It all comes down to this. What kind of person says people are just begging to get shot to death if they go to a health clinic that provides birth control, abortions and pregnancy care?
Not the kind of person you want making important decisions for you in the Colorado Legislature.
That’s the conclusion we came to at the Aurora Sentinel this week when we published an editorial insisting that state Rep. JoAnn Windholz resign her House District 30 seat because of her obscene comments about the Colorado Springs shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
In a long Facebook rant that Windholz won’t back down from, she said that abortion-rights proponents are wrong in whom they blame for the murders. A tsunami of blame and outrage has focused on a pro-life crusade earlier this year to undermine Planned Parenthood based on fabricated and manipulated surreptitious videos. Pro-choice proponents say those videos and controversy swirling around them incited accused shooter Robert Dear to carry out his slaughter.
That apparently prompted Windholz to write a diatribe in protest, saying that it was Planned Parenthood itself responsible for the murders, because it solicits violence by being violent in providing legal abortions.
“…The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any (Planned Parenthood) facility, is (Planned Parenthood) themselves. Violence begets violence. So (Planned Parenthood), YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”
How and why could anyone be so cruel, so sadistic and so unintelligent? And Windholz isn’t just anyone, she’s the elected representative of part of Aurora, Commerce City and Adams County. What would she do if an armed madman went into a large gun shop and firing range and murdered several people, wounding many others? What would she do if a Democratic legislator from Aurora then said that the gun range was responsible for the murder, because they deal with violent weapons and people, bringing it on themselves? In effect, that they had it coming?
I am exasperated by the fact that she could be so wrong and so cruel, and that she would feel free to say any damned thing she wants. She’s absolutely not alone. She can’t hold a candle to the horrifying and sickening things that billionaire Donald Trump says not almost every single day, but always every single day.
What’s so frightening is that this is the political world we live in these days. It’s chic in some political circles to be a racist, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a homophobe, to tell people that health clinics are responsible for mass shootings. There is no keeping them accountable when they lie. There are no limits or retributions for what politicians and elected officials say anymore. None.
Windholz isn’t the only foaming-at-the-mouth extremist at the state Capitol these days serving as an unbridled embarrassment to the Republican Party. State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmidt rarely misses a month when either he or his alt-personality YouTube preacher Dr. Chaps says something equally as outrageously banal, mean and inflammatory.
This isn’t about free speech. I’m in the free speech business. I get free speech. I can write and publish any damned thing I please, but I have to pay the consequences. Those consequences would come from my boss, our advertisers, our readers and my conscience. And I also have many and serious questions about how the government and medical community regulates and monitors the sale of any human tissue, much less the tissue of aborted fetuses. But abortion itself is legal. It’s legal because it’s a matter of privacy — not phone privacy, but the privacy we must guarantee women. Privacy that says they, not the government, not anyone else, can dictate what they do with their bodies. Anything less is slavery.
The problem with people like Trump, Klingenschmidt and Windholz is that they believe that because they can say anything they want, they should. And they do. The bigger problem is that their Republican peers are too afraid to call them out for their despicable diatribes. And so, too, is much of the media.
Well, I’m not. Political discourse in Colorado and all over the country has crossed the line. Windholz crossed the line. Republican leaders in Colorado know damned well she crossed the line. And by standing silent or just saying that she speaks for herself, they tacitly give approval of her vitriol and allow her, Klingenschmitt and Trump to become the face of the Grand Old Party. And I don’t think they are.
Given that Windholz didn’t have the decency to restrain herself from writing and standing behind her rant, and that she doesn’t have the decency to retract and apologize for her rant, there’s no way she’ll have the decency to step down.
I’ve lived here my entire life. Colorado has been a place where three things have always prevailed: hard work, compassion and decency. I would hope that Republicans statewide, especially those who are from here, would channel that history and pressure each other and Windholz to do the right thing.
It all comes back to what kind of a person would say the kind of thing that Windholz did, and just as importantly, what kind of a person just lets them get away with it? Not me.
Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org