Why did you tell us if we were never supposed to believe it?

It’s been hard watching so many disparate parts of my past that I’d hoped would remain in the past intersect over the last few weeks as the Roy Moore story unfolded. Harder than I thought it would be. Aside from dredging up everything about courtship culture and then watching as sites like The Federalist proved my point and started arguing that child marriage was fine, I’ve also gotten to watch as the Operation Rescue/Operation Save America crowd is running around Alabama defending Roy Moore. My time with Operation Rescue is still one of the parts of my past that I have a hard time writing about, and while I’ve been talking about it more since the presidential election, it hasn’t gotten easier. I’ve spoken up about what I lived through in the ‘90s because it’s important to understand the past if people are going to figure out how to resist the religious right and the Trump administration, but rehashing the past when you’re still feeling your way forward is exhausting. That all of this is going down in Alabama, a state where I was arrested with Operation Rescue when I was 13, just adds to the emotions.

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Guilt By Association: You got served

Chapter Six take one | Main | Chapter Seven Last time we ended with me urging Suzie to run as far and as fast as she could away from the rest of our Merry Band of Protesters before they destroyed her life. This being a novel written by Michael Farris instead of me, of course that didn’t happen. Instead, Suzie triumphantly goes to call Author Avatar Peter Barron for help. Saintly Mom Gwen, now Gwen Barron, takes the call and seems utterly surprised that Suzie might call her from the other side of the state. Naturally, Gwen thinks Suzie must be joking when she says she’s being sued for a million dollars. Let’s think about this a minute Gwen. You’re surprised to get a phone call from Suzie since she’s off in Bellingham, suggesting that Suzie must not call them up on the random while she’s at school. That’s a pretty big hint that if she’s making a long distance call on a Saturday morning it must be something important. So of course the appropriate reaction is to ask if it’s a joke. Oh well, Gwen is the one who almost kidnapped her kid out of foster care in the last book, no one ever accused her of having common sense. Poor Suzie almost starts crying, wondering, “Why won’t anyone believe me this morning?” Move far, far away from all of these people and change your name, Suzie, it’s for the best. Aaaaaaand, of course the conversation with Author Avatar Peter gets passed off to the Creepy Colonel Control Freak and Pastor Randy Wallace while the women wait in the other room. Couldn’t possibly have the women contribute to their own defense, nope, that’s men’s work. By the way, anybody think it’s the least bit odd that Suzie is getting sued[…]

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Guilt By Association: Here comes the lawsuit

Interlude | Main | Chapter Six take two Hello my pretties, are you ready to find out what happens next with our Merry Band of Protesters? I can’t wait! Remember last time we were left with Vince, who really needs to grow a mustache so he can start twirling it, and Rhonda meeting with the clinic owners and their lawyers in LA to plot out a lawsuit against our poor innocent protesters who have never done anything wrong (except of course for the time that random college student protester tried to punch a guy, but we’ll ignore that because he was egged on by Stephen Vince). I still don’t think a name partner at a major law firm would go along with knowingly submitting a doctored tape in to evidence, but whatevs. Creepy Colonel Control Freak is mad, very mad. He’s being sued in federal court, even after all of his control freak efforts to make sure the protesters behaved. While he’s busy storming about the room, poor little Suzie is sitting quivering in fear over the lawsuit. “She was being sued in federal court–one million dollars plus attorney fees. Suzie O’Dell, college sophomore and mobster.” The mobster thing must mean this is a RICO action, so I’m super stoked because I know all about the controlling legal precedent. I researched NOW v. Scheidler back when I was writing a paper on everyone’s favorite masked internet vigilantes, Anonymous. We shall see whether Michael Farris knows what he’s talking about with RICO and it will be splendid. Creepy Colonel Control Freak is still ranting and raving. “I will have this lawyer’s license. He has to know all this is a wicked sham. These people have no shame, no, shame!” The colonel’s voice echoed down the hallway. “How can these people say these things?”[…]

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Wichita anti-abortion activists need to stop calling themselves “pro-life”

If you call yourself “pro-life” you need to actually be just that–pro life. As in, you don’t support killing people. As in, you believe in a culture of life, not one of death. That you care about the lives of more than just those who are yet to be born.  You know what it doesn’t mean? Asking the city to zone an abortion clinic out of existence on the grounds that people keep shooting abortionists there.Yes, you read that right. Anti-abortion activists in Wichita are asking the city to keep an abortion clinic from opening because they can’t manage to stop shooting at people.  If you use the violence that your own associates have committed as the excuse for why a clinic shouldn’t be allowed to open, I’m not going to call you pro-life. You aren’t. You can’t call yourself pro-life and then use the specter of violence like this. It’s not pro-life. If it’s pro anything, it’s pro-birth, but as much as I know that the movement hates it when people use the term “anti-abortion”, that’s all you are.  As I’ve written about before, this is the kind of thing that caused me to become disillusioned with the pro-life movement. If you think I’m being overly harsh, snarky, or sarcastic in this post, you try being trotted out in front of cameras at 12 years old to play the role of the “innocent kid who will be made a criminal if you pass abortion clinic buffer zone laws” and to insist that the movement is non-violent, not knowing that the people who had sent you out in front of the cameras had already gotten word that the movement had turned deadly that day and see how you react. And try being a 13 year old picketer and having clinic defenders screaming[…]

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The one thing I can’t write about

For a time during my pre-teen and teen years, I was involved with Operation Rescue. Been there, done that, have the t-shirts (t-shirts I can’t bring myself to throw away). I’ve tried time and again over the years to sit down and write about that time in my life and I can’t do it. Not that there aren’t pages of text in “draft" folders of long-abandoned blogs, and various files on my computer, but none of it ever seems right.  How do you even begin to discuss a very influential time in your life when it’s something that so few people have lived through and that was, to be honest, more than a little weird? How do you explain just how surreal it was to be at the state capital lobbying with Equality Florida when the last time you were there wandering those halls was as a kid who was there to play a role as the “poor little innocent kid who will be made a criminal if you pass this abortion clinic protest buffer zone law"? That the memory from your trip as a kid that came flooding back was of learning, on the way home, that just before you went in front of microphones and television cameras doing the innocent kid act and proclaiming the movement’s commitment to non-violence, the movement had turned deadly. How you felt learning that the Operation Rescue spokeswoman had already gotten word of what had happened in Pensacola but sent you out in front of cameras anyway, even though your insistence that the movement was non-violent was now a lie. How is anyone who hasn’t lived that ever really going to understand what it’s like? Back then I was so sure about everything, it was all so simple and cut and dried. I[…]

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Pawns in the culture war

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes – Morpheus, The Matrix In the few days since I wrote my post about what I strongly suspect is HSLDA’s litigation strategy to make homeschooling a fundamental right with no restrictions, not even for abusers, people have been doing some digging and have found information that quite frankly, is incredibly disturbing. In a nutshell, in 2009 an all male group of homeschool leaders met for a summit at one of Bill Gothard’s ATI training centers to discuss the future of homeschooling. Included among the big names present were Doug Phillips of Vision Forum (and former HSLDA attorney), Brian Ray of NHERI, and Christopher Klicka of HSLDA. Among the topics discussed was a call to abolish child protective services and plans were outlined about how they would go about instituting a Christian theocracy with homeschoolers paving the way. Heather at Becoming Worldly and R.L. Stollar at Homeschooler’s Anonymous both have extremely long and extremely informative posts laying out what exactly happened at the summit, I think it’s important to go read both posts. While I’ve long suspected that there was an agenda based on the bits and pieces of memories I have from things I read and heard from various homeschooling leaders over the years, seeing the road map laid out was chilling. I’ve snarked about the irony of HSLDA setting me on the path to where I am today by getting me interested in law, I’ve imagined how different my life would have been if I’d been accepted to[…]

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Irony

The Daily Beast has a story about homeschooled kids who have grown up and are blogging about their negative experiences. I didn’t have the kind of negative experiences that those kids had, although I’ve definitely seen the kinds of problems that the article discusses. I think most of us who have grown up in homeschool circles have seen the problems and have stories we could tell–stories like the time I overheard moms at homeschool skate talking about how they weren’t going to teach their daughters algebra because they didn’t need math to be a stay at home wife and mother. What jumped out at me though, was this quote from the article: Now the first wave of kids raised in these homes has reached adulthood. Many were trained to be activists, to argue, to question the verities of the dominant culture. Debating skill is hugely important in many homeschool circles, because it’s seen as a crucial tool of Christian apologetics. (Patrick Henry, the Virginia college for homeschoolers that Farris founded, has a moot-court team that has twice defeated Oxford’s Balliol College.) The movement’s leaders never intended, though, for students to turn their prowess against the culture they were raised in. “Michael Farris, his whole idea was creating this cultural army. The finishing point of everything was supposed to be debate,” says Stollar, 28.  I’ve written before about how I’d applied to do the HSLDA intern program after high school, and how in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t get it. The above quote rings so true to me because the great irony of the fundamentalist homeschool world is that they told us we were the activists who were going to change the country–that was a common theme in World Mag articles about homeschooling, and definitely so in the HSLDA newsletter–and well,[…]

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