A New Mexico man's decision to lash out with a billboard ad saying his ex-girlfriend had an abortion against his wishes has touched off a legal debate over free speech and privacy rights.
The sign on Alamogordo's main thoroughfare shows 35-year-old Greg Fultz holding the outline of an infant. The text reads, "This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!"
Fultz's ex-girlfriend has taken him to court for harassment and violation of privacy. A domestic court official has recommended the billboard be removed.
But Fultz's attorney argues the order violates his client's free speech rights.
"As distasteful and offensive as the sign may be to some, for over 200 years in this country the First Amendment protects distasteful and offensive speech," Todd Holmes said.
The woman's friends say she had a miscarriage, not an abortion, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal.
Holmes disputes that, saying his case is based on the accuracy of his client's statement.
"My argument is: What Fultz said is the truth," Holmes said.
The woman's lawyer said she had not discussed the pregnancy with her client. But for Ellen Jessen, whether her client had a miscarriage or an abortion is not the point. The central issue is her client's privacy and the fact that the billboard has caused severe emotional distress, Jessen said.
"Her private life is not a matter of public interest," she told the Alamogordo Daily News.
Jessen says her client's ex-boyfriend has crossed the line.
Damn fucking right. We are living in a country in which unhinged people are killing abortion doctors, and one state is talking about investigating women who have miscarriages. If this guy had put up a billboard saying "Please Kill My Girlfriend Because I Don't Have the Balls To Do It Myself", his goal could not be more clear.
So I went over to Pandagon, as is my wont when encountering such stories, to find that while she hasn't mentioned this story in particular, she has written two very goods post that those of you who perhaps think that the story of Anthony Weiner's schlong is really worth bumping the clusterfuck at the Fukushima nuclear plant, drug-resistant e-coli, and the dangerous situation in the Middle East out of the news entirely might want to read. Because the pearl-clutching over Anthony Weiner's penchant for online sex isn't taking place in a vacuum, but in a culture in which the worst kind of judgmental prudery -- the kind we read about in high school when we read The Scarlet Letter -- has become mainstream. Some of this is just the obligatory hippie-punching, some of it from Gen-Xers who will spend the next thirty years hating baby boomers who got to have lots of sex before AIDS came along because they think we had all the fun. But much of it seems to be coming from highly sexually-confused people with serious power issues who want to work out on women's reproductive systems their own self-loathing and need for power in a world in which ordinary people are becoming more powerless. Because every time a Washington Republican talks about "family values", it almost always seems to be accompanied by a Deep Dark Secret. In Anthony Weiner's case, it's about a sexual peccadillo involving consenting adult females that is iin no way in conflict with any issues for which he has fought in office. And that's something that should not be forgotten, even though we don't want to start heading down the road that Randi Rhodes did last night in her non-nuanced defense of Weiner, in which she started painting the women involved as some kind of terrible people for participating in this with him. Do we really have to paint the women who were involved as whores in order to provide some perspective? Af course the fact that one of them, Megan Broussard (from Texas, of course) immediately went running to Fox News makes the word "setup" worm its way into my brain and is an ominous indication that in America, where celebrity is the only currency that has any value, it's difficult to resist the 15 minutes an involvement in a story like this gives you. I would hope that the dollar bills being thrown around doesn't result in consenting adult women trying to paint themselves as helpless victim of a powerful man. Because then we get right back to prudery and to Amanda's OTHER article, about just how much damage culture warriors can do simply by putting their nonsense out into mainstream public discourse. We saw it in the Clinton foofarah of the 1990's, in which an adulterous House Speaker tried to impeach an adulterous president. God knows we see it in Rick Santorum, who's the most virulent anti-contraception advocate out there.
Which of course brings us back to Greg Fultz, the man who bought a billboard because his girlfriend dares make a decision about her future without giving him final say-so. Right now Greg Fultz is news. But in a climate in which any sexual activity that doesn't involve missionary position heterosexual intercourse within marriage for the sole purpose of begetting children is regarded as perverse and unseemly, it's only a matter of time before Greg Fultz and what he did become simply part of a revival of woman-suppression in our country.
UPDATE: it seems that Greg Fultz has a history of violent rhetoric against women on Twitter (screenshot and examples here). Why am I not surprised?