Monday, June 1, 2009

Extremists Perceptions and Perspective

In a despicable and cowardly attack a man named Scott Roemer shot and killed Dr. George Tiller inside his Lutheran Church in Kansas City, KS. It was murder, pure and simple. People are right to condemn Roemer's actions. They are right to condemn this violence. I pray for the family of the victim and for his soul.

This is front page Head line, top of the hour news but not because it was a murder, or even because it happened in a Church. This is lead story news because Dr. Tiller was a focal point in the abortion controversy. Instantly, we are all tittering to find out who did it; we assume it can only be about abortion. Because it is about abortion, this murder is important.

A little perspective.

This week, here in the Northwest a Mother threw her two kids off a high bridge into the Willamette river, killing her 4 year old son while her 7 year old daughter amazingly survived. In another incident a father shot and killed his two kids in a nature preserve. Just tonight a teenage young man was shot and killed in a local park.

A few months ago, a gang member shot another gang member in a local church during a funeral. There have been dozens of shootings and murders in the past year, just in this region.

These murders don't make it past the local news. They don't get national attention. Even the funeral murder didn't get more that a few passing mentions in the wrap up section on the late news.

The perspective? These murders are no more or less wrong, outrageous, objectionable or tragic than the Dr. Tiller murder. Yet 100s of such murders are occurring across the country and it's not cause for every politician to speak out about it.

A Little More Perspective

The news about this murder is because it is wrapped up with abortion, but even more importantly, it's wrapped up with the specter of 'right wing' 'extremist' domestic terrorist anti-abortion protesters.

The perspective? An estimated 100,000 people and 8 Catholic Bishops marched on the mall in the nations capital on January 22, 2009 (here are a few pictures) it was barely covered at all in the national media, and none of the evening news shows carried any video.

Here in the Northwest, on the Saturday before over 7,000 people gathered for 4 hours of prayer, and speaking in Pioneer Courthouse Square in the center of downtown Portland and it got absolutely no coverage - yes you heard me - absolutely no mention in the LOCAL paper or on the LOCAL news. Nada, zip....

A little over a month ago we finished the "40 Days for Life" in 129 cities in the United States with groups praying in front of abortion mills for 12 or 24 hours each and every day for 40 days. How much media coverage did that get? We pray in front of our local Planned Parenthood location one day every week year round and that is never on the news. At literally hundreds of locations across the country thousands and thousands of pro-life warriors pray week after week with no news coverage.

We have a pro-life cenacle rosary group every Thursday with 10 to 30 people attending and thousands of other parishes around the country have pro-life prayer groups. Knights of Columbus groups host hundreds of pro-life events every year.

None of this is ever on the news.

Some Real Perspective

39 people decided to protest at Notre Dame by defying the university and taking their protest on campus. The scenes of their arrest was carried live by the cable news channels and was shown on every national news program for 3 days.

1 man acting alone commits a horrific crime and before any details are known the "anti-abortion extremists" are front and center on the news.

Dozens of prominent pro-lifers issue immediate statements denouncing the murder and the murderer and condemning violence but the one quote Fox news can't resist is the Randal Terry quote.

I Do Have a Point

The point is that people are very bad at putting things in perspective. Virtually everyone is more nervous about flying in an airplane than driving a car - despite the fact that they are much more likely to die in a car accident. People are generally afraid of nuclear power and anything nuclear, but they don't mind riding a bicycle without a helmet, or talking on a cell phone or even texting while driving.

So they form a perception that most "anti-abortionists" are a bunch of kooks. They certainly aren't reasonable like the nice spokespeople for Planned Parenthood.


  1. Thanks Paul,
    This story definitely did need some perspective. It will definitely be interesting to see how this all unfolds in the days to come.
    Glad someone could be the voice of reason in this.
    God Bless!