Dear [Collegiate Catholic],
Extreme, overheated rhetoric can have dangerous consequences.
By now, you may have heard or read that last Sunday, Dr. George Tiller, a physician who has been targeted for years for his willingness to provide abortion procedures often in the most difficult circumstances, was assassinated in his church in Kansas. [Are we really going to start using the word "assasinated," now? While I think I've made clear that I see his murder as a tragedy, we need to be on guard against those who would make him out as some kind of martyr.]
Freedom of speech is one of our most cherished constitutional values and rights -- and should always be protected. But just because speech might be constitutionally protected does not make it right or decent. [Much of this e-mail is garbage, but let's remember this very valid distinction. I have a feeling PFAW types won't appreciate it when this is applied in other circumstances.]
There can be little doubt that the irresponsible, inflammatory, dehumanizing and violent speech of some around the abortion debate -- much of it targeted [Warning... this link is pretty bogus. It tries to characterize complaints about Sebelius' Tiller ties, similar to the one I directed to Senator Casey, as hate-mongering rhetoric.] at Dr. Tiller himself -- contributed to this tragedy. [Perhaps. We do, however, have to distinguish between true statements and "dehumanizing" speech.] The reaction to the assassination by some of these same people has been pretty shocking.
Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry said Tiller "reaped what he sowed."[Terry was guilty of insensitive timing, but in context, his point was perhaps a valid one. Tiller was an integral part of the culture of death. His murder was another symptom of that culture. If you watch the video of what he said at the first link in the paragraph, you'll probably see that the comment was misrepresented here.]
Ann Coulter basically equated a woman's decision to have an abortion with a would-be assassin's decision to kill an abortion doctor. [Ann is a font of obnoxious, offensive statements. She's an entertainer and that's her schtick. But, abortion does take an innocent life.]
And Wiley Drake, a former vice president of Southern Baptist Convention who last year was Alan Keyes' running mate, called Tiller's death "an answer to prayer." Drake then unabashedly told FOX broadcaster Alan Colmes on his radio show that he prays for the death of President Obama! [On the radio, Drake indicated that he gave up on praying for Tiller's salvation after years of doing so. I understand his frustration, but we have to rely on God not gunmen. When we let the challenges Satan gives us turn our love to hate, he wins.]
Dr. Tiller's death is a sad reminder that stoking the flames of hate has serious ramifications, yet the Radical Right [I don't like that phrase at all. WHo, exactly, is the "Radical Right" ?] is seemingly doing everything it can to continue the extreme demonization of its opponents, even suggesting violence with the use of images.
In the wake of Tiller's death, a Religious Right group calling itself Answers in Genesis has a billboard up in Texas and a TV ad comparing Atheism to murder [Answers in Genesis believes in that Young Earth stuff and what not... they're a little out there, IMO. But, it's a gross mischaracterization to say that the billboard compares atheism to murder.]. And the FOX Nation web site actually featured side-by-side articles with images that appear to have firearms aimed at the heads of progressive leaders who also happen to be African American. The absolute best that can be said of this is that FOX Nation is guilty of sloppy and irresponsible negligence. [Oh, Puh-leez. Grasp at straws much?]
It's incredibly important that we all stay vigilant in exposing the fear mongering and hate that drive people inclined towards violence to take action. PFAW's RightWingWatch.org blog is one such place for activists like you to stay informed [if by "informed," you mean that you're actually seeking a left-wing brand of fear mongering and hate]. Please visit the blog often, sign up for regular "Best of the Blog"updates and help spread the word about this resource.
Thank you for all you do. [Obviously not intended for me...]
-- Michael B. Keegan, President
P.S. On a far more positive note [If they think it's positive...], New Hampshire Governor John Lynch on Thursday signed into law legislation that makes New Hampshire the sixth state in which same-sex couples now enjoy legal marriage equality. This is a tremendous step in the fight to make sure ALL of our LGBT Americans have equal protection under the law. A special thanks to all PFAW members and activists in New Hampshire who took action in the effort to pass these bills (New Hampshire folks, please consider calling your legislators to thank them as well as Gov. Lynch). [I'm hoping to put up what I think will be a rare sane look at the gay marriage debate sometime in the near future.]