There are few headlines in our 21st century dystopian reality that prompt me to burst out laughing.
From forests burning down to whistleblower scandals, we wade through our daily routines inundated with news of impending doom and unreliable world leaders. We rarely get to take a breath and enjoy wholesome updates such as twin baby pandas being born before they’re drowned out by tragedies such as a baby giraffe dying in captivity. So thank you, Alberta March for Life Association, for offering Edmontonians a break from the depressing and replacing it with a dash of the absurd.
For those who don’t know, Edmonton has a Light the Bridge campaign where individuals can request for the High Level Bridge to be lit up in specific colours. The colours requested are typically reflective of significant events; for example, the bridge was lit red, yellow, white and brown for Thanksgiving on October 14.
The anti-abortion group, Alberta March for Life Association, requested the bridge to be lit up in its association colours on May 9, 2019 to recognize the annual March for Life. Although they initially approved the application, the city later decided to cancel the display, citing the “polarizing nature of the subject matter” in an email. Now, the AMLA is suing the city and arguing that the cancellation infringes upon their freedom of expression.
Putting aside all the ways pro-life movements are empty shows of “holier-than-thou”-ness, there are several reasons why suing the city over their decision to cancel some bridge lights induces 360-degree eye rolls.
To begin, the legal argument backing the AMLA’s indignation feels forced at best. The AMLA is free to organize their annual March for Life; they are free to equate a clump of cells to a fully formed baby; and they are free to believe whether or not a woman should have autonomy over her own body is a battle of good versus evil. A city cancelling lights that the AMLA requested, but is not entitled to, is not an infringement on their freedom of expression.
What makes this whole situation more absurd is the idea that this lawsuit could possibly be a good use of city funds. What about all the potholes that make driving in Edmonton a nightmare? Free transit on election day? The homeless population, who have nowhere to go as we approach winter? Or does the “sanctity of life” not apply to everyone else?
While the AMLA wastes city administration time and efforts, perhaps they could contribute something positive to the world. Perhaps they could advocate for the tens of thousands of foster children in Canada, for whom we don’t even have reliable numbers. Perhaps they could help combat global issues of child abuse, with an estimated 1.2 million victims of trafficking, and around 265 million being forced into child labour. Perhaps they could do something about the horrifying statistic that 60 per cent of sexual assault victims are children. There are millions of child victims who the AMLA can focus their rage-fuelled energy on. Instead, they chose to fight a city over coloured bridge lights.
If the AMLA wishes to fight for the “sanctity of life,” they should first consider the quality of life of abused, starving, and neglected children who are already you know, living a life. The city has more pressing issues to address, and forcing administrators to humour this joke of a lawsuit is an ignorant abuse of the judicial system.