June 1, 2009

Back. Bleary-eyed, and avoiding grading, but back

Week three of intersession starts today. On the remodel, the framing will be inspected this week, and we might do heat and air, electrical, and even start insulation and dry wall. Or not. Who the hell knows?


There was a lot in the news last week. I hope to catch up on some of it. Some was stupid--like some conservatives complaining about how Sonia Sotomayor pronounced her name, or that she actually likes Puerto Rican food. In fact, the Sotomayor nomination appears to be a real problem for the Republicans. They cannot figure out how to respond, and we even have Senator Cornyn telling Newt, et al., that calling Sotomayor a racist is inappropriate. Newt, of course, responded with more claims that Sotmayor is a racist.

But this morning, I was reminded of the news of an abortion doctor, shot down in church. Shot as he was serving as an usher in church. They now have a suspect in custody, but one of the reasons we have this kind of domestic terrorism is the rhetoric of abortion as murder.

Shot in church.



Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Streak said...

Anonymous trolls leaving pro-murder comments get deleted every damn time.

Abraham said...

I have read that George Tiller performed thousands of abortions. He put an end to thousands of lives. His killer put an end to one life. Thousands vs. one. Who was the greater evil, Tiller or his killer?

Streak said...

So that whole "thou shall not kill" doesn't apply?

I am not interested in dialoguing with someone who condones cold-blooded murder. In a church, for Christ's sake.

Abraham said...


Doesn't "thou shalt not kill" apply to abortion too? And what is an abortion if not "cold-blooded murder"?

And, why is murdering someone in a church worse than murdering them in a doctor's office?

Streak said...

So by your definition, the existence of one wrong justifies another?

This reminds me of those who justify torture based on what terrorists do. If Christianity is so easily set aside, then it ceases to be Christianity. You don't get to define your moral stance based on the perceived "evil" of the other.

Abraham said...

When Tiller was murdering those thousands of babies, did you condemn him on your blog? I've read your blog some, and I don't remember your saying Tiller was wrong.

But I do know that as soon as you had the opportunity, you condemned Tiller's killer.

Streak said...

I see you avoided the question by turning it into an attack on me. Because I am a supporter (though a very uncomfortable one) of abortion rights, then my condemnation of Tiller's murder is somehow invalid?

You avoided the question. Does the wrong of another justify your own sin? Is your Christianity only valid when you have to address those people you like or agree with?

Abraham said...

You have a double standard. You don't have a problem with murder, as long as you approve of who is being murdered. You are fine with unborn babies being killed, but you take great offense when the murderer of unborn babies is killed.

Streak said...

Fine. Dismiss me.

But explain your own double standard. You are fine with the murder of one person based on your belief that he deserved to die.

Your Bible says that you should not murder, but you seem to think you know better. Don't lecture me on morality.

Abraham said...

Like most liberals, you cannot distinguish between the innocent and the guilty. Unborn babies are innocent; they have done nothing that deserves being killed for.

Tiller, on the other hand was a murderer and worthy of death. The man who killed him, if he killed him for doing abortions, did not have the authority to become Tiller's executioner. If the government would do it's job, the government would have executed Tiller long ago.

Streak said...

"If anyone has an urge to kill someone at an abortion clinic, they should shoot me. ... It's madness. It discredits the right-to-life movement. Murder is murder. It's madness. You cannot prevent killing by killing." - John Cardinal O'Connor.Obviously, you know better. Your morality is defined by those you hate. Congrats.

And go away.

leighton said...


Domestic terrorism indeed. That DHS report is looking more and more timely.

Regarding Sotomayor, I really hope DC Republicans get through this identity crisis soon and remember what principles are, so they can function as an effective opposition party. As much as I hated our two-party system, having a de facto one-party system will sooner or later be worse.

Monk-in-Training said...

This is appalling, and nothing less than religious terrorism. It has to be stopped, or it will tear us apart as a society.

I am pro-life, but this is beyond anything that actually helps women choose (yes I think it is THEIR choice) to continue their pregnancy.

I also understand this doctor performed a lot of late term abortions for women whose baby was gravely ill or so malformed as to be unable to survive outside the womb. There has to be some ability for procedures of this type to be around for just such circumstances.

I also understand that Bill O'Rielly has conducted a verbal campaign against Dr. Tiller. In many countries I suspect he could be considered an instigator of the crime.

steves said...

I first heard about this when one of my friends informed me that someone we worked with is an associate pastor at that church. I fully understand that this topic often provokes passionate arguments from both sides. I can especially see how late-term abortion can do this, but I fail to see how this can be seen as anything but cold-blooded murder.

I caught BillO the last few nights and heard his comments regarding this incident. As much as I don't really care for him, I find myself defending him. Several of his critics weren't being entirely truthful in reporting on what he said. Being anti-abortion, it is no surprise that he commented on what Tiller did for a living, but, IMO, he never said anything that could be construed as promoting his murder. In addition, he clearly said that it was wrong to murder Tiller and that to condone it would be promoting lawlessness and anarchy.

Streak said...

I can't watch Billo. Can't hardly watch clips. The man is odious. So I have no clue if he has made this situation worse. I do think that the right wing talk radio and people like Bill have made us more angry and have actually encouraged some of the more violent parts of the right wing.

But the pro-life movement has a lot of problems here as well. Once you label abortion "murder" and "a holocaust" you will get this kind of response (as we saw with our resident defender of murder). Those who saw (or my case, read) Randall Terry's response the other day saw someone essentially endorse this murder. They make me a little sick. And Billo, while not in that league, has been horrible on so many of these topics.

BTW, Leighton, regarding the Republicans and Sotomayor, I agree completely. I have been calling for more "grownup Republicans" to assert themselves and retake their party. Unfortunately, what we seem to see is more of Newt Gingrich, who can be credited for starting a lot of this political poison himself.

steves said...

I am not really a huge fan of Billo, either. It was on in the background while I was reading. In terms of what caused the murder, I have a few points.

One, is that we should be cautious at making guesses and listening to experts. Look at Colombine. It turns out that much of what people thought were causes were not. The same holds true for the "Beltway Sniper." We should be especially cautious of attempts to pass knee-jerk legislation.

In many countries I suspect he could be considered an instigator of the crime.Another point is that I am not sure how much rhetoric is to blame and we should be cautious in making this accusation. I am glad that 1st Amendment caselaw prevents us from following the lead of countries that would criminalize certain forms of speech. Obviously, there is a point where speech may cause imminent violence, but short of theat, the government shouldn't be allowed to step in and regulate expression. I am reminded of what Noam Chomsky says, "If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise."

I know that no one here is suggesting that there be speech regulations, but there isn't a huge leap to regulation from saying that certain speech makes other people murder other people. From what little is known, Tiller's murderer was a very disturbed individual.

Labeling abortion "murder" is just part of trying to frame the debate. We see it all the time. Terry's response was disturbing. I am generally pro-life, but I don't put myself with people like him. Finding common ground and encouraging some kind of workable compromise seems more productive.

Regarding Sotamayor, I agree with Leighton. I have heard plenty of intelligent questions and comments, so it would be nice to see if this what comes from most of the GOP. I expect some idiots, as it always happens. The Alito and Roberts hearings were pretty uneventful, but there were accusations of racism and misogyny.

Streak said...

I am certainly not interested in curtailing free speech--even free speech of idiots like O'Reilly and Michael Savage. Nor do I think that is what is on the table here.

I would like them to experience a bit of public shame for their carelessness with words. That is what I would like. And I understand that calling abortion "murder" is trying to frame the debate. But that doesn't mean that it is responsible to do so.

Monk-in-Training said...

Some speech can be considered criminal, such as yelling 'fire' in a crowed theatre or incitement to riot. That being said, I know of no (nor do I want) any effort to curtail Bill O's freedom of speech.

I agree with Streak, he can say what he wants, but being publicly called to account and shamed for his words is also perfectly resonable.

steves said...

I didn't mean to suggest that anyone here was for speech laws, just that I hoped that wasn't the next step. We already have numerous attempts to set up hate-speech codes in some places, bans on video games, and the FCC getting a little overexcited about certain things.

The abortion debate is probably one of the most obvious examples of using certain words to make an argument, such as "pro-choice", "pro-life", and others. I don't use the word murder, but if a person feels that it is morally wrong and that it is a taking of a life, then what should they call it? My objection to the use of murder is that word, by it's definition, is an unlawful killing. Since abortion is legal, then it can't be considered murder.

FWIW, yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre is not illegal. You may be held liable for what happens, but it depends on what happens. Inciting a riot is also difficult to prosecute and requires some immediacy.

I have no problem with media windbags being called to account and often enjoy when that happens.

Monk-in-Training said...

I run across this question by Conor Friedersdorf on his blog, "The American Scene". I find it extremely illuminating!

"Would these predominantly conservative officials, commentators and writers be comfortable if President Obama declared two or three extremist pro-lifers as “enemy combatants”? Should Pres. Obama have the prerogative to order the waterboarding of these uncharged, untried detainees? Should he be able to listen in on phone conversations originating from evangelical churches where suspected abortion extremists hang out?"

How quickly the tables can be turned.

leighton said...

Fred Clark at Slacktivist has a very thoughtful post on the religious right's history with the issue of abortion, most particularly how it didn't start the way most people think--many evangelical leaders at the time actually applauded Roe v Wade after it passed (since anti-abortion was largely a Catholic cause). One former SBC president commented in particular that he was very pleased, since personhood only begins at some point after birth. How things change in only 36 years.

This is old news, but seems worth revisiting.

Streak said...

Leighton, you beat me to it, as you will see in my recent post. I remember reading the Balmer book and my jaw dropping at the real issue that pulled the religious right into the political sphere (protecting the tax free and racist status of Bob Jones U).

Monk, I have often put that very question to my conservative friends, but at this point, have received no good responses.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Schaeffer covers alot of my thinking on this issue. Abortion is priority number 1 for a large number of christians. From Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri retreat/training center down through the fundmentalist movement the issues of abortion and homosexuality are top priorities. Militant language, calls for god's law to be followed over man's law, etc.... are there down through the decades for all to see. These issues carry a corporate taint that these guys believe inundates society and will cause the removal of "god's blessing" if they're allowed to remain.

Lest we be accused of dramatic conspiracy theories, you can read the transcript of "A Manifesto for the Christian Church" here:

It's well worth a good read, especially after you see who all signed it at the end (BTW Edith Schaeffer is Mrs. Francis Schaeffer)

I won't commit the sin of cut and paste but check out the section on scripture. In the section "The bible states reality for all areas of life and thought" it is laid out that the bible is the only authority for law and governance. In the next paragraph on "Cause and Effect Relationships of God's Commandments" they state: "Those people or nations who live in opposition to biblical laws and commandments will, sooner or later, be cursed and destroyed."

If you skip down to pg 13 and read the section "Social Evils to Oppose" you'll see #1 is abortion on demand, infanticide, and euthanasia.

If you then go to pg 15-18 you'll see the signers. The heading does state that some have retracted support since but it's still an interesting read.

All of the above to say that this document along with plenty of documentation on fundamentalist leadership, their secret meetings such as the one at Glenn Eyrie, all supports the thinking, theology, philosophy- whatever you want to call it- that god's law is to be followed above the law of the land if the two become contradictory. This is NOT to say that these folks are advocating extra-judicial executions/assassinations/murders, but they certainly have laid out the path to that end pretty clearly and often with plenty of emotion. This kind of rhetoric certainly wouldn't be blown off if delivered by a leader or leaders of other religions.

The rule of law and the guarantees that give these fundamentalists the right to say what they want also provides for a process of leveling grievances through legal means. They have, however, the trump card of absolute truth and "higher law". Add to that the message that the nation as a whole is being corrupted by these practices and will result in the removal of god's favor and it's a short mental journey to justify the killing (murder) of an individual who is practicing legally but, in their opinion, sinfully or immorally.

We've had a generation or more now of this kind of teaching to wide audiences. It's one of the reasons, in my opinion, that it's not unusual at all to find myself caught in a conversation where someone, usually a self-labeled christian, insinuates or outright states that an abortion doctor brings this kind of thing on himself, or that torturing "those people" is perfectly fine, or granting homosexuals the same rights heterosexuals take for granted results in terrorist attacks or economic downturns.

Sorry for the length. I don't have time to comment much lately so I tend to over-do it when I get the chance.


Bootleg Blogger said...

For some reason it cuts the link off:

Streak said...

Bootlegger, so nice to hear from you! I will take a look at this link in the future. Reminds me, at least a little, of something that Pandagon posted on behind the scenes coaching for those trying to convince college students that abortion is murder.