Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Decision By Supreme Court Causes Blogger To Lose Her Fucking Mind

Philadelphia, PA, 10:38am EST: While innocently working in her office and listening to Morning Edition on NPR, blogger Cecily Kellogg of Uppercase Woman heard this report from Nina Totenberg regarding yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on McCullen vs. Coakley, also known as the abortion clinic “buffer zone” case in which anti-choice protestors claim clinic “buffer zones” violate their free speech.

In discussing the ruling, Ms. Totenberg mentioned that Justice Roberts referred to clinic protestors as “counselors,” and Ms. Kellogg’s head immediately spontaneously exploded. She spent some time then scraping the brain matter off the wall and reassembling her head and then turned to the actual court ruling to verify that such a clearly ridiculous statement could actually be true, even though Ms. Kellogg has deep and abiding respect for Ms. Totenberg’s reporting. “I just couldn’t believe it could be true,” She said. “I had to read the decision to see for myself.” Unfortunately, Ms. Totenberg’s reporting was – as usual – accurate. In the original decision, the Operation Rescue clinic protestors are described as “counselors” six times, by both Justice Scalia and Justice Roberts. For example (Eleanor McCullen is the plaintiff and a member of Operation Rescue):

“Are we to believe that a clinic employee sent out to “escort” prospective clients into the building would not seek to prevent a counselor like Eleanor McCullen from communicating with them? He could pull a woman away  from an approaching counselor, cover her ears, or make loud noises to drown out the counselor’s pleas.”

“A woman enters a buffer zone and heads haltingly toward the en­trance. A sidewalk counselor, such as petitioners, enters the buffer zone, approaches the woman and says, “If you have doubts about an abortion, let me try to answer any questions you may have. The clinic will not give you good information. At the same time, a clinic employee, as instructed by the management, approaches the same woman and says, “Come inside and we will give you hon­est answers to all your questions.” The sidewalk counselor and the clinic employee expressed opposing viewpoints, but only the first violated the statute.”

“I just can’t believe it,” Ms. Kellogg stated. “I’ve engaged with these protestors before, and in my personal experience, they weren’t offering any counseling. They were merely yelling and shaming those that entered the clinic, rather than offering any of the quiet support you general receive from someone counseling you. Some, in fact, actually physically assaulted the women attempting to pass by.” Ms. Kellogg begins to quietly sob. She adds, “While I understand the free speech elements of the case, how could they refer to the protestors as counselors?”

When pressed, Ms. Kellogg began babbling incoherently and then stood up and began throwing things around the room while gesticulating wildly and stomping her feet.

Additional questioning will be attempted once Ms. Kellogg returns to her normal calm demeanor.

Victimhood Status?

My daughter is having what can only be described as a blessed childhood. We live fairly comfortably in a nice suburban house, she goes to a school where learning is play-based and self-directed, she has five best friends, she has parents that are happily married and work from home and are always available, she spends time outside and in the woods, and she’s had many amazing memories that are a direct result of having a mother who blogs.

By the time I was Tori’s age, I’d already been riding a public city bus alone each day to get to a school that was in a slightly better neighborhood. I’d been jostled and harassed, I’d witnessed a man masturbating as he stared at me, I spent much of my time home alone (Tori has never spent a minute home alone), and I was bullied at school for being a year younger than my classmates. But I had it easy compared to my own mother, and certainly easier than Charlie did at the hands of his sad, angry, and abusive mother.

Sure, we’ve had our fair share of money struggles, and we’ve only partly shielded Tori from that reality. We’ve had to say no to Tori more often than not when it comes to things she wants, whether it’s yet another beanie boo or going to Disneyland. But she is a happy child – and at eight years old she is fully, unabashedly a child. I did not have that luxury; I felt like a grownup by her age.

But she is growing up, and she’s become very sharp, and she doesn’t miss much. We’ve had a lot of hard discussions recently in relation to questions she’s asked us, like why her school mate’s moms could only get married recently, or why that guy shot up all those people in California, or why her friend J (who is black) gets treated differently at the convenience store than Tori does, or why people got angry about that girl who decided he was really a boy.

Tori has become sharply aware of the reality that some people are treated differently based on things outside their control, such as their sexual orientation, gender identity, or skin color. She doesn’t read like I did (and still do) – falling headlong into imaginary worlds that bear little resemblance to reality – but she’s a digital kid and has access to far more information that I did at her age, and things that go viral and news items filter down to her more quickly than I’d like. The world is a place full of sharp edges and angry words, and I want to protect her from that forever – but it’s not possible. Not at all.

I’ve been very acutely aware of being the mother to a daughter these last few weeks, particularly since the shooting in California with its misogynistic roots and how so much of the media ignored that part of the story, which led to the launch of the #yesallwomen (I wrote about that over at Babble last month). On Facebook a man told me that “most sexual assault reports are manufactured by victimhood merchants.” That was followed, of course, by George F. Will’s wildly offensive and utterly clueless article at the Washington Post about, I shit you not, the way colleges and universities “make [sexual assault] victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges.”

When I was 17, I foolishly moved away from my mom. In the second place I lived – a group house where I rented a room – the landlord broke into my room and attempted to rape me. We fought (god bless my mother for teaching me to fight) and I got him off of me, but when I tried to call for help he ripped the phone out of the wall – but not before my boyfriend heard what was happening and showed up at the house with his roommate and a baseball bat. I packed a paper bag of clothes, grabbed my cat and my dog, and got the hell out of dodge.

When I got to a safe place, I called the police to report it. The cop listened to my story and then deliberately closed his notebook (before he wrote anything down) and said, “Well, this just seems like a goodnight kiss that went too far.” Again, god bless my mother, because I said, fiercely, “NO. It was NOT. We were not on a date. I was in my own bed behind a locked door that he opened against my will and tried to assault me.” Then I showed him the bruises on my breasts where he had grabbed me to push me back down into the bed. Even so, the DA tried to plead it down to domestic assault, and I fought tooth and nail to get a different DA assigned to my case. At court, the lawyers asked me all sorts of questions about my sexual behavior, my drinking, what I was wearing, and more. The only reason the man served any time – 45 days of a 60 day assault sentence – was because the judge allowed me to make a statement at sentencing, and he tossed the plea deal.

Nothing about that nine month process felt like a fucking coveted status.

My mom marched in the early 70s in the “women’s lib” movement, for the ERA, and for women’s rights. I was always with her, since she was a single mom, and I remember even as a little girl feeling the world begin to change. I have to hope and believe that the world IS still changing, and these incidents are simply the last gasps of dying ideas. Because I cannot bear to send my daughter out into a world where she will be told she is trying to achieve “status” if she reports a sexual assault, or where some man will believe it is perfectly okay for him to kill her because she rejected his advances. This has to change – for our daughters AND our sons.

Thirsty

river

 

I’ve been thirsty forever. Ten years ago I turned away from the river, convinced that the river was cruel. This was ridiculous, of course. The river is just the river, it’s not cruel any more than it is kind. It’s a river. Sometimes it flows gently, beautifully, and sometimes it’s a raging torrent.

At first I was fine. I had joy, and that went a long way toward slaking my thirst. Plus, like a camel, I had reserves I didn’t know about. Eventually, however, I ended up in the desert, where I wandered aimlessly in the dust, angry and resentful at the river that drove me away.

Again, the river is just the river. I chose a personal drought. The river never denied me.

Today, finally, I’ve managed to make my way back to the river. I see it, its fierce beauty and grace, yet I am still afraid to drink. I’m convinced the water will be a bitter poison, even though I see others drinking safely.

I’m a fool, but a defiant one.

…..

I’ve been thinking a great deal about faith, spirituality, and God. This isn’t a terrible surprise; my decision to focus again on my recovery means I am often presented with discussions and thoughts about a higher power and the role that higher power plays in our lives. I often feel alone in my discussions with other recovering drunks when it comes to God; unlike the non-believers and the believers, I accept God’s existence but feel God is indifferent. God is the river, running its course without much thought to what lives outside its banks.

Last night I was doing some recovery reading and I was reminded that “defiance is the outstanding characteristic of many an alcoholic.” Then I read this:

“Sometimes [faith] comes harder to those who have lost or rejected faith than to those who never had any faith at all, for they think they have tried faith and found it wanting. They have tried the way of faith and the way of no faith. Since both ways have proved bitterly disappointing, they have concluded there is no place whatever for them to go. The roadblocks of indifference, fancied self-sufficiency, prejudice, and defiance often prove more solid and formidable for these people than any erected by the unconvinced agnostic or even the militant atheist.”

This reading is generally geared toward those just beginning in recovery, but it reminded me that even 18 years in, there can be new beginnings.

I need to step back and look at my defiance. I remember what it was like to have faith; faith in God, faith in people, even faith in myself. This is no longer the case. I have faith in almost nothing. But I do know that life with faith is much better, much happier, and much easier than life without it. Yet I continue to stand at the edge of the river, refusing to drink.

I learned many years ago about the three “A’s” of recovery when it comes to dealing with bad behaviors: awareness, acceptance, and action. First you have to become aware of the problem, then you need to accept that the problem is really a part of you, and then you can take actions to change your behavior. A trap I’ve fallen into a million times in sobriety is I skip that middle A: I go right from awareness into action. I see the problem and I want it gone immediately – so that I don’t have to actually accept that the bad behavior is part of me.

This post is me, acknowledging my defiance – even if I feel a bit defiant about actually practicing that acceptance (yes, I annoy myself too). Living in that space between awareness and acceptance is uncomfortable as hell, but there is no shortcut. I have to find a way to accept this defiance before I can change.

Eventually, finally, I will unlock my heart, bend down, and scoop up the most refreshing water imaginable. Someday after that, I will step into the river itself and let it carry me.

But for now, I remain thirsty.

 

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I’ll be keeping comments closed on this blog for a while. I apologize to those of you that are and have been so lovely over the many years I’ve been writing here. I believe my blog is like my home, and just like I am unwilling to allow rudeness and insults and abuse from guests in my home, I’m also not willing to allow it here on my blog. Even when I delete the comments, I still see them, and I’ve allowed the pain this chronic toxicity has caused me to keep me from writing (I’d love to say I never take it personally, but damn it, I do). After much thought and prodding from dear friends, I’ve come to realize that I want to write regardless of either insults or accolades. If you’d like, you can always email me directly or reach out on Facebook or Twitter. Please forgive me for shutting this door, and I hope it’s temporary.