Monday, June 1, 2009

Collateral Damage

The assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita yesterday has spurred a lot of reaction from all sides of the abortion debate. So far, the responsible and reasonable members of the anti-abortion side have condemned the act without equivocation (Brian at Incertus has a sampling) and even the folks at Operation Rescue have disavowed the vigilantism. (A suspect, Scott Roeder, has been arrested.) So far, the only person who has spoken out in a manner that makes it sound like “he got what he deserved” is the certifiable Randall Terry.

George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.

Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.

Mr. Terry is far more concerned about the future of his political and religious crusade than he is about human life. How Christianist of him.

As Hilzoy relates — often in graphic detail — Dr. Tiller provided abortion services to women whose pregnancies truly endangered their lives. But it’s more important to Mr. Terry that a woman carry a foetus without a brain to term rather than terminate a doomed pregnancy; he and his allies only see abortion and reproductive choice in terms of how it affects their ability to score political or religious points. To Randall Terry, life is only precious in the abstract. That’s the insanity speaking.

Perhaps not as crazy as Mr. Terry are those who singled out Dr. Tiller for their attacks on the entire pro-choice movement and who demanded that he be held accountable. Salon reports that Bill O’Reilly has campaigned against Dr. Tiller on television and radio, calling him a “baby killer” and warning against a “Judgment Day.” Unless he’s completely gone around the bend, Mr. O’Reilly will, with sincerity, condemn the murder of Mr. Tiller. But then you can be sure that he will say that in spite of all his proclamations against him, he is in no way responsible for the murder. “Hey,” he’ll say, “I’m just a guy on the radio expressing my opinions. I can’t be held accountable for every nut-job that listens to me and takes the law into his own hands.” Well, if that’s the case, why does he go on the radio and television in the first place? Is he not trying to shape opinions, or does he just do it to make money? If his words mean nothing, it seems that he could be doing something a bit more productive and beneficial to society, like selling shoes.

You can’t have it both ways. Words have meaning and consequences, and if the right to freedom of speech means you can say practically anything, it also means that you have the responsibility and the maturity to be held accountable for what happens when you write or speak them. Bill O’Reilly knows exactly who listens to him — anyone as obsessed with his ratings, especially in comparison to his arch-rival, MSNBC, would know every demographic down to the last Arbitron point — and he knows that people take action when he tells them to. All the sorrow he may express over the death of Dr. Tiller won’t mean much if he and all the others like Randall Terry who take the abortion debate to the level of terrorism don’t recognize that they have a role in it.