MAKING A DIFFERENCEBy Marlene Reid
Part three of five
But, at the time we discovered CDL they were taking the Regents of the University of MN to task for allowing a blasphemous, anti-Catholic, humor edition of The Minnesota Daily the official campus newspaper) to be printed. We joined forces and demanded a legislative hearing. At stake was whether or not some of the University’s state funding would be cut, or if the U’s official policy would be changed to cease and desist from extorting mandatory fees from every student registering at the U. to go to the Minnesota Daily, which promoted such bigotry. We won! The Regents were embarrassed and chastised. The policy was changed to an opt-out policy. I don’t know if that policy is still in effect, I only know it should be!
Maybe going to the legislature isn’t your “thing” but everyone needs to get involved. At one point during this period we learned that the Movie the Exorcist was scheduled to be shown at 7:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening on our CBS affiliate, WCCO. We were outraged! This was not family fare! We activated the phone chain to get concerned parents to call and complain. We wrote letters. We protested in the strongest possible language. On Sunday evening, as scheduled, The Exorcist aired. It appeared that our efforts had been in vain. But something happened on the way to the Forum – or more correctly - on the way to Phoenix. The next day I boarded a plane for Phoenix to spend a little time with my mother. A young woman and her companion sat behind me, and I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation. The young woman said, “I’ve just put in the worst week of my life. I never want to go through that again.” When her companion inquired as to the source of such frustration she said. “Well, last night our station aired the movie, The Exorcist. Our switchboard was jammed all week. We received over 7,000 phone calls complaining and protesting our decision. The manager had to take the film home with him and spent his whole Saturday evening editing it enough to be able to show it.” I wanted to cheer! Isn’t that a powerful message for us? We never know what effect we are having! I’ll just bet that manager didn’t want to repeat that experience anytime soon. We made a difference without even realizing it. I’m here to tell you - every phone call, email, or letter can make a huge difference!
One time Mary Prior wrote a letter to Honda protesting one of their ads she found offensive. A couple days later, early in the morning, Mary had a phone call from the President of the Honda Corp. He listened to what she found objectionable - the ad was pulled! I had a similar experience. I complained to 3M about a “sexually-suggestive” ad the Company was running. I told them my husband worked for 3M and I was embarrassed by it. No, he didn’t get fired! I never saw the ad again! We have so much more power than we realize, or put to use!
When Merlyn Scroggins was president of CDL the St. Paul Pioneer Press was featuring a certain cartoonist who had a personal bias and vendetta against the Catholic Church. Some of the cartoons were downright malicious. The Catholic Defense League Board, and Merlyn, wrote letters and filed complaints with the editorial staff. The cartoonist was given his walking papers! Thanks be to God! When you see a letter-to-the-editor or a column written by one of our articulate CDL leaders, Dick Houck, Pat Phillips, Pat Shannon, or others, take a second to call or email the paper commending them for printing it. Or how about a call or letter to Target to thank the corporation for a contribution to a pro-life candidate? The opposition certainly raised a stink about it, but does our side follow up with support? “The squeaky wheel gets the grease!”
I have another hot-off-the-press example. Just this month the Winona County Commissioners voted 4 to 1 to adopt a “clean hotel” policy that will restrict county employees from staying in hotels that offer pay-per-view pornography. The prepared policy paper cites studies which link pornography to sexual violence, the incidence of which the Commissioners hope to reduce. Someone in Winona is “making a difference.” Wouldn’t it be powerful if everyone in this room contacted his/her respective County Commissioners to urge them to follow suit?One evening I was called upon to debate Minneapolis Council Member DeMars who wanted to zone an area to allow porn shops to operate undisturbed, establishing a “Combat Zone” patterned somewhat after the notorious “Boston Combat Zone.” I posed this question: “If abortion were declared illegal tomorrow or next week, would we zone an area in St. Paul for the Planned Parenthood abortion mill to continue operating?” Of course, the answer was “NO.” That pretty much ended the debate. The re-zoning move died (at that time)! But later that evening, another Council Member, Tom Johnson, came up to me. He told me that after he heard me speak at the Nokomis Community Center about three years earlier he had gone home, had gone to bed, but couldn’t sleep. He walked the floor until 5:00 a.m. and before he went to bed the second time he had decided to run for the Minneapolis City Council. He did! He won! He was responsible for scheduling me to debate the zoning issue. Likewise, a woman from ND told me, years after I had given a seminar in Bismarck, that she was motivated by my presentation to run for the School Board, had won, and was an ever-vigilant watchdog, and positive contributor. They were both making a difference!!
[end of part two of five]