Abortion providers, pro-choice activists, and pretty much anyone associated with them have been relentlessly targeted by anti-choice protesters. They've been subject to everything from garden variety stalking, to violence, and, in some cases, murder. Yet, it's far more rare that the tables are turned and anti-choice activists find themselves the target of harassment campaigns or violence. But Keith Mason, head of the burgeoning "Personhood" movement, is now alleging he and his family were violently attacked by someone who opposes their highly controversial cause. Is this the beginning of all-out war or could it lead us down a slightly less hateful road?
Mason (pictured above) is the charismatic leader behind the organization Personhood USA, which—in case you haven't spent the past year or so getting enraged about it—is seeking to declare that life begins the minute that sperm meets egg. If this were to happen, abortion would be totally out since killing a person is illegal, but it could also be a crime to use some forms of birth control, IVF would become hugely problematic, and even miscarriages could be criminal in some cases. Despite the extremeness of this position, Mason, with the help of his wife Lisa, has launched a movement that's managed to get this idea on the ballot in a growing number of states. This incident targeting Mason appears to have been precipitated by a Newsweek profile of him which ran last week and has caused a bit of an uproar as more and more people get clued in to what personhood laws could actually mean.
Mason told the Daily Beast that he was at home in Colorado last Wednesday at about 1:30 in the morning when it all began: "I was in the basement, catching a movie and having a beer, to just chill. I heard a loud noise and thought one of our kids had fallen down the stairs." He went upstairs and "ran through a bunch of glass" and "saw red." Apparently, someone had thrown a boulder through the glass in his front door, which explains the glass. He also says whoever it was "yanked down" security lights that had been on the house. As for the red, Mason says:
I didn't know if it was blood on the glass or what. It turned out to be spray paint. There was red paint all over the side of our house. They spray-painted coat-hangers all over my sidewalk and door. We called 911. The police were there within three minutes.
As for those police, they've confirmed there was an attack and said they're looking for suspects. The Masons, who have three kids and one on the way, are taking the threat to heart. He says he's moved his family to an "undisclosed location" and, amazingly, they do not plan to go back to their home. His kids are "pretty traumatized," but Mason seems to be taking this whole thing with an odd mix of seriousness and levity. He cracked a joke that he didn't expect that his movement would inspire people to "redecorate his home," but then he also said, "There was a tricycle in our front yard. I just don't get that. I'm told there's some really bad cats out there."
As scary as this incident sounds, that "there's some really bad cats" remark is more than a little disingenuous coming from Mason, who is intimately familiar with the anti-choice protest movement and their notorious badgering tactics and sometimes their outright violence. Of course, it's clearly inexcusable to throw a giant rock through anyone's door, even if you completely disagree with their cause and worry their actions will impinge on your rights. And, assuming this business was perpetrated by a pro-choice activist of some kind, it's a short-sighted—not to mention illegal—way to act and it does nothing to further the cause. It's only gaining sympathy for Mason's agenda and making the entire fight even nastier.
It remains to be seen whether this is only the beginning of an escalating two-sided war—as opposed to the more one-sided anti-choice protest scene we deal with now. Though if there's any bigger lesson to be learned here, it is that violence and harassment is the terrible thing to be on the receiving end of no matter which side you're on. It would be nice if this incident could cause BOTH sides of this debate to look at their tactics and really think about how little good it does to terrorize people you disagree with.