A couple of days ago, I noted that a a Chicago Catholic church had hosted an appearance by hatemonger Louis Farrakhan, including some laudatory words by the pastor, Fr. Michael Pfleger.
Now Pfleger finds himself in the news again with his public comments advocating that a gun shop owner and some legislators be “snuffed” out.
During a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition protest at Chuck’s Gun Shop & Range on Saturday, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina’s Church, threatened to “snuff” shop owner John Riggio.[…]
Pfleger then turns his attention to Riggio. “He’s the owner of Chuck’s. John Riggio. R-i-g-g-i-o. We’re going to find you and snuff you out … you know you’re going to hide like a rat. You’re going to hide but like a rat we’re going to catch you and pull you out. We are not going to allow you to continue to hide when we’re here …”
“We’re going to keep coming back, and like Reverend Jackson says, it takes civil disobedience, if it takes whatever it takes … we’re going to snuff out John Riggio, we’re going to snuff out legislators that are voting … and we are coming for you because we are not going to sit idly. Keep on fighting, people. Keep on fighting, keep on fighting.”
On the face of it, the bald meaning of the word “snuff” is to kill. Was Pfleger calling for the murder of Riggio or state legislators? Probably not. But would every person at the rally, including every potentially unstable person, know that? Al Sharpton and the victims of the Freddy’s Fashion Mart killings know how inflammatory (no pun intended) language can have unintended consequences.
So assuming that Plfeger used some inadvisable speech, he’s still guilty of imprudence and of inciting others to acts of violence. The fact that he’s associating with known race-baiters, hoaxers, extortionists, and hatemongers should be a red flag. That he’s a Catholic priest and pastor in apparent good standing in Chicago is a scandal to all the faithful. I hope Cardinal George takes this seriously.