Thoughts on a Torn Poster

I heard anecdotes about a man with a pro-life sign being assailed during the recent Boston demonstration/counterdemonstration, and then found that an Esquire writer tweeted a short video of the incident.    (Language alert.)

The guy was carrying a poster with photos of preborn human beings on the upper half of the poster, visible in the video. (I should add that these were not bloody-baby pictures. If there were any photos of aborted remains on the lower part of the poster, I didn’t see them due to the camera angle.) He was pursued – or as the Esquire writer put it, “made to part ways with his sign” – by masked assailants, who tore the photos off the poster one by one. Among the screaming voices was a woman’s, saying something that sounded like “I chose to have my baby but I’m glad I had a choice!”

At least that particular woman had the integrity to speak her mind without hiding behind a mask and without vandalizing anything.

In Pete’s coverage of the recent Boston demonstration/counterdemonstration,   he noted that the unifying factor among the disparate “counter” groups was anti-Trump sentiment to a greater or lesser degree. I don’t dispute that. I think that sentiment was accompanied by more than a dash of abortion advocacy, of a kind that was around long before Trump and will sadly be around long after he moves on.

I have no idea who the man with the poster supported for President; perhaps like me he’s at risk of being hashtagged #NeverTrump. Those masked hooligans who vandalized his sign didn’t care. The evidently harbored antipathy to the right to life and to anyone promoting it. Trump didn’t even need to be a factor for them.

That was one incident, involving relatively few people, in a place where tens of thousands of people had congregated for various purposes. Maybe the masked vandals who tore up photos of the preborn humans weren’t representative of the larger crowd. Then again, maybe they were.

Mayor and President alike tweeted approval of the day’s peaceful demonstrators speaking out against hate. It was a day for broad strokes, not fine details, so maybe incidents like the one I’ve described escaped the politicians’ notice.

But is it something other than hate when masked people carrying sticks menace a man holding a poster? Is it peaceful to rip up a sign someone’s holding, as long as no one sustains physical injury?  I’m pretty sure that if I, as a pro-lifer, were to tear up a sign held by someone, I’d be charged with simple assault under the laws of my state. (Rightly so, I might add.) Maybe the Boston police had to pick their battles, so to speak, and sign-ripping wasn’t a law enforcement priority the day of a mass rally. Understandable, from a tactical point of view. But I believe the Boston sign vandals got a pass that wouldn’t have been afforded to anyone tearing up a pro-abortion sign.

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Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. Read more of her work at EllenKolb.com/blog.