Hours after purported pro-life activist Robert Lewis Dear killed three and wounded nine at a Colorado Planned Parenthood facility on Friday, pro-choice activists were already blaming the shooting on pro-life rhetoric. Is this connection fair?
There are many threads to this discussion. First, the only evidence we have that Dear was motivated by hatred for Planned Parenthood is a single statement reported by a single source who demanded anonymity since he was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation. The anonymous source claimed that Dear said “no more baby parts” during an incoherent interview with authorities right after his capture.
That is thin evidence indeed. But let’s say that, in the end, Dear officially claims to be a vigilante fighting against the horrors of abortion. Should we then restrict pro-life activism in order to (possibly) prevent any future attacks on Planned Parenthood? That’s a slippery slope. As Jonah Goldberg notes for the LA Times, such restrictions would have to apply to far more than just pro-life speech:
As many conservatives have pointed out, Floyd Corkins, who attacked the Family Research Council in 2012, wanted to kill as many people as he could because he detested the organization’s opposition to gay marriage. Craig Stephens Hicks, an atheist who killed three Muslims in North Carolina in February, was supposedly a big fan of Rachel Maddow and Bill Nye the Science Guy. It is just as grotesque to blame Maddow or Nye for those crimes as it is to try to smear the average abortion opponent with the Colorado shooting.
But there is a third point here left to consider. Though Planned Parenthood is publicly appalled by the shooting, they must surely be privately ecstatic for the PR fodder. In the midst of ongoing investigations into Planned Parenthood’s unconscionable victimization of mothers and their unborn children, this shooting is surely quite convenient. This shooting turns Planned Parenthood into the victim.
I’m not saying that Planned Parenthood planned this shooting, but they are surely milking it for all it’s worth. And honestly, I wouldn’t put anything past them at this point. It is deeply unsettling how many shootings and terrorist actions tend to coincide with hot debates on gun control and mass surveillance. In that context, it is not at all surprising to me how many conspiracy theories abound in our society. There is after all only a tiny distance between eagerly capitalizing on tragedy and being willing to cause it.
So who does Robert Lewis Dear represent? More than likely he represents himself and nothing more. In his willingness to pursue violence expedient to his purported cause, however, he is far more akin to Planned Parenthood than pro-life activists. It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. I have no doubt leftists will get as much traction out of it as possible.