The Essence of “Pro-Choice” Rhetoric: Misdirection (Part 1)

Abortion Escorts at "Femcare" in Asheville

Abortion Escorts at “Femcare” in Asheville

by Mick Hunt

Illusionists and stage magicians know the secret of misdirection.  They’ll focus your attention on something relatively unimportant while the important action is happening right in front of you.

Master pickpocket and entertainer Apollo Robbins says misdirection happens in your brain as well.  He told the audience in a popular TED Talk that our minds are incapable of focusing on multiple aspects simultaneously.  We often experience “blindness” to things we see every day.  New information cannot be processed while trying to recover old information.

So, for example, when Apollo asks George what’s in his pocket, George’s mind turns inward to remember.  In the meantime, for a few moments, George did not notice what’s going on around him, that Apollo stole his watch.

Misdirection, both physical and rhetorical, is a critical tool in supporting the abortion of pre-natal children.

In my recent blog “Echo Tourism,” I mentioned an article titled “The Last Shift” written by a volunteer abortion escort and self-proclaimed “Asheville’s Village Witch.”  For 10 years she greeted women seeking abortion at their cars in the clinic parking lot and walked them to the entrance.  This is when we sidewalk counselors speak to the women, offering help and urging them to let their children live.

She wrote:

…I always started a running patter, something like this—I’ll be talking about all sorts of things so focus on my voice.  It’ll be like a late night monologue, only I’m not very funny.  I’ll talk about your shoes—gosh, those are cute!  Or how far you had to drive—did you have far to come this morning?  BlackMountain?  Oh that’s not so bad.  How was the traffic?  Gosh, this is (fill in the blank) weather, isn’t it?  Does that RAV get good gas mileage?

A running patter.  In the online manuscript of Sleights of Mind, What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Everyday Deceptions, Stephen Macknik & Susana Martinez-Conde (2010) wrote:

Patter, it turns out, is one of the most important tools in the magician’s toolkit for attention management.  There are only a dozen or two (depending on who you ask) main categories of tricks in the magician’s repertoire …  Sleight of hand is of course critical, but so is patter, the smooth and confident stream of verbiage that can be used to hold, direct or divide attention.  Apollo tells George [his victim on stage] one thing while doing two other things with his hands.

The Asheville abortion place’s website admits as much when it says,

…we have volunteer escorts who may approach your car to walk you to our front door and help distract you from the demonstrators out on the sidewalk.

In this situation, the patter is meaningless babble.  Some escorts may be more adept at sincere conversation, but nothing they say pretends to engage the subject of abortion.  And yet, even when abortion-choice advocates seem to engage the issue, it’s almost entirely misdirection and distraction.

I’ll explain in my next post, showing how this relates to the work of CBR.


Mick Hunt (Meredith Eugene Hunt) is a FAB contributor.  He has helped organize more than 50 Genocide Awareness Projects (GAPs) all over the southeast and elsewhere.


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