THE CALLS have leveled off at the United States Olympic Committee offices in Colorado Springs. Now there are an average of 20 a week, not the 20 a day when the issue was new. But as June approaches, and the Olympic bidding process comes to a head, the calls will pick back up again.
"The callers are courteous, not abusive," said Mike Moran, the director of communications for the USOC, "the thing is, they don't realize they're calling the wrong number. We have nothing to do with choosing the final Olympic site."Once the USOC endorsed Salt Lake City as America's official bid city for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, the selection process progressed to the International Olympic Committee, in Lausanne, Switzerland. From its headquarters there, the IOC will choose the '98 host city.
For effective harrassment, the pro-abortionists need to first find out the country code for Switzerland.
In a sideways way that could tax your mind if you thought about it very long, Utah's political stance on abortion - quite conservative, relatively speaking - has been tied into Utah's movement to land the '98 Winter Olympics. Opponents of Utah's new and mostly pro-life laws are of the opinion that any state that won't liberalize abortion isn't fit to run an Olympic downhill, either.
No sooner did the Utah legislature vote into power its toughest-in-the-nation abortion laws during its sessions this winter than groups such as the Utah Chapter for the National Organization for Women sprang into action - calling, literally, for an Olympic boycott of Utah. It was the reason for the 20 calls a day to the USOC a month ago, and it's the reason for the 20 calls a week now.
Harrassment-by-diversion is popular these days because it often works. The National Football League, for instance, recently reneged on its Super Bowl site for 1992, changing from Phoenix to San Diego because the state of Arizona had not signed into law a bill recognizing Civil Rights Day, also known as Martin Luther King Day.
Bowing under the pressure on its telephone switchboard in New York, the NFL gave up. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the league didn't want its week-long celebration of football and corporate tent parties overshadowed by local politics and controversy. Instead, it would relocate to a place where its Super Bowl constituency of mostly white, affluent businessmen could enjoy the spectacle unbothered.
It left Arizonans - who thought they'd already suffered enough since they were also the ones who once voted in the majority for Evan Mecham - wondering why them? What did they do to deserve this? If official recognition of Martn Luther King Day was up to popular vote, and the people of Arizona decided not to add it to their list of paid holidays, then why should anyone dispute the democratic process? Particularly fellow Americans?
By coming down on the side of the resistance, the NFL set a dangerous precedent. In effect, the league said extortion works, as long as it's done over phone lines and with veiled threats - not with the more traditional methods of pistol-whipping, kidnaping and blackmail.
The NFL left open the possibility of an Arizona Super Bowl in the future - as long as by then there's a Martin Luther King Blvd. down the center of Phoenix where the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Day Parade can be watched by all those government workers who got the day off with pay and then had their taxes raised to pay for it.
Back to the Utah issue, the anti anti-abortionists are waiting and wishing that the Olympic people will react like the NFL. That someone in authority will say, "Well, Utah has these terrific mountains, and an airport that's a 30-minute limo ride from the ski resorts, and a 25,000-student university that will turn over its dorms to the athletes, and it's cold there in February, and it celebrates Martin Luther King Day . . . but, I don't know, it has rather strict laws when it comes to abortion, and there might be people carrying signs outside the speed-skating rink . . ."
They're hoping the Olympic people will defer to the pressure of controversy, that they'll take the path of least resistance, that they'll act at least as wimpy as the National Football League. Luckily, the USOC is no longer a factor in the process - and isn't transferring any calls, either.