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Peace & Life Connections #289
December 4, 2015

Comments on Recent Massacres
        In the 11.27.15 shooting incident just outside Planned Parenthood, the police officer killed was pro-life; he would undoubtedly be distressed to have his death spur comments against pro-lifers as we have seen in the last week.
        At this point, this appears to be yet another gun violence case that should be considered under the needs of the mentally ill – their need for treatment, and their need to not have access to guns. The United States has now suffered more mass shootings in 2015 than there are days so far this year.  
        However, there’s been a history of people who've done shootings with anti-abortion animus, and much of the media responses are based on the understanding this may be true, so we will comment accordingly.   
Connection of Paris Attacks and Colorado Shooting: Reaction for Prevention
        One potential strategy to prevent cause-motivated violence is highlighting condemnations of violence by those who share the same cause.
         In the case of the recent ISIS attacks, hundreds of Muslim scholars and leaders signed an Open Letter to al-Baghdadi in 2014, which details how inaccurate ISIS is in its understanding of Islam. Wider publicity of this letter might help, both to discourage potential ISIS recruits, and to counter unfair stereotypes against Muslims.
Killing Anyone Is Wrong bumper sticker 
        Similarly, to prevent shootings whose claimed motivation is anti-abortion, we need to highlight the condemnations of such violence by pro-life organizations. There have certainly been media sources that understood this dynamic and reported accordingly. Yet some in the media, and especially in social media, have been more interested in the opportunity to paint pro-lifers in the worst possible light.
        While we prolifers have no more power than anyone else to stop violence by the mentally ill, nor by militant people who discount our calls for peaceful solutions, publicizing condemnations is at least one step to take, and should not be sabotaged by stereotypes.       
         Some have been making the claim – common with shootings related to abortion – that the fault lies in the pro-life movement’s rhetoric about how abortion kills babies, and pro-lifers should stop spreading this notion. This blaming pro-lifers only makes sense if that rhetoric is inaccurate. If accurate, then it’s not the answer to suggest people should be silent about what abortion is.
         There is another dangerous rhetoric at work here. Whatever the claims about technicalities on payments or about editing of the tapes, anyone watching the recent series of undercover video tapes with Planned Parenthood personnel saw people whose rhetoric was stunningly heartless toward innocent babies.
        When people are upset by such rhetoric, social movements are available to give them a nonviolent and effective outlet to respond. However, loners who aren’t plugged into the movement have no sense of the community needed to be effective. They also may be impatient with the amount of time change takes. That violent actions are not merely wrong but grotesquely counterproductive may not be a message that gets through to them. 
         The most harmful rhetoric is society-wide: we see it when people support war, target individuals for executions, and in Hollywood movies where the hero violently vanquishes the villain. The rhetoric of violence as problem-solver is the root of the problem. 
Latest CL Blog
        In another installment about our history, Carol Crossed covers the uproar in the anti-nuclear Mobilization for Survival network when Prolifers for Survival (the precursor group to Consistent Life) applied to join.
Quotation of the Week
Charles Camosy, op-ed in New York Daily News, December 2, 2015
        We object to [shooting] violence in abortion clinics. But far too often, pro-lifers seem intimately associated with a party and movements that seem to embrace violence: Violence in war. Violence in the death penalty. Violence in torture. Violence in an extremist gun culture. . . .
        Pro-life activists should . . . more consistently apply our principles of nonviolence and concern for the vulnerable.
        If we do, the public critique we are now getting will rightly be seen as an absurdity.
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