Sunday, May 31, 2009
Dr. George Tiller was assassinated this morning.
I'm not fan of the sweeping surveillance and police powers that were put in place by the Bush administration, but they were put in place to stifle dissent while the administration tried to turn this country in to exactly the kind of secular christian nation that the murderers of abortion doctors would like to see. I think, if ever there was a time to use those blatantly illegal powers, it is now; to counter the mortal threat of domestic terrorism that is embodied in the anti-choice, christian-power zealots who incite these acts of lawlessness and anarchy.
but what bends my head is: how do you shoot someone at church? not outside of church, not after church, but right inside? during a service?
assuming the guy objected to abortions for religious reasons, you'd think he'd have at least refrained from desecrating sacred ground.
How do you shoot someone in church? Just the same way you shoot someone anywhere else: you discard your moral compass and pull the trigger.
it does boggle the mind, but maybe this guy doesn't think that Lutherans are Real Christians, or maybe he thinks that ground where his victim has sat is not sacred. Maybe the murder just doesn't follow a discernible logical thought process: the fact that he's a religious zealot supports this hypothesis.
Feh. I'm feeling tired, sad and morally ambiguous tonight. I'll try to gin up a better righteous fury tomorrow.
I'm as angry as anyone else over what happened on Sunday; hell, I'm angry about a whole lot more than that; the last eight years or more makes me see red, but I'm having to come to terms with the idea that my righteous indignation and partisan desire for revenge aren't particularly useful or healthy forms of expression. Vilifying Roeder just takes us closer to that precipice that already yawns threateningly at our feet.
So, I guess I'm not as cynical as I thought I was. I guess I've got a tiny, misguided spark of compassion still alight in my heart. I guess that happens to you when you have a child and a real stake in the future; you can't be as cavalier as you would otherwise have been, or would otherwise like to be.
I know plenty of people that are pro life and 10 miles right of Orrin Hatch (I'm neither, I'm a centrist these days) that spew rhetoric but would never pick up a gun or do something like this. All it takes is a fervent belief combined with an obsessive imbalanced mind - conservative or liberal - and you get stuff like this in either direction.
EVERYONE should be distancing themselves from the shooter,
by the way... Protest and lobby
and argue all you want for whatever cause or side you choose,
but you don't plug someone in a church. Or anywhere for that matter.
This damn coward chose church knowing there would be shock value and no security.
Anyone know if Kansas has the death penalty? I'll Tivo it
if it's on. I mean, how horrid
was this?? Scum. I'll pay to watch him hang or get fried.
I also allowed the politics of polarization to drive me away from what I thought was a nuanced position on abortion (recognizing the fundamental right of a woman to control her own medical affairs, while also recognizing that a fetus represents a new life, whether or not it is an independent person) to a hard-line position that brooked no compromise with "the enemy". I went from a tolerant and open-minded young man in 1989 to a closed-minded bigot (albeit a left-wing liberal bigot) in 1999.
I'm not proud of my bigotry, I'm just self-aware. After the last eight (or twelve) years, I think it is time to let go of this bigotry, to try to return to tolerance and open-mindedness. If I must suspend judgement on the apparent perpetrator of this awful crime, in order to bring some little bit of sense back to our national discourse, then I guess I can forebear, even in this circumstance.
I don't mean to vilify you for your beliefs, or to malign you for your faith; I just have a dark thing inside me, which likes to get out every once in a while, make loud noises and break things. I'll try to keep it in check, in future.
I agree with you there. It was uncatagorically WRONG. No doubt.
"I allowed the bile being vented by the conservative religious right to drive me even farther to the left than I already was (if such a thing were even possible)"
I guess we react in our own ways. the bile drove me out of church, but not to the left. I am non-religious but have a very firm belief in God, Jesus Christ, and my education in Biology (Auburn '86) taught me that life beings at conception (I won't bore you with the details). As such, it needs protecting. However, I also believe that blowing someone away in church is WRONGWRONGWRONG.
"I just have a dark thing inside me, which likes to get out every once in a while, make loud noises and break things."
Yeah, well...me too. I take medication for it. I daresay without it mine would be a permanent feature rather than a sometime visitor.
I respect your opinion, Jeff, I disagree with it, but allow you the right to have it. All I ask is to have the same right to mine.
ah, Tyme, the good old days... ;)
Rootie - want to know a secret? I think that a life is created at the moment of conception.
guess the secret's out.
but I only feel that way because something grew inside me for nine months, not because of any particular religious feeling.
yep, for me, it's a life.
but sometimes that life isn't going to make it for some reason. that's okay with me. I am not Everywoman, nor Everywomb, and just because I think that practically all life is probably good life doesn't mean I'm right.
I didn't always feel this way. pregnancy/birth/motherhood has made me go all soft in the head.
it must be hard for you, Rootie, when some shit goes down like this and makes it open season on Christians.
Like you, I am not Everywoman, and
I don't claim to be. Yes, it is very very hard to be lumped into the same category as all the foaming-at-the-mouth right-to-lifers, but part of me would rather be there than in the same spot as someone who sees an unborn baby as nothing more than a wart to be nipped off.
Oh! You and me both! (s/mother/father/) I don't know how the mind-altering chemicals made it into me, but the minute I saw my newborn daughter, everything changed in my head: I don't even recognize myself.
Seriously, having a child changes you in ways you don't expect, can't imagine, or even understand. There's stuff going on in my head, post Serena, of which I have no inkling, other than random irrational urges to hug small children.
Rootie - I agree that ending a pregnancy because it is simply inconvenient is assholism of the first order. I just don't agree that preventing some instances of assholism is worth the price of abrogating basic human liberties of untold other, perfectly reasonable people. I also don't think that most situations in the real-world are as cut-and-dried as the straw-men constructed for political discourse.
As I said, I understand that your belief is deeply held. I even sympathize with your position, right up until we get to the part (if we get there) where we start to limit the rights of the mother to control her own medical affairs. I also admit that my position is based on years of political indoctrination (both positive and negative) so there is a fair likelihood that my position could benefit from some re-examination (the politics of the last 30 years have not served us very well, I think).
The thing is, Jeff, I don't disagree with you there. In a perfect world, every pregnancy would be rejoiced over and every baby would be born into a family that loves him/her, has the emotional and financial means to care for them, blah blah blah. We don't live in a perfect world, and I get that. I realize that some women aren't equipped for having a baby- emotionally, financially, all that. It's just that I think having an abortion is too damn easy. For me, it took $250 dollars and a phone call. It's being used as a way out, an expedient method to make something scary go away. That is what I have deep issues with. Not a woman's right to her own medical autonomy, but a cultural dismissal of the rights of a very delicate and innocent life that is utterly incapable of defending itself. People put more effort into saving trees and insects. This is what I have such trouble with. I suppose if I believed that life began at a later point than conception, perhaps when it becomes viable outside of the womb (which is becoming earlier and earlier these days), or when it has technically been born- drawn a breath and cried, perhaps- I would feel differently. But the sticky issue of viability, and the only different between a 26 week premie in intensive care and a fetus aborted at 26 weeks is a matter of opinion...well. I can't help it. I have a deep problem with that.
The other, larger problem is, as you say, a cultural dismissal of rights; our political discourse on abortion has driven both camps into untenable moral positions: on the one hand we have the pro-choice camp which cannot admit that a fetus is a living thing. On the other hand we have the pro-life camp which must deny fundamental human rights to adults based solely on their gender. There's more than enough hypocrisy to go around, on this issue. Then we have the contingent of crazies who are eager to kill people to "protect life." We're all hurtling down the road to crazy-town, and some of us just seem to have gotten there sooner than others.
I think that the viability issue is something of a red herring, mostly because it is a factual/scientific claim in an argument that is almost entirely about morality rather than science. Anybody's exercise of rights is likely, if not certain, to require the (hopefully temporary) abridgment of someone else's rights. Abortion is no different, except by the degree and permanence of the abridgment, and the amount of free-will available to the abridge-ee.
I guess I'm just better at holding multiple, conflicting opinions in my mind at once than most people (not that I'm saying such "moral flexibility" is a good thing, just that I'm wired like that). I agree with you on the facts (i.e. when life begins) but my logic leads to a different conclusion. The rights of the mother (a fully realized person) outweigh the rights of the fetus (a potential person), even when the mother is being a narcissistic tool. As morally unsatisfying as it is, I've made my peace with that infernal compromise.
Maybe there are ways that we could reduce the number of abortions without denying women's' rights to control their own bodies; I can think of a few technical solutions just sitting here, but technical solutions don't actually solve the moral dilemma, they only make it less pressing. The moral dilemma, as I've said, is deeper and broader than abortion; it gets at an underlying willingness in American society to sacrifice entire groups of people at the alter of political power. The entire debate has become a shibboleth for political and cultural membership, which short changes the people who are actually affected by the argument.
While we're arguing about access to health services or when life begins, others are using our heart-felt beliefs to collect votes for people serving causes that have nothing to do with abortion or women's' rights. So long as we allow the debate to be so simply and radically polarized, we will be nothing more than easy votes for political opportunists.
(whoops, that went on much longer than I intended. Sorry)
Yes, yes and yes.
There's lots of things I have trouble with. Right to life issues are just one. There are grey areas anywhere you turn, and never an easy answer. Part of me wants to insist that anyone who claims to be vehemently right to life should be prepared to completely pay for someone's pregnancy and adopt the child when it's born. Another part says mind your own business. Then I want to set firm and definite standards for when life begins, when it deserves protection, vs when the woman has a right to make decisions for herself and her pregnancy. Why can't it be easy? I want concrete boundaries and I want them NOW.
I realize this quandary, and my inconsistency can be frustrating (not just to others, but to myself as well). But, a big part of me, the one that has been on both sides of the fence with this issue, is afraid to err on the side of the wrong, even if there is no right or wrong. I can't change our culture. I'm not going to change anyone's mind (except maybe my own very mercurial one), but I have to go with my gut here. And it's telling me to protect life, no matter what opinion says.
Agreed, now, can I fix you a glass of iced tea?