Cry me a river

MSNBC, Conviction angers anti-abortion militants*

Testifying in his own defense, a remorseless and resolute Roeder insisted he had committed a justified act for the defense of unborn children by killing Dr. George Tiller, one of the country’s few physicians to offer late-term abortions. It was a bold legal strategy that, if successful, had the potential to radically alter the debate over abortion by reducing the price for committing such an act of violence.

When it failed, those who share Roeder’s passionate, militant belief against abortion were outraged: One said they are getting tired of being treated as a “piece of dirt” unable to express the reasons for such acts in court.

Maybe you’d get more respect from the courts if your legal theories didn’t entail undermining the very social contract that makes us able to function as a society. Oh, and if you weren’t in favor of shooting people in their homes and churches. Just a thought.

* (Can I just say, I’m pleased that they used “militants” and not “activists”? Cheerleading for murder isn’t activism.)

Links on the Tiller murder

I am working 14-hour days, so in lieu of writing, I link.

Is she serious?

There were maybe two quotes in this article about Obama’s “common ground” participants that didn’t make me want to scream. This wasn’t one of them.

Tiller’s death is a “massive setback” in the search for common ground, said Cristina Page, a New York City author and abortion rights advocate. “It’s sort of like having a family member murdered and then being asked to make nice with the assassin’s family. It’s unnatural.”

I understand that this is an emotional time. Nobody’s doing their best thinking when someone on “their side” has just been murdered. But does Cristina Page honestly believe that the kind of person who feels any kinship with murderers of abortion providers would sit down with pro-choice advocates in Barack Obama’s White House? Really?

I hate to break this to her, but the kind of person who feels any kinship with murderers of abortion providers wouldn’t even sit down with the kind of person who would meet with pro-choice advocates in Barack Obama’s White House.

What do we do next?

I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing this post. On the one hand, I know what I want to suggest. I want to say, we should protest against the murder cheerleaders. We should show them that they are alone, that they are beyond the pale, that they do not have our support, not even in our most private thoughts.

The trouble is, I can’t figure out whether it would help or not.

In my experience, genuinely peaceful pro-lifers can and do issue condemnations all day long and it doesn’t make a bit of difference to the pro-violence wing. They hate us and consider us traitors. They don’t care what we say about them, and they sure as hell won’t listen. In fact, being denounced by other abortion opponents just serves to highlight to them how much purer they are than everyone else. As janinedm puts it, “for a certain type of person, the rhetoric gets to the point that the nonviolent approach is also a form of treason and the violence is as much about spiritual purging as it is about the achievement of certain ends.”

So, I’m at a loss. How do you stop people over whom you have no authority and with whom you have no credibility? Nonetheless, we need to try. I’ve seen pro-lifers object to the notion that we have a special responsibility to stop this kind of violence, because it’s not the fault of people who speak and act peacefully. I say that something doesn’t have to be your fault to be your problem.

I’ve been thinking of writing to the leaders of the pro-life organizations I belong to and asking them to institute a policy stating that anyone who condones anti-abortion violence is not welcome as a member or a donor. I don’t imagine too many advocates of violence are interested in belonging to PLAGAL or Consistent Life anyway, but it would set an example.

I’m still going to do this, but I’m not sure how much of an effect it will have.

Several commenters in the previous thread had suggestions for action:
* Catherine brought up the possibility of donating to Tiller’s church.
* Marysia suggested donating to organizations working against handgun violence.
* Gwendolyn thought that pro-lifers should hold anti-violence vigils.

What are your thoughts?

On the murder of George Tiller

I want to express my horror at the crime that was committed today, and my condolences to the family of George Tiller. Were I in any position to, I would help the authorities apprehend and convict his killer.

I’ll have more tomorrow, but I don’t think this is the appropriate time.

Other suspect people

To: Lisa Boyce, Vice President of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin

Dear Ms. Boyce:

An article in last week’s Shepherd-Express attributed the following to you:

Boyce also noted that while WRTL condemned Paul Hill Days, its press release provided enough information about the event and its organizers to allow supporters to seek out more information and attend it.

You seem to have been implying that Wisconsin Right to Life actually covertly supported Paul Hill Days, and that their statement of denunciation was just for show.

If in fact that is your position, I wish to bring to your attention some people who provided even more information about Paul Hill Days than WRTL did, usually in the form of linking to the event’s web site:

Better keep an eye on all of us.

The best way to deal with the violent fringe: confront or ignore?

So, “Paul Hill Days” has* come and gone. I’m pleased, though not a bit surprised, to learn that turnout was poor: the murder cheerleaders were able to scrape up sixty people for their parade only by dragging along their children. The re-enactment of Hill’s crime was even more sparsely attended. I’ve seen video online, and there appeared to be about twenty-five people there. Maybe a few more if you count the gawkers in the background.

I’ve discussed this subject with many very reasonable, absolutely anti-violence people who argue that Hill’s admirers should be given as little attention or acknowledgment as possible. The people behind this event are a tiny fringe, they say. They have a martyr complex that we probably feed by speaking out against them. They have a desire for publicity that we definitely feed by speaking out against them.

All that is true, and if these were just people spouting off ugly opinions on the Internet, I might agree that the best thing to do is ignore them. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. The organizers of “Paul Hill Days” celebrate and associate with people who have proven their willingness to kill. It would only take one of them being inspired to action by this rally for more murders to take place.

Wisconsin Right to Life (the Wisconsin affiliate of National Right to Life) issued a press release denouncing “Paul Hill Days”. (You can thank them here.) Pro-Life Wisconsin (an associate of American Life League) did not:

When asked why Pro-Life Wisconsin did not denounce the event, Hamill said her organization did not want to get involved.

“We only speak on what our organization is doing,” Hamill said. “We’re not about to comment on what other organizations are doing.”

That’s just wrong. As I mentioned above, there are perfectly good reasons why not every pro-life organization issues a statement every time some marginal figure says something crazy enough to make the news. But this was a celebration of the murder of two people that was taking place in PLW’s own backyard, in the name of their cause. To refuse to speak against it even when asked point-blank goes beyond merely “not commenting on other groups” and comes dangerously close to tacit approval.

To Pro-Life Wisconsin: your representatives could have refused to comment on any specific activities while emphasizing your own group’s stand against violence. They could have gone further and stated that since using violence against abortion providers is contrary to the goals of your organization, people who support it should neither join nor donate money to Pro-Life Wisconsin. All this, without once mentioning any other group.

[Planned Parenthood spokesperson Lisa] Boyce also noted that while WRTL condemned Paul Hill Days, its press release provided enough information about the event and its organizers to allow supporters to seek out more information and attend it.

That’s also just wrong. Wisconsin Right to Life’s statement may not have been as strong as I might have liked. (Personally, I think an in-person protest would have been appropriate.) But, well, National Right to Life has a pretty stodgy institutional personality, and WRTL’s statement is actually more strongly worded than I’d expect from one of their affiliates. They’re just not fire-breathers, you know? There’s absolutely no reason to believe that the statement was anything but sincere. For Boyce to hint otherwise is just a cheap attempt to score political points by implying that the pro-violence forces actually have a lot of secret support among regular pro-lifers — a falsehood which some of the pro-violence forces believe as well, and which gives them aid and comfort.

The danger of condemning something loudly and publicly is that by doing so, we bring more attention to it. I’ve long been opposed to the disproportionate press coverage given to certain figures who are famous for promoting the “justifiable homicide” theory. I feel that interviewing these people and treating them as though they’re a major force in the pro-life movement just gives them more of a platform for spreading their views.

So, for WRTL to provide specific information about “Paul Hill Days” in their press release (and really, they didn’t provide very much), or for me to link to their web site, may have been a tactical error. Maybe it would be better to follow the example of many anti-racists, who refuse to link to sites such as Stormfront when discussing them. I’m not convinced, though. I believe it’s vital for pro-lifers to denounce violence, and to do it not just in general terms but to confront promoters of violence with our opposition, so that they know they don’t have our unspoken support. That might be worth giving them a little more attention in the process.

* Grammarians, please advise: “have” or “has”? “Days” is, of course, plural, but the overall event is singular**.

** And thank goodness it is.

Oh, HELL no.

From Frederick Clarkson comes word of Paul Hill Days:

Planned events include:

  • Activities at our two remaining killing centers
  • Literature distribution
  • Ministry at the Federal Courthouse
  • Reenactment of 7-29-1994
  • Paul Hill March
  • Ministry at other public forums
  • This needs to be protested. Vigorously. By pro-lifers.

    EDIT: I realized not everyone necessarily knows who Paul Hill was. On July 29, 1994, he shot and killed two people, and wounded another, at an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida.

    This rally in Milwaukee is cheerleading for murder.