No two events are perfectly parallel, but seldom are two such similar and terrible stories juxtaposed for our edification. Within 24 hours and within 500 miles from each other, two notable murders occurred — both evil acts perpetrated in public by two different men, but both for apparent ideological reasons, both sudden and horribly unexpected events for the families and loved ones of the victims, both suspects quickly brought into custody.
That’s where the parallels end. What’s most informative is some of the prominent responses to the two incidents:
- A same-day statement released from the Barack Obama White House appropriately acknowledging the murder of abortionist Dr. George Tiller, but official silence regarding the cold-blooded act that killed military recruiter Private William Long and wounded Private Quenton Ezeagwula
- Based on a Google News search, more than 10 times as much press attention for the anti-government fringe nut held as a suspect for Tiller’s murder than the anti-military fanatical Muslim convert who shot the two military recruiters (less than a day after this Google News comparison was done, I found the ratio a little closer: with 6,985 Tiller stories vs. 1,339 for Long)
- A liberal diarist for Colorado’s leading liberal blog making the politically-charged decision of branding the Tiller murder as a “terrorist” act, while the site is completely silent on the Long murder
Preliminary conclusion? Just as there is a sort of politically correct death, there also is a sort of politically correct “hate crime” — which, as has been argued on this site before, is an unjust legal concept.
Attempts to brand the larger peaceful pro-life movement with the heinous murder of Tiller by a lone nut — along with insinuations that free speech rights should be deprived from individuals and groups with whom there are disagreements (my first thought is this reminds me of the enforced speech codes concerning slavery in many of the antebellum Southern states) — are themselves short-sighted and destructive acts.
Believe me, you don’t have to look far to find these attempts. You can start in the comment section of the relevant ColoradoPols post.
Greater care and thought likewise should be given to the use of the word “terrorist” in this context. Was this lone act terrorism? According to many (but not all) accepted definitions, it would not be. More careful use of language is called for, especially when threats like this one exist.
Here’s hoping that, as a result of this post, at least a couple people step back and take a bigger view of these two evil acts, and think more carefully about the implications of whether and how we communicate about them.