But here at Legal Schnauzer, we submit that it reflects a culture of lawlessness that has consumed conservatism over roughly the past 40 years. Our theory is that a significant number of conservatives, resentful over affirmative action, busing, school integration and other race-based issues, have established a "parallel universe" where they don't have to follow laws that govern American society at large. Instead, they create their own laws in an effort to return our country to the "only whites need apply" era that they so fondly remember.
If our theory is correct, the Tiller killing has relatively little to do with a medical procedure. Rather, it has connections to Watergate, Iran-Contra, Enron, the U.S. attorneys' firings, the Don Siegelman and Paul Minor cases and . . . the list goes on.
In all of these examples, and many others we haven't named, people with conservative leanings thought they would be unable to accomplish their objectives inside the boundaries of the law. So they went outside the law, inside the conservative parallel universe, to get the job done.
Is anyone surprised that Scott P. Roeder, the suspect in the Tiller killing, was known to be involved in anti-government groups. The Wichita Eagle quotes one abortion opponent about Roeder:
"I know that he believed in justifiable homicide," said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City abortion opponent who made headlines in 1995 when she was ordered by a federal judge to stop using a bullhorn within 500 feet of any abortion clinic. "I know he very strongly believed that abortion was murder and that you ought to defend the little ones, both born and unborn."
The Wichita paper has more about Roeder's background:
Roeder also was a subscriber to Prayer and Action News, a magazine that advocated the justifiable homicide position, said publisher Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist from Des Moines.
"I met him once, and he wrote to me a few times," Leach said. "I remember that he was sympathetic to our cause, but I don't remember any details."
And perhaps most alarming is this:
Roeder, who in the 1990s was a manufacturing assemblyman, also was involved in the "Freemen" movement.
"Freemen" was a term adopted by those who claimed sovereignty from government jurisdiction and operated under their own legal system, which they called common-law courts. Adherents declared themselves exempt from laws, regulations and taxes and often filed liens against judges, prosecutors and others, claiming that money was owed to them as compensation.
What did the "Freemen" do? They "declared themselves exempt from laws."
Many on the right will portray Roeder as a lone outcast, who had no formal ties to mainstream conservatism. But we would argue that Roeder has much in common with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove.
Let's go on a brief travelogue over the past 40 years or so in conservative America:
* If you are Richard Nixon and his henchmen, with concerns about beating Democratic nominee George McGovern fair and square, you initiate the scandal that becomes known as Watergate.
* If you are Ronald Reagan and his associates, and you don't like certain laws that have been passed by Congress, you go around them and set off the scandal that becomes known as Iran-Contra.
* If you are George W. Bush & Co., and you can't invade Iraq for legitimate reasons, you concoct phony reasons and spark the Iraq War, which has cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars.
* If you are Dick Cheney and you can't obtain the information you want through lawful means, you authorize torture and spark a debate about the United States' diminished stature on the world stage.
* If you are Karl Rove and have concerns about maintaining GOP dominance in Southern strongholds such as Alabama and Mississippi, you pervert the justice system to get rid of prominent Democrats such as Don Siegelman and Paul Minor.
Are we correct about the central role of race, and race-based fear, in this tale of pathology? That's open for debate. But isn't it interesting that George Tiller practiced in predominantly white Kansas, where presumably, he provided abortion services mainly for white women? Would Tiller have been such a target if he had served mostly women of color? Would he have been targeted if his clinic had been in, say, inner-city Detroit?
And is it coincidence that our timeline of conservative lawlessness starts with the Nixon era, which was famed for its "Southern strategy" of dividing the country along racial lines and "taking the bigger half"?
Is it coincidence that it includes the Reagan era, which started with a campaign speech about "states' rights" in Philadelphia, Mississippi?
Is it coincidence that Karl Rove has his roots in Utah, a state that hardly is known for progressive thinking along racial lines?
For what it's worth, our own Legal Schnauzer case could be seen as a tiny chapter in this large, ugly story. . . . If you have conservative leanings and discover that a blogger/citizen journalist is writing uncomfortable truths about certain activities, what do you do? You pressure his employer, a public university, to fire him. And in the process, you probably violate a number of laws, including honest-services mail and wire fraud.
So, you see, we are not working on an abstract theory. It hits awfully close to home for us. And if our theory is at all valid, it should hit close to home for all Americans.
Scott Roeder is hardly a lone conservative whack job, who thinks laws don't apply to him. He has a whole lot of company. Some wear suits. Some wear badges. Some wear robes. Many have powerful positions in government, business, law, and politics.
Scott Roeder is more mainstream in conservative America than many of us would like to believe.