Violence Breeds Violence in a Nation That’s Armed and Dangerous

PouillonThere was another mindless grudge shooting yesterday. In the small town of Owosso, Michigan, an anti-abortion activist was shot to death because, police said, the sign he was carrying offended a passer-by. The shooter didn’t like the way 63-year-old James Pouillon (photo at right) paraded about town with a placard depicting an aborted fetus. And the killer had other victims in mind that day; he later killed a gravel pit owner with whom he had a previous dispute, and was reportedly on his way to kill a third person when police apprehended him.

A local long-haul truck driver, thirty-three-year-old Harlan James Drake (photo below, left), was arrested and charged with two counts of murder.  Police said there was no apparent connection between the victims except that Drake was teed off at both of them.

The AP news story mentions the fact that:

The shootings come a little more than three months after the slaying of late-term abortion provider George Tiller at his Kansas church. A man with a long history of anti-abortion views, Scott Roeder, has pleaded not guilty to the slaying, and has told The Associated Press that Tiller’s killing was justified to save “the lives of unborn children.”

drakeAt first glance, that kind of reference seemed gratuitous. Granted that Pouillon was a member of an anti-abortion group, but there is no evidence that Drake had any pro-choice affiliation.. Still, on reflection, I see a connection – and it’s very scary. I am sure I don’t need to list all the incidences of recent political violence – the abortion clinic bombings, the massacre at a “liberal” church in Memphis, the shooting of that guard at the Holocaust Memorial in Washington…Who could forget them?

Political violence in America is obviously escalating. In a nation whose most fiercely protected rights include the ownership of weapons, a climate is evolving that encourages the use of those weapons to express closely held beliefs and oppose contrary ideology.  In other words, it’s apparently becoming OK to shoot your fellow-citizens if they disagree with you.

We are not too many years removed from the Wild West, where a member of Jesse James’s gang thought nothing of shooting a sleeping man to death because of his snoring. We are all tempted to eliminate nuisances and express our frustrations by drastic means. It’s like an unruly child shouting “bang, bang, you’re dead!” Or like a misguided nation resorting to “shock and awe” to express its President’s displeasure at another country’s despotic ruler.

With the shrill incitement on talk radio and Fox News and the inexplicable support of “a revolution” by leaders of the Republican Party, it wouldn’t take a whole lot to set off gun battles in today’s bitterly divided America. Just take a look at this web site if you doubt me:

Those crazies, who are among the sponsors of today’s right-wing march on Washington, include this call to arms on their site: “The second American revolution has just begun. Join it or buy a gun because you’re going to need it.”

If I am reading it right, these guys are challenging me to a shoot-out at the OK Corral. Man, does that get the testosterone going! Where did I put my 50-caliber Glock? Or my trusty old AK 47? They’d better not come revolting at my front door, or (as one of my reputed ancestors put it) I’ll write their epitaph “in blood and wounds.”

OK, I don’t really have a Glock or an automatic rifle. Sandra doesn’t want guns in the house. But who knows? If the “revolutionaries” keep brandishing their weapons in public, I just might go to the pawn shop and replenish my artillery supply.

I wonder if those right-wing crazies know they could incite violence from those who oppose their views?  As it says in the Bible, those who live by the sword will die by the sword.