Did Dr. Tiller Get What He Deserved?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The title of this article may have shocked you. So I better clarify something right up front: I am NOT endorsing the actions of the killer who took Dr. Tiller's life in ANY way. I agree with the conclusions of Dr. Robert George:
Whoever murdered George Tiller has done a gravely wicked thing. No private individual had the right to execute judgment against him. For the sake of justice and right, the perpetrator of this evil deed must be prosecuted, convicted and punished. Every human life is precious. George Tiller's life was precious. We do not teach the wrongness of taking human life by wrongfully taking a human life.
My point is simply to raise some troubling questions about the justification that has been offered for why the killing of Dr. Tiller should be condemned. My criticism will be applied to both the right and the left.
Last night on the O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly strongly condemned the killing of Dr. Tiller. Even though O'Reilly has been an outspoken critic of Tiller, he strongly condemned his murder. While I agree that the murder of Tiller should be strongly condemned, O'Reilly's justification was troubling and unconvincing. He said, "Clear thinking Americans should condemn the killing of Dr. Tiller because what he did was within the bounds of Kansas law." In other words, while Dr. Tiller's actions were deeply immoral, murdering him was wrong because it is illegal.
This raises a troubling question and an inconsistency in O'Reilly's justification. After all, weren't Nazi atrocities "within the bounds" of German law? Would O'Reilly have condemned the killing of Hitler, had he been assassinated, even though what Hitler did was fully legal by the German law of his time? The power of the recent movie Valkyrie is that sometimes it is right to go against the legal code of a society for the greater good. Why would it be right to kill Hitler, who directed the deaths of 6 million Jews, but not Tiller who personally killed 60,000 fully viable members of the human community through late-term abortions?
You might be thinking, "But our laws do not give full human rights to the unborn 'fetus.' It's not considered a full human person." But the same was true for Germany. They intentionally avoided terms such as "human" and "person" when talking about Jews. Rather, they referred to them as "vermin" that needed to be exterminated. While the society considered them less than fully human, the reality is that Jews were fully human and deserving of life. On what basis can we deny full human rights to an unborn child in late term any more than we can deny it to the Jews? There is no convincing scientific, philosophical, or theological reason to deny them from full status as members of the human community.
Here's the bottom line: just because something is legal does not mean its right (slavery also comes to mind). And just because something is illegal does not necessarily mean it is wrong. While the killing of Tiller ought to be condemned, O'Reilly and others who base their arguments on its legality need a better moral justification.
But there is also an inconsistency on the side of the left. President Obama harshly criticizes torture, even though it arguably has resulted in the saving of human lives. In other words, the ends do not justify the means. However, oddly enough, Obama also favors the bombing of Pakistan for the end result of saving American. The problem is that these actions result in the death of many innocent Pakistanis. Why is it okay to kill innocent Pakistani civilians, but not okay to torture (probably) guilty terror suspects who are not killed? Here's my question as it relates to the killing of Dr. Tiller: If it is not acceptable to kill an abortionist, why is it okay to kill innocent civilians in Pakistan since both have the end goal of saving lives?"
From my perspective, the only justifiable reason for protecting human life (whether the unborn or Dr. Tiller's) is that human beings are made in the image of God and thus have infinite dignity, value, and worth. Neither the left nor the right can give a solid foundation for intrinsic human value without God. Rather than Dr. Tiller getting what he (allegedly) deserved, could it be that our culture, which has abandoned the real basis of human dignity, got what it deserved?
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