George Tiller was a practicing abortion doctor since the 1970s. This morning he was shot dead in the lobby of his church in Wichita, Kansas. Throughout his life he stood firmly for a woman’s right to have safe abortions. As a result, he was on the receiving end of a lot of grief from abortion opponents. This wasn’t the first time Dr. Tiller has been shot. In 1993, he was shot in the arm by another anti-abortionist but Tiller recovered. Here’s what I thought when I read this story: Abortion opponents are murdering people, but instead of listing them as domestic terrorists the US government is calling animal activists terrorists? That’s just plain absurd. Even the most radical among animal activists have never even attempted to kill or harm any living being.
In January of 2005 the FBI listed the animal liberation front as the top domestic terror threat in the United States, despite the fact that no action claimed by the animal liberation front has ever harmed any living being. The ALF is not a membership organization, but nonetheless violence of any kind is not condoned. It is certainly true that the ALF does support trespassing to rescue animals from cruel conditions as well as the strategic use of sabotage (eg rendering animal experimentation equipment unusable). But you only need to look as far as their 5 core guidelines to see that they firmly draw the line at violence. One of their 5 guidelines is “To take all necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human”. That doesn’t sound to me like a terrorist organization. You know what does? Shooting a doctor while he goes to church. That sounds like terrorism to me.
Civil libertarians and terrorism experts alike have criticized the US government’s practice of calling animal activists “terrorists”. One notable example is the Southern Poverty Law Center. They pointed out the folly in the Department of Homeland Security concentrating on animal and earth liberation groups rather than on white supremacists, writing that “for all the property damage they have wreaked, eco-radicals have killed no one — something that cannot be said of the white supremacists and others who people the American radical right.”
Tiller’s death is a tragedy. Let’s hope that the person who murdered him is brought to justice. To me this brutal event underlines the importance for us to push our government to re-evaluate its prorities when it comes to law enforcement. If the feds hadn’t wasted so much time and money trying to infiltrate vegan potlucks and prosecute kids for chalking pro-animal slogans on the sidewalk, maybe we could have prevented Tiller’s death.
Send a note of condolences to the men and women who worked along side Dr. Tiller at Women’s Health Care Services in Kansas.
Read more: civil rights
photo cred: http://www.flickr.com/photos/msciba/1518524969/
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