Thursday, February 01, 2007

The "threat" that wasn't

An Iowa book store canceled an appearance by Krista Jacobs who recently edited the book Abortion Under Attack: Women on the Challenges Facing Choice. Some stories are claiming threats, including "intimidating e-mails and telephone calls," forced the cancellation of the event yet another story mentions the police say the store received "no direct threat of violence when store officials decided to close." The same story also says,
Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay said store employees called police and said an unidentified person had brought to the store's attention that the reading might spark protests. The threat may have come in the form of an e-mail, Kelsay said.

"The reason that we closed was because we just didn't want a physical confrontation in the store," said Paul Ingram, the Prairie Lights book buyer.....

"This is the first time we've been threatened," he said. "It wasn't a general threat. It was a threat directed at this particular reading. I don't think anyone's going to come in and bomb Prairie Lights."
Another story says,
Iowa City police Sgt. Bill Campbell said he didn't have enough information to comment but said he thought the word "threats" might be too strong to describe the incident.

So what's going on here? Did somebody say they were going to protest the event? Is that the intimidating threat? Oddly, the story which says there were "intimidating e-mails and telephone calls" also says a book store employee "did not indicate there was a specific threat of violence (to the police) and did not request extra police patrols in the area."

The Iowa Press Citizen story seems to mention where the information about the supposed threats came from:
Karen Kubby, director of the Iowa City Emma Goldman Clinic who had requested to speak after Jacob's reading, said a Prairie Lights staff member told her the bookstore received "some intimidating calls and an e-mail."

So in other words, the information about the supposed intimidating threat(s) is coming secondhand from an abortion clinic director.

It seems more like a store employee was warned by someone (maybe prolife, maybe pro-choice) maybe by e-mail that a talk by a pro-choice advocate could or would generate a protest and the employee decided to call the police and ask how the bookstore could handle such a protest (maybe questions like "can we prevent protestors from being on our property?" ). The employee then probably mentioned this to the store owner who might have not wanted a controversy in and around his store for business reasons.

Those vicious prolifers strike again, huh? But I can almost guarantee this situation will be used as evidence that prolifers are threatening to kill people. Oh wait, it already is,
Lauri Wollner, one of the book's contributing writers and a former antiabortion activist, agreed.

"It's scary that 'pro-life' people are threatening lives," she said.

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