Religious Zealots Acting Monstrously

Legalized_BullyingI’m sure most of my readers know about Thursdays Supreme Court ruling regarding buffer zones in front of Women’s Clinics.  If you don’t, let me fill you in along with reason why I (and most sane people) think they’re necessary.

The Supreme Court on Thursday decided that Buffer Zones in front of Women’s Clinics impeded the free speech of religious nut job protestors.  (Even if they aren’t religiously affiliated, a laughably “pro-life” protestor in front of a Women’s Clinic is still a nut job).

Buffer Zone laws were designed to protect clinic patients (women) from overly aggressive protesters.  These protesters from zealoted religious origins would like the American public, possibly the world, to believe that they’re little old ladies talking to patients quietly and calmly about why they shouldn’t get an abortion.  That’s not true.

For reference, I offer the stories told by volunteer clinic escorts.  Their job is to escort the clinic patient safely into the clinic and sometimes, to keep protesters from violently touching the patient when she’s trying her best to ignore their overly vile vitriol.  Sometimes they even keep the boyfriend, spouse, or parent from going after protestors when their harsh language has made the protector’s loved one cry.

DSCN0491These protesters aren’t just guilty of physical and verbal abuse of patients regardless of their reason for going to a clinic.  (After all, women have other feminine needs other than getting an abortion).  The protestors obstruct traffic, clinic entrances, and block close parking spots.  They intentionally make it so the patient has to run through a violent a verbal (sometimes violent) obstacle course of abuse before making it through the door of a clinic.  Some patients don’t even make it to the door before they’re turning around and running back to their car.  Sometimes they reschedule their appointment and sometimes they don’t go back at all.  Hence the importance of the Buffer Zone at Women’s Clinics.  

Furthermore, the next ironical point has been hammered into the ground, yet I think it still bares repeating:  The Supreme Court has it’s own Buffer Zone.

Still can’t believe religious protesters are abusive bullies despite the numerous stories and video evidence to the contrary?  I have my own run in with religious zealots.  It wasn’t to an exasperated degree as the insanity outside Women’s Clinics.  Yet, it was surprisingly verbally abusive.

I was a teen at the time when I went against religious nut jobs…twice.  They called me illiterate, idiot, slut, and they even threatened me twice.

When I was fifteen, I attended a school board meeting where a group of religious activists tried to get educational R rated movies banned in classrooms.  I had just completed U. S. History (from the Pilgrims to the 1980’s) in summer school and watched an R movie in Early American History.  (That’s how I learned about the intended ban.)

My mom was happy to take me to the meeting and participate.  She’s all about unobstructed knowledge along with political and intellectual activism.  

The board meetings were generally held in the cafeteria, a massive room where one side was set up with chairs with a pathway between the chairs.  That pathway was set up for people who wish to voice their opinion wait in line to speak.  

On one side of the isle were the religious group and their supporters, on the other side were educators and parents against the ban.  Mom and I were standing in the back of the seated group since we didn’t show up early enough to grab a seat.  

It was definitely a spectacle, I should have brought popcorn.

The religious activist to speak was a lady seated in one of the front seats.  She daintily rose from her chair, holding a shoebox.  In dramatic fashion, she opened the box placing the lid under the box and pulling out sports medals.  She proceeded to plop a medal in front of each board member.

I don’t remember much about her speech.  Essentially, she said R movies ruined her teen, turned her daughter down the wrong path of life.  She said that R movies give teens bad ideas, movies like Schindler’s List with pictures of naked people gave teens highly sexual ideas. 

bubble-plastic-icon copyHer last point, teens finding Schindler’s List sexual was highly insulting.  I remember thinking any teenager who found scenes of emaciated, skeletal individuals in a concentration camp sexual needed sever psychiatric help.  This woman likely never saw the movie since it went against her religion.

My mom was up next.  She spoke her mind and used her allotted time wisely.  Each point she made was met with a combination of cheers, boos, and hisses.  What struck me were the derogatory and argumentative comments being yelled by the religious group.  They were so filled with hate, I was surprised that a religious group would do something so negative.  Weren’t they supposed to respect others?

After that, a long line of volunteers from the crowed lined up down the middle isle to give their opinions.  We heard from other religious parents, other parents, teachers, one former student, etc.

It was the former student that motivated me to stand in line.  She stood behind the podium to give her opinion.  In the middle of her speech, the religious organization began with their comments.  

They called her slut, taunted her, and laughed at her.  This religious group verbally bullied this poor girl.

These comments were so filled with hate and venom that the former student started crying to the point she couldn’t finish her speech.  I saw her walk swiftly out of the room.

At that point, I took a good look at the line and wondered where the current students were.  I saw some in the audience watching everything.  Yet, no one intended to go up to speak.  

I walked to the end of the line and waited my turn.  After all, I was no stranger to bullies and had since developed a touch skin to combat their stupidity.  That’s what bullies are, stupid people who hate themselves and need to control others to feel better.  

It’s great that a former student attempted to speak in favor for educational R movies.  The board members might pay more attention to a current student’s perspective.  It was an aspect of my education they were arguing and the affected students should be the ones to speak.

There’s a reason people don’t like the speak in public.  All those “What if’s” running around your head and fear of audience criticism.  This venue was the epitome of hostile.  It took a lot for me to stay in line.  Of course I was scared, yet the most important thing was I stuck to my goal.

When it was my turn, I walked to the podium, placed my shaky hands on the sides so no one saw my nervousness, and cleared my mind.  For my allotted time, I became an impenetrable shield to negative comments.  I heard them, yet they had no affect on my emotional state.  Some comments I even answer in my speech.

I spoke of my History class and watching Glory.  How the movie was beneficial because the role of African Americans in the Civil War was only covered by a small paragraph in the book.  

A man sitting in the front shouted at me, “You have no clue what is in that paragraph!  You didn’t even read it because you were watching a stupid movie!”

I replied to his comment, “I did read the paragraph.”

It didn’t adequately describe the condition the African American’s lived in nor the extent of their almost nonexistent supplies.  Furthermore, it didn’t take into account what they had to endure, and their tremendous bravery.  Glory, while Hollywood dramatized, illustrated the points better than a small paragraph.

When I was done, I walked to the back of the room where my mother stood with my head high.  People were watching me, some with glares and some with smiles.  It sucks to put on false bravado for the audience when you’re freaking out on the inside. 

After everyone looked back to the front of the room, I breathed a sigh of relief and my body shook.  That was the most gutsy thing I had ever done in my young life.

During the conclusion of the meeting, a reporter came up to me.  (I didn’t know she was a reporter at the time.)  She asked me a question regarding my speech and my name.

The next day, my grandmother called me excited.  I ended up in the newspaper.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time I had to fight for my right to be educated the way I and my mom deemed appropriate. 

When I was sixteen, they tried to have a book and the accompanying class banned.  It was during the summer again and it just so happened that I was signed up to take that class my Junior year.

We knew about the upcoming board meeting a few weeks before.  Mom requested to see the book up for discussion, she spoke with the teachers who taught the class.  Then she made up fliers for me to pass out at school.  

As the future mother of a child with a Masters in Lit degree (even if she had no clue I would eventually have one), she took book banning very seriously.  She correctly thought the public had a right to know what a religious group was doing at a Public High School.

So we found ourselves in the same cafeteria with the same seating.  (We did have seats in the back this time).  

A member of the religious group was first to speak.  (Didn’t want to offend their religious freedom by making them speak second or anything).  They spewed the same tripe concerning the book and class giving teens negative ideas. 

They needed to come up with new material instead of rehashing the same grievances they had for R movies.  This is what happens when you read one book continuously for your entire life:  Lack of imagination for plausible arguments.

Mom spoke second with the same group doing the same boos, hisses, and nasty comments.  There was another long line for volunteers to give their opinions.  The whole thing was shaping up to be a strange deja vu moment.

However, this time there wasn’t a former student brought to tears by harsh comments.  The harsh comments were still there, yet most people attending were old hats at the antics of this particular religious group.  I imagine those not made of sterner stuff stayed seated.

Regardless of championing someone’s hurt feelings, I decided to wait in line again.  This time, banning books didn’t sit well with me.  Besides, I deserved a class that gave me a much needed reprieve from the humdrum seriousness of Hemingway and Steinbeck.  (Really?!  Two straight years of Steinbeck’s The Pearl?  I’m surprised I grew up to love reading the way I do).

When it was my turn at the podium, I stated that the class was a great idea for students who don’t like to read or found the staunch reading material arduous.  

“There’s only so much a student can take of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.”  My statement produced a few laughs even though I was dead serious.

The class offered students a chance to get to know another genera and a different list of authors while teaching much different works from authors we were academically familiar.

DSCN0493The book contained Macbeth by Shakespeare, Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe, works by Ray Bradbury, etc.  

Apparently, religious crazies consider Ray Bradbury an evil satanist along with H. P. Lovecraft.  At least Lovecraft didn’t invent a “new religion” that turned into a freaky present day cult.  (Hello, L. Ron Hubbard)!

While I was speaking, I received the same scathing remarks as last time I spoke at the podium.  

This time I made it a point to say teenagers weren’t idiots.  If their children took those books as reality than their parenting skills were woefully inadequate or their children were mentally unstable.  

Perhaps, that’s the line that had religious parents giving threatening “you’re going to burn in hell” notes to their kids to deliver to me.  What parent does that?!  The answer: religiously, unimaginative, and fanatical parents that hate to lose.

If religious fanatics behave that way towards a teen speaking her mind, it’s easy for me to imagine that they would be one hundred times worse at Women’s Clinics.  

I have a friend that’s a pastor and is serious about her faith.  She’s one in a million because she’s also open minded.  We had discussions about the major topics I consider friendship killers.  When we spoke of protestors yelling at female patients walking into abortion clinics, she said something that really stuck with me.  

She said, “Those women don’t need to be yelled at.  They need a hug instead.”

It wasn’t judgmental, it was very supportive.  I’m ashamed to say that while I’m severely annoyed at those religious nut jobs, I’m more annoyed at myself for not thinking of the patients and how they likely need a hug from an understanding individual. 

Further Interesting Stuff

 

***Edit: Checked embedded links and added Jamie DeWolf YouTube video.

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