William Saletan — yes, that William Saletan — has penned another article for Slate in which he delves into a topical issue in an attempt to be profound but bases his ideas on an argument that’s fundamentally flawed.
In an attempt to turn the horrible death of George Tiller in Kansas into a call-to-come-together abortion debate, Saletan argues that if abortion foes really believed abortion is murder, they wouldn’t have been so quick to abandon Scott Roeder, Tiller’s suspected killer. He compares the methods and temperament of the two men:
The people who do late-term abortions are the ones who don’t flinch. They’re like the veterans you sometimes see in war documentaries, quietly recounting what they faced and did. You think you’re pro-choice. You think marching or phone-banking makes you an activist. You know nothing. There’s you, and then there are the people who work in the clinics. And then there are the people who use the forceps. And then there are the people who use the forceps nobody else will use. At the end of the line, there’s George Tiller.
And . . .
The people who kill abortion providers are the ones who don’t flinch. They’re like the veterans you sometimes see in war documentaries, quietly recounting what they faced and did. You think you’re pro-life. You tell yourself that abortion is murder. Maybe you even say that when a pollster calls. But like most of the other people who say such things in polls, you don’t mean it literally. There’s you, and then there are the people who lock arms outside the clinics. And then there are the people who bomb them. And at the end of the line, there’s the guy who killed George Tiller.
At the end, is this call to the middle-ground:
If you don’t accept what he did, then maybe it’s time to ask yourself what you really believe. Is abortion murder? Or is it something less, a tragedy that would be better avoided? Most of us think it’s the latter. We’re looking for ways to prevent abortions—not just a few this month, but millions down the line—without killing or prosecuting people. Come and join us.
That’s nice. But what it completely ignores is that there are plenty of people who oppose regular ole’ murder, the unambiguous kind involving people that breathe independently of the womb’s help, who wouldn’t go around shooting people. You can’t argue that decrying vigilante justice — if you believe it’s justice — is tantamount to ceding your absolutist stance. They hauled the man to court endlessly — just like they would do with any other person they consider a murderer.
This is really an excuse, though, to ask you what you think of William Saletan. I find his arguments increasingly flimsy and contradictory. I hate to reduce people to this, but he seems to hate ladies and minorities. Yet I always read him. Just to get annoyed. Urgh.