Talmudic Analysis: Is Bill O'Reilly Responsible for the Terrorist Murder of Dr. George Tiller?

By the simplest Talmudic analysis, yes, TV newsman Bill O'Reilly is responsible for the terrorist murder of Dr. George Tiller.

It's almost a syllogism.
1. Anyone who is engaged in the pursuit of killing someone falls into the Talmudic category - "Rodef" - pursuer - and you can kill that person to save the life of the person being targeted.

2. On the air, Bill O'Reilly identified Dr. George Tiller as, "Tiller the Baby Killer" i. e., as a full-fledged Talmudic Rodef who is engaged in killing babies.

3. Thereby O'Reilly gave his sanction to others to kill Dr. Tiller.
Now to be completely Talmudic, you rightfully may reply to this with what appears at first to be a valid counterargument.

You may say - aha - that the abortionist himself is the Talmudic Rodef because he is engaged in killing babies - and it should therefore be sanctioned to kill him.

The weakness of this argument is however dramatic and clear.

The Talmud does not deem a foetus to be a person. Nor does American law. So a doctor who performs abortions cannot be classified as a Rodef.

[Brad Hirschfield on Beliefnet discusses issues related to these arguments in his post, "Killing Doctors Who Perform Abortions: A Jewish Perspective." Psst. We like it better when a writer doesn't give a "perspective" and rather offers greater clarity on an issue.]

Accordingly our decision of law in Talmudic terms must be that Bill O'Reilly bears responsibility for falsely labeling Dr. Tiller a Rodef and for thereby causing his death.

In a further step of Talmudic analysis, it remains to be determined if O'Reilly, after falsely accusing Tiller of being a Rodef, thus leading to his ultimate murder, himself became a Rodef - a pursuer of Dr. Tiller - attempting to cause his death.

If that were the case, it would have been permissible for someone, say perhaps Keith Olbermann, to act against O'Reilly and kill him first before he caused the death of Dr. Tiller.

We are glad that Olbermann speaks up against the O'Reillys of our world and does not go out and commit violence.

We want to make this clear. In this blog - on Talmudic or on any other religious or logical grounds - we do not sanction acts of vigilante terrorist violence.

1 comment:

Richard said...

The concept of "Din Rodef" - I believe - relates to self-defense; it is the duty of the Jew to stop (without risking his life) a pursuer intent on killling another person.

O'Reilly's remarks are certainly inflamatory but they do not constitute (in and of themselves) an act of violence theatening someone's life. In the case of Dr. Tiller's murder, that responsibility lies with his murderer; the person who commited the act. O'Reilly did not order the doctor's death, nor did he premeditate it.

I am no fan of O'Reilly, but this is simply a case of free speech.