As a recovering journalist, I still find my decades-old j-school training occasionally reminding me how lazy --even cowardly-- I often feel these days. It nags particularly loudly when I catch myself personally avoiding that most rare of today's journalistic attributes: an impartial fairness in dealing with an uncomfortable story.
I try to ease that guilt by telling myself that I'm no longer subject to either unyielding deadlines nor old-school, "report-both-sides" gruff city editors; today, I can cherry-pick my own stories... avoiding any potential for a disquieting relevation that perhaps I'm no longer courageous enough to tackle subjects that may challenge my own ideological smugness.
Perhaps that's why the article below, by Jeffrey Weiss of POLITICS DAILY, had such a personal impact on me. By no means a conservative, Mr. Weiss nonetheless dared the furies of political correctness to raise the question: when an anti-abortion proponent is gunned down, where are the public condolences and trumpheted cries of outrage?
Oh, I've dealt with this particular issue in my fiction; in Virgins And Martyrs, I had my main character (perhaps self-righteously) state: "I'm on the side that's against bombs and sniper rifles." So what? Aside from the lunatics, who isn't?
But that said, I have to confess --with the shame of a self-realized serial hypocrite-- that my finger has hovered over the "delete" button several times while writing even this brief blog item... which, in the end, only introduces a piece written by another writer.
And in my mind, that makes Mr. Weiss' courageous journalistic decision to raise this painful issue all the more laudable.
Good job, Jeffrey Weiss. I've never met you, but I suspect you're a far better journalist than I ever was.
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Where Are The Condemnations of Abortion Protester James Pouillon's Murder?
By JEFFREY WEISSPOLITICS DAILY Contributor 09/12/09
James Pouillon, aka "the sign guy" was the abortion rights opponent gunned down in suburban Owosso, Michigan, early Friday morning. Shortly after his murder, a Facebook Friend of mine with a conservative political outlook posted the question: "Where is the outrage?"
tweetmeme_source = 'politicsdaily'; Her point being that when famous abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered a few months ago, expressions of condolence from all sides of the abortion debate rocketed through the Internet within a short time.
My response to her was to wait. At that point, we didn't know if Pouillon had been targeted because of his abortion stance or whether the killer had some more personal motive. If this were a domestic killing of some sort, his abortion protests might have been totally unrelated.
Well, we now know what the authorities are telling us. According to the Detroit News:
"We believe Mr. Drake was not happy with the way Mr. Pouillon was protesting," said Chief Shiawassee County Assistant Prosecutor Sara Edwards.
The day that Dr. Tiller was killed, I was easily able to cull a series of condemnations from my e-box from individuals and organizations opposed to abortion.
Those who made statements included Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; the president and board of directors of Catholics for Choice; Interfaith Alliance Board Chair the Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich; and Operation Rescue.
The suspect in Dr. Tiller's murder has been linked to some more extreme anti-abortion organizations, but not to any of the groups I just cited. Nonetheless, they felt some moral imperative to condemn the killing. And even if you think the statements were pro forma, the statements were quickly made.
Condemnation from the other side of the debate was less surprising, and there was plenty of it.
Even President Barack Obama issued his condolences before nightfall that Sunday.
Let's grant that Dr. Tiller was famous before he was killed and that nobody much outside of Owosso had ever heard of Pouillon a week ago. And let's also grant that nobody has come up with any connections thus far between the suspect in Pouillon's murder and any organization with any stand concerning abortion.
But Pouillon is sure famous now. And two days after his murder, I can find no statements about it, pro forma or otherwise, on any of the websites of any of the prominent organizations that support abortion rights.
Not NARAL. Not NOW. Not Planned Parenthood. Not Catholics for Choice.
And nothing from Obama.
Asking Mr. Google for help hasn't been all that helpful, either. I can find news reports that Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, made a statement condemning the murder. (I can't imagine why it's not on the group's website, though.)
But that's it.
From all the news accounts, Pouillon was an older man who trundled around an oxygen tank along with his awful signs. I can't find any photos, but from the descriptions I know the images he used: Bloody, graphic pictures of aborted fetuses. Images that could stir nightmares for students attending the school outide of which he had set up shop the day he was murdered.
But here's the thing: What he was doing wasn't simply legal, it was guaranteed protection by the U.S. Constitution. Like Dr. Tiller, he was doing nothing that gave any loony the right to violence. As with the murder of Dr. Tiller, the murder of Pouillon diminishes us all.
Pro forma matters. Even the obligatory boilerplate recognition that something bad has happened reinforces the broader cultural standards that there are lines that should not be crossed.
It's why there are always questions by the ignorant about why American Muslim organizations "don't condemn terrorism." And it's why American Muslim organizations do, routinely, issue statements of condemnation against acts of violence committed in the name of Islam.
I can't understand why any organization that lobbies in favor of abortion rights hasn't already put out a statement – on their websites and filling the media's e-boxes – saying that there is no room for the kind of violence that ended Pouillon's life.
And while the president of the United States cannot be expected to release a statement about every murder in America, I'm surprised that this one has as yet escaped his attention.
Whatever our position about abortion, surely there is no controversy that murderous violence against this particular protestor -- apparently targeted because of his protests --deserves to be condemned?
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(Originally posted at: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/09/12/where-are-the-condemnations-of-a...)