In his Dec. 6 letter to the editor, William Griffith defends the ordinance establishing a 39-foot “buffer zone”around the Portland Planned Parenthood Clinic. He objects to a column by M.D. Harmon expressing a different opinion, arguing that “Harmon’s right of free speech ends before he gets into my face.”

There is much to dispute in Griffith’s argument that there should be an unfettered right to destroy unborn children. For example, a 39-foot buffer zone seems a bit much to prevent protesters from getting into anybody’s face, and there are legitimate First Amendment concerns that Griffith facilely dismisses.

But I am most concerned with Griffith’s accusation that Harmon is guilty of “hypocrisy.” The basis for the charge? Harmon would not, according to Griffith, be concerned with free speech rights if he visited his urologist and was greeted by protesters showing him graphic pictures of resected prostates.

The comparison is dubious, to say no more. Whether one agrees with it or not, showing pictures of unborn children at least has a point. Showing pictures of prostates does not. What is most interesting here, however, is Griffith’s methodology whereby he concludes Harmon is guilty of hypocrisy. Harmon has not actually said or done anything that is hypocritical. Instead, Griffith knows, yes he knows, yes he’s quite certain, that Harmon would be hypocritical if given the chance.

This is certainly an interesting and unusual bit of reasoning. Whether it’s a fair or, shall we say, a “reasonable” bit of reasoning is altogether another matter.

Douglas Mock Randolph