Much of this past Thanksgiving weekend has been dominated by coverage of the shooting at the Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado resulting in the deaths of three people, including a police officer, as well as injuring nine people.
Following the shooting, Vicki Cowart, President of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, issued a statement. Her first sentence was cautious in reaction to the shooting stating, “We don’t know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack.” But in her next sentence Cowart added, “We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country.”
Cowart didn’t specify who these “extremists” are. But once Robert Lewis Dear was taken into custody and revealed to authorities, “No more baby parts,” Cowart took her gloves off attributing the massacre to the Planned Parenthood videos which have raised questions as to whether Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal organs and tissues for profit. “We’ve seen an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients over the last few months,” Cowart said. “That environment breeds acts of violence. Americans reject the hatred and vitriol that fueled this tragedy.”
Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders echoed Cowart’s sentiments even while admitting he didn’t know the suspect’s motives. “While we do not know the shooter’s motives, what is clear is that Planned Parenthood has been the subject of vicious and unsubstantiated statements attacking an organization that provides critical health care for millions. I strongly support Planned Parenthood and the work it is doing and hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences.”
Meanwhile, President Obama once again promoted his pet cause of more gun control. “This is not normal. We can’t let it be normal. If we truly care about this… then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding weapons. Period. Enough is enough.”
But what of the events on August 15, 2012? On that day, a gunman entered the headquarters of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., shooting and wounding a security guard named Leonardo Johnson. Despite his wound, Johnson managed to subdue the assailant with the assistance of other bystanders. If not for the actions of Johnson and others, there would certainly have been fatalities.
Where was the outrage of the likes of Planned Parenthood, Bernie Sanders, and President Obama? Now Obama did comment on the shooting. However, the statement was made through then White House Press Secretary Jay Carney who said that Obama had expressed concern for the well-being of the security guard and relayed that the President said “this type of violence has no place in our society.” For a man who has condemned the availability of guns on multiple occasions and with no compunction about saying gun violence is something we ought to politicize, it is curious that he saw fit to have his outrage expressed through an intermediary. Perhaps he feared alienating the LGBT community. After all, it was only a few months earlier that Obama had reversed his position on same-sex marriage in the run up to his re-election campaign.
The assailant was identified as Floyd Corkins II who resided in Virginia. Corkins brought with him nearly 100 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. You will recall it was that summer in which Chick-fil-A became the bête-noire of the LGBT activists when its president, Dan Cathy, had the temerity to affirm his support for traditional marriage. It was Corkins’ intent to use the sandwiches to smear the faces of his victims once he had killed them after he saw them listed as a hate group on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. As I write this article, the Southern Poverty Law Center still lists the Family Research Council as a hate group. Corkins would plead guilty to committing an act of terrorism while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, and in September 2013 was sentenced to 25 years in prison (although federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of 45 years).
Planned Parenthood and Bernie Sanders can accuse the pro-life movement and Republican presidential candidates of “hateful rhetoric” and “bitter rhetoric” all they want. Robert Lewis Dear is indisputably a severely disturbed man who had run-ins with the law over the past two decades arising from disputes with an ex-wife and neighbors. He is indisputably a murderer. It is also indisputable that he had no involvement with the pro-life movement.
The same cannot be said for Floyd Corkins II. Corkins had been a volunteer at the DC Center for the LGBT Community for six months right up to the shooting. In fairness, it should be noted that a coalition of LGBT groups coordinated by GLAAD promptly condemned the shooting at the Family Research Council. The point here is that LGBT activists should be no more condemned for the actions of Floyd Corkins II than pro-life activists should be condemned for the actions of Robert Lewis Dear.
Too many on the Left seeks to delegitimize conservative opinion and activism in this country. Even though I agree with same-sex marriage, I don’t believe that supporting traditional marriage constitutes either bitter or hateful rhetoric nor is it an act of extremism which feeds domestic terrorism. Right or wrong, the Family Research Council must be free to pursue its mission without fear of violence against it and should not be considered a hate group. Right or wrong, Planned Parenthood must also be free to pursue its mission without fear of violence against it.
With that said, despite the efforts of many left-wing forces in this country to tie the act of Robert Lewis Dear to the pro-life movement and to GOP presidential candidates, drawing attention to Planned Parenthood’s activities does not constitute either bitter or hateful rhetoric nor is calling for a federal investigation into those activities an act of extremism that feeds domestic terrorism. Massacre or no massacre, Planned Parenthood is not above criticism nor is it above the law.