I watched the events at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs unfold on TV on Saturday (Friday US time), mostly on Fox News. Throughout they were careful, as any news organisation should be, not to attribute any motive to the gunman.
(For those that don’t know, Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organisation that provides women’s reproductive health services in the United States. It has almost 1,000 clinics and affiliates throughout the country. It’s services include abortions, and thus its premises and staff are subjected to frequent protests and sometimes physical attacks.)
I really wanted to know what could have motivated the guy – the Police had confirmed it was a man – to commit these acts. I didn’t look at Twitter, but a Facebook friend announced he was a right-wing Christian. She’d linked to a news article, which I hurriedly read. The article made no mention whatsoever of the man’s political or religious views, or even speculated about them. As many did, she’d assumed his motives from his actions.
I went back to watching Fox News’s The Five. Fox’s reporters continued to report the situation properly. Some of the commentators couldn’t help but drift a bit, as I’m sure commentators on more liberal shows did too. At one point it was announced that the New York city police department had decided to increase security at Planned Parenthood clinics there. This was in “an abundance of caution” due to the risk of copycat attacks, and not because of any direct threat.
At this point a Five co-host, whom I know from previously watching the show is anti-abortion in the extreme (but pro-death penalty), became quite irritated. He was unhappy with the decision of the New York police. My impression was that his Gut reaction was that women who have abortions, no matter what the circumstances, deserve everything they get. I thought about writing about this at the time, but dismissed the idea as being a bit obsessive because he’s only one guy, and he didn’t actually say what I saw on his face and in his body language.
Then I saw an article from Patheos shared on Facebook by another friend: ‘“Pro-lifers” take to Twitter to Praise Planned Parenthood shooter.’ It seems things have been progressing on the a-hole front. The tweet Patheos highlighted was this one:
“Ryan” has had 140 “likes” in the whole time he’s been on Twitter, 58 of them for this tweet.
He said on Twitter that abortion was okay for rape. His reasoning? Rape is unnatural, so the baby is unnatural too. If a woman has the temerity to abort a child of his though, it appears he has a plan:
Fortunately it got to the point where he’d had enough of the arguments that were put to him in opposition to his stance:
Ryan joined Twitter in June 2009 and has so far gained 233 followers, so he’s not the loudest of voices. I think we can safely ignore him in the future, though I’d personally advise women to steer clear of him, especially in a relationship.
Someone with a much louder voice (49.5K followers) is someone who calls themself @gaypatriot, whose account I can’t find again since copying the tweets below:
(The gunman took “objects” with him to the Planned Parenthood clinic, including a barbeque gas tank. It is assumed they were to be used as IEDs or Improvised Explosive Devices.)
Whoever this person is, they appear to have a right-wing political narrative. The Republican Party though has been silent about the events. Think Progress reports that while both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come out in support of Planned Parenthood, so far (more than a day later) the only candidate for the Republican nomination to tweet about the attack is Ted Cruz. I can’t stand the man, but I have nothing to criticize about his tweet:
Here are the tweets in support of the gunman’s actions Patheos found, some of which have since been deleted:
As Tracey Moody, author of the Patheos post notes, these “are some people we should all be worried about.” As an aside she adds that none of them appear to be Syrian refugees.
The alleged killer has been named as Robert Lewis Dear. It is reported that he lived reclusively in a cabin in North Carolina for several years before buying land in Colorado and moving there about a year ago. He lived in a caravan on this land. All the neighbours, in both states, that reporters have spoken to that I can find say he never spoke of abortion or politics.
Dear has been arrested before. His arrests included at least one for domestic violence in 1997 against his then wife, and another following an accusation of being a peeping Tom.
So far, the only indication of his motive is that following his arrest he said, “no more baby parts.” Commentators all seem to be interpreting it the same way I do – that Dear seems to have been motivated by the lies spread recently by anti-abortion campaigners that Planned Parenthood is deliberately aborting foetuses in order to sell them to medical research facilities for a profit.
If this is true, those who made the videos and all those who have made political capital out of them must take a small part of the blame for Dear’s actions. They knew that they were peddling lies when they acted. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs reports:
This ends the debate; it’s a direct link to the deceptively edited videos created by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress [an anti-abortion group], and the outright lies constantly repeated by conservative media and blogs that Planned Parenthood “sells baby parts.”
Note that the words “baby parts” are in the titles of almost all of their videos.
Dear may be mentally disturbed, but we now know he was inspired by the lies and manipulative videos. And every conservative who helped spread these evil lies shares responsibility for this attack.
As for Dear, we still don’t actually know whether he was even anti-abortion let alone right-wing or Chrstian. It may be that he simply believed that Planned Parenthood were doing what they were accused of by the so-called Center for Medical Progress, which even the strongest pro-choice advocate would also condemn if it were true. Using an AK-47 to murder three people and attempt to murder nine more in protest is the action of a disturbed mind. But again, we don’t know whether that mind was disturbed by brainwashing, obsession or mental illness.
Whatever it is, his arrest record demonstrates to me an attitude to women that is less than ideal. It indicates, I think, that he is less likely to believe women should have a choice when it comes to deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.
On Tuesday (Monday US time) I will again watch Fox News’s The Five. Despite disagreeing with just about everything most of the co-hosts say, I really enjoy the show. I have no doubt they will talk about this incident, and by then we are sure to know more about what really happened. Further, I have no doubt they will highlight all the liberals, like my friend, who immediately jumped to the conclusion that Dear was a conservative Christian. I hope they also have the intellectual honesty to expose and condemn all those on the right who are calling Dear a hero, and the politicians who have been using the Center for Medical Progress videos to attract money and supporters for their campaigns.
I recommend this post from psychologist Valerie Taico: Christianist Republicans Systematically Incited Colorado Clinic Assault
I wish I’d read it before I wrote my post – I would have included some quotes from this excellent article.
…and what was this guy doing with an AK-47? We, in the U.S. live in an insane world.
Yeah. I didn’t even want to go there, but I’m glad you mentioned it. I just don’t get the gun culture.
Plenty of people here have rifles. They’re for hunting. Hand guns are rare, and AK-47s just about non-existent outside the military.
Someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think we’ve ever even had a police incident with an AK-47 or similar.
My personal favourite comment about the Syrian refugees came from the politician in Texas who said they couldn’t let refugees in because guns were too easy to obtain 🙂
I do hope someone takes Carly Fiorina to task as the most prominent politician to spread the video tape lies.
By all means, let them try. Ms. Fiorina has shown her mettle.
Me too. She even did a campaign ad, adding extra footage to “illustrate the problem,” as I’m sure you remember. I was already going off her in a big way when she did that, but the blatant lying in that ad sealed it. I still see her as a strong VP contender though.
“I was already going off her”
I’m surprised you were ever “on her”!
I wasn’t exactly “on” her, but I was impressed by her, and I thought I could handle her as a candidate if I had to put up with a Republican. But the more I heard her, the more I heard ultra-conservative opinions that made me realize I she was too far right for me to accept.
Some background information on Ted Cruz’s tweet–
“And then there was the joint press release that Cruz issued with Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, announcing the endorsement of the activist who has long inhabited the radical fringes of the anti-choice movement. Last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow looked into Newman’s history, citing our reporting on Newman and Operation Rescue, including his backing of capital punishment for abortion providers and tying abortion rights to natural disasters such as the current drought in California.”
(This was covered by the ever-reliable Rachel Maddow, who was complaining that the mainstream political press hasn’t been covering it.)
Thanks for bring this up. Cruz is a duplicitous scumbag, no question about that. I’m looking forward to a debate with a critic who will bring up his craven and immoral stance. Clinton vs Cruz would be a great venue for a severe tarring.
Thanks for this Yakaru. Rachel Maddow is excellent, as always.
It has emerged that the suspect is an art dealer and S&M fetishist. If he has political leanings, they surely would be to the left.
The undercover videos that exposed Planned Parenthood’s ethically and legally dubious practices were not “deceptively edited”. That is a canard cooked up by deniers and apologists.
As for the piece by Valerie Tarico, it would be hilarious were it not such vile hateful garbage. At the least it is unworthy of any discussion that aspires to rationality.
I do not see why we should assume that someone who is “an art dealer and S&M fetishist” would “surely” lean left politically. In fact I understand that sexual fetishism in the United States is more prevalent in red states than blue ones.
Valerie Taico has also written about both Carly Fiorina’s deceptively edited ad, and the original videos by the so-called Center for Medical Progress.
Her piece about the Carly Fiorina add is here, and the other is 42 Splices and Counting: Nine Facts You Should Know About the Planned Parenthood Smear Campaign.
Personally, I have a great deal of respect for Ms Taico.
You’re incredibly self controlled, Heather. I’d be using blue language, myself.
I didn’t reply because I was too busy counting up all the leftist art dealers I know who are also into S&M. The place is crawling with them.
Too bad Dear wasn’t aborted. Or all the tweeting imbeciles for that matter. America! So f’ing DUMB!!!
I understand the sentiment Mark, but we don’t need to sink to their level. They condemn themselves with their own words and actions – we don’t even need to give them any rope, and they still manage to hang themselves with their ignorance.
And to be fair, there are one or two USians that are okay. Maybe even three! 🙂
Yeah, I was pretty harsh. I blame a slight hangover. 🙂
Sounds like we’re missing out on a good story. 🙂
Great article, Heather. Glad my repost inspired some of it.
The question I keep asking is where are the voices asking the Christian moderates to condemn this terrorism? We ask that of Muslims (who risk their lives speaking up) so why not the Christians? I’m not trying to make this a “Christians are terrorists too” thing but think we should be fair
Yeah, it was your repost that inspired it! Thanks. 🙂
I don’t think the Christians have even managed to admit such a thing exists as Christian terrorists. While they condemn Muslims for not taking ownership of Islamist terrorists, they do exactly the same thing themselves.
I thought it was ironic that the whole country was waiting to get up in arms when an Islamist extremist struck over Thanksgiving weekend, and it was a Christian that struck.
Yep, and I also don’t hear anyone insisting it has “nothing to do with religion”. (Although it wouldn’t surprise me if there are.) It could not be clearer that it’s based squarely on a religious conception of the incarnating soul, plus faith-given certainty of rectitude, overlaid with political radicalization and whatever psychological problems the man has.
Without the unscientific religious concepts, he wouldn’t have done it. (He would have shot up random people at McDonalds or something instead, probably.)
Another thing you will not hear said is “Christian Terrorists” and this is an example of one. They prefer members to separate from the group some time before they commit their acts of violence. However Mr. Dear seems to have been a recluse up until those lying videos that play to the horror expectations of their target audience lit a fire under him. So he got up, took his weapons and went to his holy work. I am shocked that they got him alive. Usually the martyr kills themselves before hand. But we have heard of suicide bombers who do not go through with it too. Not everyone will. The deadly Reich Wing Christians here want a theologically based govt system. Till they are carefully monitored and put down when they set off violence, we will continue to be plagued by them. Radical extremists are dangerous because they are just latent bombs waiting to have their fuses lit. But they have too much sympathy and support for that to happen. Another example of the radical state we have in our midst and of a far greater danger than Islamic Fundamentalists here and abroad.
That’s something that worries me quite a lot about the US is the large proportion of people who think a Christian theocracy would be a good idea. It’s really scary. There’s so much irrationality and unreasonableness going on. They’re completely unable to accept another person’s point of view, and think forcing their views on another person is acceptable. I posted this article on the Heather’s Homilies Facebook page a few days ago: Christianity Has a Major Boundary Problem It might have originally come from a reader. Can’t remember now. 🙁
Ever since 1990 I have been investigating that possibility and blame novelist Ms Margaret Atwood for her novel “The handmaid’s Tale” for it. And the film which is classified as an “art film” of all things. Every bit as important as “1984” & “WE” to anyone interested in politics, religion and police states.
I see it has a chance of happening for real in this country at any time. We are far closer to that happening than in the 1990’s. In fact she leaves a time in it. 2012 or 2022 at one point. The closest one comes to any kind of time other than the afterward set in the 2145. Though this isn’t a prediction anymore than “We” or “1984” were. It is just a warning of a possibility. And the threats are there and growing even as we move toward more liberality slowly and painfully.
Mr. Dear was a radicalized convert via the videos. Rather like how Da’esh has done with getting recruits even as they are blown to bits by the major powers that unknowingly harbor them.
I think the US Christian theocracy is a stronger possibility, at least in some states, than it has been for a long time too. There are a lot of people who are feeling scared and threatened by the changing demographics of the country, and are reacting in irrational ways.
I often hear people from the US on TV talking about how they’re the most diverse country in the world. It’s all about perception, because in fact they’re not. Not even close. NZ is far more diverse (I think we’re the most diverse Western country, but I’d have to check) and I’m pretty sure Ireland is up there with, or close to NZ as well. (I’ll have to find the data again and do a short post about it.) Anyway, the upshot is that the US is nowhere near as diverse as it thinks it is.
I’ve heard of The Handmaid’s Tale, but never read it. I should. If the movie is faithful to the book, I might just watch that – yes I know, very lazy. 🙂
Same here in Germany. Without minimizing the ticking timebomb of Islamist extremism here, the radical Right has been a far greater danger than Jihadis will probably ever be. They’ve assassinated hundreds, and the police investigate it as random unconnected crimes. The corruption here is not as widespread as in the US (I think) or in Australia (I know), but it runs deep. (Or high — the former head of the secret police was caught shredding files after a couple of Neo-Nazi killers were caught.)
Unfortunately one of the side effects of a harder harsher Anthropogenically Created Hot House World will be fascist and other totalitarian type govts will form to take control of things to gain resources and to destroy other polities in its way and the hordes of the desperate as other places become uninhabitable. But that is a bit further in the future though not as far as some think it will be.
When it comes to Christians being violent, it looks like they lead the way in the US. Patheos has just posted ‘Bible Belt leads the Way in Black Friday Violence’. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2015/11/bible-belt-leads-the-nation-in-black-friday-violence/
Reader Jake Johnson posted this hilarious article on Facebook from The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/article/frustrated-gunman-cant-believe-how-far-he-has-driv-51923
Also from Jake: Planned Parenthood shooter revealed as a Bible reading conservative Christian
The link is to a post by a liberal blogger, who in turn cites a NY Times article thusly: “Dear was reportedly raised as a Baptist, but was not openly ‘fixated’ or vocal about religion or abortion.”
Well, a Baptist is a conservative Christian, and his wife said he read the Bible from “cover to cover to cover”. So he was a Bible-reading conservative Christian.
I said nowhere that he was fixated or vocal about religion or abortion.
It’s a time-honored tradition by now: Leftist pundits, academics, and much of the lamestream media rush to blame random bad things on Fox News, tea partiers, talk radio figures, conservative or Republican leaders (especially females), Christians, European-Americans, or anybody else whose revilement Leftist ideology demands. Of course one must never allow anything as reactionary as actual evidence to temper an agitated mind.
The following commentary is a few years old, and thus is an incomplete chronology, but will illustrate:
And never mind that many people who don’t fall in any of the above categories, or who support legal abortion, are nevertheless troubled by the ugly truths Daleiden’s team revealed in a brave and brilliant expose. No, reactionaries and heretics must be calumniated for the sake of Revolutionary Truth.
Meanwhile, “radical environmental and animal rights groups have claimed responsibility for hundreds of crimes and acts of terrorism [and remain] one of the country’s most active terrorist movements” (that’s according to the Anti-Defamation League), yet the lamestream media mostly ignores that threat, especially when it comes to the blame game.
Except Daleiden’s work has been completely discredited. Come back when you have something interesting to add.
Except it hasn’t. The interviewees and eye witnesses said what they said.
That also said other things that were cut out that changed the meaning of what you did here. They said what they said, then it was cut up to change the meanings.
1. I wasn’t aware that I blamed anyone.
2. Michelle Malkin is a nasty piece of work. She drips hate. There will always be bad commentators and journalists on both sides of the fence. Yes, some of them are on the left. Some are on the right too.
3. I do not see what was so “brave” about Daleiden’s films. They got to know people over a long period of time by lying about who they were, filmed covertly, and tricked people into saying things when they had been drinking that they clearly wouldn’t have said in a normal conversation. Then they deceptively edited those videos to promote their own agenda.
4. “Brilliant?” Yes, I’ll give you that. They were a brilliant piece of propaganda.
5. I don’t support any form of terrorism, including radical environmental or animal rights. As I’ve mentioned here before, though before you became a reader, I stopped my regular donation to Greenpeace because I was concerned about some of the tactics they were using. They, of course, are a pretty mainstream group.
6. Has anyone ever wondered why the majority of trained journalists are liberal? Is it perhaps because they are generally reasonably intelligent and almost always educated and thus have the skills to think through the issues deeply and come to reasoned conclusions, which happen to be opinions that are labeled liberal?
I’d be more inclined to say that an intelligent, informed person with the education and analytical aptitude to examine issues deeply and arrive at reasoned conclusions is not going to end up holding opinions of the kind that are commonly tagged these days as liberal. Quite the contrary.
Why is there a striking lack of ideological diversity in certain occupations? Why are criminals, journalists, and art dealers likely to be Democrats (if you still doubt the latter, just do a casual query on opensecrets.org)?
I’ve always been amused by the hypothesis you suggest, namely: “They all think alike because they’re so intelligent.”
Hmmm… Or maybe it has more to do with tribalism, peer pressure, workplace bias, and countless other subtle factors and influences.
There are more Democrat criminals because there are more blacks being criminalised by a corrupt and racist justice system and because the economy is rigged for the rich. Please take your trolling elsewhere.
“They all think alike because they’re so intelligent.” I did NOT say that, and it is a LIE to put that in quote marks as if I did. I’m happy to discuss things with someone who has a different point of view. I will not engage with someone who misrepresents what I said. This conversation is over.
I apologize for giving offense. Your original words appear immediately above, so it honestly never occurred to me that my paraphrase could be construed. In hindsight, the misunderstanding and careless punctuation are on me. You’re free to impute bad faith, but such is not the case.
Thanks for that. I appreciate it. 🙂