Thursday, June 04, 2009


One of the things I have learned is that if I hear or read something that so deeply offends me that I see sparks floating in front of my eyes, I am better off, in the long run, to simply walk away and calm down. If I don't, my immediate intemperate and irrational response will do nothing but escalate the fury. That's why yesterday I chose not to post anything on the subject of Dr. Tiller's murder after reading the abomination the Los Angeles Times "center left" editorial board called an editorial.

Here's a sample of the crock the smarmy ones were pushing:

The militancy of some pro-life groups constitutes an alarming assault on a constitutionally protected right, but the answer is not to limit expression. It's unfair to ask antiabortion activists to muffle their message because it might inspire an unbalanced individual to commit an atrocity.


Surely a major city newspaper is fully aware that the concept of "free speech" is not an absolute in this country. One cannot, for example, frivolously shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Nor can one slander or libel another person, or threaten or urge others to assassinate a public official such as the President of the United States. There are penalties for such speech, even in a free society. The protections of the first amendment end when the consequences of such speech exceed the utility of free expression.

While the editorial board of the L.A. Times may not get it, at least one of their columnists does. I often disagree with Tim Rutten, but his column just one day after that editorial was published just nailed the issued perfectly. I can't help but think Mr. Rutten was just as distressed as I was by his bosses' comments.

Here's some of what he had to say:

The alternative is for one side to go on characterizing the other as heartlessly indifferent to women's rights and health, and the other to continue calling abortion murder and physicians like Tiller "baby killers." It is on this latter stream of argument that the heaviest responsibility rests. Over the years, no abortion-rights advocate has physically harmed an antiabortion partisan. Since 1973, antiabortion extremists have killed eight times.

Most -- though not all -- of the antiabortion movement's leaders were quick to condemn Tiller's murder, but none was willing to accept responsibility for the influence their inflammatory rhetoric may have had on the latest of the socially marginal and unstable people attracted to their movement's verbal absolutism. ...

In the meantime, it's fair to wonder whether any of those who have rhetorically insisted that voluntarily terminating a pregnancy and shooting an abortion provider are equally murder, or that a Planned Parenthood clinic and Auschwitz are in any fashion analogous, now are willing to entertain the possibility that verbal extremism -- however effective as argument -- has consequences.

In the American debate over abortion, the extravagance of the moral argument and the intemperance of its expression have had consequences -- and we have the graves to prove it.
[Emphasis added]

This isn't just hateful hate speech, such as referring to people as niggers or queers; this is hate speech with the additional factor of calling on people to do something about the niggers and queers by stringing them up or dragging them behind pick-up trucks. And this speech isn't coming just from ignorant red necks, it's coming from people with public platforms such as radio or television shows, people like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. People with huge religious followings such as Ralph Terry and the current leaders of Operation Rescue are also given a free pass. It is no accident that the alleged murderer of Dr. Tillman had the telephone number of an Operation Rescue member with him when he was arrested.

No, this isn't a simple matter of First Amendment free speech. This is a matter of incitement to murder, and it should be treated as the crime it is. How many deaths will it take before the comfortable white boys of the L.A. Times finally get it?

Oh, and Tim Rutten, you did good this time. Thank you.

Labels: ,


Anonymous larry, dfh said...

Well, the latimes is owned by the tribune company, and they're about as right-wing as anyone could want. And there are at least some consequences for such talk, as tom metzger well knows. He actually got off easy. The problem in going after the thugs is that they are in part representative of a large section of U.S. society: people who are convinced that they are right and will be forgiven by jeebus, no mater what they do. Thus they can perpetrate the most heinous crimes, acts they know are against man's laws, and feel they can get away with it because their vengeful, blood-thirsty abrahamic god condones it. They are doing god's will, and wrenching the asshole who told them what is god's will out of the pulpit and into jail is difficult indeed.

11:03 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home