Over the last several decades, the right has constructed and reinforced the idea among themselves that if someone does something, however illegal or wrong, because of their "personal morals" or "religious beliefs," then they should get off the hook. According to them, it's wrong to punish, not support financially, or even have any negative reaction to a nurse who doesn't want to perform STD screenings, a pharmacist who doesn't want to give contraception to single women, a beauty pageant contestant who opposes same-sex marriage, or a restaurant owner who donated to Prop 8, because those people are acting on their Very Personal Beliefs and therefore can't be held responsible for them.
(It goes without saying that if someone who isn't a card-carrying member of the Religious Right wants to get off the hook for their actions because of their own very important personal beliefs that it's not going to happen. What they believe simply isn't as important as what a Christian conservative believes.)
We've walked down this road for a while, getting more and more ridiculous each year, but this takes the cake:
The man accused of shooting a Kansas abortion provider to death as he handed out programs at a Sunday church service said he appreciates the prayers said for him and his family in the wake of his arrest.
"I haven't been convicted of anything, and I am being treated as a criminal," Scott Roeder said Thursday.
I'm sure that he is being treated as a criminal, because, you know, he shot and killed a guy in front of hundreds of witnesses. But to him, it's not murder because what he did was right. To summarize quite a few conservative internet comments and blog posts I read on this item: would we treat someone who assassinated Hitler as a criminal?
Of course, it's a ridiculous position, since we don't let some dude with a gun decide who's Hitler and who's not (nor should we allow someone with a Fox News show decide that either). Tiller was demonized for decades, and, let's face it, the left did little to come to his aid in the media. I know that we're supposed to be looking for compromise ground with these people, but I doubt that it's in the sort of abortions Tiller was providing:
In 1994 my wife and I found out that she was pregnant. The pregnancy was difficult and unusually uncomfortable but her doctor repeatedly told her things were fine. Sometime early in the 8th month my wife, an RN who at the time was working in an infertility clinic asked the Dr. she was working for what he thought of her discomfort. He examined her and said that he couldn't be certain but thought that she might be having twins. We were thrilled and couldn't wait to get a new sonogram that hopefully would confirm his thoughts. Two days later our joy was turned to unspeakable sadness when the new sonogram showed conjoined twins. Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants. We were advised that our options were to deliver into the world a child who's life would be filled with horrible pain and suffering or fly out to Wichita Kansas and to terminate the pregnancy under the direction of Dr. George Tiller.
We made an informed decision to go to Kansas. One can only imagine the pain borne by a woman who happily carries a child for 8 months only to find out near the end of term that the children were not to be and that she had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and go against everything she had been taught to believe was right. This was what my wife had to do. Dr. Tiller is a true American hero. The nightmare of our decision and the aftermath was only made bearable by the warmth and compassion of Dr. Tiller and his remarkable staff. Dr. Tiller understood that this decision was the most difficult thing that a woman could ever decide and he took the time to educate us and guide us along with the other two couples who at the time were being forced to make the same decision after discovering that they too were carrying children impacted by horrible fetal anomalies. I could describe in great detail the procedures and the pain and suffering that everyone is subjected to in these situations. However, that is not the point of the post. We can all imagine that this is not something that we would wish on anyone. The point is that the pain and suffering were only mitigated by the compassion and competence of Dr. George Tiller and his staff. We are all diminished today for a host of reasons but most of all because a man of great compassion and courage has been lost to the world.
The pro-lifers twist the pro-choice position into "Abortion on demand," another phrase for slutty women going and using abortion as birth control instead of just closing their legs. It's ironic, then, that they'd demonize someone like Tiller who worked on what were the most extreme cases of abortion, the exact opposite of "Abortion on demand."
But their position isn't logical, and that's the point here. Tiller's work saved women's lives and alleviated many people's suffering, and yet he was sold to the nuts as the worst of the worst when it came to abortion.
Sometimes people's Very Personal Beliefs, whether they're religious or not, whether they're Christian or not, are stupid. And they're wrong. While we don't ban their beliefs, we do decide the limits of the actions people can take with the democratic process, not some dude with a gun.
The fact that Roeder thinks that he can complain about being treated like a criminal, and people will actually sympathize with him even if they agreed that Tiller's work was wrong, shows how far off-track our political discourse is in this country. If Roeder missed his target, I'm sure we'd be hearing a bit more from the right and the mainstream pundits about respecting people's deeply-held religious beliefs and not using the law to intimidate Christians.