I was surprised to learn that there has been a small vandalism wave targeted towards specific advocacy groups along the Infinite Corridor. In the past two months, a display about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was removed, a Martin Luther King display was vandalized twice, the United Christian Organization (UCO) bulletin board was torn down and pro-life ads were completely taken down along with the entire pro-life Bulletin Board.
It made me particularly upset to see the pro-life bulletin board be taken apart, not only because I personally helped to maintain it, but also because MIT has a commitment to diversity and that diversity makes it one of the most exciting places on Earth. I always thought that pro-life advocacy groups were part of that diversity and should be allowed to express themselves, free of vandalism. But apparently that diversity in particular is not of everybody’s taste.
Nevertheless, I will keep on posting the ads because the diversity of opinions on the abortion issue is more important than ever. Given recent developments in the Life Sciences, the scientific community must increasingly tackle some very hard moral choices. MIT — as the hallmark of scientific research institutions — should be the home of the most exciting debates on abortion. Instead, these debates are silenced by a contingent of vandals who cannot tolerate other opinions.
The impact of such acts is not to be taken lightly; they can have a profound impact on the outcome of a debate. Take the issue of defining the beginning of life as an example. Roe v. Wade, the court decision that de facto legalized abortion in the U.S., overrode the opinion of science on the definition of human life. I say “overrode the opinion of science” because, according to the Declaration of Geneva after WWII, the overwhelming majority of the civilized scientific community stood fiercely against abortion.
So how could such fundamental ethical standards in medicine shift so much in a couple of decades? And how much more can they shift in the future? These are some of the questions I ask myself as I walk down the Infinite Corridor and see pro-life displays and the debate they represent being silenced by vandalism.
Alejandro Rogers is an MBA student in the Sloan School of Management.