By Jim Stanford on May 21, 2011
It’s a shame to learn in today’s Daily that a member of our community was arrested for clipping the sign of an abortion protester with his car.
Fortunately, I have not had the slightest contact with the group of religious wack jobs who invaded Jackson this week, even though I visited Whole Grocer, next to their protest site, several times. Perhaps it’s fortuitous that I had to spend a few days in Moose for work. I certainly would have had a few choice words for them had they showed up on my doorstep.
But I support their right to be here and speak their minds, no matter how tasteless and offensive their signs may be. I was disappointed to see friends posting on Facebook along the lines of “I’m for free speech and all, but …”
No buts. This week’s protest is no different than anti-war activists going to Teton Pines and holding up photos of dead soldiers or Iraqis, outside Dick Cheney‘s home. (Come to think of it, too bad the supposedly “pro-life” movement barely raised a peep about the Iraq War.)
Dr. Brent Blue, the target of the protest, struck the right tone at the start of the week when he told the Casper Star-Tribune, “We live in a great country and a great state which allows people from Kansas to come here and exercise their right of free speech, just like the women here have their right to free medical choice without the interference of the state or federal government.”
Law enforcement was right to throw the protesters off school grounds and impose reasonable restrictions to maintain order and safety, while also protecting the medical practice. Several of my friends, rationalizing their objection to the protest, have pointed out that the Kansans sought to expose children to potentially disturbing images.
This tasteless approach merely served to undercut the protesters’ cause, as community opposition intensified and even Right to Life of Teton County disassociated itself from the effort. There are a lot of unpleasant things in life to consider, and I imagine parents get pretty deft at handling them with their kids.
Kudos to the pro-choice advocates for mobilizing, exercising their right to free speech and standing up for community values. Kudos to those who looked the other way. Ignoring these hell-bent crusaders was the best way to thwart them.
(Photo by Stacey Breidenstein)