Masculinity and Violence: School Shootings and Mass Shootings

In June of 2012, a man opened fire inside a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. He killed 12 people and injured 58 more. Only days ago, a man in Oregon opened fire in a mall and then killed himself. On Friday, December 14 it happened again, only this time it was at an elementary school where 27 people were killed, most of them children, in Newtown, Connecticut. Mass shootings like these make us wonder how people can simply take the lives of so many others. We think about motives, the shooters complete disrespect for human life, and most often we cannot think of how to describe such atrocities without using words such as monstrous, horrendous and sick and we wish something like this would never happen again. Mass shootings and school shootings are rare, but leave us mortified every time. Many of us also remember other school shootings, some of the more high profile ones being the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, and the Columbine High shootings in 1999. There is an overall pattern in terms of both school shootings and mass shootings; the perpetrator is almost always male, and is often emasculated in one way or another.  [Read more...]

An Entreaty to Rational Pro-Life Supporters

It has become acceptable in the US to use violence and intimidation to stop women and men from participating in activities that are their legal right.  In Wichita Kansas, where Dr. Tiller was murdered over a year and a half ago, there is not a single doctor who provides abortion services. This is not because there are not any doctors willing to provide the services, but rather because doctors are intimidated and stalked by anti-abortion protesters and are afraid to offer these services.

How is this okay with anyone who respects the Constitution to allow bullying and intimidation tactics to trump the legal rights of American citizens?  It truly does not matter what you think about the issue of abortion, if you respect the law and the Constitution then you agree to respect ALL the laws, even the ones you disagree with. We have an entire democratic system in place that allows laws to be discussed, amended and voted on in order to have a democratic, civil society.  By trumping the legal system and taking matters into their own hands, anti-abortionists are in effect snubbing the law and making a mockery of our judicial system.  And to make matters worse, there are people who have sworn to uphold the law that are participating in this debasement of our judicial system either by standing by and doing nothing or using their power to help in the subversion.   [Read more...]

Fox News: Terrorist Organization?

Terrorism, by definition, is the systematic use of terror and fear to coerce individuals for political purposes. So when Fox News actively organizes and promotes protests against the United States Government through fear-instilling tactics, it engages in a form of terrorism. No other television news organization rallies individuals to participate in protests against health care reform, taxes, or abortion. Unlike media organizations that provide commentary on current events, Fox News is mobilizing individuals to take action against Americans that do not adhere to what it calls upright and moral beliefs. I am not saying it is wrong to protest one’s belief, but instilling fear and terror to motivate individuals to act in accordance with a limited ideology is coercive by definition.

Rather than providing clear proven facts, Fox News deploys rhetoric tactics to justify their commentary. This is problematic, because this form of media does not present necessary and objective aspects of the discussion at hand. By pinpointing and selecting certain pieces of an event, an organization like Fox News distorts a possibly equitable discussion. Without taking into account various perspective, Fox News silences perspectives central to a discussion.

On August 28, 2010, Glenn Beck celebrated the “Restoring Honor” protest he helped organize.


In the clip attached, he breaks down what individuals must do in order to be honorable citizens. He tells viewers where, when, and how to rally against the current administration. This is exactly what Fox News says terrorist organizations do to get individuals to attack America. It seems like this media organization is informing individuals how to organize against the governing administration. How can this be a news organization? Fabricated stories, selective reporting, and securitization rhetoric are the means by which Fox News is mobilizing viewers to not question, but blindly follow attacks on an administration that happens to be led by a Black man.  [Read more...]

Remembering Dr. Tiller

Today is a good day.  Scott Roeder–the man who, in cold blood and with years of  premeditation–walked into a church and shot Dr. George Tiller in the head–was convicted of first degree murder charges. After only 37 minutes of deliberation, the jury in the case sent an unequivocal message:  there is no level of disagreement with someone that justifies killing them in cold blood.

Like many people, particularly people committed to ensuring that women have access to safe, legal abortion and family planning services, I am celebrating Mr. Roeder’s conviction and looking forward to the day when he is sentenced for his crimes.

But, even as I am thrilled with the outcome of his trial, I think Mr. Roeder is getting way too much attention today.  I am happy he was convicted but I am still mourning the loss of Dr. Tiller–a man who dedicated thirty years of his life to women’s health.  Despite having his clinic bombed, despite having been shot in both arms in 1993 (by another anti-choice zealot), Dr. Tiller continued his practice.  He chose not to let the daily threats, the attempts on his life, the violence with which his foes confronted him on a regular basis, deter him from providing LEGAL and necessary medical care.

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Giuliani, Media & Domestic Terrorism: Clinic Violence Not Included

Let me say from the outset that I think the concept of terrorism as it has been deployed since 9/11 is hyperbolic and aimed less at the everyday security of Americans and more at causing fear and paranoia.  That’s not to say that the U.S. doesn’t have legitimate security concerns–largley, I think, because of our flawed foriegn policy, but that is a subject for another post.

In any case, the National Security/Terrorism debate returned to the forefront in the wake of an attempted attack Christmas Day.  Since then, several wing-nuts have come out against President Obama, claiming that he is failing to protect us from Domestic Terrorism.

In one particularly noteworthy interview, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani claimed that, “We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama.”  Excuse me?  Of course, the guy that was Mayor of New York City wouldn’t forget about the attack on the World Trade Center, would he?  Clearly he misspoke.  But as the *awesome* fact-checking website, pointed out, even if he meant to say that there wern’t any attacks under Bush since 9/11, he would still be wrong.
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Debating the Definition of Terrorism

debateOn this morning’s NPR, I listened to “experts” debate the definition of terrorism and then if the term should be applied to the Ft. Hood shootings. The outcome of the debate was that the “experts” believe that Major Nidal Hasan’s actions were both an act of terrorism, and the actions of a mentally ill person.

The debate over the definition of terrorism got me to thinking about the assassination of Dr. George Tiller and the pending trial of Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. Tiller. One of the things that defines terrorism, according to the NPR story, is that the act is intended to have a political consequence. Columbine and the Virgina Tech shootings wouldn’t fit into the category of terrorism, because the shooters were acting out of a personal vendetta and didn’t intend a political change to occur. Roeder, on the other hand, has publicly stated that he intended to kill Dr. Tiller because Tiller performed abortions.

Yesterday I reported that Roeder’s lawyers may try to claim a “justifiable homicide” or “necessity defense.” They will bring up facts about how many abortions Dr. Tiller performed, and argue that Roeder was acting to prevent more abortions from being performed. However, if the judge in Roeder’s case allows this type of defense to be presented, what’s to stop Major Hasan’s lawyers from trying a similar defense strategy? [Read more...]

Makeshift Bomb Thrown at Nebraska Planned Parenthood Clinic

100_0833Last week someone threw a Molotov cocktail into the parking lot of a Nebraska Planned Parenthood clinic. According to Action 3 News Omaha:

Lincoln police say someone attempted to throw a Molotov cocktail at the local Planned Parenthood clinic, but missed.

Instead, police say, the makeshift explosive fell just short of the building and burned pavement in the parking lot. It was reported about 11:20 p.m. Thursday.

The incident is under investigation. Police aren’t sure whether it’s linked to a recent string of crimes involving Molotov cocktails.

The Planned Parenthood fire came on the eve of a 2-day abortion protest at a clinic in Bellevue, which is about 45 miles northeast of Lincoln. [Read more...]

Rachel Maddow Takes on The Wing Nuts on Health Care

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The wing nuts have been making death threats against Democratic senators because they’re run out of logical arguments. Not that the debate has ever been logical – I mean, death panels . . . yeah, that’s totally beyond the realms of logic. But effigies and handguns is so far into Cuckoo Land it’s a little unbelievable.

Rachel Maddow is so on point by drawing the connections between the health care debate and anti-abortion terrorism. Dr. Hern clearly states that the violent rhetoric that people use is an important first step before anti-abortion protesters even get to the point of blowing up clinics or assassinating doctors. Anyone who tells you that you don’t have to worry about the wing nuts because they’re just talking is seriously delusional. Where do you think Paul Hill and Scott Roeder got the idea to kill an abortion provider? From the wing nuts spouting off at the mouth in front of the clinic. [Read more...]

Nationalist Agendas Plague Tiller’s Death

As the initial reactions to George Tiller’s death taper off, I find it time to re-focus our feminist lenses and to remain well aware of what could be slipping by.

While rightist (pro-life) publications continue to denounce the actions of Scott Roeder (Tiller’s charged murderer) leftist (pro-choice) publications continue to develop and frame an argument more akin to a nationalist, heteropatriarchal agenda that appears supportive of violence, heterosexism, racism, and a general tightening on reproductive freedom.

In his article, “Slam Bill O’ Reilly for His Jihad Against Dr. George Tiller,” Isaac Fitzgerald proffers an argument that frames O’ Reilly (and by proxy Fox News and conservatives pro-lifers) as a terrorist. Fitzgerald’s strategic use of ‘jihad’ in his article’s title suggests his specific framing of O’ Reilly as a Muslim extremist/radical terrorist—who else has the power to demand jihad?! Fitzgerald further refers to Tiller’s murder as an “act of domestic terrorism,” which is merely a flag for 911 all over again. The tactics used by Fitzgerald (and by similar commentators) are bland at most and pathetic at the least.

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