Note: I’ve tucked one weird image from the abortion protesters below the fold. It’s morbid, but in a fantasy violence kind of way.
I was the only escort this morning! Usually we have at least three to four escorts on the weekend, but sunny summer Saturdays are precious in Minnesota, so c’était tout moi aujourd’hui!
There were “only” thirteen protesters, but they always seem to adopt a bit of mob bravery when the ratio is that off; there are a few more pointed remarks, upturned noses, snide statements. Most of them walked up and down the sidewalk praying their odd prayers to God, asking him to please baptize the unborn children before they are to be murdered so that they might enter the kingdom of heaven and sit at the right hand of…
And I do heartily beg your indulgence for the impending side rant, but isn’t that bending the rules? Doesn’t the person – or the person’s proxy – have to do the whole asking for baptism thing? Is that the point? If God is willing to baptize people without their (or their proxy’s) asking, why require baptism at all? Just baptize everyone, God, you big jerk. And if all you have to do is pray for God to baptize someone else, quit spending shitloads of money to go on expensive “Come to Jesus” missions to foreign lands. Just get on the phone with God and take care of all that, and then send all the monies to humanitarian efforts that might stand a chance of making a difference in the lives of those you want to save. Sheesh. It’s mental acrobatics of the highest order when it comes to justifying what particular tenet of the mythology one wants to believe or ignore.
And back to our story.
Nothing says “love and compassion” like lining up to stare judgingly through a window at somebody while they wait for an elevator to their doctor’s appointment.
So, 13:1 today. They had the usual line of pacing prayers (who for the most part ignore passersby) as well as four harassers dedicated to approaching women on the sidewalk or in their cars as they pulled up. So that’s nice. Gives the shaming a much more personal touch.
They had a new sign today too. It has some very boring appeals to faith, violence and patriotism, but they smooshed so much into one image that it’s almost impressive. Nope, wait…I meant gauche and weird.
Image shows the Blessed Virgin Mary standing on a mountain of red, murdered toddlers. Next to her, Jesus on the cross is mounted at the summit of Dead Toddler Mountain (which seems like iffy engineering to me – that can’t possibly be stable). The top of the sign says “THEY ARE RE-CRUCIFYING MY DIVINE SON.”
Wait…we’re not done yet.
To the right of the image is an American flag, cloth wilted down around the middle of the flagpole. The bottom of the sign says “FLAG IS HALF MAST FOR THE MURDERED UNBORN”.
Some asshole wasted good art supplies to create this shit.
And there were a couple of interesting moments this morning, a few surprise plays by various visitors to the clinic.
#1 – Cancer
One woman, upon being begged to not kill her baby, calmly told a protester that what was in her uterus was a collection of cells that was growing out of control. This, she informed them, is not a baby, but a cancer, and the sooner the doctor could eradicate the cancer from her body, the sooner she could get on with her life. And then she scolded the protester: “Shame on you for trying to delay my cancer treatment, you judgmental old biddy.”
Honestly, it’s just fun to watch when the patients fight back, so I don’t get bothered about fighting poor logic with poor logic. The whole dance is a farce, so if it makes the protesters sputter and try to figure out how to respond to the silliness, I call that a win.
#2 – Cecile
Cecile is a dialysis patient at one of the other clinics in our building. She comes to the clinic three times a week, at least three hours per visit. She is a gem, a treasure, one of those people who make you think “I’m never going to meet anyone else like you again on this Earth.” She came outside to smoke and “put her nose up in my business.”
Cecile doesn’t like the protesters. She doesn’t like that they pass judgement on the women who come to the clinic, but still belong to a church that downplays the sexual crimes that their leaders commit against their most innocent of followers. She doesn’t think all-male panels of politicians should draft laws about what a woman can do with her body. She thinks women should have access to birth control, that too many young people in her neighborhood are having babies, and that having a baby doesn’t mean you’re all grown up. She has four children, more grandchildren that she can remember, and thinks it’s just fine that I never want to have kids, because that’s my choice and I gotta do what’s right for me. She’s a god-fearing woman, but thinks that all of the decisions we make are between each of us and God, but who knows how the chips will fall in the end, so you might as well try to be happy, be nice and not pass judgement on people until then.
She let me take her picture, which she informed me is a rare deal. I told her she needs to quit smoking, and she told me that it’s too late – just look at her! – but maybe she’d go check out those electric cigarettes. She spoke in poetical sentences with an effortless blend of Midwestern accent and a sharper vernacular heard in some parts of the city. She keeps up on state and national current events like they’re juicy neighborhood gossip. She was outspoken and charismatic and she possessed a lovely combination of anger and compassion, acceptance and rebellion. I hope I get to see her next week.
#3 – The Uprising
As the morning wore on the protesters began to leave. At one point there were four remaining, one of whom is a semi-regular who I dislike immensely. She always carries a sign with pictures of happy couples surrounded by children and a caption that says something to the effect of “These families are willing to adopt your child!”. She’s preachy and self-righteous and I think she enjoys her “work” a little too much. One of her self-assigned duties is lecturing directly at the escorts, and today she turned her gleeful ire on little ol’ me. My usual response is to hold up my camera phone and ask her to smile; she usually goes away when I do that. Today she drew in a deep breath and started in: “What you’re doing is a sin and…”
And that’s as far as she got.
Let me introduce you to the cast. We have Cecile sitting next to me, smoking her cigarette and telling me something fascinating before being rudely interrupted by the protester. We have D, a taxi driver who brings patients to the dialysis clinic. D is a whirlwind of anger and bluster and he has an extreme dislike for protesters. We have three elderly ladies loitering near the front door, two of them smoking, all waiting to start their dialysis.
As the protester homes in on me, the three ladies by the door turn toward her, Cecile takes a deep breathe, and D leans over the passenger seat and rolls down the window. The protester is completely unprepared for the five loud, exasperated, indignant women and men who start shouting at her in unison.
LEAVE HER ALONE – WHAT DO YOU KNOW – WHY YOU GOTTA BE CALLING PEOPLE SINNER, SINNER? – GO MIND YOUR DAMN BUSINESS YOU DAMN LOONEY! – PEOPLE MAKE THEY OWN CHOICES, WHO SAID YOU GET A SAY? – YOU’RE THE SINNER, YOU BEST GO PRAY FOR FORGIVENESS FOR HARASSING PEOPLE!
That was actually scary – the opposite of the atmosphere of calm and de-escalation that we try to cultivate when we’re on the sidewalk. But it happened so fast, so hotly, and then everyone went about their day as if nothing had happened. The protester clucked her tongue, spun on her heels and stalked away toward the other end of the building. The three women went back to their cigarette conference. D continued to mutter to himself, but rolled up the window and went back to his newspaper. Cecile picked up the conversation where she had left off. No one cheered or congratulated themselves, or even acknowledged that anything odd had just happened. So I picked my jaw up off of the sidewalk and listened to the rest of Cecile’s story.