After Jared Lee Loughner attacked congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, many in the national media rushed to condemn the “climate of hate” permeating the Right that had, they assumed, surely influenced the gunman. While they were wrong about the specifics—Loughner was apparently uninfluenced by extreme voices on the Right—they were not wrong that the collective words and deeds of a society can create the contexts in which the specific actions of specific people arise and make sense.
Few in the national media were willing to ask about the “climate” in which Kermit Gosnell operated. Who gave him the tacit invitation to draw wailing babies from their mothers’ wombs, joke that they were large enough to walk him to the bus stop, and then take their lives and stuff their bodies into water jugs and cat-food containers? Who provided the rhetorical justification for the members of his staff to deliver viable babies into the world, leave them writhing and exposed for half an hour, even play with them, and then “snip” their spinal cords with medical scissors?
Who created that climate of callous disregard? Who defined viable pre-term infants as less worthy of care and protection than animals? Who created that ethical environment in which the good doctor and his wife could perform eighth-month abortions on Sunday nights, then go home, eat dinner, and sleep soundly?