It may be nothing more than a case of graffiti but a photo of a vandalized trailer originally sporting an anti-abortion banner in rural Alberta has spurned a heated debate online.
The photo, released by the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP in a bid by investigators to harness public assistance in solving the crime, has plucked at the political, religious and democratic nerves of Albertans.
The message on the side of the trailer, which is parked near Taber in southern Alberta, says ‘It's your body, It's your life, It's your choice! Pro- Choice,’ in red and yellow paint.
@huffpostalbertaIt's less of a problem than physical violence, and is a freedom of expression expression. What's the problem?
— Jai (@PrincessJaibyrd) November 5, 2012
“TITFORTAT,” said Mirella Sacco simply on Facebook.
Taz Dhrwl was more forceful in the delivery, saying "Pro-lifers are f***ing up the world for the rest of us. If you're pro-life, then you should be taking care of the homeless people in your town and city, and not worrying what a woman is going to do with her body."
Many came forward in defence, while others attacked the message, which has been front and center during the U.S. presidential race since members of Republican Party brought the abortion issue back to the fore.
Among them is Richard Mourdock, who last month explained his opposition to abortion in cases of rape by saying that pregnancy in such cases was "something that God intended."
Tea Party favorite Rep. Joe Walsh also said he was anti-abortion without exception.
"The common exceptions that people who are pro-life without exception are in cases of rape and incest -- horrific, evil, terrible events," he told the constituent. "In cases like that, I am still pro-life. There is still a life there."
Many put their support behind the message spray painted on the side of the trailer but condemned the way in which it was delivered.
"It's a travesty. I'm pro rights personally, but we should be above such petty actions. They want to speak out their conscience, then let them," said Terry Lo.
"Freedom of speech doesn't ensure freedom from criticism and scrutiny of said speech. That being said, if pro-choicers want to spread a message, they should get their own billboard. I am pro-choice myself, but not personally interested in throwing banners up about it everywhere. If I lived in the USA, I might feel differently," said Amy Angela.
Ryan Doherty added, "I'm sort of rare. I'm a pro choice conservative. Its my, or anyone eleses buisness what women do with their own bodies. Vandalism and tresspassing on private land are crimes though.
But for many, the way the message was delivered was just as offensive as the message itself.
"A liberal society requires that we tolerate different values<< But in reality, our current 'liberals' only tolerate those values that are the same as theirs, which makes them even more intolerant than those they're pointing a finger at. Hypocrites much?" said Collette A. Smith.
Anthony Aleksic added, "Good ol' liberal double standard at play here... It's a Canadian as universal health care and watery drive-thru coffee. Two wrongs don't make a right. Trespassing and vandalism are wrong and crimes and it hurts the pro-choice cause.
Although many who weighed in drew partisan, political or religious lines, many argued the debate is not as much about religion or politics but about personal rights and responsibility.
Amy Angela made that point by saying, "to many, this is also a secular issue. I know atheists that are not only pro-life, but anti-choice as well. I disagree with their arguments but they do exist. To turn this into a religious issue is silly. Did you see the original banner? Was it religion-related? And even so, the pro-choice message on the side is clearly implying the bodily rights argument, and has nothing to do with "bashing" Christianity."
Then there were also those who questioned anti-abortion advocates' tactics.
@huffpostalberta my thoughts are that at least they didn't have to use a fetus in an attempt to convey an opinion.
— Robin (@franklybbyblues) November 5, 2012
"It does bother me that someone felt it justifiable to vandalize someone else's private property. Having said that, I haven't seen this anti-abortion sign but if it is as groteseque as the signs used by "Campus Pro Life", then I would feel otherwise. Those signs are disgusting, both visually and intellectually with their bold twists in logic. I'm all about free speech but there's a line that needs to be drawn," said Tom Schloddard.
Const.Tamara Dreaddy, with the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP, said the vandalism took place sometime between Friday night and Sunday.
"The original sign on the trailer with the symbol and words for pro-life had been taken down," she said.
"A witness saw a truck near the trailer on Friday afternoon but did not think anything of it at the time."
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 403-223-4447.