Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Deal with Hatred?

Four coffees for four people
I've come to expect "baby killer." I still haven't gotten used to the whole, "You should have killed yourself" or "You should be sterilized" or "You should have your tongue ripped out." But these attacks are typically on twitter, where people can see my avatar, and not actually me. It's safe to attack people in other states.

This morning, I organized some friends, rounded them up around 8am, and headed south to Portland. From there, we took a small coffee break, a small potty break, and found Planned Parenthood. There were already a few protesters lining the street. The rain was coming down in sheets.

I wasn't there for an abortion this time, but the sight of them crawled into my veins like shards of glass mixed with fire ants. Children, younger than their teen years, were holding signs of what they dubbed "Aborted Fetuses."

I was in the state of Maine. Rain was pouring down my face. Yet, for a split second, I was in Virginia on a sunny day, shaking as a friend wrapped her arm around me and whispered, "Don't listen to them, honey. Don't listen."

The caffeine kicked into my system, and I started shaking. My friends and I pulled out our signs:

"We Support You" "Honk for Choice" and "Planned Parenthood Saved My Life"
Immediately the tension in the air rose like a vibration from an amp that had just been turned on. It was almost tangible. I wasn't sure if we were going to get hurt, assaulted, or just verbally attacked. Cars began to honk for the honk for choice sign. People walked by and high fived us. And then the gentleman to the left of this picture began to call us "Willfully ignorant" even after I explained, "Sorry, actually. I know exactly what happens. I had an abortion, but thanks."

From there, he continued to insult us. Women walked passed us with the greeters while protesters accosted them. A representative from Planned Parenthood stepped out and said that it's hard for women entering the clinic to differentiate signs of support from signs of hate and malice. We decided to move across the street, where more people high fived us and honked.

And the protesters began to yell across the street, "Why did you move? Are you scared of us?!"

"We're not scared," I hollered back. "We just don't want to look like YOU."

She yelled for a few more minutes before finally giving up. Our signs began to run (turns out when Crayola says "Washable paint" they ain't kiddin). When Honk for Choice was no longer visible, and Your Body, Your Choice leaked onto the street, we called it a day.

I've spent all day going over this in my mind. My friends and I weren't there to spread hate, rather an environment of acceptance, and support for women who may be there on the worst day of their lives. It's hard for me to separate the hatred and anger I feel from my abortion experience and protesters, to what's currently happening.

I accept people have freedom of speech. I accept that they may be awful people. But it's one thing to verbally attack someone online. It's an entirely different thing to attack someone as she's walking, with her head down, through doors you may never enter.

So my question is, how do you deal with that kind of hatred?

1 comment:

Please know that if you comment and I don't respond, it's not because I don't love you. It's because I don't have wifi, but I do have a bad memory.

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