Did Bill O'Reilly Kill George Tiller?

The actual title of the article in this morning's Post by NARAL New York’s vice-president of communications Mary Alice Carr is "Why I turned down O’Reilly" but the real gist of her screed is different. "O’Reilly is being incredibly disingenuous when he claims that he bears no responsibility for others’ actions in the killing of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday," she writes. "[W]e hold O’Reilly responsible for helping to create a climate in which hate was allowed to fester."

I find Bill O’Reilly loathsome, but this is ridiculous. After all, if you indict him because "When you tell an audience of millions over and over again that someone is an executioner, you cannot feign surprise when someone executes that person" are you not acknowledging that millions of listeners did not respond to O’Reilly’s angry denunciations by getting out their gun and shooting Dr.Tiller. One person did so, and it is not yet clear what motivated him to do so. And the "climate in which hate was allowed to fester" is called the human condition, stained as it is by original sin.


Carr’s article is as much about her "courage" in going on O’Reilly’s show in years past because of its huge audience, but now declining because she thinks "if the murder of a man in a house of worship wasn’t enough to make Bill O’Reilly repent, what hope did I have?" Such courage indeed. Isn’t that what you get paid to do when you are vice-president of communications? I know in this culture it is "all about me" but what this article really shows is that the pro-choice community is going to exploit the murder of Dr. Tiller to rally the troops and to raise the funds that pay Ms. Carr’s salary.

The histrionics in the abortion debate are not limited to NARAL. Professor Robert George has chosen to reply to my posts, here and at NCR, about his discussion with Professor Doug Kmiec at the National Press Club last week. He was especially upset with this sentence I wrote: "George claims that science has determined the issue of abortion, not philosophy or theology, but he asserts this without making an argument." I stand corrected. Professor George writes that science only proves the embryo is human and that he only invoked science to make that point. But, that can’t be right. He went on and on about how science, not theology or philosophy, proved his point but, I wonder. Has anyone really argued that the embryo was an acorn and if left to grow the expectant mother would give birth to an oak tree? Certainly Professor Kmiec did not make that argument. Professor George’s use of science is ridiculous. He is trying to cloak himself with the authority of science. He was making a point that is not in dispute. Indeed the problem with his presentation at the Press Club was that he was arguing with what had already been stipulated. Such a performance may be good for EWTN or for Bill O’Reilly’s show for that matter. But, the Law School at the Catholic University of America, which sponsored the event, deserved better.

As I wrote two days ago, getting the abortion debate away from abstract principles will help get it away from the extremes on both sides and will permit, not ensure, but permit the nation to find a public policy that enfleshes the ambivalence most Americans feel about abortion. The shouters – from Bill O’Reilly to Mary Alice Carr to Robert George – warm to the current intransigent, polarized debate. But, they are fooling themselves if they think they are doing anything that promotes life or a woman’s well-being. They are promoting themselves and they deserve each other.


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9 years 4 months ago
It is more than disingenuous to suggest that Bill O'Reilly is responsible for the death of George Tiller just as it would be more than disingenuous to suggest that those who spoke out against the war in Iraq are responsible for this murder and shooting of two young Men who were serving their Country. [url=http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090601/ap_on_re_us/us_recruiters_shot]http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090601/ap_on_re_us/us_recruiters_shot[/url] Just another example of how politics can blind us from seeing The Truth.
9 years 4 months ago
What is MSW suggesting?  That nothing be said about abortion and the killing be allowed to continue unopposed?    Some feared that opposing Hitler would mean that more atrocities would take place and they remained silent.  Silence is not the answer.  Pro-lifers denounce any murder-the born and the unborn.  Unlike the Islamic fundamentalists who cheer when human life is taken, pro-lifers condemn the killing of Dr. Tiller.  As much as the Democratic Party wishes all would quietly acquiese in the slaughter of the unborn, to do so would violate God's laws. 
9 years 4 months ago
It is dishonest to pretend that the screamers and shouters on radio and TV and in print bear no responsibility for the murder of Tiller or for the chain of religious and political and social asassinations that have shocked this country during the last 5 decades.  Each time, an unbalanced individual who believes he is saving the country or doing God's will because the screamers and shouters have pounded that into his or her head over a period of months or years acts to carry out what he or she has been "called"  to do.  The screamers and shouters have gone past the question of free speech because they have, figuritively, screamed and shouted "FIRE" in a crowded theater.  Then, when their words inflame one (it only takes one) of their hearers to act as they have proposed, they stand there in their pharisaical posture and proclaim their words didn't mean what they said and then they crawl back into their hole to celebrate the victory won at the expense of a subjectively innocent victim.  Tiller's blood is as much on the hands of the screamers and shouters as it is on the hands of the unbalanced man who shot him and they owe Scott Roeder the duty of standing beside him in court to receive their portion of the sentence for his and their crime.
9 years 4 months ago
Dear Michael, I enjoy your columns but sometimes, in your rush to turn out columns, you shoot from the hip.  Blaming the climate of hate on ''original sin'' (whatever that means nowadays) rather than on such as Rush Limbaugh or even Mr. O'Reilly, is an intellectual copout, way too facile and almost wholly lacking in thoughtful analysis.  As for professor George, I agree with you while my own archbishop agrees with George that ''science proves'' human life begins at conception.  That argument might satisfy a materialist but does not satisfy anyone who believes with the tradition that humans are body, mind, soul and spirit.  When all four are present we have a human being, a question for theology, not physical science.
9 years 4 months ago
Mr. Winters, You have made a habit of calling Robert George a ''shouter.'' By this I presume you mean he makes inflammatory or sophistic appeals to emotion, rather than providing reasons for his positions. Given the fact that he is a philosopher, your allegation is a most serious one. But perhaps you are right that George's work is no different in kind than Bill O'Reilly's, as you have said. So I invite you to tell us why.
9 years 4 months ago
No, Bill O'Reilly and Randall Terry aren't to blame for the death of George Tiller. In that spirit, I refer to a column by Frank Rich in 1995, where he stated that blaming Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for the Oklahoma City bombing was just as unfair as blaming Jane Fonda and George McGovern for the 1970 University of Wisconsin bombing would have been.
9 years 4 months ago
The Democratic Party has made abortion reduction part of its platform, so Milbo's comment is a bit out of date.  It is actually not hard to come up with a consensus position if you try.  If Sotomayor is more a Kennedy than a Ginsburg, the plurality of Justices will be there.  From a policy perspective, what does this look like?  The left will have to give up abortion on demand until the moment of birth for even a healthy fetus (although that is a bit of a characature anyway - not many believe that).  The right will have to give up that it is possible to go back to the bad old days before Roe, when abortion was all but a civil violation - which was just enough to drive it underground but not enough to stop it.  Overturning Roe on either jurisdictional grounds or on the ground of the inherent worth of the fetus will also need to be dropped (the Scalia and Thomas positions, repsectively).  Where does that leave us?  With legal recognition of fetuses in the third and probably the second trimesters - at least after viability and eventually before - although I doubt we will or should ever get to the point that an embryo that could miscarry naturally will have full legal protection, since this would also entail prosecuting its mother for murder if it is aborted or suing the doctor if it miscarries (this is what equal protection under law would mandate).   If we get to such a point, there won't be any controversy left in the issue, at least politically - which is why the exteremists on the issue don't want consensus, since this would leave them without a meal ticket.  NARAL and Operation Rescue need each other.  It is a symbiotic relationship that gives both sides a reason to send out fundraising letters and attend congressional fundraisers to nosh on caviar and chicken satay.  If Sotomayor survives confirmation and only one more is appointed like her (which is likely, since the opinion I am speculating on for her matches Obama's stated opinion on this issue), that will be five in the Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Sotomayor camp.  We could do worse on this issue than a moderate majority.  I doubt we can do better.
9 years 4 months ago
Scott Roeder, the Right-Wing Authoritarian (RWA) follower who assassinated Dr. Tiller, is a poster-child for what happens when the psychological drivers within RWA followers reach a critical mass state: intense internalized FEAR (looks like HATE, but it’s FEAR) combines with a very high level of SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS to produce EXTREME AGGRESSION against whoever and whatever threatens the follower’s leader or ideology (in this case, ironically, “pro-life”).  Roeder’s psychological disorder is defined by the following: illogical thinking, a highly compartmentalized mind, double standards, hypocrisy, blindness to himself, a profound ethnocentrism, and dogmatism.   Roeder is not a Social Dominator or a Double High (these are “leaders” as opposed to “followers”) because people with these disorders rely on easily manipulated RWA followers like Roeder to do their dirty work.  In this case, the Social Dominators and Double Highs are the “pro-life” extremist political (Republican Party, Operation Rescue, etc.) and religious leaders, including members of the clergy, hate radio commentators and right-wingnut TV pundits who keep the baseless hysterical anti-choice rhetoric ramped high.  Gullible suckers like Roeder take the bait.  Then, the amoral, hypocritical “leaders” knock themselves out distancing themselves from the inevitable destruction they sowed.      Roeder did exactly what his leaders directed him to do.  Only Roeder walked into that Lutheran church.  Many fingers pulled the trigger.  How else does a doctor whose activities are 100% legal become the victim of a politically-motivated assassination?   Dr. Tiller’s assassination by political and religious right-wing terrorists had NOTHING to do with saving the unborn and everything to do with the psychotic obsession of many.   
9 years 4 months ago
You must be joking.  By your standard society could never pronounce any unborn child a "human being" - - because neither science nor theology can tell us when the soul, spirit, or mind for that matter, are "all present."  If we are unsure about when ensoulment occurs (not that that is relevant to any civll system of laws), it is incumbent upon any civilized society to err on the side of protecting life, not killing it. 


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