Gabriel Winant writes:
This characterization of Tiller fits exactly into ancient conservative, paranoid stories: a decadent, permissive and callous elite tolerates moral monstrosities that every common-sense citizen just knows to be awful. Conspiring against our folk wisdom, O'Reilly says, the sophisticates have shielded Tiller from the appropriate, legal consequences for his deeds. It's left to "judgment day" to give him what's coming.So now that Tiller has been murdered, does O'Reilly have blood on his hands?
Joe Gandelman says:
This does not mean there is a cause and effect between O’Reilly’s rhetoric and Tiller’s murder...I think Joe is saying that O'Reilly has blood on his hands.... although Joe avoids using the "demonizing" rhetoric that in his calculation is what makes you responsible for the actions your words inspire. Perhaps he means to invoke the First Amendment idea that lets us punish speech that creates a "clear and present danger." "Vigorous, heated debate" is important and protected. But there is a line that can be crossed, and Joe says it's "demonization." And O'Reilly demonized Tiller. So, Joe, could you spell it out? You meant to say that O'Reilly is morally responsible for Tiller's death, right?
But... the over the top, demonizing rhetoric that has become the rage in 21st century America could have serious consequences....
Vigorous, heated discussion isn’t the same as demonization. And demonization has become the way to garner huge viewerships and readerships. But if issues are framed in terms of good versus evil some people could act.
Andrew Sullivan says:
O'Reilly demonized Tiller on 28 episodes of his show. I have no doubt his words wil be played endlessly on cable in some kind of hideous irony. This really could be the end to O'Reilly's dangerous, demonizing game.What exactly does Sullivan mean? That O'Reilly should be shut down? That people should hold him responsible for murder and — what? — stop watching? I doubt if he means that O'Reilly will see the light and, on his own, decide to tone his routine down.
Is there now to be an argument that decent people who are anti-abortion cannot make strongly passionate statements in support of their cause — that they are linked to murder if they do? I don't think that's fair.
But very strongly stated arguments often backfire. You might want to refrain from making them. Consider this pro-abortion rights argument by Ric Caric:
[G]ive credit to George Tiller for being a courageous man and making an important contribution to human welfare. Abortion is a crucially important social asset as well as a legal right in American society. The fact that women are not forced to carry pregnancies to term has helped open up tremendous new vistas of freedom for American women and has been an incalculable benefit to our society as a result.... Given that the material in a pregnant woman's uterus is a "fetus," a woman has as much right to control and/or dispose of that material as she has a right to contraception, regulating her periods, or anything else to do with gynecological health. As a result, there should be more abortions in this country rather than less....Caric's argument would be more effective without the extreme rhetoric about "that material" and Jesus. But, I assume, like O'Reilly he wants us to pay attention to him. And I just have.
George Tiller deserves a lot of credit for performing abortions at all.... But he especially deserves credit for continuing to perform abortions and late-term abortions after the first armed attack on him.... But he kept providing abortion services to women in Kansas despite the vigilante death sentence hanging over his head. It's significant that Tiller died while attending a Christian church, the Reformation Lutheran Church of Wichita, Kansas. Not unlike Jesus, he died for the benefit of others.