James Taranto yesterday lambasted Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but did so by creating a rather tenuous moral connection between assassination and abortion.

We agree that Chavez is a menace, but give us a break. Religious conservatives argue (to take an example) that embryonic stem-cell research is wrong because the sanctity of nascent life is absolute and thus outweighs any possible benefits. But Robertson is willing to countenance assassination because it is "easier" and "cheaper" than other ways of bringing about a desired outcome? It goes to show that one can be religious without being morally serious.

That's basically the same non sequitur used to try to link abortion with the death penalty. Despite Mr. Taranto's assumption, most religious conservatives make clear distinctions between killing the innocent, killing the guilty, and killing the dangerous or threatening. I'm not saying I think we should assassinate anyone in particular, but if war against Venezuela were justified (which I have no opinion on, being uninformed about the matter), then assassinating Hugo Chavez, if his death alone would resolve the matter, would be a far better solution than ground combat. If we can kill soldiers, why should the lives of leaders be sacrosanct? Presidents aren't civilians in the traditional sense, because they have ultimate command authority over the military.

Update:
Francis W. Porretto says Chavez has earned a dirt nap:

Someone should thoroughly ventilate Hugo Chavez, without delay. Indeed, when I was young and hale, I would have volunteered to do it. The Venezuelan people are among the best folk in Latin America; they deserve to be free.

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