Last week, to mark the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, pro-life students at the College of William & Mary and the William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg erected a pro-life display commemorating the lives lost since the 1973 Supreme Court decision.
The display included posters and thousands of popsicle sticks placed into the ground to represent the thousands of abortions performed every day in the United States in the post-Roe era.
To the horror of the students responsible for the display, and to anyone who believes in freedom of expression, the administration-approved display was vandalized overnight and destroyed.
What was so offensive about the display that would cause others to violently attack it?
Nothing, really. One poster read, “A woman should have rights over her body from the moment she exists.” Another said, “Love Them Both,” referring to the mother and the child. Another reflected the theme from this year’s March For Life: “Love Saves Lives.”
Apparently that’s too much for the hyper-intolerance of modern college campuses. The display was destroyed within hours of being erected.
As Katherine Beck, who is President of the Advocates for Life at William & Mary law school, told TBE,
“Even if you don’t agree that what’s inside a woman’s womb is a life, that’s a message of love someone is trying to spread, and for someone to rip it up in the middle of the night and throw it in the trashcan, that was really hard to see, especially at William and Mary.”
It’s really sad that even such a simple message—one that neither shames nor demeans, but is instead meant to inspire—finds such little tolerance at one of America’s top institutions of higher learning.
To their credit, W&M administration officials have launched an investigation, and have reportedly been reviewing security camera footage to find the perpetrators. However, more than a week later, no disciplinary actions have been announced.
In the meantime, the pro-life students who organized the original display are planning a second one that will be bigger and hopefully longer-lived, with better security measures. This time, because of the intolerant vandalism, it is sure to garner even more attention on campus. Let’s hope the vandalism causes at least some students who might otherwise have been dismissive of the effort to instead question their assumptions, and approach other students’ heart-felt message with an open mind.
UPDATE: Charges have been filed in connection with this incident. According to Willimasburg Yorktown Daily, 21-year old Daniel Sheaffer, of Sterling, has been charged with one misdemeanor count of destruction of property. Sheaffer is apparently upset that this matter of public record became public, however, and has issued a statement via Facebook saying that he regarded what he did as “friendly garbage removal,” and that the police misled him into thinking that this matter of public record would remain private. He further indicates that he believes that by not making this matter of public record private, the police are “putting a student’s well-being at risk over popsicle sticks just to appease conservative media outlets.”
Such a poor, delicate, entitled flower this young person is. Try this, young Mx. Sheaffer: next time, if you don’t want to be held publicly accountable, don’t vandalize a public display.
Credit to the College, though. William & Mary spokesperson Suzanne Seurattan issued the following statement:
“The students who set up the display followed the university’s process and protocol for these types of demonstrations. Vandalism or destruction of property is never an acceptable form of expression and clearly a violation of university policy. We are grateful for the hard work of William & Mary Police in this case and pleased an arrest has been made.”