Sunday, October 24, 2010

Repost: Words have consequences

Note: This is a repost of an earlier post, originally posted May 31st last year, shortly after Dr. Tiller had been murdered. The original post is the most widely linked post I've ever posted, and the most with most comments. I am reposting it now because of Rachel Maddow's documentary on The Assassination of Dr. Tiller, since that would again raise the issue of how the dangerous rhetorics of anti-choice organizations contributes to an environment where some people feel that it is acceptable to kill doctors who do their duty to women.

In my last post, I shared the news that Dr. George Tiller has been murdered. I have absolutely no doubt this happened because of his willingness to do his job as a doctor and provide late-term abortions to his patients.

Now I see that Operation Rescue, an anti-choice organization, which has tried to stop Dr. Tiller in the past through lawsuits, have put up a post denouncing the murder.

It has been learned today that George Tiller was shot and killed while entering his church on Sunday morning, May 31.

Operation Rescue releases the following statement:

We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down. Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

This is an understandable reaction, but it doesn't absolve Operation Rescue of guilt.

One of David Neiwert's points in the Eliminatorists is that dehumanizing of people allows other people to commit atrocities against them, and Operation Rescue has been very busy dehumanizing Dr. Tiller indeed.

I took a screenshot of their denouncing the murder, and posted it below (click on it to see a larger version).

If you look closely at the image, you might notice a image in the lower right corner saying "America's Doctor of Death" bearing an image of the face of a man wearing spectacles. That man is Dr. Tiller, and clicking on the image on their website brings you to a category under their website called "Tiller watch" (the URL is

Calling someone "America's Doctor of Death" is dehumanizing him to an extreme degree, allowing people to ignore the fact that he is a person, which again allows people to do things like murdering him. Operation Rescue might not have pulled the trigger on Dr. Tiller, but they created an environment, where someone could pull the trigger on him.

Update: Jill Filipovic has written a piece in the Guardian which explains my sentiment a lot better: Who killed George Tiller?

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Foreigners moving to Denmark should be beware of church tax

In Denmark members of the state church (Folkekirken) pays church tax, which is collected from their pay checks together with other tax. The church tax depends on what municipality you live in, but in 2008 it was on average 0.8756% of your income. Considered that the average income for people who received a wage in 2008 was 284,065 kr. (approx. $53000), this amounts to more than 2000 kr. per year (approx. $375).

That's a fairly large amount of money going to the churches (on top of the money getting channeled from other taxes), but it is presumable acceptable if you're a member of the state church.

But what if you're not?

Well, in Denmark, church membership is tracked by a central register, or rather the central register, so for most Danes that's not really an issue. People who are baptized are members of the state church (at least until they actively leaves the church), while those who are not baptized aren't members (even though mistakes have been known to happen).

But what if you're not born in Denmark?

Well, if you live in Denmark, you will be registered in the central registry, based upon information you have provided when moving to Denmark. Theoretically this would mean that you won't pay any church taxes if you don't indicate that you're a member of the Danish state church (a check box on the form).

But this is only theoretically the case. The truth is, that many, perhaps even most, foreigner gets registered as member of the state church, and thus pays church taxes. I know several people this has happened to - in my last job it had happened to both a Norwegian and an Indian colleague of mine, none of which are members of the Danish state church (or any other state church for that matter).

So, if you're a foreigner who has moved to Denmark, make sure to check that you're not registered as a member of the Danish states church. If you are, make sure to complain to the municipality straight away, so you don't end up paying church taxes. If you already have paid church taxes, make sure to complain to the tax department, so you can get the money refunded - this might not be easy, so the earlier you discover your unwilling membership, the better.

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