Not Merely Justified, But Obligated

June 2009

Following all too neatly, unfortunately, from Abraham's enablers, in light of the recent shooting of an abortion doctor in the US, Fred Clark has this to say:

Paul Hill argued that abortion was the moral equivalent of the Nazi Holocaust – just like the National Right to Life Committee, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family and dozens of other evangelical groups said it was. If that's true, Hill said, then he wasn't merely justified, but obligated to take up arms against abortionists. If you're confronted with an evil equal in magnitude to that of Adolf Hitler – as all these groups insisted was the case – then surely one is obliged to do more than vote Republican every four years in the hopes of one day appointing enough judges to change the law of the land. Confronted with what all of these groups assured him was the Holocaust, he decided to become Claus von Stauffenberg.

Yet when Hill repeated their own argument and their own rhetoric back to them, these groups all recoiled. They all claimed to share Hill's premise, but not to share his conclusion. That won't work. Hill's violent conclusion arose logically from that shared premise. If he was a madman to be condemned – as all those groups suddenly insisted he was – it was because of the madness of that premise. So how was it possible they could repudiate him without also repudiating that rhetoric that compelled him to act?

What I realized then, in 1994, as I watched these groups line up to condemn violence against "mass-murderers" and to renounce armed opposition to "the Holocaust," was that these folks didn't really mean any of it. They were horrified by the spectacle of someone taking their own rhetoric and arguments seriously. "We don't really mean anything we say," these groups rushed to announce. "We don't really believe any of that."

And since they no longer bothered to claim they believed it, I stopped trying to believe it too.

Now here we are again, 15 years later, as the arguments of the anti-abortion movement are again being proved disingenuous by their own self-refuting statements condemning the latest lethal fruit of their rhetoric of "mass-murder" and "Holocaust." Once again some sad, disturbed man has committed the error of taking their rhetoric more seriously than it was ever meant by the people who supposedly believed it to be true.

Killing in the name of

Adam commented:

There is some interesting discussion on this here:


and here (as linked to in the above):


(sorry for the linkage and lack of original thoughts. It is a difficult issue...)

KT commented:

Well, I dunno... It could be logically consistent to object to murdering abortionists, if you're not a utilitarian, and believe that murder is always wrong, even to prevent more murders. If these people believe (as is possible) that the sacredness of any life trumps pretty much any other moral imperative, no matter how much evil that life is causing, then they might consider themselves bound to pacifist means. Of course, if they want the holocaust analogy to hold, they'd have to concede that it would be wrong to kill Hitler; but maybe they'd be ok with that.

So maybe it's more of a question of a difference in values than a difference in ability to draw a logical conclusion.