In defense of Rush Limbaugh: a concession

Live Action blogger Paul Pauker wrote a very reasonable and well-argued piece, critiquing my view that Rush Limbaugh begged the question during a recent rant about Casey Anthony and the liberal media.

I think Paul is right.

If Rush Limbaugh, while doing his radio show, is not trying to speak to both sides and is only talking to conservatives, than he wasn’t trying to prove anything about the humanity of the unborn, and was thus not begging the question.

I think I wrongly assumed in my previous article that Rush wants to communicate directly to both sides because that’s what I personally do when I host Life Report. During the very first episode, I said I hoped we would have both pro-life and pro-abortion-choice listeners. I wanted to get both sides considering the other’s argument more, and ultimately talking to each other more as well. Since starting the show three and a half years ago, we’ve seen that happen. We have pro-abortion-choice listeners, and I’ve personally watched some of our pro-life listeners engage in wonderful dialogues with abortion advocates using tactics they learned on the show.

Paul has convinced me that Rush doesn’t host his show this way, but is only focused on communicating to the conservative base, so I concede my argument that he begged the question.

I also completely believe everything else in that article is important for pro-lifers to understand if we’re going to have fruitful dialogues with abortion advocates.

There’s a pro-choice girl I’ve conversed with online about abortion over the last several months, but I’m just about ready to give up talking to her. Why? Because she perpetually begs the question. She will read a carefully written pro-life article, and respond with the same kinds of phrases over and over again, and they all sound something like this:

Nope, he’s wrong – bodily rights trump the right to live.

I’ve explained several times that she’s question-begging, but it hasn’t gotten through to her. It doesn’t seem like we’re having much of a dialogue. I’m trying to dialogue, and she’s trying to preach her views to me until I give up.

I hosted an interview with pro-life author Scott Klusendorf last year, and he said there are two kinds of people we talk to: Learners and Crusaders. Hopefully we are Learners, meaning that we have carefully considered our views and are ready to defend them, but we’re still more committed to truth than ideology. In contrast, Crusaders aren’t open to being wrong. Everything they think is right, and you’re an idiot if you disagree. Unless they change their attitude, it’s really hard to talk to a Crusader for very long. It’s not worth my time to listen to someone preach at me if they’re not willing to even listen and consider an alternative point of view.

I’m concerned that pro-life people sometimes act like Crusaders too. I want us to try to talk to pro-abortion-choice people like the pro-lifer in the second sample dialogue I wrote, not like the first.

Honestly, I’m conflicted about the way some conservative talk show hosts talk about pro-abortion-choice people. Paul Parker makes the argument that we need fighters like Rush who will stir up the emotions of pro-lifers. I certainly agree that we shouldn’t be boring, emotionless, logical robots while talking about abortion. There are preborn humans being torn apart right now. On the other hand, I’m concerned that while stirring these emotions, we sometimes unintentionally build caricatures of pro-abortion-choice people.

When LifeNews.com posted that article on their Facebook page, one of the first commenters said:

“Pro-choice” people are heartless bloodthirsty killers.

Does the way some conservatives talk about pro-choice people inadvertently encourage this kind of thinking? I’m not sure, but here’s what I do know: There are pro-abortion-choice people in my life right now that I am actively trying to convince that abortion is morally wrong and should be illegal. Some of these people are very open-minded and are now closer to being pro-life than they were several months ago.

None of them are heartless, and none of them are bloodthirsty.

It really bothers me that I would even need to write those words; that there is any segment of pro-lifers, no matter how small, that would debate me on that last sentence.

I’m a Christian, and I believe Jesus teaches us to love and pray for our enemies.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  ~ Matthew 5:43-46

I don’t think we can really love our enemies while calling them “bloodthirsty,” unless that accurately describes them. In this case, it doesn’t.

I want to thank Paul for writing such a clear piece that forced me to reconsider my view on the Rush Limbaugh quote. I’ve been wrong before, and I’d rather be shown I’m wrong by a million people than to be wrong and agreed with.

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