with mine or not. However, I don’t think petitioning or the taping of ones mouth will change the outcome of ones personal decision. This just creates hate and resentment, which may be why participants were compared to as “racists”.
    I too like to see people of all ages stand up for what they believe as long as it doesn’t hurt other people. However like it or not the law is what it is. In the eyes of the law women who choose abortion are doing nothing wrong. If it’s the eyes of God you’re worried about, then it’s our behavior, not the behavior of others that should be our concern. As far as being irresponsible, how many woman chose not to terminate a pregnancy, but have no interest in being a responsible parent. I think if you feel strongly about not being able to exercise freedom of speech regarding the issue of obortion, then petitioning, picketting, taping, tying , voicing, silencing, etc. should be saved for the lawmakers…not the law abiding citizens that others don’t approve of.

  10. BZB,
    I have to take issue with your comments. How does doing a silent protest equate to hurting people, petitioning, picketing, taping, tying, etc? On the other side of the issue all these methods are used. Except perhaps for the silence approach. I’ve seen anti-war folks (for example) dragging mock coffins, burning flags and calling GW Bush a Nazi. But I see no mention of this sort of thing.

    I think that people who get offended by pro-life folks who protest are being a bit hypocritical. They seem to have no compunction about making their issues known and heard – why can’t the other side do the same? This is my beef. Not who is right or wrong – but the inequality of free speech rights that seems to come from the left. It’s perfectly okay for them to say and do anything that forwards their cause – the opposition, however is not afforded the same curtesy.

    As to the law being what it is – like it not – well if that is really your point of view – prior to Roe v Wade – would you have had that attitude?

    We, as Americans, all, have freedom of speech – and labling one group as haters because it doesn’t agree with your point of view – and suggesting that they shouldn’t do it smacks of inequality to me.


  11. Welcome back, Chris…
    I’m surprised you couldn’t tell I am pro-choice from what I said, but maybe that’s because I was trying to be “civil” again ;-)
    Not sure I see a connection to Michael J. Fox who used his notoriety to gain attention and his disability to gain sympathy while making a political commercial during an election cycle (-?-) His cause is to kill embryos to further research that MIGHT… someday… lead to cures for those who are already alive, but living with diseases. These students are quietly protesting the killing of the same “embryos” because, like so many in this country, they believe human life is being killed.
    The only point I struggle with concerning embryonic stem cell research is the use of the so-called “snow-flake” embryos – those that are discarded from fertility clinics. Apparently marked for death anyway, I must ask myself if they can benefit the living by being subjected to research. But this opens a whole other can of worms for me… the existence of snow-flake embryos in the first place seems overindulgent.
    Anyway… :-)
    I was unaware of the Day of Silence to call attention to violence against homosexuals and believe it is another good way to use this peaceful method of protest. Violence against anyone should not be tolerated in our society, so, yes… it is a good way to raise awareness of that important issue.

  12. BZB,

    Glad you were in the neighborhood and decided to exercise your free speech here. Naturally, you are entitled to your opinion – just as these students, and about 50% of the country, holds an opinion that opposes yours. As WC pointed out, their methods were a lot more benign than what we usually see from protesters, and harmed no one… EXCEPT… perhaps the consciences of those who know in their hearts that this is wrong.

    While the “hate and resentment” you speak of may be a byproduct created in those who choose to feel that way, this does not characterize the protesting students as “racists”. No, those who resort to abortion are not breaking the law – not since 1973, anyway. The funny thing about laws is that they change, but morals shouldn’t.

    Perhaps these students realize we are living in a society that subscribes to an ever-changing fluid moral code and felt compelled to take a stand, hoping to make people stop and think… and possibly save a life in the process. Addressing politicians isn’t really the course of action, or the only course of action. Since we live in a representative government, if the people change their minds first, the politicians will have to respond to the will of the people they represent.

    An argument can always be made for not wanting bad parents to have children, but that would be tantamount to grabbing children away from those [arbitrarily] convicted of this crime and slaughtering their children. I don’t think that measure would get many votes.

    Feel free to come back and chat, but know that I speak my mind… :-)


  13. WC,

    We may come at this topic from different angles, but we certainly agree on some things… :-) I, too, have a low tolerance level for inequality and hypocrisy. From what I’ve read, the country is about evenly divided on this subject, but you’d never know it from the VOLUME on the other side… :-/ “Free speech is great (as long as I’m speaking)”



    All this protest did was try to make people who are pro-choice feel guilty. In no way was it going to help a woman make a very difficult decision. The hate comes in when people try to force their opinions on others. Instead of putting forth all of this effort into making sure people know where you stand on a sensitive issue (or any issue for that matter) why don’t people find constructive ways to help ie: be there for a woman who may need to talk…by being so narrow minded on any issue you are not making yourself available to possibly be of some help to someone. If one of your girlfriends is “irresposnsible” and ends up pregnant, and needs a friend to talk to for advice, you do know that she would not go to you…because she already knows how you would make her feel. I don’t have anything against pro-life opinions…I just feel that it is a very sensitive issue, and that we should not make anyone feel guilty for any choice they make.
    As for the law being what it is…yes I feel the law should always be abided by…even before R v. W.
    I don’t really know what other protests have to do with the abortion issue…but if it makes you feel better, burning flags, dragging coffins, and calling names isn’t right either.

  15. lilo
    I think using the day of silence to bring attention to violence against homosexuals is a much better idea.
    Now, Imagine if the same tactic was used to protest against homosexuality. WRONG!
    I’m curious, do WC- and D- feel that this would work? after you feel it is moral to be homosexual? I would guess that would be a no. Do you think homosexuals would “stop and think”
    well , I think it would be hurtful. Not to mention nonproductive.
    Again…It’s about choice.

  16. Bzbee,

    I think you’re applying very extreme Conservative stereotypes that don’t apply here. I haven’t heard anyone suggesting homosexuality is immoral. Thankfully, America has progressed to the point in which practically every major Conservative politician has publicly acknowledged the rights of homosexuals to practice their sexual preference. Messengers of intolerance like Falwell still have a platform to spew their hatred and while the Republican party has little qualms with indirectly courting the votes of these bigots, it is hardly a Conservative platform.


    I don’t want to get too much into this since you already have an entry for it, but I think you’re mixing your opinion of the validity of the arguments with my point on principle. Both of these movements are designed to raise awareness and have a directly emotional appeal. Fox is showing the heartbreaking agony that all Parkinson disease suffers face as their condition deteriorates. I see it every time I visit my grandfather even with his medication and it’s even worse on his bad days (what people tragically fail to realize is that the disease has dramatic swings in severity, you cannot look at interviews around the time and degree that one is exaggerating or off medication). So I while I strongly agree with his cause and think much of the skepticism of his condition is escapism from acknowledging that countless people with Parkinson’s suffer from conditions at least as bad as depicted in the commercial, I do acknowledge that Fox is appealing to emotionality.

    These protesters are going for the exact same response. You can tell because the strength of their message, like Fox, is not in what they say, but in their appearance. Placing tape over your mouth and writing something like “silenced” is not meant for people to have deep discussion on the many difficulties of the debate. If you see yourself as Pro Choice you are seen as furthering the silencing the voices of these students. Just like the implication in the Fox commercial is that if you block fetal stem cell research you are silencing him.


  17. Chris,

    I almost agree with you this time… :-) While it’s true that the students don’t exactly invite “deep discussion” with this method, I don’t think MJF was invititing discussion as much as pandering for votes – both were using a type of sympathy. But for the students to elicit the level of sympathy that Fox garnered, I think they would have to carry posters of babies being vacuumed from the womb with arms and legs being torn off, i.e., provide an exact representation of what they were talking about (as did Fox).

    Raising awareness of the plight of those dealing with Parkinson’s is a noble cause, indeed, and research money should be allotted for finding a cure. But one man (who happens to also have Parkinson’s) should not be the only person speaking for the entire community insofar as “best cures” and amendments that he hasn’t even read.
    (we can comment on a different post here if we want to – it’s my blog, after all :-)

    Sorry to hear about your grandfather, it sounds quite difficult for the both of you to endure. Does knowing and loving someone with Parkinson’s make the whole issue much more complex for you? Or maybe you already know how you feel about the whole thing?

    ~ Debi

    P.S. Sorry to get so graphic, but I didn’t know how else to convey my point

  18. BZB,
    You have completely misread my comments. First of all, no friend of mine would have a problem coming to me to talk about any difficult situation – whether it be acne or abortion or anything else. I would not in fact judge that person if they felt they had to have an abortion. Because you see, it isn’t my choice to make – I think that everyone should make their own choices not mine.

    And what’s with the narrow minded comment? Just because someone doesn’t agree with you on an issue does not make them narrow minded. They simply don’t agree with you.

    The whole point I was trying to make was this: by and large (and I know this is a generality) it seems to me that pro choice adherents feel that they are the ones who require understanding, acceptance, non-judgment, and agreement. And if someone doesn’t provide this then that person is called a racist, biggot, narrow minded, radical, etc. etc. However, on the other side of the coin, someone who is pro life doesn’t get to expect the same courtesies and respect as the pro choicers. I call that hypocrisy. If you truly believe in free speech for all – then you have walk the walk and talk the talk. If you feel that only those who share your beliefs have free speech then you aren’t doing that. And I’d have to call that narrow minded.

    As to having the word ‘silence’ written across the tape – I don’t believe it was about silencing you or those who share your beliefs, I believe that the point was they were speaking for those who cannot – and when you cannot speak (such as unborn babies for example) there is silence. It’s conceptual, not literal.

    And if people feel guilty about someone else voicing their views then that person, I would suggest, need look inward as to why someone else’s actions makes them feel guilty. If a person does what they feel is best and feels they have made the proper decision for their life – what would it matter what others think or do?

    Anyway, that’s my take. Take it or leave it – I have no compulsion for you to agree with me in any way.

    I respect the fact that you have been very frank and honest in your discussion.


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