The National Rifle Association is the villain that everyone likes to remember every time a mass shooting happens. It makes sense, since blaming a conspiracy for policy you don’t like creates much less cognitive dissonance than blaming a majority of the electorate for it (you don’t hate democracy, do you?).
This is embarrassingly common, and is so mainstream that it almost doesn’t seem like a conspiracy theory. The NRA is supposed to have a never-specified hold on our government that prevents all the good stuff that every reasonable person wants implemented from actually being implemented.
But the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting has been a little bit different. Since the target was a place that performs abortions, there is another layer of politics that spoils the already-political soup: pro-life rhetoric is mostly the bad guy here.
Ilyse Hoge, president of abortion advocate NARAL, summed up the hundreds of thinkpieces on the tragedy pretty well in a Facebook post, saying that pro-lifers and people behind the Planned Parenthood baby parts video were ultimately responsible:
Sorry, David Daleiden. You don’t get to create fake videos and accuse abortion providers of “barbaric atrocities against humanity” one day and act shocked when someone shoots to kill in those same facilities the next.
It’s America. You are free to have your speech. The language you choose matters. You are not free from the judgement of the consequences of your hate-filled rhetoric. #ColoradoSpringsShootings #DomesticTerrorism
One of the replies to the post got a great deal of likes and took the idea a step further: “Hate thoughts + hate speech = hate violence.”
So we’re getting somewhere. This time it wasn’t the NRA. It was the bad rhetoric of people who don’t like abortion, and it’s being made clear that the “violent anti-choice rhetoric must end,” as Jessica Valenti put it.
So what’s getting in the way of a speech justice? Just like the NRA’s overly-broad interpretation of the Second Amendment is to blame in most shootings, the ACLU’s overly-broad interpretation of the First Amendment – logically speaking – must be the culprit here.
The civil liberties organization has defended neo-Nazi groups, oppose regulation of violent video games that Hillary Clinton has blamed for shootings, and opposes hate speech laws that many (most?) progressives think the First Amendment should not protect.
And presumably, they support the right of people to hold strong pro-life views and produce pro-life videos.
So if violent pro-life rhetoric is responsible for shootings just as much as access to weapons is, the ACLU – which is holding our country hostage like the Koch Brothers and the NRA, or something – gets a free pass for no apparent reason. Isn’t blood on their hands?