Last Thursday at the Rhode Island Statehouse, the Occupy Providence folks joined by the “professionals” from Occupy Wall Street finally clarified their muddled message a bit while shutting down the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee’s annual rally in the rotunda. Apparently greed is bad; abortion is good. Abortion is so good, even though it already ends 23% of pregnancies in Rhode Island, there needs to be more of them, and indeed killing our unborn children should be an entitlement paid for with public tax dollars, breaching both tradition and the law in Rhode Island.
The governor, Lincoln Chaffee, recently issued an executive order to create the health benefit exchanges mandated by Obamacare. When the state senate refused to pass the exchanges allowing abortion funding, the good governor took it upon himself to design them with the mandated payments for abortion. This executive order is being challenged in the courts. The Occupiers, like the governor, prefer administrative fiat and publically funded abortions, seizing by edict that which must be the legislature’s prerogative. This strategy of executive strong-arming is exactly what President Obama explicitly has promised us should he be reelected. The legislature be damned.
To reinforce their message, the Occupiers engaged in brown shirt thuggery and exercised their First Amendment rights by booing down the free speech of those who would exercise theirs. Palpable anger, whistles, bumping, bullying grandmothers and children, fist pumping and pelting the high school girls of LaSalle Academy with condoms were taken, it seems, from the playbook of dilettante revolutionaries. The well planned, orchestrated and slowly intensifying commotion started with signs and escalated with incremental crowding of the podium and intimidation of especially young pro life speakers to the point of making further speeches or prayers impossible.
They hooted down Barth Bracy, Executive Director of RIRTL, when he was telling them they weren’t part of the 99%, but a remnant of the survivors in the 77% of their demographic who dodged the abortionist. Father Bernard Healey, who represented the Diocese of Providence, was prevented from leading the closing prayer. The diocese actually implemented the homeless shelter that the Occupiers have been demanding ineffectually for months from the City of Providence. Father Healey, an affable, intelligent man with a ready sense of humor, would have liked to pray for the mothers, the babies and the Occupy Providence mob, but was prevented from doing so.
These “revolutionaries” will eventually take showers (one would hope – those nearest them at the rally told us that personal hygiene was not their strong suit) and go back to their classrooms at Brown to check on their trust funds, but in the meanwhile they played winter camping out in tents in Burnside Park and disrupted the orderly gatherings of those with whom they disagree. Perhaps the Brown University Swearer Center for Public Service would consider setting up a homeless center themselves with the dorm capacity vacated by the Occupiers. However, I suspect the Brown public service community is more comfortable with the theoretical when it comes to helping the homeless; the messy details are best left to other than the chardonnay crowd.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras should follow the lead of the more courageous leadership in New York and Boston. The time is past due for the Providence police to don their Tyvek hazardous material suits and filtered masks, clean out the tents and disinfect the area for use by the 99% of Providence residents and taxpayers who used to enjoy the park.
Freedom of speech is not a sometimes thing, available only to the loud and noxious. The vast majority of Americans greatly value the right of peaceable assembly to express to their lawmakers their most heartfelt views on critical issues. Pity the few who don’t so value the First Amendment and overrun that right for the rest of us with adolescent tantrums.
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. Frederick Douglass