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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.

Andrew Sullivan reminds us of Bill O’Reilly’s role in whipping up far-right hatred against Dr. Tiller:

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:

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.

The comments section on this topic over at the ultraconservative website Free Republic* are also pretty revealing:
“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.”

“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.”

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.

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.

  1. Eideard says:

    You're way too sensible for the nutballs to comprehend. But, I presume you already know that.

    The "big blog" I edit has already posted on this murder. So, I may or may not at my personal blog. But, it's important for rational human beings to speak out against this kind of criminal trash -- and I thank you for taking the time to do so.

    • Metavirus says:

      thanks. one always hopes that one can get through to reasonable people on all sides of an issue. this murder is truly horrifying, especially considering the re-emergence of right wing hate groups all over the country. the sleeping hate-dragon is waking up

  2. Kevin says:

    this is really sobering, reminds everyone that christian extremists arent any different than muslim extremists. i also think of all the other doctors, they must be scared for their lifes…

    I bet billo the clown really feels like a jerk now…more than before…

    • Metavirus says:

      "I bet billo the clown really feels like a jerk now…"

      that would presume that he has any shred of humanity or humility left, which i doubt.

    • MJR1456 says:

      the right winged pundents so eagerly express that Bush and Cheny kept us safe for 8 years when the ushered in a new hate that will kill the usa from the inside. you won't need islam terrorists and they're hate when we have our own christian hate right here in america……

  3. Schu says:

    I was just finishing a essay for my English class, titled The Polarization in America. It was about taking my granddaughter, who is three years old, to the zoo in South Bend Indiana, when she saw the side of on of a Operation Rescue “Truth “ truck, and my response to her questions about it. I told her that it was a political protest, and fortunately she did not grasp the concept of the picture. I feel that these people rival the KKK’s operations in the fifties and sixties with their intimidation and hatred. While I personal do not agree with abortion, I do strongly believe that it is between the person and God. Not between Operation Rescue and anyone. How in the world can we have a discussion with someone, and convince them that they might be making a mistake that can haunt them for the rest of their lives, when we have idiots outside chanting baby killer, etc. This assassination caused me to rewrite the conclusion of my paper, before turning it in.

    • Metavirus says:

      "It was about taking my granddaughter, who is three years old, to the zoo in South Bend Indiana, when she saw the side of on of a Operation Rescue “Truth “ truck, and my response to her questions about it. I told her that it was a political protest, and fortunately she did not grasp the concept of the picture"

      Wow, I couldn't imagine trying to explain these insane fundies to a child.

    • Liz says:

      Schu, your post reminded me of a day at the beach a few years back. Here in southern California, during the summer months, it's common to see small planes pulling advertisement banners behind them as the fly along the crowded beach. Most of these "banner ads" are for beer or TV shows, but on that particular day, there was a plane towing a gruesome image purporting to be an aborted fetus. Could've been a Phtotochop image for all we know. Anyway, it was very disturbing to look around at all the families on this beach, with lots of little kids, and think about the adults being put in the very predicament you describe: how to explain that sort of inflammatory image to a little kid? Ghastly.

      If these murderous nutjobs are so hell-bent on retribution, why don't they pop a cap in Kissinger's ass for all the deaths he caused? (Feel free of course to substitute any other big-time death-monger.)

      Ugh!

  4. Vaneeza says:

    This is unbelievable . Are you sure this happened in America? because it sounds like a news in a local newspaper here in pakistan . Correct me if i am wrong , it seems like the conservative right is getting more and more powerful in USA and that's scary because the only purpose that these people and organizations serve is to terrorise the blacks , any other minorities , gays , liberals and basically anyone who doesnt agree with them in their own country and outside . Killing a doctor outside a church in the name of god shows their moral bankrupcy . Since more and more people are starting to disagree with them and starting to use their common sense on the issues, the only strategy they have remaining is to just kill people i guess. I have a question and it is not meant to criticise christianity or anything . I was actually not raised in christian faith , that's why i needed to know something about jesus christ since these extremists do all these things in the name of god .did jesus christ kill every person he did not agree with ? if yes then how many people did he kill?

    • Metavirus says:

      "Are you sure this happened in America?"

      I think this question to myself nearly every day. They have gone nearly completely insane at this point. We are dealing with our own form of Talibangelicals.

      "Correct me if i am wrong , it seems like the conservative right is getting more and more powerful in USA"

      Thankfully, they are growing less powerful with each passing day, largely due to horrible insanity like this. But, like any dying organism, they have reserved their worst insanity for the end.

      "Killing a doctor outside a church in the name of god shows their moral bankrupcy ."

      As I understand it, the doctor was killed inside his church while his wife was singing in the choir. Truly horrifying.

      "did jesus christ kill every person he did not agree with ?"

      whatever happened to "turn the other cheek"? it seems the christian fundamentalists have decided to go back to the old testament.

    • Schu says:

      Unfortunately our history is full of these kinds of problems. From lynching, to tar and feathering, Americans have done it all. What makes us different is in our attempts to deal with these problems through the law, and not by continuing vendetta. We are not perfect, and we have a long way to go, but by continuing discussions, and examination we will get better. America is not a finished program to be held up as an example to others, but a work in progress.

  5. strawmanslave says:

    Obviously this Murder was perpetrated by Public authority through the tried and true Hegelian Dialectic Technique to instill fear in the Public and gain more control. Do you really think the Government cares about any of you or your children,… No matter what kind of Distraction and Disinformation news the Compromised and controlled Media throws in front of you,…. NEVER, NEVER take your eyes off of the Criminal Elite Filth in Washington and Public Authority. — Washington Child Sex Scandal: = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bHD8yeFSoE

  6. Schu says:

    You are a truly demented and ill individual who refuses to face facts and blame the government for all our problems. Assassinations by crazed elements responding to encouragement by polarized organizations, is a symptoms of what is wrong in America today. It is similar to the crazed one killing three policemen in Florida; because he felt that the government was going to take his guns away. Blaming the government for this assassination is yet another way of covering up the true organizer of this tragedy, Operation Resuce.

  7. Metavirus says:

    Liz posted the following reply to Schu and Vaneeza. i had to edit it to take out my real name. please keep me on the down-low! :)

    That was a nicely-balanced response, Schu.

    Vaneeza, this type of incident definitely has precedent, as Schu describes. But, it is not the norm, and isn't an everyday occurance. I'm hoping [Metavirus'] statement is true: that this sort of behavior is the death-thrash of a dying movement. I would be surprised if you could find many Americans, on any side of the political spectrum, much less abortion-issue, who would say they think this murder was OK and justified. It was an extremist act, and will be dealt with as such by cooler heads (the courts).

  8. Schu says:

    I see we have attracted the attention of a Burma Shave type of extremist calling himself the Chemist.
    Point one, about a lone gunman, an assassin, acting on his own, and being cheered on by the founder of Operation Rescue.
    Point two, an attempt to use the term lefties to belittle some one who disagrees with the Chemist, as if the term lefties would be something to be ashamed of.
    Point three is a projection that the chemist’s narrow minded definition of a fetus is a baby. It’s not, a baby has been born. And then chemist’s projection that the assassination was the fault of Sara Weddington, and not the fault of the assassin and the people who helped form him.
    I find that the feeble attempts at justifying an assassination by the chemist to be repulsive, narrow minded, and illogical. But unfortunately expected.

  9. Mary E. Schipke says:

    "First Do No Harm!" = Hippocratic Oath taken by REAL doctors. How can anyone call this baby murderer a "doctor?" No one who can slaughter innocent pre-born babies in the womb is a real doctor. George Tiller was a disgrace to the "healing profession." Good riddance to bad rubbish! Bye-bye! "Live by the sword — die by the sword." "As you sow — so shall you reap." George Tiller is hopefully harvesting his bloody rewards in HELL!

  10. Schu says:

    Gee Mary you have given us a lot to work with here. First you project your opinion that an abortionist is not a real doctor because he does not share your narrow religious doctrine. Then you project you belief that he is slaughtering the unborn by using a legal medical procedure. Then, because he did believe in your narrow minded religious doctrine that he was a disgrace to the medical profession. And finally you dam him to hell. It is people like you that give Christians a bad name.

  11. Ace says:

    This is an instance of one person that went off the deep end and decided to kill someone. It has no reflection on Christians as a whole. What if I said all democrates cheat on their wives because Bill Clinton did. That would be preposterous correct? Please don't be that ignorant. I am a Christian and in no way do I agree with this killing even if I disagree with what Tiller did for a living.

  12. Schu says:

    While I Agree with you that this is instance of one person going off the deep end and assassinating someone, the rest of your allegory breaks down badly. If the Democrats sat on the side lines encouraging Clinton’s behavior and calling on him to cheat on his wife the way that Operation Rescue and the Lambs of God call upon some to kill abortionist, then your allegory would work. You really need to things through before presenting allegories like this. I am glad that you are a Christian, for we need more Christians looking at this, instead of the judgmental hypocrites we usually hear from.

  13. Luke says:

    What are you talking about?!? Christian extremists? If keeping a murderer off the streets is considered extremism, then guilty as charged. You crazy lefties and your "It isn't murder if the child technically hasn't been born yet" logic is ruining this entire world. 1 death < 1000 deaths. Call it Machavaleanism if you want to, but now a murderer is dead. That is called justice.

  14. Schu says:

    This is such a short statement, with so many projections and assumptions. First, Luke, you project that your version of Christianity is the correct on, and that anyone else’s is wrong. Then you project that crazy lefties with opposing options are ruining the world. And then you want to compare an assassination with justice. By the way, you aren’t an Afghanistan Taliban extremist are you? Because you certainly sound like one. If we can follow your thoughts to a logical conclusion, then we will find ourselves revisiting the 30 years war, but fought here in the USA, between a vocal minority that wants to dictate their religious beliefs onto everyone else, and the people and the law of the land.

  15. Tawny says:

    Why stop at a developing embryo? If given the chance, it might become a baby so…

    Why not give sperm rights? After all, each sperm, if given a chance, might become half a baby.

    I think I'll start a SAVE THE SPERM movement.

    My new religious doctrine dictates that any male caught masturbating (killing innocent half babies) needs to be executed. That is called justice.

  16. Schu says:

    Unfortunately satire is lost on your opponents, and you run the very real risk that they will take you serious. That is very close to what the Roman Catholic Church’s official view of masturbation. And if you ever looked at their view of birth control you would understand why the worlds population grouth is out of control.

  17. mayflower_son says:

    Tiller was a murderer. As is anyone who condones abortion. "Kill a baby but don't slap a terrorist."
    The guy who took him out should be voted 'Time's Man of the Year….'

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