A few minutes after I posted my last blog entry, I got a text from a friend of mine. She’s a nurse at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, and word was out that there’d been a shooting at a Planned Parenthood right near Garden of the Gods. A couple of seconds later, my Twitter feed exploded.
I was pissed. I’d felt this low level current of rage all day today, anyway, but this news was like a lightning rod for me. It hit very close to home. For years, when I was uninsured, I was a patient at Planned Parenthood. The Lakewood location was where I got my first pap smear. I’ve been to almost every location they have between here and Boulder. I went for well-woman exams, birth control, and a cancer scare.
Even before I was a patient, I was a supporter of their work. I’m staunchly pro-choice and consider myself a feminist. I remember the moment when that happened. It was in high school. My bus used to pass by an abortion clinic on South Federal. And I remember watching the picketers with their signs. I remember hearing about the death threats. I remember the faces of the women trying to get medical care, going through the maze of angry men raising signs of aborted fetuses. I remember, even at 14, knowing there was something inherently wrong with this behavior and not understanding it.
I went to school at a Jesuit college, and many of my friends are pro-life conservatives. Good Catholics with large families who serve their communities well. They mostly keep their opinions about abortions to themselves, and I can have guarded discussions with them about my differing views. I respect them, though we disagree in many, many ways.
I’ve always prided myself on being able to discuss difficult topics with people I disagree with. I can usually understand their side. I can calmly communicate my points and see them as people.
But, today, while I was talking about this on Twitter–I flew off the handle. I think it had been building up inside me. For weeks, I’ve watched these horrible events play out–over and over again. And everywhere you go, all you hear is the disgusting rhetoric of the Trumps of the world. I’ve felt numb and indifferent to it all. Disturbed by it–yes–but unemotional. Shut down. This–though–well…like I said, it hit home.
I could have been in that clinic. One of my doctors could be in that clinic. People just like me a few years ago were in that clinic.
I finally had to get off social because a someone insisted on reminding me repeatedly about the fact that it was unconfirmed that the Planned Parenthood was the target of the attack. That maybe it was a bank robbery. I explained to my friend that I was getting information directly from a friend at the hospital where the officers (and later victims) were being transported. In that moment, I thought I was just reacting to a shooting–that the Planned Parenthood aspect wasn’t fueling my anger. But–now–I realize–had it been anywhere else–I might numbly have shut the tab and tuned out.
I get that my friend was concerned about responsible journalism. Okay. Fine. That was her concern. She’s allowed that. But here’s the thing: does it fucking matter if Planned Parenthood was the target or not? Shouldn’t we be pissed off that multiple people–people just trying to get an exam or pick up pills–or do their jobs (in the case of the officers)–were shot for no apparent reason? Shouldn’t we be pissed that some coward decided to open fire on unarmed people?
And shouldn’t we be pissed that it happens over and over and over again–so many times IN THIS STATE? Shouldn’t we be pissed that when it’s a white DOMESTIC incident, it’s suddenly not terrorism. But if you’re brown or have an accent, God fucking help you. And even now, we have people dismissing this incident who just a few days ago urged us all to incarcerate all Muslims.
Does it fucking matter that Planned Parenthood may or may not have been the direct target TODAY? Really? Does it? Because we all know it’ll be a target sometime tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. Because we all know these irresponsible politicians who incite violence on a daily basis won’t ever stop. Because we all know these asses value some forms of life over others. So let’s just be real here. And be honest about that. Our world is a shitshow of massive proportions. So, if it’s Planned Parenthood or Wells Fargo or King Soopers–who the heck really cares? Because the goddamn truth of the matter is that evil exists on this planet and there are plenty of people acting as accomplices. And I’m so damn sick of witnessing it, day in and day out. I’m so damn tired of people pooh-poohing it. Of good people standing by, saying nothing.
So, I’m fucking yelling right now. Because someone needs to. And we’re all caught in its ugly grasp.
Last night, I watched an interview Bryan Cranston gave. During this interview, he talked about his film Trumbo. It’s about a screenwriter who was one of the Hollywood Ten during the time of the Red Scare in America. His life was essentially ruined. The movie looks amazing, and I can’t wait to see it. Cranston said something that really resonated with me…that if you ever have an inkling of that kind of evil happening in the world, you have a responsibility to speak out about it–while you still have a voice. So many things lately–especially Trump’s candidacy –remind me of that era in our history. My father fought in Pearl Harbor. He had such a strong sense of integrity when it came to speaking out about things you believed in…and I think it’s because he saw what happened when good people didn’t.
Too many of us keep silent to keep ourselves comfortable. To make nice at the dinner table. When being silent diminishes all of us and enables really crappy people to do unspeakable things. It’s time we all start yelling. I’m certainly not going to stop.