"No more baby parts."
As of this writing, that statement by
Dear's comment came amid a rambling interview that left law enforcement officials unsure what his motivations were.
That didn't stop abortion-rights supporters, led by Planned Parenthood's formidable PR operation, from placing the shooting at the feet of abortion opponents, including Republican presidential candidates and particularly the producers of the undercover videos about Planned Parenthood and the sale of fetal organs.
Pretty much the only things we know for sure are that three innocent people were killed and that Dear is, by most people's standards, not right in the head.
Dear is a recluse fond of living off the grid -- literally, as in without electricity -- who apparently scared pretty much anyone he came in contact with. It is unlikely but not impossible that he was partly inspired by anti-abortion or anti-Obama rhetoric or by the undercover videos released by the
But let's assume Dear was inspired by those videos. My sincere question is, "So what?"
I understand that many abortion-rights activists don't want abortion rights to be up for debate, hence the effort to cast any opponents of unlimited abortion as not just wrong, but as anti-woman, anti-health and in some sense in league with someone like Dear: an alleged domestic terrorist.
But that's not only ridiculous on the merits, it's not how the First Amendment works.
I agree entirely that leaders of the pro-life movement and other social conservatives should condemn violence and do what they can, within reason, to discourage anyone from killing in their cause's name.
That still leaves the problem of those outside reason. The guy who shot
The blame still resides with these killers. Millions of people love "The Catcher in the
Not all mass killers fit the technical definitions of mental illness. But I would say that murder is by definition unreasonable; it follows that unreasonable people will find unreasonable excuses to kill.
As many conservatives have pointed out,
If Dear shot those people because he heard talk about Planned Parenthood's traffic in "baby parts," that doesn't mean criticism of the organization's traffic in baby parts is beyond the pale. After all, not even Planned Parenthood denies that the videos released by the
In criminal, civil and contract law, we have a reasonable person standard -- how would a reasonable person react to a set of circumstances? Speech should be held to at least as generous a standard. If a car catches fire when it is driven one mile over the speed limit, a reasonable person would probably think the manufacturer was culpable. If a car is deliberately driven into a crowd, the driver, not the carmaker is to blame.
Which of these scenarios is closer to what happened in