Yes I was Offended!

Anybody who knows me at all knows that it is pretty hard to offend me. You’ve got to be REALLY trying to get up my nose.

I spent most of my first year in the USA apologizing because I inadvertently offended folks by being more frank than is the custom in these parts.

You can imagine my horror, then, as I drove down the main street of our fair town recently to be confronted by enormous placards of a dismembered, late term fetus.

I mean, what gives? I understand that the constitution enshrines the right to free speech. Does that include the right to violent visual assault?

If I were to find a TV program offensive, I could change channels or turn it off (presuming I had a TV in the first place.) If I find a newspaper article offensive, I can choose not to read. If I find a film or performance offensive, I can walk out. I have control of what I expose myself to, and far more importantly, I mostly have control over the level of visual violence I expose my 3-year-old son to.

I am driving my car. I not only have to pay attention to the road, but to the pedestrians lining the street, on the off chance that one of those god-awful placards has a child darting from behind it.

It is an outrageous offence that these people are permitted to make such a gruesome display on public streets particularly at a time when children are out and about. Its wrong!. A mutilated corpse is not something anyone should have to confront while going about his or her business.

The most bitter irony of all of this is that these are the folks who campaign on “Family Values”. Family values be damned. Their "Family Values" are entirely betrayed by their actions. At what age is it acceptable to assault a child’s sensibilities in this manner? How dare these people take it upon themselves to decide that my kids should see this.

Thank the gods my child was asleep in the car as I drove through!! I can imagine the question from the back seat

“What’s that picture Dad?”

“Oh, nothing son, just bits and pieces of an unborn child”

The rest of the conversation might have gone “Why are these people holding up those awful pictures?” and my answer would have to be “Apparently they don’t find them awful, and they apparently don’t think we should find them awful either. There are some sick and violent people in the world, aren’t there?”

Why else would they be shoving them in my face?

Now, before some well-meaning individual tells me that “this is happening every day”, and “it’s the truth” and waxes gruesome about the evils of abortion, I was well aware of these facts a long time before these violent people assaulted me with their images of gore. I don’t need a visual prompt to tell me that abortion is an unsavory business.

I certainly don’t want to have to explain to my pre-school son how it is that such violent people are allowed to make such a foul display of our streets. My son is completely unable to comprehend the complexities of the abortion issue, and I have no intention of explaining it to him before he is able to understand it.

The abortion clinic that opened up does not have a billboard display, I have no idea who runs it, nor do I care, I am unlikely ever to need its services. For those who feel the need for its services, it is a legal facility operating under the protection of state law. The clinic is not in my face about its work, nor should it be.

If these people want to get in someone’s face about the issue, they should start with the legislature and issue their macabre pictures in discreet folios. They might want to make a power point presentation of gory picks, or even a gruesome movie…

That’s it… they can take their god-awful material and publish it on the “adult” sites on the Internet where it can be censored by their own “Family Values” filters for its repulsive content.

Whatever these violent people do with their gory pictures, I must commend the group of citizens who took it upon themselves to hold up sheets in protest of the protest. WELL DONE!!

Just in case you think I haven’t heard the other side of this dispute, I was in a public meeting a week ago when a member of our community stood up and complained bitterly that a 10-year-old boy penned a less-than-perfect letter to the editor outlining why he was offended by this display.

I was offended by that display and I’m a lot older than 10.

I would expect any 10-year-old to be deeply troubled by such violence being thrust on him, and SHAME ON YOU to those violent people who argue for life and yet revel in images of brutal death. TAKE YOUR DISGUSTING IMAGES OFF OUR STREETS.

There, that feels better

Take Care



Misti said...

I agree absolutely, Rod. And if there is a reason other than simply the squishy ones of "offensive speech", not suitable for children, and aesthetics that those gruesome protests are wrong and their legality should be questioned, it is this:

How much financial impact are the legal and contributing businesses within view of the protest suffering because people are avoiding the area to ptotect themselves and their children from the assualt?

The downtown business area is important to every citizen of this city and is something we should all be protecting and promoting. If even one business is forced to close its doors because of revenue loss caused by these people, it is one business too many!

trusty getto said...

Yep, disgusting. I, too, posted on this some time ago: http://www.trustygetto.com/2006/04/simply-outraged.html

Anonymous said...


We kicked around various ideas about how to deal with the people and their signs, but there doesn't seem to be a way to move them - unless you happen to be the president of the U.S. and can have them moved to a "protest zone" hundreds of meters away - without the very real possibility of a protracted legal challenge, which would likely be lost.

Brian Filipiak

Kate said...

One recent Saturday, while I was riding with a friend, he slowly drove along the whole row of protesters, asking where each one lived. Not one was from Ypsilanti. My friend kept telling them to go home. Of course, it didn't work, but it was a gesture with the right motivation.

Since we know we can't stop them from protesting, is there any way of ensuring their message isn't as graphic? I mean, the FCC keeps a number of things off the airwaves because they deem them offensive. Is there no way the City Council could say, in essence, "Fine, you have a message. We'll certainly protect your right to spread it. BUT, you cannot spread your message in a manner that offends the majority of the populace." Maybe someone with more ACLU background than I have could answer that, and maybe it can't be done, but it sure would be nice if it could.

Rod said...

It is ironic that the censorship boards will classify a game *M* due to graphic dismemberment in animation, and yet we don't have a means by which this sort of thing can be avoided on the street.

Were my protest to involve nude figures in some form or another, whould the obscenity laws cover that? If so can they be extended to cover photographic depiction of mutilation and the like on the streeets?

I'm not trying to say that it shouldn't be available at all, but that it should not be thrust on the community in such a manner.