Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kill thy neighbor?

Kill thy neighbor?

By Joel Wendland

The 2008 presidential has officially sunk to a new low. In addition to widely reported incidents of racist attacks, a new e-mail circulated by a leading anti-choice activist in Kansas, however, has turned such threats and smears in a dangerously new direction.

With the subject line "Response to ANY Christian who is Voting for Obama," Mark S. Gietzen, a top Kansas GOP activist and the head of the Kansas Coalition for Life, based in Wichita, began circulating an e-mail message this week accusing supporters of Barack Obama of "enabling" the killing of millions.

According to Gietzen's e-mail, a vote for Obama, who supports the right of a woman to choose when to be pregnant, is "much the same as someone aiding a person who is planning to do a school shooting."

"A person doing a school shooting will likely only kill less than 1,000 persons, whereas a vote for Obama will enable him enact policies that will kill millions every year, and for years to come!" Gietzen's e-mail read.

The inflammatory e-mail further asks recipients to forward the e-mail to others "to oppose the blatant evil that an Obama presidency would bring upon our country."

The addition of two verses from the biblical book of Ezekiel at the end of the e-mail turned the message in a sinister direction. According to the verses, a "wicked man" – presumably a reference to Obama and/or his supporters – who refuses to turn "from his evil [or] from his wicked conduct, then he shall die for his sin."

While neither the addition of the verses in the e-mail nor the commentary preceding it explicitly threaten Obama or his supporters, the e-mail could provide someone with violent tendencies or mental instability the justification to do so. The verses seem to indicate that God wants evil people to die or to be killed. What higher authority than the "word of God" could possibly exist?

Responding to an e-mail asking for a clarification of whether he thought some of the recipients of the e-mail might use the verses as a justification for violence toward or harassment of Obama supporters, Gietzen wrote, "I don't think so." He added an abstract theological argument about spiritual death leading to physical death for which Obama supporters, presumably, would only have themselves to blame.

Gietzen appeared to believe that all of the recipients of the e-mail would understand the complexities of his view of the theology behind the verses, rather than interpret the verses literally.

Gietzen's Kansas Coalition for Life is well-known for harassing women seeking abortion services or family planning counseling, as well as doctors and health care providers who assist them.

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