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The shame of PBS

Speaking of the horrific slaughter of infants, and the depravity of mind necessary to tolerate it, it appears that PBS will go ahead with broadcasting fiendish propaganda designed to “humanize” late-term abortionists.

Now “late-term abortionist” is just a feeble, unmanly euphemism for “legally-sanctioned serial killer.” His wicked business consists in nothing less than this: by direct impalement, precision throttling, dismemberment, or poisoning, to snuff out the life of wholly viable, and often fully mature, infant human beings. It is an undisguised assault upon all innocence superadded to an exploitation of the vulnerable, easily-led, and desperate. Torments and agonies that we would hardly countenance for the most pitiless sociopaths, convicted of ghastly murders and rotting on death row, we suffer to be inflicted on helpless babes maturing in the womb.

The want of moral seriousness, from which arises public indifference to these crimes, is a sorrowful matter to compass. One is inclined, with Dostoevsky, to sigh aloud that man, the beast, gets used to everything. But indifference is one thing and active support is another. PBS has thrown in with the latter.

Supposing this vile film is indeed broadcast, a morally sound Republic would, without the slightest delay, disband the Public Broadcasting Corporation, retrieving every last available dollar of funding, and dismissing every last employee. A morally sound Republic would consider very carefully, and with deadly seriousness, whether a film produced to bring sympathy and fellow-feeling to the likes of these wicked “doctors” of baby-killing, can possibly be tolerated among a people dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Perhaps the weight of prudence, in the end, tells against outright censorship, and the film’s existence would be permitted. But let us have no illusions that there is any good in it. No one should watch it, no one should distribute it, no one should utter a word of qualification against righteous hatred of it. It is altogether evil.

Alas, we do not live in a morally sound Republic. But neither do we live in one where the power of public opinion is impotent. Raise what voice you can against this outrage; declare to PBS your implacable hostility to the lying filth they propose to broadcast; inform your representatives in government of your indignation.

We will not name this snuff film, but its title refers to a late-term abortionist who was shot dead five years ago. Now the only thing bad about that is its lawless vigilantism. Only the duly-constituted public authority may undertake lethal violence to restrain wickedness. These killers should be executed by the state for premeditated homicide.

— The Editors

Comments (25)

You are crazy

I also note that the disgusting film in question is propagandistic in that it implies some constant, great danger to those hacking these infants to death, which is quite false. If it makes them feel better (though less heroic), those who legally murder late-term unborn infants do not get bumped off with any frequency whatsoever. Indeed, one can easily count on a couple of fingers those who have. Robert Spencer and others who speak out against jihad live in a great deal more justified fear for their lives than these so-called "doctors."

Wesley J. Smith has predicted (he being the one usually bringing us all-too-accurate gloomy predictions) that the pro-aborts will eventually move to have Roe v. Wade "overturned" from the _other_ direction--that is, to have even the various health restrictions, waiting periods, and so forth that the states presently have declared unconstitutional.

As it stands now, the difficulty that these butchers have getting privileges at hospitals is one of the only ways we have of stopping them. If a state passes a law that they must have such privileges (a legitimate move even due to the danger to the mother whose child is murdered by the "procedure"), and if they are unable to get such privileges, they cannot operate. This is a smart and creative move from every perspective, yet we are already seeing federal judges striking it down:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/judge-strikes-down-new-texas-abortion-restrictions-1409350588


joshua,

You have no argument/counter-argument/rebuttal

"Only the duly-constituted public authority may undertake lethal violence to restrain wickedness."

I was sort of surprised with this line. I can understand why vengeance or retributive justice should be left in the hands of authorities, but why think that restraining wickedness by lethally violent means should be left in the hands of a public authority--especially if the authorities are, say, Nazi's? Even if we restrict ourselves to legitimate (and not just de facto) authorities, why think that some non-police officer with a gun shouldn't shoot a killer murdering students in a school but should wait for a police officer? That seems to be what that sentence entails.

Why not just go whole hog, invoke double effect and conclude that sometimes it's morally permissible to kill a late-term abortionist? Or perhaps better: it's morally permissible to use lethal force to stop more innocent murders. It's certainly not obvious to me that one shouldn't reach that conclusion but I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.

Obviously, the line about lethal violence wasn't meant to be a treatise. Defense of the innocent from an immediate threat, as in the case of happening to be armed when a school shooter shows up, is a different matter from vigilantism, for the latter can involve hunting someone down when he's just standing around at church and killing him for something he did before. And in fact the law actually recognizes "defense of others" as a category. But that doesn't apply to assassination.

Lydia,

I never thought that sentence was meant to be a treatise.

OK, so defense of an innocent from an immediate threat is morally permissible, but shooting a serial killer in between killings is not (I don't know the Tiller case well, I'm guessing he wasn't retired and was still practicing but if that's wrong then make this a hypothetical).

I suppose immediacy, here, does make a moral difference but I'm not sure how much (though perhaps enough to move an act from impermissible to permissible!) If he got done with church, headed to the office, and was about to shove some scissors into a brain, is it morally permissible to stop him by lethal force?

Maybe not. Lethal force would be a last resort but one could perhaps stop him--temporarily--by doing things other than using lethal force. I guess, unlike a shooter in a school, his actions are premeditated enough that there's time to do other things to stop the next abortion. Maybe.

Immediacy makes a difference to whether it's vigilantism or not.

And pro-lifers shouldn't be in the position of immediacy anyway. In other words, they shouldn't be taking a job as abortion clinic nurses, etc., who are going to be standing right there when it's happening.

I suppose immediacy, here, does make a moral difference but I'm not sure how much (though perhaps enough to move an act from impermissible to permissible!) If he got done with church, headed to the office, and was about to shove some scissors into a brain, is it morally permissible to stop him by lethal force?

Obviously there are limits based on immediacy. If a drug lord is generally running around sending out henchmen to kill enemies (among his other activities), and you happen to see him on the street and happen to have a gun, you can't just take out your gun and plug him. That's definitively vigilantism, and it opposes the principle of the rule of law. It means you can judge the things that are the place of the public authority to judge. It means you can pre-empt the officialdom's roles of investigation, trial, jury verdict, and sentencing as well as carrying out the sentence. Which pretty much undercuts the whole facade of authority and lawfulness.

So there is more to the story than SIMPLY a matter of "is he probably going to kill another person." One such matter is whether the thing that is transpiring is KNOWN to the authorities and they choose to let it happen or choose to stop it. Part of the principle of being able to defy the letter of the law in order to follow the spirit of the law is that in exigent circumstances you don't have time or access to the legislature to create an exception to the law for that case - you can act on a presumption that if there were time and opportunity the legislature would want an exception made. If the situation is an ongoing condition and the legislature knows all about it, their willingness to let it continue means that the letter of the law is coincident with their intent of the law, so you can have no presumption they they "would have wanted" an exception.

Another is whether you know the guilt of the party in the right sense of know: are you going by what you have heard, or have you actually seen it yourself? Another is whether you are competent to judge the quality and degree of guilt: are there extenuating / mitigating circumstances, or reduced mental or moral capacity to choose. Using violence against a person normally requires certainty of these - the kind of certainty that does not obtain for private individuals. These demands of certainty before using force on someone can be set aside in exigent circumstances when YOU are the person being attacked, or when the person now being attacked is under your care and you are responsible for their safety. (And even when you are not the person responsible for their safety, in conditions where you can presume that the state authority would WANT you to step in.) But if the legitimate authority of the state knows all about it, and the person under attack isn't your responsibility, to step and violently stop the guy who soon will be back to his murders is, again, taking on the authority of the state where you don't actually have it.

In a lawless social condition, (where there is no legitimate authority or there is one but it is so far impeded from operating as to be effectively nullified), then any good man would have a much more extended leash on using violence to stop other men who are violating the natural law. But even there a good man will not presume to impose whole and entire upon a deformed society his own (correct) notion of the natural law - if everyone is doing something evil, if it is broadly accepted, he can generally refuse to go along and refuse to countenance it within his own household where he holds authority, but he cannot just overturn the entire social order by violently stopping everyone who is in the wrong.

I don't know. Why should immediacy make a moral difference? One reason might be that if a threat is immediate then, if there's no plausible recourse to alternative non-violent actions, then violent actions are permissible to stop the threat.

But then it might be thought that it's not the immediacy, per se, that makes a moral difference, but the plausible availability of alternative courses of action. It's the reasonable inevitability that makes the difference. So if ordinary citizen C has excellent reason to think serial killer K is going to commit another crime in an hour (2 hrs., a day, a week) once he locks himself inside his fortress, it's hard to see why it's impermissible for C to invoke violent means to stop K. C, knowing that everyone in the fortress has been complicit for years, and knowing that the surrounding village won't be taking any action any time in the near future, is surely not morally nuts for at least wondering whether he might stop K from entering that fortress by violent means (and again I'm thinking of a case where the intention is to prevent further murders by means of, say, shooting K and not where C is intending to enact retributive justice or is intending to mortally wound K).

Might it be that the lack of immediacy is not the reason why we should think that most (all) late-term abortionist assassinations are wrong, but rather the intention of the assassins? According to the principle (or principles) of Double Effect, one condition is that one can't intend (or desire or strive for) some evil end or means (though some evil might be the foreseeable consequence of one's actions).

In the case of abortionist assassinations (or attempts)--at least as reported--it seems like the assassins are intending to kill the abortionist, not stop more murders by the only plausible available means.

I don't know. Just thinking online.

(My previous comment was addressed to Lydia)

Tony,

Yeah, I've been thinking similar thoughts. Perhaps the impermissibility does in some way have to do with whether there is a legitimate (overall, just) authority who has oversight regrading the matter. I'm not sure how to spell that relation out, though, at the moment.

Here is an example to illustrate my puzzlement:

Let's say I have a concealed firearm. I see a shooting at a school. I know that it's probable that there's a law that no firearms are to be on public property (I'm in NY). Nonetheless, former military veteran that I am, I take the initiative, step on the property knowing that my government frowns on this and shoot the shooter before he enters the next classroom (and he's bigger than me, etc.--shooting him is the only reasonable thing to do to have a good probability that his murders cease). I'd say that irrespective of the law, it's permissible for one to step on the property and take out the shooter.

It's not hard to think of some gerrymandered hypothetical wherein the shooter is a late term abortionist. Nonetheless, I'm certainly wide open to the idea that there is a relevant disanalogy such that there's a moral difference.

I'm sure you'd agree with me that it's permissible to violate an unjust law, even if the law is promulgated from an overall just authority. In addition, let's agree for the sake of argument that laws prohibiting firearms in public places aren't unjust. Even still, it's certainly permissible to violate just laws in order to prevent a greater injustice.

Tony (again),

"If a drug lord is generally running around sending out henchmen to kill enemies (among his other activities), and you happen to see him on the street and happen to have a gun, you can't just take out your gun and plug him. That's definitively vigilantism, and it opposes the principle of the rule of law. It means you can judge the things that are the place of the public authority to judge."

I'm not sure how much that example helps. In the case of the abortion clinic one knows from ubiquitous testimony what Tiller is doing and one knows that the government knows and hasn't put a stop to it. And one has a PRETTY GOOD IDEA what the political reasons are for why the government has not put a stop to it.

In the case of the drug lord, you probably have recourse to a cell phone and a government who you know is in the business who is keen on arresting drug lords.

TB, I think you are implying that there is no such thing as the wrongness of vigilantism, or that its wrongness must be subsumed under some other principle. Now, I disagree with that. I think vigilantism is "its own thing," not reducible to some other, broader description. Obviously, as Tony implies, it doesn't apply (or not much) as a category in a situation of true anarchy, where there is no duly constituted authority operating.

The point isn't that vigilantism is wrong *simply* because you don't know enough or something of that kind. It is wrong because it is contrary to good order and the public weal. All the more so when it is a violent action. Indeed, the violence is part of the way that we distinguish civil disobedience (e.g., chaining oneself to a door) from vigilantism (shooting somebody).

Your school shooting example makes little sense. You wouldn't _go_ onto the school property. How are you even seeing this shooting? It's taking place inside the school! An example of that kind makes sense only when someone _has_ the firearm and is already _in_ the school and thus sees the shooting. In that case, acting in defense of oneself and those around oneself is fine and is not an instance of vigilantism. In fact, it's actually legal.

Note, too, the difference between breaking a rule against having a gun in such-and-such a place and, on the other hand, actually using the gun once one has it. I just read a news story about a psychiatrist who was carrying a concealed weapon at his job working with unstable psych patients. This was breaking a rule that the hospital was a "gun-free campus," blah, blah. Well, sure enough, the rule didn't stop one of the patients, who brought a gun into an appointment, murdered a social worker on the spot, and shot the doctor, wounding him. The doctor got out his gun and shot the aggressor. (I think he didn't kill the patient, just stopped him.) As far as I know he isn't getting into any trouble with the police. It was a straightforward case of self-defense and hence doesn't pose a problem for the police at all. The remaining question is whether he'll get in trouble with his private employer, the hospital, for having the gun in the first place. But that doesn't make anything that he did vigilantism by any stretch of the concept.

Lydia

"Your school shooting example makes little sense. You wouldn't _go_ onto the school property. How are you even seeing this shooting? It's taking place inside the school! An example of that kind makes sense only when someone _has_ the firearm and is already _in_ the school and thus sees the shooting. In that case, acting in defense of oneself and those around oneself is fine and is not an instance of vigilantism. In fact, it's actually legal."

Now, hold on a minute. It's perfectly easy to imagine a scenario just like that one. You see a shooter shooting people AS HE WALKS INTO A SCHOOL. Or you see through the OPEN DOORS (like at the public school I went to) someone shooting. Or you see through the windows. Or you see via your infrared goggles. And so on and so forth. ANYHOW...it's legal to take action. I agree. But I can think I'm breaking a law and still act justly in the scenario. And (in other cases) I can break unjust laws.

"TB, I think you are implying that there is no such thing as the wrongness of vigilantism, or that its wrongness must be subsumed under some other principle."

Well, maybe I'm just unclear on the nature of vigilantism or the conditions under which it occurs beyond the typically vague definition of "taking the law into your own hands" (which someone might apply to the veteran at the school shooting). Usually, I think of vigilantism as taking retributive justice where the government is (usually?) concerned into one's hands. But, as I alluded to above, I'm not thinking of cases where the abortionist assassin is trying to enact retribution. I agree that retribution--PUNISHMENT--for crimes should be left in the hands of the government.

So try to bring this back to what I said earlier, might it be that immediacy is not the issue but intention. The vigilante is intending to punish the abortionist by means of shooting him (and intending to shoot and kill him to boot) whereas the veteran is trying to stop more murders.

So try to bring this back to what I said earlier, might it be that immediacy is not the issue but intention. The vigilante is intending to punish the abortionist by means of shooting him (and intending to shoot and kill him to boot) whereas the veteran is trying to stop more murders.

No, because it would still be wrong if the assassin said, "Let's see. I have made inquiries when acting as a sidewalk counselor, and Jennifer is planning to have an abortion with so-and-so tomorrow at 8 a.m. But Jennifer is feeling rather conflicted. If I bump off so-and-so today at church, of course Jennifer's appointment will have to be postponed and another abortionist found, and I think there's a pretty good chance that Jennifer's boyfriend/husband/friend and her own conscience will talk her out of it in the meanwhile. We just need a little more time. So I will prevent the murder of Jennifer's baby by shooting so-and-so at church today."

It isn't *simply* about what you know or *simply* about your intent or *simply* about breaking the law or *simply* about whether or not you have other options. All of those just point to the partial creation of a state of anarchy by engaging in unlawful lethal violence in a situation where you aren't _immediately_ stopping a wicked crime that is taking place right in front of you and that you are therefore in a sense called upon to try to stop.

Lydia,

What is it about the immediacy that makes a moral difference?

Someone is in a school and has just stabbed one kid and seems about to stab another. I shoot the stabber.

Someone is a KNOWN abortionist and it's KNOWN when the next abortion will be (stick with this hypothetical, I don't want to get distracted with things like "inquiries made"). It's tomorrow. It's the same pattern as it always is and nobody ever does anything about it. He locks himself in his clinic for 24 hrs. before an abortion. I shoot him before he enters the clinic.

Why does the proximity in time between when I shoot and when he would've shot matter in this case? Surely the reason for why it's wrong to shoot an abortionist qua abortionist (if there such a reason accessible to us) doesn't depend on whether he's going to do it now or in an hour.

Or am I missing something?

What is it about the immediacy that makes a moral difference?

Well, first of all, it makes a difference to whether it's vigilantism or not. To my mind that's obvious from the ordinary use of the word. To try to define it as "not vigilantism" for someone to gun down an abortionist in church, and to base this terminological statement on the claim that his intent was to prevent more abortions, is ludicrous. It's a paradigm case of vigilantism, and that intent is a perfectly plausible intent which doesn't change its being vigilantism.

Now, once we've established that, what you presumably want to know _instead_ is why in that case such vigilantism is wrong and why immediacy is brought in as part of the explanation for its being wrong, not just for its being, in fact, vigilantism.

I would say it has to do with your being called upon to do something or not by your immediate circumstances. Just as you have a responsibility to help a child whom you see lying in the middle of the street but don't have the same responsibility to help a child halfway around the world whom you hear about having a need, you have a responsibility to try to defend someone who is being hurt/attacked immediately before your eyes _precisely_ because you are there, and your being there is a call upon you. It is providence, one might say, from a Christian perspective. Whereas premeditatedly killing someone when you are not the duly constituted authority carrying out an execution, even in order to prevent him from doing further harm, is taking upon yourself something that you have not been called upon to take upon yourself. In short, it isn't your place. And the fact that it isn't your place is made quite clear by the sort of anarchy it partially instantiates.

I'm sure you'd agree with me that it's permissible to violate an unjust law, even if the law is promulgated from an overall just authority.

TB, I don't think you have stated that quite rightly. It is surely true, as you say, that a law that is unjust has problems. But more is needed in order to violate it morally.

For one thing, there is a difference between unjust laws (a) that permit you to do something that the law ought not permit, and (b) laws that require you to do something that you ought not be required to do given a set of conditions, and (c) laws that

require you to do something that is intrinsically evil. In the latter case, of course, we all agree that you ought to disobey the law, indeed that you are morally obliged to disobey the law, and in that sense the civil law is only an apparent law since it is not morally binding.

But the former 2 cases are not so easily dealt with. For (b), it might be a law that would be unjust to require of some of the people it requires to act (paying 40% taxes might be gravely unjust on some people, and mildly unjust on others, and not unjust on a third group). Or a law that requires homeowners to register their children with the school district - it isn't an intrinsically evil thing to register your kids with the school district. But it may be an unjust requirement anyway. Some things like this are unfair but they are unfair and still be within the scope of prudential authority of the state, where the authorities simply made a mistake as to the just way to solve a problem, whereas other are unfair because the authorities take upon themselves things that are not within the scope of their authority. The latter you are not obliged to obey except as your disobedience might cause more extrinsic evils than obedience might cause you and your neighbors. The former you are obliged to obey even if they happen to be unjust but you cannot convince the authorities of that fact.

For (a), since they don't require an action of you, but only permit an action, they don't demand obedience of you except to tolerate others who make use of the permission.

My sense of the overall principle is that each adult person is his own moral agent who rules himself according to his judgment ("He made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel", Sirach 15:14), and this means that you have to have some basis for interfering with choice of actions. Outside of exigent circumstances, that basis normatively requires that you have some authority over him - in some way you are RIGHTLY an arbiter of his actions. Parents have this with respect to their children, who are NOT wholly free agents. In addition to having authority, you have to have the right kind of authority: the state can use force to put you under restraint, normally your employer cannot put you in the corner against your will and hold you there for punishment or to restrain you from walking away. That is to say, only some authorities are granted the power to physically put someone under restraint. I think the notion for who that is resolves to this: the authority who has care of the common good, AND for which the common good itself implies some measure of physical coercion. (The common good of the local chess club does not imply a need for coercion, but in the family it does.)

Generally, then, person A using force and coercion on person B requires either that A is an official agent of the state (or family, though limitedly) or that they be acting in loco civitatis. And I think that A who is not by office an agent of the state cannot claim he is acting in loco civitatis unless he is in an exigent circumstance where he can claim the state WOULD HAVE acted as he had if time were not of the essence.

Oh, one more point: It's also wrong for the *state* to kill someone because of what he is expected to do tomorrow. The justifiable rationale for the death penalty *is* retributivist. We really, really do not want to go there: "Our computer predicts that you will commit a crime tomorrow, Mr. Jones, so we are bumping you off tonight." And no, it wouldn't matter how accurate the computer was.

That just goes to show the vast gulf that lies between actually stopping someone in medias res when he is committing a crime right there and then, even stopping him with lethal force, and killing him "for" (to prevent) something he's planning to do in twenty-four hours. Even the state, to be just, has to deal with the difference between immediacy and non-immediacy.

Sorites arguments are generally very poor tools in cases like this. It's obviously strained, sophistry, in fact, to try to blur the distinction between a person in the middle of committing a rampage and a person who is going to kill someone tomorrow by arguing that it's "just" a difference of the amount of time. No, it really isn't. The person who is on the rampage right now is doing something quite different, right before your eyes, from the person who is sitting in his building plotting his crime in twenty-four hours.

Tony,

I've been out and about. I just now VERY quickly skimmed what you've said. I'll mull this over. Thanks.

Surely the reason for why it's wrong to shoot an abortionist qua abortionist (if there such a reason accessible to us) doesn't depend on whether he's going to do it now or in an hour.

I'm afraid it does. You don't know what he's going to do in an hour. He might repent and give up the practice altogether. I think Tully, understandably, is tempted to apply the rules of combat engagement to the civil criminal code. In combat, it doesn't matter what his enemy is going to do in an hour. Eventually he will try to kill Tully's buddies, so Tully can lawfully kill that enemy. In fact it is his duty, conferred upon him by a rightful authority. Even though that authority doesn't exist in the Tiller situation, he wants to know why a plea of self-defense (of himself or innocent others) wouldn't grant him the authority.

In the school shooting scenario, it obviously does. Why not with the abortionist?
Let's say we're not confronted with "what he's going to do in an hour," but with what he's going to do in the next few seconds. Tully hears that his teenage daughter has resorted to an abortionist's execution chamber. He rushes there forthwith, and barges into the procedure room just in time to see Kermit Gosnell extracting his grandchild from his daughter's womb, scissors poised as he prepares to snip the child's spine. Tully, who subscribes to concealed-carry laws whether they exist in his municipality or not, pulls his gun and shoots Kermit, not to kill but to maim. What's wrong with that?

Bill (if I may),

#1
"You don't know what he's going to do in an hour. He might repent and give up the practice altogether. I think Tully, understandably, is tempted to apply the rules of combat engagement to the civil criminal code."

I'm not sure whether my knowing or not makes a moral difference. At a school shooting, even if I have good reasons to believe--reasons which fall short of producing knowledge-- that a shooter is going to keep shooting it's permissible to take action. (Imagine a situation where it looks like the shooter's only gun MIGHT have jammed. One doesn't know if he's going to keep shooting; perhaps tackling him at this point is the best option. Still, I can't see that in such a case it's impermissible to shoot the shooter.) In either the shooter or the abortionist case we're dealing with inductive reasoning as to what is likely going to happen if one doesn't use lethal force.

#2

Your revised illustration gets to the heart of my question. Thanks. (I still can't see why temporal *immediacy* makes a moral difference; I think if an action is rightly seen to be *inevitable without lethal force* then whether it's going to take place in one minute or one hour makes no moral difference to using lethal force. But I'll let that be since your illustration boils things down the core).

Tony,

Those are some good distinctions to keep in mind. Thanks.

Sticking with William Luse's illustration (ignoring Tiller, premeditation and the like), why would it be wrong to kill the abortionist? Answer: Because abortion is a legally protected act and abortionists have a legally protected status conferred on them by a morally legitimate political authority. Unlike school shootings, abortion is a protected action, thus citizens have no moral right in the society to use lethal force if an abortion is about to occur. Is that an accurate summary of your view?

I guess I don't find that completely satisfying, but it's a start. I'm going to bail out of the discussion now but I do need to do some reading on this issue. Why? Because it seems to me that here is one of those cases that gets to the heart of one's moral and political philosophy--particularly the issue of the moral authority of the state.

"arguing that it's "just" a difference of the amount of time. No, it really isn't. The person who is on the rampage right now is doing something quite different, right before your eyes, from the person who is sitting in his building plotting his crime in twenty-four hours."

I agree. The difference in the amount of time makes no moral difference, per se. It is what is going on (or not going on) in the amount of time (the plotting and the like), that makes the difference.

"Well, first of all, it makes a difference to whether it's vigilantism or not. To my mind that's obvious from the ordinary use of the word. To try to define it as "not vigilantism" for someone to gun down an abortionist in church, and to base this terminological statement on the claim that his intent was to prevent more abortions, is ludicrous. It's a paradigm case of vigilantism, and that intent is a perfectly plausible intent which doesn't change its being vigilantism."

Perhaps I haven't been clear: I'm not particularly concerned with the details of the Tiller case. I'm thinking of hypothetical cases to try to figure out why killing abortionists is impermissible more generally. From the little I've read about the Tiller case it's a case of vigilantism and presumably his intent was to see Tiller destroyed.

"I would say it has to do with your being called upon to do something or not by your immediate circumstances. Just as you have a responsibility to help a child whom you see lying in the middle of the street but don't have the same responsibility to help a child halfway around the world whom you hear about having a need, you have a responsibility to try to defend someone who is being hurt/attacked immediately before your eyes _precisely_ because you are there, and your being there is a call upon you. It is providence, one might say, from a Christian perspective. Whereas premeditatedly killing someone when you are not the duly constituted authority carrying out an execution, even in order to prevent him from doing further harm, is taking upon yourself something that you have not been called upon to take upon yourself. In short, it isn't your place. And the fact that it isn't your place is made quite clear by the sort of anarchy it partially instantiates."

I find myself very much in agreement, though I still have questions about whether we can be more precise about the conditions under which "it isn't your place." But I'm probably looking for a book length treatise on the matter, so it's not fair for (or reasonable of) me to inquire further on the matter here.

I REALLY am going to bail out now. Thanks.

Tully, you are very polite. Thank you for that.

People like Joshua get scared & intimidated very easily.

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