Political Speech and Violent Action

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Robert Dear is accused of shooting up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last week, killing a police officer along with two other people and injuring six more. No clear motive has been identified, but Dear reportedly said something about “no more baby parts” when he was arrested. The attack has been denounced -- even by groups opposed to abortion, but Planned Parenthood and other abortion defenders insist it was only a matter of time before inflammatory rhetoric resulted in violence. They complain -- not just about direct threats that mandate security at abortion clinics -- but also the cause-and-effect of public comments by Republican politicians. Does rhetoric really affect reality? Are there limits to free speech in the midst of hard-fought political warfare?




Warren Olney