Go Back   WritersBeat.com > Write Here > Non-Fiction

Non-Fiction Journals, biographies, memoirs, etc.

Free Speech Vs. Public Safety

Thread Tools
Old 05-06-2014, 07:32 PM
littlemel (Offline)
Intellectually Fertile
Official Member
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Manchester, NH
Posts: 172
Thanks: 7
Thanks 11
Default Free Speech Vs. Public Safety

This was an article I wrote about the pending buffer zone bill in NH (where I currently live)

The New Hampshire House is poised to vote on SB 319, the bill that would put a 25 foot buffer zone between Planned Parenthood facilities and anti-choice protesters. The bill is expected to become law, but may face challenges when the Supreme Court rules on a similar law in MA. Currently MA is one of three states with Buffer Zone Legislation. Many people are upset because they feel it infringes upon people's right to free speech and peaceful protest (per the first amendment). Let's take a look at what the first amendment says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

Note the word, "peaceably." Just how peaceful are the people who protest outside of Planned Parenthood? Google, "Planned Parenthood Harassment" or something along those lines, and you will most likely find stories from all over the U.S. of people who feel scared when going to a Planned Parenthood location. A lot of Planned Parenthood facilities have escorts, people who will meet the patient outside and bring them through protesters and into the building. I ask, if these protesters are so peaceful then why the need for escorts? According to the Planned Parenthood in Manchester, NH more than 60 patient complaints have been logged since the beginning of last year. Not only that, but patients at all five NH locations are becoming increasingly scared and intimidated.

One opponent of the bill stated, "There have been no arrests in Manchester in the more than 10 years that abortion clinic's been open. Doesn't sound like a problem to me." So, if there are women who do not report rape out of fear of not being believed, does this mean rape isn't a problem? If a child does not tell a teacher they are being bullied because they are scared the bully will retaliate, does this mean bullying isn't a problem? Maybe look into exactly why the harassment isn't being reported to the police? Maybe patients are scared they won't be taken seriously. Maybe they feel they have no case because a buffer zone does not exist.

Look to the internet and you will find stories of people being intimidated, harassed, and even obstructed from going into a Planned Parenthood facility. Many protesters make the assumption that a patient is there for an abortion. Someone going in for a check up or a re-fill on birth control is often treated like a monster. A couple of weeks ago this author went to Planned Parenthood in Manchester and protesters outside asked if I, "needed help" or "needed a pregnancy test." First of all, if I'm at Planned Parenthood then I can get a pregnancy test there (if I needed one, which I didn't). Second, why am I going to take a pregnancy test or "help" from some random person standing on the street?

Another opponent of the bill stated, "I do not agree that the government may regulate the time, place and manner of free speech." I am confused as to where it says the government is regulating the time and manner of free speech. In fact, let's take a look at some excerpts from the bill.

1 Statement of Findings and Purposes.
I. The New Hampshire general court hereby finds as follows:
(a) Access to reproductive health care facilities is important for residents and visitors to the state of New Hampshire and is a right that must be protected.
(b) The exercise of a personís right to protest or counsel against certain medical procedures is a First Amendment activity that must be protected.

Hmm, interesting. So the bill is stating that people's first amendment rights must be protected, but you know what else must be protected? A woman's reproductive rights!

(e) Recent demonstrations outside of reproductive health care facilities have resulted in the fear and intimidation of patients and employees of these facilities.

(f) Recent demonstrations outside of reproductive health care facilities have caused patients and employees of these facilities to believe that their safety and right to privacy are threatened.

Still think it's "not a problem"? Planned Parenthood patients may not report things out of the very same fear and intimidation, or maybe they feel like no one will do anything.

III. The general court finds that establishing a limited buffer zone outside of some reproductive health care facilities located in the state of New Hampshire is necessary to ensure that patients and employees of reproductive health care facilities have unimpeded access to reproductive health care services while accommodating the First Amendment rights of people to communicate their message to their intended audience without undue burdens or restrictions.

No one is trying to take away anyone's first amendment rights away. In fact NH Senator Donna Soucey stated, "This law will not put a limit on what (protesters) can say or how they can pray." The fact that people are making this argument is ridiculous. However, "freedom of speech" does not mean freedom from consequence, and "peaceful protest" does not mean intimidating someone who is merely getting a refill on birth control pills.

Consider this. If you were walking into a store to buy some Tylenol and there was someone standing in the door way, stopping you from going in, asking if you have a Tylenol addiction. Would you think, "oh it's okay, they are just exercising their first amendment rights!" Probably not. According to Laura Thibault, executive director of Pro-Choice New Hampshire, "Women attempting to access services at New Hampshire clinics have been victims of verbal assault, physical obstruction, death threats, anthrax scares and arson." Remember, just because something is not reported to the police, it does not make it less real. Also keep in mind that Planned Parenthood is not the only reproductive health facility, and Manchester is not the only town in NH that has them.

Buffer zones are not a new thing. Polling locations have buffer zone laws to protect those going into vote. I have not heard people making a stink about "free speech infringement" in those cases. In fact, people still stand outside polling locations on election day. They are just not allowed to be all up in people's faces. Finally, the US Supreme court even has restrictions on protesting around its plaza. So why, then, is it such a big deal when it comes to places like Planned Parenthood?

This isn't about "free speech". Free speech does not make it okay to harass someone.

Little Mel

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2014, 11:51 AM
bkocarek (Offline)
Official Member
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Czech Republic
Posts: 73
Thanks: 4
Thanks 10

Too much freedom of speech ends anarchy.
Restrictions on freedom brings, end freedom, dictatorship.
Sustainable balance between being not there.
Always someone enforce "laws" that restrict other.
In Holland is right to vote. Absurdum. Who does not exercise his right to vote, he is punished.
Prefer to solve just what I can control.
Reply With Quote
Old 06-12-2014, 12:57 PM
rockman (Offline)
Official Member
Join Date: May 2014
Location: north of south, or vice versa
Posts: 438
Thanks: 36
Thanks 87

I think the buffer zone is appropriate, given the fact that protesters have too often been anything but "peaceful" in their assembly (i'm surprised they'll be allowed within 25 feet).

unfortunately, this "buffer zone" probably won't stop the hard-core whackos intent on doing real damage (bombing, killing, etc.), but it at least will allow better access.

on a personal note:
I may not be entirely comfortable with abortion, but in a free society, for these sort of issues with no clear "moral consensus" across the board, the state's default position has to be non-restrictive and geared toward freedom of choice, as opposed to being dictated by religious belief.
Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2014, 11:15 AM
JustcallmeEd (Offline)
Official Member
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Humboldt Co., California
Posts: 4,796
Thanks: 370
Thanks 697

I'm pretty much of the same mind. If these people consider what they are doing 'free speech', would they consider it appropriate for say, Shelly to get a bunch of people in Georgia to stand around outside of people's houses and scream at them about the Trail of Tears and the treatment of Cherokees?

Should people who work in the tobacco industry be confronted at their workplace by crowds of people holding up poster-size pictures of diseased lungs, calling them murderers?

Should no one be able to go to an amusement park without being confronted by glossy photos of the bodies of people who have died on the rides over the years? People offering to give them a 'safe, morally acceptable' thrill by blindfolding them and swinging them around in circles by their ankles, out in the parking lot?

I think twenty-five feet is much to close. Bear mace is a 2% capsaicin spray that will reach thirty feet and flip a person straight over backwards, clawing at their eyes. That's what I'd use.
Reply With Quote
Old 07-03-2014, 11:28 AM
fixhealthcare (Offline)
Let me introduce myself
New Author
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 3
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default Free Speech

I agree.
Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2014, 07:31 PM
angryengineer (Offline)
Let me introduce myself
New Author
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 2
Thanks: 0
Thanks 0
Default Wow, strait from the talking points

I agree with the author that we should have these "buffer zones" but I would also have them at all churches, funerals, G8 Summits, etc... I, however, disagree that the individuals in New Hampshire attempting to exercise their "A woman's reproductive rights!" are in any real danger. Unless the writer is actually afraid that the person offering "needed a pregnancy test" was going to pull out an AR15 and start unloading the clip at her. Granted we have had incidences across the country in the past at abortion clinics but considering the millions of abortions that have been conducted in this country I think the number of deaths attributed to the Pro-Life crowd are much lower than the number of children that will never experience the breath of life because of the Anti-Life crowd. Not that pointing to one wrong justifies another.

The author quoted our Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". Please do point to the one that ensures the "A woman's reproductive rights!". I don't argue that a woman has the choice to abort a child, the law is clear, but I do argue that the unborn child should have equal rights since we are making up imaginary entitlements. I also take unbrage at the lefts habit of labeling every ideologically driven pet project a "right".

I would argue that we have seen a much greater tendency to property and human destruction in the last 50 years from groups like the SEIU, Occupy Wall Street, and others than we have from the little grey haired old ladies protesting outside of the Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire. Just the idea that the author felt fear brought forth a gut busting laugh from me. I would argue that Planned Parenthood has had a far greater detrimental effect on our communities than ,ever did, any Right Wing protester. Just read a few of the comments written by the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, if you want to see some really evil twisted stuff.

Later in the article I see the author compares going to the abortion clinic to a trip to the local CVS for a bottle of Tylenol, this comparison is asinine at best. For the author to equate the heart rending choice to abort ones child to taking a trip for Tylenol is sickening. 10 years and no arrests is a pretty good track record. I would ask the author, do you believe everything you read on the internet? I could open another window and in less than 5 minutes write an entire Wikipedia article on littlemel all about the terrible things he/she has done and not a word of it would be true to my knowledge. I think the authors bias is driving his/her attitude towards the law rather than a rational fact based observation of reality. Keep in mind that I agree with the "buffer zone" the author refers to, just not the reasoning that brings him/her to the table.

Last edited by angryengineer; 07-11-2014 at 07:38 PM..
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2015, 09:07 AM
SailorMystery15's Avatar
SailorMystery15 (Offline)
Pencil pusher
Official Member
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 24
Thanks: 1
Thanks 4

I can clearly see the purpose of this work. You have done well.
What's life without mysteries?
Reply With Quote
Old 01-06-2015, 11:12 AM
Mike C's Avatar
Mike C (Offline)
Official Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 9,117
Thanks: 99
Thanks 1,572
Send a message via MSN to Mike C

Originally Posted by bkocarek View Post
Too much freedom of speech ends anarchy.
Only if exercised by very persuasive anarchists.
لا شيء يدوم‎
Reply With Quote

  WritersBeat.com > Write Here > Non-Fiction

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Creep World (WIP) MalReynolds Fiction 21 09-07-2017 06:06 AM
Free : The Last Human (Vampires Rule # 1) FutureFootball Classifieds 3 12-14-2014 06:18 AM
The News Thread Crump Writers' Cafe 255 10-23-2013 01:59 AM
Public Breast Feeding starrwriter Writers' Cafe 16 09-19-2006 07:55 PM
Staying free in the land of the free JackStraw Lyrics 1 04-20-2006 03:19 PM

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:59 PM.

vBulletin, Copyright © 2000-2006, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.