Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is murdered anti-choice activist a martyr?

by Thúy-Lan Võ Lite

I have a few updates on the case of slain anti-abortion activist James Pouillon, who was killed in front of a school on September 11 in Owassa, Michigan.

A brief post on Jezebel informed me that two Congressmen – Reps. Dave Camp and Dale Kildee – from Pouillon’s home state introduced a resolution to honor the late protestor: House Resolution 759 (available on Camp’s website), after noting that “Jim Pouillon is mourned by his family, friends, community, and fellow defenders of the First Amendment and the unborn,” offers condolences to the victim’s family and recognizes the importance of free speech.

The resolution has been introduced amid an ongoing debate over Pouillon’s posthumous martyrization. Anti-choice leaders note that he was killed on the job, or “gunned down as he stood for life” (Operation Rescue), but it’s misleading to conclude that his victimization was a direct result of his ideology. According to Flint News, “[a]uthorities have said Harlan Drake, 33, of Owosso had a grudge against Pouillon and didn't think that children should have to look at graphic pictures of abortion on their way to school.”

The article continues: “Shiawassee County Prosecutor Randy Colbry says he doesn't have any information that the abortion issue was the motivation for the slaying, saying that it is not his impression that the shooting was a hate crime or politically motivated.” Keep in mind that Drake had killed another man earlier in the day based on a completely unrelated “grudge.”

Dr. James M. Pouillon – the late activist’s son – had some interesting opinions of his own, which he wrote in a blog post (via Flint) a few days after the murder. Asserting that his father “really didn’t care about aborton (sic),” he noted that “He did this [protesting] to stalk, harass, terrorize, scream at, threaten, frighten, and verbally abuse women. He had a pathologic hatred of women: his mom, my mom, everyone.”

But whether or not Pouillon, Sr. was killed for his stance or for his persistent, disrespectful methods remains up in the air; it’s definitely too soon for anti-choice leaders to galvanize support in his name.


At September 24, 2009 at 6:50 PM , Blogger Giancarlo said...

Seriously, anti-choice here and there because you forgot or got caught up in the whole "heat of the moment" of discussion. I gave you the benefit of the doubt last time you pulled this garbage.

But c'mon, putting anti-choice in the title is an underhanded way of deliberately inciting emotions in your readers and undermining pro-lifer's views without discourse. I don't know if it's you, Thuy-Lan, or if it's Amelia, but you're cheap anti-life rhetoric is truly disappointing. (See how I did that there).

Have a little intellectual honesty and respect and just call us "pro-life" and I'll do the same and continue to make sure pro-lifers refrain from calling you anti-lifers.

At September 24, 2009 at 7:20 PM , Blogger Giancarlo said...

Though, good point, if this douchebag was just getting his rocks off by harassing women he shouldn't be an example to anyone. He also seems like one of those nutbars that holds abortion signs up, which is definitely not the way to go about things either.

But see, instead of focusing on that, you got my panties in a bunch because of the whole anti-choice thing.

Hmmm, there must be a moral to the story here somewhere...

At September 24, 2009 at 10:09 PM , Blogger LSG said...

Roscoe, I obviously can't speak for Thuy-Lan, but about do you feel about being called "anti-abortion"? I get why you feel like "anti-choice" is disrespectful terminology and I don't think it's the most accurate phrasing possible. At the same time, I think pro-choice folks (including myself) don't see "pro-life" as accurate either -- to me "pro-life" also feels like a rhetorical label that implies the opposition is "anti-life" and claims the moral high ground. "Anti-abortion" seems best to me because it encapsulates clearly and non-rhetorically what people who believe abortion is wrong think -- and it includes those who believe abortion should always be illegal, those who believe it should be legal in certain extreme cases, and those who believe it should be legal but that it is immoral. What do you think?

I'm glad you're following this, Thuy-Lan, and I think you're covering the story in a balanced, analytic way. Thanks.

At September 27, 2009 at 4:45 AM , Blogger Giancarlo said...

Quickly, I'd agree, but pro-choice uses it's own name in a variety of moral ways, claiming to be fighting against the oppressors that take away choice, but that is all rhetoric, not really anything pertinent to the arguments. It's a name, it's something that we as a group feel has the appropriate connotations for what we are arguing, particularly because it doesn't stop at abortion for many pro-lifers (death penalty, assisted suicide, etc. are all covered under a coherent worldview, as pro-choice is under a lot of cases).

Regardless, I just think that in order to always keep the other person's arguments honest in your contemplation of them is to dignify them with the name their endorsers gave themselves. I just can't stand people who I go to church group with sometimes blasting the "anti-life" bit. You're argument is not based on how to prevent life, but how to foster individual rights (because you see it like that read: women). Mine is not based on how best to limit the choices of women, but how best to foster individual rights (because I see it as that read: fetuses). You got to call things by what they are, because anti-life arguments and anti-choice arguments are another whole set of arguments.

Whatever, anti-abortion is fine if you want to use it, it is, as you described, accurate. That's all that counts. I could call you pro-woman, while not implying I'm anti-woman, I'm just pro-fetus.

Word, hope you are doing really well by the way.

At September 28, 2009 at 12:24 PM , Anonymous LSG said...

I think we're pretty much on the same page here, Roscoe (I'd be interested to here what other people think about the terminology too, btw!).

I think the problem is that as you pointed out, "pro-life" and "pro-choice" are used in many, many different ways, whether it's rhetoric, a description of a holistic worldview, or a declaration of a stance on whether or not abortion should be legal. They remain very loaded words, and at the same time the range of interpretations makes them nearly useless as anything BUT rhetoric. For instance, Laura Bush and Cindy McCain called themselves pro-life but said they didn't want Roe v. Wade overturned. The difference between their position and Randall Terry's is enormous. There's another huge difference between either of those positions and, say, a person who believes that being pro-life necessitates being a pacifist vegan anti-death penalty activist.

I take your point about describing folks as they describe themselves, but I think when reporting on something like this, accuracy and specificity should word of the day -- maybe say "X, who advocates for the criminalization of abortion" rather than "X, pro-life activist" or "X, anti-choice activist."

When opining on the same subject, I do think it's okay to write from your own worldview (ie this guy did seem to be anti-choice and anti-woman, and I think Thuy-Lan can say so) as long as you're clear that that's what you're doing. Blogs are natural forums for blending reporting and opining, of course...

Also, I'm good, I'll message you privately. :)


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