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This is a column about a politician who is as passionate in his support for abortion rights as I am in my opposition to abortion.

Christine Flowers mug

Flowers

A few days ago, Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims filmed video of himself engaging with a woman — or to use his own words, “an old white lady” — praying the rosary in front of the Planned Parenthood surgical center at 11th and Locust streets in Philadelphia.

In the nearly nine-minute video, Sims yells with increasing aggression at the woman. “Shame on you. What you’re doing here is disgusting. It’s wrong,” he says to her while pacing alongside her as she calmly walks along the sidewalk. As the video continues, he admonishes her, “Don’t convince yourself that what you’re doing isn’t extremely racist. It’s grotesque.”

We don’t know what happened before the video began, but it’s common to see protesters in front of this Planned Parenthood location. Sometimes they yell at the women entering the building. Sometimes they hand out pro-life literature. Sometimes they stand silently and pray the rosary.

I was horrified by Sims’ video, because, as a Catholic and a defender of the unborn, I believe it is this woman’s right to pray anywhere she wants. But I was also concerned, because it runs counter to my past experience with Sims. Shortly after Sims won his election in 2012, I interviewed him for an article in the Daily News. I came away impressed with his interest in bipartisanship.

At the time, I wrote that we disagreed on many issues but that, “Sims is one of the more principled and collaborative public servants I’ve encountered in my half-century on earth, most of it spent in this beloved cesspool known as Philadelphia.” I also noted: “As Sims once put it, he’s trying to find empathy for people who disagree with him.”

In that interview, Sims told me that “The idea of not even changing a mind, but being able to work with a mind that is unchanging or work with a mind that is opposed to yours, you need to understand it. It sounds very elementary, and it’s something that we talk a lot about around here, the idea that nothing should be revolutionary about the idea that you have to understand the people that you work with. But somehow that seems revolutionary of late in this sort of modern discussion of American politics.”

I’m trying to figure out how that statement fits with what I saw on Sims’ own video — and with the 3-week-old video I found on his Facebook page in which he offers $100 to “anyone who can identify” the people whom he calls “pseudo-Christian protesters.”

It seems that the Brian Sims I interviewed in 2013 is not the same Brian Sims anymore.

I am extremely troubled by the fact that a man who is paid by our tax dollars feels it is appropriate to publicly shame one of those taxpayers just because he disagrees with her. At a time when our country is increasingly polarizing and fractured along party lines, I have to wonder: Is this the kind of behavior we want to see from our elected officials?

Public figures wield an immense amount of power, and have voices that carry. Because of this, they also have an increased obligation to be cautious with the way they use that power. People have rightly criticized President Trump for harsh and often disrespectful language. Sims, as an elected official, is no different.

I’ll be praying the rosary at that Planned Parenthood in the near future. I better get my hair done, in case Brian comes by with his camera.

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Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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(40) comments

Cassandra2

Every "pro-life" "christian" should be required by law to adopt an unwanted child. That would shut them up pretty quickly.

Cassandra2

Even suggesting it shuts them up. Proof is that they are too chickenshit to even respond to my post.

DMoney

My house is full of wanted and cared for children. If everyone would do the same, it wouldn't be necessary. Of course, that would require personal responsibility, discipline etc.

Cassandra2

Oh, yeah, D-Bag, is that so? How many of those kids did you adopt? How many hungry kids do you sponsor each month? You may be fecund, but you're still not a very good human.

oldhomey

D, why would you bring children into a world where any chance for success is stacked against them by billionaire elites who, according to you, run everything and we will just have to accept that sorry reality? Why would you promulgate future generations when humans and their so-called "dominion" over nature sealed the dire fate of a world, as you say, about to fall into ecological doom that will kill off our species and many, many others? What kind of selfish, self-centered monster are you? Why would you do this to your own children?

DMoney

Every bleeding heat liberal should be required by law to take in and support an ILLEGAL immigrant. Of course, that's not necessary I'm sure because you've already done that voluntarily right? A strong, righteous socialist woman like yourself would NEVER just stop at words, right?.....

oldhomey

D, your behavior on these posts is deteriorating quickly.

capedcrusader

And has been for some time. Too many martini's?

Cassandra2

But according to the D-Bag and the other wingnut screechers, we're already paying to support undocumented immigrants. According to them, they are collecting welfare and Medicare and choking up our hospitals and living high on the hog while American citizens go wanting. All of this is untrue, of course, but facts don't matter when you have a wingnut ideology to promote.

crank

Ms. Flowers is correct, in my opinion. The hypocrisy of liberalism is they support free speech and advocate for civil rights right up to the point you dare to disagree with them. We must protect everyone's religious rights except Christians? ...illogical and hypocritical.

oldhomey

I understand that is a fool's errand to ask you to deal in any actual facts, crank, but perhaps you will make an exception in this instance and list for the rest of us all the religious rights denied to those of the Christian faith in this country.

crank

Oldhomey, your rhetoric is so tired and predictable. I did not write the word “denied”, you did. I used the word “protect”. Since you like to parse words and argue semantics, let’s begin there.

oldhomey

Hmm. crank, I am no grammarian by any stretch, but your question "We must protect everyone's religious rights except Christians?" certainly would seem to imply that we are not protecting the rights of Christians while we are doing so for every other religious belief. If I am mistaken in this, please point out my error.

crank

In this case, Brian Sims denied (or at least attempted) to deny this woman her 1st Amendment rights by attempting to dox her. Certainly, he was not protecting her rights.

Similarly, some kids from a Christian School (the MAGA Kids) were doxxed. The attacks on them were vicious as liberal celebrities asked for their identities to be exposed (doxxing) so that they could be denied work in perpetuity. However, the same incident shows video of the Black Israelites doing much worse. The left gave the Black Israelites a complete pass but the MAGA kids from the Christian School...Whoo Boy! Protecting or advocating for their 1st Amendment or religious rights or was it quite the opposite?

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission where the State of Colorado actively worked to deny Jack Philips' rights (a Christian). The United States Supreme Court ruled against them. However, you and other liberals continued against Mr. Philips and his rights as a Christian even after the SCOTUS ruling. Ultimately, his rights were not "denied" but they certainly tried. You and other liberals were not protecting or advocating for his religious rights as a Christian.

Thus proving my original point, "The hypocrisy of liberalism is they support free speech and advocate for civil rights right up to the point you dare to disagree with them."

oldhomey

Well, crank, proclaiming your Christian piety does not give you any rights to interfere with the rights of others. And that is what this woman was attempting to do. What would happen if a bunch of Catholics surrounded a mosque on Friday and shouted or marched in protest or simply paced while saying their rosaries because they objected to what they considered being un-Christian activity inside the mosque? What would happen if a group of Jews did the same thing in front of a Catholic church on Sunday?

By the way, you have a strange habit of using what I suppose you assume to be au courant usage. In this case, the word you bandy about is "dox". From what I can tell from Webster, the current usage of that term is slang : "to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge "

It doesn't seem applicable here. Nor were the Christian kids of the MAGA school incident being doxxed. They certainly were used badly, but I believe it is a bit of a stretch for you to say their rights were denied. Their rights were, in the end, upheld spectacularly, much to the embarrassment of people who leaped to conclusions about what took place in that incident, including many liberal commentators.

The cakeshop owner is yet another example of whose rights take precedence, The Supreme Court ruling favorable to the bakery owner was very narrow in scope, taking care not to overrule Colorado's statutes that prohibit a business denying its services to an individual on grounds of the individual's lifestyle is against the shop owner's religious beliefs religious beliefs. The SC decision ruled in favor of the shop owner in this instance because it found the Colorado state commission showed bias against the shopowner's religion. It is complex, but in a nutshell, you can get it from this portion of the Wikipedia entry on the case"

"The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch. The opinion stated that although a baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, "might have his right to the free exercise of his religion limited by generally applicable laws", a State decision in an adjudication “in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself” is a factor violates the "State’s obligation of religious neutrality" under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.[25] Kennedy's opinion stated that the Commission's review of Phillips' case exhibited hostility towards his religious views. The Commission compared Phillips' religious beliefs to defense of slavery or the Holocaust. Kennedy found such comparisons "inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law".[26] Kennedy's opinion also cited the three exemptions the commission previously granted for the non-discrimination law arising from the William Jack complaints. The opinion also noted differences in handling previous exemptions as indicative of Commission hostility towards religious belief, rather than maintaining neutrality.[27] Kennedy's opinion noted that he may have been inclined to rule in favor of the Commission if they had remained religiously neutral in their evaluation.[28]"

Thus, crank, once again you have no case. There is no way you can defend your inane statement about the "The hypocrisy of liberalism . . . " I would say nice try, but it was not nice and it was a lame attempt.

oldhomey

crank? Yoo hoo! Are you out there?

crank

Look! It's midnight and oldhomey must be feeling lonely. "Yoo hoo!" [love]

oldhomey

crank, who often accuses me and others of ducking and deflecting, tries out one of the lamest of ducking deflections ever here with is 7:45am post. I had a Mother's Day full of activity, crank. How was yours?

crank

It was such a handsome #strawman too!

Cassandra2

Facts don't matter, homey. Crank can never provide such a list because it doesn't exist. And he won't even try, because it's much easier to change the subject or just call names than actually living in the real world.

Cassandra2

Crank sees the harassment of people exercising their Constitutional rights as being OK, but using free speech to shame the "christians" is hypocritical. Irony, thy name is Crank.

Cassandra2

Oh, yes, Crank. "christians" are so discriminated against in the US! Odd that there's a church on practically every corner. Odder still is that there haven't been any mass shootings like there have been at synagogues and mosques. Truthfully, the notion of christian oppression is a lie.

oldhomey

I certainly would have to agree that the congressman did himself no favors by acting out as he did, then foolishly spreading it into the public domain himself. But let's take a look at Ms. Flowers' central argument:

"I am extremely troubled by the fact that a man who is paid by our tax dollars feels it is appropriate to publicly shame one of those taxpayers just because he disagrees with her. At a time when our country is increasingly polarizing and fractured along party lines, I have to wonder: Is this the kind of behavior we want to see from our elected officials?"

Could we not make the same argument against the anti-abortion protestors, including this woman featured in this column, for the doing the same thing? They are constantly in front of this abortion clinic, meanly and nastily trying to publicly shame women entering the clinic "just because" the protestors disagree with the women. It is none of the business of these protestors. While they try to shame and humiliate these women who already are struggling with staggering problems, they haven't much room to protest if somebody in turns on them to shame and humiliate them for their self-righteous behavior. So I am not going to cry a river over this woman, even if I think the congressman acted badly.

Rick Czeczok

You as a sex object, now that's funny...... You couldn't even find a girlfriend. Hey maybe you and Cassy should meet up again what a great ignorant pair you guys would make. And maybe Cassy would get over her infatuation of the male anatomy. Now that would be funny to watch.....Dumb and dumbest.

johnnybragatti

You"re so spots on Zerokok. That is your surname for the very rest of your life and don"t ya'll ever forget it. If worst comes worse, why not go to court and change your feeble Commie name to something a little more "American." At some point in time you will be required to put your bigly-boy pants on. You know what I"m saying, no matter how stupid you really are.

oldhomey

Gosh, Ricky, once again you rise up and demonstrate publicly the nature of your rapier wit. To compare the sharpness of your wit favorably with a rusty, blunt old butter knife would, I am afraid, be far too generous and grandiose. You can insert your own insane laughter here.

Cassandra2

Sims' protest is nothing compared to the harassment (up to and including murder) of women and doctors by the anti-abortion crowd.

Rick Czeczok

Trust me when I say, you will never have to worry about it. Not a chance in hell.

oldhomey

And so we hear once again from that rompin', stompin stud muffin of a man, God's gift to every amorously inclined woman in the world, Ricky. I often wondered through my life what it would be like to be a male sex object who is irresistible to the opposite sex. Now, thanks to Ricky, I would comfortably take a pass on being that.

Cassandra2

So the Comrade, predictably, turns away from the fact that the "pro-life" crowd cheers the murder of doctors and women seeking reproductive health care. Unsurprising.

martian2

so true Cassy, those so called pro lifers love to try and harass the women who are utilizing PLanned Parenthood services. Demonstrating and chanting and yelling and getting in the faces of women trying to enter these clinics is not acceptable either.

Cassandra2

It goes beyond that, Martian. They firebomb clinics and murder health care providers. So much for being "pro-life."

martian2

I must admit I do admire Ms Flowers for her passion and perseverance when it comes to abortion. And she spreads her concern to all life, including immigrants and the poor and sick and needy. She is consistent you have to give her that. Other so called pro lifers only go so far, once the child is born they could care less what happens to it. When children were being separated from parents at the border, where was the protesting from the pro life groups. I would like to know what Ms Flowers would like to see done to stop abortions. Would she just ban them all together, every one of them. You would have riots in the streets and back allay abortions then. What is the solution? Mr Flowers never states her idea to solve it. By the way, she often brags about her religion (Catholic). How is it possible to support a corrupt and child molesting , sexual discriminating organization while still be pro life? Sounds a bit hypocritical. I am of the opinion the Catholic church sold its soul to the GOP long ago over this one issue. Just look at who the majority of them voted for last election. Morality is not his strong point.

Rick Czeczok

This is the opinion of the old "Kingman" he was kicked off this board for slander, name calling, and spreading false and dangerous lies. Just so you are aware of who this writer really is. No wonder he is so afraid to give his real name. Then there is his buddy Cassy who claims to be an national award winner in her field. I think that must have been at Coney Island over the fourth of July, not sure of that though.

capedcrusader

Then there is Czeczok who's only purpose in coming here is to troll and start trouble.

Rick Czeczok

Cape is so afraid his boss would fire him if he found out his ideals (his words) that's why he can't give his name. Living in fear under a rock must be so rewarding.

martian2

poor ricky boy is off on his tirade again. Childish as he is, he can't compete intellectually, so name calling and personal insults are the name of his game. Typical of a Trump worshiper. All you right wingers must be proud to have ricky boy in your corner.

PhysicsIsFun

Ricky did they run out of your medication today at the home? You seem particularly unbalanced. Get some help. You're scaring people. Not any of us here, but people in your close proximity.

capedcrusader

Ah Czeczok, I'm not afraid of anything or anyone. It wouldn't matter if "my boss" found out anything. I am a boss. The only thing that probably scares anyone else on here is your willingness to always want to "reveal" who someone really is. You tried that with cassandra2 also. And yet nothing came of it because you sir are full of BS. You sir are a pathetic little stalker and nothing more.

capedcrusader

Oh, and Czeczok, who told you that "Kingman" was kicked off this board for slander, name calling, and spreading false and dangerous lies. You realize of course that if you can't be honest about that then it must have been YOU saying that what you accuse "Kingman" of doing. Cmon, after two years or more of you doing this can't you finally come clean and be honest?

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