A Different Kind of Free Speech – Keeping Silent for One Full Day
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 Standtrue.com, 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