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Freedom of Speech and Incitement to violence

Following up on yesterday’s post touching on the dangers of excessive rhetoric…

Here’s the story of conservative radio host Hal Turner. Turner was arrested last week for advocating violence.

Here’s a sampling from his website:

Tonight at 9:00 PM, “The Hal Turner Show” will talk about the recent killing of an abortionist and what the shooter did wrong. No, not the shooting itself; but rather what he did wrong that got him caught! We’ll talk at length about how to carry out such an act and significantly reduce the chances of getting caught. Lets face it; America is in big trouble and only force and violence are going to clean it up. Tonight, we’ll talk about how to use force and violence and not get caught.

Reacting to U.S. Court of Appeals decision that upheld a Chicago firearm ban, Turner posted pictures, office addresses, a map and a picture of the building with arrows pointing to the offices of the three judge panel, saying that home addresses were soon to follow.

Then there was this (the “straw” on the arrest warrent) just a few posts down (link added):

TRN advocates Catholics in Connecticut take up arms and put down this tyranny by force. To that end, THIS WEDNESDAY NIGHT ON “THE HAL TURNER SHOW” we will be releasing the home addresses of the Senator and Assemblyman who introduced Bill 1098 as well as the home address of Thomas K. Jones from the OSE. After all, if they are so proud of what they’re doing, they shouldn;t mind if everyone knows where they live. It is our intent to foment direct action against these individuals personally. These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die. If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they’re going to get uppity with us about this; I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down too.

Apparently this is nothing new for Mr. Turner. From 2006 during the debate on immigration reform and amnesty, posted on Mr. Turner’s website:

ANY MEMBER OF CONGRESS WHO INTRODUCES, CO-SPONSORS OR VOTES IN FAVOR OF ANY SUCH AMNESTY WILL BE DECLARED A DOMESTIC ENEMY AND WILL BE CONSIDERED A LEGITIMATE TARGET FOR ASSASSINATION.



Middle ground on abortion, after Tiller murder?

I’ve struggled in the past week processing the events in the death of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller. In every current event, my job is to stretch to find middle ground, but this one is quite the minefield. There’s even a language “eeny-meeny” minefield. Call him “an abortionist,” I’ve offended. Call him a “doctor…” I’ve offended the other “side.”

Frank Schaeffer, former member (current critic) of the religious right, writes:

But the reason this issue will never go away is that the Roe ruling was an over broad court decision that makes abortion legal even in the last weeks of pregnancy. Take away the pictures of all those dead late term fetuses and everything changes emotionally. Democracy and civil debate is messy but if abortion had been argued state-by-state abortion would be legal in almost all our states today and probably the laws would be written more like those of Europe, where late-term abortions (of the kind Dr. Tiller specialized in performing) are illegal and/or highly discouraged.

Angry speech has become the norm in American religion from both the right and the left. Words are spoken which — when taken seriously — lead directly to violence by the unhinged and/or the truly committed.

When evangelicals on the right call President Obama a socialist, a racist, anti-American, an abortionist, not a real American, and, echoing the former Vice President, someone who is weakening America’s defenses and making us less safe, the logical conclusion is violence. If you take these words literally you might pull the trigger to “make America safe” and/or free us from communism or to even protect us from — what some “Christian” leaders claim — Obama as the Antichrist.

I wonder how many of us can agree on two points:

    1. Late-term abortions should not be performed simply because the pregnancy isn’t wanted.

    2. Our angry language has real consequences, even if it’s only to inflame someone who is probably mentally ill.