Otherwise, if this is your home.
I speak from experience. For 46 years, I made a living by expressing my opinion. And opinion – at least when it comes to the substance – is by definition divisive. That’s why social etiquette requires you not to talk about politics or religion with strangers at a cocktail party.
Over the years, I have sent thousands of angry calls and letters. I was summoned to mass meetings, received excrement by mail. It goes along with the territory.
But if this is your home, everything is different.
Otherwise, if your son picks up the phone and there’s a racist idiot at the other end. Otherwise, if in the dark before dawn the police appear in your house. It is another matter to explain to neighbors why fire engines are killing the street and people in security suits are coming in the door. However, even differently, if it is an ordinary letter with criticism, but does not come to the work address, and in the mailbox in front of the house.
Because if your public life comes uninvited to your private home, it poses an implicit and insidious threat that transcends the immediate content. This threat says we can reach you, even here, in this place where you are going to retreat from the world, even here where you thought you were safe.
I share this so that you understand how and why it resonated with me last week when protesters began to descend on the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices who, according to a leaked draft opinion, voted to eliminate Rowe against Wade. This reaffirmed in me the belief I had held for many years: that protests in people’s homes – not counting homes that are also places of government, like the governor’s mansion or the White House – should be limited.
Especially when we talk about the judiciary. Any democracy in which judges make decisions under threat is unworthy of that name. So would I like there to be no protests last week? Yes.
But you know what I want even more? I wish people didn’t feel so desperate to go to such an extreme. I wish they thought they had other options. I would like this court not to be insane and functionally illegal because of the underground and politically tainted means of its assembly, and I would like it not to be ready to catapult this country 50 years ago.
I wish Mitch McConnell wasn’t a respectable liar, and Susan Collins was more trusting than Charlie Brown. I would like the national ban on abortion not to be real. I would like legal experts not to warn that the “reasoning” that Rowe is likely to be overturned also opens the door to overturning previous decisions that sanctioned interracial and same-sex marriages.
And I wish we had a few more discussions about implicit threats when people pushed and harassed vulnerable women outside of abortion. I would like them to be with us when dozens of explosions, shootings, beatings and arson were committed by members of the forced birth movement, who had the courage – with the participation of the media – to mistakenly call themselves “for life.”
But last week’s protests have little consolation. At least the affected lawyers from now on will have one thing in common with women seeking abortion: now they both know what an invasion of their privacy is.
Yes, it’s different if it’s your home.
But I bet it’s also not a picnic if it’s your uterus.
Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91 Avenue, Doral, Fla. 33172. Readers can email him at [email protected] His opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News or its owner, AIM Media.