Monday, June 1, 2009

What the Tiller Assassination Means

I was saddened and appalled, though not really shocked, over the news about the murder of noted abortionist George Tiller. Tiller was one of my least favorite people, and his work providing late term abortions was truly evil, though no worse than any other abortionist. However, slaughtering those who disagree with us on moral issues is both wrong and ineffective, and I, like all pro-lifers, condemn the murder and the man who committed it.

Some wonder why, if abortion is truly murder, it is not moral to kill as many abortionists as possible in order to reduce the number of abortions. (It is mostly, in fact almost exclusively, pro-choicers who pose this question). It is possible that Tiller’s murderer used that reasoning—Tiller was one of few abortionists who did late term abortions, so many of his potential clients will have nowhere else to go for abortions. Pro-lifers condemn the murder of George Tiller—but why, if it prevented murder?

There are, I think, two reasons such actions are wrong. The first is the ineffectiveness of such killings—any drop in the number of abortions as a result of Tiller’s death will probably be more than offset by the ill-will garnered by the pro-life movement as a result of the killing. Assassinations, as Brutus, Booth, and Čabrinović, found out, don’t usually work the way they are intended to.

The second reason is that we live in a democracy, and unless people consent to be governed by the laws made by the majority, democracy is meaningless. If the proper response to disagreement is violence, then democracy is undermined. Everyone owes allegiance to the state and to society, provided that society is just.

If the society is just, of course, rebellion may be a just and moral thing to do—those Germans who conspired against Hitler during World War II were probably justified in doing so. But I think it is hard to argue that contemporary American society is so unjust as to be illegitimate, and violence in this situation is quite wrong. An analogous situation is that of blacks during the forties, fifties, and sixties. The racial prejudice they faced was wrong—but the proper response was not murder. Had Martin Luther King used bullets instead of words, he would be remembered today as the same sort of monster as Scott Roeder, George Tiller’s murderer.

Pro-lifers who commit violence are in the wrong. Every pro-lifer realizes that. But the reaction of much of the media intentionally ignores this fact, and much of the analysis of this crime amounts to what is really nothing more than a smear job against those whom oppose abortion.

Pro-lifers have been protesting Tiller for years. Bill O’Reilly (who, by the way, isn’t pro-life—he supports abortion rights) has devoted a great many shows towards exposing Tiller. The idea is that all that protesting and exposing inspired Roeder to do what he did, making the pro-life movement partially responsible for Tiller’s murder.

This charge is slander, and honestly I cannot see how anyone could make it in good faith. No movement can be held accountable for the actions of everyone who shares its goals, and the pro-life movement is no exception. Roeder is a nut with a history of potential violence (he has been arrested before for having bomb materials in his car), and had little movement (aside from the odd blog comment) with the pro-life movement. Every pro-life group condemns, and has always condemned, violence, and Roeder acted without any encouragement from any pro-life group.

It is not only pro-life extremists who spread violence. Ecoterrorism is relatively common, and anti-war protesters are notorious for vandalism. Monday, a man shot and killed an army recruiter—he was a convert to Islam and his motive was almost certainly dissatisfaction with U.S. foreign policy, something that most liberals share. Are mainstream, anti-war liberals to be held accountable for the actions of this man?

Of course not, since they have always condemned such violence. Pro-lifers have always condemned such violence too, and bear no responsibility for the death of George Tiller.


At June 2, 2009 at 2:13 PM , Blogger Z-man said...

Thought provoking as usual. As to the pro-life fallout and the msm and pro-choicers making hay out of this here's another angle to consider. Do the choicers really want to go down this road, this very subject of late-term abortions? grisly stuff and as conventional wisdom would have it they always want to discuss much earlier abortions anyway. Late-term abortions is a risky topic for this crowd so we'll say how it plays out.

At June 2, 2009 at 4:18 PM , Blogger BB-Idaho said...

Like his killer, Dr. Tiller did what he thought was right ...

At June 3, 2009 at 5:24 AM , Blogger Beth said...

BB, don't you think there are problems when we make morals relative? What's wrong with having a consensus on right and wrong?

At June 3, 2009 at 7:27 AM , Blogger Z-man said...

What bothers me is you'd think there would be a consensus on what Bill O'Reilly said, that Tiller was responsible for the killing of over 60,000 viable fetuses over the age of 21 weeks. I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that the Left is evil, it's not decent and it's not the type of conclusion I like to draw since I do have that civil streak and like civil debate. Truthfully it's Dr. Tiller who should have been in prison for aborting perfectly viable fetuses. Rare acts of violence by lone anti-abortionists, as despicable as they are are not the real issue.

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