Atrios has an interesting post about tactics to deal with the crazies who picket abortion clinics, suggesting that humor and ridicule might be a good tool to employ against them. He might be right that, to use his example, a gay a capella choir serenading picketing nuts would cut short a protest or two. But I also think that these nuts are very tough to crack, for a few reasons.
First, they are already pariahs and self-imagined martyrs. I don’t watch a lot of Fox News, but I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard about them doing a puff piece lauding the bravery and commitment of the assholes who picket Planned Parenthood, because at a human level it’s quite an ugly business to bully a helpless young woman who’s following through on the toughest decision of her life. Having grown up watching a few of these nuts in our local Catholic Church, I came to realize that even the people who agree with their position on abortion can’t stand them and want nothing to do with their tactics. And it’s not as if these people don’t get enough random abuse hurled at them during any given protest. Unless the nuts I knew were different from the average nut, they’re probably as indifferent to humor as they are to the dozens of other tactics used against them over the years, and they might actually thrive on it if it tweaks their martyr complex.
Second, it’s hard to launch a sustained campaign against these people for the same reason that it’s hard to fight any sort of fanaticism: fighting a 24/7 nutcase requires turning yourself into a bit of a 24/7 nutcase. Life is short, and even if you believe these people need to be stopped, it takes a major commitment to gear up and fight an enemy that’s dug in tight and been doing this for decades.
Don’t get me wrong: if someone started showing up at our local Planned Parenthood dressed like the guy after the break with a clever sign (your suggestion welcome in the comments), I wouldn’t call it wasted effort. I just think that these dead-ender fanatics are a lost cause, and time and money is better spent on electing another Democrat for the next 8 years so when Fat Tony keels over, we can replace him with someone who doesn’t confuse the Constitution with Canon Law.
Warning: a halloween costume of a priest abusing a child after the break.