Update, 6/4: Thanks to a comment left by Politically Correct Death author Francis Beckwith, I refer you to his newer and more relevant book Defending Life. I’ll have to check it out myself very soon.
Update, 9:30 PM: My final thought (for now) on the matter, from Doug Wilson: “The question is whether you would be willing to reduce a society to anarchy for the sake of saving that kid, when you (should) know that the anarchy you introduce is going to be responsible for the deaths of far more children than you managed to save.” And for further edification, I will commend the thoughts of Dr. Albert Mohler as being squarely right on the matter.
Thanks to one of the more thoughtful liberals I know, David Thielen, a link to this morning’s post about Dr. George Tiller and Private William Long was added in a ColoradoPols diary. Here are some of the more colorful comments it generated, along with my replies.
Aristotle: “First, I haven’t heard about that other murder until now. Fault the media for that.”
To a great extent, I do. Although it may be a call to broaden one’s media consumption. In any case, were the President in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief to release a similar statement in the military recruiter case as he did in the abortionist case, the media attention almost certainly would have followed.
Aristotle: “if the author of this post (revealed to be the kind of radical anti-choicer who is stinging from the implication of this assassination – he links a book called ‘politically correct death,’ about abortion, in his post) wants to engage us, he ought to do it here. Interesting that he’s picking on us instead of Kos or other prominent blogs who are saying the same thing as we are.”
1. What difference to the legitimacy of my argument does it make concerning which venue I choose to engage the issue?
2. It’s no mystery that I am pro-life, but it only begins to explain my views on abortion as public policy. Not sure exactly what is meant by the clever label of ‘radical anti-choicer’, but the decision to link to Francis Beckwith’s book was made in order to provide a link to a serious, substantive, thoughtful, philosophical discussion of the issue. You don’t necessarily have to accept any or all of his conclusions, but his arguments — more in-depth than I could share here — are very much worth engaging.
3. I picked on ColoradoPols because I prefer to have a debate at the local level when possible.
JO: “Banning legal abortion has long been an intense political campaign spearheaded by groups and individuals who have a broader agenda–rather like Taliban threats against barbers who trim beards is part of a much broader agenda to impose Sharia on their entire society. A murder carried out in furtherance of a political agenda is legitimately called an act of terrorism.
“On the other hand, the murder of Army recruiter Private William Long by all accounts was not part of a larger, well-organized domestic political agenda. Was the shooter sent by Al Qaeda or the Taliban? I didn’t think so, either. Nor do I think this isolated act had a large number of mute sympathizers in this country.”
First, I accept neither the analogy nor the implication that there is “a large number of mute sympathizers” at the death of Dr. George Tiller. I would, however, like to know more about the “larger, well-organized domestic political agenda” responsible for Tiller’s death. Is pro-life belief and advocacy outside the bounds of respectable opinion?
I do think that “A murder carried out in furtherance of a political agenda” is one decent acceptable definition of terrorism. But this writer fails to apply it consistently. Tiller’s murderer had an anti-abortion political agenda, and other people have anti-abortion views, so it’s declared terrorism. But in order for the label to be applied to the killer of the military recruiters, he needs to be directly linked to a “larger, well-organized domestic political agenda”. Different standard.
To apply the same standard and achieve a similar result, evidence would need to be marshaled that does not exist — namely, of a large, well-funded, organized group that not only preaches “death to abortionists,” but also arms and trains them for that mission. Maybe it exists in the figment of the author’s mind, but not in the real world.
JO: “Ben DeGrow’s post taking DavidThi808 ‘to task’ is by no means legitimate. His post is as if to say: ‘See, when one of ours goes nuts, everyone gets upset, whereas when one of theirs goes overboard, no one cares.’ DeGrow’s apparent intention is to put Tiller’s murder into the category of ‘everyone does it,’ as if poor anti-abortionists are being singled out while Islamist fundamentalists are going unnoticed and unmentioned. Might he have noticed a few tens of thousands of Americans in Afghanistan fighting against the Taliban?”
First of all, I don’t think anyone in this debate has anyone reason to claim either murderer as “one of ours”. Second, I guess this condemnation (linked in the original post) is my idea of “everyone does it.” As to my intention, I just believe more attention ought to be given to the Little Rock incident.
JO: “Nor do I think the impact of Long’s murder will be to intimidate the U.S. army in recruiting, whereas the Tiller murder was clearly intended to intimidate doctors who perform abortions–and may have just that outcome, TBD.”
You very well may be right. It is very difficult to say what the impact of either incident will be. Given some of the rhetoric that has followed the Tiller murder, though, it seems equally plausible to me that there will be a significant backlash against the pro-life side of the spectrum — unless you seriously believe there is some powerful “American Taliban” out there ready to unleash a wave of killings. I’d be interested to see someone point me to a response by any credible, respected pro-life leader that encourages further killings, rather than outpourings of condemnation on the killer and compassion on the loved ones of the victim.
I mainly view the Kansas incident as an act of evil which outcome we tragically cannot undo, but only can stridently condemn. I would have said the same about the Pottawatomie Massacre of 150 years ago. As far as the political fallout? I would rather see the abortion debate addressed through personal persuasion and at the ballot box by different states and localities than by unelected judges.
Real, genuine incitements to murder — not general condemnations of abortion (protected speech) — should be addressed appropriately in legal settings. Unless you want to see anti-military protesters’ speech abridged because of the Little Rock incident. I am trying to avoid both absurd and unjust outcomes.
Danny the Red: “His point is muddled and he argues against himself.”
Hopefully, my responses have clarified anything seen as muddled. But if it’s still not seen as the case, I would be interested to know what I can do to clarify the matter, as well as where I’ve argued against myself. (At least I’m guaranteed to win that way.)
Me? I don’t care so much whether anyone responds in the venue of my comment section, in a ColoradoPols diary, or in whatever public forum best suits them.
Francis Beckwith says
Thank you for linking to my book. It is, however, out of print. In 2007 I published with Cambridge University Press another book dealing with many of the same arguments as well as those of more recent vintage. It is entitled Defending Life.
Juan Campos says
As an agnostic prolifer, who reached his position from a radical defense of childrenÂ´s rights and a criticism of any form of violence against children, I confess to my split on the case of the murder of active abortionists. My rejection of terrorism and even the death penalty makes me condemn it. However, my conviction that the Tillers of this world are ACTIVE child murderers makes me wonder why an argument from the right of self-defence and the obligation to defend those who cannot defend themselves, like in the case of a child about to be murdered in the street by a psychopath,cannot apply to abortionists.
From BeckwithÂ´s and other prolifers like myself it would follow that if we know, as we do, that someone is surely going to kill babies in the immediate future, the right to defend and the obligation to protect those babies could be invoked to kill these people, since there seems to exist no other form of preventing those killings.
And if not, why not?