Monday, June 1, 2009

Between the lines of "murder"

Most of my thoughts on Tiller's assassination live on my Twitter account because it's easier to have sporadic thoughts than try to reason through the past day and a half. I've done what I could to scourer news sources and give a bit of commentary.

CommonDreams reminds us the violence escalated to murder 3 months after Clinton took office and didn't end until Dubya took over. Since then, no one's been assassinated through anti-choice violence. Almost as soon as we learned Dr. Tiller had died, "pro-life" and "pro-choice" decided to lump everyone together. Choice proponents quickly pointed out the vitriol expressed by groups like Operation Rescue; public officials like Phill Kline; and national media personalities like Bill O'Reilly are culpable in Tiller's assassination (and, presumably, future violence stemming out of yesterday's). Choice opponents quickly angered that most people automatically assumed (100% correctly) a "pro-life" activist committed the assassination and warned everyone that the "pro-life" movement is not violent.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated in today's Washington Post "For many years, Dr. George Tiller has represented the horrific reality of the abortion industry in this nation." Among many other epitaphs concerning the "industry". Throughout, he pointed out abortion is murder and Tiller was a murderer. Yet, at the same time, he condemns the murder of a murderer.

He calls to John Brown and Henry David Thoreau. John Brown, finding the government and system unable to confront slavery rapidly enough, commited many acts of violence in the name of abolition. Because of his violence, Kansas was known as "Bloody Kansas" and in modern times, we condemn his actions. Though we talk in theoreticals about the justification of killing Hitler as a child or Himler. While any theory of just war or self-defense could certainly be extended to include violent acts freeing slaves or harming the slave trade. And, of course, killing people who participate in abortion. (Oddly, I don't know that these same people would support groups such as ELF and ALF who commit large-scale acts of vandalism, never having harmed a living being)

I'll state now, I'm not supportive of violence. I'm quite the pacifist. I'm not even one who honestly supports the just war doctorine. I'm of the opinion that so long as we find any form of force as acceptable, we will find new ways to justify otherwise unjustifiable acts. What we do legally (such as self-defense laws) and promote personally can be different. I don't think people who harm another human through self-defense should go to jail, but we certainly need to do our part as a society to prevent violence that leads to anyone's harm. Though abortion isn't an act of murder, no matter at what point it happens. Viability assumes a baby and their parent(s) can afford the care necessary early in life and, potentially, for the rest of their life.

But we are a society that finds reasons to justify and celebrate violence and death. After all, John Brown with a rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other decorates a big wall in our Statehouse.

Honoring this history of justifiable violence officially, is it little wonder Dr. Tiller's clinic has been bombed, he's been shot once before, and this time killed in his church? Or that ORW stalks clinic workers and supporters.

Don't be fooled: if you use violent language to modivate your cause, violence will happen. You cannot use extreme language and expect non-extreme actions to happen.

This was not the first. This is not the last.

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