Assigning Value to the Victims of Violence: Lessons from a Very Dark Night
The first report I read about last week's tragic theater shooting in Colorado included a quote from President Obama on the frailty of human life. Giving context to the magnitude and severity of what had occurred, he says, "[The victims] had hopes for the future and dreams not yet fulfilled. If there's anything to take away from this tragedy, it's that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and precious." In light of all the different things that could have been said to a shocked and grieving nation, I found it significant that the President's initial remarks decried this injustice on the basis of what it did to the victim's futures. Namely, it stole from them a future of unfilled hopes and dreams. By this argument, the younger the victim, the worse the assault–since more of their future is lost when they die. Keep that line of reasoning in mind as we move forward.
The second story I saw was headlined, "Missionary, servicemembers among shooting victims." Clearly, the implication of such a lead is that the tragedy in Aurora is even more lamentable for the fact that it involved innocent, service-oriented victims. As more details broke about the twelve people who were killed inside the theater, remarks from families and friends began filling the airwaves. This morning, I read some of the comments from Tom Teves, whose 24-year-old son was killed in the melee. USA Today reports that he calls James Holmes "'a coward' for allegedly mowing down defenseless victims, including a girl." The implication here is that it is worse to kill a defenseless person or a girl than it is to engage with someone who has a reasonable chance of fighting back.
Teves, who was in attendance at Holmes' initial court hearing, goes on to say, "Somebody had to be in the courtroom to say, 'You know what? You went in with ballistic protection and guns, and you shot a 6-year-old, and then when the cops came, you gave up? You've got the ballistic protection on. Take on some guys who know how to use guns." His reference to the 6-year-old girl killed by Holmes implies that violence against helpless young children is even worse than violence against older victims. Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, surmised that the killing spree had to be the act of "a very deranged mind"–implying that sane people don't kill innocent, helpless human beings. Remember all this as we turn back to the President.
Visiting with many of the victims and their families in Colorado, President Obama said, "Words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but my main task is to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know we are thinking about them and will continue to think about them each and every day. The awareness that not only all of America but much of the world is thinking of them might serve as some comfort.''
While we can commend the President for his overtures to these grieving families, it seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that America will continue to think about their loss "each and every day" on into the future. As noble as that sounds, it's not realistic. How many of us think about the lives lost at Columbine or in the World Trade Center "each and every day"? We all have a natural tendency to quickly forget all that doesn't immediately concern us. It also seems a bit trite to suggest that the families and friends who lost loved ones in the tragedy can find comfort in the idea that at least they're being thought of. How does that in any way compensate for a dead child or spouse?
Finally, President Obama urges that in the aftermath of this horrible event, Americans must also think about "all the victims of the less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities on a daily basis." He urges that we keep these Americans in our prayers. By executive order then, I will connect the violence of Colorado to the violence of abortion. On the same day that 12 Americans were violently killed in a movie theater, more than 3,000 unborn Americans were violently killed in abortion clinics. More than anything else in the country, these are the "less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities on a daily basis." Presidential hopeful, Mit Romney responded to the tragedy in Aurora by suggesting that "the answer (to this problem) is that we can come together [and] show our fellow citizens the good heart of the America we know and love."
The implication this time around is that America has a good heart. But in light of the common and almost universally accepted ethic demonstrated by the remarks above, is that really fair to say? If it is unjust to snuff out the future lives of innocent human beings, if it is unconscionable to assault the defenseless, if it abhorrent to attack children or girls, and if it is only mental derangement that could lead to such violence, what does that say about us? Abortion does all these things in droves. It steal futures, destroys the defenseless and globally targets girls.
President Obama emotionally connects to the Colorado tragedy by saying, "I'm sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard the news. My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia or Sasha had been in the theater, as so many of our kids do every day?" Truth be told, had President Obama's daughters been in the theater, the tragedy likely would have been avoided entirely. The secret service members assigned to their protection would have stopped the assailant before the violence took place. And while it's true that few children in the world enjoy the kind of protection afforded Malia and Sasha Obama, it's not unreasonable to suggest that every child should be legally protected from the violence of abortion.
The reason there are no easy solutions to last week's theater violence, the reason both President Obama and Mit Romney had to resort to a sort of romantic emotionalism, is because we already have appropriate laws in place to combat such violence. It just so happens that no law can restrain a man willing to forfeit his own life to do fatal harm to other human beings. But this is not the case with abortion. Since 1973, the law has catered to those doing fatal harm to unborn humans, which is why more than a million children lose their lives to abortion every year, without anywhere near the outrage seen in Colorado. Last week's theater attack reminds us that violence is incalculably worse when the victims are innocent and defenseless. And that's even more true when the victims are helpless children. Reading the witness accounts from the theater, one marvels that even more people weren't killed. A sold out theater, a gunmen armed to the teeth, ammunition that actually penetrated and struck a person in the neighboring auditorium, and confusion over whether or not the attack was even real. One witness reports, "You could see him firing away and spraying rows of seats… There was blood everywhere. On the walls, on people, on the floor." The capacity to duck, hide, and in some cases crawl to safety was the salvation of countless people in the theater last week. They were "defenseless," but most had at least some capacity to shield themselves from their assailant. By contrast, aborted children have absolutely no place to hide.
President Obama moralizes in conclusion that "what matters here today are not small, trivial things, but how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another." Well said. Now if he would just realize that abandoning the most helpless members of the human community to the fatal cruelty of abortion is neither loving them nor treating them well. It is quite the opposite.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.