Among the many tragedies of the polarization over abortion is the fringe figures on both sides who resort to violence or are at risk of resorting to violence. They are not large in number but they do exist.
The news media tend to cover the violence or violent figures differently depending on which side of the issue they’re on. This isn’t limited to abortion, since other culture war issues that lead to violence show similar discrepancies in how the opposing fringe figures are covered, but abortion is probably the best example of it.
In any case, last week a pro-choice activist was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for making murderous threats to several leaders in the pro-life movement. Theodore SHulman plead guilty back in May to transmitting a threat to injure another person. This particular case dealt with threats to Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, and Princeton University’s Robert George.
He had posted a comment on First Things making the threat. The pro-life media outlet LifeSite News reports:
Shulman, a self-described “pro-choice terrorist” is the son of feminist activist Alix Kates Shulman. His mother wrote the 1972 sex-novel Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen and has stated that each of her four abortions were deliberate – “not one was the result of carelessness.”Shulman liked to style himself as the “first pro-choice terrorist” and even had a blog called “Operation Counterstrike.” His mission statement was: “Right-to-lifism is murder, and ALL right-to-lifers are bloody-handed accessories. Swear it, believe it, proclaim it, and act on it.”
His targets included many pro-life leaders including LifeSiteNews bloggers Jill Stanek and Dr. Gerard Nadal.
Stanek had compiled 4,000 comments over four years that Shulman had posted on Stanek’s blog, including this one: “I’m looking forward to watching a documentary entitled ‘The Assassination of Jill Stanek.’”
Shulman’s plea didn’t make big news in May and one blogger reported it last week by saying “I eagerly await pervasive MSM coverage of this … I packed a lunch.”
But I thought we’d give it a few days and see if anyone got around to reporting on it.
The Wall Street Journal published a seven-sentence Associated Press report on the matter, but I didn’t see that AP report in any other paper. A Fox affiliate in New York published a 9-sentence report. The Staten Island Advocate got in eight sentences since one of the targets was a local man. And that was pretty much it.
It is, of course, significant news in the Catholic, Protestant and pro-life media, where Shulman has been threatening many for years.
So why do you think violence from anti-abortion activists is covered more thoroughly or broadly than violence from abortion rights activists? It’s not that the guilty man here didn’t have a fascinating story or proud pro-choice lineage. It’s not that his mother isn’t a famous feminist author (her latest is the image above). It’s not that his targets weren’t high profile. It’s not that his rhetoric wasn’t quotable. It’s not that his targets weren’t willing to speak on the record. One of them issued a statement forgiving the guilty man. Doesn’t that normally make for good copy? So how to explain the dearth of coverage?