By St. Petersburg, Fla.
updated 4/19/2005 10:52:06 AM ET 2005-04-19T14:52:06
CITIZEN REPORT

I just got back from outside Terri's hospice about 30 minutes ago.  I'm a supporter of Michael and the law. I was driving by there yesterday, saw the picketing, pulled in and drove by, then went on home.  I was kind of surprised the scene was so close to my condo.  Thought, "This is a really big story right on my doorstep" and decided to take another look. This time I walked around for about 30 or 45 minutes, listened in on conversations, nodded to the media, looked at the geography. 

There was an objectionable self-righteousness to the moderate-sized crowd supporting Terri Schiavo's parents. There were perhaps three supporters of the Florida law and courts and they were without signs and basically silent.

I got sort of angry. I felt that the majority deserved some representation so I stopped by Home Depot on the way home.  I made a sign, which on one side said,  "Thank God for the rule of law— protecting us from fanatics."  On the other: "Thank you Judge Greer for protecting Terri's freedom of choice."

I went back to the hospice this afternoon for about 5 or 6 hours.  The pro-lifers had not increased in numbers much; there were about 75 or 100 of them if I were to guess. I'd bet they're outnumbered by the media.  Maybe that's not surprising to professional news people, but it was to me. 

I ended up holding my lonely sign in the center area of the "First Amendment" area — the one where all the tripods and bored camera guys are.  It seemed I was the only pro-law 'protester' (if in fact you call that 'protesting' — I don't know).  A little later one other pro-Michael guy showed up with his sign.

I was prepared for a lot of hostility. It didn't happen.  There were about 10 or 12 born-againers having long earnest conversations— very logically pushing their point of view:  "Have you heard of the Dred Scott Decision?"  "Do you know what the 5th Amendment to the Constitution says in its entirety?"  "Do you believe in the death penalty?"

They were more practiced in their arguments than I in mine, I confess.

The interesting thing was that we 'pro-choice' demonstrators got wrapped up in a kind of 'Stockholm Syndrome.'  I was offered ice water by some of the Christians. I nodded pleasant friendly greetings to various folks I'd debated. Actually, it was a strangely warm welcoming gathering. Several of the Save-Terri crowd ended our conversations saying, "Well, we disagree but that's what America is for, right?"

The other thing that I hadn't expected was the media attention I got.  As I said, there weren't many 'pro-law' representatives around.  The reporters were mostly pretty bored.  But I got interviewed (briefly) and photographed by the Toronto Globe and Mail, the L.A. Times, the New York Post, the New York Times, the local ABC station, and some others, but my memory fails.

Did you know they still grab paper and pen and write down what you say in longhand?  I wouldn't have expected that.

Other than that, the event was marked by wandering preachers, strange prayers, the many happy children playing on the fringes -- all of which I'd have expected.

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