...the Bible says in this case it'd be better for Tiller to have had a millstone tied around his neck and thrown into the depth of the sea that to have done what he did in this life... [Pastor Steve Hickey, "Today Tiller the Killer, Now a Martyr for Molech, Not God," Voices Carry, 2009.05.31].
There is enough language in both directions that one could argue both ways: in places, Pastor Hickey sounds like he is justifying and celebrating the murder, but in others he sounds like he is condemning it... although that condemnation sometimes seems to reflect more concern about the damage the murder will do to his political movement than the sin of the murder itself. But Pastor Hickey and his supproters can quite rightly make the legalistic argument that he nowhere says he "rejoices" in the shooting.
KELO appears to side with caution and Pastor Hickey on this one. For perhaps the first time in its nearly two-year association with the independent South Dakota blogosphere, KELO has pulled a post. Mr. Epp's criticism of Pastor Hickey remains at his home site, but it has disappeared from Mr. Epp's corner of the KELO Issues blog list.
I won't cry First Amendment foul here. Those of us granted the privilege to post on KELO understand the rules perfectly well: KELO can nuke anything we write, for whatever reason, just as KELO (like any other media outlet, and any blogger) is free to choose what news it covers and what angles it chooses to play up or ignore.
But then I turn to Pastor Hickey's follow-up, which seems to play the same verbal shell game that got Mr. Epp's dander up and his post banned:
Also, earlier this evening a friend of mine dropped an interesting historical parallel into the fray that I believe to be right on the money. It made me think there is a little deja vu down there in Kansas tonight.
The historical parallel is to John Brown, who hacked pro-slavery Kansas farmers to death with swords.
President Lincoln called John Brown a "misguided fanatic." Historian David S. Reynolds hailed him as the man who "killed slavery, sparked the civil war, and seeded civil rights." Historian Ken Chowder said John Brown was "at certain times, a great man", but also "the father of American terrorism." Probably all of the above is accurate.
Misguided... killed slavery... great man... father of American terrorism... "probably... accurate." Pastor Hickey waits until the very bottom of the article, after reposting the full text of the celebratory "John Brown's Body," to say "Tiller's killer is no hero" and deserves no songs to be sung about him... although Hickey offers no explanation of what distinguishes John Brown's celebrated murderousness from yesterday's killing on sacred ground.
Pardon me if I scratch my head a little. I will agree that the issue is very complex... but must also conclude from the language in Pastor Hickey's article that he is trying to play both sides. He wants to introduce the John-Brown-hero meme, but he wants to be able to disavow it. Perhaps that's enough cover to get KELO to ban the debate... but Pastor Hickey lays enough verbal land mines to warrant Mr. Epp's criticism.
There is one telling passage in the blog post Pastor Hickey says is "right on the money":
No rational person would consider Brown a positive figure in history….but he did prove something. The issue of slavery was one of life and death. It was not political. It was not governmental. It was much, much deeper than that, and there was no common ground high enough for both sides to stand and feel good about their compromises. It could not be negotiated. It had to be settled [emphasis mine, thoughts Randy Bohlender's, "Thoughts on the Killing of George Tiller," RandyBohlender.com, 2009.06.01].
The first part I emphasize actually encourages me: perhaps Mr. Bohlender and Pastor Hickey are agreeing with me that we need to take the abortion debate out of politics, get the government out of women's medical decisions, and address abortion at the personal and community level.
The second part I emphasize makes me nervous: No negotiation, no settlement... those sound like fighting words to me. If abortion protestors do retreat from politics, I hope they will follow Christ and Gandhi and not John Brown in their efforts to remake society. I only worry that Pastor Hickey's equivocal language does not sufficiently condemn the latter and embrace the former.
Update 2009.06.02 09:35 CDT: Even Sibby manages to be more direct in his condemnation: "Tiller Murder Is Not Pro-Life."