Narrative, as promised...
August 5, 2013
When we got into downtown Asheville proper I immediately knew the Mountain Moral Monday would be bigger than had I expected. People carrying signs were walking blocks to the location from their remote parking spaces. We parked across from the abortion place on Orange Street. It was just two of us, my wife and I, and we had to carry poles, signs, a banner, and a taller than life puppet, who was draped in a garbage bag. A lot of stuff and we had six blocks to walk.
Four different groups of people offered to help us carry our material. I’m not really sure how I should have responded, but in each case I told the people they really didn’t want to help us. The first group was a family of three on Orange Street—Dad, Mom, and Junior. Dad was all gung ho and said, “We believe in a good cause.” I read him as a being a typical "liberal"—sort of generous, but ready to turn hostile in a moment. When we told him we were “the opposition” he backpedaled quickly and the three of them hustled off, with him saying, “We’re different.”
With the next guy who offered to help, I tried a different approach. I said, “I need to ask you some questions first. Are you prolife?”
“If you mean do I think abortion should be illegal, then no, I’m not.”
“When does human life begin?” I asked.
“Whenever the parents say it does.”
“Even if that’s five years old?”
“How often does that happen?”
“Biologically, an individual human life begins at fertilization.”
At this point the guy became angry and said, “It begins when the parents say it does. You know, I’m sick and tired of the right wing bxll shxt and I’m not going to debate with you.”
How often does it happen? Parents murder their born children all the time, but that would be fine with this guy. It was shocking how he could explode so dramatically after being all friendly. And he gave me no credit for doing him a favor, from his point of view, by warning him of the horrible mistake he was a about to make.
When we arrived at the site I quickly saw how we couldn’t set up our 20 foot banner in the place I had scouted out a few days earlier, on a tier in view of the podium. Too many people around. We moved off to the side and higher. I got out my puppet and it didn’t take long before some young women surrounded me with their little signs about “women’s health”. The Shrunke family with three of their teens arrived from Morganton to help. We got the banner up, then some pro-abortion choice folks took positions in front to block people from seeing it. The puppet was much taller, so I decided to make it our focal point. A lot of people took pictures of him.
One woman said, “You know it’s proven (according to a recent article in The Economist) that thousands of women a year die in Latin American countries because of illegal abortion.” I said, “Even if that’s true, it doesn’t support abandoning legal protection for prenatal children.” She then went on to talk about how women are not protected and supported, etc. I mentioned the breakdown of the family and was about to talk about how liberals like those in Planned Parenthood have undermined marriage when she interrupted with “Are you married? Are you married?”
I wanted to finish my thought and when she kept insisting that I answer her question, I referred to her interrupting me. She said angrily, “It’s because you’re not making any ‘effing’ sense.”
I said, “Okay” and turned away. The conversation was over as far as I was concerned. I wonder though, where she was headed with the marriage question. It’s just that I refuse to make the conversation about me. My personal marital status, sex, race, age etc. are completely irrelevant to the issue of abortion.
As I walked around, some of the young women followed me. This was annoying and eventually I took a loop through the crowd to look for a better place for the banner and find some police officers. One of the girls followed. I had already asked her not to follow me and claimed she was stalking me. When I approached a group of officers, I asked one to ask the girl to stop it. She had passed the group and pretended to be on other business, but I pointed her out. Eventually an officer asked her to not follow me and she complied.
From there I moved to a different street corner. One guy with a bicycle started asking questions. He brought out the usual ad hominems and non sequiturs. His main point seemed to be that I was a hypocrite. (They always want to make the debate personal, as if the whole issue of abortion depends upon their perception of my apparent virtue. If I am pure according to their values, then abortion really kills a baby and they will suddenly become pro-life. Well, not really. Actually that approach is nothing but a ruse to fool themselves that they have a legitimate point.)
The fact of the matter is that I beat him soundly in debate. (You'll have to take my word for it.) No surprise, since I happen to hold to the truth and have been doing this for years. Whenever he got pinned, he changed the subject until he had nothing to say but, “You’re brainwashed” as a parting shot.
I went close to the front, on the side. It was a mob scene for awhile. I was surrounded by angry people who all seemed to want to talk at once. All of them offered slogans in the form of rhetorical questions, some they had just heard from the podium. One old man asked me about cutting unemployment, or something. I told him that he should go home and research the issue and study both sides. He said, "Oh, okay," like that was a new idea for him. Four or five large black men (NAACP, no doubt) got chest to chest with me (or, should I say, belly to belly) and tried to gently force me to the edge. When I suggested that they ask a policeman to get involved, they backed down. Next, a person tried to hide the Femcare puppet behind an U.S. flag on a pole and someone else, a rainbow flag. Both flags were hitting me in the face and I said, mildly, "That's battery. If that flag hits me in the face again, I might give it a little yank." One of the black guys asked me, "Are you threatening somebody?" When I said no, but the flags were in my face, he persuaded them to move away from me.
At this point it was time to go. As I walked back up to where the banner was located, “cigar man” approached. As in other recent occasions, he had the stub of a cigar clamped in his teeth which he exhibited in a wild looking, abandoned grin. He grinned like he had just somehow achieved some incredibly brilliant maneuver against me. He said in his high pitched voice, “You know, Meredith, I called the DA’s office and told them that you had written down my license plate and a description of my car. Do you want my address? I’ll give you my address if you want it.”
I didn’t say a word. I just looked at him, taking in the disturbing spectacle of a demented mad man, who quite possibly is under demonic influence. This is the fellow I wrote about earlier who is obsessed with wondering if “one of our friends” will kill him. I certainly wasn’t going to remind him of what he surely should have known—that I had been taking note of his info for a police dispatcher, who I had live on the phone. I said at the time that he was following me, which he was. It was Saturday morning, August 3, and he insisted on standing inches from us with his silly sign, and then when I moved away from him, he insisted on following us across the street. When I said, “I’m calling the police” he said, “Call the police.” But I’m not sure that he even was aware that when I called the police he quickly went to his truck to drive away. Then when the police asked me for his identifying information and I trotted up to his car to read the plate, he stopped in the middle of the road and got out to tell me the license number and that his Toyota was green, all of which I could see for myself right there.
As I said, his wickedness quite apart, what’s most disturbing about this man is his up-close-and-personal infliction on us of his profound stupidity. And then, at the Mountain Moral Monday, he crossed the road to remind me again, with his crazy grin that he had called the DA to tell him I made note of his license plate number, so that if something happened to him, the DA would know “who was responsible.” And as before, I said nothing, but thinking how foolish he was because I had been giving the police his license number! I called the event, “Mountain Manure Monday.” Maybe “Mountain Madness Monday” is also appropriate.
This event and the comments of people we encountered convince me again that there is something in people’s defense for abortion that is not reachable by reason. In fact, for many it’s not reachable by anything, which leaves them open for harsh judgment as individuals, and we as a nation.
Scattered throughout the MM crowd were signs supporting Femcare. Words endorsing abortion flowed from the podium including from Rev. Barber of the NAACP. The close association between abortion, homosexuality and the other “issues” championed during Moral Mondays removes any credibility those other positions might have. And from what I’ve researched on education funding, and understand how distorted the MM rhetoric is, I suspect that everything about MM is wrong. Considering how much positive coverage MM is getting nationally, we are in for a tremendous battle for truth in North Carolina.