Opinion

Pro-lifers should “tone it down”? Carson’s response to Colorado shooting

Ben Carson (via illinoisreview.typepad.com)

It was only a matter of time before Planned Parenthood exploited last week’s shooting at their Colorado Springs clinic.

PP Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens released a statement calling it “offensive and outrageous that some politicians are now claiming this tragedy has nothing to do with the toxic environment they helped create.” She complained that GOP presidential candidates were “using this tragedy to repeat false claims about Planned Parenthood,” claimed our “hateful rhetoric fuels violence,” and declared, “It’s not enough to denounce the tragedy without also denouncing the poisonous rhetoric that fueled it. Instead, some politicians are continuing to stoke it, which is unconscionable.”

Unfortunately, there’s one pro-life Republican candidate who seems to agree with her—Ben Carson:

There is a lot of extremism from all areas… No question, the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation… I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion.

Would this be the same Ben Carson who has become known for comparing abortion to slavery, called attention to Planned Parenthood’s racist roots, and suggested the Nazis were fans of Margaret Sanger? When it comes to pro-life rhetoric, nobody’s has been more extreme than Carson himself. So does he take responsibility for his own ostensible role in “exacerbat[ing] the situation”?

He shouldn’t. Carson was absolutely correct about abortion’s similarities to slavery and the Holocaust. All three are acts of mass violence against living human beings, justified by using arbitrary criteria to pretend the victims are subhuman, and saying so is both appropriate and necessary to break through abortion desensitizing and wake people up to just how grave it really is.

Presumably, Carson made all those past statements because he understood all of this, but his latest remarks are another case of him saying clumsy, contradictory things because he didn’t think things all the way through before opening his mouth. How else to explain assigning partial blame for this crime on something he himself routinely does?

Yes, discussing abortion bluntly sparks strong emotions, but that’s only because we’re accurately describing something that is inherently outrageous. If abortion really does destroy innocent, live babies, if those babies really can feel pain during some abortions, if images of those babies are real, and if Planned Parenthood really is committing the crimes they’re accused of (they are), then there’s no honest way to discuss abortion that pro-aborts wouldn’t scream was inflammatory. It is violence. It is killing. It is no less murderous than Dear’s monstrous crime.

Most people understand that honestly discussing atrocities doesn’t make one culpable when some unhinged vigilante snaps. We would never ask people to “tone down” rhetoric about wife beaters or mobs assaulting someone for being black or gay out of fear that someone listening might lose their cool and take it upon themselves to become judge, jury, and executioner.

Besides, it seems that’s not even what happened here—Dear was deeply mentally disturbed, “baby parts” was just one of the many things he allegedly rambled about, and according to his ex-wife he showed no prior interest in the subject of abortion.

Ultimately, you can’t blame the messenger for telling the truth about evil. Numerous blunt and courageous abortion comments from Ben Carson would have seemed to indicate he understood that. But between this and Carson’s tone-deaf handling of his Terri Schiavo remarks, it’s both surprising and lamentable to see someone so needlessly squander pro-lifers’ good will.

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