Whenever someone starts a conversation with, "I had the strangest dream last night," I always hope the story doesn't take a turn for the awkward. I do not need to know that a coworker dreamed about his sixth grade girlfriend stuck in a bathtub of uncooked rice. (You don't need to know that either. Sorry.)

Dreams are intimate, personal machinations of our brains. It's how we process our days and ruminate on our troubles without being overly troubled. Dreams are also where our brains take off into strange and fantastical worlds of horror, ecstasy, and crazy imaginative leaps.as a writer, I've gained and lost a million great ideas in my dreams. A few times I've been lucky enough to wake up and jot something down before it slipped away again.

In this week's Torah portion Joseph (the favorite son of Jacob/Israel) tells his older brothers about his dreams.
"There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf."
They already hated him because he was a tattle-tale when he was a boy. Now they really hated him. And Joseph couldn't help but make it worse by telling them about the second dream...

"Look, I have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing, down to me."
The sun, the moon and eleven stars -- that included Joseph's parents. Jacob couldn't shake the insult from his mind, and the brothers' hatred grew. When his brothers found Joseph wandering in the desert, they decided to kill him, but eventually just threw him down a well and tried to sell him to nomads. In the end, they faked his death and reported back to their father that Joseph, his favorite, had died.

Terrorism in Colorado

It's been three days since the terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, about three hours south of where I live. Nine people were shot and injured. Three people were killed:

  • Garrett Swasey, a 44-year old University of Colorado Springs police officer who rushed to the scene when he heard about the incident. He was also the father of two, and elder in his church, and passionate about his faith. 
  • Jennifer Markovsky, 35, a military wife and mother of two children, ages 6 and 10. She had gone to PLanned Parenthood to support a friend who had an appointment.
  • Ke'Arre Stewart, a 29-year-old Iraqi War Veteran recently stationed at Fort Carson and father of two, was shot outside the clinic just minutes after learning his girlfriend was pregnant. He'd stepped outside to get better cell reception to share the good news. He told everyone else to Get Down! before he was shot and killed.

Don't Say It

How would Joseph's life been different had he followed the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything"? He carried tales back to his parents when he was a child, earning him the hatred of his brothers.

He was a spoiled brat who, instead of being punished for tattling, received his father's favor and amazing gifts like this colorful coat. 

Joseph had self-serving dreams which, had he kept them to himself, or even presented them in a nicer way, would have done no harm. But he did speak, with cruel intentions and a desire to make his brothers jealous. 

If he could have seen the real consequences, would he have spoken so freely? Did Joseph spend his time in the well, and his time as a slave, wishing he could take back his words and reverse the series of actions they had set in motion. 


I have to wonder if the right-wing spewers of anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric understood the potential power of their words. A sampling of their comments, some made before the attack and some (incredibly!) made after.

  • Ted Cruz in September: In the September G.O.P. debate, Cruz called Planned Parenthood a “criminal enterprise,” guilty of “multiple felonies.” 
  • Cruz in October: “When millions of Americans rose up against Planned Parenthood, I was proud to lead that fight.”
  • Jeb Bush has called Planned Parenthood’s practices “horrifying,” and has said that the group is “not actually doing women’s health issues. They are involved in something way different than that.”
  • Marco Rubio, who seized on the shooting of Cecil the lion as a reason to ask where the outrage was over Planned Parenthood and “dead babies,” didn’t have anything to say about the victims in Colorado
  • Chris Christie, in one debate, talked about Planned Parenthood engaging in “the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts.” 
  • And after the shooting, Trump was, well... Trump: “Well, I will tell you there is a tremendous group of people that think it’s terrible, all of the videos that they’ve seen with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car. I mean, there are a lot of people that are very unhappy about that.”
  • Cary Fiorina claimed that a video showed what sounded like infanticide—the killing of a “fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking”—for the stated sake of harvesting a marketable brain. This was false, and demonstrably so, but Fiorina just kept saying it. 
  • And today, before any of the victims are even buried, Cruz dismissed any suggestion of a connection between the shooting and the heated words of Republicans.

Maybe Cruz was right today and there is no connection between these statements and the terrorist attack on Planned Parenthood. It's quite possible that the shooter (who shall remain forever unnamed on this blog) was not consciously listening to the Republican candidates when he was making his plan to attack Planned Parenthood. It's also possible that he came up with "baby parts," a term he used during his siege, completely independently.

Even if that is all true, this 57-year-old man grew up and lived in a country where terrorist tactics on the part of anti-abortion activists have been accepted by many in the movement.

  • Kill an abortion doctor to stop him from doing abortions? Acceptable tactic. 
  • Burn down a clinic? Sure, why not? 
  • Verbally attack women going into the clinic? It's a matter of course.
Don't believe me? Read this article from a Planned Parenthood worker who documented all the instances of attacks on her clinics:

I understand that people are incredibly passionate about this issue, but how much of that frenzy-whipping has been achieved with outright lies? How much of the violence and terrorism against doctors, nurses, and women seeking health care has been encouraged and praised by anti-abortion rhetoric? How many of the fiery sermons have inspired the terrorists? Inflamed entrenched beliefs?

Radicalized true believers?

When are those who speak such things morally culpable for the actions their words inspire? Why do these candidates support going after other radical extremists who preach terror and violence but they are unwilling to look at what they say with a critical eye?

The lack of reflection on the part of the Republican candidates is distressing.

When will just one of them say, "You know, this guy may have been acting completely on his own, but let's say for a minute he wasn't. What if watching our debates inspired this kind of violence? What if there is someone else out there who might be inspired by address this issue, shouldn't we change how we talk about it? It's the very least we could do."


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