Debunking the Latest Smear Effort by the Rabidly Anti-Choice Personhood Campaign
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“These people are evil, judgmental, self-righteous ego-maniacs...”
When Newsweek profiled Keith Mason, founder of Personhood USA—the national campaign to grant full personhood rights to fertilized eggs—they weren’t ready for the avalanche of response; The Daily Beast ( Newsweek’s online sibling) was forced to close commenting, citing “the viciousness of some reactions to the story.”
Some saw the profile—which describes a charismatic, green-eyed Mason as a hipster preacher who tools around town on a vintage motorbike and loves the Deftones—as a puff piece, a con job, “one of the worst pieces of biased reporting I have ever read.” Anti-abortion sites, such as by video-hoaxer Lila Rose, applauded the piece as fair and balanced. Leading pro-life propagandist Jill Stanek said the feature legitimates the Personhood movement.
On July 2, still glowing from the national media spotlight, Personhood USA issued a press release, “Personhood Leaders Suffer Violent Attacks From Pro-Abortion Terrorists Following Newsweek Feature,” with photos and a description of shattered front-door glass, spray-painted coathangers and “Fuck You” with a backward “F” scrawled across the front of their house in the Denver suburbs. The release claimed that the Newsweek profile had led to physical threats and the posting of the Masons’ home address in comments, and implicated The Daily Beast’s “notoriously liberal” readers and “pro-choice criminals” in the alleged vandalism.
“Our reaction is one of puzzlement. What kind of person would terrorize the home of a family with young, innocent children inside? We’re left wondering what these abortion fanatics hoped to accomplish,” said Mason, who noted that the hateful attacks “renewed our resolve to press forward.”
The conservative media machine, from Live Action News, to Newsbusters, to Free Republic, ran with Mason’s story of being attacked by violent pro-choice advocates, pushing the narrative that violent assaults against pro-life Americans are on the rise.
The Daily Beast reacted on the day of the press release by publishing its third story on the Masons in the space of a week, complete with the same home vandalism photos the anti-abortion outlets were running. And the next day, even the reliably skeptical website Jezebelcalled for a plague on both houses: “it would be nice if this incident could cause BOTH sides of this debate to look at their tactics and really think about how little good it does to terrorize people you disagree with.”
Further spinning Keith Mason’s myth of rampaging “pro-abortion criminals,” LifeSiteNews raised the culture-war stakes: “Asked point blank if he were willing to lose his life for the cause, the father of four replied, ‘I’m not hoping it goes there, man. Yeah, I don’t want to, but I’m willing.’”
A Little Dramatic
“Sounds like Mr. Mason has embellished,” said Westminster Police Investigator Cheri Spottke for the third time, dismissing several reports on the incident. For example, two squad cars had responded, as is protocol (not four as reported in news stories), and there was nothing about the rock thrown through the door window being 45 pounds.
In addition, the police report doesn’t mention home security lights being “yanked down,” nor is there mention of children, children’s toys, “or anything on children at all.” This includes the alleged tricycle that, Mason claimed, should have signaled the presence of kids to the vandals, which prompted him to tell the Daily Beast that there are “some really bad cats out there.”
“Sounds like Mr. Mason is being a little dramatic,” said Spottke, when asked about the Masons’ move to a safe house. “I don’t mean to laugh. But this is low-level criminal mischief and we would never tell him to go into hiding,” she said, confirming later that the Masons’ hired a private security consultant who might have been involved in their decision to not return home and that the police played no part in the decision.