What happens after Colorado Springs?

You may think Planned Parenthood is wrong, you may think they’re immoral. Dehumanizing their employees, which is something I’ve been seeing a lot of on social media over the last few months, helps fuel violence like the kind that happened today.

I haven’t said a lot on social media about the Planned Parenthood videos and the associated reactions other than to point out that one of the board members of the group that released the heavily edited videos is a bona fide terror group leader closely associated with the man who murdered George Tiller. My general silence on the matter aside, I’ve been worried for the last few months because the tenor of the rhetoric, both from the chattering class and Republican politicians, reminded me eerily of the talk I heard in the months leading up to David Gunn’s murder in Pensacola. There are times I hate being right and this is one of them.

We saw today what happened because people who should have known better were more interested in playing with fire and amping up the rhetoric in hopes of defunding Planned Parenthood than they were about the consequences.

The last go round in the ‘90s, what happened next was a mix of halfhearted denunciations, insistence that “most” pro-lifers were peaceful, and a whole lot of debate that played out in living rooms, churches, and the pages of Life Advocate Magazine arguing back and forth about the theological and ethical merits of a philosophy of justifiable homicide. It was a debate that shouldn’t have happened at all and went on for far too long before Flip Benham pulled a power play and marginalized the justifiable homicide proponents. Meanwhile, the debate and the dillydallying successfully legitimized the justifiable homicide camp as holding a valid position worthy of debate. The result was more violence and bloodshed.

I lived through that time, and the knowledge that I was lobbying the Florida legislature arguing that pro-lifers were non-violent pacifists when, unbeknownst to me, the movement had just turned deadly is something I’ll never forget. I’ll also never forget just how terrifying that time was, and there is little that scares me more than the prospect of living through it again. Hindsight and looking at that time through adult eyes, I can see how close we came to full on terrorist warfare back then.

It is my sincere hope that they start heeding history now or the violence is going to to get worse before it gets better. And that’s assuming that today, in the internet age, there is any one leader capable of pulling the movement back from the brink like Flip Benham did in the ’90s. I don’t know how close we can get to the edge before everything topples over and I really don’t want to find out. What I hope more than anything though is that I’m wrong, because if I’m right and we keep heading down this path it could get extremely bloody.