“The Democrats support a bill allowing people to kill their babies if they don’t want them after they are born.”
We—the framing store-clerk, and I—looked at her wide-eyed and disbelieving. Generally, I would shy away from confrontation. It is frustrating and anxiety-producing at best, and a futile effort at worse. Nevertheless, this comment was just too insidious to ignore.
“I teach criminal justice; I am a former police officer. There is nowhere in this country where it is legal to kill a healthy newborn baby—nowhere,” I pronounced in my most authoritative voice.
“My husband is a police officer,” she retorted. “Besides, I heard the governor himself say he was happy to sign the bill into law. It was in New Jersey, I think, or maybe South Carolina.”
Her posture became more agitated as she scrolled through her phone looking for the evidence. The clerk kept her eyes down. A black woman who was standing nearby quickly left the area.
“There are a few states where, if a baby is born terminally ill, you have the option of not prolonging its life artificially. Surely, that must be what you heard.” I tried to sound less confrontational.
Defiant, she responded, “I saw it on the news. I heard the governor say it. I just can’t find it right now.”
“You do know that it’s possible to edit videos, leaving out critical language. Maybe that’s what you saw.” I was trying to give this woman an out. She didn’t take it. I was disturbed, but gave up and left. The clerk texted me later (she had my number from an order I had placed with her) and thanked me for trying to stop the woman from spreading such lies. The clerk said she only wanted to go home and hug her son.
I went home and pushed the crazy lady to the back of my mind, where all this hate and stupidity is filed. To my horror, my hairdresser told me just the other day that she has heard this same hateful misinformation from several of her clients. “Oh no,” I sighed. This is fake news at its most destructive. It is misinformation that pushes people to engage in extreme behavior and keeps us divided.
Now I am sorry that I wasn’t more confrontational. In retrospect, I should have looked up the truth and shot it like an arrow into the universe. Would it have helped? Maybe not, but unless we challenge the lies, we will continue to suffer the consequences. And I do mean lies on both sides of the aisle.