Fanatics

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.

priest_withkid_costume_edited






113 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    suggesting that humor and ridicule might be a good tool to employ against them

    I agree that won’t work against people who already see themselves as outcasts from society, although it can be fun for folks on our side of the aisle.

    People who really want to take on the protesters should instead start having counter protests encouraging women to have abortions. Maybe hand out coupons at abortion clinics. As it stands, it’s the anti-abortion side that’s always in the offensive, and they get off on that sense of power.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    By the way, that photo is a horrible idea to counter abortion protesters.

  3. 3
    Tony P. says:

    The Supreme Court says we have the right to speak to people on the public sidewalk. If we wish to “counsel” the anti-abortion fanatics, exactly as “politely” and persistently as they wish to counsel others, it may at least distract them from their “mission”. That would be of some use.

    What I want to know is: why the hell do “abortion clinics” have to be stand-alone establishments, and therefore easy for the pro-lifers to harass?

    –TP

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    My favorite thing about this issue, is that the same people who have been wrong on EVERY fucking single other fucking human and civil rights issue for fucking centuries, picked abortion as their line in the concrete.

    Yes – “Forced Labor” for women!
    Because the life of actual living humans – white, brown, black, red, yellow, tan, etc… – is inconsequential: THE FETUS MUST REIGN SUPREME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And after it’s born?
    Ah…
    Uhm…
    Fuck it…………………………………………

    Having said that, the ones who protest against abortion, and have adopted children of other races and religions, at least have my respect.
    They don’t preach a lifestyle – they live it.

    The rest of them, are self-righteous religious buttinsky’s!!!!!!!!

  5. 5
    gbear says:

    I’ve always liked the ‘adopt a protestor’ approach. A Planned Parenthood supporter agrees to donate a set amount of money for every protestor that shows up at a clinic.It would be best if the clinic put up a sign saying how much they were receiving in donations for every protestor and try to drive it home that their presence was helping to financailly support the clinic.

  6. 6
    BGinCHI says:

    You hit the nail on the head in terms of why you can’t oppose fanatics without becoming one. The larger problem is that the whole GOP base has become fanatical, which means that one of only two parties in this country is composed of grifters for rich people and corporations and nutjobs.

    How can we govern in this situation? The Dems can win elections but then what?

    We are passing through a tremulous moment in history.

    Having been in the UK for a couple of weeks until Friday, it is interesting to think about a de-evolution of the country in terms of region. Scotland is gearing up for an independence vote in September. This means that if the Yes vote prevails they will effectively secede from the UK and become a sovereign nation once again. It has been a contentious but peaceful process. It’s gotten me thinking about what it would mean for the states of the Confederacy to do such a thing now.

    Thoughts?

  7. 7
    raven says:

    Christine VanDEr Hooven is dead up in Bill Kristol’s ass! “Join the Iraqi army if you feel so strongly”.

  8. 8
    aimai says:

    I think all these Atriosian suggestions about mocking and pointing are really stupid–almost offensively so. The point about the problem is that what should be a perfectly private event for a woman–who may have travelled far, be exhausted, be out of money and energy–is being turned into a circus. You can’t combat that by turning it into more of a circus or creating more of a gauntlet for her to run.

    I do think that creating rotating teams of people to personally approach these sidewalk counselors at their homes and offer to counsel them on “significant political issues of the day” would be terribly effective–at least in terms of the women like the fucking “sweet grandma” who spearheaded this law suit in MA. But I doubt that would have any effect on the men who are, in many cases, literally crazy.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @gbear:

    That would work also.

  10. 10
    Judge Crater says:

    There is a guy here in DC who has been picketing the Vatican embassy on Mass. Ave. alone for years, if not decades, to protest sexual abuse by priests. His cause is just, unlike the anti-abortion fruitcakes, but he will never give up.

    Once the holy-mojo infects the mind, these would be martyrs and plaster saints will hardly be deterred. Ignore them if possible – they feed on any kind of attention.

  11. 11
    Nutella says:

    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.

    Wasn’t this decision that some places (including medical clinics and excluding the supreme court) cannot have buffer zones unanimous? It would be a fine thing to lose Alito but it wouldn’t have changed this decision.

  12. 12
    TooManyJens says:

    @Baud: Seriously. “LOL CHILD ABUSE” isn’t a good way to make a point.

  13. 13
    gbear says:

    @BGinCHI: I’d like it if the northern states could also vote in the south’s secession movement. Worst downside I can see is having the mouth of the Mississippi River in Confederate hands.

  14. 14
    RSA says:

    @gbear:

    A Planned Parenthood supporter agrees to donate a set amount of money for every protestor that shows up at a clinic.

    Yes, that’s a nice idea. I can imagine a Web page, with photos of protestors, each captioned with the amount that they have been responsible for in contributions to Planned Parenthood.

  15. 15
    Mayken says:

    @Tony P.: usually they’re not “stand alone.” Most Planned Parenthood clinics for instance focus on women’s health in general and abortions are a very small part of what they actually do. That’s any other major reason why the SCOTUS ruling is so horrible – the vast majority of the people going into clinics are there for a Pap smear or to get their damned Pill. Mind you the major protests tend to happen on the days clinics commonly do abortions (since the lack of abortion providers makes it necessary to set appointments up when the doc is available. I used to go to a clinic in LA in the 90s and you just leaned never to make an appointment for anything else on a Saturday. I’m not easily intimidated but I couldn’t walk through those protests – I cannot imagine trying to work there!
    This is also a reason RU 486 is important and the folks trying to restrict it’s use are despicable. Wouldn’t want women to be able to do this at a docs office where the protestors can’t intimidate them out of it!

  16. 16
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Baud: yeah, I’m really not seeing a connection between abortion and child raping priests, other than generalized Catholic fuckery, and that isn’t the core issue here. (Orange is the New Black Season Two SPOILER: you might as well sent out O’Neill with his banjolele to sing anti-nun songs) ( http://youtu.be/RBIoI7hDbiM ). I like the ideas of adopting protesters, counter protests, and my own pet idea, trying to shame the anti abortion nuts into providing financial and moral support for foster children. If they care so much for each and every life, let them do something for the people who have been born already and need our love and support.

  17. 17
    BGinCHI says:

    @gbear: I’d hate to lose New Orleans, Austin, Athens, and the Triangle in NC (as well as Asheville). Maybe those could become free cities or occupied zones.

    Not sure why we need the bottom of the MS. Once the climate change deniers get their way down there it will all be under water anyway.

  18. 18
    constitutional mistermix says:

    @Nutella: Yep, the picketing decision was unanimous, and Massachusetts will go back and re-draft the law to make it a 25 foot buffer or whatever. I was thinking about the general question of reproductive rights and the Supremes, which is all 5-4 stuff.

  19. 19
    Botsplainer says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Having been in the UK for a couple of weeks until Friday, it is interesting to think about a de-evolution of the country in terms of region. Scotland is gearing up for an independence vote in September. This means that if the Yes vote prevails they will effectively secede from the UK and become a sovereign nation once again. It has been a contentious but peaceful process. It’s gotten me thinking about what it would mean for the states of the Confederacy to do such a thing now.

    I’d be anticipating the speed at which the antidemocratic fascist theocracy would engage in aggressive wars of acquisition, followed by their initiations of global nuclear conflict.

    It’s a really bad idea.

  20. 20
    MattF says:

    Speaking of fanatics, there’s an article on Ted Cruz in the latest New Yorker magazine that should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand what’s going on with the junior Senator from Texas. Not available online, so no linkee.

  21. 21
    SuperHrefna says:

    @c u n d gulag: my problem is when they adopt children of other races and religions and then steamroller over all of that to convert their adoptees into their own One True Path. I strongly believe that if you adopt a child from a religious tradition you should raise that child with some knowledge of it. And if you adopt a child from another race you need to move so that child can grow up with other people of their race around them. No child should be forced to integrate a neighborhood, which is an all too common scenario with the transracially adopted children of these fanatics.

  22. 22
    currants says:

    Was it here that I saw this link, to the Rude Pundit’s proposal?

  23. 23
    cahuenga says:

    Or maybe pipe some Michael Bolton music outside?

    It could work.

  24. 24
    Botsplainer says:

    @Nutella:

    Tactical unanimity, in order to water down a really shitty decision in the scope of the opinion.

  25. 25
    c u n d gulag says:

    @aimai:
    This is today’s edition of, “What aimai said!” :-)

    Stay tuned for tomorrow’s editi….

  26. 26
    Mayken says:

    @gbear: love it!

  27. 27
    cahuenga says:

    Wow, strange commenting system

  28. 28
    Tony P. says:

    @Mayken:
    I was not clear. By “stand-alone” I meant “not just another part of a hospital”. A pregnant woman walking into MGH or Beth Israel would be just another patient, not an obvious target for “counseling”.
    –TP

  29. 29
    gbear says:

    @RSA: The only problem with the ‘adopt’ approach is that it would take a shitload of donators to make it hurt. If they’re only causing a couple dollars a day in donations, it wouldn’t be much of a deterent.

    Donating to Planned Parenthood is a good thing to do at any rate. If they could provide a site link to the ‘adoption’ option for everyone who donated and let them pick a local clinic, it might generate some real funding.

  30. 30
    currants says:

    @Tony P.:

    What I want to know is: why the hell do “abortion clinics” have to be stand-alone establishments, and therefore easy for the pro-lifers to harass?

    They aren’t always. Near me there’s a group of truly crazy-looking folks who picket outside the entrance to a hospital–fortunately they’re on the street (where they are more visible) near the drive, and the actual entrance is much further in (several hundred yards). I used to slow down and make visibly rude gestures when I drove past, but quit for various reasons, most having to do with concerns for personal safety.

  31. 31
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    As for secession, one of the reasons why the Conferderatos are getting really upset is that the demos make it clear many of those states are at a racial and ethnic tipping point. Which also fuels their fanaticism. Google “Demographic Winter” to see a little of what I am talking about.

    The White population is pretty much below replacement while other demographics are either at or just above that-and that population is being supplemented by immigration.

    Sucession would leave these new groups at the mercy of those fanatics, and still wouldn’t lessen the pressure on abortion because they consider it a world-wide crusade to “save the White Race”.

    What to do? I would have free comdoms given out everywhere-medical clinics, dorm rooms, bars, the military. Lowcost other forms of contraception would be part of a standard medical menu of service for anyone under 45 upon request for free or some nominal amount, say $1.

    Support research into long-term improvements to things like IUDs, cervical caps and other non-hormonal methods that could be given out at doctors clinics-and by the way, make regular birth controls cheap and over the counter.

  32. 32
    Mayken says:

    @currants: yeah I love this suggestion as well but again it requires one to get pretty fanatical to make a difference. Personally think ones time would be better spent volunteering as a clinic escort if one has the wherewithal.
    And while I agree with getting another D President we really have to start focusing on local and state politics. That’s where the real battle is happening and we are losing because we keep focusing on Congrss and the White House every damned election cycle!

  33. 33
    SuperHrefna says:

    @cahuenga: I remember in the UK in the early 90s there was some real progress made in reducing anti social behavior by playing classical music in the places teenage gangs would congregate. I’m not sure Michael Bolton would work on forced childbirth loonies though. Maybe Skrillex?

  34. 34
    JGabriel says:

    mistermix @ top:

    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.

    Here’s another tactic: go to the clinic open-carrying a gun. Then use the protesters own rhetoric and tactics against them: “If you’re going to accuse me of killing my own baby, what makes you think I won’t put a bullet through your fucking head?”

    Or, you know, just shoot them without warning – on the basis of being in fear for your life. If George Zimmerman can do it, why can’t a woman being harassed by people in a movement known to have murdered its targets before? Sounds like a rational fear for one’s life to me.

  35. 35
    PurpleGirl says:

    I’m thinking that clinic walkers, those great people who help take women into a clinic, should be provided with sunglasses and ear plugs for themselves and for their charges so it is easier to ignore the protesters as they walk into the clinic/office.

  36. 36
    JoyceH says:

    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.

    Here’s where this is wrong. Because in fact, these people are NOT ’24/7 nutcases’. They get to CHOOSE when they’re being political and confrontational, and the rest of their lives can be as placid and easy-going as they wish it to be. Taking them on when they’re going about their anti-abortion protests is only what they expect; it’s baked into the cake.

    If you really want to impact them and maybe make them rethink their activities, don’t confront them at the clinic. Confront them at their homes. Picket THEM right back. Let their neighbors know that these people are fanatics who make frightened young women’s lives a trial as they try to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of the nation. Picket them at their work – you know their bosses will love that, especially if they’re in a business that relies on walk-in clients and a cluster of pickets is, gee, ‘sidewalk counseling’ and now clients are deciding to go somewhere else.

    Make them live with their ‘activism’ at unexpected times, not just their calendar “let’s see, I’m ‘sidewalk counseling’ at the clinic on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon”. It may make them feel like Holy Martyrs for a while – until their boss start telling them that they’re going to have to let them go because they’re costing him money.

    The leaders of the anti-abortion movement are pros who live on contributions. The foot soldiers are part-timers who pick and choose when they want to be involved. Take that choice away from them (gee, taking choice away, hmm!), and they’re going to decide it’s just too much of a sacrifice.

  37. 37
    c u n d gulag says:

    @SuperHrefna:
    Good points!
    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. 38
    raven says:

    Futbol?

  39. 39
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @raven:

    Here’s the Katrina vanden Heuvel video. Note Kristol’s incredibly flip and insulting dismissal of her comments at the end of the clip.

  40. 40
    Morzer says:

    I think that Atrios has his head up his ass on this issue. The forced-breeder crazies are willing to commit murder in church and cheer on the terrorists who did it. Ridicule ain’t gonna cut it.

    It might be worth figuring out ways to get women into clinics in such a way that the crazies can’t pester or harass them.

  41. 41
    raven says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I wouldn’t have expected anything different but I think it was pretty cool that she went dead at him when they were sitting next to each other.

  42. 42
    greennotGreen says:

    I really wish you’d remove that photo – it’s close to kiddie porn, and it’s not making your point at all.

  43. 43
    SuperHrefna says:

    @JoyceH: I like the way you think. That could really work!

  44. 44
    raven says:

    @greennotGreen: I agree. It’s also close to the that Hamsher black face that still haunts her.

  45. 45
    WereBear says:

    @CarolDuhart2: The ACA is going to make a huge difference there. IUDs have come a very long way, but are on the expensive side. Now they are covered, last for years, and will really change things.

  46. 46
    gbear says:

    @Morzer: I’d suggest that the escorts should carry pepper spray, but I know what would happen next…

  47. 47
    Mayken says:

    @Tony P.: yeah sadly many hospitals and medical practices are not doing elective abortion care. There are places that do but they are getting more rare. Often because the hospital boards don’t allow it for varying reasons (e.g. the Catholics are buying them up.)
    Again why RU 486 is a very important alternative to have available for women.

  48. 48
    raven says:

    @WereBear: Get back to me tomorrow.

  49. 49
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @greennotGreen:

    Agree. It’s disturbing, offensive, and unnecessary.

  50. 50
    WereBear says:

    @JoyceH: Sounds brilliant to me.

  51. 51
    Amir Khalid says:

    No World Cup open thread. Is Randinho okay?

  52. 52
    gene108 says:

    @SuperHrefna:

    I like the way you think. That could really work!

    Until one of the really “dedicated” true believers decides to start whacking counter-protestors. These people are willing to kill for this cause.*

    There’s no way to deal with them, other than to keep electing pro-choice, pro-freedom people, who appoint judges who will take on the same views.

    *I honestly think that, at some level, because these folks can no longer inflict random violence and intimidation on the African-American community anymore, when right-wing Churches** started talking about abortion as being the next “crusade”, they took their loss of aggression outlet to abortion clinics.

    **If the word did not come to shut down abortion, from Churches, the intensity of this group would be less. The right-wing leaders abused their position of authority to start this “crusade” against abortion on a topic the Bible is silent about.

  53. 53
    raven says:

    @Amir Khalid: Dunno, I keep checking.

  54. 54
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @raven: I do too. I like her style, a lot. (Not to mention what she says and writes.)

  55. 55
    Mayken says:

    @Tony P.: also, too, the nutcases actually do picket hospitals where they know abortions happen and get into the faces or random folks going in for other reasons.

  56. 56
    JGabriel says:

    cahuenga:

    Or maybe pipe some Michael Bolton music outside?

    It could work.

    Abortion protester are the kind who like Michael Bolton. If you really want to piss them off, play a mix of Public Enemy and John Zorn’s Naked City. There’s little wingnuts hate more than rap and avant-garde.

  57. 57
    Suzanne says:

    The clinics here get very little protesting for a good reason: they’re in strip malls. Protestors don’t hassle people entering the site because they could be going to any of the businesses. And the public sidewalk is separated from the clinic entrance by the entire parking lot. I think money would be better spent helping move clinics to facilities that have this sort of setup.

  58. 58
    Elly says:

    Basically, I agree with this post, but I want to take exception with this bit:

    “…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.”

    Casting abortion as “the toughest decision” of a young woman’s life is adopting the “pro-life” frame: deep down inside, she understands that she’s doing something morally problematic, even if it’s the lesser of two “evils.”

    Noop. Once upon a time, I was one of those young women, and trust me: opting for an abortion was the easiest decision of my life. To be perfectly honest, deciding to start a family a decade later was a much, much harder decision, even though I was in a rock-solid marriage, had money in the bank, and great health insurance.

    Now I’m sure that there are women who wrestle with the decision to abort… and I’m not posting this to trivialize their feelings or experiences. But I get a little weary of the implication that the only “good” abortion is one in which the woman has wrestled with the decision, and come to the regretful conclusion that she must terminate her pregnancy. A first trimester abortion is a simple, if slightly uncomfortable, medical procedure and, overall, I recall it as a pretty positive experience. And I don’t think I’m unusual in that respect… I had no qualms about it at the time, and – even after two kids and 3 decades – still don’t.

  59. 59
    raven says:

    @Elly: Great insight.

  60. 60
    Chris says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Yes exactly. I’ve never understood how this part of the secession is supposed to happen – what happens when we create a hostile, unstable, militaristic new power right on our border?

    It’s a moot point anyway. They’ll never kill the goose that lays the golden eggs – and their sense of Real American entitlement means they think WE should secede, not them .

  61. 61
    ellennelle says:

    “The day you can peel this kid from this guy’s cold, dead hands is the day you might earn the right to say anything to me about forcing a bunch of cells to stay in my body till it becomes a human that will be my responsibility for the rest of its life, which will not start until it is actually born and, you know, breathing.”

  62. 62
    srv says:

    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.

    And they’re winning.

  63. 63
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Chris: yeah, I think that is the core difference between the situation in the US and the situation in the UK. No one denies that Scotland and England are separate and distinct nations, there are thousands of years of history to prove this, the question is whether we are united* or not ( I say we since I’m half of each, and being united in myself this whole vote is making me itch) In the US all the long standing nations were driven to reservations and no one is quite sure what statehood means yet. That whole experiment in federation could have gone quite another way ( and I think without the development of modern transportation and communication it might have) and now the joints are creaking.

    *and if any one wonders how you can be separate, distinct and united all at the same time I say Welcome to the fun of being British!

  64. 64
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Elly:

    Noop. Once upon a time, I was one of those young women, and trust me: opting for an abortion was the easiest decision of my life. To be perfectly honest, deciding to start a family a decade later was a much, much harder decision, even though I was in a rock-solid marriage, had money in the bank, and great health insurance.

    Yeah, Ms Martin describes it similarly. Took her years before she was convinced we could afford to give up one income, etc. Her abortion was a no-brainer. She was in college and had lost the 99% effective birth control lottery.

    California has ⅓ of the abortion providers in the nation. We have hundreds of clinics. So protesting isn’t widespread. It’s not interesting that they protest. It’s interesting where they protest. The clinics are always Planned Parenthood and they’re always in low-income areas. And it’s always white people picketing black and brown people. They don’t show up in areas where they’ll be recognized here, where they might run into a neighbor.

    I think think tactic is to turn the first amendment against them. Film them. Find out their names and personal information and publish it. Publish the church they come from and picket it. Use the same tactics they employ. Clearly the government is uninterested stopping the behavior, so employ the behavior.

  65. 65
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Suzanne: You may be onto something. There are a lot of dying malls with 30-40-50 foot parking lots all around the building. If a clinic (along with other brave medical providers) set up in such a place-that’s an automatic buffer-the parking lot is private property, and can be fenced off. Hell, some places may even have the equivalent of a “private road” as well. Even more of a buffer zone if you can legally block an access road.

    The optimist in me sees the anti-abortion fanaticism tdwindling in a few years for several reasons. The number of abortions have been dropping-or stable since 1980.

    The reasons vary: safe sex means an increase in condom use-which prevents a lot of unplanned pregnancies by itself, the lower number of women who are of reproductive age, the greater acceptance of single parenting. Soon there will be improved genetic counseling to prevent at least some of those “later term” abortions from even happening.

    I also like to think that generational change will also help here as well. Younger generations aren’t as hung up on sex as we olders were-and therefore use birth control more effectively And add a more “libertarian” approach to sex ethics overall, and there simply isn’t the appetite for shaming women-and some men about sexual choices and responsibilities..

  66. 66
    kindness says:

    How does one defend themselves from these nutz?

    Hard to say. For many of them the act of confrontation in the act of ‘converting’ others to their idea of God is how they value their lives. It makes them ‘special’ with their God. Yea well, they’re special all right but not in the way they think they are.

    If they were polite, it wouldn’t be an issue. They aren’t though. Far too many live for that confrontation. And just like why the buffer law was passed in Massachusetts some poor clinic employee or patient is gonna get hurt over that SCOTUS decision. Everyone knows that. That none of the Justices mentioned that part had me gobsmacked.

    You can be Zen and walk by without showing any emotions at all or you can beat the crap out of the oppressors. While there would be some ego gratification of beating them I think the Zen option is better. Harder to pull off but better. Don’t want to wind those yahoos up any more than they are.

  67. 67
    Josie says:

    If your point is to discuss the efficacy of humor in fighting these nutjobs, the picture is not working for you. There is nothing humorous about it. Please consider taking it down.

  68. 68
    skyweaver says:

    Dan Savage had an interesting post on this very topic this past week:

    http://slog.thestranger.com/sl.....-both-ways

  69. 69
    Debbie says:

    @aimai:
    It would be more effective for women to file assault or harassment charges.

  70. 70
    SuperHrefna says:

    @skyweaver: That was a good read! Yes, I agree that it is a good idea to take the fight to them, rather than it happening at a time and place of their choosing.

  71. 71
    Marc says:

    @🌷 Martin: And while we’re at it, let’s start filming some of those “personal, caring, consensual” conversations the clinic protestors are having. I agree with mistermix: even a lot of abortion opponents would be sickened by the behavior of these bullies. Let’s make them own it.

  72. 72
    🌷 Martin says:

    @srv: Sort of. They’re losing here. California just passed a law expanding access to abortion. It’s gotten much easier to open a clinic because most abortion procedures can now be performed by a nurse practitioner or a midwife. There’s a midwifery in the little community shopping center by me and rumor has it that they’re expanding into these. There’s a mom/pop clinic/drugstore run by a neighborhood couple – he’s a doctor, she’s a pharmacist, and the teenage girls know to go talk to them for advise. If this information is correct, then within walking distance of my house (2 miles) there are at least 5 places to get an abortion. Nobody has ever picketed any of them, nor would I ever expect to see it.

    In fact, we’ve seen the opposite. Last year the large Presbyterian run hospital in upscale Newport Beach merged with the a nearby Catholic run hospital and announced that they would stop performing abortions. The state blocked the merger over the loss of those services. Donors pulled out. Doctors resigned. There were protests by the pro-choice crowd. The hospital was required by Kamala Harris to continue all women’s health procedures for 20 years other than abortions – but including contraception access and procedures, tubal ligations, etc. – and to ensure that they would provide access to an abortion provider (walking distance or would arrange transport) from all of their hospital locations (which includes locations that didn’t provide those services before) before the merger could go through.

    This can be won, and it’s being won in the nations largest state.

  73. 73
    Morzer says:

    @JoyceH:

    I’d add that we need to confront them where they work, post their pictures online, document their hateful behavior on video, make it clear to the world at large just who these people are. They want to make their lives about harassing and inciting murder against others others – they can damn well learn what it feels like to be under the microscope as extremists and domestic terrorists in the eyes of their neighbors and colleagues.

  74. 74
    geg6 says:

    @Elly:

    Exactly. I had the same experience.

    Had two unplanned pregnancies in my life. The first was as a teenager, when I had no consent to anything, really. Forced to give birth and forced to put the child up for adoption in a way in which I was not really included in any of the decision making. Of course, the Catholic Church was involved, along with the helping hand of my devout Catholic mother. Most traumatic experience of my life (for many reasons: sent away in shame, basically locked in all day until I gave birth, forced to apply for welfare and medical which was handed over to the control of the nuns that ran the home, preached to and shamed every single damn day, etc., etc., etc.). Horrid.

    A few years later, I was living on my own and my 99% effective birth control failed. Had the abortion I wished for the first time this time. Quick, little pain, great clinic staff who were really caring and an easy decision. Never regretted it for a moment, unlike the first time.

    Never wanted kids and have never even come to close to having one since. Perfectly content with that. No regrets at all, other than I still hold a grudge against my poor dead mother who thought she did the right thing but who knew that our relationship would never quite recover and it never did.

  75. 75
    Gian says:

    @Botsplainer:
    One of the forces that drove southern treason was the desire to expand slavery to lands stolen from the natives or conquered from Mexico. Florida BTW was taken from Spain partly with the work of Andrew Jackson under a pretense that Spain provided insufficient protection from the natives iirc.
    Anyway id bet on texas invading Mexico again

  76. 76
    constitutional mistermix says:

    @skyweaver: I like his approach (picketing churches) better than the naming-and-shaming individuals approach because there’s a lot of silent acquiescence to church financing of these picketing nutjobs by other members of the congregations that support said nutcases. It’s hard to stop a nutcase, but maybe it’s easier to get the rest of the congregation to stop paying financing these nutcases.

    Speaking of churches, I don’t know if that picture undermines my point, as some have said. Since my point was that I don’t know whether the humor stuff would work, if the picture doesn’t work, maybe it supports it? Anyway, I realize it is offensive, but I can’t think of an institution that’s done more to support these protesters than the Catholic Church. It really is their signature social issue. The same bishops and priests who fucked little kids and covered up the fucking of little kids preached countless anti-abortion homilies and led protests at clinics. So why not throw it back at them?

  77. 77
    Elly says:

    @geg6:

    OMG. Even though it’s long in the past, I am so, so very sorry you were put through that. I have a daughter myself – she’s 21 now, so she’s in charge of her own destiny. Still, I can’t imagine what – even if she were still a minor – would compel me or my husband to impose on her bodily autonomy. Even a “good” pregnancy is no walk in the park, and I’ve known women whose pregnancies were health and even life-threatening. To be betrayed like that by a parent is horrible.

  78. 78
    the Conster says:

    The abortion protesters aren’t going to stop, but they can’t prevent you from entering the facility – why not just give them a two handed one finger salute, and yell at them to fuck off and hope they all die in a fire?

  79. 79
    Ruckus says:

    @constitutional mistermix:
    I got your point with the picture, but I’m not sure everyone does. It is a leap that not everyone will make. I think you have to be predisposed to thinking the RCC is an unacceptable institution to see it. And no, that does not mean everyone involved in some way in the church, but in it’s name there has been done an immense amount of damage over it’s history.
    But that same sentiment can be landed on many religions or grifts masquerading as religions.
    The WBC folks seem to be running slightly out of steam and it seems to me to be from groups forming a barrier of people against them. But they go to specific events not weekly ones and they are not spread over an entire country. So onsite counter protests in this instance would be much harder. Protesting at their church might work but religion is such a touchy issue, how do you get enough people to protest? Had a discussion last night with someone who is adamant that the American way is to allow all individual actions and everyone will have to take responsibility for their actions. Which is great except that most will not take that responsibility or worse they feel it is their responsibility to take those actions because the government will not(in this case end abortion). This libertarian view is actually quite prevalent, that we should be completely left alone and everything will work out fine. But of course that’s BS as this very discussion points out.

  80. 80
    SuperHrefna says:

    @constitutional mistermix: My argument would be that the Fundamentalists and Evangelicals and unaffiliated misogynists have also played a large part in the forced birth movement so conflating it with Catholicism just clouds the issue.

  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    @the Conster:
    We’ve heard stories just now that this decision was actually an easy one to make for some, I’d bet that it isn’t for others. If you were having a hard time making the decision to abort and having to run the gauntlet of crazy bastards into the place to have the procedure would you want to have to do that?
    I would like to be an escort but I don’t think I could stay calm and unengaged if someone got in my face, screaming and spitting on me and the woman I was escorting. That of course would not end well.

  82. 82
    WaterGirl says:

    That photo is pretty disgusting, mistermix. In all likelihood, there are balloon juice lurkers or commenters who have been sexually abused either by the catholic church or elsewhere. I think it’s wrong to leave have that photo prominently displayed on a Balloon Juice post.

  83. 83
    smith says:

    As much as I enjoy imagining the consternation of these zealots to be “counseled” in front of their own churches, we all know how that would end. The pro-choice protesters would be arrested for creating a disturbance, blocking the sidewalk, parading without a license, harrassment, assault, etc — all the violations that the anti-choicers are routinely given a free pass for. It’s the same lesson we had in comparing the kid glove treatment of the Bundy seditionists to the brutal takedown of Occupy: some First Amendment rights are apparently more sacrosanct than others. If this weren’t true, the Supremes would have abolished their own buffer zone, as well as the “free speech zones” into which protesters are herded to keep them out of the sight of important people.

  84. 84
    Aardvark Cheeselog says:

    @JGabriel: WTF dude, you need to think that through a little bit. That is one shitty idea.

  85. 85
    DissidentFish says:

    @currants: Many clinics are in strip malls, and protestors are shooed right off the private property. As are union organizers… so it’s a mixed bag, whenever something that can be described as speech is involved. In cities they clinics are standalone because of development patterns and because sidewalks of cities are public.

  86. 86
    SuperHrefna says:

    @geg6: I’m so sorry you had to go through that nightmare. And I’m glad you can tell your story, so that people can hear exactly how awful forced birth is.

  87. 87
    Elly says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    “This can be won, and it’s being won in the nations largest state.”

    And I think this is really the way it must be done. Personally, I’d love to give the harassers a taste of their own medicine, but as much as I would enjoy it, it wouldn’t stop the legislative processes that are not only closing clinics across the country, but also working to restrict access to “abortifacient” methods of birth control. Shifting the focus to individual protestors and local churches is a good way to win some battles but lose the war.

    The entire “pro-life” movement is about reproductive coercion, plain and simple. Pro-lifers are the moral equivalent of the SO who pokes holes in condoms or flushes his partner’s birth control pills down the toilet. And we need to elect state representatives who understand that, and are willing to take a strong stand against it.

  88. 88
    g says:

    @Tony P.:

    The Supreme Court says we have the right to speak to people on the public sidewalk. If we wish to “counsel” the anti-abortion fanatics, exactly as “politely” and persistently as they wish to counsel others, it may at least distract them from their “mission”. That would be of some use.

    I think if I were an escort, I might “counsel” the protestors with an airhorn every time they open their mouths.

  89. 89
    g says:

    A@Elly: Agree completely. I’ve been there myself.

  90. 90
    g says:

    I worked at a public event facility where we hosted Planned Parenthood’s annual fundraiser. In recent years, we’ve had protesters show up, waving gory posters. Mind you – these are not patients they’re picketing, it’s the guests of the fundraiser.

    In order to keep them away from the guests, PP wanted to pay to rent our facility’s outdoor spaces like lawns and patios (we do rent them for events) so that they could keep the protesters away from the entrance. Our agency’s attorney ruled that they do not have the right to do this – as long as the lawns and patios were open to the public, it didn’t matter if PP had “rented” them, the protesters had as much a right to be in those spaces as anyone else.

    The only thing we could do is cite them if they followed people in the parking lot and harangued them.

    I got to know the head of security for PP. He said some of these protesters go to the same places for years. He says that they even get to know them pretty well personally.

  91. 91
    Lauren says:

    @Elly: Amen, sister.

  92. 92
    brendancalling says:

    Serious question.
    What happens when abortion clinic harassment meets Stand Your Ground laws?

    About 15 years ago (jesus, time flies) I got a girl I was dating pregnant, and she decided to have an abortion. It was a VERY stressful experience, and we were lucky that there were no protestors at the clinic we went to. But we were both terrified that they WOULD be there. Both of us were very tense, jumpy, and upset both before the procedure and afterward. When you see your girl in distress, you automatically become VERY protective. All the way down I was wondering if I was going have to punch someone in the face.

    It is not difficult for me to imagine -at all- someone in Florida or Texas or any of those ammosexual states exercising their right to shoot first when someone is screaming in their face and acting intimidating.

  93. 93
    Betty Cracker says:

    @g:

    I think if I were an escort, I might “counsel” the protestors with an airhorn every time they open their mouths.

    Good idea. I saw that work very effectively against an idiot street preacher who was attempting to disrupt a pride parade.

  94. 94
    Miss Bianca says:

    I can say from my days as an abortion counselor and escort, many moons ago (so YMMV, of course), that the humorous/satirical approach tended mostly to confuse and irritate both sides alike – to no clear purpose except the entertainment of the humorists in question, leading me to the conclusion that abortion clinics were not the place for performance art – humor didn’t seem to translate under the circumstances. At best, it was a distraction; at worst, it heightened the circus-y atmosphere that most of the patients were dreading to confront in the first place.

    I will say that when I was able to handle it, “tag-teaming” with a partner was pretty effective – she would do the escorting and I would slow down the crazies by engaging them in conversation and diverting their missionary zeal toward converting *me*. This worked particularly well with men, for some reason; or at least, the ones I remember being most invested in telling me why *they* were there tended to be men. I had to be in the right head space, for sure – because to be calm, alert, nonjudgmental, and thwart the protestors by giving them my full and seemingly sympathetic attention was a huge energy suck for me. Usually, I’d have to lie down for the rest of the afternoon after doing that all morning.

    As for other tactics – I’m far too lazy to look for the reference, but in one of the latest instances I’ve heard of clinic doctor harrassment, calling the protestors at home did seem to be a big wake-up call for them – like, “oh, I’m not anonymous anymore – you mean, my actions could have consequences for me?”.

  95. 95
    way2blue says:

    I’ve always thought a ‘simple’ solution would be for Planned Parenthood to lease space that has underground parking. There used to be one with that set up — across the street from where I work. But this solution pre-supposes that patients will arrive by car rather than on foot.

    Having these clinics located in a shopping mall setting does seem to solve the problem of targeted harassment, since abortion protesters can’t be sure who entering the parking area will be entering the clinic as well — as opposed to another establishment….

  96. 96
    brendancalling says:

    @JGabriel: I was thinking the same thing. It’s going to happen, And it’s not a matter of if, but when.

    It’ll be some woman’s boyfriend. I know quite a few liberal-minded good ol’ boys from Kentucky and Tennessee, who are pro-choice, pro-second amendment. You don’t wanna get on their bad side

  97. 97
    Nutella says:

    @MattF:

    Speaking of fanatics, there’s an article on Ted Cruz in the latest New Yorker magazine that should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand what’s going on with the junior Senator from Texas. Not available online, so no linkee.

    You mean this article?

  98. 98
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @BGinCHI:

    It’s gotten me thinking about what it would mean for the states of the Confederacy to do such a thing now.

    Here is the official flag of the Confederacy Notice it looks like the US Flag? That’s because they weren’t serious about succeeding, what they were serious about was, and still are, creating special privileges for their states.

  99. 99

    @geg6: Oh, honey.

    Please keep preaching the truth: Forced birth, and the institutions that support it, hurt girls & women. My BFF has 1 kid who came from that background, and it’s hard for her too.

    It’s painful to know that your (adopted) kid was brought into this world because of her grandparents’ ideology, and the fact of her existence is reason enough for her first mom to sever relations with her own family–it complicates everything about teaching her sexual morality that they have to discuss that fact. And they do, because it’s the truth, and eventually the adopted child will be able to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

    The truth hurts. Everyone. Except the nuns. They seem to be okay with it, strangely.

  100. 100
    Keith G says:

    @constitutional mistermix: FWIW, I immediately got the connection that was your point in using the picture. I thought that it was well used.

    I do not hate the Catholic Church, or other churches for that matter. I do think that they must be continuously challenged in the most stark ways possible in order to chip away at their attitude of Holy-bestowed entitlement.

    @WaterGirl: Let’s put away your pronouncement that the mere fact of a previous sexual abuse would render someone unable to process parody. By and large, we are not that crippled.

  101. 101
    WaterGirl says:

    @constitutional mistermix:

    The same bishops and priests who fucked little kids and covered up the fucking of little kids preached countless anti-abortion homilies and led protests at clinics. So why not throw it back at them?

    Why? Because that photo is throwing it back in the faces of the people who were abused, too. And that’s the problem with the photo.

  102. 102
    Keith G says:

    @WaterGirl: Is that your reaction? If so own it. If you are speaking for others out of an assumed ability to divine someone else’s emotional architecture, maybe you shouldn’t.

  103. 103
    WaterGirl says:

    @Keith G: If you are asking if I was sexually abused, the answer is no.

    But I have a very visceral reaction to that photo and it seems very wrong to me to use it in this context, which is what I have been saying.

    If I look at this with an eye toward risk-reward, there is very little reward here (for the use of the photo) and plenty of risk for upsetting someone. In my opinion, the photo serves almost no purpose for the discussion of anti-abortion crazies (notice we are talking about the photo not the anti-abortion crazies). It’s a distraction. And it’s a distraction that runs the risk of upsetting and offending people. Just not worth it, in my opinion.

    In my gut, the use of this photo feels very wrong, and I’m not going to apologize for how I feel and for standing up for what I think is right. And if I only get to speak up about something that I think is wrong if I have experienced whatever it is myself, I think that’s wrong, too.

    We can agree to disagree.

  104. 104
    Keith G says:

    @WaterGirl: It’s good to own what is your take on this.

    When you typed:

    Because that photo is throwing it back in the faces of the people who were abused

    you took the posture of someone completely able to speak for others and for me.

    There are groups of folks in this society that I shall never “speak” for, although I can talk about my reactions to an event that includes them.

  105. 105
    Wally Ballou says:

    @brendancalling: Not to mention that even a lot of “pro-life” right-wingers are anything but “pro-life” when it comes to their own (or their girlfriend’s/daughter’s/wife’s/one-night stand’s) inconvenient pregnancy.

  106. 106
    Paul in KY says:

    @PurpleGirl: How about union thug (or look like stereotypical union thugs) escorts? 4 to a woman. Those dicks will start checking out their iphones rather than harassing the poor woman.

  107. 107
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    That’s because they weren’t serious about succeeding,

    Looking at the what they are doing to their states these days, that’s an accurate typo.

  108. 108
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @aimai: How you gonna find their homes?

  109. 109
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Mayken: “Stand alone” meaning “only business in a single, smallish commercial building”, not “only offering abortion services”.

  110. 110
  111. 111
    Hornet says:

    We organized a protest at our local PP clinic (SLO, CA) that involved taking all the parking spaces on the street outside the clinic. I had noticed that these fanatical yahoos liked to park a couple of trucks on the street outside the front of the facility and put up giant “dead fetus” pictures. So I got a bunch of people together and we would all drive over there at about 5:30-6 in the morning (got to get up early to fight the cray-cray) and take the 15 or so parking spaces out front on the street.

    This took a strong commitment, because the streets are metered, but everyone was really into it and we all got quarters and filled those meters up for the day. [“Procedure” day around here is Thursday.] It worked like a charm! For several weeks there those nutjobs had no good place to park their “dead fetus” truck.

    Alas, as you state above, the commitment of those fanatics is difficult to better, and we only lasted about a month before our group lost some of its dedication (and tired of spending $15 in quarters to park for the day).

    It was a good idea though, and I’m proud we managed to shut down a small part of their protest for a month or so.

  112. 112
  113. 113
    Force Crater says:

    @Baud: It is not fun when they storm the clinic. (Shut up and help the patients into the facility with a minimum of hassle. Anything else is just asking for trouble .)

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