Friday, April 2, 2010

Anti-abortion Terrorists and the Absurdity of the Roeder Argument

Abortion doctor murderer Scott Roeder admitted on the witness stand that he killed Dr. Tiller who engaged in lawful medical procedures that he objects to. He also said that only god can give or take life. So, in order to prevent what he (wrongly) believes is the taking of human life, he asserts the right to take a human life, in effect putting himself in the place of god and thereby nullifying his argument.

The law has spoken. Roeder was sentenced yesterday to life in prison and won’t be eligible for parole for 50 years — the maximum allowed by law. Under the circumstances, that is the proper result and the best we could hope for. Regrettably this decision is unlikely to have much deterrent effect, given the convoluted and absurd views of extreme anti-abortionists, who seem to be able to convince themselves that murder is the appropriate response for them to take in what they believe is the greater evil of abortion.

Leave aside for another discussion whether aborting a fetus is “killing a child,” an assertion that is specious on both Christian religious grounds and on common sense (an argument that I made in an earlier posting). Also leave aside for another discussion whether it is morally acceptable to take any life or any reason, or what circumstances would make it appropriate to take the life when a third person is in imminent danger of harm or death. In the case of Roeder we are left with his argument that murdering an individual person can be justified if the perpetrator (Roeder) believes (rightly or wrongly) that his action will prevent the future speculative but lawful killing of other persons who do not yet exist. Fortunately the court did not buy into this argument.

I can think of a number of instances in which the absurdity of Mr. Roeder’s argument becomes apparent. Soldiers are engaged in lawful killing. Is a pacifist justified in killing a soldier on his way to Iraq because killing him/her may prevent the lawful killing of enemy combatants? Criminal court judges sentence some persons convicted of serious crimes to be executed by hanging or lethal injection. Is an opponent of capital punishment justified in killing judges who have lawfully sentenced criminals to death in order to prevent the judge from sentencing more criminals to die? I could go on, but I think the point is so obvious as to not need any further elucidation.

Here is an article in The Guardian that points out the fear that terrorists like Scott Roeder create in the medical community. Scott Roeder and others like him are domestic terrorists. If we are serious about getting rid of terrorists and terrorism we have to start with convicting our domestic terrorists as well as Islamic jihadists. Both operate with the same twisted logic that justifies killing and terrorizing others for reasons arising out of their fundamentalist religious views.

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