In his column in the Wall Street Journal this morning, Thomas Frank tells the story of how former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline appealed to his supporters for donations to help him cover his debts from his legal battles with the late Dr. George Tiller as Kline repeatedly attempted to prosecute him for performing illegal abortions.
Unfortunately for Kline, his appeal reached people’s mailboxes after Dr. Tiller was murdered, allegedly by an extreme anti-abortion activist, Scott Roeder. This made his appeals to not let liberals “silence the truth by silencing the messenger [Kline]” rather awkward, to say the least.
Kline appears in our movie, campaigning for re-election on populist appeals against the malign influence of Dr. Tiller and his allies. Kline ultimately lost his bid, a signature defeat for conservatives in Kansas. Kline is now a visiting professor at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Jerry Falwell.
Tiller’s murder points out the dangers when apocalyptic rhetoric is taken literally – not just, obviously, for the victims of violence, but also for the movement which the violence discredits.