Since When Does Naming Names Constitute a Threat?

Flags that were part of a pro-life display at DePaul University that was vandalized on January 22

Two very similar news stories surfaced yesterday—one from the U.S., one from Canada. Both stories spotlighted pro-lifers who were in trouble merely for naming names.

One story told of Kristopher Del Campo, a student at DePaul University in Chicago, who was placed on disciplinary probation by university officials after he publicized the names of 13 fellow students who admitted to vandalizing a pro-life display on campus on January 22.

Yes, you read that right: a group of students vandalized a pro-life display that had been set up by Del Campo and other members of DePaul’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), and now DePaul is punishing…Del Campo himself.

Illustrating the absurdity of DePaul’s decision to blame the victim, Robert Shibley of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—which has intervened on Del Campo’s behalf—commented:

Punishing a student for naming those who committed a crime against him or her sets a very dangerous precedent. For example, would DePaul punish a female student for telling her friends to avoid a person who admitted to sexually assaulting her?

DePaul officials have since notified Del Campo that publicizing the names of the 13 students who admitted to vandalizing the pro-life display amounts to “Disorderly, Violent, Intimidating or Dangerous Behavior,” which includes “creat[ing] a substantial risk of physical harm,” “causing significant emotional harm,” and “bullying.”

Peaceful Pro-Life Activist Threatened with Arrest in Ottawa

Another story published on LifeSiteNews told of peaceful pro-life activist Cyril Winter and his run-in with police yesterday in Ottawa, Ontario:

Cyril Winter told LifeSiteNews.com that he showed up today at noon for a peaceful demonstration in front of the Morgentaler Clinic on Bank Street. He carried a few signs, one of which named the abortionist, Kathryn Treehuba.

In black block letters, the small white hand-sign displayed: “Kathryn Treehuba – killer”.

A police officer approached Winter and told him that the abortionist did not like her name on the sign.

Winter said he responded, “Isn’t she proud of what she does?”

The officer allegedly told him that the abortionist had concerns about her safety.

According to Winter, the officer then asked him why he thought Treehuba was a killer. Winter responded that she takes the lives of babies. He also mentioned that most abortionists now admit that when they perform an abortion, they are ending a life.

Winter said he described to the officer in detail the gruesome details of the abortion procedure, including how a high-powered vacuum inserted into the woman’s cervix sucks the baby out of her womb.

“The officer hemmed and hawed and said, ‘I think there’s still a safety issue here,’” said Winter.

To his great credit, the veteran pro-life activist was not cowed, and he responded deftly.

But Winter said that he told the officer that the abortionist’s name is already public. Dr. Kathryn Treehuba is a Ottawa University professor in the division of general Obstetrics and Gynecology and a well-known abortionist in the Ottawa area. Information about her is readily available online. Winter said that if some person was determined to harm her, then he would have no trouble finding out about her online.

Winter then said he demanded to know what law he was breaking to merit arrest. Winter said that the officer did not have a response, but that he returned to his squad car where he could be seen consulting with other people in the car.

The officer eventually returned and told Winter that there would be no arrest today, but that the police were considering a charge under section 299 of the Criminal Code.

Section 299 deals with defamation in publishing and states that a person “publishes a libel” when he “(a) exhibits it in public; (b) causes it to be read or seen; or (c) shows or delivers it, or causes it to be shown or delivered, with intent that it should be read or seen by the person whom it defames or by any other person”.

Naming Names: An Exercise in Free Speech

On several occasions over the years, Pro-Life Action League Founders Joe and Ann Scheidler have been victims of vandalism and actual physical violence.

Our supporters have too, as have I personally.

In each of these cases, those who carried out the actual crimes were the individuals responsible—not every Tom, Dick, or Harry who, over the years, has publicly called Joe Scheidler or the Pro-Life Action League names like “terrorists.”

It’s sheer madness to assert that merely naming names ipso facto constitutes “disorderly, violent, intimidating, or dangerous behavior” that poses a threat to the “safety” of the individual(s) named.

Indeed, publicly naming names is the very purpose of sex offender registries!

All advocates of robust free speech rights—regardless of their views on abortion—should be outraged at the treatment of both Kristopher Del Campo and Cyril Winter.

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