Though under current conditions it’s unlikely that any legal culpability will ever be proven, it’s always been clear that the assassination of Dr. George Tiller one year ago today wasn’t exactly the act of a single demented nutjob. Scott Roeder has a longstanding association with the farthest whacked out fringes of the anti-abortion movement, many of whom openly and unabashedly advocate violence against abortion providers or have proudly committed it themselves. It’s a nest of cockroaches that only scatter when one of them actually kills someone.
Arguing against the “lone wolf” theory, Ms. Magazine uses a Venn diagram to show overlap between the wheels of the frenzied fascist machine in which Roeder was a just another greasy little cog:
In international terrorism cases, in organized crime cases, even in drugtrafficking cases, conspiracy charges can be filed when two or more people enter into an agreement to commit an unlawful act. In fact, of the 159 people convicted of international terrorism by the U.S. since 9/11, more than 70 percent were sentenced for conspiracy (or for “harboring” terrorists). Once a person becomes a member of the conspiracy, she or he is held legally responsible for the acts of other members done in furtherance of the conspiracy, even if she or he is not present or aware that the acts are being committed.
The government does not have to prove that conspirators have entered into any formal agreement. Because they are trying to hide what they are doing, criminal conspirators rarely do such things as draw up contracts. Nor does the government have to show that the members of the conspiracy state between themselves what their object or purpose or methods are. Because they are clandestine, criminal conspirators rarely discuss their plans in a straightforward way. The government only has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the members of a conspiracy, in some implied way, came to mutually understand they would attempt to accomplish a common and unlawful plan.
If anti-abortion terrorism was prosecuted the same way as Islamic terrorism, Scott Roeder would likely have some company in the pen. Until that happens, these networks of brainless scum have little to lose by encouraging anyone among them who might be so inclined to Get It On.