"I'm kind of surprised the NRA hasn't come out for clinic workers arming themselves," Rumpus editor Brian Spears wrote on Twitter on Monday afternoon in response to the Planned Parenthood shooting. "They rarely skip a chance to sell guns."
Little did he likely know that, as he was typing these words, Charles Payne on Fox News was already going there during the show "Outnumbered." "What if more people had guns there, guys?" he asked of the clinic workers and patients who were shot at and held hostage for hours in the Colorado Springs clinic. "What if people could've defended themselves?"
Such is the danger of mixing mind-numbing stupidity with an overconfident assessment of one's own intelligence. So now the demand is that gynecological patients have their guns loaded and at the ready, in case some madman comes bursting in? How is that supposed to work, exactly? Apparently, you're supposed to put on your paper gown, pop your feet in the stirrups and have your gun in hand while your doctor tells you to scoot down a little. Has Mr. Guns Everywhere ever actually fired a gun? It's hard enough to hit a target with both feet on the ground. I wouldn't bet on Annie Oakley hitting her mark with her ankles in the air and her back on an examination table.
Or perhaps it is the doctor who is supposed to be armed and ready. Just better hope she doesn't mix up the stethoscope with her Smith & Wesson! (And you thought malpractice insurance was already expensive.)
I had some small hope that conservatives would refrain, just this once, from suggesting guns are the solution to gun violence. The Clint Eastwood scenario featuring an unobstructed clear shot to the bad guy's head is a fantasy for conservatives, where they cast themselves in the role of the conquering hero. They don't imagine some pro-choice doctor, much less one of her patients, perceived as out-of-control sluts who need their rights taken away so they'll learn to screw less and get married more.
But that is how routine the MOAR GUNZ line has become after our just as routine mass shootings. To ask a conservative to not call for MOAR GUNZ after a mass shooting is like asking one of Pavlov's dogs not to drool when you ring a bell.
It's always an irresponsible move, of course, but it's particularly ugly when it comes to the troubles faced by women's clinics, especially those that offer abortion. While Payne insinuates that abortion clinic workers are ignorant about personal security, the reality is that they are experts. Bulletproof glass, surveillance cameras and safe rooms are the norm in an environment where harassment is an everyday problem and the threat of violence is always looming. Payne's gambit is doubly rich when considering that five of the nine people shot, and one of those killed, were armed police officers. The magical safety properties of guns are clearly not as inviolable as Payne seems to believe.
Already anti-choicers, no doubt projecting their movement's own violent history onto its victims, run around screaming about how violent pro-choicers supposedly are. There's no evidence for it, of course, but such is the way the conservative movement works.
After the Planned Parenthood shooting, as Right Wing Watch recorded, Colorado anti-choicers rushed to argue that it's pro-choicers who are the violent ones. Making this claim requires massaging the evidence to the point where it's not recognizable anymore, and, of course, using that old canard of "liberal media bias" to suggest a widespread coverup of pro-choice violence.
After claiming that "the media is failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day," Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA wrote, "Please join me in praying that the people inside, along with the babies in their mothers' wombs, are released safely." It's rhetoric meant to imply that Planned Parenthood and the shooter are equally guilty of holding people hostage and killing them, which is both factually untrue and also such an inversion of reality that it's shudder-inducing. In the real world, and I can't believe I have to say this, Planned Parenthood offers services that women want, none of which involve killing babies. (Despite decades of conservative misinformation, embryos continue not to be babies.) Planned Parenthood does not hold them captive, but offers them choices so they can live freer lives.
Colorado Right to Life was even less subtle in its insinuation, writing, "Colorado RTL contrasts the eight people unjustly killed since 1993 by known anti-abortion vigilantes with the eighty women killed by pro-abortion violence for refusing to abort their own children. Those murdered moms are invisible to the media."
Say what? We're clearly meant to believe clinics are not only holding women captive but murdering them if they refuse to get abortions. But if you click the link and scroll and scroll and scroll down, you'll find that this is not, in fact, happening at all. It's a list of pregnant women who were killed by their partners in domestic violence incidents. All tragic incidents, of course, but the issue here is clearly domestic violence, which is rooted in the same hostility to female autonomy that anti-choicers promote. But that bit of hypocrisy is nothing compared to the sleaze of blaming people who try to help women--often women escaping domestic violence--for what men who are trying to control women do.
Recently, white supremacists shot five Black Lives Matters protesters in Minneapolis. It didn't take long, however, for conservative media to start spinning the violence as the fault of the victims, for daring to talk back to white men and for daring to protest in the first place. Under the circumstances, it's easy enough to predict what would happen if one of those protesters had tried to defend himself with a gun. Odds are sky-high he would be cast as the aggressor, and would run a high risk of going to prison for trying to protect himself.
This rush to paint liberal activists and workers as the aggressors in situations where they are the victims is a major reason that clinic escorts are trained to be non-confrontational with protesters. Pro-choicers know that anti-choicers cannot wait for the stray glare or nasty hand gesture in order to start screaming about how oppressed they are. If antis saw a gun, who knows how far they'd take the hysterics. The risk simply isn't worth it.
Perhaps instead of asking clinic workers to be the ones responsible for stopping the violence, we instead ask Republican candidates to stop spreading malicious lies that are bound to fire up unstable, violent people?