"I'm Offended"

I’m occasionally asked how students respond to my presentations in schools. As you might expect, the individual responses vary. However, because the high schools I speak at are either Catholic or Protestant, a good number of the students I encounter are pro-life and respond very favorably. Thankfully, many of these students have a fire in their hearts for the unborn. However, it can be depressing to see how many students, even on these campuses, defend the abortion choice position by thoughtlessly hiding behind shallow rhetoric and popular abortion choice slogans.

My recent visit to high schools in Kansas was no exception. After addressing 850 students in an assembly I spent the remainder of the day in classrooms fielding questions. These smaller settings allow for more intimate sharing and this is where students really open up and share their honest feelings and thoughts on abortion.

After one class period, two students, Emily & Jillian, approached me eager to register their complaint. Emily, the more talkative one, proudly declared, “I’m offended!”, which seemed to trigger an involuntary response from Jillian who blurted out, “So am I!”

Their words just kind of hung there in the air waiting for my reply. It seemed they were offering their personal offense as my problem to fix, so I responded, “Do you mind if I ask what I said that offended you?” Emily happily retorted, “You basically accused us and all pro-choicers of being ‘Hitler-like’ abortionists.” Now to be clear, I never mentioned Hitler or made any comparison between him and those who support the abortion decision. In fact, I made no reference whatsoever to the Jewish holocaust or anything that could possibly have been misconstrued in the way they claimed. With a small jury of their peers listening in, they were unable to deny this fact for very long and so they moved on to other accusations and rabbit trails.

For the record, I welcome this kind of dialogue and view it as an opportunity to help students like Emily and Jillian think through the weaknesses of their position. But here’s what I think was really bugging them: having seen abortion victim imagery with their own eyes and having heard several of their popular abortion choice slogans and clichés debunked, Emily & Jillian were feeling insecure about their own position. Popular slogans like “My body, my choice!” pack a powerful punch until you’re confronted with dismembered and decapitated unborn children. All of a sudden “choice” doesn’t sound very noble anymore.

Political correctness is producing a generation of hypersensitive people who, when confronted with an opposing view, find it much easier to assume a wounded victim status than to do the hard work of providing good counter-arguments. I don’t write this to add offense to my young opponents, but to illustrate the need for clear thinking about abortion on high school and university campuses. I gave Emily & Jillian and their peers much to think about. Now it’s up to them to put their minds to the grindstone and do the hard work. In the meantime, please pray for them, and for me, as I take the case for life to other campuses this Fall.

Mike Spencer