a bird and a bottle

Violence Against Abortion Clinics Up; Media Attention Still Nonexistent
April 27, 2007, 9:40 am
Filed under: civil rights, education, media, news, politics, reproductive justice, wingnuttery

Via WIMN’s Voices:

Yesterday, an explosive device was found at an Austin, TX women’s health clinic. A clinic that performs abortions, of course. The place was shut down, people evacuated, and even a portion of the highway roped off.

Oh, didn’t hear about it? Yeah, didn’t think so.

There’s a reason for that — the nonexistent (or trifling) media coverage of violence against women, particularly when such violence brushes up against politically touchy subjects like abortion.

With the exception of this short AP article (mainstream national media did cover the spree of abortion provider shootings in Buffalo, NY and bombings around the country in the 1990s. But that was ten years ago. One would particularly expect the news antennae to go up over this violence and attempted violence today, with the fear level ratcheted up and the 24-hr coverage of terrorism, war, and anything else violent or salacious.

So why is it that stories about violence against women and women’s health is being ignored? Is it the politics? Or just a sense that because we don’t make a big deal out of it, the news machine doesn’t have to?

WIMN’s Keely Savoie suggests that the lack of news media attention is harming all feminist causes, and making feminists who do make a stink seem like chicken littles (or worse, like the stereotypical shrill women’s libber). Zuzu posits that there’s a real, actual, danger in the MSM non-reaction to such violence, and that it was also reflected in the lack of action after the first shooting at Virginia.

I’m not sure that I buy these theories. But I am disturbed by the lack of national concern about such violence.


10 Comments so far
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Another reason why I’m glad that I’m neither living in america or even american – don’t get me wrong I’m not anti-american.

But we hear so often that america is the land of the free, truth, justice, the american way, yada yada yada … however all we ever seem to hear about over here (Scotland) is shooting this, bombing that, violence against people going about their day-to-day lives. Religion seems to be such a divisive issue and it seems to get taken to the lunatic fringe as often as it does in countries that america’s political ‘elite’ label as ‘evil’ … we’re not perfect here, we have bigotry and violence (largely centred around football, that’s soccer to you 😉 ) but it doesn’t seem to get taken to the same extreme’s.

It just makes me wonder, and a little bit sad too 😦

Comment by Alasdair

I think you’re right to point out the rift between our rhetoric of freedom, truth, justice — and above all, openness and acceptance — and the actions of so many people. I think what’s so interesting about the lack of coverage here is that the 24hr media seems to love the guys (and women) on the lunatic fringe, because they make for great salacious fear mongering. But for some reason not in this situation…

Comment by bean

The “rhetoric of freedom, truth, justice” is only one part of a two-sided coin. The other side is the “rule of law,” something all too many people put conveniently aside. To phrase it another way, “freedom” and “responsibility” are two sides of the same coin; one cannot have freedom without responsibility; conversely, if one act in an irresponsible manner, freedoms will be lost. But in this country, there are some people who hear selectively (only what they want to), and behave accordingly. And then, of course, there are the extremists and zealots who hear not at all.

Some years ago in Florida, a man was executed for committing two murders at an abortion clinic. His last words just before his execution — he said he would do it again without hesitation.

Comment by Swampcracker

So why is it that stories about violence against women and women’s health is being ignored?

I don’t think they’re being ignored because they’re against women. Most victims of anti-abortion terrorism are abortion doctors, who tend to be male.

My guess is that it’s about stereotypes. The stereotypical act of terrorism is committed by an affiliate of Al-Qaida or another organization motivated by anti-Americanism. Hence only terrorist attacks committed by anti-American organizations get covered. It might explain why there was more coverage of anti-abortion terrorism in the 1990s, when the stereotypical terrorist in the US was a right-wing militia nut.

Comment by Alon Levy

[…] ‘life teachings’ espoused by most good upstanding christian folks (as opposed to the lunatic zealot ones – who ‘like’ to kill […]

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Violence against women will never be helped until our status is truly one of importance in the world. You get more jail time for possession of pot than beating your wife.

Comment by goldenferi

The Lysistrata solution would get media attention.

Comment by Swampcracker

You no longer need to be concerned abut the lack of media attention. The story hit prime time news this evening – CNN.

Comment by Swampcracker

I had an abortion at the Austin clinic in question. While I was at the clinic I asked if they frequently experienced problems with protesters, vandalism or violence. The clinic staff responded that they were rarely bothered and attributed this to Austin’s liberal attitudes (as compared to the rest of Texas). I was disappointed to learn about this turn of events.

Comment by Anonymous

Amanda at Pandagon has a great post up about abortion in Austin (where she lives). She writes that because Austin is a bastion of liberalism, it’s easy to forget about its wingnut fringe…seems that may be who you faced that day.

Comment by bean

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