‘Hateful rhetoric fuels violence’

‘Hateful rhetoric fuels violence’ December 1, 2015

By Annie Laurie Gaylor
Co-Founder and Co-President
Freedom From Religion Foundation

The anti-abortionists and politicians who’ve repeatedly defamed Planned Parenthood for years, ratcheting up the attack in recent months, have blood on their hands. There’s no question their incendiary rhetoric has escalated the threats and attacks against abortion clinics.

FFRF's marquee at Freethought Hall. Photo by Lauryn Seering
FFRF’s marquee at Freethought Hall. Photo by Lauryn Seering

The religious, anti-abortion gunman in Colorado Springs, who killed three and wounded nine people Nov. 27 while yelling “No more baby parts,” was repeating the vicious slanders that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts for profit.

The so-called Center for Medical Progress conducted the phony, thoroughly debunked video “sting” of Planned Parenthood. But it’s the hysterical anti-abortion candidates and public officials who’ve relentlessly inflamed the situation since July. Members of Congress even threatened a government shutdown, pushing out House Speaker John Boehner over the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood.

Theocratic groups well-known to FFRF such as Alliance Defending Freedom are also pushing governors to defund Planned Parenthood state by state (so far with relatively little success).

Particularly repulsive are the remarks of Carly Fiorina, the only woman GOP presidential candidate, who’s gone after Planned Parenthood with relish and gusto in statement after venomous  statement. Fiorina still is indefensibly defending her absurd remarks that the videos depicted “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

After the Colorado Springs attack, Fiorina denied that the rhetoric had gotten out control. When Chris Wallace of “Fox News Sunday” called her “one of the toughest critics … of Planned Parenthood’s alleged harvesting of body parts,” she had the nerve to complain:

This is so typical of the left to immediately demonize the messenger, because they don’t agree with the message. What I would say to anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or opposes the sale of body parts is, this is typical left-wing tactics.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz similarly managed to paint the anti-abortionists as the victims, spouting about the “vicious rhetoric on the left, [for] blaming those who are pro-life.” When a reporter pointed out that the Colorado shooter had said “no more baby parts” after he was arrested, Cruz bizarrely replied: “Well, it’s also reported that he was registered as an independent and as a woman and a transgender leftist activist.”

While Mike Huckabee, the former governor and former Fox commentator, initially sounded halfway human, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” that the shooting is “domestic terrorism,” he added:

It was absolutely unfathomable, and there’s no excuse for killing other people whether it’s happening inside the Planned Parenthood headquarters, inside their clinics where many millions of babies die or whether it’s people attacking Planned Parenthood.

(In other words, he compared abortion to “murder,” therefore adding to the incendiary rhetoric.)

Donald Trump spoke out of both sides of his mouth, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” two days after the shootings:

I will tell you, there is a tremendous group of people that think it’s terrible, the videos that they’ve seen, with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car. Now I know some of the tapes were perhaps not pertinent. I know a couple of people that were running for office or are running for office on the Republican side were commenting on tapes that weren’t appropriate. But there were many tapes that are appropriate . . .  and there are people that are extremely upset about it.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement on Sunday:

It is offensive and outrageous that some politicians are now claiming this tragedy has nothing to do with the toxic environment they helped create. Even when the gunman was still inside of our health center, politicians who have long opposed safe and legal abortion were on television pushing their campaign to defund Planned Parenthood and invoking the discredited video smear campaign that reportedly fed this shooter’s rage.

Laguens added, “One of the lessons of this awful tragedy is that words matter, and hateful rhetoric fuels violence. It’s not enough to denounce the tragedy without also denouncing the poisonous rhetoric that fueled it.”

If the Religious Right ideologues need a bible verse to ponder for this situation, they could consider Hosea 8:7, “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.”

 

FFRF is a national nonprofit dedicated to keeping state and church separate and educating about nontheism. For more information and a copy of our paper, Freethought Today, please click here.


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