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Musterlösung 2013: Textproduktion: Comment "A clash of values" (LK)


“Frequent violent protests against abortion clinics, in the form of arson, fire-bombing, and vandalism, started in the early 1970s in the U.S. after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling […] theoretically gave abortion access to all women […].” (abgerufen am 03.12.2012)

Discuss the legitimacy of different forms of fighting for one’s most basic moral/ethical beliefs. Take the quotation as a starting and refer to the text at hand and to material discussed in class. (35 BE)


Abortion has always been a topic that has triggered heated debates between ethicists and proponents of a liberal right for women to end unwanted pregnancies, particularly in the 1970s and 80s when legislation on that subject became less strict. In the USA the Supreme Court enforced the right for abortion in the early 1970s – as the quotation informs us – and thereby protected women from legal prosecution. This, however, did not stop churches and conservative groups from condemning abortion as a sinful act as it meant the killing of an unborn life. The question which naturally arises at this point is whether any form of protest is legitimate in order to follow one’s ethical beliefs.

T.C. Boyle’s protagonist Rick in the text “A Clash of Values” gets to feel the disdain and wrath of the anti-abortion activists gathered outside his brother’s clinic on his first day of work. And even though they do not get physically violent, their angry and aggressive shouting is enough to unnerve and upset the protagonist who has not even had a hand in an abortion before. Their fundamentalist beliefs carry the protesters as far as insulting the clinic staff as “baby-killers” and “Nazis”, as a synonym for ‘mass murderers’. Finding justification in their religious convictions they ignore secular legislation and deem their mission to be blessed by a higher law. The point at which the protests exceed any acceptable stage is when Philip, Rick’s brother, is terrorised by anonymous phone calls at night and is forced to change his telephone number several times.

Very often the authoritarian government of a self-acclaimed political ruler raises the question whether it is morally justifiable for the people living in that state to use violence in order to rid themselves of an oppressive dictatorship. When the so called Arabian Spring broke out in December 2010, many countries in North Africa and the Middle East began to free themselves from authoritarian leaders like Zine Ben Ali in Tunesia, Muammar Al-Gaddafi in Libya and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. The democratic attempts and concerted effort of the people in these countries were greeted with respect and hopeful optimism for a better future of these countries. However, as the developments of the last few years have shown, the democratic progress proved stagnant and in many cases revisionist tendencies gained the upper hand. The situation is particularly difficult in Egypt where the democratically elected president Mohamed Mursi, a member of the ultra-conservative Muslim Brotherhood, was unseated after renewed protest and violent demonstrations. Reacting to this overthrow of government constitutionalists considered it problematic that the deposition of an elected state leader should be greeted with so much consent.

Summing up, I believe that it is difficult to draw the line for the justification of violent protest in order to fight for one’s moral or ethical beliefs. There may be cases in which the end indeed justifies the means. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that non-violent protests must always be preferred. A clash of values and ideas can only be solved if it bases on respect and a fair exchange of opinions.

(528 words)

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