When words kill
When people get riled up about something to the point of obsession, common sense and responsibility are often two of the early casualties. And when the level of their rhetoric escalates, the effects can be deadly. We've seen evidence of that in several recent cases. For years, protesters labeled abortion provider George Tiller as a murderer, despite the fact that his actions were lawful. A clearly mentally ill man who heard that message over and over and over again took matters into his own hands last weekend and allegedly gunned down Tiller in the doctor's church. Just this week, a Muslim convert named Abdulhakim Muhammed opened fire in Little Rock, killing a military recruiter. Authorities say he targeted soldiers "because of what they had done to Muslims in the past." A few weeks back, Richard Poplawski, who apparently believed the lunatics who claim the government is coming to take Americans' guns, killed three Pittsburgh police officers. Who bears the blame for these actions? Responsible abortion opponents didn't want Tiller murdered. The average Muslim would not support the random killing of innocent American soldiers. Reasonable gun-rights advocates don't support militia movements or the slayings of police officers. And yet, they are all to blame, in some measure. Why do we not hear the responsible abortion foes loudly denouncing the psychos at the fringes of their movement? Don't peace-loving Muslims have a duty to point out the hypocrisy and hatred of their brethren who believe in death to America and call for the murders of anyone guilty of the slightest insult against Islam? And why doesn't the NRA say, strongly and clearly, to the gun nuts, "Listen, we're going to fight to preserve your gun-ownership rights, but nobody is coming to take your rifles, shotguns and handguns"? Abortion opponents might claim that harsh rhetoric is justified because they're trying to save babies from being murdered, and gun-rights proponents might truly believe that they are fighting for the very survival of the Second Amendment, but would these groups also accept that radical Muslims might have some legitimacy when they say their people are dying because of U.S. actions in the Middle East? Probably not. But what they must realize is that words are powerful. And everyone, no matter their beliefs, bears responsibility when their words cause the most unhinged among their flocks to see murder as an acceptable, or even mandatory, course of action.