Republican Senator Susan Collins called the police after concerned citizens left a message in chalk outside of her home urging her to protect women’s rights.
The terrifying message of absolutely unacceptable rage necessitating the police reads:
“Susie, please, Mainers want WHPA —–> vote yes, clean up your mess,” the message read, according to a Bangor police report cited in the Bangor Daily News.
“WHPA refers to the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify the right to abortion into law and ban restrictions on abortion access.” An “unknown person or persons” wrote this on her sidewalk, “prompting a police response.”
Citizens dare to express themselves about a piece of legislation to someone they pay to represent them to legislate for them. Honestly, what will they want next?
Bangor police spokesperson Wade Betters observed, “The message was not overtly threatening.”
The chalk was put down on Saturday and gone by Monday afternoon. As chalk does.
“We are grateful to the Bangor police officers and the City public works employee who responded to the defacement of public property in front of our home,” Collins said.
If calling the police on chalk seems a bit much, and it does, let it stand there for a moment because it perfectly captures the current beltway reaction to women protesting the leaked Supreme Court draft that overturns Roe based in part on the thinking of a man who sentenced two women to death for being witches.
From DC insiders Bill Kristol to Paul Begala, the men have been absolutely outraged that women would dare to express themselves as their rights to full personhood are on the block. (President Biden has expressed support for peaceful protests.)
The beltway men (and probably Andrea Mitchell again, though I haven’t witnessed this because I’m on a strict diet to avoid more antiquated shaming of women) have agreed upon one thing, and that is that women should not protest in front of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home.
The man who wasn’t even vetted, has 4,500 FBI tips against him sitting untouched and not investigated because the Trump administration limited the FBI’s “scope” of investigation into the man credibly accused by multiple people of sexual assault – this man is entitled to his… privacy. As he overturns women’s right to privacy.
This man is now voting to take women’s rights away, which is, of course, why women didn’t want a possible rapist on the Supreme Court. Rape is all about control, and there is nothing a rapist seeks more than total control. Forcing women to carry the result of a rape for 9 months and then live with whatever decision they come to after that is pure achievement for the rapist.
But peacefully protesting at the justice’s home and place of worship is impolite and uncivil, they scold.
Never mind that the Supreme Court put up fencing so as to keep protesters from exercising their first amendment rights to seek redress from their government as soon as their Handmaid’s Tale draft leaked. Women should… just be polite?
And so it is with this reasoning that we see chalk messages as menacing. Chalk, used by children on sidewalks for play, which washes away and is harmless, is the Big Threat.
You might recall Tea Party members bringing assault weapons to town halls to protest the Affordable Care Act, or in more recent times when Republicans cheered as the man failing to act as a president called in the national guard on protesters, and failed to call in the national guard as his own supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol with the intention of assassinating Speaker Nancy Pelosi and “hang” then Vice President Mike Pence. Five Capitol officers died after the 1/6 terrorist attack on our capitol, which Republicans have dubbed “tourism.” Four of them died from suicide in the aftermath.
So you can see how chalk – angry, dangerous chalk!- must be put down.
Chalk is deemed “graffiti” by many states. However, in 2013 the ACLU won a victory in Minnesota determining, “Chalking on public sidewalks is protected speech, according to Minnesota ACLU settlement.”
Susan Collins Hasn’t Held A Town Hall In More Than 20 Years
How should her constituents communicate with Collins? The Republican Senator has been rated a “missing member” by the 2019 Congressional Accessibility Report, which reported that while both parties were increasingly holding town halls, Senator Collins is a “missing member” who has failed to appear at a public town hall in Maine for…
… more than 20 years.
Twenty years without a town hall and she’s trying to criminalize chalk.
Newsweek reported of the Senator, “Though she has publicly praised the value of town halls by saying that such meetings are an “unvarnished, direct democracy” which “rejects the notion that wealth dictates political discourse,” has not appeared at a town hall in her state since her first years as senator.
Collins, who was elected in 1997, has stated a preference for smaller, private one-on-one meetings with her constituents.”
Collins prefers SMALLER, PRIVATE meetings with her constituents. Note: This does not include chalk messages.
Why are we forced to discuss the fine details of what is considered protected speech? For the same reason the Supreme Court is focused on the leak of their draft instead of defending its contents. On all fronts, there has been a push by the Republican Party toward silencing protected speech that is critical of the government, while working to allow incitement speech when it serves their purpose.
Collins is a Republican. Her party refuses to even vote yes on a bill to keep people on the suspected terrorist list from purchasing a gun in this country, as children are slaughtered in their schools on a horrifyingly consistent basis.
But when it comes to defending overturning Roe, they disingenuously claim their motive is to “protect life” – by this they do not mean the lives of women – our lives are irrelevant under this draft, and women will die as a result of medical care not provided for ectopic pregnancies and more. It should be common sense that with so much riding on this draft, women feel the need to be heard, and indeed, they actually are supposed to have that right in this country.
Susan Collins voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, citing that he respected precedent and wouldn’t let his “personal beliefs” interfere with his judgement. (I think we can all agree that Justice Kavanaugh has shown little judicial temperament throughout his life, but Collins claimed to believe him.) Days ago, the Republican Senator from Maine expressed shock that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch had misled her on their Roe stance.
Collins, who claims to support the right for women to live and get medical treatment they choose, doesn’t support killing the filibuster to codify Roe and didn’t vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act.
There’s almost nothing the “moderate” from Maine can do, you see. I mean, yes, she could vote to protect women’s lives, but that would really be a stretch. In the meantime, you are warned: Do not exercise your first amendment rights in chalk outside of her home just because she refuses to listen to you in any other format. That is a bridge too far.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There is a silencing of free speech going on here, and it’s endorsed by a troubling number of DC elites, who are supposed to be speaking truth to power, but instead focused (again!) on silencing the oppressed.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.