The abortion crowd has so much invested in the narrative that pro-lifers are bullies that finding an actual example of pro-life misbehavior to exploit must feel like an early Christmas present. Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak tells the tale of Todd Stave, the landlord of a Maryland abortion clinic where partial-birth abortions were performed by the notorious LeRoy Carhart, who’s had enough of the harassment anti-abortion protestors have allegedly subjected him to:
[H]is tormentors crossed the line last fall when a big group showed up at his daughter’s middle school on the first day of classes and again at back-to-school night. They had signs displaying his name and contact information as well as those gory images of the fetuses.
‘What parent wants to have that conversation with an 11-year-old on the first day of school?’ he fumed.
Soon after that, the harassing calls started coming to his home. By the dozens, at all hours.
Stave, however, didn’t take this lying down:
He began to take down the names and phone numbers of people who made unwanted calls. And he gave the information to his friends and asked them to call these folks back.
‘In a very calm, very respectful voice, they said that the Stave family thanks you for your prayers,’ he said. ‘They cannot terminate the lease, and they do not want to. They support women’s rights.’
This started with a dozen or so friends, and then it grew. Soon, more than a thousand volunteers were dialing.
If they could find the information, Stave’s supporters would ask during the callbacks how the children in the family were doing and mention their names and the names of their schools. ‘And then,’ Stave said, ‘we’d tell them that we bless their home on such and such street,’ giving the address.
The family of a protester who called Stave’s home could get up to 5,000 calls in return.
Obviously, harassing a man’s children crosses the decency line, no matter the cause. And if a call to his home was truly threatening, I’m not about to get worked up over Stave turning the tables on that caller.
But looking up their children’s names and schools? The moment you do that is the moment you surrender any claim to victimhood. If your children are off-limits, then so are your opponents’. It doesn’t matter how much of a jerk some pro-lifer was to you over the phone; his or her kids were no more responsible for the call than your kids are responsible for the death that goes on in your clinic.
Indeed, as Tim Graham points out at NewsBusters, 5,000 calls in return for one call isn’t exactly proportionate, and Stave has also mobilized his group, called Voice for Choice, to engage in unprovoked phone harassment against Maryland pro-lifers, using phone numbers he acquired by joining a pro-life mailing list under a fake name. That doesn’t quite square with Dvorak’s assurance that “there are calls Voice for Choice won’t make” because Stave respects legitimate protests.
Most important, though, is the perverse morality on display here. Dvorak and Stave are outraged by irritating phone calls and nasty pictures, but they have no problem with what went on in Stave’s clinic: the ghoulish practice of partially delivering a breathing, pain-feeling baby who could survive outside his or her mother’s womb, then stabbing him or her in the skull and sucking the brain out. To the Voice for Choice crowd, bad manners are a bigger deal than knowingly causing the suffering and death of innocent babies.
This isn’t simply a loss of perspective; it’s an outright rejection of perspective, an invitation to a world where objectivity doesn’t exist and morality is no more than window dressing to rationalize people’s worst desires. By all means, pro-lifers ought to back off Todd Stave’s children, but we shouldn’t indulge the notion that Stave himself is a victim – not while he stands up for the real victimization of the defenseless.