Screw women — we'll get our drum circles back!

The Supreme Court, in its never ending quest to lurch the country back to something it never was even in its darkest moments, ruled that Massachusetts' buffer zone around women's clinics providing abortion services was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech. The ruling was unanimous, showing that even our liberal justices can get a ruling disastrously wrong at times.

Of course, this means that now 15 and 16 year old girls, who may have the local clinic as their only source for women's health services, will now have to walk a gantlet of screaming, rabid anti-abortion protestors seeking to "counsel" them. Meanwhile, exclusion zones remain around the Supreme Court buildings, because obviously being secure behind the marble walls isn't enough to protect the justices from hurtful words.

But wait! If the buffer zones are no longer germane to clinics, then certainly they are in question in all instances.

This is the opinion of Carl Gibson, writing for The Washington Post's aptly titled "Post Everything".

Mr. Gibson, a founder of US UnCut, "a grassroots movement which mobilized thousands to protest corporate tax dodging and budget cuts in the months leading up to Occupy Wall Street," begins with this cri de coeur:

In the summer of 2013, I was arrested over and over again. My crime? Singing songs from the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda during lunch hour. I was one of dozens of protesters who came out for the Solidarity Sing Along, a daily gathering of anti-Walker organizers. Over the course of three months, there were 200 arrests and hundreds more citations issued.

Can't you see? He was singing and got arrested for it! The humanity!

But hold on. A fresh breeze may be blowing.

Today, the Supreme Court made these kind of anti-protest maneuvers a lot harder. And even though I’m a liberal, I support their ruling.

Huzzah! The Supreme Court has struck a blow for freedom! And what kind of blow is this? He goes on.

The Court’s decision to abolish protest “buffer zones” at abortion clinics will undoubtedly traumatize women (some just 15 or 16 years old) exercising their protected right to control their own bodies. It’s a high cost, but an essential ruling.

And there is where the rub is. See, young women may be traumatized; hell, the buffer zone was enacted in the first place because of a mass shooting at a Massachusetts women's clinic in 1994. But, the "high cost" of possible murder of people participating in lawful activity is worth paying.


With its decision, the Supreme Court potentially opened the floodgates for abolishing all protest buffer zones, even those that protect politicians and the court. It’s my hope that this precedent will have a profound impact on all forms of protest crackdown, paving the way for more effective and free citizen actions in the future.

Except, it hasn't. From the ruling:

Respondents also emphasize that the Act does not prevent petitioners from engaging in various forms of “protest”-such as chanting slogans and displaying signs-outside the buffer zones. Brief for Respondents 50-54. That misses the point. Petitioners are not protestors. They seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to inform women of various alternatives and to provide help in pursuing them. Petitioners believe that they can accomplish this objective only through personal, caring, consensual conversations. And for good reason: It is easier to ignore a strained voice or a waving hand than a direct greeting or an outstretched arm. While the record indicates that petitioners have been able to have a number of quiet conversations outside the buffer zones, respondents have not refuted petitioners’ testimony that the conversations have been far less frequent [*16] and far less successful since the buffer zones were instituted. It is thus no answer to say that petitioners can still be “seen and heard” by women within the buffer zones. Id., at 51-53. If all that the women can see and hear are vociferous opponents of abortion, then the buffer zones have effectively stifled petitioners’ message.

Let's parse this. The Court is saying that McCullen wasn't merely a protestor. She was a "counselor", seeking to change a woman's mind seeking abortion. They are not getting together in a drum circle. What the court has done is carve out a special status for anti-abortion protestors, putting them above those who might, say, gather on the Supreme Court steps. If Mr. Gibson honestly thinks that the Court will extend that special status to Occupy SCOTUS, he obviously hasn't been paying attention. Normal protesting is still liable to be restricted beyond buffer zones. In the above text, the Court—including the liberal justices—have carved out an exemption for anti-abortion protestors. "Petitioners are not protestors. They seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to inform women of various alternatives and to provide help in pursuing them." Reading comprehension dictates that that piece of text applies to this case and this case only. The dudebros in Zucotti can still be moved along, or kept away from a national convention.

And even if in some fantasy land this ruling does lead the Court to do away with buffer zones in other instances, what people like Mr. Gibson—well off, white, privileged males—are asking is for women to go through even more trauma just to access legal services for their own narrow benefit. The manner in which he dismisses the concerns of those 15 and 16 year olds is telling. They are merely the cannon fodder for his coming liberal utopia—one which he and his circle most likely will do not a jot to bring about by engaging in the central act of citizenship, which is to vote.

While forces in our country seek to turn the Republic into something unrecognizable, people like Mr. Gibson engage in brave battles against windmills. Singing on the steps of a state capitol has not brought down the walls of power. It's a fact Mr. Gibson may want to contemplate.

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