News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2005


Rudolph gives bad name to pro-lifers, murderers

Killing innocent people is wrong. Trying to justify that killing as retribution on a society and government that sanctions abortions is demented and still wrong.

In addition to demented and wrong, Eric Rudolph's actions prove him to be a coward.

Mr. Rudolph pleaded guilty Wednesday to four bombings that killed two people and wounded more than 120 more. He seemed proud to admit to U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith in Birmingham that he set a bomb that killed an off-duty police officer and permanently maimed a nurse at an abortion clinic in that city in 1998.

In an Atlanta courtroom, also Wednesday, Mr. Rudolph admitted detonating a homemade bomb filled with nails and screws in the middle of a concert crowd at Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Games. That blast on the international stage amid heavy security killed a woman and wounded 111 other people.

Mr. Rudolph also pleaded guilty to bombing a gay nightclub in Atlanta, wounding five people in 1997, and attacking an office building containing an abortion clinic with two blasts, wounding six more people that same year.

Mr. Rudolph entered the pleas in order to avoid the death penalty and thus spare his own life, admitting both that he committed the acts and that the government had enough evidence to convict him.

In an 11-page statement to reporters after entering the guilty pleas, Mr. Rudolph attempted to justify his actions with Bible verses. He said the Olympic park bombing and the blast at the office building were designed to injure "only uniformed arms-carrying government personnel," but that poor planning on his part botched that strategy.

"I had sincerely hoped to achieve these (objectives) without harming innocent civilians," Mr. Rudolph said.

That is difficult to believe considering the nature of the Centennial Olympic Park bomb.

"I accept full responsibility for the consequences of using this dangerous tactic," Mr. Rudolph said.

Unfortunately, Mr. Rudolph has not accepted full responsibility. If the government he so violently condemns were to abide by Mr. Rudolph's eye-for-an-eye philosophy, it would not have offered this plea bargain and would instead have obtained a conviction and sought the death penalty.

But as part of the agreement, Mr. Rudolph told authorities where to find more than 250 pounds of dynamite buried in North Carolina. Government officials said the explosives were near populated areas and could have become unstable and blown up. Thus, by offering the plea bargain, the government potentially avoided future injuries and deaths at the hands of Mr. Rudolph.

Most pro-life activists are intensely steadfast in their belief that abortion is immoral and unjust. Some act on this belief by protesting at abortion clinics or volunteering at centers that embrace alternative solutions to unwanted pregnancy.

Few are sick enough to carry out the inexcusable and coldly calculating deeds executed by Mr. Rudolph, let alone to do it proudly and without remorse.

And fewer still are so cowardly that they take innocent lives and then make a deal to spare their own.

Regardless of one's stand on the right-to-life vs. right-to-choose issue, one shouldn't paint all pro-life activists with the same brush that composes Mr. Rudolph.

Mr. Rudolph is a disgrace even among murderers.

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