THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS
HEROD, the Bloody, slew all under two. A modern Moloch, a creature of
lust and blood, disguised often under the cloak of respectability,
stalks through a Christian land denying the babe the right to be born
at all, demanding that it be crushed as soon as conceived. There is
murder and murder; but this is the most heartless, cowardly and brutal
on the catalogue of crime.
It is bad enough to cut down an enemy, to shoot him in the back; but
when it comes to slaying a victim as helpless as a babe, incapable of
entering a protest, innocent of all wrong save that of existing; when
even baptism is denied it, and thereby the sight of God for all
eternity; when finally the victim is one's own flesh and blood, the
language of hell alone is capable of qualifying such deeds.
Do not say there is no injustice. Every innocent human being, at every
stage of its existence, from the first to the last, born or unborn, has
a natural and inalienable right to live, as long as nature's laws
operate in its favor. Being innocent it cannot forfeit that right. God
is no exceptor of persons; a soul is a soul, whether it be the soul of
a pontiff, a king or a sage, or the soul of the unborn babe of the last
woman of the people. In every case, the right to live is exactly the
The circumstances, regular or irregular, of its coming into life, not
being of its own making, do not affect the right in the least. It
obeyed the law by which every man is created; it could not disobey, for
the law is fatal. Its presence therefore, cannot be morally obnoxious,
a crime on its part. Whether its presence is a joy or a shame, that
depends solely on the free act of others than itself; and it is for
them to enjoy the privilege or bear the disgrace and burden. That
presence may occasion poverty, suffering, it may even endanger life;
what if it does! Has a person in misfortune the right to strike down
another who has had no part in making that misfortune?
Life does not begin at birth, but precedes it; prenatal life is truly
life. That which is conceived, is; being, it lives as essentially as a
full-grown man in the prime of life. Being the fruit of humanity it is
human at every instant of its career; being human, it is a creature of
God, has an immortal soul with the image of the Maker stamped thereon.
And the veto of God, "Thou shalt not kill," protects that life, or it
has no meaning at all.
The psychological moment of incipient life, the instant marked by the
infusion of soul into body, may furnish a problem of speculation for
the savant; but even when certitude ends and doubt begins, the law of
God fails not to protect. No man who doubts seriously that the act he
is about to perform is a crime, and is free to act or not to act, is
anything but a criminal, if he goes ahead notwithstanding and does the
deed. If I send a bullet into a man's head doubting whether or not he
be dead, I commit murder by that act, and it matters not at all in
point of fact whether said person were really dead or not before I made
sure. In the matter, therefore, which concerns us here, doubt will not
make killing justifiable. The law is: when in doubt, do not act.
Then, again, as far as guilt is concerned, it makes not a particle of
difference whether results follow or not. Sin, you know, is an act of
the will; the exterior deed completes, but does not make, the crime. If
I do all in my power to effect a wrong and fail in the attempt through
no fault of my own, I am just as guilty before God as if I perpetrated
the crime in deed. It is more than a desire to commit sin, which is
sinful; it is a specific sin in itself, and in this matter, it is
murder pure and simple.
This applies with equal force to the agent who does the deed, to the
principal who has it done or consents to its being done, to those who
advise, encourage, urge or co-operate in any way therein, as well as to
those who having authority to prevent, neglect to use it. The stain of
blood is on the soul of every person to whom any degree of
responsibility or complicity can be attached.
If every murderer in this enlightened Christian land of ours received
the rope which is his or her due, according to the letter of the law,
business would be brisk for quite a spell. It is a small town that has
not its professional babe-slaughterer, who succeeds in evading the law
even when he contrives to kill two at one time. He does not like to do
it, but there is money in it, you know; and he pockets his unholy blood
money without a squirm. Don't prosecute him; if you do, he will make
revelations that will startle the town.
As for the unnatural mother, it is best to leave her to listen in the
dead of night to the appealing voice of her murdered babes before the
tribunal of God's infinite justice. Their blood calls for vengeance.
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