Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...


Thursday, September 04, 2003  

Yesterday Paul Hill was executed in Starke, Florida. All executions are unique, but this one was notable for being the first time a person was executed for killing an abortion doctor. I read the account with a kind of nausea--for the execution, any execution, for the bad feelings that remain between polarized proponents on the abortion issue, for talk that Hill is a martyr for the cause, for the possibility that this will only lead to more violence. (In the week before the execution, the Attorney General received death threats.)

"I believe in the short and long term, more and more people will act on the principles for which I stand," he said. Mr. Hill also said that while it was not his choice to die, "I'm willing and I feel very honored that they are most likely going to kill me for what I did."


When the paper described the protesters, my dread grew.

Most of the roughly 50 supporters of Mr. Hill were white men, some kneeling and praying, others singing "How Great Thou Art." Abortion rights advocates had said they planned to attend the execution and press their cause, but there was not a single person representing that movement....

Dan Holman, who said he drove here from Keokuk, Iowa, said Mr. Hill had "raised the standard" for anti-abortion protesters.

"Some day, I hope I will have the courage to be as much as a man as he was," said Mr. Holman, who carried a sign that said: "Dead Doctors Can't Kill."


But after I read a few more paragraphs, I stopped. Wait, fifty protestors? Fifty? For a supposed national martyr? That's a horrible turnout. You can turn up fifty protestors in Portland for almost anything. But this guy could only get 50 from across the country? It's really quite good news: maybe the hate won't spread after all. Maybe he was just a misguided soul who at the end of the day really didn't have many supporters.

I hope so.

(Incidentally, I have a good friend who grew up in Starke, which is a small town in Florida. Odd to see the name.)

posted by Jeff | 1:34 PM |
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