The last 48 hours have been nothing short of mind-blowing.
I posted a recap of Alexandra’s story on the Good Men Project site on Saturday. By Monday morning, it exploded all over the Internet. It landed on Salon, Jezebel, BoingBoing, Rachel Maddow’s blog and Slate to name a few. The You Tube video of my confrontation with the protesters is currently around 370,000 hits. And my amazement and incredulity at how many people have taken an interest in our story is clear off the charts.
First of all, in perusing all the chatter about our story I’ve noticed a few people making misstatements and others have had questions. So here goes:
- This video is not made up. Our lost baby was not made up. The pain we felt from losing a child is not made up. All of it is real. Very, very real. Anyone who would fake this kind of thing is the lowest form of life, and I’m certainly not in that category.
- I am not just doing this for the money. In fact, I’m not making ANY money off of this. Look around this site. Do you see any advertising? No. Sure my blog is getting more hits but that doesn’t translate into dollars for me. I’m set to make a few media appearances in the next couple of days, and none of them are paid. I’m just happy our story has jump-started the discussion.
- The protesters. There is a 35-foot buffer zone in Massachusetts by law, and these protesters were obeying it at the time. So while we didn’t have to pass right next to them, they were across the street shouting things at us. So while I never felt physically threatened by any of them, it was their incredibly cruel words I was protesting. And yes, even though I didn’t get it on tape, they absolutely shouted things at us at we entered the clinic.
Now, having addressed these issues from the haters out there, I want to take this opportunity to thank the overwhelming majority of you who embraced me and enveloped me with so much unmitigated love and support it made my head spin. The thousands of e-mails, comments and tweets you’ve left me have restored my faith in, well, everything.
From the 20-year-old college student who had to navigate protesters by herself last week to the woman who is now a grandmother but still recalls the horror of having to deal with anti-choice zealots decades ago, your stories were intensely personal. And the fact that you shared them with me means more than you’ll ever know.
But I have to admit, it’s all made me pretty uncomfortable.
MJ wants to kill me because I cannot take a compliment and I certainly won’t admit I’ve done anything extraordinary. So when people started using the word “hero” to describe me I freaked out a little. Soldiers are heroes. Teachers are heroes. Firefighters, police officers and doctors are heroes. Me? I’m an overweight knucklehead who could barely operate the camera on his cell phone after getting pissed off at a couple of ignorant old ladies for yelling at his wife.
And honestly, I didn’t really have a benevolent agenda. I wasn’t thinking about the greater good when I shot that video. I was being selfish, because it felt good to fight back against ignorance and shame the people who tried to shame my wife on the worst day of her life. My two goals were 1) Showcase their stupidity and 2) Not get arrested. I can say with 100% certainty that “Make a passionate but nonviolent argument in favor of women’s reproductive rights and basic human decency that will be viewed by nearly half a million people on You Tube” was not in my brain.
But my wife — who is much smarter than I will ever be — told me that whether it was inadvertent or not, I had done something worthwhile. Something unique. Something most people don’t talk about. And she told me it would resonate with people, especially those who have been negatively affected by similar protesters in similar situations.
I still maintain I’ve done nothing special. But I hope, at the very least, I’ve started a discussion. I hope a few people think about standing up to these people in nonviolent ways. I hope a few of the protesters conceivably take a look at what they’re doing and at least tone down the rhetoric. And while I understand the minds of ultra-religious fanatics are so set in their respective dogmas that they might not ever change, I hope people realize that doesn’t preclude the rest of us from fighting back and speaking up.
But while so many of you have thanked me for doing good, I am the one who should be doling out the thank yous.
Thank you. Thank all of you. I’m just a putz of a newspaper reporter who will never be famous. Tomorrow there will be some other viral video burning up the Internet and I’ll be an afterthought. And I’m OK with that. I’m not in this for fame and I gave up on fortune a long time ago.
But some things will remain permanent for all time.
I will keep all of your e-mails. All of your messages. All of your personal stories. It’s the most amazing feeling to open yourself up and leave yourself vulnerable to the world, and then have the world reach right back to you with open arms. There is nothing that can be done to erase the pain of what we went through losing Alex in July, but your words and gestures took as much of the sting away as possible. And for that I will be eternally grateful.
I have no idea where things will go from here, but I hope as many of you as possible stick around. Thank you all.