Monday, June 1, 2009

when free speech is not free

on sunday an usher was gunned down as he served at his lutheran church in wichita, kansas. when phrased in that manner it sounds ghastly, and rightly so. should the details of the victim's profession make his death sound any less horrific? the victim, in this case, was a physician who provided medical services to desperate pregnant women. does including that information make his death any less deserved?

the back story is that the doctor had been the target of 'hate speech' from anti-abortion zealots and right-wing media talking heads because he provided abortion services to women who sought late term abortions. he provided this service because he was committed to attending to the medical needs to the women who sought his clinic out of desperation. he was also a man who was committed to his church and his faith. those two facts should not be in conflict or tension with one another.

never did he seek out women or compel them to enter his clinic to end their pregnancy. to the contrary, the women who entered his clinic seeking his services often did so over the pleas of anti-choice advocates to reconsider. to remain steadfastly committed to his patients in the face of such opposition is the epitome of courage and more of a testament to authentic christian faith than those who made his occupation dangerous. the doctor is a modern day christian martyr.

while i agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion and to the right to freely express that opinion, i do not agree that anyone has the right to make inflammatory statements that incite people to commit murder. to the extent that the anti-choice zealots used inflammatory rhetoric that resulted in the death of doctor tiller, they are accessories to murder.

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