Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Never threaten violence

My grandfather once told me that I should, “Never threaten violence as it serves your opponents cause.” I asked him what I should do instead because threatening to beat up a bully seemed like the right thing to do back when I was 12. He said, “Do violence if necessary, but only if your cause is just.” I did not understand his real message until I was much older. It was, “Never let your opponent know what you intend to do, and don’t let your opponent control how you act.” Through other lessons I understood that the use of violence was only justified if my life was in danger. I added one saying myself, “Never interrupt your adversary when they are making a mistake.”

Why is this important? Because when we lose control and say something that we don’t mean, the consequences can be bad and your loss of control can be used against you in the service of another’s cause. Like the anti-abortion movement’s desire to stop abortions. If you lose control while walking your daughter past anti-abortion protestors, you’ve allowed yourself to be manipulated. The results can be disastrous. Like in the case of a father named Hal Cox, who threatened to shoot an anti-abortion protester in the heart if she bothered his daughter again on the way out of a clinic. The protestors called the cops, the cops responded with SWAT, and you know the rest of the story.

As the family walked in, a woman protesting the clinic asked whether she could pray for them and the baby. The man responded that he did not believe in God. He told police he felt verbally assaulted because the protesters yelled at them and told his family they were going to hell if they got an abortion, according to the report.

The family then walked into the building.

A few minutes later, the man walked out to his car. The protester again approached him, telling him, "Jesus loves him," according to the complaint.

The man then allegedly told the protester if she said anything to his daughter, who was getting an abortion, he would "put a bullet" in her heart, according to the report. The man placed his hand on his right hip as if reaching for a gun but didn't actually have a weapon, witnesses said.

The clinic was shut down for two hours. Medical procedures where suspended. The anti-abortion crowd ran with the story. The spin started soon after.

Mr. Cox was not arrested. Charges will not be filed. Guns, confiscated from his vehicle, will be returned in a few days. Move along people, there is no story here. Except that there is. Mr. Cox chose to warn his adversaries, who promptly used the information to their advantage. Point awarded to the anti-abortion team.