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pro-life

Abortion, Religion, and Deadly Force

A man in Dallas, Texas is facing charges after explicitly stating (by filing papers in a federal court) that he will use deadly force to stop an abortion. In the filing, he asked for a restraining order against law enforcement, asking that “officers not be allowed to harm him if he had to harm someone else.” He went so far as to name the specific clinic along with the date and the time when he would pay his visit.

From the MSNBC article:

Erlyndon Joseph “Joey” Lo, 27, of Plano, filed documents there Friday saying his religious beliefs entitled him to use deadly force to prevent an abortion. He listed the name of a clinic, its address and the time he was going to show up — noon that day.

“I plan on saving at least one human life in Dallas, Texas,” Lo wrote.

Fortunately, the FBI takes these kinds of threats pretty seriously, especially one that includes such detailed specifics, and Lo is now facing two charges, one for using interstate commerce to communicate a threat to injure and another for threatening force to “intimidate and interfere” with clients and employees of a reproductive health clinic.

Twenty-seven year old Lo, a Southern Methodist University law school graduate who lives with his parents, is serving as his own attorney, which may explain the absurd nature of the class-action lawsuit that he’s filing, seeking “more than $999 trillion in damages.” He’s also asking the court to pay him $1,000 per hour in attorney fees. He has also filed suit against the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to outlaw abortion.

Like almost all abortion rights opponents, Lo’s stance is based on religious belief.

From the Dallas News article:

He says he has been a Christian since he was in fourth grade.

“I accepted Christ into my life when watching TV. Some guys were really strong and breaking ice. They invited me to accept Jesus into my life and ask him to forgive me for the ways I sinned. I did so, and I was changed,” according to his site.

After doing “a lot of research on Wikipedia and the Internet,” he “decided to become a Catholic. Today I am a good Catholic, and I’ve never been better.”

And from the MSNBC article (emphasis mine):

“My religious beliefs include the beliefs that an individual is alive at the moment of conception, abortion is murder and is the worst murder of all murders possible because these babies are completely defenseless, and I am entitled under my religious beliefs to use deadly force if necessary to save the innocent life of another,” Lo wrote.

Where Lo differs (outwardly, anyway) from many others who oppose abortion rights is in his belief that he is entitled to use deadly force. Whether he thinks this makes him a sort of “holy warrior” is unclear, but what is clear is that religious belief is the root cause of his self-righteous, extremist stance. Not rational thinking, not reasoned morality, not scientific fact, not biology… religion.

This isn’t some radical form of Islam, either. Lo is Catholic. Not only is he Catholic, but he considers himself a “good Catholic.” There are, of course, those who will say that he’s not a “real” Catholic, but for every person who says that, there are plenty more who will make identical counter claims. It’s the “No True Scotsman” fallacy and doesn’t hold water. He’s a true Catholic… a true Christian… as much as any other Catholic Christian. Obviously he holds some varying beliefs from some other Christians, but that doesn’t make him less of one.

Religion encourages fuzzy thinking and superstition. It encourages unquestioning acceptance without supporting evidence. It encourages blind obedience in (questionable) authority. It encourages a self-righteous, unwavering belief that it, alone, reveals truth, defines morality, and creates meaning.

It creates a self-perpetuating fantasy world… where people like Joseph Lo thrive.

The Tebow Superbowl Ad and Pam Stenzel

Tim Tebow The Superbowl ad featuring Tim Tebow (which has yet to be seen) has been causing a big brouhaha lately… with pro-choice groups opposing it to pro-life (anti-abortion) groups defending it. I’ve mostly ignored the situation, but after reading a Facebook note by Pam Stenzel and the accompanying comments, I figured it was time to toss my opinion into the mix.

Note: You can read the public Facebook note above, but you need a Facebook account to access it. You can also read the comments to the note (which I won’t address here), some of which are just as wrong-headed (if not more-so) than Stenzel’s piece.

Just to get it out of the way, I couldn’t care less if CBS shows the ad or not. I doubt if it’s anything over the top. Focus on the Family paid their $2.5 million for the ad, so bully for them. Tim Tebow sounds like a nice guy who’s done some nice charity work and is, evidently, a good football player. He and his family are overtly religious, having beliefs with which I obviously disagree, but they’re entitled to their opinions. Focus on the Family is well-known for its bigotry and intolerance toward homosexuals and pro-choice views, so I have more of a problem with them, but again… free speech.

On to Pam Stenzel’s note…

Stenzel starts with this (emphasis mine).

Tim Tebow’s pro-life ad on the upcoming Super Bowl is sure making the news and making lots of people uncomfortable. We’re always harping on athletes to be more responsible and engaged in the issues of their day, and less concerned with just cashing checks.

Really? We are? That’s funny, because what I normally see is people telling athletes and other celebrities to shut the hell up and stick to making movies. Since when have we (perhaps this is an exclusive “we” club) wanted our athletes to become political or social commentators?

Interestingly, Stenzel, who titles her post “Tim Tebow and the National Organization for ‘some’ Women!” claims that because of their opposition to the ad, the National Organization for Women isn’t pro-choice… they’re pro-abortion. She says…

Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion.

Interestingly, her piece never really explains how or why they are pro-abortion instead of pro-choice. Perhaps Stenzel’s low-tolerance worldview sees pro-choice as pro-abortion regardless of who delivers the message? …or perhaps it’s because her statement is blatantly false.

Here’s her summary of the Tebow story.

She [Tim Tebow’s mother] got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice, chose life, and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her Heisman Trophy winner son.

It’s the classic “You would have killed Beethoven” argument which Richard Dawkins dissects in his Washington Post op-ed piece. It’s a silly argument for being pro-life. Aside from the fact that it could easily be turned on its head using Charles Manson or Pol Pot or any other “evil” person, it implies that, if only there would be no abortions, there would be more superstars in our midst. Dawkins does a fine job of dismissing it, so there’s no need to dwell on it here.

Stenzel does say that something we can all agree on is that everyone “wishes the ‘need’ for abortions wasn’t so great.” Yes, she put quotes around the word “need.” That aside, yes… I think pretty much everyone could agree that fewer abortions are better (they just don’t agree as to why fewer abortions are better). Stenzel’s solution is abstinence. That’s her whole shtick. However, her disgust and disapproval for anything other than her puritanical version of morality infuses her message, writing statements such as [sic]

“Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one.”

“We need celebrities who are self-possessed and selfcontrolled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.”

“You know what we really need more of? Famous guys who aren’t embarrassed to practice sexual restraint until mariage, and to say it out loud.”

“Promiscuity is so the norm that if a stud isn’t shagging everything in sight, we feel faintly ashamed for him. How sad.”

Seriously? Given context, a Superbowl ad featuring bikini-clad women selling beer (I don’t think I’ve seen that one, but I’m looking forward to it) is perfectly appropriate.

I don’t even know what she means by “commitment over decadence.” Commitment to abstinence? Does decadence meaning “sex before marriage?” Perhaps it means “anything short of a Christ-like perfection.”

The absurdity of “practice sexual restraint until marriage” is perhaps revealing. After marriage, guys don’t have to have any restraint? Is that what Stenzel believes? What is bad about pre-marital sex, anyway? She seems to have a blanket problem with it and I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that it’s a biblical objection.

The last statement is an over-the-top straw man caricature that deserves no response other than outright derision.

Stenzel just keeps digging herself in deeper as she goes.

Abortion doesn’t just involve serious issues of life, but of potential lives, Heisman trophy winners, scientists, doctors, artists, inventors, Little Leaguers — who would never come to be if their birth mothers had not wrestled with the stakes and chosen to carry those lives to term.

Didn’t she already cover this? Didn’t I already respond with something indicating that that same list of “potential lives” could also include murderers, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers, and evil dictators? What about the mothers of those people? Stenzel doesn’t say, but if she were honest, she would include those categories in her list, too. She would also include women who don’t have sex when they ovulate… or men who masturbate.

Then Stenzel continues her rant against NOW.

But when a woman uses her right to choose but chooses life instead of an abortion, NOW has a fit!

No, Stenzel. That’s not the case. They don’t have a problem with a woman choosing to have a child instead of having an abortion. They have a problem with Focus on the Family’s bigoted, anti-choice imposition of their bronze-age values on women. Even though I haven’t seen the commercial, I can place a fairly safe bet that the message, though perhaps subtle, is “If you choose to have an abortion, you’re immoral.” That is what NOW sees as the problem and that is why NOW is actually for all women.

They promote a right to choose.