What’s in the News?

27 Aug

Here is the first of one of my (planned) recurring features:  What’s in the News where your humble writer finds a story that is interesting/funny/controversial/face-palm worthy and opines on it.  The stories may be local, regional, or national and could range from front page news to a three sentence blurb.

Our first story comes from the 8/23/2011 Lincoln Journal-Star, under the headline:  “Right to Life urges subcontractors to avoid Planned Parenthood renovation

The condensed verion:  The Planned Parenthood clinic in Lincoln is moving to a differernt office building, which requires renovation to meet their needs.  The local Right to Life group is calling on subcontractors to not work this project as they believe it supports abortion.  Right to Life does not state any action that could/would be taken against contractors working this job, but they also did not confirm or deny a boycott could be called against contractors who do the work.

Disclaimer:  Gosh, do you think I could have picked a more divisive topic for the first What’s in the News post?  Abortion has been boiling with controversy for decades, and there does not appear to be an end in sight.  Since one of the primary purposes of this blog is to help me gain freelance writing work, please excuse me if I tap-dance around some of the larger mines in this field and stick to things that are relevant to this particular story.  I don’t think I want to get very political here (or at least not too quickly) so my beliefs about abortion will probably stay off the web for a while longer.

Commentary:  With the disclaimers complete, boo to Right to Life.  While Lincoln’s economy has been better than many other parts of the nation, it is still down from where it has been, and is still slow to show signs of sustained growth.  It is tough enough for a contractor to get work in this town without having to a) worry about stepping knee deep into a controversial fire storm or b) worry about being blacklisted for taking a job to pay your bills and feed your family. 

I do have to give some credit to Right to Life:  they may have a singular, unblinking focus (ending abortion and stopping those that perform/assist them), but they have some very outside the box ways to working towards that goal.  They use pretty much everything in the toolbox – legislation (backed by an army of politicians who would slap their grandmother for the coveted “Right to Life” endorsement – and the legions of voters it brings), picketers and protesters in front of clinics (as well as the homes of the doctors and staff), graphic images, and a host of other tactics.  Some of their tactics are effective and some of them are nothing more than sheer bullying.  Going after contractors trying to do their job is bullying and does not do anything positive to further Right to Life’s goal.  We all know that there are enough contractors out there who will bid and do the job because they want and/or need the work.  The new clinic will be opened and it will perform abortions (along with a host of other valuable procedures and services for women who could not otherwise afford them).  And the end result is Right to Life looks like bullies who will stop at nothing to accomplish their goal.

Conclusion:  I’m sure there are contractors who will politely decline the PP job because of their personal beliefs, and I completely respect and support their right to do so.  But I cannot respect outside interests that try to flex their muscle to block a client from legally hiring a contractor.  Personally, I think Right to Life would have best served to watch Kevin Smith’s 1994 classic “Clerks”, especially the scene where they discuss the role of independent contractors taking work in “Return of the Jedi” as shown here.  The contractors in this town are grown men and women.  Let them decide what is best for their business without being leaned on by a special interest group who will not make up the lost work.

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