Sunday, February 27
I'M SORRY, YOUNG MAN.
I think I may owe an apology to one of the demonstrators at the Planned Parenthood rally in NYC.
Here’s what happened: Thousands of us assembled peaceably in Foley Square. Many, like me, came over from City Hall Park where we had rallied in support of workers’ rights, in particular in Wisconsin, but everywhere the GOP is assaulting the rights of Americans.
We were feeling great to be together, thousands of us liberals, progressives, Democrats, Socialists, whatever we call ourselves, battered by years of Right Wing lies and stratagems, angry and taking a stand against the corporate take-over of the country.
You came through the crowd carrying a sign. It had a drawing of two eggs and the line: THESE ARE NOT CHICKENS. What? What does that mean? So some people asked. And you said rather imperiously, “I’m not taking questions at this time.”
WTF? Are you kidding? I went berserk. How arrogant! I thought. And I was sure you were an agent provocateur from the right wing. I took your sign to be a “right-to-life” sign. I called you a coward. I got the crowd to chant, like the Wisconsin Democratic assembly members, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” And basically drove you away. There were no threats, there was no violence, just a lot of yelling and anger.
I got high-fives from some of the other rally-goers. It took several minutes for the adrenalin to subside. I’m sure my cheeks were flushed. A few young women standing behind me told me that the young sign-holder was, in fact, pro-choice. What? They got the distinct message that he had been misunderstood. Then why not answer our queries? Why the arrogance? I asked.
I don’t know the answer. But later, as I thought about it, it occurred to me that those young women were right. “THESE ARE NOT CHICKENS” one of the most abstruse and ridiculous signs ever, was a pro-choice sign. Given a lot of time to think about it: I got it. That’s not the best sort of sign for a rally where short, direct, punchy and clear are generally the way to go.
Had he appended some pro-choice sentence, logo, something, it wouldn’t have been misunderstood. Had he just not refused “to take questions,” had he said anything to show he was pro-choice, he wouldn’t have been verbally assaulted by me.
But as it was, he was. And I was the one who led the attack. And while I don’t feel entirely responsible, I do feel sorry. And I hope that the young man sees this and accepts my apology. But also learns a lesson: don’t create such an abstruse, hard-to-understand sign. But if you do, and people ask you about it, TELL THEM, for the love of God.
And if you recognize this young man, would you please see that he reads this? Thanks!