Not too long ago, New Hampshire Representative Warren Groen (R-Rochester) objected to making the red-tailed hawk the state raptor. This was what’s known in New Hampshire as a fourth-graders’ bill: fourth-graders study New Hampshire history and government, and annually at least one group of kids promotes a bill as a sort of civics lesson. State beverage, state fossil, state raptor, what have you. All the kids need is a rep to introduce the bill. The students testify, the bills usually pass, and everyone goes home happy.
Well, almost everybody. These bills cost money and time to hear, and legislative hearing time has been squeezed a bit by the weather this session.
Rep. Groen spoke up against the raptor bill when it got to the House floor. He spoke bluntly, as is his custom. His remarks would probably have passed without notice had he left out one thing.
With fourth-graders in the gallery – which to judge from the ensuing outcry made the situation just too, too awful – Groen said, “The redtailed hawk grasps its prey with its talons and then uses its razor-sharp beak to rip its victims to shreds, basically tearing them limb from limb … it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood.”
Uproar ensued. The Governor apologized to fourth-graders. The House Speaker told Groen to apologize. A hundred editorials and blog posts bloomed, most excoriating Groen for exercising poor taste. (By the way, the bill was defeated on a voice vote.)
Three weeks later, once noise had receded, came the best commentary I saw on the matter – surely better than anything I could write. Rep. Groen’s brother Fenton, former state senator, wrote an op-ed for the Nashua Telegraph. Copyright considerations prevent me from re-posting the piece in its entirety, but I highly recommend looking it up at this link. [Update: the New Hampshire Union Leader has since published the piece.] There may be a paywall, but sign in as a guest if you’re able. Go to your library if you can’t find it anywhere else, but read the essay. Fenton Groen is absolutely on target in tone and substance.
In exercise of my free speech, let me comment on the content of my brother’s words and on his reason for saying them. Yes, Warren is my brother. We served together in the Legislature in 2011-12. Anyone who knows us knows we often disagree on methods.
It is fascinating that in all of the raucous press over Warren’s words, I have not heard anyone say that his comparison of the actions of a redtailed hawk to an abortion is inaccurate.
Warren did not attack the fourth-grade class. He pointed out that the abortions Planned Parenthood performs (370,000 each year) are done in a way that is chillingly similar to the actions of the redtailed hawk. That comparison is his “crime.” If we find it so revolting that a fourth-grade class should hear these remarks, where is the outrage over the one child of every five who is not in that fourth-grade class because no one heard the cry of the nameless little “Who” when he or she died in an abortion clinic nine years ago?
Rep. Groen’s “crime” – if it is a crime – is that he has heard the silent scream of that little one and it compels him to action, no matter how unpopular.
I wish I’d written that.
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