A Sad Day

1 06 2009

So a doctor is murdered. A doctor who helped many is gunned down by a madman.

And I tune into the progressive, liberal blog to get a good dose of “oh, isn’t that too bad” and I am hit with an argument about religion — Christ and Christianity and, finally, Satan.

Who is a real Christian and who is not and now Satan.

A crazed man posts his intentions online and follows through and the discussion is about mythology?

President Obama, could you hurry up on that business of bringing science and compassion back to this country? We need it!

Nance

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37 responses

1 06 2009
Kristina

Sigh. I don’t agree with abortion. But, this was a tragedy. Taking this human life saves no other human lives. This was no solution, rather it was a great offense.

1 06 2009
JJ

Talk about an unrepentant terrorist in America. Sean Hannity used that political phrase last year incessantly about William Ayers. Now he and his friends at FOX who teed up this brave and dedicated doctor (for women in reproductive crisis) for death threats, shooting, bombing and finally murder, need to apply it just as incessantly to the man who committed this act of terrorism — and to everyone who lived near him, belonged to the same church or education groups he did, or shared and sympathized with his politics. Assuming they plan to continue using that fair and balanced tagline.

Nance, I didn’t read the “pastordan” piece quite the way you did. What struck me was that he seems like a Christian openly trying to repudiate anti-woman fundamentalism in his faith, the way that Muslims need to keep doing:

“This is terrorism, plain and simple — Christian fundamentalist terrorism, committed by people Sam Smith has started referring to as “Jesus’s Jihadis.”

OTOH, I absolutely agree that to really value human life means we stop with the personal mysticism and mythology in the deadly real public sphere.

1 06 2009
Crimson Wife

I would disagree strongly with your assertion that Dr. Tiller “helped many”. But I definitely do not believe in violence against abortionists. Especially gunning down someone in a church 😦 It *IS* terrorism, even if I sympathize with the desire to stop Dr. Tiller from killing any more babies. The ends do not justify using immoral means.

1 06 2009
Nance Confer

It doesn’t matter that this murder happened in a church. It doesn’t even matter that the victim was a doctor who did, whether any of us want to think beyond the headlines, help many.

My point was that PastorDan and his Christian apologist line are just another part of the vast muddle of religion being used to justify or explain away inhumane and criminal behavior.

It makes no more sense to say there are good Christians and bad ones than it does to say that Satan did it. It’s all thinking based in make believe. Fantasy-fueled hate isn’t going to be addressed effectively by fantasy-fueled other stuff.

Nance

1 06 2009
JJ

Thinking more about this:
“It makes no more sense to say there are good Christians and bad ones than it does to say that Satan did it. ”

Yes, in the same way it doesn’t make sense toward actually solving some social horror to say there are good men and bad ones, good whites and bad ones, good immigrants and bad ones, or good schoolteachers and bad ones, etc. It is a true statement but it doesn’t help and might even get in the way of addressing what’s really wrong.

I read something about what doing it in church has always had to with this kind of political violence — it’s a warning to the rest of the religious folks that they’d better shape up. Sometimes it backfires when eyes of the faithful are opened.

Finally, remember that report about right-wing religious terrorism recruiting domestically, the one Christian conservatives were oh so outraged about, even though it was about right-wing extremists, not necessarily Christians or even conservatives? Then they chose to align themselves with the terrorists and say the report was smearing THEM. Now they choose to say they’ve got nothing to do with this? Getting intellectual honesty into the mix might require what Nance is talking about — reality-based thinking.
Time To Revisit Criticism Of DHS Report On “Right Wing Extremists”?

Top conservative blogger Michelle Malkin warned that it meant you’re being targeted by Obama’s big brother government “if you are a member of an active conservative group that opposes abortion” . . .

Other Republican members of Congress sounded similar tones.

It’s true that the report committed a misstep in suggesting returning veterans are a risk. But the general intent of the report, which was chock full of warnings about “lone wolf extremists” capable of violence, now looks perfectly defensible, even reasonable.

1 06 2009
boremetotears

Great metaphor, JJ. Despite their denials of responsibility, social conservatives “tee up” scapegoats who *consequently* become victims of violence. Teeing up “abortionists” make these killings probable; teeing up “sodomites” make murders of men like Matthew Shepard probable; teeing up atheists make…?

1 06 2009
JJ

I just heard on cable news that Randall Terry not only teed up the doctor before but told the National Press Club today after his assassination in church, that the doctor had been a mass murderer on par with Hitler and was reaping what he had sown.

Bill O’Reilly was complicit in that teeing up, having crusaded — and that is the right word! — against Tiller by name on-air 29 times since 2005, including accusing him of “Nazi stuff.”

But some anti-abortion woman is on MSNBC right now denying that anyone in her “movement” thinks that and it’s being universally condemned as a crime, with peaceful prayers for his family. I might have been more prone to believe her or at least believe SHE believes it, except that the first thing she said was “Doctor Killer, oops, I mean Tiller” . . .

1 06 2009
JJ

Kathleen Sebelius former governor of KS, now the federal HHS secretary, shared politics with this KS doctor and received campaign contributions from him over the years. She could have been the victim this time; will she be the target next time? Especially as a pro-woman’s health Roman Catholic. . .

Here’s part of her wikipedia page:

Sebelius’s office stated that abortions declined 8.5 percent during her tenure as governor. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment statistics, the number of induced abortions in Kansas declined by 1,568, or 12.6 percent, from 2001 to 2007, the year of the most recently available statistics. Her administration attributes the decline to health care reforms that Sebelius initiated, including “adoption incentives, extended health services for pregnant women…, sex education and… a variety of support services for families.”

. . .Sebelius has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and they have conducted fundraising activity on her behalf.

. . .On April 21, 2008, Sebelius vetoed House Substitute for Senate Bill 389, titled the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act by its sponsors. . . Sebelius objected to the constitutionality, efficacy and morality of the proposed legislation.

She wrote, “. . .SB 389 allows a variety of individuals to seek a court order preventing a woman from obtaining an abortion, even where it may be necessary to save her life. I am concerned that the bill is unconstitutional or even worse, endangers the lives of women.” In addition, she expressed concern that the bill would “likely encourage extensive litigation” and that it “unnecessarily jeopardizes the privacy of Kansas women’s confidential medical records.”

Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Fred Naumann asked that Sebelius no longer receive Holy Communion because of her position on abortion. Naumann criticized Sebelius for vetoing HS SB 389. The action received mixed reviews in the Catholic press.

In September 2005, physician George Tiller won a reception at Cedar Crest, the official residence of the Governor, at an auction benefiting the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus. Pro-life commentators in Kansas have publicly criticized Sebelius’s HHS nomination, accusing her of taking campaign donations from Tiller, who was the medical director of an abortion clinic in Wichita.

1 06 2009
Nance Confer

The “bad” guys teeing up the out groups and the “good” guys hiding behind the accepted magical thinking. At least Holder has ordered more protection for doctors and others. The religious community seems unable to think about this in a helpful way.

Nance

1 06 2009
JJ

I agree!
And so many have called it a “tragedy” instead of “terrorism” including Sarah Palin’s official statement, that I went to look up that word’s power of story, all the way back to Aristotle so that constructionists and literalists won’t have complaint. The sources I reviewed all said both ancient and modern defined tragedy as “an IMITATION of an action” for dramatic purposes.

Actual murder is real violent crime, in this case horrific hate crime. Hiding behind the church for justification makes it religious terrorism. I see nothing that would elevate this crime or other actual hate crimes to the level of artistic power of story with universal meaning, including other people’s religious beliefs. In that, I guess I am with Nance.

1 06 2009
JJ

Since Hitler has already been brought into this by Randall Terry, it can’t inflame things any further to observe that the KKK hid behind Christian morality (and nobly protecting the flower of womanhood) for its organized hate crimes slash terrorism against out groups, too.

1 06 2009
Kristina

JJ, hadn’t really thought of the word in that sense. I meant that this was a tragedy for his family. And, I can only believe that it IS that dramatic for them.

I wrote a blog post several months ago about my stance on abortion. It was blantently anti-abortion. I did, jokingly (I thought), make the caveat that I did not march in parades or blow up buildings. I had a jerk tell me that I needed to repent for not doing so, and tell me that I was going to hell.

Well, I already knew I was going to hell, so that didn’t really bother me. 😉

Anyway, my stance on stopping abortion is this: I believe that abortion is wrong in almost all cases. However, I do not believe that killin people, or even making abortion illegal is going to stop abortion. I believe that the only way abortion will ever stop (and I don’t truly believe it will. It has been around since the beginning, but I do believe it can be lessened) is for people value human life, more than they consider it a burden. This cannot be done through parades, protests, leaflets, or legislation. This can only be done through a change of philosophy. And, as the old saying goes (can’t remember who said it), “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

1 06 2009
JJ

O’Reilly’s campaign against murdered doctor in Salon magazine today:

The Fox News star had compared Tiller to a Nazi, called him a “baby killer,” and warned of “Judgment Day” . . .

O’Reilly has also frequently linked Tiller to his longtime obsession, child molestation and rape. . .

This is where O’Reilly’s campaign against George Tiller becomes dangerous. While he never advocated anything violent or illegal, the Fox bully repeatedly portrayed the doctor as a murderer on the loose, allowed to do whatever he wanted by corrupt and decadent authorities. . . [and made] many suggestions that Tiller was improperly influencing the election.

. . . There was, he proposed on Jan. 5, 2007, a kind of elite conspiracy of silence on Tiller. “Yes, OK, but we know about the press. But it becomes a much more intense problem when you have a judge, confronted with evidence of criminal wrongdoing, who throws it out on some technicality because he wants to be liked at the country club. Then it’s intense.”

Tiller, said O’Reilly on Jan. 6 of this year, was a major supporter of then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. . . .She had cashed her campaign check from Tiller, “doesn’t seem to be real upset about this guy operating a death mill, which is exactly what it is in her state, does she?” he asked on July 14 of last year. “Maybe she’ll — maybe she’ll pardon him,” he scoffed two months ago.

This is where it gets most troubling. O’Reilly’s language describing Tiller, and accusing the state and its elites of complicity in his actions, could become extremely vivid. . . .”And if the state of Kansas doesn’t stop this man, then anybody who prevents that from happening has blood on their hands as the governor does right now, Governor Sebelius. . . she is unfit to serve.”

Or to live?

1 06 2009
JJ

O’Reilly like Kristina doesn’t march in parades (I don’t think) or blow up buildings himself. He just lets the people decide and washes his hands of it (like Pontius Pilate?)

1 06 2009
JJ

Kristina, you’re in broad company using the word “tragedy” instead of terrorism; that’s all I was trying to say.

Chris Matthews did it closing his Hardball segment on Tiller’s murder, too. And his discussion of it focused on something he sees as a sign things might be getting better rather than worse on this issue. He’s considering the Right’s condemnation response to reflect that most don’t LITERALLY believe the doctor was a murderer, and that perhaps that’s a concession of sorts to the difficulty of these real-life cases, that people of good will can build on together.

******

Speaking of what we mean by our words, Spunky has a big thread about government standards being imposed on her kids (education choice.) She used some choice words that fit Tiller imo, without realizing it. She won’t realize it now either, will probably just say I’m being insulting or something, but I meant it most sincerely:

Words I never expected to read here!

“The idea that I need to be ‘protected’ from my own choices is scary. If I am doing something criminal then prosecute me for the protection of others, but the freedom to allow a different choice (or poor choice) is not criminal and I don’t need the government protecting me when I’ve done nothing criminal.”

Assuming that somebody won’t hate you enough to shoot you as an example to the rest of us, of course.

1 06 2009
boremetotears

JJ: “She used some choice words that… without realizing it…”

Seriously, she should really spend more time proofreading. The sanctimonious tone over there is so provocatory; the arguments, no matter how contradictory and illogical, shift and morph constantly in response to critique. For me, commenting has become almost a morose form of entertainment; I may need a 12-step program to get me back to normal.

1 06 2009
JJ

SO she just said it was off-topic. Thus indeed missing the point that it’s the SAME topic. (She started the original post calling to “any free-thinking, freedom loving American” — freethinking is a term *I* get to claim by history and power of story, not fundamentalists.)

I fear it’s what Nance has been saying: it’s what happens when you (like Sarah Palin) decide your particular religious beliefs are Truth no matter what, and that everything is about religion from the grocery list to kissing to tv and medicine, so whatever you choose to feel “it” wants of you at any given moment or on any given topic, is absolute and beyond any need to make human sense. By definition.

1 06 2009
Nance Confer

Substitute “any” for “your” and that may start to explain what I have been thinking.

When our thinking is grounded in unreality, where does that lead? Whether we pat ourselves on the back that we are the “good” ones or not.

Spunky is beyond any sort of reasoning. And is really boring in her sameness to me now — yes, everything, literally everything, is about her religion.

But how different from other believers is she? How do we function in a world that is dominated by sentiments like praying for the dead man’s family as any sort of real answer? Not well.

And I’m not explaining it well. But, as an outsider, accepting some of the religious stuff and denouncing the other stuff is like trying to figure out the differences between Lutherans and Baptists. From out here, it doesn’t matter. It’s all on a spectrum from unhelpful to downright dangerous in trying to function in the real world.

I end up wondering why this isn’t a wake up call to the religious.

Nance

1 06 2009
JJ

Rachel Maddow had Frank Schaeffer (author of Crazy for God) on tonight, did you see? He sounded that wake-up call loud and clear, I thought.

He said there was a direct line between Dr. Tiller’s murder and the coded speech he and his religious right leaders used to inflame anti-abortion passions back in the 70s and 80s. Here’s his Huff Post column which is similar to his tv apology for his part in the consequence of those hateful words:

Until I got out of the religious right (in the mid-1980s) and repented of my former hate-filled rhetoric, I was both a leader of the so-called pro-life movement and a part of a Republican Party hate machine masquerading as the moral conscience of America. . .

The people who stir up the fringe never take responsibility. But I’d like to say on this day after a man was murdered in cold blood for preforming abortions that I — and the people I worked with in the religious right, the Republican Party, the pro-life movement and the Roman Catholic Church, all contributed to this killing by our foolish and incendiary words.

I am very sorry.

Contrast that with O’Reilly tonight and see which you find more morally responsible (as a good American and decent human being, never mind religion):

“When I heard about Tiller’s murder, I knew pro-abortion zealots and Fox News haters would attempt to blame us for the crime and that is exactly what has happened.”

. . .O’Reilly asked his guests, psychologist Brian Russell and University of Missouri law professor (and former chairman of the Kansas GOP) Kris Kobach, whether they agreed that “the far left is exploiting this issue.”

Russell responded by equating O’Reilly critics with Tiller’s killer, stating that “these people saying this drivel are as far off on their side of the issue as the shooter is on his.”

Kobach agreed, saying that “It’s absurd to pin blame on you. You didn’t turn him into the criminal he is and neither did the pro-life movement.”

2 06 2009
boremetotears

Rachel Maddow had Frank Schaeffer (author of Crazy for God) on tonight, did you see? He sounded that wake-up call loud and clear, I thought.

I appreciated what Schaeffer had to say, too. And, it tied in nicely with this post, I thought. Hopefully, Schaeffer’s warnings about incendiary, anti-Obama rhetoric (the Communist, the Secret Islamicist, the Antichrist, the Dear One) won’t prove prophetic.

Fundamentalist Christian leaders really do play the rank-and-file for fools. Talking points are dutifully memorized and recited (proselytization=academic freedom; Darwinism=religion; founding fathers=Christians…) without any awareness of larger underlying purposes (Wedge Strategy, Wedge Strategy, Wedge Strategy).

2 06 2009
3 06 2009
Crimson Wife

I do believe that Dr. Tiller was literally a murderer, but I don’t believe in the death penalty for murderers. Especially not a vigilante killing like this one without any kind of legal due process.

The biggest tragedy to my mind is that this assassination might very well inspire some misguided young person (or worse multiple people) to follow in Dr. Tiller’s footsteps and become an abortionist. Dr. Tiller was 67 and presumably nearing the end of his career. But it could like Hercules vs. the Hydra, where taking out one actually makes the situation worse…

3 06 2009
Nance Confer

From your mouth to . . . well, you know the rest.

It is increasingly difficult for women to get the medical services they need and if this inspires a new generation to have the courage to fight the anti-choice machine, that would be a wonderful outcome!

Nance

3 06 2009
Crimson Wife

Only a minuscule fraction of the abortions performed in this country are done in order to save the mom’s life (the only kind that could be legitimately argued as being truly necessary). All the others are elective procedures.

A big part of the problem in our society is the confusion of “wants” and “needs” (and this goes for all sorts of things). A woman may want an abortion for any number of reasons, some more understandable than others (i.e. a rape victim vs. a woman who merely finds the pregnancy inconvenient). Hardly ever does she, in fact, need one.

3 06 2009
Nance Confer

In your opinion.

And as long as you don’t have the legal right to impose that opinion on me, that’s fine.

Because I don’t agree that only life-threatening cases that require a mercy abortion are justifiable.

And that’s the point of “choice.” You get to make yours and I get to make mine. Based on our deeply-personal convictions. Yours do not trump mine and mine do not trump yours.

But the lack of medical care for women is a back door way to impose your views on others. It is a national shame.

Nance

3 06 2009
JJ

That’s your idea of tragedy, CW, that fundamentalist terrorism won’t succeed in destroying American liberty?

The real question is, do we really “believe” in the rule of constitutional law and its power over life and death in America? Our individual liberties, rights and responsibilities? Not sharia law or medieval law or civil war or Vatican rule — American secular justice. Murder is a legal term, not a religious belief and hate speech calling your fellow citizens criminals to incite violence against them (even if you believe god wants you to do it) is itself illegal, not protected speech.

CW, your “want or need” description of abortion as elective, like ear piercing or a boob job, is actually more true of having a child — today choosing to giving birth in America is literally, medically, morally, logically, emotionally a choice that each female gets to make privately, in our own “pursuit of life, liberty and happiness” and without interference from Church or State.

A big part of the problem in our society is people whose supernatural beliefs confuse the phrase “choose life” as not being a choice at all but a divine mandate (womandate?) In reality, choosing to have a baby is the elective procedure! Giving birth is a choice, choosing life for mother AND child, not slavery, duty risking death, not Christian robot control as even Randall Terry addressing the National Press Club admitted was impossible.

Hardly ever does she, in fact, need a baby!

Morally, legally and scientifically, it is a choice and based on want, not need. Personally choosing to give and nurture new life — or not! — is individual liberty/responsibility worthy of our self-governing nation, not to be infringed by terrorism to impose patriarchal theocracy.

A woman may want a baby for any number of reasons, some more understandable than others (i.e. mature love in a stable relationship vs. a delusional young girl or cult/political prisoner.)

Late-term abortion is the opposite, when all the choices have narrowed down to desperately grim life-and-health threatening need. No one chooses or “wants” any part of that; it is indeed tragedy.

3 06 2009
JJ

Jack the Ripper comes to mind.

Not to condone murder, but prostitution IS a sin and must be stopped.

(And I guess Jack was even more justified than Dr. Tiller’s murderer, because unlike abortion, prostitution is actually illegal?)

4 06 2009
Crimson Wife

A woman *DOES* have a choice about having a baby- she can choose whether or not to have sex. No one truly needs to have sex (regardless of what many men would have us women believe, LOL!) If a woman wants to have sex, then she needs to be prepared for the possible consequence of pregnancy. Post-conception, the baby’s right to life trumps the mother’s desire to not be pregnant.

4 06 2009
JJ

No, sex also is another choice, often related but not the same choice as wanting a baby and giving birth.

I know we disagree strongly on this, but my legal right to decide in my family trumps yours to decide for us. And I don’t get to decide quiverfull moms have had too many [or incite violence against them to get them to stop.]

4 06 2009
JJ

Military professionals like doctors, deal (legally) in life and death; they are heroes to some, murderers to others, sometimes even targets. That’s all crazy-making enough without mixing in religion — Nance’s point, I think. (see Dale’s latest post at Parenting Beyond Belief for better news when religion stays out of political conflict.)

So on two consecutive days we have the shooting of a doctor and the shooting of a soldier, both with hyper-politicized religion as the rationale. Are these events different in any important way, other than whose sympathies each will more readily arouse?

A. . . convert to Islam, opened fire on a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas on Monday, killing 23 year-old Private William Long. . .
Muhammad admitted to the shootings and told police he wanted to kill as many members of the US military as he could. He told investigators he was mad at the US military for past actions against Muslims. . .

Then there’s the literally combined military-medical shooting a few weeks ago:

— Army Maj. Matthew P. Houseal, 54, of Amarillo, Texas, assigned to the 55th Medical Company in Indianapolis.

— Navy Cmdr. Charles K. Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C., assigned to the 55th Medical Company, Camp Liberty.

4 06 2009
Nance Confer

Why hasn’t there been more coverage of this incident of the soldier being shot? It seems to me it was a tiny blip on the news coverage.

Nance

4 06 2009
JJ

Maybe because there’s no violence-inciting left-equivalents of Randall Terry, telling the National Press Club how war is against Christ’s peace plan so shooting soldiers is the death they deserve as profiteering mass murderers, and assassination while sad at least stops their killing of innocents?

OTOH, get this: even though it involved no acknowledgment of her own hate-pandering to the weak-minded for political gain (much less repenting it as Frank Shaeffer did) nor with any real understanding of how religious “belief” serves such zealotry, nevertheless Sarah Palin of all people (or someone smart on her staff) did publicly make the connection:

Here’s her statement:

“The stories of two very different lives with similar fates crossed through the media’s hands yesterday — both equally important but one lacked the proper attention. The death of 67-year old George Tiller was unacceptable, but equally disgusting was another death that police believe was politically and religiously motivated as well.

William Long died yesterday. The 23-year old Army Recruiter was gunned down by a fanatic; another fellow soldier was wounded in the ambush. The soldiers had just completed their basic training and were talking to potential recruits, just as my son, Track, once did.

Whatever titles we give these murderers, both deserve our attention. Violence like that is no way to solve a political dispute nor a religious one. And the fanatics on all sides do great disservice when they confuse dissention with rage and death.”

4 06 2009
COD

My right wing friends tell me the press is complicit with Obama in downplaying and covering up yet another example of Muslim aggression against the US.

4 06 2009
JJ

Hmmm, maybe the talking points are delayed getting to Alaska?

4 06 2009
Nance Confer

Palin and staff have a very confusing way of speaking. “Dissention?” “Rage and death?” Did she mean “dissent?” DIssention works but sounds odd. Did she mean “death” or “murder?” Death doesn’t really fit.

Anyway, at least she made some connection and that’s more than can be said for the MSM, apparently.

Although I’m sure President Obama has better things to do than dictate coverage to the news outlets. For instance, he seems to be on a little trip speaking to some Muslims right now. 🙂

Nance

4 06 2009
JJ

His religious speech today is a great connection, imo.

He completely gets that all sorts of human suffering and death gets caused by irreconcilable religious beliefs, and that you cannot reason people like Palin or the Pope (or even SCOTUS justices, it seems) out of those beliefs, and you can’t suppress and regulate them away or submit to them for the sake of peace, without destroying your own lives and liberties. Nor can we keep fighting and torturing each other until the religious wars are over, because no final victory will ever be possible. Religious violence will never stop by one side finally “winning.” So what you do? President Obama’s answer seems to be that first you stop digging the graves and find a way to talk about religion that is actually pro-LIFE in all its highest and best humanity.

Like Nance, it isn’t my usual way of speaking and thinking, in religious terms. But I can translate in a pinch and get by. And Obama is brilliant at it. The power of story is not just in how he speaks in many languages but the fluent thinking behind it, and the thinking behind it is what makes it so superior to Palin and RNC (Rush, Newt, Cheney) speech.

4 06 2009
Ignorant Speech Inciting Violence Hardly “Free” « Cocking A Snook!

[…] from ongoing discussion of Nance’s post, A Sad Day, here’s the latest of doughy white male conservatives (Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh e.g.) who […]

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