Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Crime against Life

Dr. George Tiller, whose Wichita, Kansas, women's clinic has been the target of anti-abortion protests for years, was shot and killed at his church today, his attorneys said. The 67-year-old doctor was one of the few U.S. physicians who still performed late-term abortions. He survived a 1993 shooting outside his clinic.
So reads the CNN lede. What a tragedy, not only for Dr. Tiller and his family, but for the Pro-Life cause. This is the kind of savage act -- like the murder of Matthew Shepherd -- that gives credibility to the attacks on our moral traditions.

Just as we are all in some way complicit in the unspeakable crimes of Dr. Tiller, we are all tainted with the crime committed against him. All this will of course be lost on most, as this terrible murder is turned into a political bonanza by the pro-abortion forces. It will only be a matter of time before Hollywood turns Dr. Tiller's murder into a story of right-wing Christian terrorism -- the demented act of one deranged madman made into a specter which will be used to eclipse the savagery of the abortion industry.

The crime committed against Dr. Tiller and his family is simultaneously a propagantda tool that will be used to justfy the savage acts which Dr. Tiller routinely performed and championed.

A black day for us all.


Unknown said...

Gil, while I admire your work, I sometimes get the feeling that this subject of abortion is so important to you that it causes distortions. For one thing, I think that many pro-life people share a common experience when something like this happens: they have to recognize that their initial reaction is one -- not of pleasure, of course -- but of some degree of satisfaction: here's a guy doing LATE-TERM ABORTIONS, the worst sort of person in their eyes, a kind of uber-Kevorkian, who would be a hero of certain people on the left, etc. etc. Naturally, if one reads about the fellow, one learns that he had a family, friends, did many good things, too, etc, and -- upon reflection -- one may start to feel guilty that someone who shares the same impassioned view on the subject went off the deep end and committed a "savage act," as you put it.

Your post seems confused (and again -- this is from someone who respects you and your work). You start off saying how savage the murder was. But since you could never openly admit some degree of satisfaction in the act -- or at least a lot of compassion for the killer (who, however self-deceived he is, feels he is saving babies) j-- it done throws off your voice, as Flannery O'Connor might say. That's the likeliest explanation for the fact that in a 100 word post you go from deploring the savagery of the murder to making it quite clear that the true source of your discomfort is that this might be bad for the cause.

The passion to save the cause is so intense with you, as with the murderer, that you exaggerate everything: this event is not going to be a bonanza for the will die away in two months at the absolute maximum. This doctor will be forgotten by the media, as always happens, though his family will have to live without him. Your passion is so intense that you conjure up the Hollywood bogeyman -- like an army they are ready to strike and crush the cause. Come visit the city of Angels soon: there is not a single executive in town who is going to see commercial potential in this depressing event. Relax.

Basically I would say to you this: the abortion issue is going to be divisive. I share your view that abortion is wrong. But unlike you I don't pretend that this event is not completely predictable, and unavoidable, in a situation as impassioned and conflicted as this. As a scholar of Rene Girard, you should know these things as well as anyone. Since when did you become a believer in the power of the social contract? The pro-life side of things feels they are outnumbered and threatened by the liberal media. They are so threatened that they would rather vote for a total moron like Sarah Palin than a brilliant and inspiring young man because this single issue is all that matters. Your own voice stutters and you make misspellings when an event makes it seem likely that (for a few days anyway) the cause is going to be weakened. Imagine how others who share your rage about this issue must experience it? Then you'll see that there is no way to have your cause carried on at such a pitch without things like this happening. Alas.

Athos said...

I fully agree with John Cardinal O'Connor -

"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."

We are all fallen human beings, and are all capable of horrifying disconnects.

But that someone could so routinely go about the normal life of a Lutheran layman - ushering occasionally, wife in the choir, men's monthly breakfast, civic leader in his community - while ending the life of babies nearly full term time after time reminds me of this.

Mike O'Malley said...

Paul wrote: They are so threatened that they would rather vote for a total moron like Sarah Palin than a brilliant and inspiring young man because this single issue is all that matters..
One can see, the fruits of David Axelrod's campaign of political character assassination do endure. But what of that young legislative protégé of Emil Jones, a man without executive experience, save for the failure of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge? Is President Obama as brilliant as you claim, Paul? Can you tell us how Barack Obama got into Harvard? Can you say how he came to be President of Harvard Law Review? There we find scant evidence of Barack Obama's brilliance. Tell us Paul of how well or poorly did Barack Obama do at Columbia. President Obama is a man of political talent, but one might think by now that it would be obvious to all but the most devout that he has been oversold.


Paul wrote: But unlike you I don't pretend that this event is not completely predictable, and unavoidable, in a situation as impassioned and conflicted as this..
One might agree, from the vantage of American history. Yet over the span of decades the pro-Life movement has fallen far short of what levels of "completely predictable" morally impassioned deadly violence that Bloody Kansas, John Brown's raid on Harpers' Ferry, the Weather Underground or even the career of Democratic Presidential contender, Rev. Al Sharpton, might suggest.
I agree Athos. The emerging picture of the suspect suggests a dangerous ex-con and anti-government fanatic who engaged in a nilihistic act. Your linked photo seems appropos given the completely predictable whitewashed hagiographies of Dr. Tiller's career as an abortionist that are emerging.

Mark Gordon said...

The problem with some commentators is that the unborn are a pure abstraction for them. Well, here's a concrete example of Tiller's "work" to pore over: I have a friend, a former colleague, who got his girlfriend pregnant many years ago. The girl was from another country and a culture with a strong prohibition against marrying outside the tribe. Nevertheless, she decided to keep the baby ... until nearly the last moment. Overcome with fear that her family would disown her, the girl flew to Kansas where George Tiller accommodated her desire to end the life of her healthy, viable child. She went without telling my friend, who has mourned the loss of his child ever since.

Now, some may believe that the passion should be excised from the pro-life movement, but that's only because they won't or can't acknowledge the flesh-and-blood reality of what goes on in places like Tiller's clinic. Sometimes, these folks will even write "I share your view that abortion is wrong," with approximately the same passion that they might write, "I share your view that white slacks after Labor Day is an embarrassment." What this reveals is that while these people may indeed believe that abortion is wrong, they also believe it's really no big deal.

On my blog, I condemned the murder of George Tiller without reservation. Tiller was a human person made in the image and likeness of God. His never surrendered his essential and eternal dignity, even though he denied that same dignity to others. His murder is worthy of condemnation first because murder is an intrinsic evil, and one may never do evil to bring about good. Only secondly did I condemn the act because it harms the pro-life cause. I'm certain that Gil agrees entirely with that ordering of condemnations.

Mike O'Malley said...

Thank you for your follow up Mr. Gordon. I printed out your blog posting for careful reading while I am traveling later.

Initially I intended to return to amplify my condemnation of the assassination of Dr. Tiller, because a sudden assassination of a man who might well be living in a state of mortal sin would seem to be a grievous offense against G-d in itself. In any case Dr. Tiller and his family need our prayers, as does the suspect, Scott Roeder, who may not be entirely responsible for his actions.

I also intended to ask Mr. Bailie what might the pro-Life movement reasonably do to exclude members with violent criminal backgrounds. Scott Roeder had been convicted of, and was sentenced on, charges related to bomb making back in the 90s. Yet as time passed and more information became available we learn that the suspected killer appears to have suffered from mental illness for well over a decade; and that several years ago a Shawnee County District Court judge said Roeder presented a "threat of danger to the public." Moreover we find that "Roeder has no links to any legitimate pro-life group other than a couple of postings on a public forum on a pro-life web site. Otherwise, he has never been a volunteer of, staff member of or in any way associated with either national, state or local pro-life groups." Under the circumstances it seems that public attention might better be focused on the court rules for the exclusion of evidence that allowed for Mr. Roeder's criminal conviction to be overturned, and upon our mental illness-competency laws which have long been in need of reform. We also need to determine how Roeder came into possession of a gun.

Moreover, much of the Left has engaged in a orgy of vilification of pro-Lifers since the news of Dr. Tiller's murder became known. Yet this reaction seems hard to justify based on what we now know. One wonders why the social left rushed to judgment and vitrol. It is bad conscience? Do they suspect what Paul professes to know that abortion is wrong? Will the Left respond similarly to the terror assassination and attempted assassination of members of the US armed forces in Little Rock today. It is reported that the suspect, a convert to Islam, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, had "political and religious motives" for the killing. In any case, it would seem that retractions and apologies are due.

Mike O'Malley said...

Uh oh ... Robert Spencer relays, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, who killed one soldier and wounded another at a a Little Rock military recruiting center today, and who faces charges of terrorism as well as first-degree murder, has recently returned from Yemen, where he studied jihad with an Islamic scholar there".

Hmmm, what do you say to that Paul? I can't say I've ever heard of a pro-Lifer going abroad to study assassination and terror with the Franciscans or the Missionaries of Charity.

Mark Gordon said...


Thanks for the heads up on the shooting at the Arkansas military recruiting station yesterday. Strange, but this morning I have read both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and yet I saw no reporting on this murder by a "domestic terrorist." No banner headlines. No crawls CNN either. And no anti-Muslim invective on Daily Kos or HuffPo. No bloggers rushing to their keyboards to denounce violence. I guess Army Private William Long, 24, of Conway, Arkansas, doesn't rate the kinds of encomia reserved for George Tiller.

Mike O'Malley said...

Thank you Mr. Gordon.

Fortunately a liberal or two at Atlantic have noticed this "conspiracy of silence" about what may well be the first successful jihad terror attack in the US since 9/11.
The Yemen and Somali connections to the Little Rock attack that ABC News has been reporting are ominous. The first instance of a Muslim American jihadi engaging in a suicide bombing took place in Somalia last summer. Islamic jihadist clerics have been recruiting young Somali immigrant Americans for jihad and sending them back to the old country for a year or two. After last November's election it seems that a number of these experienced Muslim American jihadi have been quietly returning to America from the Somali battlefields.


Before I move on Mr. Gordon, I'll note that "Paul" has not returned to engage us in discussion. It seems that he was only interested in slurring Gil Bailie in particular and pro-Lifers in general.


It also seems to me Mr. Gordon, that the accused murderer, Scott Roeder, will not in fact save a single life by way of the assassination of Dr. Tiller. Dr. Tiller will be replace by one of his associates or some other abortionist and the regime of death will roll on. More likely S. Roeder, if guilty, will have retarded the pro-Life effort.

Surely we can agree that the necessary moral standing to make the necessary moral argument against abortion is fatally compromised by the use of murder to stop abortion.

Just as I think we will find that the necessary moral standing to make the necessary moral argument against suicide bombing and jihad is fatally compromised by the Western practice of abortion. Perhaps the Left senses as much and has chosen, in effect, to trade the long-term defense human rights and democracy against jihad for the "convenience" and availability of its use of abortion today.

Mark Gordon said...


This morning's Wall Street Journal includes an opinion piece by pro-choice liberal and gay rights advocate Kirchick, of the New Republic. The piece is titled: "The Religious Right Didn't Kill George Tiller." Some excerpts:

"Within hours after the murder, every antiabortion group in the country denounced the attack. Robert P. George, a leading Catholic intellectual opponent of abortion, wrote that "George Tiller's life was precious" and characterized his murder as "a gravely wicked thing." He called on his fellow abortion opponents to "teach that violence against abortionists is not the answer to the violence of abortion ...

"These unqualified reproaches are nothing new. The organized antiabortion movement has always opposed violence against abortion providers. That has never stopped opportunistic prochoice activists, however, from conflating their passionate rhetoric with the behavior of individual criminals. True to form, on Sunday, Mike Hendricks of the Kansas City Star accused anyone who had criticized Tiller as a murderer (Tiller aborted healthy, nine-month old fetuses) of being an "accomplice" to his death.

"Over the past decade this argumentative tactic has taken on an even more insidious twist. In addition to fighting violent, Muslim jihadists abroad, some liberals argue that America must deal with its own, homegrown terrorists. These are not just people who commit violence but millions of socially conservative evangelicals and Catholics -- 'Christianists' -- who comprise the base of the Republican Party and threaten the stability of the country."