Police were called to keep the peace between aggressive anti-abortion advocates and annoyed Paseo Arts District patrons Friday night during the area’s monthly art walk.
Pamphlets with pictures of aborted fetuses were strewn about shops. Residents of a Paseo apartment complex hung a sheet featuring pro-choice messaging from an over-looking balcony in protest of the protesters. Parents with children attempted to draw their youngsters’ attention away from the kerfuffle.
Was this display the most effective means by which anti-abortion advocates could change the minds of pro-choice liberals? That’s the question NonDoc managing editor Josh “WTF” McBee and I asked each other as we strolled through the strained atmosphere.
In our estimation, it was not. Granted, we run a website committed to providing a responsible public forum for rational discussion, so maybe we’re a little biased. But as far as we saw, the Abolish Abortion OK group was making a lot more enemies than friends.
In the hour or so I observed the scene, several people complained that the sign-toting Christians accosted them with fetus pamphlets and questions about the salvation of their souls.
I was propositioned with pamphlets twice by the activists, and when I declined, they asked why I didn’t care about “human rights.” I took pride in not stopping to bicker.
Others did, however, and the occasional shouting match ensued. At some point, rhetorical threats about calling police became a reality.
Even after officers arrived and implemented an effective violence-deterring strategy of listening to all parties and observing, one anti-abortion advocate continued to shout about our First Amendment rights to confront our fellow Americans from the sidewalk so long as we do not obstruct foot traffic.
That, too, devolved into an argument about whether a certain pedestrian had been obstructed.
With blue and red police lights reflecting off glass storefronts, the whole thing seemed surreal at first — a real-life manifestation of the online arguments that take place daily around the world-wide web.
While NonDoc would never challenge anyone’s legal right to exercise obnoxious, confrontational discourse in an arena where most audience members are trying to relax on a Friday night, we would question the tactic as ineffective and counterintuitive, as did many people who opposed the messages and messengers.
Ironically, it’s important to remember how easily the roles of protester and complainer can be switched, depending upon message and rhetoric.
Had Friday’s art-walk obstructionists been aggressively promoting the ideas that Black Lives Matter or Gay Rights Are Human Rights, I can say with certainty that several people who were miffed on Friday would have whistled a slightly different tune. Likewise, many abortion picketers would surely condemn equally aggressive gay-rights supporters.
In all, human nature simply begets hypocrisy, which is always a good reason to avoid jumping to grandiose conclusions about the morals or ethics of someone doing something.
But on Friday in the Paseo, the art of fetus-pic shaming seemed to lose out, and not because the demonstrators’ cause is invalid for public consideration. Instead, the activists insulted an art-liking, Paseo-walking public that they sought to win over in Jesus’ name.
Perhaps the folks at AbolishAbortionOK.com can view this critique as an offer to submit a 500- to 800-word commentary for publication on our digital forum.
That way, no one will scare children, and the police will not be called.
Be gentle, babies. You catch more flies with sugar than spitballs.
Things we saw (and heard)
Is the album review dead? — Noisey
Vatican unveils new frescoes in Catacombs of Priscilla with images some say show early women priests — Associated Press
Things we learned from 50,000 pages-plus of Clinton emails — Associated Press
American demagogue — The New Yorker
Quotes to note
“Without Nancy, there would have been no Governor Reagan, no President Reagan.”
— the late Michael K. Deaver, longtime aide and close friend of the Reagans, as quoted in an article about her death at 94, 3/6/16
(Donald Trump) is the only member who has stood in front of Jewish community, and said I don’t want your money. Any time a man can say to those who control the politics of America, ‘I don’t want your money,’ that means you can’t control me. And they cannot afford to give up control of the presidents of the United States. (…)Not that I’m for Mr. Trump, but I like what I’m looking at..
— Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan discussing Donald Trump as reported by the Anti-Defamation League, 2/29/16
Man, everybody knows that’s the great Peyton Manning … and Peyton Manning is going to do what Peyton Manning does.
— late Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, as quoted in an article about Manning’s retirement, 3/6/16
Highlights from NonDoc
“No, Scarlett Johansson is not moving to OKC” by William W. Savage III
“This week in WTF: HB 2665 and HB 2797” by Josh McBee
“Gassy: industry, environmentalists differ on proposed BLM rules“ by Jeff Packham