Kyle links to a "pro-lifers are mean" comment by pro-choice advocate Amanda Marcotte and counters that while the behavior she describes is bad, it is not typical of what he has experienced among pro-lifers, that pro-lifers tend to be focused not on disdaining women (as Marcotte seems to think) but on protecting unborn human life.
Part of the problem, I think, in each side estimating the extent of unloving attitude present in the other is that people remember slights against their side far more viscerally than slights against the other.
I went to clinic prayer vigils exactly twice in my life -- protest is not something that my intellectual and emotional makeup makes me good at, regardless of the topic, and after spending those two occasions (as a college freshman at Steubenville curious about what it was all about) standing tensely over to one side with the police officers, watching what was going on but unable to really focus on praying at all, I figured it pretty clearly wasn't the place for me.
On both occasions I noted with chagrin that some of the non-University protesters were doing things I considered counterproductive: holding pictures of aborted babies, shouting "stop killing babies" at the clinic staff as they went in in the morning.
At the same time, what I remember so viscerally that I can feel my blood rising in an instant just thinking about it is the behavior of the "pro-choice escorts" who were there to make sure that sidewalk counselors didn't dissuade anyone from getting an abortion. They wore bright yellow t-shirts over their clothes (it was winter, so we were all bundled up) saying "Pro-Choice Escort" and their basic tactic whenever a sidewalk counselor got near someone was for one to throw herself between the counselor and the woman approaching the clinic, put her arms out in basketball blocking stance, and scream as loud as possible (so that the counselor couldn't get a word in) a stream of, "She doesn't want to talk to you! Get back! If you tough me it's an assault! Get back! Officer, he's touching me! [this almost invariably a lie which the police ignored] Get back! She doesn't want to talk to you, you pervert!" etc.
The sidewalk counselors were trained to take this with equanimity, but just watching it tended to wind me up. What I really remember, however, is a a middle aged pro-choice escort with close cropped grey hair who seemed to have appointed herself the protester taunter. She zeroed in on a student who showed voice and body language signs of being retarded and imitated him all morning, as he prayed or sang hymns with a guitar. She'd prance around singing back at him in a "retard voice" and every so often pause and say, "Your mother wishes she'd come here."
I imagine that if Marcotte had been at the same protest, she would have remembered the misbehaviors of some of the pro-life protesters much better than I do, and this woman she would remember not at all, or as a minor misbehavior in a trying situation. But to me, the pro-choice movement will always be that gray haired woman taunting an apparently disabled young man that his mother must wish that she had killed him.
Learning Notes Week of June 20
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