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Wed., May 8, 2013

Editorial: Bloomsday wrong place, wrong time for protest

What part of the anti-abortion-rights agenda do Sunday’s Bloomsday demonstrators think was accomplished by screaming at its 47,000 participants and waving pictures of aborted fetuses?

Were pregnant women uplifted by the reminder of what a hateful world awaits their babies?

Were children supposed to model the behavior they witnessed?

Were families ennobled during a few hours spent together, exercising and basking in the warmest Bloomsday in 20 years?

Were the Spokane community and guests gratified by the expression of differing viewpoints that respects the opinion of others?

Clearly, the answer to all the above is no.

Yet they raved on until cowed by a restrained police presence, and the obvious – and not necessarily decorous – backlash from Bloomies attuned to what is truly pro-life in its fullest sense.

Bloomsday. Hoopfest. Coeur d’Alene Ironman. None of these or the many smaller community events can be held in a bubble. Even as solemn an occasion as the funeral of a fallen soldier can be marred by a pestilence like the Westboro Baptist Church.

Americans accept the intrusions, sometimes with clenched teeth, or upraised finger. First Amendment rights do not end at the starting line, and Bloomsday officials have responded judiciously to this toxic incident.

They had made the extraordinary effort to distribute wristbands, “Bloomsday Stands with Boston,” to commemorate the three deaths at the marathon there just three weeks ago. Bill Iffrig, the Lake Stevens, Wash., runner knocked down by the force of the first bomb, was the ceremonial starter (and one heck of a finisher – 1:02 for a 78-year-old!).

Then a small group shows up to smear the message. The lessons of intolerance never seem to be learned.

Unfortunately, Sunday’s incident will add to the security issues raised by the marathon bombing, and the attempted bombing of the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade here two years ago. Officers responded quickly to defuse what could have become an ugly confrontation between the anti-abortion-rights group and justifiably angry Bloomies.

If they wanted to change minds, they surely did, but not to the betterment of their cause. Allies fall away from extremism.

The gruesome revelations in Philadelphia of alleged murder and infanticide at one abortion clinic have bestirred passions on both sides of the debate. So have court rulings on the Plan B pill.

One of the best ways to minimize the need for abortion or Plan B is raising children in nurturing families that instill values and discourage reckless behavior. Thousands of those families shared Bloomsday together Sunday.

It would be awful for all, and counterproductive for those misguided demonstrators, if they chose to stay home next year.

The Spokesman-Review Editorial Board

Members of The Spokesman-Review editorial board help to determine The Spokesman-Review's position on issues of interest to the Inland Northwest. Board members are:

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