General Question

pallen123's avatar

Is it legal to show images of mutilated fetuses on posters on a city street?

Asked by pallen123 (1514points) July 12th, 2012

Today at lunchtime I walked out of my office in Cleveland to find a dozen teenagers standing by body height posters of mutilated aborted fetuses. Their parents were driving trucks with the same color images (larger) on the side of the trucks. Is it legal for individuals to do this—to display shocking and violent images in public? Is so, why is this? What if children were passing by? If it is legal, by the same token could I stand on the corner with giant photos of decapitated American hostages or the battered bodies of rape victims?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

31 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yes, it’s legal; they are also not the actual pictures of fetuses but the pictures of baby dolls covered in some kind of red sauce. Actual fetuses are often less formed, and look kind of creepy, so they don’t really lend themselves to sympathy. And children walking by is actually the point; they’re hoping to scare them into being pro-life. And incidentally, you’ll find battered bodies of rape victims rather prominent in media.

zenvelo's avatar

There is such a thing as the First Amendment. That means it is legal. I don’t agree with the tactic, but that is what the anti choice people want to use to persuade people to be anti choice.

stardust's avatar

There’s a lot of that going on here in Ireland at the moment. It’s infuriating, but legal.

pallen123's avatar

The First Amendment is overrated and has limits. You can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Similarly there must be some legislation that contrains vulgar or offensive speech. For example I can’t stand outside a schoolyard yelling “fuck fuck fuck” at the top of my lungs. Or maybe I can?

Buttonstc's avatar

Yes it is legal here in the US under freedom of speech.

What I find even more despicable is when parents of really young children use them to carry placards with these same images on them. A teenager at least knows what they’re doing and believes in their cause but when you see a 4 yr. old walking around with a picture like that, I just find it exploitative.

And obviously those deluded parents don’t realize that using their child like that has the totally opposite effect on people and just turns them off to the message entirely.

If you have such poor judgement as a parent and so little regard for your child’s mental and emotional health that you use them this way, why should I bother listening to anything you have to say on any subject. Idiots.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Buttonstc Often teenagers don’t really know what they’re doing. They know that their parents want them to, and they know the pro-life rhetoric, but they haven’t really explored the issue.

Coloma's avatar

I hate militant extremists, there ought to be a law, but alas, it is not illegal to assault non-consenting citizens with others hardcore extremist tactics.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes, totally legal.

flo's avatar

Yes it is legal, because of the freedom of speech thing. But to me there are too many things that are excused by freedom. Where is the freedom of the children to enjoy their childhood? They can even be owned by their parents. Toddlers and Tiarra. Screaming, little girl…waxing her eyebrows

Buttonstc's avatar


If we are speaking of young teens, you’re correct and I would put them in the same category as young children in terms of being exploited for their parents’ ends.

But my primary reason for the distinction is the fact that it’s nigh impossible to get a surly older teen to do anything, much less something for a “religious” cause that they’re busy rebelling against :)

And a whole lot of teens with autocratic fundy parents (the type who exploit their kids like that) are in full rebellion mode as a reaction to having all that dogma crammed down their throats, willing or not. There are a lot of them.

Buttonstc's avatar


Oh, don’t even get me started on that crowd. They even give white trash a bad name.

They don’t have any realization that all they’re doing is grooming pedophile bait.

If an older teen decides she wants to go down this route and make the sacrifices necessary to pursue the goal of winning beauty pageants, that’s on her.

But to force it on children this young is inexcusable. And plying them with super caffeinated, super sugary energy drink combos at that young an age just sets them up for the patterns that lead to drug addiction down the road. Are you really going to be that surprised when in high school she tries just a “little bit” of crystal meth as a pick me up to get through exams ? Really now, how shocked could you possibly be when feeding her caffeine as a toddler sets the pattern ?

What a bunch of morons.

JLeslie's avatar

It’s legal, although sometimes you need a permit to assemble, and you can’t block traffic or anything like that.

Nullo's avatar

@Buttonstc I’m not sure it’s that ineffective; the point is to drive home the fact that these are humans being killed, which may not really register otherwise.

Buttonstc's avatar

I think that ineffective is a pertinent point because if the method you’re using is not getting the job done, and actually alienating people in the process, why do it.

Just having a good motive does not excuse crappy parenting. I personally consider it the essence of very poor parenting to have very young children marching around holding these potentially traumatizing images. If you want to traumatize adults to try to make a point thats your right regardless of how ineffective. But leave your children out of it. To risk harming them emotionally or mentally for an ineffective method is inexcusable in my opinion.

Don’t you find it rather difficult to picture Jesus himself handing out these placards to young children and encouraging them. to participate in his protest parade? I certainly do. These are adult matters regarding adult decisions and should be debated by adults. Stop exploiting children.

If these kids grow up to believe as their parents do, they’ll have plenty of time to join in the protests. Let them have a childhood for crying out loud. Stop exploiting them.

flo's avatar

@Buttonstc The thing is though they probably think that the population that allows them to do it is that is moronic and worse. What is the excuse of those of us who don’t cry blue murder about it?

-The channels that produce and run it.
-Child Protection Services.
-Everybody else who is not perverted and is capable of helping to put an end to it but isn’t.

Why wait until this happens? Permalink

flo's avatar

@pallen123 to continue on my post, what do you think is the better way of sensitizing people about any issue that could be harsh to look at?

pallen123's avatar

@flo I have no issue with any group protesting. It’s just a question of judgement with regards to how protesters communicate information. It would be fine for these protesters to have two or three types of brochures of increasing graphic intensity and then to share those with adults that choose to engage with them as appropriate. However it is not okay to violate the field of view of individuals that find this graphic content shocking and offensive, especially children. No sooner would I be okay with my young daughter or son being confronted with photos of a man whose head has been severed or the torso of a shark attack victim than a dish full of fetus entrails. The beliefs and dogma of the protesters aside, the latter is no different in my opinion than yelling “fire” in a crowded theater and should be illegal. We live in a crowded society where we have to balance precious individual rights, such as the right of these protesters to promote their viewpoint, with the rights of all citizens, particularly children. Along these lines I would have no issue with these protesters using their imagery in an adults-only zone if such a thing existed, but doing so on a public street is absurd.

flo's avatar

@pallen123 I agree. But if it is the children we should be concerned about, “grooming pedophile bait” as @Buttonstc put it best, is to some of us criminal. At least with the fetus images, parents are there to distract them away from the images, or give them the opposing side just like anything else. But the children of Toddlers and Tiarra are hostages. Peadophiles obssesd with these liitle girls may target these girls for kidnapping and worse. Who is more of a victim, the woman who can’t get an abortion easily, legally etc. the children who are owned by peadophile friendly parents (and by the way peadophiles can have children and can put their children in beauty contests too) What do they have to do? “I have no problem if my child was kidnapped” sign on their forheads?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@pallen123 The thing about outlawing certain speech as a form of protest is that it would have outlawed the protests that got us Roe in the first place.

pallen123's avatar

@Aethelflaed I don’t think that’s a reasonable conclusion to draw. It’s the purpose of the courts to balance rights and public safety. This is a case of child endangerment in which the gruesome equivalent of pornographic images are on display in the public square. To equate the display of these images with the rally for Roe v Wade is a lazy parallel to draw.

bkcunningham's avatar

The purpose of the courts it to balance rights and public safety. Who knew?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@pallen123 How exactly is it child endangerment?

pallen123's avatar

@Aethelflaed Exposing young children to violent graphic images can cause PTSD symptoms, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritation, difficulty concentrating. The same way I wouldn’t expose my five year old child to images of mutilated adult bodies I wouldn’t expose them to mutilated fetuses. It’s common sense.

Aethelflaed's avatar

We don’t have any problem with spanking (which can also cause PTSD) or emotional abuse. Even kids who endure severe physical and sexual abuse often have a hard time getting CPS to freaking do something. So, priority-wise, this is going to be so far down on the list you can’t even believe it. Our first priority will obviously be making sure kids never find out about the existence of condoms, because they might someday use one.

Do I think people should show these to kids? No. But obviously anti-choicers don’t give a shit about actual, born children. And I also don’t think they should incur legal penalties for exercising their free speech, because free speech goes both ways. Unless, of course, you’re a woman in congress who says “vagina” and then that’s too far. (BTW, the reason yelling “fire” when there isn’t one is illegal is because it uses up tax-payer dollars when the fire department comes for no reason. The images use up no tax-payer dollars).

pallen123's avatar

Interesting points @Aethelflaed. Actually the reason yelling “fire” is illegal is because although it’s free speech, it can cause a panic and injure people—it incites a more dangerous situation and is used as an example where freedom of speech isn’t absolute.

flo's avatar

I just want to add a reason for not yelling ’‘fire­’’. To prevent injuries resulting from stampeding out of there. ADDED: I already flagged this post I repeated what was mentioned

flo's avatar

@pallen123 Please respond to @Aethelflaed‘s points in her post, i.e., the children who are already born and victims of all kinds things, including, see my post Toddlers and Tiarra.

pallen123's avatar

@flo I couldn’t follow the discussion of Toddler and Tiarra’s.

flo's avatar

@pallen123 How about your own opinion about it, after watching it? What do you say about it without ever having read anything about it?
Screaming little girl…waxing eyebrows con bra an example. Or if you want easy to follow discussion, just see the comments under the article.

There is also this kids who endure severe physical and sexual abuse often have a hard time getting CPS to freaking do something. So, priority-wise, this is going to be so far down on the list you can’t even believe it.

Response moderated (Spam)
flo's avatar

Oops excuse me The this” was supposed to be permalink (@Aethelflaed‘s post) i.e this

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther