Pro-life protests and a Chilean smoke

On March 28, 2010, this blog was born. Originally I created it so people in the states could keep tabs on me when I was far from home. And I was a long way from home. See, Belfor had sent me to Santiago de Chile. And I needed the escape. At that time, I was finding all my comfort in a bottle, smoking light a freight train, and spending time with any girl who looked my way. Heartache and devastation had taken a toll. So when the chance to run 8000 miles away came up, I jumped on it.

A lot has changed in the over the course of 341 posts. Belfor and life on the road is a memory as I have found a home at The Mammoth. Alcohol has been replaced by lemonade and water. The revolving door of women are out, replaced by my Little Red. And I put the cigarettes down for good 15 months ago. . However, it was my former 2 pack a day habit and a little gas station about a mile from the middle of nowhere in Chile that are the inspiration for tonight's post.

On one of my first mornings there, my boss and I got lost. And by lost, I mean we found somewhere in the Andes Mountains on what can only be described as a trail through a tobacco farm. See, in Downtown Santiago, it seems like every road is one way away from where ever it is you are trying to get to. But if you make a wrong turn, you wind up out of town. Way out of town.

At some point, when we thought we were never going to see civilization again, I began to lose my cool. A little. And I was out of smokes (I had gotten a carton at the Duty Free shop for 12 bucks, but the boss had helped me get through those rather quickly). When we finally found a small gas station and saw the Lucky Strike sign, we pulled in. We asked for a couple packs, and the clerk handed us the small boxes of nicotinee goodness.

I started to open mine, and noticed a very disturbing image on the outside of the pack. There, imprinted by the health warning for all to see, was a baby on a respirator. My stomach turned. I showed Matt, who was equally appalled. "I guess that is a good deterrent" I said as I lit up my square.

For the rest of my time there, every time I went to feed my habit, I saw the picture you see below. It was on every pack. A constant reminder of how much damage these little cancer sticks were causing. Did I quit? Not then. But looking back now, as much as I cannot stand to be around cigarette smoke today, I still think that was a little harsh.

There is a reason I thought of that picture today. This morning I, along with hundreds of other parents whose kids attend Gahanna Lincoln High School, got a recorded message. We were informed that pro-life demonstrators would be on the sidewalk in front of the school as the students were being dismissed for the day. Even worse, they would be very close to where the buses and cars are leaving the lot. And, there would be signs with very graphic images on them, way worse than that baby on the respirator. Along with many others, I had a lot of concern about this.

Now let me make this clear. My views on abortion are irrelevant to this post, and had nothing to do with my objections today. I am not a woman so, quite frankly, I do not know that I have the right to say anything on the subject. But I get that its a hot button topic. I have seen that truck with that heart breaking picture of the dead fetus cruising around town. And I get that there are passionate and, at times, fanatical people on both sides of the issue. Good for them. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

My question is why there, at that time?

That place at 2:50pm is CHAOS. 2400 kids all trying to leave the same place at the same time. Some on buses. Some walking. And, God help us all, some driving themselves. It is a wonder of nature that these kids miss each other driving out of the lot on a day int day out basis. Now lets add in some pictures of aborted fetuses to the mix. Think that is a distraction? I wonder how Dom Tiberi would feel about that (his Maria's Message is a tragic story with an awe inspiring moral). I am betting he would not be such a fan. Nor am I.

But they should never have been there in the first place. While I am a strong advocate of the first amendment, I also believe in the greater good. And common sense. So when that group applied for the permit to stage that protest at that time, the city should have denied that request. I am sure I will hear arguments about the freedom of speech and assembly. But I ask you, would it be the same deal if it was Westboro Baptist? Or even the KKK? How about if it was your kid seeing the graphic images they had on their signs?

Now before you get your panties in a wad, I am not comparing pro-lifers to klansmen. Actually, the protest was very peaceful, and the police outnumbered the picketers. But still, in principle, how did someone at City Hall think this was ok? I mean, for goodness sakes, I am not even allowed to send peanut butter and jelly to school with my kids. But we can have a pro-life rally on the sidewalk during the busiest time of the day? Anyone else think that there is something wrong with that?

Or is it just that those dozen or so new cruisers need paid for?

As I wrote this blog tonight, I thought about how lucky we all are that our freedom of speech and expression and assembly is guaranteed in this country. How lucky I am to be able to share my thoughts without fear of persecution or prosecution. I just wish that their freedom did not put such an imposition of good old common sense.

Just for the record, I still believe Gahanna, Ohio is the best little big city in the world. And I would not want to raise my kids anywhere else, protests or not.

Day #561. It has been a long 4 and a half years. Thanks for reading. Looking forward to the next 341 posts. It is good to be me!


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