Were he a columnist in WWII, Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune would have demanded that all Japanese-Americans pledge not to bomb any ships at sea.
That’s the equivalent of his insulting October 2 post, “Will abortion protesters be as good as their lawsuit claims they are?”
After writing about the libel suit pro-lifers filed against Planned Parenthood and Steve Trombley, Zorn wrote….
Trombley said, “This suit sounds like just another attempt to harrass and intimidate us. They’re trying to intimidate us into not talking about their movement’s history of harrassment, violence and intimidation.”
Planned Parenthood can talk all it wants and its opponents can strike all the saintly, innocent poses they want. The proof will be what happens at what both sides are calling “ground zero” of the national debate over abortion.
The first court date isn’t until December 20, by which time the court of public opinion will have taken full measure of the tactics employed by the anti abortion-rights movement in what is almost sure to be continual protests and civil disobedience at the clinic site.
Zorn then reprinted a 22-year-old “profile” (apt wording in keeping with the thrust of his piece) on Joe Scheidler and opened the door for his groupies to pile on, which they did with glee, to the point of calling Eric Scheidler “the Abbie Hoffman of the Anti-Choice crowd, only not as funny.”
I entered into the debate with Zorn late yesterday (see page 2).
Pro-lifers need to step back and look at what the other side has been doing and stop biting at the bait.
Years ago the abortion industry hit on the tactic of branding all of us for the miniscule number that seek vigilante justice. They did this to intimidate and stigmatize us.
And both plans worked.
Fighting stigmatization is an uphill battle. People want to believe the worst. The fact is, if people are bent on thinking something, there’s not much that can be done to stop them. The libel lawsuit is working toward that end. It’s saying, no more.
But one thing we certainly have control over is letting ourselves be intimidated. We must stop that.
Consider the fact that the abortion industry – any person (including politicians) or group making money from abortion – is our enemy. Why in the world do we care what they think? Why in the world have we spent so much time trying to prove to them that we’re really very nice people?
Screw them. If we allow ourselves to be intimidated, we act defensively not offensively. We react rather than act. We lose our assertive tone.
Get over the profiling. Cease to care about their accusations as they relate to the tasks at hand. Don’t let them distract you.
Friends in the movement will say we must worry about their souls. I say, picking up on a point Scott Klusendorf makes, if you observed a man gunning down a room full of two-year-olds, would you worry about his soul or saving the children? Priorities, my friends. Stop the killing first.
As I pointed out in my WND column yesterday, their characterization of us is coming back to bite them anyway.
And as a related aside, OpenlineBlog.com has a hysterical post up about Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner now requiring extra police protection for himself. Oh, please. Talk about delusions of grandeur.
FROM JILL STANEK– http://www.jillstanek.com
Eric, your post is condescending yet amusing. You said the other day you didn’t want to talk about the nuts and bolts and fors and againsts of abortion any more, but you like the conversation abortion arouses, so you’ve come up with a detractor’s angle.
Get this, Eric. I don’t care if you think I’m violent, or if you perpetuate the myth that Joe Scheidler is violent. These are false assertions your side only promotes to intimidate and stigmatize pro-lifers.
The debate is meant to put us on the defensive, like “Have you stopped beating your wife.” And I’ve never fallen for it. In fact, it amuses me to think we might intimidate you. That gives us a lot of power and causes you to think irrationally.
My WND column today, entitled, “Planned Parenthood’s bulletproof glass,” is all about how the “pro-lifers are violent!” line has backfired big-time on Planned Parenthood et al.
ZORN REPLY — Don’t talk to me about condescension, Jill — part of your schtick these days is a smug and patronizing tone toward those who favor abortion rights, and it’s on display even here. That’s fine if if works for you. I don’t happen to feel that everyone who disagrees with me on this issue obtuse and/or morally bankrupt– I’ve certainly never thought you had violent tendencies ,much less accuesed you of same. Nor do I believe your heart is in the wrong place.
Trombley’s controversial, lawsuit prompting assertion is: “The activists of the Pro-Life Action League who have been opposing our new facility… have a well-documented history of advocating violence against both persons and property as well as other related criminal activity.”
Is this true of the PLAL?
The reason I posted the entire 1985 profile of Scheidler here (and probably should post more news stories about the charges made against him) is to let the reader look at a bigger picture.
There’s an irony, don’t you think, in you enjoying the fact that some think the protests might turn violent and lawless…even that employee lives might be at risk…while howling that the movement has been libeled?
I know you can’t speak for Joe or the PLAL, but you can speak for yourself — do you categorically condemn violence against employees of abortion clinics? Vandalism or damage to property by abortion-clinic protesters?
Posted by: Jill Stanek | Oct 3, 2007 3:37:46 PM
ERIC: Trombley’s controversial, lawsuit prompting assertion is: “The activists of the Pro-Life Action League who have been opposing our new facility… have a well-documented history of advocating violence against both persons and property as well as other related criminal activity.”
Is this true of the PLAL?
JILL: Eric, in a word, no. You conveniently quote the 1985 lawsuit but not the 2003 Supreme Court 8-1 overturn or the 2006 Supreme Court 8-0 affirmation overturn.
ERIC: do you categorically condemn violence against employees of abortion clinics? Vandalism or damage to property by abortion-clinic protesters?
JILL: Yes, as I said in my column today, that is vigilante justice. But I understand the impetus, wrong as it is, akin to understanding how a father could take justice into his own hands and kill his daughter’s rapist.
ZORN REPLY– Now Jill, don’t mislead readers about what was and wasn’t overturned and what that means about PLAL. Jill In March, 2006, the Tribune reported that in twice overturning a civil verdict against Scheidler, the high court “did not address the pattern of criminal activity that the lower courts ruled had been perpetrated by the anti-abortion activists. The justices confined their ruling to the question of whether the clinics could sue under RICO and related laws.”
Even some liberal groups were on PLAL’s side, as we reported in 2003: “NOW (had) prevailed before a Chicago-based federal appeals court but found itself with atypical opponents in (front of) the Supreme Court. Criminal defense lawyers and civil liberties groups weighed in against the organization, arguing that a ruling in its favor would mean the tough federal laws could apply to other protests, such as those waged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “Even non-violent kinds of protest could turn into RICO concerns, sweeping up potentially thousands of people,” said William Mertens, a Washington attorney who wrote a friend of the court brief for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers opposing NOW’s position.”
In other words, your response to my question was non-responsive.
Your response to my second question was a bit evasive. I understand the impetus behind acts of vandalism on behalf of PETA, say; for that matter, I understand the impetus behind Islamic terrorist acts (in part because I have read the excellent book, “The Looming Tower”). Nevertheless I feel comfortable in categorically rejecting such vandalism and mayhem without softening it with the nod and wink.
Posted by: Jill Stanek | Oct 3, 2007 5:50:14 PM
Eric, my answer to your second question was “a bit evasive”? Incredible. My answer was completely direct, Eric, more honest than you’ll get from most.
The reality is I subjected myself to your stereotyping, Eric. Your column and question to me were exercises in profiling. You could have been no more insulting than had you demanded a gay man swear he didn’t have AIDS, a black man to deny he had fathered 2 illegitimate children, a Muslim to swear s/he wasn’t a prospective terrorist.
And Joe? Such a cheap shot your column was. NOW lost its case. Now you parse to continue to declare a man guilty who was proven innocent. Very American of you, Eric. What’s worse, you’ve known Joe for years. He answers your every call and responds to your every question. You know he’s not capable of violence as evidenced by both his demeanor and his faith. And yet for ratings and attaboys you’ll pull that card.
ZORN REPLY — Please, Jill, you say Scheidler was “proven innocent”? I can’t decide whether you truly don’t understand that court ruling or if you think that if you continue to misrepresent it loudly enough people will come to believe what you say. The high court said that what the jury concluded Scheidler did did NOT amount to conspiracy and racketeering under the federal statutes.
Further, I did not accuse you and never have accused you of committing violent acts; I asked you if you condemned them, even as I have in other forums asked local Islamic leaders for their views on, say, the violence that greeted the publication of cartoons of Muhammed.
Is it fair for me to ask a prominent leader in a movement such as yourself for your views of the tactics and acts of the most extreme members of that movement? Of course it is, of course it is.
People have been asking Joe about this for years and he, at least, seems to understand that it’s a fair question (and his answer, like yours, stops short of unequivocal condemnation)
Posted by: Jill Stanek | Oct 4, 2007 3:11:14 AM