Friday, October 01, 2004

"Rambo ruled 'Dr. Butcher's Chop Shop' may participate in the Halloween Parade. "


Every now and then there comes a situation in society that makes you question your belief system. The last great challenge to my own "morals" came on September 11. I'm staunchly anti-death penalty, yet proclaimed that Osama bin Laden deserves more than a needle... He deserved to be drawn and quartered on the White House lawn. Granted, that wasn't thought out. I didn't think about international or domestic ramifications of such an act. All I thought about was personal justice. What, in the Dr. Phil-ified America, would make me feel better? Pain. That would make me feel better.

Anyway, allow me to dwell on a local situation that is testing my free speech outlook. If there is cause in the this world that I'd be willing to fight for, willing to die for, it would be first amendment rights. The biggest test to such dogma is being willing to defend the rights of speech and assembly when you find the message abhorrent. This happens a lot in my town. Not too long ago, our Mayor was on trial for murder during race riots. York, Pa is a self-segregated town, 40 minutes north of Baltimore and a 1/2 hour from Gettysburg, Pa. It's a target for inciters of hate, a "must stop" on anyone's white supremacy tour. It's is also a very conservative (Religious Right) town, making it ideal to hold a Bush rally which happened 2 months ago. My school board of my alma malter has spent the first 9 months of this calendar year debating the validity of evolution. (and you wonder why my spelling is so bad) Getting the picture?

Now that you understand where I live, let me tell you about Dr. Butcher's Chop Shop. This is a proposed float for the annual and very popular Halloween Parade. In a town plagued by unemployment, turmoiltuous race relations, violent crimes, and political mudslinging, there are few fun community unified times. The Halloween Parade is one of those few. It's rare that the suburban and rural "scared white folk" make it downtown, but the Halloween parade is such an occasion.

So who is Dr. Butcher? And what is his "Chop Shop"... and what are those "choice cuts" he's offering to everyone? One word: Abortion. Last year, Rev. Jim Grove and his anti-abortion rally turned the stomachs of every man, woman, and child looking for a fun family afternoon. The protesters reportedly tossed images of tissue and blood in the faces of young and old in the name of "moral" superiority. This year, U.S. Middle District Court Judge Sylvia Rambo (no really, that's her name) has ordered the City of York to allow the Dr. Butcher float to participate in the parade this year and to settle with the group in a civil suit for infringing on their rights last year.

To get personal for a moment, I don't think anyone is pro-abortion as the pro-lifers would have you believe. I was pro-life for many years, that was until I started studying the law and understood the legal (not moral) ramification of Roe v. Wade. I quickly changed my self imposed label to Pro-Choice. Also, in a sign I'm getting older and closer to being a mother over being a child, if ever family values were to be used for justification, isn't this such a case?

I believe that Rev. Grove has every right to make his point known, but as a spiritual leader, shouldn't he have some respect for the mental health of children, children that he's protesting for... The right to life. I know, everyone is always going on about "the children" and that's not normally me. Does the first amendment give this man and his congregation the right to impose, visually, his opinions during a happy venue. And further more, Halloween is a Pagan Holiday and so are all celebrations associate with the fall harvest. So, why is such a devout Reverend participating in a Pagan event? Can he protest at the town square, so that parents can plan where they want to set and watch the parade with their children? Shouldn't a local community have at least some say over the participants of its festivities? Allowing him the right to his speech and the right to assemble, do we have to allow the Reverend to assemble when and where he insists? Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but shouldn't kids be learning about abortion at home or in health class... Not during a fun and normally peaceful celebration that unites an often divided community?

Mike Hoover, a great reporter and all around nice guy, wrote the article for today's The Daily Record edition. If you're curious, check out his less opinion riddled reporting, it's worth the read.


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