Is This Picture Offensive?

Harvard Poster of 56 Day Old Fetus Several students at Harvard think so. They’ve even taken it upon themselves to tear down posters like this one, and others displayed by members of Harvard Right to Life that depict various stages of the development of “Elena” in utero. Harvard Crimson staff writer Alexandra Atiya attempts to give reasons for the “pro-choice” students’ furor over the posters:

The “Elena posters” are the newest tactic of Harvard Right to Life. They feature a little fetus saying, “Oh, HI! I was just celebrating all my organs and me being 56 days alive!” I am not a fan…. They seek to cause anger, not excitement. In doing so, they reveal their antagonistic purpose, implicitly admitting that their primary function is to irritate pro-choice supporters on campus. This kind of purposeless aggression is a hurtful and unproductive way of expressing opinions…. [I]t is simply a statement of anger to express your ideas in the way of the “Elena Posters”…. [I]t’s unnecessarily divisive…. [T]his deliberately flattens an intensely painful and complicated issue. It also happens to misrepresent the pro-choice members of this campus as bloodthirsty baby killers.

“[A]ntagonistic…purposeless aggression…unproductive…a statement of anger…unnecessarily divisive…” I never knew a picture of a developing baby could provoke such an angry reaction. It gets more outrageous, though — The Oh, Harvard blog had this to say:

I think I have a right to not see that crap on my way to breakfast, lunch, and dinner….Ethically charged posters like that have no place in common spaces. Quite simply, if one is pro-choice, they make you uncomfortable and annoyed…. Some things aren’t suited to cute posters with girly fonts and doodles. Some things don’t serve a real purpose…. [emphasis in the original]

Now, I have my own opinions on “talking fetus” posters — generally, they’re not my style, but sometimes, as is the case here with the “Elena” posters, I can admit they’re sort of cute. Still, the fact that a group of students at Harvard have worked themselves into a lather over these harmless posters is more than a little strange. HT: Jill Stanek via This is NOT a Job for Superheroes

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