I stepped out of my apartment yesterday and paused a moment to take in such a lovely day for the middle of January in Philadelphia. I took a deep breath and started down the stairs when I saw a large poster of a discarded fetus.
I breathed out, hard. Oh, cripes.
In addition to several row homes converted into apartments, I share my block with a credit union, a seminary, an Italian restaurant (and soon an Italian sandwich shop opened by the same owners) a weight-loss management clinic, an MRI center, a dentist and the office of a U.S. Congressman. My guess was this guy, and yes, it was only one guy, was protesting either me, the liberal feminist blogger, or the congressman.
I then noticed the word choice with a question mark sprawled across the top of the poster and realized he must be there for me.
I took another deep breath and finished walking down my steps.
There was no way to avoid the 197-year-old man that I could now see was also handing out bright red fliers. He was standing in the middle of the sidewalk that leads to my coffeeshop. And while part of me realized in his own perverted way he was just trying to save my soul, and I have a general rule about being nice to people that are trying to save my soul -- there are a couple of women that typically stand on the other corner handing out WatchTowers and other reading material, and I always smile at them and say “no thank you” when they try to pass something to me. But those ladies, and occasionally a gentleman, never make me look at a discarded fetus before I have had my coffee and so I decided all bets were off as I set my jaw and narrowed my eyes (though, I was wearing sunglasses so I doubt he picked up on my menacing gaze).
As I approached I could see he was also passing out rosaries. He reached out to hand me a flier and a rosary and I looked him in the face, with my jaw set and said no. I didn’t spit on him or kick his cane out from under him, nor did launch into a tirade as to what business it was of a 197-year old man if a woman chose to terminate her unwanted pregnancy.
Instead, with my one word and hard look I let him know that I respected his right to free speech and peacefully assemble. Just as he should respect my right to choose. Neither of us has to like it, but we should respect it. And I’m pretty sure he got the message because by the time I came back, not a half hour later, he was gone.
That or the congressman’s office called the cops and had him removed.