The Tiller Assassination: Why does Megan McArdle even bother?

Gawd knows why Megan McArdle thought we wanted to hear any of her thoughts on the Tiller assassination, which isn’t controversial in the least–unless you think terrorism is terrific. But some people will talk to the cracks in the sidewalk.

The War on The War on Abortion
01 Jun 2009 01:46 pm

Let me start off, in the obligatory way, by announcing that I am pro-choice. I don’t think abortions before, say, eight months weeks are even arguably murder.

Forget the arguing, are they actually murder? Chuck the pretenses, just gimme the truth. And charming chickenshit use of the ‘strike’ function, Megan.

Moreover, I don’t think many other people believe it’s murder, either, for all that they profess to. They mostly don’t, for example, want fourteen year old girls who have abortions hauled off to lengthy juvie terms, which is what we’d do if they’d committed infanticide. They wouldn’t turn their own daughters, sisters, or friends in if they found out they’d had an abortion, as I hope they would if said dear ones had murdered their own baby.

WOW, let me think about this one……hmmm, okay. You can count on me. I, too, would turn in any ‘dear one’ who ‘murdered their own baby’. PHEW. Wait, how the hell did we get here, incidentally? Last I remember, some poor doctor got shot dead in church. Confusing.

I don’t think that this is an obviously crazy belief–I can see the argument for life beginning at conception. But ultimately I don’t think it works, even for most people who profess it.

So. Now I can move onto the observation that if you actually think late-term abortion is murder, then the murder of Dr. Tiller makes total sense.

Toohhhhdddaaaalllllllyyy. *juicy fruit gum snap*

Putting up touching anecdotes about people he’s helped find adoptions, etc, doesn’t change the fact that if you think late-term abortions are murder, the man was systematically butchering hundreds of human beings a year–indeed, not merely butchering them, but vivisecting them without anaesthetic. I’m sure many mass murderers have done any number of kind things over the course of their lives, to which the correct response, if you’re trying to stop the murders, is "so?"

For The ‘murder stop’ Win: "……So?" *raises eyebrow* and *crosses leg* and *slowly slugs tongue in cheek* It’s Over!

Imagine a future in which the moral consensus has changed, and our grandchildren regard abortion the way we regard slavery. Who will the hero of history be: Tiller, or his murderer? At the very least, they’ll be conflicted, the way we are about John Brown.

I do not say such an outcome is particularly likely, although the more we know about fetal development, the more support for abortion seems to drop. But I don’t think that it’s particularly novel to note that our "instinctive" reaction to these things is partly, even largely, socially conditioned, not the product of deep rational thought.

Eerie. It’s like watching one of those You Tube clips with the audio slightly out of sync.

We accept that when the law is powerless, people are entitled to kill in order to prevent other murders–had Tiller whipped out a gun at an elementary school, we would now be applauding his murderer’s actions. In this case, the law was powerless because the law supported late-term abortions.

Holy shit–she’s right. The law is utterly powerless to stop what the law allows! We need laws to address the law, and laws to address those addressinalia, and then we must all be buried in penal code spaghetti smothered in estoppel marinara. Maybe then terrorists will leave church goers alone, or harmlessly slurp their shoelaces.

Moreover, that law had been ruled outside the normal political process by the Supreme Court…

The Supreme Court is alien to the ‘normal’ ‘process’? Politics is what’s ‘normal’ for the law? I want this woman’s gig, I promise you, I can be this dumb. It’s easy, watch: "The world’s tallest female econoblogger delivers her opinions on economics, business, and other moral hazards." Boing!

..As I say, I think their moral intuition is incorrect. The fact that conception and birth are the easiest bright lines to draw does not make either of them the correct one. Tiller’s killer is a murderer, and whether or not he deserves the lengthy jail sentence he will get, society needs him in jail for its own protection.

Still, I am shocked to see so many liberals today saying that the correct response is, essentially, doubling down. Make the law more friendly to abortion! Show the fundies who’s boss! You know what fixes terrorism? Bitch slap those bastards until they understand that we’ll never compromise!

Well, it sure worked in Iraq. I think Afghanistan’s going pretty well, too, right?

Good point there. We should give in to the terrorists everywhere, and then all the petty troubles will go away. Incidentally, Megan, I want your iPod. Now, schnell.

Using the political system to stomp on radicalized fringes does not seem to be very effective in getting them to eschew violence. In fact, it seems to be a very good way of getting more violence. Possibly because those fringes have often turned to violence precisely because they feel that the political process has been closed off to them.

In America, who would this be? Poor people. But you’re not remotely talking about them, Megan, you’re talking about the ‘outlaw all abortions’ minority. Who occasionally become ‘shoot the usher while his wife is singing in the choir’ activists. Do you really believe that anyone’s beliefs, deeply and violently enough held, should be accommodated? Should we have taken a meeting with the KKK after the lynchings began?

We do not punish murderers by changing large sections of American law. We certainly don’t punish them by, in essence, shouting "nya, nya, nya, we’re killing more babies!!!!"* We punish murderers by sending them to jail, where they belong. If any of these changes to current law are justified, they’re justified on their own merits, not because they’ll piss off Tiller’s nemesis.

* I understand that those advocating such changes do not perceive themselves to be saying this. But if you’re trying to punish the gunman, and deter others, it’s their perception that matters. And what bothers them is that they think you’re killing more babies.

That was totally a good blog. Thanks, Megan!

[cross: thunp and whip]

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