The week of Memorial Day, the Forum of the Peoria Journal Star published the following pro-life letter.
Editor of the Journal Star:
Graduation and Memorial Day came on the same weekend this year. At church on Sunday, the high school graduates marched in and sat in front. The minister spoke to them, and us, about the veterans who were missing because they had given their lives to preserve liberty. He reminded us of the 576,000 men and women who died in America's wars this century, as well as those from our earlier history who paid the same, ultimate price. Observing the graduates and listening to the sermon, I thought of my graduation in 1972 - during one of those wars. I remembered the 50,000 plus who are missing from my generation because of Vietnam.
Because of another war, there are also multiplied thousands of grads missing from the class of 1999. One year after my graduation, the Supreme Court declared this war, the war against the unborn child. In every year since, this war has claimed an average of 1,500,000 human lives. At any commencement you attend, look around - there are many unseen, empty chairs. At our Church, we honored over thirty graduates. Yet, each and every week right here in Peoria, an equal number of living human beings, created in God's image, are lost in this war against the unborn. There will be no graduation for them.
The veterans who died in the battles for our freedom should be remembered not only on Memorial Day, but every day. They are honored for the worth of their life and of their death. One wonders if many of them would have considered this so called "right to choose," with its nearly 40,000,000 victims, the type of freedom for which they gave their lives.
You will notice that this letter was a rather original and personal perspective, that it uses no inflated statistics, and that it names no individuals. The Star forthrightly published the following "response," (there is always an immediate response from regulars in the pro-choice community to any pro-life sentiment in the Forum.)
Letter writer Dennis Dillard believes the Supreme Court declared a "war on the unborn" when abortion was made legal. What he doesn't comprehend is that before that and since then, there has been a war against women, and Mr. Dillard is apparently one of those unholy crusaders.
In a society that actually valued female life, there never would have been laws in the first place to stop a woman from protecting her life and her future from unwanted pregnancy. If Mr. Dillard wants to imagine empty chairs at graduation and lost lives on Memorial Days, he ought to think about the millions of women's lives lost to illegal and butcherous abortions.
He ought to think about the humiliated and degraded women who have had no protection from the consequences of their male relatives' incestuous lust. He ought to think about the hungry and disadvantaged children who also might not make it to graduation, because accidental pregnancy - even in a rich country like the United States results in too many mouths for parents to feed and care for.
Mr. Dillard doubts that our noble veterans fought for the type of freedom that resulted in women's rights? Then he's indicating that wars have been fought for men's freedom only, that women are forever less valuable and less important than men. Talk about disrespect for human life. And so the unconscionable war against women goes on.
This purported response talks of millions of deaths from illegal abortion, a figure made up out of whole cloth. Furthermore it accuses those who oppose abortion of disrespecting women. This particular response goes even further with a highly pejorative and directly personal slander using the emotionally charged label "UNHOLY CRUSADER."
Here is the letter submitted to the Forum to clarify Mr. Dillard's perspectives on this issue and to reply to the obvious falsehoods and innuendoes which were printed in Mr. Smith's "response." (The Star refused to print this letter.)
Editor of the Journal Star:
Pro Life writers to the forum have long since ceased to be surprised by the retort which inevitably sounds from somewhere in Canton, IL. Notable, however is the shrillness and animosity of a personal nature that increasingly permeates these tirades. * In light of the nature of his response to my letter of June 2, 1999, please permit this "unholy crusader" to defend my position by addressing the assertions of Aaron Smith.
1. It is self evident that few, if any American soldiers have died to preserve the "right" to abortion - there was no such expressly stated right for most of our history!
2. It is rank elitism to claim that disadvantaged children are better off having never been born.
3. It is a blatant falsehood to assert that opposing abortion degrades women, especially since a large proportion of the female population are themselves opposed to some or all abortions.
4. It is degrading to women to imply that the "right" to abortion is the most important measure of the status of women in a society.
5. It is insulting to women to suggest that restricting abortion in any way would leave them unable to think of no better option than committing hara-kiri with a coat hanger!
5. It is not pro-life people but rather abortion that truly degrades females. Abortion kills over 1/2 million female humans every year and leaves many of their mothers with physical and emotional scars. Rather, it is the sexually irresponsible male who benefits most from abortion, for abortion makes it easier for him to continue to ply his libertine trade, while avoiding fatherhood with all its attendant financial and social demands. Indeed one wonders how many women are manipulated or battered into their supposed free choice to abort - by such a man.
Individual pro-life people may be unholy in many ways, but those who seek to provide protection for all innocent human life are nevertheless, participants in a holy and just cause. The obvious truth, (except to him who will not see,) is that the intentional ripping of an innocent human being from the sanctity of her mother's womb is one of the more unholy, unjust, and unnatural actions ever devised by human kind! This, all the demagoguery in the world cannot obscure.
The editor of the editorial page of the Journal Star wrote the following explanation of her refusal to print the above response to the personal attacks of Mr Smith that they printed.
Dear Mr. Dillard
Our Forum policy allows for one letter, one response by the same individuals. The Forum is to be a place for the exchange of opinions, not personal arguments that go back and forth on end.
We recieve two of three times as many letters as we have room to print. We thought your original letter merited printing, as did Mr. Smith's response.
If you have comments you would like to address to Mr. Smith, please mail them to me in a sealed envelope. I will be happy to pass them on to him, unopened.
Barbara Mantz Drake - Editorial page editor
Since the Star itself obviously allowed the personal arguement to begin which Ms Drake explictly says is not the purpose of the Forum, this letter required a response to point out to Ms Drake the manifest inconsistancy of her position.
Dear Ms Drake:
I was glad to receive a response to my inquiry and since it was exactly what I had expected - I was not really that disappointed.
As one who enjoys having my intelligence insulted, I was delighted to know that you wish me to believe there is a shortage of space for all the letters you receive. I notice that the Star varies in the number of pages daily, and is often full of material of dubious value to many readers. This leads me to believe that someone in charge at the Star decides the length and content of the paper each day, and that any restriction on the amount of space allotted to the Forum is a function of free choice on their part. Furthermore, if as you say you print a third to half of the letters you receive, I would guess that allowing 2-3 times the space that you do now (some days you only print one letter,) would only increase the size of your paper 2-3 pages a week. Since the forum is arguably one of the most interesting features of the Star, an increase in size and liveliness of debate would only tend to attract more readers. Therefore, I am left to wonder about the real motivation for restricting the influence of one of the few opportunities for reasoned free speech available in our area.
(Could it be that you know that an open debate on a level playing field uncensored by the elitist keepers of the gateway like yourselves is deadly to the pro-choice position, as well as many other politically correct, establishment values which your paper espouses?)
I am pleased you found my original letter to merit printing. Given your consistent pro choice editorial position over the past several years, that speaks well of the letter's content. I am curious however as to what in the "response" of Mr. Smith led you to feel it of equal merit?
Where is the merit in the use of the pejorative label, UNHOLY CRUSADER? This kind of personal attack in other contexts is usually termed HATE SPEECH or the "politics of personal destruction" by those of you in the establishment media!
Where is the merit in the following false syllogisms? (I will parse them from Mr. Smith's response for you since apparently the logical fallacies are not immediately apparent to you.)
1 Mr. Dillard is against abortion.
Some women are for abortion
Therefore, Mr. Dillard is against all women.
2 Mr. Dillard says that vets have not fought for abortion rights
Abortion is one important right for some women
Therefore, Mr. Dillard says that vets have not fought for any rights for any women.
Both of these points which Mr. Smith tried to make, prove to be untrue inferences designed to cast further aspersions on his intended target, their only merit being that of all ad homonym attacks - excellent tools of propaganda.
Finally, what is the merit of that classic example of the BIG LIE, that oft repeated claim that you and I and Mr. Smith all know to be a big lie - that millions of women have died because of complications from illegal abortion.
Could it be that the merit you see in Mr. Smith's letter of personal attack, equivocation, and outright falsehood, is that it serves well the pro-choice editorial position of the Star?
Mr. Smith and others will continue to assist you in this game - never going first, but waiting for someone to open their heart to offer some thoughts on the plight of the unborn - waiting to attack and to get the last word on the matter because you arbitrarily end the exchange. Thus your Forum ceases to be a place for the exchange of ideas as you say, and becomes instead the very thing you wish it not to be, a place for, (howbeit one-sided,) personal arguments.
What a way to advance free speech!
The extremely frustrating thing for this writer and others was that the Star has been willing to publish a personal attack letter targeted by name at one of their readers, but will not publish a defense of name and character by the one who was personally maligned. No paper is under any obligation to print personal derogatory statements in the first place, but once done, the Star should give the opportunity to respond to public personal slander, or apologize for being a party to the publication of such personal attack and the lasting impression left by the silence the Star imposes, that the pro abortion propaganda is so correct that the pro life person could not think of anything to say!
Indeed, the Star's policy discourages writers of original letters and encourages every one to sit back and take personal shots at those foolish enough to speak first! Talk about promoting dialogue and exchange of ideas!
Please continue to write letters to the editor of your local newspaper -and be sure to respond to any pro-abortion letter you see in the Journal Star, for if they follow their policy, you will get the last word! And send us any pro life letters to the editor that you write - we will put them on our web site in their unedited form.