When I was 13 years old, I stood in line for five hours in a little bookshop in Aspen, Colo., anxiously waiting to get my grubby little hands on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at midnight.
The clock struck midnight, and everyone in the bookstore started cheering. The excitement in the room was palpable. I was the first person in line to touch the crisp binding and saturated pages.
I raced back to my aunt’s lodge, sat on the porch with mountainous terrain as the backdrop, and began riffling through all 870 pages at lightning speed, gobbling up the newest installment of the Harry Potter series I had been waiting on for years.
I’m not the type of person who gets overtly excited about anything. There are two things I’m passionate about — journalism and exercising. But even then, I’m not about to drop everything to join a movement. And people who do that really confuse me.
So when I walked into the atrium of the Statehouse Tuesday, I was speechless. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t more than 600 people of all ages and races on their feet, calling on the heavens for guidance from God.
The sea of red, swaying to the rhythm of the gospel music reverberating off the walls as speaker after speaker enticed and enthralled the crowd for three hours, was there to support the heartbeat bill, which would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected, about six to seven weeks into a pregnancy.
Regardless of my stance on the abortion issue, attending the rally was definitely an eye-opening experience. I had never seen anything like it. The passion these people had for the bill was absolutely incredible.
But that kind of passion is what makes my job so difficult. When people feel that strongly about an issue, especially an issue such as abortion, it’s hard to weed out all of the strong emotions to get to the facts.
After the rally ended and the sea of red parted, I talked to the founder of the Right to Life movement about his feelings on the bill. He denounced Ohio Right to Life for not backing the bill and said he resigned from the board because of it.
Golden journalism moment, right?
The founder of the movement resigned from the Ohio board because of the bill … absolutely epic.
I raced back to the newsroom, excitedly relaying what I had just discovered and began pounding away loudly at my keys.
But as I did more interviews for my story, I came across his resignation letter — there was nothing about the bill. Thankfully, I found that letter.
It was my first time covering something that controversial, but I learned firsthand that people that impassioned don’t always tell the truth. Not because they want to lie, but because that’s how they see it.
And that’s fine. But it just stresses the importance, once again, of fact-checking everything — even if it’s the head of a movement telling you why he resigned from a board he founded.
Alex Stuckey is a senior studying journalism and the assistant managing editor of The Post. Were you there? Tell her about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.