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Dog Whistling, Conservatives, and Dr. George Tiller

tiller_grab_small.jpg Dr. George Tiller, for decades a target of violent anti-abortion terrorists, was murdered at his church during Sunday morning worship. 

As typically happens in these cases, Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry, eager to try and put some public distance between himself and the act, put out a "condemnation" of the murder that spent more time attacking the victim than the murderer — and you can lay even money that the suspect’s home will be packed with literature from Operation Rescue and other anti-choice groups. And as always, while the anti-choice crowd will publicly and half-heartedly deplore the murder, what they say when they think they’re among friends will be a good deal different. For example, check out this comment posted at "respectable" conservative blog RedState, a portion of which is also immortalized in the screen grab above:

Killing Tiller was the ethical thing to do

tankertodd Sunday, May 31st at 2:25PM EDT (link)

I can’t help but to follow the logic. “Doctor” Tiller is committing late-term abortions, which by any sane person’s calculation is infanticide. This is murder. Through perversion of the law, this is permitted, despite it flying the face of the history of civilization. This has been tolerated for two decades, and nothing has happened to stop the killing. He would have continued to commit this crime.

I can’t escape the conclusion that killing Tiller was the right thing to do. I am uncomfortable with this conclusion because it’s dangerous. But nevertheless, it was the ethical thing to do. Tiller would have continued to take numerous lives. Nothing was going to stop him. So someone did stop him. And now fewer lives will be taken.

We celebrate the breaking the laws every time the media canonizes Rosa Parks. She broke the law. There is no question of that. The question is whether it was the ethical thing to do (it was.) We celebrate the Nazi resistance, we celebrate the Tiananmen Square uprising. I’m sure those were all illegal actions, yet were unquestionably the moral things to do. So how would killing a killer, when all options are exhausted, not also be the right thing to do?

You have to wonder if the reason why we have a legal system is in order to steal the oxygen from moral vigilantism. You have to wonder if the legal system breaks down whether vigilantism, when all other options fail, becomes a moral imperative.

Bear in mind that this comment was done in response to a posting made by a RedStater exhorting people on the site to condemn the murder — apparently, to judge from his remarks, mostly out of fear how not condemning it will make conservatives look to the media and the general public, not because he actually thinks that the murder of Dr. Tiller was a heinous and horrible act.  (This later comment by him would seem to reinforce that perception; according to him, reporting that Dr. Tiller was shot while serving as an usher at his church was done "no doubt, to cast the good doctor is the most favorable light".)   While some have been supportive of his efforts, a non-trivial number of comments have been along the lines of the above-quoted one.   For instance, there’s this one:

I guess there is something wrong with me

leppard Sunday, May 31st at 2:21PM EDT (link)

I really dont care if it gets used against us.

Do we dismiss what this guy was doing because someone took the law in their own hands? Granted, we shouldnt take the law into our own hands. But if the left is going to paint a picture, then Id like to take the opportunity to paint the picture right back on late-term abortions.

IMHO, Denouncing does no good alone. The left doesn’t play fair.

Lest you think it’s just RedState that’s doing this, an intrepid soul has gone diving into the depths of conservative message board FreeRepublic.com, the existence of which predates blogs and blogging, and found items like this:

I do not support this, but I do understand this.

Kansas politics has been corrupted to the core by George Tiller, making him like a mobster above the law.

He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

1 posted on Sunday, May 31, 2009 12:35:48 PM by Kansas58

If you really want to see more, go to DailyKos for a whole passel of comments preserved from FR.  Chances are, by the time you see this post of mine, the FR staff will have zapped the entire thread anyway.

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