Sunday, September 13, 2009

What side of Love stood James L. Pouillon?

The UU blogosphere lit up for Tiller but so far seems pretty silent for Pouillon.

Will we see statements like this from UUA?

Has the divide blurred? Or is it somewhat arbitrary about slicing through; evil-mongers obvious in one narrative, not so in others. Or is love sometimes blind, by choice?


Robin Edgar said...

Thank you for bringing that story to my attention Bill. I just got back from protesting against against the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry that the Unitarian Church of Montreal, UUA, and too many other U*Us condone. A quick Google search of the interconnected web of the internet brought me to this thoughtful story by Jeffrey Weiss about the murder (assassination?) of anti-abortion protester James L. Pouillon. Until seeing your blog post I was unaware of this killing.

As a peaceful public protester who has been subjected to physical assault and threats against my personal safety that a 911 dispatcher characterized as "death threats" I am conscious of how people can and do respond to protesters with violence. In fact, one person attending the Unitarian Church of Montreal once stopped and said to me, "Should I a stop and talk with you, or should I go home and get me gun and come back and shoot you?" I suggested that the former option would be more appropriate but he did neither. . . I wonder if there will be any outrage if a U*U decide to murder me because they do not like my protest? Based on what *some* U*Us have said to me about celebrating my death when I die I expect that a few would break out the champagne. . .

I realize that Unitarian U*Us having me falsely arrested on bogus criminal charges in a misguided attempt to force an end to my protest is not nearly as bad as being murdered, and it even turned out to be quite a bit of fun making these outrageously hypocritical U*Us look like complete fools in court, but I do not recall the slightest outrage on the part of other U*Us when Montreal Unitarian U*Us made a mockery of U*U principles and purposes in their deeply misguided, and ultimately futile. . . effort to force an end to my peaceful public protest through legal harassment.

No peaceful protester deserves to be murdered or executed aka terminated with extreme prejudice, no matter how unpleasant or even misguided their protest may be. I see little difference in principle between this murder of an American anti-abortion protester and the thuggish murders of Iranian pro-democracy protesters by Basij militia. Come to think about it. . . did UUA President Bill Sinkford or UUA President Peter Morales ever say anything about those brutal murders of peaceful protesters?

Doesn't look like it. . .

SC Universalist said...

I usually try to avoid challenges that arise from politicization. it's too much work for too little payoff. I didn't post about Tiller, and haven't seen any news yet about Pouillon (but then I havent seen any news this weekend). I would probably say the same about both: it's a sad commentary on our times.

Bill Baar said...

Thanks SC.

I hate it when UU's are reduced to Cherry Picking murders to score points.

That's what we've been reduced to it seems here. We speak loudly on some, and remain silent on others.

If I'm wrong here, I'd like the other perspective.

We shoot each other with abandon in Chicago. I've become numb to it.

Chalicechick said...

I didn't write about Tiller until today, when I compared the two. I agree with SC Universalist's point. Also, I wonder how you can say that you don't like it when UUs are reduced to cherry picking murders to score political points when it is pretty clearly what you yourself have done in making a political point of Poullion's murder.

I mean, it's not like you're asking the UUA to comment on the other guy Poullion's murderer killed on the same day. You've chosen the murder of the fetus-picture-waver for a reason and it is no more noble a reason than that of the people who rallied around the Tiller murder.


Bill Baar said...

I wonder how you can say that you don't like it when UUs are reduced to cherry picking murders to score political points...

Easy, I've watched UU's do it.

I just thought it was time to point it out and this murder offered me the example. I'm offended by these signs. We all see them. So this was the perfect moment to ask if we'll share the love with a guy who offended us.

That's really the point I'm trying to make if it's not clear.

Chalicechick said...

Umm... You lived through the 60's, and you learned about using deaths to make political points from UUs?

I've only been paying attention to the world since the 80's, and I'm pretty sure I knew "using deaths to score political points is pretty much universally scorned and yet also universally done" before I arrived at my first UU church in the 1990s.

You asked responses and you got them, at least half a dozen blogs have recited that killing people is wrong and that Poullion should not have been murdered for what he believed, if he was.* So hooray, I suppose.

And if fetus pictures offend you, never visit Washington DC. We see so much of that kind of thing that it becomes very easy to ignore. When a guy standing on a corner waving a sign he thinks is provocative is an everyday thing, you seriously cease to care. Even Fred Phelps' people couldn't really get a rise out of my youth group.

Needless to say, people in power also see it enough that they cease to care.


* It seems to me he just pissed off the wrong crazy guy, but if the murder actually had been for political reasons then it would still be wrong so I don't guess it matters.

Bill Baar said...

...that Poullion should not have been murdered for what he believed...

That's big of us.

Just consider the past year. I think it's bad for UUism that we latch on to certain murders, Tiller being the classic case, and turn them into indictments of whole swaths of political opinion.

We recognize the uniqueness of Poullion's murder; but we didn't recognize the same uniqueness in Tiller's.

Chalicechick said...

Tiller's murder was the culmination of years of death threats and harassment, and, let's not forgot, conservative talk show folks actively calling for his death.

Pouillon's murder really sounds like one nutjob with a bunch of personal grudges. I wonder if Tiller's murder would have gotten the reaction it did if Tiller hadn't been subject to years of threats and his murderer had gone right out and killed his least favorite diner waitress or the grocery clerk who gave him the wrong change next.

I'm pretty impressed that the left has responded to this as extensively as they have. Given the "random weirdo" aspect, I don't know that I would have expected them feel like they had to.


Robin Edgar said...

"So this was the perfect moment to ask if we'll share the love with a guy who offended us."

C'mon Bill. I have been giving U*Us all kinds of perfect moments to ask themselves if U*Us will share the love with a guy who has offended* U*Us for well over a decade now. . .

* Quite justifiably AFA*I*AC

Bill Baar said...

CC, Do you think Pouillon stood on the side of love?

If you find that hard to answer, could the problem be less with Pouillon and more with the UU frame of dividing love?

If maybe UUs might be better off saying instead we hope Love Stands with us when all is said and done.

Therefore UU's less inclined to judge who's on what said, and perhapes more inclined to judge and deduce a wave of right wing violence approaching (I'm think Orcicus sp? many posts).

But back to the question --which was the hard of the post-- did Pouillon stand on the side of Love?

Robin: I'm guessin you consider yourself on the side of love.

Chalicechick said...

As I wrote the other time you asked this question, I don't think love takes sides in the abortion debate. I think both aides are motivated by love and concern for people.

If someone else has brought "Standing on the Side of love" into this discussion, I've missed it. So I'm not sure why you're talking about it.

Bill Baar said...

CC, Love's side and where Pouillon stood was the title of my post.

I started it.

Chalicechick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chalicechick said...


Ok, well, it's kind of ridiculous to expect UUs to defend the application of the slogan to a specific situation when you are the only one who is applying it there.

Why not argue against points people are actually making instead of inventing arguments that no one has made and expecting people to respond to your imaginary argument?

Bill Baar said...

Why not argue against points people are actually making...

I'm not certain the authors understood what point they were making. I think they just thought this slogan sounded right. Of course were on the side of Love. And folks who disagree on Same Sex Marriage (if that's the sole application) aren't. They're on the hateful side. (If that's love's opposite. Again, I'm not sure the authors thought this out.)

So, yes, I'm just working through the logic on something not argued, or asserted, but embedded in the sentence without thought or reflection.

Call me old ruminater besides smug moralist... connecting the dots for folks without the picture book.

Chalicechick said...

((Call me old ruminater besides smug moralist... connecting the dots for folks without the picture book.))

Can you see how to me it feels like you're using my dots to draw all sorts of weird pictures as you announce that your way is the only possible way those dots could be connected, then demanding that I explain why the pictures are in my picture book when you drew them there?

Bill Baar said...

Can you see how to me it feels like you're using my dots to draw all sorts of weird pictures as you announce that your way is the only possible way those dots could be connected....

Yes, I can. I often connect dots in ways others do not. In ways they've never seen or considered.

I don't think I've ever said I have sole custody of the truth from any of the resulting pics.

My heart tells me Paul's right, that Love Abides. I feel that from experience. I wouldn't call it truth though. At least a truth I could aruge. Only a truth I would say I feel.

Whether I Stand with Love, on issues of marriage or anything else, I would not say. I would not say Love Stood with me on issues of marriage, or anything else.

I would say I hope abiding love stands with me, hopefully at the end of life most importantly.

But I would never say I know the truth of that picture.

But otherwise, I admit to being almost a compulsive dot-connecter drawing pictures people never considered or thought possible. There's always the unseen angle. I'm always looking. Hopefully with Love as a guide more often than not.

Chalicechick said...

(((But I would never say I know the truth of that picture.))

Though you have drawn a picture about abortion with the dots and you expect us to defend what you drew.

Bill Baar said...

Though you have drawn a picture about abortion with the dots and you expect us to defend what you drew.

How so? What hat have I tipped in the above on my thoughts on abortion?

I can respect people who give their lives for things I don't agree in, and I can feel assured that Love Abides for us regardless of the rightness of the cause.

But how have I tipped at a view on the rightness and wrongess of abortion in the above post and comments?

Chalicechick said...

When you write, for example:

"No, I don't want UU's to hate Pouillon, or anyone else, but the standing on the side of love calculus pushes UU's into pernicious choices. "

The picture you have drawn is that the UUA has, through using the Standing on the Side of Love slogan in some situations not related to abortion, has committed itself to applying that slogan somehow to abortion, and to the murder of James Pouillon.

As far as I can tell, this question is equivalent to asking: "If Democrats have the slogan, 'Vote Obama' shouldn't that slogan apply to ALL elections? Shouldn't Democrats be voting for Obama in small town city council elections, "cutest Baby" contests and in any dog show they might judge since the Democrats have used slogan is 'vote Obama' in an election not related to any of those things? Democrats have clearly not thought through the implications of saying 'Vote Obama.' Lucky they have me to 'connect the dots' for them!"

And you seem to find the answer "Some slogans are intended to apply to one type of situation, but not all situations" impossible to accept no matter how I phrase it.

Indeed, when you write:

""No, standing on the side of love forces a judgement.

Sometimes it's the mild judgement of pity (I think your assessment right), but it's still a judgement that someone landed on the wrong side. ""

About my take that UUs are quicker to pity Pouillon than anything else, then you are assuming that any UU who pities this guy must be doing it because of the slogan.

Over and over, you are making these dramatic interpretations of what the slogan must mean when you alone apply it to a situation where no one else has applied it, and over and over you've asked us to defend your application of it there.

I can think of one slogan in the entire world that is universally applicable without exception ("This too shall pass")

That one aside, I really can't imagine any slogan that is universally applicable.

So why are you treating this one like it is or should be?

The UUA isn't.