What does “Mama” have to do with it? A former Owosso city councilman, Michael Cline, has testified that Harlan Drake's mother, Kimberly Staples, had phoned several days in a row leading up to the murder and asked the councilman to “do something” about the town's 'problem' protester, Jim Pouillon. She told Cline she would “send her boys over to go see Jim.” After the shooting, Cline reported that Staples called him and said “I have solved the city’s problem.” In other words, the defense was very simple: Pouillon needed killing. Mama said so.
Jim Pouillon's tactics in protesting abortion were controversial to be sure. He carried signs with a picture of a healthy baby on one side and a photograph of a dismembered, aborted fetus on the other. He aimed to show passers-by the horrors of abortion. Pouillon's personal history was spotty with a series of family disputes and strained relationships. As a result, Jim Pouillon had few admirers in Owosso, Michigan.
In fact, the local paper, The Argus-Press, said in an editorial five days after the killings, "His sign, often accompanied by his shouting at passers-by, gave his cause, indeed his town of Owosso as well, a bad name." Nothing like blaming the victim for dressing too provocatively.
No evidence of such reputation editorializing emerges from Wichita after the murder of famed abortionist Dr. George Tiller. Evidently, in the public mind, vocally showing people pictures of aborted fetuses is one thing while being the one who actually, but very politely and quietly, does that dismembering is another thing altogether. The former is heinous and disgusting; the latter merely falls into the category of health care, or reproductive “rights.”
Again, Pouillon had few defenders for his pro-life protesting. Many residents found his protestations to be not only repugnant but evil. The trial is underway and should continue for two more weeks, but it will do so without the participation of Owossohites like Judy Jackson, 64, who told one reporter, "I don't agree with someone taking someone's life. But I don't miss the man on the corner or his foul mouth. He would chase you, call you names. He was evil. His pictures were so gross." In other words, to locals like Ms. Jackson, he had it coming. After all, Pouillon was “evil.” He performed the dastardly deed of displaying before human eyes the atrocities of abortion. Tiller? Well, at least he did his deeds in private.
In America, what offends is not so much what you do as it is how you do it. Suction babies out from their mothers' wombs, or stick scissors into their heads if you must, but please we just ask that you not show us the pictures. Actions are actions, but showing pictures is “evil.” Our eyes and our sensibilities are delicate. Our souls clearly are not.
Two men were murdered. One of them performed unspeakable acts of violence against the defenseless. The other showed us the pictures. America does not like pictures. And therein lies the difference between the cause celebre that is Scott Roeder and the quickly forgotten mama's boy, Harlan Drake.
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