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President Obama Did Not Demonize The Pro-Life Movement.

June 1, 2009

I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.

–President Obama

Reading a few commentaries on the blogosphere about these words indicate how desperate many people are to find something to say against the president, that they are willing to use a monstrous act (the killing of a fellow human being without just cause or authority) to make a political point against him. They say these words are “demonizing” the “pro-life” movement. How so? Where does it say the “pro-life” movement is interested in committing violence? It doesn’t. That there are some who are anti-abortion who do end up violent is a given (this is not the first time we have anti-abortion violence, remember). The pro-life movement, instead of demonizing the president over these words, needs to say, “yes,” and use these words to press forward, to remind the world that all life is sacred, all life is of value, even the life of someone who has done great sin. It’s at that point when you find out whether or not you are pro-life or just anti-abortion. If you want to convince the world to be pro-life, you must live out the sacredness of life, all life, yourself.

There are some who fear that the death of Tiller will harm the pro-life cause. No. It won’t. The pro-lifers who don’t see the sacredness of all life, and get upset when the president reminds them that violence and the taking of life is not permissible – they are the signs that the pro-life movement is already ruined.

It’s time for a conversion of hearts. Within the pro-life movement. Until that happens, the cause is now lost.

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72 Comments
  1. June 1, 2009 5:51 am

    Obama did, in fact, essentially demonize the anti-abortion movement’s supporters with his statement. He carefully crafted it to lump them all together with the extremist – who seems to have no links to any pro-Life group.

    Also, they’re commentary was hardly vicious. It was just a complaint about Obama’s choice to use Tiller’s death as a weapon against the pro-Life movement.

    Their response was actually gentler than that of Code Pink in the wake of last year’s recruiting center bomber in NYC – and in that instance they President hadn’t made a public announcement lumping the anti-War movement in general with the bombers.

    • June 1, 2009 5:53 am

      What he said wasn’t a weapon against the pro-life movement; just like Steve Taylor’s “I blew up the clinic real good” wasn’t a weapon against the pro-life movement. Indeed as I pointed out, the president’s words should be ones pro-lifers affirm. That they are reacting against them is indicative that some people are protesting too much and they ARE thinking of violence. Which is sad. That’s not pro-life. To read his comments as a blanket statement on pro-lifers is completely, and utterly, wrong. He didn’t make such statements. He did say violence is not the answer. The real pro-lifer can only say “amen.” And to say “he shouldn’t lecture me on morality” as some would say — sorry, that’s an ad hominem, and more importantly, makes me wonder why they are upset that he made a proper moral statement.

    • June 1, 2009 5:59 am

      http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2009/05/killers-own-words.html

      Also shows there was a connection to the pro-life movement… if you must know.

  2. June 1, 2009 6:45 am

    This post is exactly right.

  3. Liam permalink
    June 1, 2009 7:55 am

    Agreed.

  4. ron chandonia permalink
    June 1, 2009 7:57 am

    I thought the President’s rhetoric here was (as it usually is) just right. It stands in stark contrast to some of the statements from abortion supporters that have targeted the pro-life movement as a whole.

    Still, it is apparently true that the killer was driven by the conviction that abortion is a horrible crime against humanity–a conviction many of us share–so it seems fair to ask whether pro-life rhetoric caused the murder. I think it’s like asking whether anti-slavery rhetoric caused John Brown’s raid or whether anti-war rhetoric caused the violence of the Weather Underground (or even whether the Gospel of John caused the Holocaust). In every case, there are undeniable connections, but rhetoric of any kind does not cause whatever actions that it may be used to justify, nor do those actions make the rhetoric untrue or necessarily even intemperate.

    Still, I do think pro-lifers would be wise to follow the President’s lead in reserving the language of condemnation for evil deeds rather than aiming it at those who do them.

  5. June 1, 2009 8:17 am

    Perhaps the pro-aborts who follow Pres. Obama would be well-advised to attend his recent urging at Notre Dame not to “demonize” the opposition, rather than leap to the demonization of Christians and pro-lifers. Gone is the language of “human-caused tragedy”, gone the urgings not to “tar the whole group with the actions of one,” gone the calls to “understand the root causes of this crime”.

    • June 1, 2009 8:21 am

      Paul

      He did not demonize pro-lifers. You are reading into his words, and I wonder why? Seriously, why do you see it as demonic to say “let’s not end up in violence over disagreement”? He’s been demonized by many, and continues to be so; he could have done something like, “Those who are against abortion are violent people.” He didn’t. And it is clear he won’t. He knows how to distinguish people within a group. So please show me how he demonized anyone? Please.

    • June 1, 2009 9:01 am

      Paul,

      Because of what you wrote elsewhere, “This incident is instructive, however, as the President’s speech at Notre Dame calling for the two sides not to “demonize” each other is quickly shown to be empty rhetoric, as he and all his supporters leap to the demonization of Christians and pro-lifers.” I read your words. In full. Elsewhere.

  6. June 1, 2009 8:21 am

    Yeah, I don’t find the president’s words here any cause for alarm. This isn’t to say pro-lifers shouldn’t be attuned to what’s being said and reported. We’re already seeing pro-life organizations like Operation Rescue come under intense scrutiny. We’re going to see every questionable word and deed by pro-lifers reported on, whether or not they have anything to do with the murder of George Tiller.

    • June 1, 2009 8:23 am

      Kyle

      On the other hand, I think Operation Rescue should be put under scrutiny. Along with Planned Parenthood. Both should be. And the way many pro-lifers are now reacting, it’s sad but they will increase the likelihood of more violence, with the rhetoric of war or the rhetoric of demonization. Once you demonize the opposition, it’s easy to take them out. Obama was wise in not doing so. We who are pro-life should, as I said, agree. And more than that, we need to be better than he.

  7. Sir Geoff permalink
    June 1, 2009 8:43 am

    “the cause is now lost”

    Exactly which “cause” are you talking about?

    Methinks you don’t read enough Catholic teaching: try spe salvi for starters.

    • June 1, 2009 8:45 am

      Sir Geoff

      The cause is the pro-life political movement in the United States; not the hope for a culture of life following Catholic principles. But the two need to be distinguished, now more than ever, because the political movement is just about to get itself into a big mess (the more I see the reactions from those within it). I will forever be pro-life, in the full Catholic sense, and I will forever have hope for humanity (which is why I oppose killing for the sake of “justice”); I have hope, but it doesn’t take much to see the problem within the American political movement.

  8. June 1, 2009 8:54 am

    Henry, I didn’t say a word of criticism of President Obama, but of the pro-aborts who have already begun calling this a “terrorist” act, and employing all the rhetoric of fear and hatred that they were so critical of following 9-11.

    You are reading into my words, and I wonder why?

  9. Mickey Jackson permalink
    June 1, 2009 8:56 am

    Pro-lifers need to stop whining about how we are being “persecuted” by the Obama administration; we are not, and call me a heretic, but I just don’t believe that waiting Obama is a reincarnation of Hitler just looking for an excuse to round us up and throw us into concentration camps. We should be less concerned about such actions as the shooting of Dr. Tiller bringing down the “wrath of Caesar” (as Mark Shea claimed it would) and more concerned about how these actions (and our reaction to them) affects the credibility and integrity of our witness for unborn life. The most common refrain I’ve heard from the pro-choice movement is not, “pro-lifers are all criminals,” but rather, “pro-lifers are all hypocrites.”

  10. Sir Geoff permalink
    June 1, 2009 8:57 am

    Henry Karlson:

    I think we’re on the same wavelength.

    Bless you.

  11. Mickey Jackson permalink
    June 1, 2009 8:59 am

    And honestly, without denying that the President is wholeheartedly committed to his pro-choice position, I fail to see how his statement is much different from those made by pro-life leaders such as Father Pavone. Of course, since Obama is, in the minds of some, nothing less than evil incarnate, there must be a hidden meaning somewhere in HIS words.

    • June 1, 2009 9:03 am

      Mickey,

      As usual, you words are right on the mark and full of wisdom.

  12. June 1, 2009 9:05 am

    Well, Henry, if you want to widen the context, I’ll certainly stand by the assertion that a federal law enforcement response to this murder qualifies as “demonization” of pro-lifers by the President, in contradiction of his own words at Notre Dame.

    Can you explain to me why I’m wrong about that?

    • June 1, 2009 9:09 am

      Paul,

      I only used your own words, and you said Obama is seeking to demonize pro-lifers. He isn’t. And with any kind of high-profile killings there will be a federal response. Especially of this kind. It’s not demonizing, it is how government works.

  13. June 1, 2009 9:07 am

    I do find it curious, though, that of all the reactions one might have to this kiling, Henry, your first response has been to leap to the defense of the President.

    • June 1, 2009 9:11 am

      Paul

      How do you know my first reaction? I posted much later. My first reaction was sorrow. All around. Sorrow. And it still is. But I also feel the need as a pro-lifer that the first step for us is to work with out own problems, to get the plank out of our own collective eye. That I’ve seen much demonization over Obama (and others) is a part of the problem. Sorry, but it is, for it dehumanizes — and such dehumanization, be it with a baby in the womb, or the president of the United States, is all wrong. Period. The pro-lifer who follows Christ should know this already. But if the salt has lost its saltiness, then what?

  14. June 1, 2009 9:11 am

    And with any kind of high-profile killings there will be a federal response.

    Indeed? Can you offer any examples?

  15. June 1, 2009 9:30 am

    From the Summary at your link: Federal crime control efforts traditionally have been directed at problems transcending state boundaries, with maintaining law and order in areas subject exclusively to federal jurisdiction or of national concern. Foremost, in the 107th Congress are those enhancing the authorities of the Department of Justice (DOJ), specifically the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in dealing with homeland security and anti-terrorism problems arising from the September 11, 2001 attacks. These include expanded federal law enforcement authority in such areas as wiretapping and related investigative tools to aid law enforcement officials in the war on terrorism, such as in the USA Patriot Act, P. L. 107-56.

    If you’re asserting that this crime, which occurred in Kansas, and the suspect was apprehended in Kansas (and therefore doesn’t “transcend state boundaries”), is an act of terrorism justifying a federal response, I have to wonder just who is demonizing whom. This article makes clear that the Feds get involved for thinks like serial killers, organized crime, and terrorism. Which of those are you suggesting the Tiller murder be included under?

    I think you sound like NOW:

    Saying that women “lost a champion” with the death of Tiller, the pro-abortion National Organization for Women claimed that an “anti-abortion terrorist” must have killed Tiller even though the identify of the shooter has yet to be revealed.

    NOW said “the anti-abortion cause” was behind Tiller’s murder and other actions against abortion centers and practitioners even though members of pro-life groups have never been behind any such incident.

    Saying that bringing the person who killed Tiller to justice is “not enough,” NOW called on the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to “root out and prosecute as domestic terrorists and violent racketeers the criminal enterprise that has organized and funded criminal acts for decades.”

    “We call on the new attorney general Eric Holder and head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to treat these murders in the same way they would treat politically-motivated domestic terrorism of any other kind and put the full resources of their two departments behind that effort,” they said.

    We are all terrorists now.

  16. David Nickol permalink
    June 1, 2009 10:41 am

    Indeed? Can you offer any examples?

    Paul,

    I remember when Gianni Versace was killed by Andrew Cunanan, the response was huge.

    Whatis the bombing of abortion clinics and the killing of abortion doctors if it is not domestic terrorism? It appears Scott Roeder was a bone fide domestic terrorist even before this incident.

    In 1996, a 38-year-old man named Scott Roeder — presumed to be the suspect now under arrest — was charged in Topeka with criminal use of explosives for having bomb components in his car trunk and sentenced to 24 months of probation. However, his conviction was overturned on appeal the next year after a higher court said evidence against Roeder was seized by law enforcement officers during an illegal search of his car.

    At the time, police said the FBI had identified Roeder as a member of the anti-government Freemen group, an organization that kept the FBI at bay in Jordan, Mont., for almost three months in 1995-’96. Authorities on Sunday night would not immediately confirm if their suspect was the same man.

    Morris Wilson, a commander of the Kansas Unorganized Citizens Militia in the mid-1990s, told The Kansas City Star he knew Roeder fairly well.

    “I’d say he’s a good ol’ boy, except he was just so fanatic about abortion,” Wilson said. “He was always talking about how awful abortion was. But there’s a lot of people who think abortion is awful.”

  17. June 1, 2009 11:22 am

    I am sick of hearing liberals condemn “the rhetoric of war” and the “rhetoric of demonization.” Have you ever read _Evangelium Vitae_?

    Probably not.

    And, yes, this does hurt the pro-life movement.

    There were plenty of legitimate legal actions in progress against Tiller that are now thwarted.
    Every time some nutcase does this (and how often has it happened in the past 35 years? When was the last time? John Salvi?), it sets us back.
    Legitimate sidewalk counseling and prayer vigils get lumped in with this one person’s random action, the action of a person with a history of violent behavior, tax evasion, etc.

    When Muslims do some act of violence, the media and the government and the Left go out of their way to say, “not all Muslims are violent”. When a “pro-life” activist engages in an act of violence, the Media and the governemnt and the Left go out of their way to say, “this is an indictment of the rhetoric used by all anti-abortion activists.”

    Look at any political movement. Look at the abolitionists. Do you know how many slavery activists were shot by abolitionists? (e.g., John Brown) As Fr. Pavone pointed out in his initial statement, the pro-life movement has historically been one of the most nonviolent political movements in history, and that includes the so called “pacifists”

  18. c matt permalink
    June 1, 2009 11:24 am

    It appears Scott Roeder was a bone fide domestic terrorist even before this incident

    Not to condone anything he may have done, but “bona fide”? I don’t see a conviction of anything that withstood appeal. What has happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  19. c matt permalink
    June 1, 2009 11:28 am

    O didn’t demonize the PL movement.

    He didn’t try to nuance things either. As jc points out, nuancing seems to occur in other situations, but not when it comes to abortion.

  20. awakaman permalink
    June 1, 2009 11:30 am

    Words mean nothing. Let’s see what his future actions are to protect abortion rights against this type of violence. Obama is no better than the Republicans at speaking out of both sides of this mouth.

  21. digbydolben permalink
    June 1, 2009 12:03 pm

    Certain of you folks here ought to be glad that you live in America and not in Europe: I was assured IN CHURCH today that, if this act had occurred in any given European country (but particularly in the UK, more recently), any and all organisations that the Mr. Roeder was associated with would now be put under relentless surveillance, as potential “terrorist organisations.”

    Their phone calls would be bugged, their mail would be opened and any more of their more incendiary rhetoric would be labeled as “hate speech,” and they’d be prosecuted for it.

    I’m not saying that this would be correct, just that the Europeans would determine to actively pursue ANYBODY who had seemed to encourage such “vigilante” justice, which, to their minds, does, indeed, seem like “terrorism.”

  22. digbydolben permalink
    June 1, 2009 12:15 pm

    And, in case you think I’m exaggerating:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/01/anti-abortion-george-tiller-shooting

    (Notice, please, that the Brit cites the FBI as labeling one anti-abortion outfit as a “terrorist” organisation.)

  23. digbydolben permalink
    June 1, 2009 12:26 pm

    And when I read stuff like this, I know my European friends are correct:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/why-its-religious-terrorism.html

    This is, indeed, domestic “terrorism”–meant to “terrorize” one’s philosophical opponents. That’s what the right in America have specialized in, during the last decade. It’s largely why I left America.

  24. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 1:05 pm

    It is irresponsible to label something an act of terrorism before the facts have been established. From court records, it seems that Roeder may have been an unmedicated schizophrenic. The murder may have been the action of an an individual acting alone and as a consequence of severe cognitive problems. As such, it would not be an act of terrorism. If it was planned by a group with the intention of spreading terror, we Pro-lifers should be a little concerned given that the apparatus for fighting terror which has been conceived and implemented by our lawmakers allows individuals to be detained indefinitely (sans habeas corpus) and tortured.

    • June 1, 2009 1:13 pm

      Br. Matthew,

      I’m not sure how someone who is acting alone cannot be a terrorist — was the unabomber a terrorist? I would say yes. I would also think that many terrorists, of whatever background, have various mental problems, and while it would explain why they act as they do, it would still be terrorism, if they are doing violence (or threaten violence) based upon some political motivation.

      Either way, even if he were working alone, I do think his behavior should be a concern. Why did he do it? Even if he had problems, what, if any, external influences pushed him over the edge? Are we saying things which could encourage more actions like this? I’m afraid the answer to that is “yes” for some people (those, for example, who are happy with this act; those who excessively demonize pro-choicers, like those who call Obama Moloch , et. al. will encourage similar actions in the future).

  25. June 1, 2009 1:16 pm

    Br. Matthew – not a thing there I disagree with.

  26. June 1, 2009 1:20 pm

    What, if any, external influences pushed him over the edge?

    That’s an extremely important question. There is a violent component to right-wing talk radio rhetoric that has a “will no on rid me of this meddlesome priest” quality to it at times.

  27. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 1:40 pm

    Henry,

    Yeah, you have have a point regarding terrorists sometimes acting alone. But, procedurally, if it can be determined that he did plan and act alone, regardless of any intention to spread terror, the concern and action of the government should not widen beyond his prosecution and punishment. Saying that it should, or that we should be careful of using language that may be utilized by a madmen (any language or belief can be utilized by a madman) is opening up the possibility of Pro-life speech being suppressed by the State.

    • June 1, 2009 1:54 pm

      Br. Matthew

      I think we in general agree, I just wanted to make certain that the possibility of lone terrorism is not dismissed. More importantly, if it is terrorism, in a group or alone, I think the way others interact with the terrorist help explain (but not justify) the action. Since he did associate himself with anti-abortion work, it is important to realize that others like him might also come, and need hear the full Gospel of Life, so that they may reconsider otherwise rash actions.

  28. David Nickol permalink
    June 1, 2009 2:05 pm

    Not to condone anything he may have done, but “bona fide”? I don’t see a conviction of anything that withstood appeal. What has happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    c matt,

    Scott Roeder’s conviction was overturned on a technicality. The fact that it was determined that the search of his car by the police was not legal does not mean there was no bomb-making equipment in his car. Overturning a conviction on a technicality does not make someone innocent of what they were convicted of. It means the can’t be prosecuted and convicted with the illegally obtained evidence.

  29. June 1, 2009 3:30 pm

    [Saying] we should be careful of using language that may be utilized by a madmen (any language or belief can be utilized by a madman) is opening up the possibility of Pro-life speech being suppressed by the State.

    I don’t know, Br. Matthew. I don’t hear anyone advocating opposition to abortion a crime.

    That said: f I post something on my blog that I think Pat Robertson and the Christian Right are the realization of the fear that “when fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”, and how their very existence threatens the freedom of every American, and how (wink, wink) it would be terrible if someone were to, say, go to Robertson’s church and blow him away but it’s not like the old days where you could get away with that…and then some nutcase takes me up on my “suggestion”, am I not in some way responsible?

  30. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:03 pm

    Matt,

    There are limits to free speech. If someone is actively inciting and encouraging others to kill abortionists, they can be subject to censorship and/or other coercive measures. I do not know of any pro-life organizations who have done so. Do you? However, as the following quote from a recent post a Dkos will make clear, there are many who would hold that simply calling abortion ‘murder’ is sufficient to make you complicit in Tiller’s death:

    Much of the media present those who are caught and convicted for their crimes as lone nuts, fringe types, the kinds of people who would be committing violence even if abortion weren’t an issue. While it is undoubtedly true that some people who shoot doctors and burn clinics are, to euphemize, “unstable,” those caught and convicted for their crimes collect plenty of cheers from fans of this approach to crushing reproductive freedom. They are not alone. And while they operate from the shadows, their accomplices do not.

    As we have seen, propagandists such as Bill O’Reilly, Randall Terry and their ilk incite these terrorists to their violence. Then they deny that the intent of their bombastic verbal assaults had anything at all to do with outcomes like those that occurred in Kansas yesterday or Pensacola 16 years ago, or hundreds of other instances. Even their apologies – delivered with solemn disavowals of violence – reverberate with their true feelings in these matters.

    As Contributing Editor Jed Lewison wrote earlier today:

    …what they say now, in an effort to be politically correct, is far less important than what they said then, when they weren’t nearly as circumspect about revealing their true mission: waging jihad against reproductive freedom.

    Dr. Tiller’s blood is on their hands. All their smarmy protestations of innocence will not scrub it away.

    A perusal of the article and its comments makes it clear that there are many people out there who would like the “bombastic verbal assaults” (i.e., calling abortion and Tiller’s actions what they are) subject to criminal penalties. I think Joe is right to be concerned about this and as much as I disagree with Joe about how clearly wrong Tiller’s execution was, I don’t think Joe should be subject to criminal prosecution for wondering about these things nor do I think his honest attempts to make sense of it on this blog are the equivalent of inciting murder.

  31. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:11 pm

    Analogously, I don’t think someone who says that our military actions in the Middle East are murderous should be found complicit in today’s shooting at a military recruitment center. If someone has sincere convictions about what they take to be matters of fact- and matters of great importance at that- they should not be held accountable if others who share those convictions act on them in evil or unjust ways. If they actively incite others to such evil actions, that is a different story…

  32. June 1, 2009 4:14 pm

    Br Matthew – Where in that dkos post itself was it suggested that “Pro-life speech [be] suppressed by the State”?

  33. June 1, 2009 4:18 pm

    Also Br. Matthew, if you don’t recognize the violent undercurrent in lots of right-wing commentary (Glenn Beck comes immediately to mind) then you must not tune in to talk radio or watch Fox News.

  34. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:21 pm

    Matt,

    The paragraph previous to the one quoted states:

    Consequent to the murder of Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola, Florida, in March 1993, Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The law banned “force, threat of force or physical obstruction” to patients and clinic workers. This helped reduce confrontations and intimidation outside clinics, where volunteers often had had to escort patients through lines of screaming, grabbing protesters. But the law hasn’t stopped fanatics from continuing their violent outlawry.

    The implication is clear: the “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act” was good, but not enough legal measures have been taken to prevent “violent outlawry”, since the O’Reillys of the world are still free to call abortion ‘murder’. If you need more disambiguation about peoples thoughts on the matter, try perusing the comments.

  35. June 1, 2009 4:28 pm

    I’m not interested in the comments, Br Matthew, or would you like me to quote “pro-life” comments from Little Green Footballs?

    The “implication” you mention is far from clear to me. I think what’s being commented on is the (unsually somewhat subtle annd covert) incitement to violence (in many other contexts than just abortion) of right-wing media figures, a regular topic on dkos.

  36. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:28 pm

    I think it is very dangerous to say that we ought to regulate “violent undercurrents”. Violence, yes. Actual incitements to violence, yes. “Violent undercurrents”- you are getting into Orwellian territory…

    Should we regulate the speech of those on the left who talk about the ‘murder of Iraqi civilians’ and say that ‘our military (or Bush, or whomever) should be stopped at all costs’ should be subject to regulation?

  37. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:30 pm

    You should be interested in the comments, since you haven’t yet noticed anyone saying that opposition to abortion should be a crime.

  38. June 1, 2009 4:36 pm

    Speaking of which, the gate to a tract of BLM land I hunt on had a sign calling for Obama’s murder in racist terms, so it’s not just lone nutcases. There was a large rise in right-wing paramilitary activity in the United States during the Clinton years; things quieted down during the last president’s term in office, and now things are ramping up again.

    Modest tax increases and other mainstream liberal ideas are being described with words like “tyranny” and gee, ignorant paranoid people seem to be planning for armageddon. Who could have predicted?

  39. June 1, 2009 4:39 pm

    Br Matthew, there hasn’t been an armed left of any consequence in the United States since the early seventies.

    You can be sure, however, that if some lefty nutcase murdered a prominent conservative, the condemnation from the mainstream left would be relentless and deafening.

  40. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:48 pm

    Matt,

    The sign of which you speak is already legally proscribed activity and I have already made it clear that explicitly calling for someone’s murder can and should be regulated. Even if Glenn Beck is a bombastic ignoramus, he should have every right to call modest tax increases “tyranny”. To suggest that this should be proscribed lest any counter-factual scenarios involving paranoid rednecks should come to pass- well…that I find a little troubling to say the least.

  41. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 4:56 pm

    Br Matthew, there hasn’t been an armed left of any consequence in the United States since the early seventies.

    So we only have to worry about speech that might inflame the passions of right-wingers?

    You can be sure, however, that if some lefty nutcase murdered a prominent conservative, the condemnation from the mainstream left would be relentless and deafening.

    Good, that would make them human beings with a modicum of decency. But that is beside the point. The question is, would such individuals on the mainstream left then be calling for the regulation of speech or expressions of opinion which might inflame the sentiments of potential Rush Limbaugh assassins?

  42. June 1, 2009 5:07 pm

    So we only have to worry about speech that might inflame the passions of right-wingers?

    In practical terms, in the United States in 2009, yes. There really isn’t a violent radical left in the US; there certainly is a violent radical right, and it is growing.

    The question is, would such individuals on the mainstream left then be calling for the regulation of speech or expressions of opinion which might inflame the sentiments of potential Rush Limbaugh assassins?

    They would not call for regulation by the state – there would be lots of discussion on the left of how they need to dial back the rhetoric, or at least clarify things a great deal, given the obvious effect it would be having on unstable people. I’m not hearing any particularly remarkable concern or soul-searching coming from the right.

  43. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 5:20 pm

    They would not call for regulation by the state – there would be lots of discussion on the left of how they need to dial back the rhetoric, or at least clarify things a great deal, given the obvious effect it would be having on unstable people. I’m not hearing any particularly remarkable concern or soul-searching coming from the right.

    What kind of language should be the subject of this soul searching? Calling abortion ‘murder’, ‘the killing of innocent persons’, ‘a moral outrage’, ‘bad’? Doing a documentary on the moral and legal injustices perpetuated by a local abortion clinic? At what point should I be worried that telling the ugly truth about abortion might inspire some nutjob to go murder someone? Given what is at stake in abortion, we have an obligation to speak the truth, we don’t have an obligation to censor ourselves because of what someone else might do. Unless we are directly encouraging or inciting their behavior, the Pro-life movement is not at all responsible for Tiller’s death. We should not allow ourselves to be shamed for telling the truth and doing what is right by those who are all too eager to divert attention from their dirty hands.

  44. June 1, 2009 5:43 pm

    Matt,

    I think your perception as to who has the most violent extremists must be heavily baised by whom you sympathize the most with.

  45. June 1, 2009 5:45 pm

    As for whether there’s been much soul-searching on the right: Every major pro-life organization has come out with statements condemning the use of murder in no uncertain terms.

    If you consider that soul-searching, then it’s happening. If what you’d rather see is a slackening of criticism of abortion advocates, then you’ll probably see rather less of that. But as Br. Matthew points out, that’s for good reasons.

  46. June 1, 2009 6:03 pm

    By the way, anyone who thinks I’m pro-choice is badly mistaken.

  47. June 1, 2009 6:20 pm

    What kind of language should be the subject of this soul searching? Calling abortion ‘murder’, ‘the killing of innocent persons’, ‘a moral outrage’, ‘bad’? Doing a documentary on the moral and legal injustices perpetuated by a local abortion clinic? At what point should I be worried that telling the ugly truth about abortion might inspire some nutjob to go murder someone?

    Tune in to virtually any conservative talk radio station for a couple hours, Br. Matthew. Can you honestly tell me that what you hear is NOT murder instigation?

  48. June 1, 2009 6:56 pm

    I think your perception as to who has the most violent extremists must be heavily baised by whom you sympathize the most with.

    I think that better describes you that me, DC.

  49. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 8:56 pm

    Matt,

    BTW, the “dirty hands” comment was in no way directed at you- I hope you didn’t think that.

  50. June 1, 2009 9:01 pm

    I didn’t take it that way – I knew what you meant, Br. Matthew.

  51. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 9:03 pm

    I’m in Oakland, so I’m not sure where I would begin looking for a conservative radio station. ;) Maybe they are out there, but I’ve never run across them here. The only radio report I’ve heard regarding Tiller was by Pacifica (or NPR, I’m not sure which) on my way into San Fran this afternoon, the guest on which assured her audience that in spite of their apparent denunciations, pro-life organizations supported the murder. Maybe the problem is that conservatives need to actually start listening to conservative radio and liberals actually need to start listening to liberal radio. :)

  52. June 1, 2009 9:23 pm

    Maybe the problem is that conservatives need to actually start listening to conservative radio and liberals actually need to start listening to liberal radio. :)

    Perhaps so, Br. Matthew – I’m in Berkeley (about 3 or 4 blocks blocks from DSPT, in fact) and the local conservative talk station is KSFO 560 AM. Give them a listen some time: it will curl your hair.

    I tend to give Pacifica a wide berth; the few times I’ve tuned in, they seemed to be run by a certain species of Berkeley leftist with whom I don’t have much in common; I’m much more old-line New Deal left (with a dash of anti-imperialism) than ’60s leftover, “free-Mumia” left.

  53. June 1, 2009 9:23 pm

    We should have dinner some time, by the way, Br. Matthew.

  54. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 9:25 pm

    It turns out it the radio show was CBC’s As It Happens. You can hear the show and the interview with Peggy Bowman at

    http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/latestshow.html

    Matt,

    If you have an example of a conservative radio host fomenting murder send it along- that would save me some trouble.

  55. June 1, 2009 9:28 pm

    I’ll see if I can get a transcript, Br. Matthew.

  56. Br. Matthew Augustine Miller, OP permalink
    June 1, 2009 9:30 pm

    Ah, a Berkleyite? I would love to meet up sometime. Have we met before at any DSPT events? Anyway, I’ll shoot you an e-mail.

  57. June 1, 2009 9:36 pm

    Thanks, Brother – mftalbot@hotmail.com

  58. kurt permalink
    June 2, 2009 3:01 am

    The President`s remarks were appropriate and, in fact, a necessary response. To have said anything less would have been a disgrace.

    From what i can tell, Dr. Tiller@s killer was a sick man. But Tiller@s murder would be a totally rational act if one took seriously many of the comments openly made by serious pro-lifers, including some who have posted here.

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  1. The Church of Jesus Christ | Blog Reaction to the Murder by a Pro-Lifer

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