The Wichita organization ROKICT.com has produced a video that attempts to rehabilitate Wichita’s reputation in light of the events of yesterday.
Introduced as “About wichita — a reaction from the arts community to the kansas stigma after the murder of dr. tiller” it’s been viewed over 750 times on YouTube.
Early on, the video spotlights activist Jason Dilts speaking at the candlelight vigil for murdered doctor George Tiller.
Obviously speaking from the heart, Dilts said “Wichita’s better than this. This is not Wichita. (Cheers from crowd.) … We’re a community that brings people together. Some of us are pro-choice, some are pro-life, but we’re all pro-community.”
That’s all the video speaks to about abortion, except for its ending message “We are more than a stigma, we are stronger than violence.” The rest of the video promotes Wichita in much the same way a chamber of commerce commercial would — although to a younger, hipper, edgy audience.
The problem is that this message — concern that only now, after the murder of Dr. Tiller, does Wichita bear the stigma of violence — resonates only if you believe that a woman truly does have the right to a late-term abortion.
But if you believe, as many Americans do, that abortion kills a human life, then Wichita has born the stigma of violence for many years, as our community was home to one of our nation’s few late-term abortion providers.
This difference of opinion can’t be overcome by the suggestion that we’re all “pro-community.”
I appreciate your interest in our video. I want to clear up a few things, though.
First, I want to make it very clear that regardless of my own personal feelings on the topic of abortion, I think all sides deserve to be respected. Many good, peaceful people are pro-life and they should not have their point of view delegitimized by the actions of one person. Not everyone will agree, but I think that there is a way to bridge the divide over divisive social issues by approaching difficult topics with an underlying feeling of respect for each other. For too long, we have allowed extreme elements on both sides of this and other issues to divide us. Now is the time–and I think my generation really gets this– to come together with respect and find common ground on areas we can work together.
Regarding the video, though, we at ROK ICT simply wanted to get out a message that Wichita isn’t the backward, regressive city many in the nation see has as being. Be in the BTK murder or books asking “what’s the matter with Kansas”, there is a stigma that somehow we’re just not as smart as the rest of the country. Immediately after the killing, I noticed a lot of anti-Wichita sentiment on twitter and in the blogs. The basic line of thinking was “well of course this happened, we always do stupid things in Wichita that get us in the national spotlight.” Well, I know this community and I know the people here. I know we’re better than that!
Many with strong feelings won’t be satisfied by our video alone. I understand and respect that. I hope everyone understands, though, that we care about Wichita and that we want everyone in this community to feel pride in their city. We all have different approaches and ways to go about building up the city we care about. Let’s keep doing that, and when we can have a dialogue with people we disagree with, let’s try to find common ground–or at the bare minimum respect.
That’s all this was really about.