Outrage Over College Republican Statement on Alabama Law

May 20, 2019

Students and others are criticizing the College Republicans at Birmingham-Southern College for a now-deleted Instagram post that praised the new Alabama law effectively banning abortion in the state. The anger is over a comparison made in the post between the four black girls murdered in a church bombing in 1963 in Birmingham, and the fetuses aborted in the state today (the post called them "babies"). Students held a rally Friday.

President Daniel B. Coleman issued a statement criticizing the rhetoric used in the Republicans' post. "Birmingham-Southern is a 'safe place,'" he wrote. "This means that we will do everything possible to protect your physical safety. This means this is a place where you are encouraged to be yourself; you are encouraged to develop your views and express them. By definition, a 'safe place' is not a place where you are not going to be offended. By definition, if we encourage freedom of expression, we have to protect expression with which we disagree. Expression that does not offend does not need protection. Notwithstanding, expression meant to provoke rather than encourage discourse does not move our community forward. It divides. It is up to the community itself to take care of provocative discourse."

Coleman also apologized for an email he sent to a student who contacted him to express concern about the College Republicans. In his email, he wrote, "I am here to help prepare students deal with it." Some students have interpreted that email as a sign that he was telling students "deal with it." But Coleman said that was not the intent. In his speed to answer, he said, he left out the word "to" before "deal."

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