WKU Student, Accused of Desecrating Pro-Life Cross Display, Speaks Up

By: Elsa Bolt Email
By: Elsa Bolt Email

Hilltoppers for Life created a cross display at the old football stadium at Western Kentucky University.

The President of the pro-life group, John Sohl, says each of the nearly four thousand crosses were meant to represent the number of abortions that take place in a day.

But on the last night of their university approved display, Sohl says he captured this footage of Elaina Smith and her friend placing condoms onto some of the crosses.

Smith says she was doing it for an art project and wanted to expand the discussion of sexual health practices and consequences.

She released this statement that in part reads "...I had worried that my idea might offend some. However, after giving it a lot of thought, I came to believe that it is no more or less offensive than the original installation of thousands of popsicle-stick crosses, each representing an aborted fetus. For me, each condom represents an unwanted pregnancy that could have been prevented...."

Smith also says it was her way, in turn, to answer how she feels about abortion and that after taking some pictures, she removed the condoms voluntarily.

Now Sohl says he respects Smith's opinion, but that she should have gone about it differently.

"She had no right to put that on our display. She was perfectly at liberty to express her opinion by creating her own display of crosses, by buying her own supplies, putting her own money and time into putting something like that up and then to put the condoms on, we couldn't have done anything about that," says John Sohl, the President of Hilltoppers for Life.

He also doesn't think her actions were a work of art.

"You do not respond to art work by altering that art work. It would be the same as if i went into the National Art Gallery, looked at the Mona Lisa and said, I don't like the color of her hair and then I proceeded to color it a different color," Sohl says.

Now the University says they are planning to meet with all the parties involved to figure out if any action should be taken.

Sohl says, If Smith was in fact doing it for a school project, he does not believe that she should get credit for it.

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  • by Hmm Location: Louisville KY on Apr 28, 2012 at 04:43 AM
    Ms. Elaina Smith and teacher Kristina Arnold merely "desecrated" whatever passes for integrity in their world. Put up your own display of crosses, accessorize it with your favorite brand of male condoms. Don't vandalize others' display, and then be itellectually lazy and sloppy and declare your intolerance "art".
  • by Cindy Location: BG on Apr 26, 2012 at 09:47 AM
    Elizabeth: "BC has only served to increase divorce, unwed pregnancies, abortion, and degradation of women and especially motherhood." Really? Prove it. And you speak of ignorance in other people's posts.
  • by Elizabeth Location: Appleton, WI on Apr 25, 2012 at 04:22 PM
    WOW, I can believe the degree of ignorance in people's comments to this post. First, the pro-lfie group had every right to use religion in their display. There is absolutely NOTHING INAPPROPRIATE about it. Just because some who hate religion and want to eliminated from public life find it "offensive" doesn't mean religion should not be in public. Second) Sohl does have a good point about the Mona Lisa. The fact that some artists create interactive displays has nothing to do with this. When some one creates an interactive anything, that person publicizes that nature and invites people to interactive with it. Sohl and his group meant to provoke thought and discussion. They did nothing to invite, request, or deserve some one from doing anythign to their display. Even if others think it's cheap and childish to use something as simple as popsicles. That is totally not the point. Those who support the very immature, arrogant and illegal actions of that woman are the same type who have no problem tearing apart other conservatives public displays of their viewpoints. It just verifies the truth that liberals think there should be diversity, but only for those who agree with them. Third) for those who claim condoms decrease abortions. Look at the facts. As condoms and BC became ubiquitious in our culture, abortion grew along side it. Over 50% of abortions are on girls/women who were using BC at the month of conception. BC has only served to increase divorce, unwed pregnancies, abortion, and degradation of women and especially motherhood.
  • by Albion Location: Bowling Green on Apr 25, 2012 at 08:34 AM
    So the actions of the student create a dialogue about how access to birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies and therefore decreases the number of abortions. What's so bad about that, exactly? That sounds like exactly the sort of conversations that should be happening between young people on college campuses. Bravo.
  • by John Location: Bowling Green on Apr 24, 2012 at 06:52 PM
    How ignorant was it to insult a Christian display in this manner? Extremely insulting! Imagine if the immature nitwits had done this to some Muslim display. There'd be riots on campus, Dr Gary would be apologizing continually, and the offending students would be banned from campus. Yeah, I'm tired of the double standard and tolerance of those who bash Christians.
  • by OneRemainingSanePerson Location: Nashville on Apr 24, 2012 at 02:09 PM
    The Mona Lisa is in the Louvre. Also, if the Mona Lisa were scheduled to be destroyed in a couple of hours, as the cross display was, I don't think changing her hair color would be a big deal. Also, the Mona Lisa is not made of popsicle sticks. Analogy fail.
  • by Shelia Location: Glasgow on Apr 24, 2012 at 08:34 AM
    I applaud those here with that posted comments and the young lady for adding to the display. She did not descrate or vandalize anything. In fact I think she made a much grander statement than the original cross statement. The message on a college campus should be to prevent the need for the abortion decision in the first place. A college campus like WKU has too many cultures and religions being represented to allow one group to create a "display" of crosses, for any purpose, in a public sector on campus property. I leave with this statement...What do you really think got more people talking about the issue,the original display or the altered one?
  • by Jon-Kyle Location: Bowling Green on Apr 24, 2012 at 07:38 AM
    What a shock: Topppers for Life spewing more fallacious bile. If your popsicle stick crosses which simply represent the number of abortions per day in the US is art, then a student placing condoms on them to symbolize a compromise between individuals that are prolife and individuals that wish to have recreational sex is equally, if not exceedingly, artistic. Why is it that all of the coverage for this situation makes the art student out to be the guilty party while the Toppers for life--the people throwing the childish temper tantrums over someone "destroying" their popsicle stick crosses--are made out to be the oppressed? Furthermore, Stohl claims that one shouldn't go to a gallery and alter the exhibit. If that were true, then installments wouldn't exist which promote children to cover a white room in stickers, encourage people to stand against a wall of the gallery and mark their height, or ask them to color in a section of the art. But guess what? These installments exist. And what differentiates them? The creator asks for interaction. What did the Hilltoppers for Life ask for from the community? Interaction.
  • by Amy on Apr 24, 2012 at 07:30 AM
    Why crosses? Surely we can pick a better symbol to represent all of humanity? It's not just some christians who are anti abortion!
  • by anonymous Location: WKU on Apr 24, 2012 at 07:06 AM
    Sohl said that the Artist had no right to do what she did, whether or not that is true is not my concern, but I would like to point out that if in fact this was for an school project, then he has no right (or influence for that matter) to weigh in on if she should get credit for it or not. The fact that he stated that at all shows the level of arrogance that he must have, the same arrogance that thinks it is right to put up a religious display against abortion on a University campus, but wrong on many levels to use condoms as a response. As a matter of fact, I'll call his bluff, and argue that if she had simply recreated the display and put condoms on it he would have been outraged and it would have been the Artist having to protect her work from his group or groups like them. It is sad that in modern society we are fast to argue abortion, but hesitant to 'preach' the use of birth control, in fact some religion are officially against that as well. Ironic?
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