After nearly ten years of observing anti abortion protesters, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The commonplace protester is white with red-neck tendencies, scientifically-challenged, medically inept, dogmatically deluded, and generally diversity-defiant. Additionally, among this dreary assortment are folks with waistlines that are in direct correspondence to their intellectual capacity and women who are seriously fashion-challenged. Owing to their brainwashing, they are as useless as scuffed brown shoes without soles. In fact, their products, their messages and their brands are like Wonder Bread in an artisanal bakery, Oscar Mayer bologna in an Italian salumeria or a Hostess Twinkie in a French patissierie. Compared to the creativity of the majority who trust women to make decisions for themselves about abortion and contraception, these interchangeable trolls are boring with a capital B. Standardized, commercialized, reproducible fiends fit for no one, they arrive at clinics across the nation every Saturday morning to worship what they cherish: themselves and imaginary babies. But, they worship with the same old tunes, the same old messages, and the same old signage.
I’ll acknowledge that there are a minority who are more creatively odd than most. For example, in Allentown, PA, one fruitcake fetal crusader thought it was perfectly OK to use holy water to “baptize” women’s abdomens as they entered the walkway to the clinic. Of course, she did not ask permission for this conjured rite. Another woman, named Mary, performing in the street with chanting and invocations, sprinkled holy water on the clinic door and pedestrian walkway and then doused herself from head to toe with the water. With that last act, I thought the local loony bin had misplaced one of their inmates. Mary was one of those protesters who gave voice to the phantom fetus by yelling “I want to live. Please don’t kill me.” There are other protesters, like Joyce, who thinks ventriloquism will convince women not to abort. She uses a saccharine falsetto voice to grind out “Mommy, Mommy please don’t kill me, Mommy.” Then there’s old white Joe who invokes Martin Luther King’s name as if he was Jesus Junior every time he sees a person of color. Making unknowable claims about King’s position on abortion, Joe wallows in racist comments. But as Dr. Wallace Best, a religion and African American studies professor at Princeton succinctly stated, King “stood for justice, equality and fairness and certainly against any kind of discrimination,” something Joe will never understand nor ever embrace.
Anyway, the overwhelming majority of protesters use messages that are simply banal. What we’re left with are reruns week in, week out. It’s a stark contrast to the more progressive folks who use vivid messaging in support of women.
In Kentucky, one abortion clinic attracts the best and the worst. The volunteer escorts are the best at walking women to the clinic past some of the most vile protesters I’ve ever seen. They have a Mary there too. She’s one serious whackadoodle, complete with her big bible, hellfire and brimstone. She’s also a shover. She has no problem shoving escorts, no guilt about blocking women from exiting their cars and no difficulty telling women they’re “gonna burn in hell for eternity” or “The bible says thou shalt not kill.” Mary is also a holy roller big into laying on a hands and so animated that I wonder if she’s really just a busker. Joined by this Pentecostal type are snoopy, arrogant priests. They add their crucifixes and rosaries to the cacophony known as the circus of the absurd. There is nothing like a weird brew of stewed priests and salty Baptists to give a Saturday morning its special flavor. It’s what’s on the menu every Saturday morning in this lovely southern city. In comparison to this Barnum & Bailey environment, progressive men and women assert their support for women with ingenious and encouraging messaging.
In Allen, TX, women seeking abortions don’t stand a chance with the droll protesters. Whether speaking in English or Spanish, they swarm women as they attempt to walk on the sidewalk leading to the clinic. Working in pairs, one walks in front of the women, offering help while the one in the back keeps repeating, “You’re making a big mistake. You’re making the biggest mistake of your life.” Other protesters line the sidewalk should to shoulder with their typical accessories: rosaries, Guadalupe image, crucifix, and other assorted signs. Because of the proximity to Mexico, much of the city’s population speaks Spanish. So, the protesters have translated their same old, desert-dry messages. Que lastima! But some bilingual women have created posters that cut right to the heart of the issue.
In North Aurora, IL, the abortion clinic is relatively new but the anti abortion trolls look the same. Same old tired signs, same old anger, same old righteous indignation that women have a choice about what to do with their reproductive health. They use the tiny white coffins lining the sidewalk (been there, done that), plaster the surrounding area with signs (been there, done that), tell women that they will regret their abortion (been there, done that). Yawn!!! Is this the best that this mid-west city can produce? Where is the ingenuity? It’s with the progressives, that’s where!
What I have noticed is that most of the freak shows keep using the same old materials. The same old fetal images. The same old bloody Malachi image that they worship. The same old rosaries and the same old worn bibles. The same old messages. The same old white men and women. The same old dumpy dimwits. It’s like going to going to same movie or reading the same book—the ending is always the same. Even the well-funded extremists like Flip Benham and Troy Newman are forever using the same old stuff. I had to laugh at Newman’s braggadocio back in October 2007 when he claimed his Operation Rescue rocked Fargo, ND with their purported “Truth Truck” and their literature. Well, guess what? It’s 2012 and his latest visit to Fargo this month had the same result. Zip. Zilch.
I’m hoping that one of these days there will be someone with a fresh approach, something new and innovative. But to do that, they’ll have to infuse a bit more intellectual and creative energy. Sadly, intelligence and creativity are missing within the anti abortion cartel. For now, it’s just the same old freak shows, same stuff, different day that net the same old results. Zippity Do Da.