Behind the scenes at Moonhowlings: When the story becomes the story
Yesterday’s story actually became the story. Most of our contributors know that there is a certain decorum around here and nearly everyone goes along with it without question. I think all of our ‘in moderations’ have even been turned loose and that we all agree that the rules around here really aren’t so bad. Hell, we even let people cuss and more than a few people last week used a socially inappropriate word or two without having to sit in the naughty chair.
One of the major rules here is about county employees. I went back through the thread and its comments just to make sure that *I* had adhered to our own rules. I think I did. I think I urged others to do the same. We also encourage people to be respectful of each other as much as is humanly possible during political debate. That extends to name calling.
Yesterday became problematic with the name calling and the day was half over before I realized what part of the problem was. Let’s take the sub-story for starters. Some of our contributors really wanted to talk about squirrels (the outdoor rodent kind) rather than call each other names. *I*, your fearless moderator, had gotten so sick of the name calling of “squirrel” one day about a year ago that I made it a trigger word. (say “squirrel” and you end up in moderation) Poor Punchak and Rick Bentley kept ending up in moderation because they were talking about real, honest-to-God squirrels. I am fixing that, guys! I trust everyone will not be abusing squirrels from here on out?
Back to the real problem–a new contributor took on Elena and me over yesterday’s thread article regarding the storming of a city council meeting by anti-abortion activists. One in particular sure didn’t like our position and spent the day having a melt down that involved telling me I was stupid and then going into a diatribe about how we were scum:
“Filthy death loving scum. You are filthy death loving scum. Shame on
you. Your only complaint against Aveni is he refuses to worship at your
bloody altar built on dead babies and butchered women. Filthy death
Yes, that was a melt down. People get passionate about their beliefs and sometimes let their emotions get the better of them. Yes, I got emails behind the scenes as well as some phone calls from our friends. Several folks questioned me about not throwing the writer off the blog. Here is why that didn’t happen: It is part of the story. It also was directed at Elena or me. Had it been directed at one of our readers or contributors, then that would have altered how we handled it.
For starters, the contributor had difficulty articulating what she really wanted. She mostly wanted to tell me I was wrong. I think that is what is going on with the City of Manassas. The hundreds of people who swarmed the Council Meeting making demands really want to end abortion immediately. While I respect their right to feel that way, I don’t respect their right to tie up City business with their ideology. Manassas City can’t do a thing about the legality of abortion. A local government is so far out of the loop on ending abortion, it isn’t even worthy of discussion. However, because the City been designated as ground zero and does represent step one of democracy, the monster has fallen in their laps and they are stymied by their inability to move past the ‘beast.’
In their zeal to end abortion, the protestors have overlooked legislation, the courts, and actually reducing the need for abortion by demanding better and more accessible contraception. Get rid of unintended or unwanted pregnancy, and the demand for abortion drops way down, except for medical necessity. Rather than fighting with each other, if we all got on the same sheet of music about ending the NEED for abortion, we might actually get somewhere, since all of us want to at least reduce the incidence of abortion.
I am not sure what the City’s zoning model looks like or how it will address medical facilities. I would certainly hope that women’s health care clinics would not be singled out for unique treatment, apart from other types of medical services. A special user’s permit seems unnecessary under any circumstances. However, I am willing to learn more of their strategy. I would prefer to do this learning through normal channels and not through the din of an anti-abortion crowd.
Today we will go back to normal civil discussion. Yesterday, the meltdown was part of the story. It showed how passionately people feel on the subject of abortion and how much of their feelings are based on emotion and faith and not on reason and neutrality. Emotion and faith are all part of religious expression and also part of what makes America a great place. Where else can you go and be able to worship any way you want? By the same token, because of our religious plurality, one religion can’t take over government. Government must remain neutral and not show favoritism towards any group.
The Manassas City Council needs to hear that the pro-choice community is out there. Some of us aren’t going to shut up and let a minority dictate public policy. Elena and I will speak out clearly and forcefully because we CAN. Hopefully, others will speak with their elected representatives and let them know how they feel. Loudest isn’t always best. Storming the cidadel might fool some into thinking they are outnumbered but that really isn’t the case.
A quick look outside at the birds illustrates how puffing up and looking big might get you your position at the bird feeder but when spring comes, that big puffed up bird might just be a little wren. Something to think about……