Did the FBI Finally Go Too Far?
On reading about the Saturday arrest of pro-life activist Mark Houck, I thought the author at this alternative site had to be exaggerating. It struck me as beyond belief that two dozen or so armed FBI agents would swarm the house of a Catholic father of seven, rifles drawn, and arrest him in front of his weeping children for anything short of murder.
I have had to recalibrate my belief system. The “crime” fell quite a bit short of murder. On October 13, 2021, Houck brought his 12-year-old son with him for his weekly sidewalk counseling outside of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Philadelphia. A volunteer escort at the abortion clinic reportedly called Houck’s son a “fag” among other insults and threatened him. Houck pushed the man away from his son, and the man fell. Houck, the founder of an organization that promotes Christian virtue among men, was not charged with a crime.
However petty the incident, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, had Houck seized at gunpoint nearly a year later and bragged about the arrest. Said PR hack Jennifer Crandall in a press release, Houck “assaulted a man because he was a volunteer reproductive health care clinic escort.”
Before proceeding, this sentence needs parsing. The most problematic word is “because.” Houck has had hundreds of opportunities to assault escorts if their offense in his eyes was to be an escort. Although the press release claims two incidents on that same day with the man, Houck had no prior or subsequent altercations.
Then there is the Orwellian phrase “reproductive health care clinic escort.” Ms. Crandall is somehow fusing the “reproductive rights” euphemism favored by abortion activists with the function of the escort, whose mission, of course, is to assure that no reproduction takes place on his watch.
“Assault is always a serious offense, and under the FACE Act, if the victim is targeted because of their association with a reproductive healthcare clinic, it is a federal crime,” huffed U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero. Her piety was echoed by still another Jacqueline, Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division.
“Put simply, violence is never the answer,” said agent Maguire. “Violating the FACE Act by committing a physical assault is a serious crime for which the FBI will work to hold offenders accountable.” The DoJ has not only bastardized the language, but it has also weaponized the law to advance the interests of the Democratic Party. That this arrest took place in the politically contested state of Pennsylvania is not likely a coincidence.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano saw the raid for what it was. “This show of force was carried out by the Biden regime against ordinary Americans is an abuse of power that stands against the fundamental principles on which our country was founded,” said Mastriano. “As Governor, I will not allow the police state of Biden to enforce his persecution against his political enemies on sacred Pennsylvania soil.”
For the record, FACE is short for “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances.” As has become much too obvious, only one side of the abortion debate has been awarded federal protection. Since the leak of the Dobbs decision on May 3, attacks against pro-life entities and the Catholic church, already a problem, have only escalated.
The Catholic News Agency reports 97 such attacks in the months following the leak, 53 of them against pregnancy centers. These include vulgar pro-abortion graffiti, the beheading of statues, the desecration of altars, threats, theft, and even arson. Several have involved the disruption of church services and nasty confrontations with the police.
At least two of these incidents took place in the jurisdiction of the two Jacquelines. In May 2022, for instance, the glass front doors of Notre Dame de Lourdes church in Swarthmore were spray-painted with the unsubtle message: ‘You do not have the right to decide what people can do, #ProChoice.” In June, vandals defaced St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia with pro-abortion graffiti.
As far as anyone knows, the DoJ has ignored all these incidents despite the implicit civil rights violations involved. For its apparatchiks, “extremists” like Houck are the enemy. “If convicted,” they tell us, “the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000.”
The Twitter responses to Houck’s arrest suggest a widespread indifference on the Left to the rule of law and common decency. Here is a representative tweet from a woman named Mary, one of the few without any obscenities: “You’re REALLY leaning into the ‘Catholic’ part of this story, when the truth is that a professional ‘manly man’ who spends his days harassing vulnerable women physically assaulted a real man TWICE. Mark Houck makes his living as the leader of a toxic masculinity cult; arrest him.”
Has the FBI gone too far? For the Left, if the enemy is the right, it cannot go far enough.
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