There’s an art to blogging. You could unearth stories the mainstream media is not getting. You could piece together inaccuracies. You could connect the dots between reported events using your personal sources.
Update: A friendly pro-lifer, well, two, to be perfectly honest, have raised objections to this:
To be fair, pro-lifers have not played their hand well, either. Mashing themselves between homemade sandwich boards and roaming the streets outside clinics has only ensured a place on the fringe beside conspiracy theorists adamant that 9/11 was an inside job.”
Why would this activity be so misplaced, so fringe, given what Paglia aptly identifies? Pro-lifers protesting outside clinics are only responding to the institutional death machines—in this here civilized society of ours.
“Sandwiched” pro-lifers outside clinics are responding bravely to the truth that Paglia knows.
So why did I write that then? In part, because that is how the mainstream media perceives those protesting, day in day out. I was thinking expressly of signs that read “Abortion is murder”–and how those do fall on deaf ears these days, simply because it’s been repeated too many times. It’s like warning labels on cigarette packages–they lose their potency when seen too many times. That doesn’t mean that some people won’t respond to them, though.
I think most every anti-abortion protest is a good one—and this will all come together in some fruitful, meaningful way (with a severe reduction in the number of abortions and a newly awakened, invigorated culture) sooner rather than later. Sandwiched pro-lifers: I’m sorry I disparaged your efforts.
Rebecca says: I’m with Andrea on the counter-productive nature of sandwich boards, “abortion is murder,” and language such as “abortuaries.” Not because of inaccuracy – and if you’re talking only to people who already are prolife, all this is fine. But the reality is, for moderates and undecideds, let alone “choice” activists, this is tantamount to holding a sign saying “I am an extremist, do not take me seriously” over your head. Is your objective to be in the right, while ensuring that you’ll be written off? Or is your objective to persuade even one person to change his mind, to reconsider the received wisdom, to open up her heart to the possibility that the fetus in her womb is more than a clump of cells, akin to an appendix, to be destroyed if troublesome?
I understand the outrage and conviction and passion; I really do. But we’ll change how our society treats unborn babies (and other vulnerable people) by engaging other Canadians in debate and discussion, by appealing to their morals and ethics and intellects and feelings. This won’t happen if we alienate them even before we open our mouths, or if we make it easy for them to write us off as nutcases.
Having said all this, there is only so much one side can do to generate thoughtful and respectful discussion, and Camille Paglia aside, there is far too little of that on the pro-choice side.
Brigitte agrees: I don’t mean to offend (really, I don’t), but you ought to see it from the casual outsider’s point of view. Protesters usually have loser dust all over them. And no amount of complaining will change that. It doesn’t necessarily mean protests are useless. But they aren’t nearly as useful as protesters want to believe.
Andrea adds: Well. I do think a sign of protest on our dead quiet streets (no pun intended) can offer some new ideas to some people. And for me personally, it is a reminder that not everyone is apathetic, which is encouraging. A blog isn’t changing anyone’s mind either–nothing does, all on its own. I have tended to think that almost anyone being active on the issue helps change the culture. And that part of the column was not intended to disparage those protesting on the streets, but rather to think about what signs say–what might be more effective. I suppose given the pro-abortion status quo we’re all at loose ends for that answer. Protestors are not losers. How many massive changes worldwide were started because one person stuck their neck out? Countless.
Rebecca comes back: One way to change minds is to challenge people’s preconceived (no pun intended) ideas. That’s one of the reasons why I was, and remain, so excited by PWPL; the site is testimony to the fact that you don’t need to be a Christian, a fundamentalist, or religious at all to believe in the sanctity of life; you can be a mother, or not, and yet recognize that a life begins when a child is conceived, not at some arbitrary later point in its development; you can live your life, vote, worship, and go about your business in any number of ways while believing that a culture of death is harmful to all of us, and that a society that truly empowers and values women will not perpetrate what has been described as the ultimate act of violence against women.
When I was younger I subscribed to the dogma I was taught: that pro-lifers are trying to impose patriarchal values on women, that they think sex is evil, that they seek to deny women the freedoms enjoyed by men, and so on. I tuned out friends and strangers alike who said that “abortion stops a beating heart.” The first crack in my certainty occurred when a mentor I respected, a former social worker, told me she had sleepless nights from time to time when she thought of the women she had helped obtain abortions. This gave me pause; someone who was in many ways kindred, whom I could not dismiss as uneducated, or unenlightened, did not argue with me, but simply shared something that made me reevaluate her, and my beliefs, and myself. She shook up the way I saw the whole issue.
Protestors are certainly not apathetic, and expose themselves to ridicule and harrassment and abuse for the sake of their principles, which is admirable. And they challenge those of us who agree with them, and make us ask ourselves if we could be doing more. But every time I walked by them when I was younger, they did not challenge my assumptions, they reaffirmed them, and I am sure I’m not the only person who has experienced that.