Troy Newman is an American christian and anti abortion extremist, the head of ‘pro-life’ group Operation Rescue. He is one of the small category of extremely dangerous religious misogynists who incite others to violence. He called for the execution of medical staff who provide safe and legal terminations, and calls women who have terminations murderers. His group campaigned against a Dr George Tiller, Newman boasted about sharing his photo and incited his followers to publicize personal details. In 2006 an active member of Operation Rescue shot Tiller dead. This is not just right wing christian rhetoric, it’s domestic terrorism and murder. Mamamia give a good overview of the case here –
Newman was also responsible for the faked ‘undercover’ videos falsely alleging that Planned Parenthood were selling parts of aborted fetuses, which resulted in a Republican political campaign to defund the sexual health clinics, vetoed by President Obama. Newman’s spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger had been convicted of attempting to bomb an abortion clinic in the 1980s and spent two years in prison for the crime.
In september 2015 Newman announced he would be visiting Australia for a 10 day speaking tour organised by anti abortion christians Right To Life. There was immediate protest and a petition was started to have his visa cancelled –
Labour MP Terri Butler also called for the Immigration Minister to cancel Newman’s visa
Newman’s visa was cancelled, but he travelled to Australia anyway and was detained and deported. Collective Shout’s friends the Australian Christian Lobby started an unsuccessful petition to have his visa reinstated.
Where was Collective Shout on this? People on social media asked the same thing. Compare this to their two campaigns against Tyler The Creator that stretched over months – for his ‘incitement of violence’ against women by portaying fictional acts of violence in rap lyrics. Tyler fans understood his lyrics as the words of characters in works of fiction depicting difficult and violent material, the same as in film or literature. He has publicly stated he doesn’t share the views of those lyrics, and is opposed to sexual violence, and they should be understood as fiction. Regardless of your stance on depiction or descriptions of violence against women in works of art the man himself was not guilty of any violent acts, and spoke out against them. Yet Collective Shout mounted massive campaigns against two Australian tours, to have his visa cancelled. They ran similar campaigns against other Rap artists including Snoop Dog and Eminem, guilty of fictional accounts of violence. Yet when faced with a man who advocates actual violence against doctors and women, and whose organisation has been complicit in murder and attempted bombing, and who has harrassed, abused and traumatised real women attempting to access medical care and advice – Collective Shout were silent. Numerous people asked them directly to support the petition against Newman
Despite retweets by many people asking the same question NONE of these tweets were answered. The last one is particularly relevant. No Collective Shout does not support pro choice for women. Their founder and leader Melinda Tankard Reist is known for her anti abortion stance and has published books about it. She has been associated with and supported by Right To Life, the christian extremist hate group who invited Troy Newman to Australia.
Collective Shout ‘director of operations’ was prepared to state she is personally opposed to calling for the murder of doctors, but that’s as far as she went, no official Collective Shout statement, no mention of Newman inciting violence against women. Bizarrely she used the excuse that it’s not a Collective Shout issue. Inciting hatred and violence against women and trying to deny their reproductive rights is automatically not a Collective Shout issue when a prominent member of the Christian Right is involved. They identify as feminists, but it is a very selective feminism which excludes women’s reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and the right to be free from violence, threats and intimidation from Christian religious extremists. Where women’s rights clash with the rights powerful Christian male leaders give themselves in the name of god, Collective Shout are not on your side.
Understandably they lost support over the blatant hypocrisy.
Why is it not a Collective Shout issue? They gave no answer, because the answer is that Collective Shout is lead by a pro-lifer. They will NOT articulate a public position on abortion because their leader shares the anti women’s rights position of the Christian Right, and it would lose them (more) followers.
When inciting hatred and violence against women is perpetrated by a ‘pickup artist’ or, allegedy, by rap artists it most definitely IS a Collective Shout issue tho. You can see why people get confused by the contradiction.
For the record Lydia Turner, one of the Collective Shout founders, not one of the active christian team, made a statement against Troy Newman. Her main concern was to maintain that Collective Shout has NO stated position on abortion, which is technically correct, but evasive. She remained a lone voice. She also stuck to the party line that it is not a Collective Shout issue and they don’t have the ‘resources’. They didn’t have the ‘resources’ to retweet a link to the petition when asked by followers. How many ‘resources’ do two clicks to retweet take? A couple of seconds when you’re already on twitter. Two seconds is more ‘resources’ than Collective Shout are prepared to give to support women’s reproductive rights and safety.
Meanwhile there is an inevitable link – The Catholic Women’s League of Tasmania was one of the groups planning to host Troy Newman. They also promoted an appearance by Collective Shout founder Melinda Tankard Reist. No surprise.