Lying for choice? Keeping the pro-life violence narrative alive

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UPDATE: A couple of days later, this dishonest post by “Exposing Men’s Rights Activism” has been shared 470 times by people who did not check the facts.  No doubt this number will continue to rise. After I pointed out the errors, they have removed the word “mass,” to their credit. This leaves them making the claim that there were three shootings on that day. Of course there were far more than three. There are more than eighty shooting deaths per day in the US. Indeed the only reason for saying that there were three mass shootings was to claim (falsely) that the high profile case in San Bernadino was not the only one. The respectable thing would clearly be to remove the false post altogether. Moreover, they have not acknowledged their initial factual error, they have deleted my comment where I point this out, and they continue to claim that the attack happened at a women’s health clinic, perpetuating a false version of events. Truth is the real casualty in all this.

Some abortion rights advocates have started fabricating mass shootings at abortion clinics.

Anyone who actually looks into the phenomenon of violence against abortion clinic staff, carried out by those who think abortion is wrong, knows that the reality is much smaller than the perception. Such incidents are rare and in severe decline, the facts show. Obviously whether or not abortion is morally permissible is quite independent of incidents like this, but still, some proponents of abortion rights do try to silence the vocal critics of abortion because of such incidents, as I mentioned recently. Unfortunately, however, whether or not the allegations about these incidents are even true is starting to matter less, it seems.

Perhaps noticing the lack of actual widespread violence against people who work at abortion clinics and trying to boost the numbers, or perhaps just trying to link the opponents of abortion to the recent terrible mass shooting in San Bernadino California, or heck, more likely just using somebody else’s tragedy to further your own social and political cause (no, not a crass thing to do at all….), the Facebook group “Exposing Men’s Rights Activism” today shared a tweet from Jamie Kilstein, reading “F**k. Not seeing this on the news cause they are covering another mass shooting. #america.” If I read this correctly, it means “Oh no. The news isn’t covering this mass shooting because they are covering a different one.” Kilstein in turn was sharing a tweet from Houston Feminist: “There has been a shooting in #houston at Clinica Hispana, a women’s health clinic. #hounews.”

The comment added to this by “Exposing men’s rights activists” simply read: “There have been 3 mass shootings today in the USA. One of which took place at a women’s clinic.” Oh my gosh! Recently a disturbed man shot a number of people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado… so we’re seeing another anti-abortion mass shooting now! It’s a thing that’s happening right now, pro-life violence. It’s another mass shooting, like the one in San Bernadino at the centre for people with special needs!

Except… it’s not. It’s hard to tell at exactly which point the lies are being woven into the story. It looks to me as though Houston Feminist intends the reader to connect the shooting with the place, a women’s health clinic. Then Jamie Kilstein made the mass shooting connection. And “Exposing mean’s rights activism” just passed the whole package along: There was a mass shooting at a women’s health clinic. Each time the story is mentioned, a new lie is added. As I write this, the group made this post just over an hour ago and it has been shared 79 times. We should expect that number to grow as this useful narrative catches the attention of more people.

There’s one slight snag. This didn’t happen. Read about what took place here. Murder is nasty stuff of course and never to be downplayed. But here’s what happened:

HOUSTON (KTRK) — Houston police are investigating whether a deadly shooting Wednesday afternoon was in retaliation for another deadly shooting that happened just two hours earlier.

The first shooting happened in front of a medical clinic at 8410 Fondren in the Kingsgate Shopping Center. Eyewitnesses say it appeared the victim was trying to get away.

“They were chasing him,” said Danielle Fortune.

According to Houston police, at least two people in a car confronted the victim. He was on foot. They shot at him through the car windows and the young male victim fell right in front of the clinic.

“The doctor tried to come out and save him but he couldn’t,” said Germany Warren, who lives nearby.

Police say the suspects then sped off and crashed into parked cars before they bailed out and ran. At least one person was detained.

The car the suspects were in was stolen, according to HPD Homicide investigator Bart Nabors. Both the rear and driver’s side windows were shattered by bullets, he said.

Less than two hours later, Houston police responded to another shooting less than two miles away on Jessamine near Rampart. When they arrived, they found a another young Hispanic male dead in the street.

“Due to the proximity of that scene to this, we are going to investigate the possibility they may be linked,” explained Robert Klementich with HPD’s Homicide Division.

Police don’t have a motive for the first shooting. The victim’s mother identifies him as Jeffrey Machado, 17.

The area is known for gang activity, according to neighbors.

So in an area known for gang activity, a young man was being chased down the street. His pursuers caught up with him outside a women’s health clinic, which is where they shot him dead. They drove off, and later there was (perhaps) a revenge shooting.

There was no mass shooting, and to tweet in the name of a feminist voice that the shooting happened at women’s health clinic, when in fact that’s just where the poor victim was overtaken by his pursuers, is irresponsible.

Narratives are important to people, like the narrative of crazed pro-life violence against meek and mild healthcare providers. And if the facts aren’t there to back them up, we’ll just make them up. Apparently.

Glenn Peoples

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Karen December 4, 2015, 12:03 pm

    I shared this post by Exposing Men’s Rights Activism before I saw your comment there pointing out the errors being perpetuated. Thank you Glenn. I have deleted my share now. I will view them with a little more caution in future.

  • Glenn December 4, 2015, 2:35 pm

    Thanks Karen. 🙂

  • MATTHEW J MURRAY December 5, 2015, 8:05 pm

    Glenn, I am curious as to whether or not you believe in any exceptions for abortion?

  • Glenn December 5, 2015, 10:26 pm

    Well this is about dishonest claims about anti-abortion violence, Matthew, not about the ethics of abortion. I don’t even comment here on whether or not abortion is morally permissible, as I prefer to keep the issues distinct, lest anyone object to what I have said here by disagreeing with my view on abortion.

    But in brief, I don’t describe my position as anti-abortion. It is pro-life. So for example, if a pregnancy can be ended prematurely without any killing, for example (e.g. if the child could be transferred to an external womb), I am open to it in principle. The concern I and others have is the protection of life. But I do not think the life of an unborn child has more value than the life of the child’s mother. And in cases where the pregnancy is likely to kill the mother, this will also mean the death of the unborn child as well. So only when the child’s very exists presents a clear threat of danger exists can we even start to talk about removing the threat. I don’t view this as an exception to being pro-life. It is consistent with a pro-life outlook.

  • MATTHEW J MURRAY December 6, 2015, 3:41 am

    Sorry for not staying on topic. I’m completely aware this post wasn’t about the ethics of abortion.just figured I’d ask!

    I think And in ” cases where the pregnancy is likely to kill the mother, this will also mean the death of the unborn child as well’ is a good way to look at it. O think whether or not the babyvis able to survive outside of the womb should be the first questions asked in seriously risky situation s. If the answer is no, attention must mostly go to mom.

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