The revelation that the man who shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado killing three and wounding nine made comments about ‘no more baby parts’ has added support to the idea that he was motivated by the furor created by the false allegation that the organization illegally trafficked and profited from the sale of organs from aborted fetuses.
This falsehood was based on a heavily and deceptively edited video produced by an anti-abortion activist that purported to show employees of Planned Parenthood discussing somewhat casually the mechanics by which fetal tissues were to be transferred to medical facilities that use them in all manner of research to cure diseases.
Tbogg writes that this tactic is common for the anti-abortion extremists.
Of all the phony attacks and accusations made against Planned Parenthood by a new generation of anti-choice activists like James O’ Keefe and Lila Grace Rose, the videos created by former O’Keefe confederate David Daleiden raised the bar — or lowered it depending on how you view them — on over the top accusations intended to fire up Christian conservatives and embolden lawmakers to do all they can to destroy Planned Parenthood.
Images of fetal tissue being sorted by technicians became a bloody flag to be waved by people who seem to believe that medical procedures are magically free of the kind of things most people are unfamiliar with because they’re not medical professionals who are undeterred by the sight of body fluids, viscera and bones. Those who view abortions as a repellent medical procedure became even more appalled by seeing people who deal with such matters on a daily basis act like … people who deal with such matters on a daily basis.
Where Daleiden really hit one out of the park for the anti-choice crowd was when he accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue — used by researchers looking for cures for Alzheimer’s, among other things — and making a profit off of it.
Which turned out to be a lie.
First of all, we should be clear that people who deal on a daily basis with death tend to develop a manner of speaking that outsiders might see as callous. Coroners and morticians are likely to speak amongst each other of the dead in ways that might seem to us, who rarely encounter it except when we have a personal connection to the deceased, to be less than respectful. But that is because for us that person was real while for them it is just another dead body in an unending stream. Of course, one would hope that coroners and morticians would have the sense and tact not to speak that way when dealing with people who know the deceased, but it is a bit much to expect them to be in a permanent state of respectful reverence.
But Republican politicians and anti-abortion extremists seized upon that video to make wildly exaggerated claims about what Planed Parenthood did, with Carly Fiorina being the most shameless in her claims, her incendiary remarks invoking images and words that were not even present in the video. Other anti-abortion politicians piled on, creating a frenzy of hate against Planned Parenthood, The words of the killer in the Colorado attack are very similar to Fiorina’s, suggesting that he was influenced by her and the media blitz she generated though we will have to see to what extent.
Now we see the dreary spectacle of all of these extremists acting shocked, just shocked, that anyone would accuse them that their incendiary rhetoric might have triggered this kind of thing, though it is by no means the first time that killers have acted in the wake of spikes in anti-abortion rhetoric. As this news report says, “At least eight workers at clinics providing abortions have been killed since 1977, according to the National Abortion Federation. The most recent was in 2009 when physician George Tiller was shot to death at a church in Wichita, Kansas.” And this does not includes the harassment and death threats that patients and workers at the clinics face on a daily basis.
In their attempts to deflect blame away from themselves, they are flailing away using the well-worn ‘squirrel!’ tactic, trying to get the media to follow random red herrings. Fiorina denies that her words had anything to do with the killings and said that suggestions to that effect were “typical left-wing tactics.” Perhaps she is hoping that this renewed interest in her by the media will give her moribund campaign, that has been steadily sinking in the polls since her inflammatory remarks on abortion in the second debate, a boost.
Ted Cruz seems to have secret sources of information unavailable to the rest of us and made the accusation that the killer was “registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist”. Mike ‘Huckster’ Huckabee as always rushed to the nearest TV camera to deny any link between the anti-abortion rhetoric and the murders and Ben Carson does his usual “Why can’t we all get along?” shtick and asserts that everyone is to blame, except for him of course. No doubt he will respond to calls for toning down the violent rhetoric by saying that doing so would be to cave in to ‘political correctness’.
As I said in an earlier post, the violent and ugly rhetoric that we hear from the Republicans against all manner of people and groups, coupled with the easy access to powerful weaponry, creates an explosive mixture.
Planned Parenthood said on Sunday, “We now know the man responsible for the tragic shooting at PP’s health center in Colorado was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion.”
“It’s not enough to denounce the tragedy without also denouncing the poisonous rhetoric that fueled it,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Instead, some politicians are continuing to stoke it, which is unconscionable.”
We may not be able to do much in the short term about the access to guns. But we can do something about the rhetoric. The purveyors of such rhetoric should not be allowed to get away with their falsehoods and evasions.