The Third Estate
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Being Charitable

Monday, June 01, 2009
It's hard to be generous after what happened to George Tiller yesterday. I know I wouldn't like it if I were tarred by the criminal actions of extremists who happened to be on my side of a political question. I understand that there are people of good will on both sides of these questions, but it's alarming that virtually every act of political violence comes from one side of the debate.

The emotional reaction is to use this event to vilify one's opponents. It's certainly tempting to do so. Yet I know that even within the small circle of bloggers I read there is difference of opinion - a fact that makes me hesitate to write about this matter at all. If this were an isolated case, I would let it pass by. I'm not in the habit of demanding disavowals when one's fellow travelers turn out to be nutcases. Yet there has to be a line somewhere, and I think it is here. There's just been too much of these kinds of crimes for honorable people to ascribe these sorts of attacks to isolated acts of madness, because after a time they cease seeming quite to isolated. Not orchestrated perhaps, but we must remember that madness can afflict groups of people as well as individuals.

I think it's time for the self-described pro-life community to clean up its own house. Cut off those who implicitly condone violence against their opponents. Make an unambiguous statement that harassment and violence against abortion providers is beyond the pale. Support the protection of clinics. If the leadership of those working to outlaw abortion don't do these things, then their supporters should. We should use this sad event as an opportunity to draw some clear lines about what is and is not acceptable behavior in a political dispute. Because as it stands now, the drift will only be towards greater polarization and mutual demonization. And that's not good for anybody.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 11:20 AM
  • Hear, hear!! If, however, they insist that harassing clinics and doctors/facilities is a 1st amendment-protected act, they need to draw a line for their own side. And we all need to be clear: violence is not acceptable. Ever.

    What are the odds it'll happen?

    By Blogger Belle, at 6:27 PM  
  • honestly, I'm sick to death of the rhetorical posturing on both sides regarding tiller's death. Meh.

    By Blogger Anastasia, at 9:25 PM  
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