Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Social Response to Terrorism

Even in a land that respects freedom of speech, we are required to exercise judgment and edit ourselves. To exercise the old example, we are not permitted to go into a movie theatre and yell, "Fire!!" without owning the consequences.

All the same, it is legal to say, "All abortion providers deserve to die." We don't want that to change. If those who fuel the nutcases and "lone wolves" like Scott Roeder will not apply some wisdom and discipline to themselves, there must be a response from society but it must not be a legal one. We don't want government rushing in and legislating speech.

The response must be social. There is a network of activists who advocate the use of terrorism as an answer to legal abortions in our country, and it operates openly with internet sites and other publications referring to the likes of John Salvi, Paul Hill, and Eric Rudolph as heroes and even as martyrs, publishing apologetics for the killing of physicians, bombing medical clinics, and intimidating women seeking legal medical advice and services, even denying those women their legal right to save their own lives in the event their pregnancies go horribly wrong.

Their campaign of terrorism has been successful. Despite legislation to protect medical clinics, we have permitted terrorists to discourage doctors from performing medical procedures that are not illegal. There are very few doctors who will perform a late-term abortion if your fetus is stillborn. Terrorism is often successful to a degree, and it has been successful here even as we claim to be winning a "war on terrorism" in lands far away.

There are things the government can and should do, like make a visible demonstration of its resolve to protect clinics and the people who work there. Our eloquent President could make a speech calling this domestic terrorism exactly what it is. Yet we cannot leave it all for others, and certainly not for government.

What are some social responses to terror? It begins with an attitude of zero tolerance for apologetics. In the wake of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, there have been some rather bold apologetics on the mainstream media. They rationalize that Tiller ("Tiller the Baby Killer," as Bill O'Reilly branded him on a regular basis on his popular television and radio shows, ) extinguished human life, therefore deserved to be killed by citizens taking matters into their own hands.


And if I could get my hands on Tiller -- well, you know. Can't be vigilantes. Can't do that. It's just a figure of speech.

Bill O'Reilly on his radio show, 6 November 2006. He said this knowing Tiller had been the target of death threats for many years, had been shot in both arms outside his medical clinic, knowing that this was not some rhetorical monster but a man with a family who was violating no law, but practicing medicine.

Just a figure of speech? No.

Zero tolerance for apologetics. No, a television personality is not responsible for Tiller's murder. That responsibility rests on Scott Roeder alone. The apologetics for Tiller's death, however, are no better than hate speech. Apologetics providing a rationale for citizens to put themselves above the law and murder people with whom they disagree are protected by our Constitution, the same our First Amendment protects the speech of a nazi or a racist. We err on the side of liberty, but we may still react socially by refusing to sit quietly and allow the apologetics for terrorism to continue. The law can only intervene when the speech is clearly inciting an imminent act of violence. There is a point, all the same, where the speech is dangerous yet legally in the clear.

The Fox News network is one example. Here is a network with high ratings, watched by millions of people, presenting one commentator after another who has stoked the hatred that encourages zealots to make a violent fantasy into reality. Michelle Malkin. Ann Coulter. Bill O'Reilly. Laura Ingraham. Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue (who said of Tiller, "he reaped what he sowed"). Their apologetics for violent resistance to Roe vs. Wade have gone on for years, assisting the crazy in making their twisted rationale for murdering adult human beings and thus sealing their own fates. These apologetics linger in their reactions to Tiller's assassination, even while they make the obligatory statements of rebuke.

ZERO social tolerance for apologetics. I will not be in a grocery store, dry cleaners, bar, or household that is playing Fox News. I don't want my child hearing these things, either -- not even at his early age. It is poison. Apologetics for violence are a heinous misuse of broadcast privileges -- giving moral validation to the insanity of, for example, the Army of God.

(Sidebar: The Army of God likes to put pictures of aborted fetuses on their website, so be careful clicking that link. I wonder how they would respond to photographs of dead adults, grieving widows and widowers of people killed in abortion clinic violence?)

(Sidebar #2: Check out the Army of God website anyway, and compare their website to those of radical Islamist terror groups.)


"Turn that crap off," you can say. Or be more polite. It is the worst possible use of television. And if you must vacate a dwelling that broadcasts apologetics for murder and gives comfort to terrorists, be sure to explain why.

This is happening to our entire country, not just a few abortion clinics. This is being done to all of us, regardless of our stance on abortion. Those who oppose the legality of abortion would serve their cause well by explicitly rejecting terrorism: affirm life, and reject violence.

Be unafraid. Be proud. Speak softly and intelligently, yet be firm. We are supposed to be in a war against terrorism.

1 comment:

Debby said...

Well said. Very, very well said.