A video posted on the Huntsville, Alabama, subreddit last night shows a man (identified by the poster as former Athens mayoral candidate J. Bradley Horner) thundering at his tiny, bewildered-looking daughter about how pro-choice advocates believe in “killing babies.”
Here’s a transcript:
Man: This woman right here? Believes in killing babies. That man believes in killing babies. That woman over there, that woman over there, that woman right there, that woman right there, believes in killing babies. That is against the law of God.
Woman: That’s not true, sweetheart.
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Man: It is against the law of man, of “Thou shalt not kill.” When a man—when a husband and wife come together—life begins at conception. You ask me why these people are holding signs? I’m gonna teach you. They want to kill babies. They think it’s acceptable for that. And I’m telling you as your father, that’s wrong. OK? And I love you. I would never do anything to [inaudible]. OK? I want you to look at these people. I want you to look at them. And I want you to accept that that is a sin. OK? Can you do that with me? OK.
Woman: What a sicko. How could you do that to a child.
Woman: He is one sick son of a bitch. He is one sick ticket, y’all.
The reddit poster also claimed that Horner blocked the clinic driveway with his truck, called the police four times because “the babykillers are on the public sidewalk,” and brought his two children out inadequately dressed for a day with a 35-degree windchill.
The video shows paternalism at its best, so to speak. Invoking his benevolent authority as a father, the man huddles with his children as if in a bunker to prepare them for a lifelong war. “That woman over there” is the enemy, whose personhood is entirely separate from, and inferior to, that of any pregnancy she may have. “That woman over there” is advocating sin (which the toddler probably doesn’t understand the meaning of yet) because life begins at conception (definitely doesn’t get that one) and wants to kill babies (this much she might begin to grasp).
It’s a reminder of how infantile the anti-choice rhetoric can be. If there were a Right to Life Style Guide, it would say, “Whether referring to infants, fetuses, or embryos, always use the term ‘precious little babies.’” Fetus dolls turn playtime into something more sinister. Sex is a scary abstraction, worthy of punishment much worse than a time-out.
Any clinic escort will tell you that anti-choice protesters routinely use their children as props, and there is an element of street theatre here too—the loud voice, the rhetoric that is probably designed to shame the pro-choicers as much as to “educate” the children.
But that education, make no mistake, is a lesson in fear and revulsion. If the little girl is scared because Daddy is yelling and she doesn’t fully understand why, so much the better. Let that add to the visceral discomfort she is supposed to feel when she encounters these kinds of people with these kinds of signs. Let that widen the gulf of understanding between the opposing factions. And let that add to the climate of righteous hatred that can lead to things like the recent vandalism of a clinic in Montana, or to the murder of Dr. George Tiller.