Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Least Balanced Among Them

Sparky wrote a post about the Rachel Maddow documentary "The Assassination of Dr. Tiller."

I watched it, and thought it was very good. I was expecting to get extremely emotional watching it, but I did not. Seeing Dr. Sella get choked up was very moving, the patient stories, obviously -- but for the most part, I kept it together way better than I was anticipating.

For me, the best point the documentary made was expressed by one of Dr. Tiller's staffers. Essentially, she was saying that anti leaders, like Troy Newman or Randall Terry, are culpable to some degree for the behavior of people like Scott Roeder. She said, and I am paraphrasing here, that they use language of violence, murder, and hatred to incite people. Then, when the least balanced among them acts out as a result of that, they stand back as if they are not accountable and had nothing to do with it. Not unlike how when a football player does something wrong to a player on the opposite team, and then afterwards, when a flag is thrown and he gets caught, he stands there with his hands up as if that somehow proves he didn't do it.

Did I do that?

It is very important for the mainstream media and population in this country to understand this concept. Not just for abortion rights, but a variety of extremely important topics. For example, Fox News saying Obama is a Muslim over and over and over and over and over and over and then acting like it is an interesting news piece / revelation when most of the viewers of Fox News think Obama is Muslim. Similarly, when Bill O'Reilly calls Dr. Tiller "Tiller the Killer" on Fox News 30+ times, it's no wonder then viewers of the program start to view Tiller as not a person but a mass murderer.

The problem lies in where exactly the line of culpability starts and ends. Obviously, it's very complicated and difficult to ascertain. It is mostly shades of gray, and that is why they can get away with it.

I think, generally, the rhetoric of hatred that is so pervasive in this country seriously needs to subside. Hate breeds hate. I have no problem engaging with anti-choicers about the issue and talking about it. Note the word "talking." Talking implies two or more people are participating in a dialogue. I am more than happy to do that. If nothing else, it will help me understand where he or she is coming from better. I have a really hard time doing this, though, when the person is incredibly fired up, saying things that are blatant lies, and seem totally okay with the murder of my colleague. The least balanced among them - those who harass, shame, stalk, humiliate, murder - they are ruining it for everyone.

It would be nice if anti-choice folks were more willing to regulate the behavior of the extreme among them. Their leaders, Randall Terrycoughcough, seem more than happy to embrace their behavior.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written and excellent points. Abortion is one very obvious example of the dangers of hate rhetoric calling into the ears of the unstable, but this is also applicable to ALL manner of hate rhetoric: anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-liberal, anti-anything. Leaders who espouse violence or praise the idea of violence need to be held accountable, socially and publicly, if not legally, for the violence done by their followers.


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.