Flying Pro-Life Dad Tells Teens to Fight the Matrix
WHITTIER, Calif. — In May, when Michael Grumbine learned that his three teen-age daughters planned to participate in a prolife effort at a local public high school, he decided to lend a helping hand from on high.
What he didn't expect was that his efforts would cost him two fingers.
Arianna, Joy and Rosemary Grumbine had planned to participate in a Survivors' “Show the Truth” event at La Serna High School in Whittier, Calif.
Survivors, a pro-life youth ministry, travels to high schools and college campuses across the country to advocate against abortion. The Grumbine daughters, along with the Lake Arrowood, Calif.-based Survivors team, planned to hold up signs and pass out literature with pro-life messages to students as they left high school for the day.
What they didn't plan on was their father's appearance in the sky.
“The Whittier school district and police department have a history of aggressively suppressing pro-life activities and free speech on the public sidewalk outside the school,” Michael Grumbine said. “They would tell students that they couldn't pass out literature and would threaten to arrest them. I thought I would surprise my daughters and lend them some support.”
Having seen the motion picture The Matrix: Reloaded just weeks before, and realizing that the majority of high school students had seen the film, Grumbine first hit upon a theme.
The futuristic science fiction movie is based upon the premise that authorities, to keep the masses ignorant of the truth, suppress important information. The authorities (Multiple Agent Smiths dressed in dark suits and sunglasses) use illegitimate and brutal censorship to suppress any rebellion against their control.
Grumbine compared this concept to what he described as “the pro-choice matrix.”
“The ‘pro-choice matrix' in our school system has been rather effective in keeping students ignorant about the ‘politically incorrect' pro-life arguments and facts against abortion,” Grumbine said. “As the fans of The Matrix are acutely aware, it is no small task breaking through the Matrix in order to reach out with an ‘incorrect' view of things. And even if you do, there will be a cost.”
On the day of the scheduled protest, Grumbine printed 400 brightly-colored Matrix-like fliers, purchased a black suit and dark sunglasses from a local thrift store, and borrowed his company's ultra-light powered para-glider.
On the afternoon of May 29, Grumbine took off from Whittier Hills with his para-glider, just as his daughters and several other youth were preparing to hand out literature on the sidewalks outside the school.
Grumbine flew over the school a couple of times, dropping the leaflets on the school grounds and the sidewalk.
One side of the fluorescent green triangle-shaped leaflet read: “Fight the Matrix!” The other side, written in the ominous voice of the villains of the Matrix, demanded that the students submit to the lies of the Matrix.
It read: “You are in the Matrix. You will believe what school and teachers have told you. You will do what you are told. Truth is evil. Lies are good. Abortion is good. Believe what you are told. There are people out in front of school on the street with signs and pictures right now that you must not look at. They will show you things you must not see. You must not talk to them. You are in the Matrix. You will do as you are told. You will believe what you are told. Do NOT look at them. Do NOT talk to them. You are in the Matrix.”
The unconventional approach worked.
As students exited the school, administrators and security guards urged the students not to pick up the literature or to talk to the protestors. The more they were told not to, the more the students resisted.
“The kids were literally running to pick the fliers up off the ground,” said Jeff White, founder of Survivors. “The harder the teachers were trying to fight it the more the kids wanted them. It was truly perfect in that sense.”
Joy Grumbine told of how two teen-age girls originally passed her by, rudely rejecting the offer for pro-life literature.
“After they had crossed the street and had read one of the Matrix fliers,” Joy explained, “they came running back saying, ‘We want to fight the Matrix. We'll take some of your literature.'”
That's when Michael began losing altitude.
“I thought that perhaps some of the fliers had landed on the shroud protecting the fan and that there might be a restriction of air, so I reached back to remove the leaflets.”
The clearance that Grumbine expected to be there wasn't, and the fan clipped off half of his left index and one-third of his middle finger, forcing him to make a hasty landing near the school's baseball field. Grumbine was charged with trespassing — charges that were later dropped — and transported to UCI Medical Center for surgery on his fingers.
Principal Leo Camalich told the Whittier Daily News that “by dropping those leaflets that said students shouldn't go out to see the protest, he was basically telling the kids to go check it out in a reverse-psychology way.”
The Federal Aviation Administration was called in to investigate the incident.
“I have to believe that there must have been some sort of law broken,” Camalich told the paper. “A flying object should not be allowed to fly at such a low altitude over a school while it's in session. There has to be a law against that.”
Grumbine hasn't been cited in the incident, and he said he and his wife, Deborah, first got involved in the pro-life movement in the 1970s.
“Deborah was once beaten by police while she was kneeling and praying in front of an abortion clinic,” Grumbine explained. “She mis-carried a child as a result, as well as five more after that. The loss of my fingers is nothing compared to that loss.” Today, the Grumbines have nine children.
Joy estimated that hundreds of students stopped by for literature.
“You never know how many lives you save,” Michael said, “but I believe that at least one baby was saved.”
Regarding the loss of his fingers, Grumbine maintains a sense of humor.
“My wife calls them my pro-life fingers,” he said, laughing. “The Lord gave me 10 of them, so I guess I still have some work to do.”
Tim Drake is based in St. Cloud, Minnesota.