Magazine article The Human Life Review

Shut Up, the Court Explained

Magazine article The Human Life Review

Shut Up, the Court Explained

Article excerpt

Abortionists now have found a splendid new way to quell protesters: Sue 'em. A federal court in Chicago has handed down a $258,000 judgment against three anti-abortion protesters and a couple of pro-life outfits that lent them moral support.

Something tells me that people so committed to life aren't going to be discouraged by this latest attempt to stifle them. Rather, the big loser will be the First Amendment in general and, in particular, the constitutional right of Americans to peaceably assemble to express their ideas, however unpopular some of those ideas may be.

The decision in Chicago wasn't aimed at just a handful of dissenters from our contemporary culture (of death), but at any protesters who can be scared off by lawsuits in the future. It's called the Chilling Effect. And the temperature just dropped a few degrees if folks who organize demonstrations can be held legally responsible for any violence perpetrated by the few crazies in any movement.

This wouldn't be the first time the law has been used as an instrument of intimidation. Civil-rights workers down South were once arrested for everything from faulty tail lights to inciting a riot by trying to eat at a Woolworth's.

Today's great moral protest is against the slaughter of the unborn, and the law has been twisted to quell it, too. First came a federal statute designed to keep protesters away from abortion clinics; now comes a civil case based on a law against, yes, racketeering. It's a casebook example of how to make dissent illegal and drive peaceful protest underground.

It is no longer enough that abortionists should be able to ply their trade as if they were just another convenience store. Now the rest of us must keep quiet about it. Just as it was not enough in an earlier century for the slave trade to continue; anti-slavery agitation had to be suppressed.

Walker Percy once said he could foresee that those who favored abortion would win the political debate, but that they would be told what they are doing. Now he might be gagged, at least if it could be proved that his words had inspired others to act. Percy may once have been a writer; today he might be judged a racketeer.

If only the segs back in Jim Crow times had been able to avail themselves of this Nixon Era law, who knows how long they could have held on to their crumbling caste system? Here in Arkansas, we might all still be following those little signs saying WHITE and COLORED. Any group that protested could be sued and slapped with huge awards, dangerous racketeers that they are. …

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