US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Violence in words leads to violence in deeds?

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The killing of Wichita doctor George Tiller will no doubt dominate headlines for the next couple of days. His murder in the foyer of his church is a disturbing image, and it leads me to ask a question that often comes to mind when I read much prolife rhetoric: Does using violent language lead to acts of violence?

It is de rigueur in some circles to refer to abortion providers especially as "murderers" and "baby-killers," under the rubric that it is better to use strong language as a way of raising people's awareness of the violence of abortion. At the same time, one has to wonder about the effects of that kind of language. When you demonize someone, you also dehumanize them. Does that make it easier to harm them, too?

Of course, this is an isolated act--Tiller is the fourth abortion provider to be killed since 1993--but I hope the prolife movement will use Tiller's murder as an opportunity to examine their rhetoric and action on behalf of the unborn.