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Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly Among Early Scapegoats for Tiller Murder

5 years ago
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It didn't take long. The blogosphere, and the more immediate (and arguably more important) Twittersphere are abuzz with finger-pointing in the hours-ago murder of Dr. George Tiller.

On Twitter, Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas was characterisically subtle with his summation:
Who'll be the next target of O'Reilly's and Beck's ire to get gunned down by domestic conservative terrorist?
As I pointed out earlier, Bill O'Reilly has already been singled out, and Ann Coulter was the next to be teed up:
In fact, the hands are many in the death of George Tiller, some more directly than others. Take Ann Coulter, for example. I watched her describe, to a church full of right-wing activists, abortion-clinic doctors and health care personnel who were murdered, as either having been shot, "...or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure performed on them with a rifle." And she's still out there today, spewing the same bile with violent force.
As you read this, the interweb is being scoured for clips of right-wing personalities to hang this on, all in service of...well, I'm not really sure. Are Coulter, O'Reilly, Terry, et al, supposed to begin weeping and preaching the pro-choice message of tolerance?

No, the implication here is stark, and not really an implication at all. Conservative pundits incited the murder of Dr. Tiller. It naturally follows, then, that they are guilty of criminal speech.

This is an argument of opportunity, and it reeks. If, for example, a similar fate had befallen then-President Bush, would Kos, et al, present themselves for summary arrest?

To be clear, I am not defending what O'Reilly and Coulter said, but rather their right to say it. Neither of them invented the "Abortion is murder" frame that is the bulwark of the "right to life" movement.

Coulter's remark, in particular, is an example of the kind of dark hyperbole that both sides routinely use to illustrate a point. A reasonable person could not conclude that she was diminishing the shooting of doctors, but rather illustrating how seriously some pro-lifers view abortions. To imply otherwise is dishonest.

While Kos and Co. similarly have the right to say what he wants, I don't think they're helping to cool the temperature of this conflict. Attempts to paint everyone who considers themselves "pro-life" as accessories to murder are necessarily counterproductive, especially when you consider how broad that segment really is.

I am unflinchingly pro-choice, and I believe that standing up for choice is crucial to being pro-woman. On the other hand, I grant others their differing point of view, and I'm glad we live in a country that allows women reproductive freedom.

Alienating people with relatively moderate positions on abortion does nothing to help keep it that way. Instead, we ought to realize that most people, on both sides of this question, argue passionately, but in good faith, and find the common ground that the President spoke of in denouncing and mourning this murder.
Tommy on: Daily Dose:
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