Generally speaking, there’s two ways to handle wingnut goon squad bullying tactics: 1. the usual way (shouting matches, complaining, legal action that often goes nowhere etc.) and 2. The calm, creative way.
WaPo’s Petula Dvorak has an inspiring report on one of the latter approaches in her post “A clinic’s landlord turns the tables on anti-abortion protesters.” Dvorak explains how Todd Stave, a landlord for an abortion doctor’s office responded to a pro-life protesters showing up at his daughter’s middle school with grotesque signage, then “harassing calls from protesters started coming to his home. By the dozens, at all hours.” the landlord was no pushover, however, since his family had experienced violence from anti-abortion groups, going back to his childhood, including a bombing. Here’s how he handled it:
Friends asked him how they could help. He began to take the names and phone numbers down of anyone who contacted him with an unwanted call. And he gave those lists 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, then grew. Soon, there were more than a thousand volunteers dialing…If they could find the information, Stave’s callers would even ask the family how their children were doing, and mention their names and the name of their school. “And then we’d tell them that we bless their home on such and such street,” giving them their address.
In some cases, the family of a protester who called Stave’s home could get up to 5,000 calls in return.
The supporters came so fast and in such big numbers, Stave founded a group, Voice for Choice . And now there are about 3,000 volunteers ready to make calm, reasoned calls to the homes of people who bombard doctors, landlords and families with their unsolicited protests at homes or schools across the country.
Such is the power of calm, creative response to bullying from the right. Dvorak does believe that pro-lifers could be more effective in terms of preventing abortions, and offers a couple of interesting suggestions;
People who want to stop abortion can make a difference with education, support, counseling and genuine efforts to prevent unwanted pregnancies and support childrearing…They need to be working toward affordable and safe childcare for all, solid healthcare for children and generous workplace policies and family leave so that parenthood is not an onerous and difficult prospect in America.
Now that would be the real beginning of a pro-child society.