Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Footnote to the preceding

Updated A column this past Friday by Bill O'Reilly, the man with the perfect initials, will serve as an example of what I just described. He writes, supposedly, to defend himself against charges that he is in some way morally responsible for Dr. Tiller's murder. I wanted to see how many rules BO invokes in just over 500 words.

Well, there's Rule #1 right at the top: According to O'Reilly, accused killer Scott Roeder is not an anti-abortion activist with proven connections to Operation Rescue, oh no. He's "an anti-government militant."

Rule #2 makes a quick appearance: He refers to "60,000 fetuses" that were "destroyed" by Dr. Tiller. He again refers to "Tiller the baby killer" and Tiller's "deadly practice." Then there are the references to "far-left loons" and "the uber-liberal New York Times," the latter of which always cracks me up.

Rule #3 is in there: "That's the same tactic in play on gay marriage: Oppose it and you're a homophobe." Actually, that's true. But it's also irrelevant to O'Reilly's enabling of Dr. Tiller's murder.

The example of Rule #4 is a bit of a variant, but still clear enough: "The Times opinion also did not mention" a whole series of completely irrelevant things and "as usual ... failed to tell its readers the whole story." As opposed, of course, to Bill O'Reilly.

Then there's Rule #8: He declares as fact that "aborted fetuses after 21 weeks ... could live outside the mother's womb." The youngest fetus ever to survive outside the womb - and that only by virtue of modern medical intervention - was barely under 22 weeks old. What's more, the date is controversial, with some insisting that by the usual method of calculation, it would be two weeks older. Even with the most advanced intervention, only 10% of fetuses born at 22 weeks survive a year and most of those have serious health problems.

Rule #10 gets invoked several times: BO claims Tiller is being "glorified." He declares "the far left is seeking to silence Americans" who are anti-choice. He says he is being "demonized." The left is "trying to inhibit dissent," according to him.

And then there is the ever-useful Rule #13: "Behind all the bluster," he says, "was a well thought out, coordinated campaign" typical of "the hateful, dishonest tactics of the far left."

Hmmm.... Perhaps there should be another rule for the first half of that last one, one that stipulates giving free rein to your paranoid persecution fantasies. Leaving that aside, that's still seven rules in 500 words. A decent effort, although I'm pretty sure than most anything by Charles Krauthammer would have that beat.

This, however, still leaves us with the question of his moral responsibility for Dr. Tiller's murder. The only rational answer is that of course he has some moral responsibility. He helped set the stage. He helped create the atmosphere. He provided the justification: Remember, BO was the man who said "allowing" Tiller to "continue" would mean "we can no longer pass judgment on any behavior by anybody."

Simply put, the man who regularly brags about the size of his audience and the sales of his books does not now get to claim that his words have no effect whatsoever on anyone. And doing so marks him as a spineless, lying, hypocritical, worm.

Updated with a correction: Since I added something to the list of Rules, what had been Rule #12 ("lie") is now Rule #13, and that correction was made in the above.

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