Well, some angry pro-choicers did the unthinkable: They took out their anger at the Roe v. Wade decision on the exterior of the Vermont Statehouse. They broke some windows and spray-painted “IF ABORTIONS AREN’T SAFE YOURE NOT EITHER” on the concrete outside the front entrance. One of the broken windows was in the office of Lt. Gov Molly Gray, who issued the following statement:
“I am alarmed by these attacks on our State House — my workplace — and condemn them in the strongest possible terms. Vermonters are feeling deep anger and frustration in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling. I share this frustration. However, threats of violence and destruction of property are absolutely unacceptable and never the solution.”
And her campaign wonders why she’s considered the moderate, establishment candidate in the race. Her statement betrays an institutionalist point of view that prioritizes the sanctity of a building over the rights of women.
I’m sorry, but there does come a time when “threats of violence and destruction of property” are, if not exactly appropriate, perfectly understandable. One of our highest institutions just forcibly turned the calendar back by a half-century in a way that made “A Handmaid’s Tale” seem like a prophecy. It’s not surprising, then, if some people strike out against the nearest symbol of institutional America. In this case, the Statehouse.
Just spitballin’, but if Gray had asked me (and why would she?), I would have suggested a statement like this:
I share the widespread anger over the outrageous Supreme Court decision. This betrayal leaves women wondering if anyone speaks for them in the corridors of power — including my own party, which complacently believed that the rights granted in Roe v. Wade were secure. The damage to the Statehouse is unfortunate, but it pales in comparison to the damage done to American women by the Supreme Court.
I intend to channel my anger into productive action. We must restore reproductive rights and be diligent about protecting them. What we have done in the past simply isn’t enough.
Yeah, something like that.
I’m sure that Gray won’t be the only officeholder to slam the minor-league vandalism. Denizens of the Statehouse are extremely protective of their pile of bricks and mortar, believing it to be a sanctified cathedral of democracy or some such. I remember there was a great deal of pearl-clutching over the band of protesters who — horror of horrors — briefly interrupted a State of the State address by Peter Shumlin in the House chamber.
I’m sorry, but the Statehouse is just a place. It is not imbued with the very spirit of democracy. What matters is what is done inside the Statehouse by the people who work there.
I’ll close with a couple of quotations that, unlike Lt. Gov. Gray’s statement, have stood the test of time. Replying to her assertion that “threats of violence and destruction of property are… never the solution” I posit Thomas Jefferson’s “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.’
Never the solution? Should the Americans have quietly paid the tea tax and limited themselves to writing stern letters and assembling peacefully?
Quote number two, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: “Well behaved women seldom make history.”
Now is not the time to be well behaved.