Sorry for ‘destruction’

Northern Kentucky University professor Dr. Sally Jacobsen and several of her students dismantled the pro-life “Cemetery of Innocents,” display that she has said infuriated her, April 12, 2006.

Now, as part of their diversion programs, several of the involved students have written letters to apologize.

However, last week, one such letter of apology to the NKU community was unfortunately cut off. In order to ensure the letter is read and understood in its full context, the letter is being printed on this page as it should have appeared in the previous issue.

Here is Laura Caster’s apology:

Many of you may remember the unfortunate incident in which a pro-life display was destroyed last spring. This moment of delinquency led to the prosecution of several students, one of whom was myself.

For those who are new to the university, or the area, I will briefly explain what happened that April evening. Shortly upon entering the classroom we, the students, were greeted by an incensed teacher. Her frustration stemmed from a display that had been put up in the middle of campus. It was a replica of a graveyard, only instead of tombstones there stood crosses, behind which a large sign named the display “Cemetery of the Innocents.”

Talk of the abortion issue alone ignites intense and often brutal arguments. So when Northern Right to Life put this display in the middle of campus, they must have known there would be a reaction. And there was.

With a little coaxing from our professor, I and several other students in the class followed her to the display and then helped her to ‘destroy’ it. We destroyed it by pulling the crosses out of the ground and then placing, not throwing or pounding, them in nearby trashcans. Our professor, Dr. Sally Jacobsen, removed the sign.

Although we had, what the prosecutors would later say “destroyed,” which is a synonym for shattered, cracked, damaged and smashed, the display, the very same crosses appeared again the next day.

The following day, as I reflected upon this ‘destruction,’ sarcasm aside, I did know what I had done was wrong. First and foremost, my convictions on the topic and its surrounding issues were, and still are, searching for some concretedness in my ever-changing opinions. It is for this reason that I had no right in claiming such a passionate response to such a passionate issue.

Secondly, I realized that, as a class and an educated group representing not only our university but also our area and alliances of many pro-choice and liberal organizations, we had retaliated foolishly and immaturely.

We should have focused all of that emotion and fervor into our own display, our own voice. We essentially shut the mouths of the pro-life organization with our hands, instead of fighting back with our voices. This must be how we come to so much violence and war in our world.

I called the leader of Northern Right to Life the next day to apologize for my actions. While talking with this individual I expressed, with sincerity, my interest and willingness to volunteer my time, effort, etc., to repay this group directly for my participation in what was an extremely juvenile act.

To me, that seemed like the right thing to do. That would be justice at its full potential. But this is not what happened. Now several months later I’m writing this letter because I have been ordered by the court to do so. Also court-ordered: a $100 fine and 25 hours of community service.

No direct contact with Northern Right To Life, no deeper understanding of what they’re about and what they represent. What has really been learned?

As I hope I have explained, I am sorry for what I did. But I what I am most sorry about is the way we, our university and our community, handled the situation. Here was an opportunity for these two groups to, under university guidance learn more about one another and the other side.

Instead we, the students, were made to serve as examples for liberal and conservative opinions that our parents and other generations taught us. These opinions may not even be our own.

We should have been compromising, we should have been learning, not about right and wrong, but about each other and how to ease the taut strings that we ‘tug-a-war’ with too often.

I am sorry that we had the opportunity for a different kind of hands-on education and we missed it.

Laura Caster sophomore English