Wednesday, November 18, 2009

bubble trouble

They are attractive young residents of Chicago's "Near North": attorneys and other professionals, who frequent a clinic in their neighborhood, but once there, they've found themselves photographed and videotaped. They've had cigarette butts flicked at them, been spit at, been approached and had their conversations monitored by grim, agenda-driven witnesses. One even suffered a karate-style chop in the side while attempting to exercise rights guaranteed by the laws of this country.

But the pro-lifers don't want a bubble zone to protect themselves from these forms of harassment.

They just want to be free to greet people in a warm and respectful way and provide information they may not otherwise have access to: information about fetal development and patient rights, yes, but also about LINK cards and housing assistance and fathers' rights. Right now, they can only attempt that if someone passes directly by; they cannot take a step or two forward to offer it: that's what the bubble zone means.

If this ordinance achieves its goal of making it harder for pro-life counselors to approach people in a civilized way, I was told by one of the sidewalk counselors, their next move will be “visual speech” in what is called a “Face the Truth” effort. To me, those horrifyingly grisly photos of tiny severed hands and legs and tortured little heads constitute a form of visual violence. But this sort of “carpet bombing” (with massive collateral damage) may be the unanticipated effect of stifling people's ability to freely communicate on the street. After a while, Planned Parenthood itself may beg City Hall to pop the bubble zone ordinance they themselves proposed.

This post was written for the Chicago Tribune's blog, The Seeker.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your stance on the "visual speech" issue. There is a group that I've seen a couple of times over the summer holding extremely graphic images on the corner of Wacker and Monroe, by the opera house and the bridge over the river. What always bothers me most about these people is that they always seen to have young children with them actively participating in the protest. When either side of any issue (let alone one as emotional as abortion) resorts to pure shock tactics then the chance of winning "hearts and minds" is non-existent.