Remember mid-summer, when the reports circulated during the two very expensive special sessions of the Texas legislature called pretty much just to force through anti-abortion legislation? Remember the sight of law enforcement confiscating feminine hygiene products which brought a heady mix of laughter at the expense of the LEOs and scorn for fear of tampons and other sanitary products?
There was a serious side to that, which had everything to do with what received media attention – and what did not. It’s a real shame that this new follow-up from the Texas Tribune is not getting the attention that the original protests and claims did. Because this shows both how the media sometimes does their job VERY WELL – kudos to the Texas Tribune. But it also underlines how BADLY the media covers the news sometimes as well, accepting without question what they are told, even when there is strong push back as to the accuracy from one side of the story, calling for fact checking. I would argue this also underlines the value, even the necessity, of having good local news coverage. (Support your local print and broadcast media!)
The Texas DPS INSISTED they were confiscating jars of pee and poop. And bricks, paint, and other contraband — but of course, not guns. The expectation was that the gun carriers were PRO-abortion restrictive legislation, because nothing says pro-life like displaying lethal force at a legislative debate. They made law enforcement get special protective glasses, just in case someone threw glitter up in the air – not that there has been a problem with glitter injuries.
Now we have the exposure of the real fears of the DPS, and the majority Republican legislators who pushed the bill, in a – dare I say it? – revealing follow-up by the Texas Tribune shows the DPS was wrong, knew or should have known they were wrong all along, and not ONLY was there an over-reaction on their part, they did so in an extreme and bizarre manner, about which the DPS then lied to the media, repeatedly.
The Texas Tribune story can be read here. The reprinted original content from the DPS is at the bottom; I should warn readers, there is a lot of it, and it is tediously repetitious (the DPS material, not the Texas Tribune story).
There were NO jars of pee or poop. There WAS one small and mostly used jar of acrylic black paint that appears to have been used in making signs outside that was carried in a woman’s purse. This is not illegal, carrying paint; and there is no indication that there was ever, at any point in time, an intention or desire to deface the Texas legislature or anyone in it.
What the Texas Tribune DOES reveal is that there was a lot of monitoring of social media by the right, ginning up the fears. There are a few isolated tweets where a person, not positively identified as being WITH the protesters who were objecting to illegal/unconstitutional abortion restriction, goes on about throwing orange paint (not the black paint taken from a protester). There is also a tremendous fear that protesters would be wearing skirts, which they intended to strip off, displaying naked lady bits to the legislators. That, or women baring their breasts, was a serious terror expressed in the documents. I find the fear of women’s bodies, about which some Texas legislators clearly are ill-informed and badly misinformed, greater than a concern for lethal weapons which could hurt someone, either deliberately or accidentally, to be hilarious.
We saw, back in June, where Texas state Rep. Jody Lautenberg proposed anti-abortion legislation, making the badly wrong claim that a rape kit was the same as an abortion. This followed a Texas OBGYN, a Representative to Congress, rather than the state legislature, who got the basics wrong on supposed fetal masturbation (but only boys), also in the month of June.
This is part and parcel of some very unfortunate attitudes towards female health and anatomy, such as the censoring of not one but two Michigan legislators for the use of the word Vagina a little more than a year ago. In Michigan as in Texas, apparently the technical term that is approved for polite use is “down there” instead of a term which is medically and anatomically correct. Texas doesn’t want any of that lady stuff intruding in the legislature while they are regulating, you know, ‘down there’, much less the risk of actually SEEING any lady parts displayed.
Not that anyone actually planned that kind of exhibitionism. But it was a concern for some on the anti-abortion side, including by the head of the DPS in Texas. It presents a serious threat to Public Safety to view or hear any anatomically accurate information. (Because…………they haven’t seen or heard any of this in Texas, apparently?)
I have to applaud the persistence and thoroughness of the Texas Tribune in uncovering that there were no apparent LEOs monitoring the flow of protesters into the building who saw any of the items claimed by the DPS. One of the more genuinely disturbing ‘discoveries’ attributed to the protesters, with whom I was in regular contact, albeit at a remove, before and during this protest, was the allegation that women came into the building carrying bricks. The protesters were very worried about efforts by so-called ‘false flag’ operatives behaving badly in an attempt to discredit well-behaved protesters.
Thanks to the Texas Tribune, we now know that a total of three bricks WERE in fact found, already inside the building, apparently for the purpose of propping open doors which did not have attachments for that purpose, such as swinging bathroom doors (presumably to facilitate cleaning). These do NOT appear to have been confiscated from anyone entering the building, but rather retrieved by law enforcement so they wouldn’t be removed from the premises.
As with false reports of violence, or false reports of the conduct of protesters, we should all of us be demanding and looking for the important information that does not get the big attention, but which gives a much more accurate picture of events. When protesters genuinely do something wrong, they should be held accountable, but they should not be misrepresented to the public when they behave well.