Anyone who calls this anything other than religious fundamentalist terrorism isn’t telling you the whole truth:
George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.
Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim…
Tiller has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women’s Health Care Services at 5701 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed.
Protesters blockaded Tiller’s clinic during Operation Rescue’s “Summer of Mercy” protests during the summer of 1991, and Tiller was shot by Rachelle Shannon at his clinic in 1993.
Tiller was wounded in both arms, and Shannon remains in prison for the shooting.
Tiller’s clinic was severely vandalized earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, his lawyer said wires to security cameras and outdoor lights were cut and that the vandals also cut through the roof and plugged the buildings’ downspouts. Rain poured through the roof and caused thousands of dollars of damage in the clinic. Tiller reportedly asked the FBI to investigate the incident.
On Friday, November 3, 2006, Bill O’Reilly featured an exclusive segment on his show, The O’Reilly Factor, saying that he has an “inside source” with official clinic documentation indicating that George Tiller performs late-term abortions to alleviate “temporary depression” in the pregnant woman. According to reporting data provided to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts for the year 1998, all of the post-viable partial-birth (dilation and extraction) abortion procedures performed in Kansas during that year were performed because “the attending physician believe[d] that continuing the pregnancy [would] constitute a substantial and irreversible impairment of the patient’s mental function.”
Tiller responded to O’Reilly’s statements by demanding an investigation into the “inside source” through which the information was leaked, suggesting that Phil Kline, then the Kansas Attorney General, was responsible. Kline denied the charge.
Yet again, an unhinged member of a religious fundamentalist group kills a person with which they disagree with the aim of terrorizing a country into agreeing with their fundamentalist beliefs. This time, however, it happened not in some far-away country in the Middle East but right here at home.
One wonders if the anti-abortion crowd is going to go on the same wink-and-nod campaign like they did after the last abortion doctor was murdered by fundamentalist zealots (remember Ann Coulter?). With reactions like this from conservative blogger Rick Moore, I think that’s a pretty good assumption:
The comments section on this topic over at the ultraconservative website Free Republic* are also pretty revealing:
Controversial Kansas abortion Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed this morning as he entered church services. That’s what you call a really late term abortion.
“It’s too bad the suspect didn’t poke a roto rooter through his skull and then suck him into a vacuum cleaner instead of just shooting the bastard.”If you’re interested in reading some of my thoughts on the re-emergent phenomena of domestic right-wing violence, check out my article The Chilling Rise of Right-Wing Hate in America.
“No doubt this ‘man’ is responsible for thousands, maybe tens-of-thousands of needless and wanton deaths. If you think his ‘passing’ is a bad thing in the cause of speaking out and ending the practice of abortion, I don’t know what to tell you. I can only say that I shall not mourn his demise, nor shall I judge others.”
“Sounds like a post-birth abortion to me.”
Update: Political Carnival highlights an eerie coincidence. Today is the sixth anniversary of the capture of radical anti-abortion terrorist and Olympic Park Bomber Eric Rudolph.
Update 2: Matt Yglesias makes a good, yet chilling, point:
Random murder of civilians in order to coerce political concessions doesn’t have a great track-record. But direct action terrorist violence against abortion providers has, I think, proven to be a fairly successful tactic. Every time you murder a doctor, you create a disincentive for other medical professionals to provide these services. What’s more, you create a need for additional security at facilities around the country. In addition, the anti-abortion protestors who frequently gather near clinics are made to seem much more intimidating by the fact that the occurrence of these sorts of acts of violence.
In general, I think people tend to overestimate the efficacy of violence as a political tactic. But in this particular case, I think people tend to understate it.
* This blog has a policy of not linking to Free Republic.
[O]nly human primates understand the causal and intentional relations that hold among external entities. Tomasello illustrates this point for non-human primates with the claim that even though they might watch the wind shaking a branch until its fruit falls, they would never shake the branch themselves to obtain the fruit. Some primates are, nevertheless, at the edge of having causal understanding. Once causal belief evolved in relation to tools and language, it was inevitable that people would want to understand the causes of all the events that might affect their lives — such as illness, changes in climate and death itself. Once there was a concept of cause and effect, ignorance was no longer bliss, and this could have led to the development of religious beliefs.
This makes a lot of sense to me. So much of the religious belief I see in the world is people searching for some way to create order and meaning in the otherwise chaotic universe. It would make sense that the newly evolving form of human proto-consciousness would erect some kind of ingrained mechanism for the mind to ascribe some kind of higher causality to the seemingly random events happening around it.
One could imagine that a world in which tornados kill people due to insufficient homage to the Gods — rather than just due to random, unknowable chance — had to be more satisfying than a world in which stuff just happens. It must be nice to live in a reality in which a person believes he can exert control over chaotic events by appealing to some kind of higher causal power (e.g., tree spirits, God, etc.). After all, a lot of people seem to derive great comfort from the idea that praying to God somehow helps their kid’s Little League team win games.
Hopefully we can someday find a way to more effectively suppress this vestige of the early development of our consciousness.
Yes, you read the headline correctly. Focus on the Family, the rabid anti-gay Christianist organization that likes to equate homosexuality with things like necrophilia, released the following press release praising President Obama for his engagement with them on the subject of foster care:
Leaving aside the tiresome pro forma insult directed at potential gay foster parents, this press release illustrates a remarkable level of engagement on Obama’s part with his adversaries. As Steve Benen put it:
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted adoption leaders from across the country Wednesday to talk about how to better serve the needs of kids in foster care.
Kelly Rosati, adoptive mother of four and senior director of Focus on the Family’s Sanctity of Human Life department, was among those in attendance.
“The Obama administration is really listening,” she said, “and wanted to know from those on the front lines what could be better done to serve the kids in America’s foster care system.”
Unfortunately, the president supports placing some of those kids with homosexual couples.
Rosati said the White House expressed its appreciation for Focus’ commitment to the issue.
“One of the things that emerged from the meeting,” she said, “was that adoption recruiting events, such as Focus’ Wait No More, are essential to our ability to find families for those waiting kids.”
Focus on the Family anticipates ongoing dialogue with the White House on adoption.
Just so we’re clear, there’s only one group called “Focus on the Family.” This isn’t a statement issued by some other organization that happens to have the same name. It’s a press release from the religious right group, created by James Dobson, which is apparently impressed by the Obama White House’s efforts on adoption and foster care.
It’s striking to think Focus representatives and Obama administration officials would get together to discuss policy, and have a fruitful discussion, but that’s apparently what transpired. To put this in perspective, imagine George W. Bush aides agreeing to meet with representatives of the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and/or People for the American Way, to explore common ground on any issue.
Richard Clark wrote a fantastic op-ed in the Washington Post:
[L]istening to Cheney and Rice, it seems that they want to be excused for the measures they authorized after the attacks on the grounds that 9/11 was traumatic. “If you were there in a position of authority and watched Americans drop out of eighty-story buildings because these murderous tyrants went after innocent people,” Rice said in her recent comments, “then you were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again.”Shorter Clark: 9/11 caused everyone in the Bush Administration to piss their pants and panic. In their panic, they invariably decided to go with the most extreme measures available, often without regard for the boundaries of the law.
I have little sympathy for this argument. Yes, we went for days with little sleep, and we all assumed that more attacks were coming. But the decisions that Bush officials made in the following months and years — on Iraq, on detentions, on interrogations, on wiretapping — were not appropriate. Careful analysis could have replaced the impulse to break all the rules, even more so because the Sept. 11 attacks, though horrifying, should not have surprised senior officials. Cheney’s admission that 9/11 caused him to reassess the threats to the nation only underscores how, for months, top officials had ignored warnings from the CIA and the NSC staff that urgent action was needed to preempt a major al-Qaeda attack.
Thus, when Bush’s inner circle first really came to grips with the threat of terrorism, they did so in a state of shock — a bad state in which to develop a coherent response. Fearful of new attacks, they authorized the most extreme measures available, without assessing whether they were really a good idea.
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