Of blue-tick hounds and ditching Dietrich, and other niggling things

by Paul deParrie
(April 1995)

More quickly than most times, my cup of niggling things runneth over. Niggling things are those little things I would like to mention or about which I would like to comment in my column, but are not sufficient for a full column. So occasionally I like to just toss them, like some commentary salad, into a single column.
Niggling Thing #1: On February 16, I spoke to John Brockhoeft, convicted clinic firebomber, for the last time in at least three years. The restrictions on his "parole" are so tight as to make it nearly impossible to breathe.
Brockhoeft, who has serious medical problems including a heart condition, is prohibited from any contact with "any hospital or other facility which includes staff presently ore formerly engaged in reproductive services." That leaves out nearly any doctor's office or clinic or hospital in the country. He can't get medical care -- unless he gets it from a veterinarian -- which is illegal.
So Brockhoeft asked me to try to get him declared an animal -- preferably a blue-tick hound (an animal of distinction in his native Kentucky) -- so he can get medical care.
There is precedent for this. Several months ago, the news here in Portland reported that the local police had a "drug-sniffing pig" that they used to uncover drug hideouts. The gendarmes were unable to take advantage of federal funds for their police animal because the law authorizing funding limited the help to police agencies using dogs. The solution was simple. The City of Portland convinced Vice-President Al Gore (I'm not making this up) to sign a proclamation declaring the porcine police animal to be a dog. Federal funds were forthcoming.
It would seem that Brockhoeft faces a similar situation. In order to get medical care that does not violate the terms of his parole, he would have to go to a vet -- but only if this could be made legal. Think the Veep might help out on this one?
Niggling Thing #2: This month's lead article reminds me of something. I seem to recall everyone from Christian Action Coalition to Operation Rescue making a big deal out of Dietrich Bonhoeffer some years ago. They used his statements on the evil of abortion, the necessity for activism, and the justifiability of civil disobedience to bolster their speeches and literature. He was all the rage. Most of these people simply passed over the fact that Bonhoeffer had participated in an attempt to assassinate the lawfully elected leader, Chancellor Adolf Hitler, of the German Republic.
Suddenly, now that a couple of serial child-killers have been shot, there is a mysterious dearth of Bonhoeffer references from these pro-life leaders. Maybe they didn't like his reasoning and philosophy as much as they previously thought. Is it just because the full implications are now present -- and uncomfortable -- that they abandon their former hero?
Niggling Thing #3: Joel Belz, publisher of World magazine, suggests we take an editor to lunch. And, no, I don't think he's hinting for a free meal. He says we should try to meet these guys one-on-one and find out "What kind of hard evidence would prompt [the editor] to take a new look at this abortion controversy."
Let me assure you, Joel, your three friends who said otherwise notwithstanding, it's been done. The answer is, there is no kind of evidence that would prompt that response except a sea-change in the public's attitudes on abortion.
But, if you, Joel, feel it still needs to be done, I suggest that it is a case of the principle I learned long ago: If God gives you the burden, you are the committee.
I'm sure you know many publishers and editors. Good luck. We'll be praying for you. Don't forget to write and tell us about the progress you're making.
Niggling Thing #4: There's always a steady trickle of people who write to ask to be taken off the mailing list because they disagree with our position -- or, in some cases, for even providing a forum for debate -- on use of force. The usual pangs of conscience about their money going to a "violent" pro-life group are cited, despite the fact that AFLM is committed to only be involved in nonviolent activities.
But this has not been the only issue that has drawn such a response. When a Catholic person or institution comes off looking bad in a story, we are accused of "Catholic-bashing." When Protestants look bad, we are accused of "pandering to the Catholics." In either case, again, their consciences can't seem to allow them to "support [our] ministry" any longer.
Chances are, though, these people all subscribe to their local paper and, doubtless, many other publications, which editorially support killing unborn babies.
Go figure! We take a stand or allow debate on something they don't like, and we're trash. But the local paper stands foursquare for abortion, and they're still OK.
What a world!
Niggling Thing #5: The Oregonian editorial board gets the nomination for Hypocrite of the Year, as in a December 10, 1994 editorial comment they supported the death penalty for Paul Hill. The paper, a long-time opponent of the death penalty because "it is irreversible and sometimes mistakenly applied," said in the end, "This one is open and shut. Pull the switch and be done with it."
Any volunteers among the authors of this cant?
Niggling Thing #6: Evidently, Boy Clinton is whining that Christian leaders shouldn't be so hard on him because of his support of abortion and sodomy. The Prez claims that he is "much more humble" about his faith than many of his critics. I say he has a lot to be humble about!