Students, abortion supporters and others are defending a Pennsylvania principal this week after he was caught on video yelling and swearing at a pro-life teenager.
Dr. Zach Ruffs, an assistant principle at Downingtown STEM Academy in Chester County, was placed on administrative leave as a result of the incident, NBC News 10 reported last week.
The teenager was part of a Christian group called Project Frontlines that was hosting a display outside the school earlier in April, according to the report. The “holocaust of abortion” display showed photos of aborted babies and other information to help educate the public about abortion.
The group captured the incident with Ruff on video and posted it to YouTube. During various points in the 18-minute video, Ruff yelled at the pro-life teenager, swore at him, threatened to call the police and told him to “go to Hell.” Watch it here.
The Downingtown Area School District made it clear that it does not condone Ruff’s behavior, but many others are supporting him.
A group of students from the school began a petition to support Ruff, the Philly Voice reports. It has more than 20,000 signatures, and many of the signer’s comments mention supporting abortion.
“Dr. Ruff is a crucial and valuable member of the STEM community,” the petition reads. “As the Dean of Academics & Student Life, Dr. Ruff has consistently continued to make sure that his students are safe and they have a comfortable environment to learn in.”
The petition does not link to the video or news articles to allow signers to see Ruff’s behavior for themselves. Nor does it mention what Ruff said to the pro-life teenager on the sidewalk. Instead, the petition defends him by mischaracterizing the situation.
“The Dean of Academics & Student Life, Dr. Ruff may be in trouble from his position at the Downingtown STEM Academy due to a recent internet video where Dr. Ruff makes several statements that can be seen as controversial to certain religious groups,” the petition states.
Ruff’s opinions and beliefs were not the problem. It was his aggressive behavior, yelling and swearing at teenagers – and in front of his students, no less.
A number of the petition signers claimed Ruff was protecting and defending his students from harm, and described the pro-life teen as a “monster” and a “bully.”
But by “protecting,” the petition signers mean keeping students from learning something that may disturb them and challenge their thoughts and perceptions — the images of aborted babies and the information pro-lifers were sharing.
It can be traumatic to see images of aborted babies and hear information about abortion, but these things are disturbing because they are real. The horrifying reality is that an abortion kills an unborn baby’s life in a brutal, inhumane way, and about 60 million unborn babies have legally died in abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Ruff has the right to speak his opinion and disagree with the pro-lifers, just as his students and the pro-lifers have the same right to free speech. But swearing at teenagers is inappropriate, especially for a school leader on the job.
The school district recognized this problem when it put Ruff on administrative leave and promised to investigate the incident.
“We do not condone or support the conduct expressed in the video and are deeply disappointed that this incident occurred. His conduct does not represent the values of the school district or the respect we expect our employees to show for the civil rights of others,” the district said in a statement.
The petition does not mention any of this. Instead, it appears to be another sign of the growing hostility toward pro-lifers.
In the past few months, several college students have been praised openly for vandalizing pro-life displays.
In April, Texas State University student Ian Ramos admitted that he punched and kicked down pro-life signs on campus and yelled profanities at an older pro-lifer who was standing there. Ramos defended his actions in an interview with The Tab: “So yeah, I hope I was able to inspire a few of you all out there. I don’t know – speak up, wake up. Engage the opposition. … I am a tolerant person and I believe in tolerance, but I don’t have to be tolerant to bigots.”
A similar incident occurred in April at Washington State University when a student took down a pro-life club’s cemetery of the innocents display twice.
Last October, pro-abortion feminists vandalized another student pro-life display at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, LifeNews reported. The university’s student Democrats club later praised the feminists’ actions.