Quickies

Quickies: Buffer zones, rape myths, trans* military service, and resilient women

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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13 Comments

  1. It might be worth noting that the trophic cascade theory mentioned in the last article is controversial. Some ecologists have pointed out that it is a good story but the evidence is not a
    Especially the improtance of wolfs in yellowstone is questionable, I think. Controlled studies didn’t find a link between areas where deer are often attacked by wolves and tree height.
    Whoever has access can read more here: http://www.nature.com/news/rethinking-predators-legend-of-the-wolf-1.14841

    The nature piece also mentiones that the number of beavers in yellowstone dropped, so I don’t know if the statement in the video is correct

      1. Sorry it wasn’ t meant to detract from the interdependence and certainly not from cute animals :)
        The sad thing is that everything seems to be even more interconnected than the trophic cascade suggest, so that introducing the wolf after 70 years will likely not cure the damage that was caused by removing it.

        I’m really fascinated by ecosystems. Such huge systems and so fragile…

  2. Buffer zones are a very important, and certainly not an easy issue.

    One clear issue is that an abortion clinic may cordon off its own property. I.e., protesters can’t come onto abortion clinic property without the permission of the abortion clinic.

    The unclear issue is a law prohibiting members of the public from being on non-private property (example – the sidewalk) because of the message they are communicating while on that non-private property.

    That is at the very heart of the First Amendment. It may seem like a “no brainer” — to just say “protesters must stay 30 feet away from the abortion clinic” – no big deal. The problem is that abortion is not the only controversial issue, and you can be sure that the same kinds of rules will be voted on in other contexts. How about a buffer zone around Monsanto’s property? Or, a buffer zone around RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris? Employees just want to safely get to work. Etc.

    It is not a determinative factor that abortion is a special issue of special importance to women, to feminists, to prochoicers, etc. It’s not determinative that abortion rights are considered deeply held, fundamental beliefs by many people.

    My view on buffer zones is that people ought to be free to be on public sidewalks and streets all they want. They ought not be allowed to block pedestrian or vehicular traffic or impede the travels of other people. They ought not be able to block the entranceway and such. But, if a protester wants to hold signs right out front of St. Peter’s Cathedral accusing the Church of being a rape enabler, NAMBLA-type group — then so be it. St. Peter’s Cathedral can keep them off of St. Peter’s property, but not off the public sidewalk.

    I certainly empathize with women who are going through a tough time with abortions. However, they have a right to an abortion, they have a right to access the abortion clinic, they have a right not to be blocked. But they do not have a right to make another person keep off of public property or non-private property because of the content of their views.

    1. Slippery slope fallacy?

      Also, try walking down the sidewalk in front of the Planned Parenthood that’s involved in the Supreme Court case on any Saturday. Your ability to “pass freely” down that stretch of sidewalk will most definitely be impeded by those “sweet little old ladies.”

      Did you actually read the article? I feel like you never do. How is being forced to go through a gauntlet of screaming, lying protesters not “impeding travel”?

    2. The clinic in the article is the one I escort at. So forgive me if I dismiss armchair intellectual quarterbacking from a physical distance disregarding the actual situation on the ground. Considering the last time I was there protesters riled up a man enough to make him give me a throat-slitting gesture, and they take and disseminate our images on a regular basis. BTW, the escorts have consistent discussions on how we make sure not to cross lines regarding the 1st Amendment while pushing for these reforms. Thanks for the 2 cents, but we got this.

      1. My experience with escorting is similar. We mostly only intervene when the threats or physical violence occurs.

        True story: My friend and I were eating at a Chinese restaurant a couple months ago, and an old woman (not an employee) came up to us and started talking about saving babies, putting some pro-life pamphlets on the table. I said “That’s why I’m involved in the March of Dimes, and why my tribe runs a detox clinic.” (Before anyone asks, it’s detoxing from booze, not naturopathic faux-‘detoxing’.) Then we used her fine literature to wipe up stray soy sauce.

        1. Oh, so those pamphlets are ‘useful’.

          I was back at the clinic this morning, and it was quieter than usual. They were a bit more ‘bumpy’ this time around. I swear, it’s like playing basketball with all the maneuvering and the plaintive whines about contact. One of our regular protesters kept threatening to call the police, which of course would be hilarious. Especially since they, more often than not, clearly initiate contact.

          Also, considering that Pro Life Action League has placed several faces and names on a widely circulated meme with the innocuous call to “pray for them” (including an escort that I know), the threat these protesters pose are real and not some academic exercise of free speech rights.

  3. I hate planned parenthood protestors. I can’t even get in or out of my driveway when they are out in force at the Planned Parenthood I live next to. They actually plan for this, and impede car movement in and out of the busy alley so they can try to give you pamphlets detailing how harmful any and all birth control methods you can choose would be. They are the worst purveyors of misinformation.

  4. The women who tweeted about their sexual assault experiences display a special kind of courage. I hope it contributes in some minor way to pushing back against the culture of rape myths.

    This matter of the abortion clinic cordons strikes me as one of those clear examples where other rights are harmed to the point where free speech has outlived its usefulness. This is no Neo Nazis marching through Stokely, this is a direct attack.
    I understand how some people worry about the slippery slope, and it is true that we need to be careful whenever we infringe upon free speech, but, like shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, no good can come of these cordons.

    1. (Edit buttons would be nice, I keep having thoughts after posting!)

      I don’t know where the Supreme Court lies on this one. It seems to me that Thomas would probably go where his conservative heart wanders and Scalia will, too, but what about the rest of the court?

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