Tulane should allow films like Roe v Wade to be shot on campus


Tulane should allow controversial films, including those like “Roe v. Wade,” to be filmed on campus. The ideal of free expression has long been touted as a fundamental principle of any properly functioning democracy.  In order for the truth to rise to the top, individuals must be free to debate, discuss and disagree with one another about issues of importance. The recent idea that controversy is the barrier between what should be said and what should be suppressed, however, only serves to weaken our democratic foundation.

While strong debate continuously grants the upper-hand to those who know and speak the truth, many of these same individuals fail to recognize the power that the freedom of expression has granted them. The ability to speak freely emboldens the truthful and disarms those who cling to bad ideas. When considering these things, the answer to the question of whether Tulane should allow this film to be shot on campus is a clear and resounding “yes.”  

Regardless of your stance on abortion, or on Roe v. Wade in particular, Tulane students should stand on the side of free speech. The university has long been the place where debate and discussion flourish, because individuals are able to come here seeking to learn more, better themselves and better their communities. When this debate is stifled because it is deemed “too controversial,” both sides of the debate in question lose. Those with the truth lose because they are simply unable to spread it. Those that attach themselves to falsehoods lose because they will never learn of their error.

In this case particularly, both pro-life and pro-choice students are hurt by the administration’s decision. The loss of those on the side of life is apparent enough, as a film that defends their point of view would not be shot on their campus. The loss on the side of choice, however, is less clear. Why would it be costly to pro-choice individuals to prevent this film from being shot on campus?

John Stuart Mill once provided an answer in his famed treatise, “On Liberty,” saying, “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that … if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know who they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.” For someone to be truly confirmed in their own beliefs, they must debate and discuss with their opponents to come to a better understanding of their own positions and opinions. It is clear that pro-choice advocates wish to see their own positions put into policy. If they want to craft compelling case to support their cause, however, they must have a clear understanding of their opponents.

Controversy is not something to be avoided in a place that stands for intellectual diversity, equality and progressing society forward. It is something to be embraced.  Any person that comes to the table in opposition of the majority’s opinion is a person offering these individuals the chance to grow in their own beliefs and, perhaps, to convince this person of their error.

In order for Tulane to become an engine that drives society further toward knowledge, understanding and the truth, it must first stand for the freedom of expression.

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