Video: Biggest Danger of Tiller Murder


Some good follow-up thoughts after last week’s tragedy.

13 comments Add comment

Veronica Sustal June 9, 2009 at 7:07 am

Awesome. Thanks for the words.

Chris Altieri June 11, 2009 at 6:17 am

At around 2:45, Fr. Pavone discusses MLKjr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He says that in the letter, King called the arguments of his fellow clergymen, “ridiculous.”

King does not.

What he says is:

“If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.”

He goes on to say:

“You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all.

This is so far different from Fr Pavone’s characterization, as to make one wonder whether he has read the letter lately.

Chris Altieri June 11, 2009 at 6:18 am

I agree that we pro-lifers ought to take a page from Dr. King’s book.

I hope it is the right page.

Chris Altieri June 11, 2009 at 6:29 am

The genius of Dr King is to be found in his ability to disagree calmly, civilly and dispassionately, his ability to meet his interlocutor fairly and squarely on his interlocutor’s ground and in his interlocutor’s terms, his ability sincerely to presume the very best motives in his interlocutor(s).

King expresses no rancor, not even for John “Bull” Connor.

There is a further passage from the Letter that is worth visiting:

“In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.”

We all need to be much better than we are at present with respect to 2 and 3.

Artie June 14, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Father Pavone keep up the good work! The pro-life movement is the most peaceful protesting movement in human history considering the atrocities committed to innocent children in the womb.

The 1 individual that decided to commit an abortion outside the womb is not what the pro-life movement stands for.

Chris can you expand on how “we need to be much better on negotiation and self purification”?

Lazy Disciple June 15, 2009 at 2:10 am

Dear Artie,

I would be happy to.

1. Negotiation:

I would preface this with some general observations.

First and foremost, the term has undergone a semantic shift in recent decades , which had yet to take place, or was only in its initial stages, when Dr. King penned his letter.

By a semantic shift, I mean something like, but not quite the same as, a change in meaning.

An example of a semantic shift might be the English word, “Awful”. Until a little more than a hundred years ago, the word meant simply, “full of awe” or “awe-inspiring.” Thus, it was quite normal to hear people speak of “God’s awful majesty,” an expression that would likely turn heads in our day. The word slowly adopted the connotation of inspiring or exciting awe because of some inherently undesirable or even morally reprehensible characteristic, and eventually this last came to be the normal use of the word, even though the older, more neutral sense of the word is still available (I do not know your background, Artie, so forgive me if I offer too much in the way of explanation – even if you have no need, it might nevertheless serve other readers).

Something similar has happened with the word, negotiation, mostly through a shift in the verb, “to negotiate”…

Lazy Disciple June 15, 2009 at 2:23 am

…Originally, the word meant, “Candid pursuit of definite goals through frank discussion with parties, whose frankness and candid disposition was assumed, even though their basic presuppositions and interests were not entirely compatible with one’s own.”

Since the 70’s, however, claims like, “We shall never negotiate with terrorists!” and invitations to guerilla groups to, “submit to the terms of a negotiated settlement,” etc., have served to make “negotiation” a dirty word. Essentially, “We do not negotiate with terrorists!” means only that terrorists are not the sort of people with whom one can possibly negotiate, since they lack the requisite candor and frankness; they are utterly without bona fides.

Still, for reasons I fail adequately to grasp at this point, people have taken the phrase, “We shall never negotiate with terrorists!” to mean something like, “Negotiation is for weaklings, for moral quislings. We have only fire and sword for such monstruous enemies of civilization.”

Again, when Dr. King wrote about the need for negotiation, he was talking about candidly pursuing definite goals through frank discussion with bona fide interlocutors.

There is nothing wrong, and everything right about this.

The trick, however, or rather, the thing that requires real patience and prudence, is the ability to continue in the assumption of your interlocutor’s (or interlocutors’, depending on the situation – but let’s stick with the singular for simplicity’s sake) bona fides –

Lazy Disciple June 15, 2009 at 2:43 am

…i.e. “good faith”, even in the face of considerable trial and even a good deal of evidence that could be interpreted as proof of bad faith.

That is to say, real negotiation – and I would enlarge the concept to include what we might call a sort of “generalized negotiation” that is often called “public debate” or “national discourse” – demands that we engage each and every single interlocutor, and refuse absolute disengagement even in the face of evidence of bad faith, only accepting temporary disengagement in the face of direct and incontrovertible evidence thereof.

After all these words, the principle I am discussing may be made clearer by a simple example – or rather, by a straightforward thought experiment based on the example to follow:

I was riding along the other day, listening to a radio interview with Christopher Hitchens. I had heard of him before, but I had never read one of his books (nor have I the slightest intention of doing so), nor had I ever heard him speak. Almost the first words out of his mouth were a blanket condemnation of all Christians as arrogant, intolerant, morally depraved and irremediably benighted misers. I thought, “Well, I’m going to listen to something else,” and promptly did just that. I will not be spoken to in that manner, most certainly not by a total stranger.

I assume you approve of my response to his abuse.

Now, for the experiment: would you approve of a pro-abort who responded similarly to similar vituperation?

Lazy Disciple June 15, 2009 at 2:55 am

You see, we pro-lifers spend far too much time and energy telling pro-aborts how awful they are for holding their positions.

At the very least, we do not spend enough time and energy crafting our rhetoric in a way that avoids both explicit statements and implications in that direction.

Here, my discussion moves perceptibly into the question of purification.

You see, it is not enough to be on the right side of the issue, whatever the issue might be.

With abortion, over which we are waging the basic moral battle of the present age, and on the outcome of which battle the fate of civilization in the main depends, it is essential that the soldiers be spotless.

More to come…

Artie June 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm

You are asking for a change in the pro life movement in regards to how they send their message, right?

If that is true, do you feel the message of the pro life movement caused Tiller’s death?

If it is not true then what are you asking from those who are pro life?

Is it possible that a caricature has been painted about the pro life movement in order to demonize the movement?

You are proposing healthy negotiations and for those in the pro life movement be spotless.. Spotless of what? I know more is to come and maybe you will get into this.


Maybe I am reading to much into this recent discussion, but I would be willing to use *different* language in the movement if that really does work (negotiations), but I have a feeling it will not work, as a matter of fact I know it will not work.

The root problem is really that people have regarded sex as something recreational as opposed to what is taught in Theology of the Body and what Pope Paul VI warned/taught the faithful in his encyclical Humane Vitae.

As far as being spotless, I am assuming you are talking about sin, but I am not sure. We all should strive for holiness.

I think people have lost site to what the pro life movement is really all about as the left has demonized it. They use the Tiller killing as an attempt to prove this point. Then you have people that say strong language from the pro life movement fueled the fire of a wacko to kill Tiller. More to come…

Chris Altieri June 15, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Dear Artie,

Please be patient, and please do go easy.

1. I do not believe that the message of the pro-life movement caused Dr. Tiller’s death. That is beyond silly, and I am frankly more than a little dismayed to hear that you have wondered whether I might hold such a position.

2. It is more than possible that the pro-life movement has been characterized for the purposes of demonization. It is a fact.

The rest of my reflections has to wait – again, please be patient.



Artie June 15, 2009 at 3:07 pm

That is my downfall I am not patient. Sorry Chris Altieri aka Lazy Disciple.. right?

I will let you lay out your case before I respond again. I was and still am unsure of where you are going with this, and that was the reason why I had to ask those questions in advace.

I admit again that I was reading too much into it and also that I probably took a different direction then where you were wanting to go.

Chris Altieri June 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Dear Artie,

Thanks for your patience.

Mine is a long and drawn-out case, and it is one I am convinced must be made if we are truly to serve the cause of life.

Said shortly, we are on the same side.

From my readers, I ask only that measure of sympathy, without which no understanding is possible (if you will allow me to quote PBXVI).



aka The Lazy Disciple

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