Sunday, September 13, 2009

Not a number to be proud of

We're All Diminished: the murder of James Pouillon

Bill asks where all the bloggers--and the UUA--are regarding the murder of James Pouillon.

Well, murder is wrong. The murder of Pouillon is a reprehensible act. The fact that I disagree with his views about abortion doesn't change the reprehensibility of his murder.

But the blogosphere on the left didn't just ignore this. It got addressed at DailyKos, where the murder was decried, and decried again when the facts trickled out that it wasn't a politically-unrelated killing. Front-paged, too. I suspect that the news of the killing didn't spread as widely--Pouillon was a relative unknown, while Tiller had a far higher profile and people had been targeting him for a long time. The analogy breaks down, the cases are only loosely similar. I've seen nothing (which may only mean that I've not seen it) suggesting that this killer was associated with pro-choice groups or attended a church or participated in some other group that demonized Pouillon and talked about how good it would be if he were to be dead.

That still doesn't bear on the murder of Pouillon--only on the larger politics and newsworthiness of the case.

Harlan James Drake, Pouillon's murderer, seems to have targeted people he held grudges against--the other person he killed, Mike Fuoss, ran a gravel pit. The police caught up with Drake as he was--the police believe--he was on his way to kill a third individual he had some grudge against.

It's a damned shame. James Pouillon was, from all reports I can find now, steadfast in his beliefs, and equally a gentle, non-violent man.

I think that the case hasn't been addressed much because it's lower profile and murkier; Pouillon was--it appears--killed because the images he protested with offended Drake. That's not an excuse--murdering people because they show pictures that offend isn't tolerable, nor acceptable, explicable, or reasonable. But it's not clear that Drake was on some sort of crusade against anti-abortion protesters. And it's usually an error to leap off into a posting when the facts aren't available or clear. That's the sort of thing people did when McVeigh bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City--started insisting that this must have been an attack by anti-American Muslims....

None of which makes Pouillon's murder any less regrettable.

Just that presumptive politicizing of murders is... highly inflammatory, and socially unwise.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Chicken Little Politics

Is it over now? Can the non-hysterical, non-bed-wetters come out now?

The mere notion that significant (or at least very noisy, very publicly-attended parts) of a political movement would display utterly hysterical, hide the children (literally) behavior because the president was going to speak to school children is, frankly embarrassing. I'll admit that I've been annoyed, disgusted, shocked, stunned, appalled and revolted by both actions and political performances of the GOP in the last decade. But I have never run to cover the eyes and ears of my now teenaged sons when any politician spoke publicly.

In fact, on occasions I made sure that my sons listened to a speech by George W. Bush, so that they could hear him, and so that we could talk about what he said, what it meant, what it implied... and whether that was objectionable or not.

No sheets were soiled. No hysteria about protecting children from hearing words dripping from demonic lips.

I'm embarrassed for the GOP. I recall having intelligent conversations about policy over the political divide with my grandparents--but I know for certain that they'd have been utterly mortified by the shameful performance by the standard-bearers of their party now. So yellow, so terrified of their own imagined shadows that a speech by a president had to be avoided? The cartoons should be showing an elephant cowering on a tabletop, avoiding a mouse.

Just so... embarrassing.