Friday, December 7, 2007

The value of human life in the culture of life?

Whether it is policies that force Mexicans to go more dangerous routes to try to cross the US border or the so-called "collateral damage" of wars of choice, the impact of trade policies that make huge profits for large companies and cheaper prices for American consumers that simultaneously generate (lethal) poverty in other parts of the world, or simply shooting two unarmed men on your neighbor's property against the instructions of the police, how can any of this be called a "culture of life"? Or is it supposed to be only a respect for American, preferably white, English-speaking and Christian, life?

Let's examine the last example in more detail.

Radio and television talk show host Alan Colmes, a self-described liberal Democrat, has been discussing the issue of Joe Horn, a Texas man who shot two men to death on his neighbors property. It is not surprising that people who call radio talk shows are often as outrageous as they are outspoken, but sometimes they do reflect a current of more popular opinion, at least within certain socioeconomic circles. Callers to Alan's show have brought up the fact that apparently the two men were burglars. But does committing a criminal act justify the casual taking of a life in which someone with a shotgun yells "Boom! Your dead!" and then fires point blank at two people? Then it was reported one or both of them may have been in the country illegally and that they may have been Mexican. Again, does that justify disregarding the instructions of the 911 dispatcher and shooting two men to death on someone else's properly?

There was no imminent danger to anyone until Mr. Horn left the house against the instructions he was receiving from the dispatcher. The police were on route and arrived soon after the shooting. Forget for a moment whether Mr. Horn put himself or the lives of plain clothes police officers in danger by leaving his house with a loaded shotgun in the middle of a robbery. Is human life worth so little? How does calling them criminals lessen the fact that they were human beings? How does calling them illegal aliens or Mexicans lessen the fact that they were human beings? And with no imminent danger, or even the appearance of imminent danger, to Mr. Horn, what was the justification for needlessly taking a life? For needlessly taking two? Does our culture value human life so little?

More to the point, based on remarks and phrases as well as self-identification of personal beliefs and politics, it seems that many of the people who are trying not only to justify what Mr. Horn did but also celebrate it include those who call abortion a massacre. Really? Now I am aware that there are many (and I sincerely hope that the majority of) people who consider themselves pro-life would disapprove of what happened in Texas. But what about that sizable segment who want to see more people do what Mr. Horn did? How can they honestly consider themselves any part of something called a "culture of life"?

It sounds more like a culture of fear and retribution.

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