Home > General, Reproductive Rights, Women's Issues > Behind the scenes at Moonhowlings: When the story becomes the story

Behind the scenes at Moonhowlings: When the story becomes the story

March 4th, 2014

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
loving scum.”

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……




  1. March 4th, 2014 at 06:56 | #1

    Rick and Punchak, it is safe to continue your squirrel discussion now. Try the open thread please.

    Wolverine and Cargo…. ——–> stern look re squirrels

  2. Lyssa
    March 4th, 2014 at 07:45 | #2

    Throwing out religion on either side of the argument is unnecessary.

  3. Rick Bentley
    March 4th, 2014 at 07:54 | #3

    Was it a real meltdown? Or is there an element of trolling.

  4. Lyssa
    March 4th, 2014 at 07:56 | #4

    Ahhhh, I vote for trolling. That crossed my mind as I watched the wreck.

  5. March 4th, 2014 at 08:07 | #5

    I believe it was a real person. I wouldn’t have wasted my time on a troll.

    Lyssa, unfortunately, religion is always a part of this argument. That is what generates it in most cases.

    I don’t know how you leave it out. Certainly the protestors at the City Council Meeting didn’t leave it out, which is why I brought it up in the first place.

    I would be more than happy to have any discussion of govt policy without an infusion of religion.

  6. March 4th, 2014 at 08:11 | #6

    Hell, I am even in favor of government staying out of the snake handler’s business. As long as children aren’t being endangered, why on earth should I care if someone’s religious beliefs involve handling snakes. I also don’t care if people smoke peyote while they worship.

    Just out of curiosity, how are we defining “troll?”

  7. Lyssa
    March 4th, 2014 at 08:15 | #7

    It can be done. If one side brings it up, the other can choose to ignore it. Control the argument.

    It was a real person but maybe spurred on by an underlying purpose.

  8. Ray Beverage
    March 4th, 2014 at 08:19 | #8

    The unfortunate part too here in the City is folks both residents and those in other areas are not looking at the related documents. Hence my efforts to educate. And make no mistake about it – the core of this whole debacle has turned from good governance to a religious agenda. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. You will note I offer comment on neither side; just do what is legal and what will get this City moving in the direction of truly being a Livable Community for all.

    And the Regional Planned Parenthood has spoke at Council (coming in from Arlington & Alexandria), and National outfits like “Students for Life of America” stormed the Hall the other week. http://studentsforlife.org/sfla-team-speaks-out-at-manassas-meeting/

    Another unfortunate part is to rally like-minded (meaning like Andy Harrover, Cindy Brookshire, me and others) who say good governance and move the City forward. When I talk to my neighbors, it is a sad commentary when they say “City Hall does what it wants anyway” which is true for the Council on many occasions. So hard to rally the troops to step up.

  9. Rick Bentley
    March 4th, 2014 at 08:33 | #9

    No one would object to abortion in the first trimester, when there is no brain established, except for religious beliefs – the desire on some people’s part to recognize a mythical “soul” as real. This is important because their archaic books of faith talk (naively) about a “soul”.

    In actual fact all our elements of personality and consciousness are housed in the brain. This has been known for some time.

    However, God never came down from heaven and inscribed the necessary changes to the Bible into some stone tablet to be disseminated outwards, surprisingly or not. So people still argue about this. Though it seems to me that we might just as well be arguing about whether heaven is “above” the earth and hell “below” it (the Bible says so!), or whether the Earth has “four corners” (the Bible says so!), or whether the Earth and the life on it were created in “seven days” (the Bible says so!).

    • March 4th, 2014 at 09:08 | #10

      One early theologian advanced the idea that for males, ensoulment took place on the 40th day. Females had to cook longer or something, their ensoulment took place at day 60.

      How weird is that?

  10. Cato the Elder
    March 4th, 2014 at 09:18 | #11

    Moon-howler :
    One early theologian advanced the idea that for males, ensoulment took place on the 40th day. Females had to cook longer or something, their ensoulment took place at day 60.
    How weird is that?

    That’s not weird at all. It makes perfect sense that the male would have the more advanced soul, such as to establish dominion over the female. Natures way is for the male to provide guidance and protection, and the female is to obey the male.

    (See, now *that* was a troll)

  11. March 4th, 2014 at 09:36 | #12

    @Cato the Elder
    But the second mouse gets the cheese! :mrgreen:

  12. Andyh
    March 4th, 2014 at 09:55 | #13

    It’s complicated. Beyond the vagaries of zoning law many have written, here and other places, about localities regulating constitutional rights. That isn’t as simple as it sounds either. Beyond the thicket of case law and legal requirements, Virginia is not a home rule state. We’re a dillon rule state. Localities have only the authority explicitly granted them. The net result is that, while DC may take on handgun (or other) regulation, Manassas is specifically prohibited from any such endevour.

    A simple example:Say that the citizens of Manassas demanded that the city build a community chicken coop. 400 people turn out to a council meeting to demand it!!! However, we need money to build it. After some reflection we decide to pay for it by creating a tax on yellow pants. In an odd display of unity, every citizen of manassas writes or speaks in support of it.

    Even with this tidal wave of support, the City Council can’t do it. The GA would have to explicitly authorize the city to do this. The grant of authority is very narrow in VA.

  13. March 4th, 2014 at 10:09 | #14

    And in this case, and your example, I think I am glad I live in a Dillon rule state.

    Thanks for the explanation, Andy.

    If the City is anything like PWC, you all have miles to go before you sleep and you don’t need to be wasting time on things over which you have no control.

    Let me also throw in that I just don’t think cities have any business ‘regulating’ any medical facilities other than very general housing rules….like you don’t run your plumbing out into the street…that sort of thing.

  14. Andyh
    March 4th, 2014 at 11:03 | #15

    It’s a mixed bag. In a state as diverse as VA it causes headaches. Cities have very different needs and problems than do rural areas. There are more delegates from quasi- or straight up rural areas than there are cities and they have challenges understanding our problems. Witness the transportation problems we have.

    There is a middle ground of limited home rule but I’m not going to waste any ink on it as I’m sure the GA isn’t interested!!

  15. March 4th, 2014 at 11:13 | #16

    Yea, in this case I am glad of Dillon rule. Other times, not so much. The next family of thugs that move in behind me will have me doing a flip flop in a matter of seconds.

  16. Lyssa
    March 4th, 2014 at 14:15 | #17

    Ensoulment…. Thomas Aquinas lived during the height of (if he did not alone define) medieveal philosophy. Haven’t heard that term in some time.

  17. March 4th, 2014 at 15:19 | #18

    I believe it was Thomas Aquinas but its been a good 20 years since I have read all that…so I didn’t want to attribute it to him without looking it up.

  18. Ray Beverage
    March 4th, 2014 at 16:49 | #19


    Don’t have to demand Council build the chicken coop…LOL…Section 18-112 says I can have one in my backyard. Thanks for the offer, but don’t need to have the Council allocate for something I can afford :-)

  19. Scout
    March 4th, 2014 at 20:22 | #20

    What a difference 20 days can make. Like decent wine, souls are not things to be rushed.

    • March 4th, 2014 at 21:47 | #21

      I expect those 60 day souls were a little more refined since they had had longer to age.

  20. Wolverine
    March 4th, 2014 at 22:24 | #22

    I resemble that “stern look” remark. I haven’t mentioned a squirrel, literal or figurative, for years.

    BTW, what has happened to Starryflights?

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