Who was James Pouillon?

Does the name James Pouillon ring a bell to you?

How about George Tiller?

My guess is that far more people will recognize the name of Tiller, the Wichita abortion doctor, murdered at the end of May 2009 than that of Mr. Pouillon, the anti-abortion protestor murdered September 11, 2009. A Lexis-Nexis search for the two men’s names returned 422 hits for Tiller in major U.S. and world publications. How many for Pouillon? Can you believe 13?

I will grant that Tiller’s murder deserved somewhat more coverage. He was, after all, a medical doctor. Pouillon was a mere human being and therefore less worthy of the attention. Tiller was gunned down inside his church, while Pouillon was shot outside a school. (Oddly, Harland Drake, the killer of Pouillon, claimed to be motivated by the lurid signs the protester carried outside a school. Apparently the pair of bodies he left were preferable to graphic signs.) Perhaps most significantly, Tiller had gained previous notoriety as a target of anti-abortion protests. I truly do expect that his killing would gain more attention, but 32 times as much?

Scott Roeder, the convicted killer of Tiller, is mentioned in 233 articles. Harland Drake’s name shows up in not a single article. Granted, Drake was only sentenced a little over two months ago. Perhaps some of those major news outlets have not gotten around to the story just yet.

While one can spin this disparate coverage in any desired direction, the bottom line seems fairly obvious. By a gigantic margin, our journalism establishment finds the murder of an abortion provider to be more significant than that of an abortion protester. Or perhaps the press simply does not desire to cover a story that runs counter to the grand narrative they like to advance.

Regardless, if you don’t know who James Pouillon was, it’s really not your fault.