Todd Stave has the unenviable position of being the landlord of a building in Germantown, Maryland, which he leases to an abortion provider called Reproductive Health Services Clinic. So he knows a little something about dealing patiently with anti-abortion protesters. But when they started calling him at home at all hours and harassing his family, he got fed up and came up with a very clever solution: Do unto others as they have been doing unto you.
Problems really began for Stave at the end of 2010, when he leased his building to LeRoy Carhart, one of the only doctors in the U.S. who openly acknowledges that he performs late-term abortions. As you can imagine, he’s a controversial man, and protesters come from far and wide. There is a constant group of them parked outside, praying and holding up signs, many of which have pictures of mangled fetuses. That’s pretty much a landlord’s nightmare, and yet Stave has a very calm attitude about it. He told Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post this week,
It’s their right. They are protected by the First Amendment. And outside the clinic is probably the most appropriate place for them to express their views.
If you’re wondering how Stave can remain so relaxed about the situation, he explains, “I’ve been a member of this fight since Roe v. Wade. Since I was 5 years old.” You see, the clinic used to belong to his father, and then his sister ran it. When he was younger, the office was firebombed, and protesters were often gathered outside his dad’s house. So he’s used to a certain level of harassment and he’ll tolerate it — but only up to a point. And recently, the usually calm, cool, and collected Stave was pushed to his limit.
It’s common practice for anti-abortion protesters to disseminate doctors’ personal information and urge people to harass them—and it can clearly go far beyond that, as with the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas. LeRoy Carhart, who’s now in Stave’s clinic, had his Nebraska farm burned to the ground back in 1991. But protesters in Maryland figured out they could start targeting Stave for owning the clinic’s property. He was largely unfazed by this campaign, until last fall when they took it too far. On his daughter’s first day in middle school, a large group of people protested outside her school, and then they showed up again for back-to-school night. They were naturally carrying signs with his name and contact info and those nasty pictures of fetuses.
Stave was furious, and then it got even worse. Dozens of the protestors began calling him at home, around the clock. His friends wanted to help him fight back; that’s when Stave had the brilliant idea of turning the tables on his tormentors. He began recording the names and numbers of the assholes who called, and then he gave the list of info to his friends and asked them to call these people back on his behalf. Shazam! And the really smart part was that when someone from Team Stave called, they always took the high road. He explains,
In a very calm, very respectful voice, they said that the Stave family thanks you for your prayers. They cannot terminate the lease, and they do not want to. They support women’s rights.
Genius. While it was initially only a few friends doing the calling, the group quickly expanded. Soon, he was up to having 1,000 callers at his disposal. And they got crafty too. They’d look up information on the people who’d placed unwanted calls to Stave, and then when they called, they’d drop the names of the person’s children or their school into the conversation. They’d also, said Stave, “tell them that we bless their home on such and such street,” and then name their address. Are you getting shivers up you’re spine yet? Stave’s calling force became so powerful that sometimes he was able to hammer an unwanted caller with up to 5,000 calls in return. Looks like two can play at this game, stalkers.
Stave’s approach was so appealing that he was flooded with people from all over wanting to help. So he organized Voice of Choice, which now has about 3,000 volunteers. They don’t just fight back for Stave anymore. They’ll make calls on behalf of whoever is being bullied by anti-abortion protesters, whether it’s a doctor or a landlord or their family.
When asked if he thought this method of payback was harsh, Stave said no: “We gave them back what they gave us.” Actually, not even. You gave back a mild, family-friendly version of what they gave to you. You proved to them that you know where they live and who their children are, but you didn’t show up at their homes and schools and threaten them. You didn’t come onto their lawn with posters detailing terrible imaginary things that they’ve done. You’re serving up Revenge Lite™: Tastes great, less killing.
What’s more, Stave is strict about who Voice of Choice will make calls for. If it’s just run-of-the-mill protests outside clinics, he won’t help them because he believes in people’s First Amendment right to be out there saying what’s on their mind. Protestors must be personally harassing doctors or landlords in order for Stave to step in. If only abortion opponents had the same respect for people doing what they were allowed by law to do. Ahem.
So this is the part where the evil bullies who’ve plagued him (and others) at all hours of the day or night learn their lesson after having a taste of their own medicine, right? Yep, yep. They all realized they were being horrible, and now every anti-abortion protester is treating their pro-choice opponents with the utmost respect. HA. No. Actually this is the part in the story where it gets much worse. Ready?
Since Voice of Choice has been such a success, Stave was honored by NARAL in California last week. Knowing that he was going to be out of town receiving the award, his personal band of haters chose that moment to canvass his neighborhood with fliers that had a photo of Stave in a Nazi uniform, photos of Holocaust victims, and bloody fetuses. [Pause for a brief rage-stroke intermission.] Of course, the fliers had Stave’s contact information—and all of the phone numbers and addresses for other members of his family.
This goes without saying but, nevertheless: This is so incredibly fucked up. First of all, the guy owns a building, not a concentration camp. Second of all, what kind of person picks up a flier like that and thinks, “I need to get in touch with this Nazi!” God help us all.
Obviously Stave’s daughter and all of his neighbors saw the fliers, but the contact information for Stave’s family members must have been spread around. Because on Monday an abortion protestor showed up at the dental office owned by Stave’s brother-in-law and began doing his abortion-protestor routine outside. That’s such a great idea — I’m sure the random patient walking in for a cleaning is totally going to make the connection that the dentist’s brother-in-law owns a building where there’s an abortion clinic, and therefore abortion is wrong. At this point, Stave was back in town, so he went over to confront the protestor. And when he got there, the creep said, “How was your trip to San Francisco?” Deep inhale, slow exhale.
It is amazing that people like Stave have fortitude to stand up to psychos like this coming at them from every direction, but thank heavens they do, because, honestly, the thought that these protesters get away with so much is sickening. It’s hard to know where these nutcases will end when it comes to making Stave’s life a living hell—but it’s probably not going to get any better now that he’s getting more and more national media attention.
At least we know he’s got plenty of backup from Voice of Choice. The worse these people get, the longer VoC can keep them on the phone, telling them all about the many “blessings and prayers” they’re sending to their home addresses and to the locations of their children’s daycare centers. Then everyone will be so busy making and receiving calls that they’ll have less time to spend protesting outside clinics. And maybe in the future, we’ll get to a magical place where both sides are talking to each other 100 percent of the time, and a woman will be able to walk right up to the front door of an abortion clinic without being harassed—because everyone will be so busy talking on the phone to their enemies to notice or care what she’s choosing to do with her body
I still consider Jezebel to be a site to mostly avoid, but this man is a BAMF for what he’s started up in response to the hate.
My question is, who was the single-digit IQ fucking moron at Bethesda Softworks who thought it was an awesome idea to completely stop everything and show a message box during a fight you’re on the verge of losing with a blatantly fucking obvious message of “your health is low?”
I absolutely would never have realized that without you stopping everything I’m doing to not die to tell me I’m about to die. Thanks for the information, Einstein.
Once you realize that companions never level up properly when you level up and that you can fix that with a console command, followers in Skyrim become a hell of a lot more fun to have around. Even I can’t kick Lydia’s ass at level 50 now.
One day, Bethesda will discover bug testing. One day.
Tumblr’s new terms, in the section demanding everybody be 13 or older, lies about the reason. It is not a “hard rule set by state and federal law.” A company can provide a service to those under 13.
They just have to respect their privacy.
The abuses of privacy carried out on a regular basis against teens and adults are forbidden in the case of pre-teen children. Most companies refuse to comply with this requirement, and so they simply exclude pre-teens. Then they blame it on “overly intrusive regulations.”
I’m sick of seeing this lie every time someone questions why pre-teens are excluded from one service or another. If a company doesn’t want to follow the law and respect privacy when required, fine. But don’t lie about it.
I’ve been out of the loop so I missed that she even said this. I’m unsure what she’s trying to accomplish here but this article pretty much puts her in her place. ~ Kim
An Open Letter To Bristol Palin
I understand you’ve been complaining that President Obama should be calling you like he did Sandra Fluke anytime now to apologize for people making fun of you and your family. I think you misunderstand what he was calling about. You see, Sandra Fluke, a law student, went to Congress to argue for women’s health. She was attacked and insulted by a sleazy ex-drug addict that was once arrested after coming back from the Dominican Republic with a bottle of Viagra and a bunch of guys (it’s called “sexual tourism” and you have to pay for the sex). Her plea that birth control pills be covered by insurance because of the many vital health benefits, aside from contraception, they provide was earnest and moving. You wouldn’t know that, of course, because you didn’t watch that footage. You got the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh version in which she was having so much sex, the cost of her pills were too expensive to pay on her own. What a slut. Except she wasn’t and only very stupid people think that is what she was arguing for.
You and your family, on the other hand, have been using your mother’s celebrity to enrich yourselves in the most meaningless of ways. Even after you got knocked up while still in high school (using the pill might have averted that, you know) you dutifully followed your mother’s lead in denouncing the horrors of proper sexual education. If you, yourself, couldn’t keep that aspirin between your knees, what makes you and, more importantly, your mother, think you are in the position to tell other young women to “just say no?” That makes both of you hypocrites.
Really, what it comes down to is that Sandra Fluke is a strong, intelligent woman that believes in something greater than herself. You are a shallow little girl that would have been just another high school dropout with a kid if your mother hadn’t been famous. You’re a D-list celebrity somewhere in between Snooki and Victoria Jackson and just as lacking in relevance.
I assume your ”open letter” to the president (who wrote it for you, btw?) is the same kind of desperate bid for attention your mother is known for. I guess you’ll continue to follow in mom’s footsteps, spouting empty headed umbrage about topics you are manifestly incapable of understanding. How nice. Maybe after you graduate from college (if you even go in the first place) you’ll have something worthwhile to say. I shan’t be holding my breath, though.
BTW, reader Brodie Verworn points out that Obama already came to Bristol’s defense in 2008:
I have heard some of the news on this and so let me be as clear as possible. I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people’s families are off limits, and people’s children are especially off limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics, it has no relevance to governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18. And how family deals with issues and teenage children that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that is off limits.
Palin (both of them) wishes she had a fraction of his class.
“Pro-life, these people aren’t pro-life, they’re killing doctors, what kind of pro-life is that? What, they’ll do everything they can do save a fetus, but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it?” — George Carlin
Or, apparently, a female Texas State Senator who fought against the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Luckily, no one was killed, but this is horrifying. From Fox 4 News:
The Fort Worth Fire Department is investigating an arson attack at State Sen. Wendy Davis’ legislative office.
Fire officials said just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday someone threw two Molotov cocktails into the third-floor office on West 7th Street. Two of Davis’ staff members were there at the time. They used a fire extinguisher to put out the waist-high flames. No one was hurt.
Davis, a Democrat, played a high-profile role last week in arguing against plans by Texas state officials to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, saying such a move could deprive 130,000 Texas women of healthcare services including cancer screening and contraception.
While the Pro-Life super majority has been a blessing, there were a select few who would stop at nothing to squelch the advances for Life. Most notably, Representative Jessica Farrar and Senator Wendy Davis were determined to stop all Pro-Life efforts.
Writer Robert Gieb at Catholic Lane calls Sen. Davis “a political handmaiden of the abortion industry which makes millions of dollars from killing weak and vulnerable human beings.” Gieb also writes:
“The state senator who represents the district in which I reside, Wendy Davis, is a most fervent supporter of killing the innocent unborn, and has been well compensated by the abortion industry, having received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the pro abortion group called Annie’s List, and both money and substantial in kind political advertising and telephone work from Planned Parenthood.”
When in the hell are we going to call these firebombings terrorism? When are we going to examine the heated rhetoric involved in calling a state senator a child murderer?
The entrance to the McKinney PP Clinic:
Sen. Davis’ door:
This is domestic terrorism. Period. It’s often religiously motivated. Bet you won’t hear Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney condemn it on the campaign trail — it’s just a feeling I have.
Sen. Davis’ staffers are very fortunate, and I hope the arsonist — the attempted murderer of innocent, already-born people — is brought to justice swiftly.