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The American Caliban

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The shot [Jun. 1st, 2009|02:41 pm]
The American Caliban
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Political violence is frightening and enraging. In the case of Dr. Tiller's death this week, the violence was explicitly religious and terrorist in intent. What's worse is the behavior of political and media leaders who supported and gave a voice to dangerous extremists. That's an institutional problem and those people must be called to account.

But let's remember everyone else who got shot in the U.S. last week. The others weren't politically controversial, well-known professionals. Some of them were jerks or screwups, others were children or retirees or just unremarkable people walking down their streets. And many of them were victims of explicitly terrorist organizations: street gangs doing local ethnic cleansing, corrupt police forces, mafias.

And these people are written off too, by the same politicians and media authorities. They generally don't exist, and when they are mentioned at all it's assumed that they were up to no good and therefore deserved what they got. No one deserves a death like that.

There were a lot of them. This small sampling locally gives some idea.

So don't let the outrage from Dr. Tiller's death stop. Keep it rolling, because the powers that be need to keep hearing that we don't approve of anyone's murder, at all.

[User Picture]From: hep
2009-06-01 10:03 pm (UTC)
this is such a good post!
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From: catamorphism
2009-06-01 10:09 pm (UTC)
But it's not only as bad as every other murder. It's worse, because what's at stake is millions of women's autonomy.

What I'm trying to say is, lack of access to abortion is a concrete issue people can do something about. Or if you'd rather work on reducing the number of cars on the road so fewer people die in car accidents, or limiting the number of guns in circulation so fewer people get shot, that's cool too. But turning it all into a general statement of "murder is bad" is paralyzing.

Edited at 2009-06-01 10:14 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: kafkateer
2009-06-01 10:24 pm (UTC)



this was an assassination. and while all murder is regrettable, dr tillman's murder will have a profound effect on many women.
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[User Picture]From: substitute
2009-06-01 10:25 pm (UTC)
I agree.

I put this piece wrong. I didn't intent an equivalency between Dr. Tiller's murder and any other street murder. The parallel was between the talking heads and political opportunists who tacitly approve of shooting abortion doctors, and the same people writing off entire communities.

In one case the pile of murder victims is higher, and in the other case the women's rights and public health issues tower. In both cases, malign neglect and demagoguery in authority are my chosen target.

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From: catamorphism
2009-06-01 10:27 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. I can see the point you were trying to make now; a bit of reordering would have made it clearer.
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[User Picture]From: substitute
2009-06-01 10:31 pm (UTC)
Sometimes LJ is like a scratch pad that bites back. And I like that; instant feedback from someone who cares is the best thing Thanks :D
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[User Picture]From: kafkateer
2009-06-01 11:02 pm (UTC)

plus i probably should have read more carefully, hurr

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[User Picture]From: substitute
2009-06-01 10:48 pm (UTC)
"Without the rule of law you are fucked too"

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[User Picture]From: jakeinhartsel
2009-06-01 10:10 pm (UTC)
I agree with you with respect to murder, but let us not stop there how about the people that die from the lack of medical care, the people that die of starvations and those that are killed by idiots behind the wheels of cars.

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[User Picture]From: capn_jil
2009-06-01 11:23 pm (UTC)
you have a good soul, internet man.
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[User Picture]From: kafkateer
2009-06-02 04:36 am (UTC)
Maybe I just wasn't pissed enough in the '90s, and maybe I just didn't notice that it was just as bad back then, but I really don't like how the public discourse, at least in some quarters, has backslid to the point where it's okay for some people to be ambivalent about a doctor being shot by a religious zealot, or that we have a "debate" about whether it's okay to torture people.

Fucked without the rule of law indeed.
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[User Picture]From: leolo
2009-06-02 09:12 am (UTC)
Blame Reagan for stiring up the Religious Right.
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[User Picture]From: smallstages
2009-06-02 02:16 pm (UTC)
I don't know -- the way I read your post the first time (before the comments above were made) made total sense to me.

Dr. Tiller's murder was awful, obviously. But all around me (literally) are senseless murders -- yes, street murders -- that are seldom commented on even within my high-crime community, seldom considered by folks who live in "safe" neighborhoods (i.e., neighborhoods that are not holding pens for the dislocated or for those who are maligned in other ways by a government that not only fails them but clearly oppresses them).

I'm surprised to see folks agreeing with <lj user="catamorphism>'s assertion that Dr. Tiller's murder is WORSE than other murders because of its effect on women. Dr. Tiller's murder is horrible -- as is the impact that it will have on the women he served. But worse? That kind of judgement is dismissive to, for instance, the folks who are suffering violence due to institutionalized racism -- and it's an example of how the pro-choice movement gets a bad reputation among communities who are literally fighting for survival every day. Murder is wrong. The results are devastating, across the board. There are many family members who never see an outcry or a vigil for the murder of there loved ones. And, in addition to remembering Dr. Tiller, we should be mindful of those folks as well, and try to turn some of our momentum their direction.
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[User Picture]From: substitute
2009-06-02 06:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's exactly what I meant.

As political assassination and terrorist intimidation, Dr. Tiller's murder is significant and important as a public event. In that sense it isn't "just another murder."

But murders aren't "just another," either. Each one is the worst thing, over and over. Women who are stuck in tough neighborhoods get shot themselves or end up crying over their dead sons like Mother Mary... AND they suffer the effects of terrorist threats against women's health professionals. Jackpot.

There's no need to argue over which murderously malign neglect is more tolerable, because it all demands focused outrage.
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[User Picture]From: kasheri
2009-06-02 08:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for putting plainly that Tiller's death was "explicitly religious and terrorist in intent." That is not being honestly presented in broadcast news, and that upsets me as it seems to indicate tacit approval.
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