Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stupid Pro-Life Dumbnuts

Yeah that's right. I said it. Though I have to now qualify that title: stupid prolife dorktards trying to have public "discussion" at UCSB today. Let me give you a run down.

You're walking to class. You're listening to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" because you're having a good time. Because you're like a shooting star leaping through the sky like a tiger defying the laws of gravity. Because you are like a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva and burning through the sky at hundred degrees (and that's why they call you Mr. Farenheit). You look around at the beautiful weather and the sun and (pretend you're a guy), the oodles of young nubile female skin on display. You're thinking life is good. You see a lot of happy faces around. You see a picture of a bloody foetus. Yay! Happy happy joy joy!

Now of course, these were posters on a big pro-life display with various activists in front of them telling you what a terrible person you are for not stopping genocide and the murder of innocent children. Shouldn't a man take responsiblity if he rapes a woman?

Whooooaaaaaaaaaaa. Let's go through that slowly.

First of all, media used for shock value very rarely stands up to scrutiny. They rarely convey the true meaning of whatever cause they supposedly bring attention to and at their worst, which is often, they throw the rhetoric of "the cause" into suspicion. If pro-life activist believe that "the truth" is that every abortion leads us one step closer to desecration of all that is holy and apocalypse, then why can't they argue that point? Why must they throw a dead foetus in your face?

Second of all, there's no such thing as pro-abortion. If pro-life means that all foetuses must be allowed to live than it follows that pro-abortion means that all foetuses must be aborted. Short of those who would like the complete extinction of the human race, I don't think there are many pro-abortion supporters. It's a matter of semantics but when dealing with pro-life activists such as those I encountered today, it seems to be just that.

For example: genocide. How is abortion genocide? Even if you somehow take away the known associations of the word with the massacre of an entire race of people and equate "race" with the category of "foetus", you still have to kill all foetuses to warrant the word "genocide". If one inststs further that no, it's not genoicde of all foetuses but it IS genocide since all aborted foetuses die, then what is the inherent difference between a foetus that is about to be aborted and one that is not? Calling abortion "genocide" is not only inaccurate, it's manipulative. There is no other possible explanation for using such a word when the users know full well the horrific but non sequitur implications. No, I take it back, there is one other explanation. Whoever came up with those signs calling abortion "genocide" is clinically mentally retarded. Yeah right, I wish.

Then there's the matter of what the activists talked about: in a 30minute discussion, not once did I ever hear the issue of a woman's right to choose come up. The inherent difference between pro-life and pro-choice is that one gives every woman the right to choose while the other says to every woman "no, we know better. It is NEVER better to have an abortion." Now, I concede that there are situations where it IS better not to have an abortion but I can't imagine that it would be the case for EVERY situation for EVERY woman EVERYWHERE. So why aren't the pro-life activists spending time trying to prove me wrong? Why aren't they trying to prove that their choice is the right choice for EVERY woman in EVERY case for ALL time EVERYWHERE?

Instead, I heard talk about rape. About how women should have the child and that the man responsible should take responsiblity. How does this have anything to do with the core issue of choice or no choice? If anything, the case of rape is a better point for pro-choice people. It's easy to construct a situation where the rapist is unable to be found and where the woman is not financially or emotionally stable to have a child. What does the pro-life activists say about this case? From what I heard, they offer an idealistic candy-coated story. The man should be found and made to pay they say. Even if the man can't be found, a support network should be established for these women, they say. Where is that support network then? What happens if abortion is made illegal?

And why are we talking about rape anyway? Because the pro-life activists are somehow trying to establish rape as a case where abortion is not good at all and therefore abortion should be banned. What? That's like arguing that since there is one student at a college who got an F, all students at said colleges shouldn't be allowed to take classes because they're retards anyway. There is absolute no collection between the minority case and a blanket statement about all cases. That's a synechdochal convenience that should never be made.

In essence, the concept of pro-life is NOT equal and opposite to pro-choice and it is fighting an uphill battle. The concept of pro-choice is like a mathematical theorem. It says being pregnant = you should have the child in every case with no exceptions. A theorem can be disproved by finding a flaw in its internal logic or by finding a counterexample. In this case, the pro-choice camp have lots and lots of counterexamples they are throwing at the pro-life people and I have yet to hear a convincing argument from the pro-lifers that covers EVERY CONCEIVABLE CASE of a woman being pregnant and the situations surrounding that case. Why don't the pro-choice people have to go through this rigorous defense? Because they do not aspire to an absolute in the first place.

What about exceptions I can hear pro-lifers say. Maybe exceptions can be made for women with extenuating circumstances. Sure. But then you are admitting that an abortion is SOMETIMES a better option and that opens up a whole can of pro-choice worms. Why those exceptions? Who decides what is an exceptional case and what isn't? Why do those people get to decide? Etc.

In the end though, the main problem with the pro-life activists and display I saw today wasn't their pro-life argument. Sadly, I didn't hear much of that at all. What was problematic was the manipulative and empty way in which the activists tried to recruit people to their camp. It wasn't about the babies, it wasn't about abortion, and it wasn't about rape. It was about being pro-life and only about "being pro-life". There was no content behind it, no real philosophical or moral agenda. When a campaign comes of this empty, this lifeless, what is the point? Perhaps it's time to abort some of these events and think them over...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Something 2

Back when the net was still somewhat fractured according to geopolitical boundaries, several organizations sprung up. Most active among them was the EIO and the AIO, the Internet Organizers of the European and Asian continents. It could even be said that they were the only organizations that took themselves seriously as the most powerful net entity of them all, the United States, uncharacteristically chose to sit out the battle for the future of standards. It turned out to be a good decision, of course, since the AIO and EIO had to settle their differences before any progress could be made. As a stepping stone towards a worldwide organization, the AIO and the EIO decided to merge and form a broader union of internet organizers. The unfortunate name of this name organization would have been the Asian-European Internet Organizers Union. Whenever talk of the AEIOU came up, Ethan could count on somebody from his team to deliver a groaner. It has even become somewhat of a party tradition. Even at the last party, Winston was discussing the finer points of the history of the internet with Julia when Mark interrupted in all seriousness and offered "You know there's one blatant thing that the AEIOU forgot right?"

"No," answered Winston earnestly, "though I think they were shortsighted on many issues."

"But the most important and obvious item," insisted Mark and let his words trail off to build tension. He enjoyed this.

"I give up," said Winston and before his lips even closed to form the "p", Mark, quivering with anticipation, screamed "The only thing they forgot is why! Y! You get it?!" The groan from Winston and Julia was clearly audible across the room and Mark walked away beaming like a father who has just seen his son attempt his first steps...and fall. They were new. They'd appreciate the experience eventually.

Ethan smiled despite himself and decided that maybe going to the party wasn't such a bad idea after all. There are quite a few new recruits to the team and none of them had yet been hazed by such a bad pun yet. Maybe this time the leader himself would break in the senses of humor of his subordinates. "Or just break them," Ethan thought a hint of playful malice.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Something 1

There was no reason why Ethan couldn't make it to the party. In fact, he had every reason to be there: there were people to schmooze, booze to drink, and women to ogle, though that last item may not have gone over so well with Jasmine who through 9 years of relatively blissful marriage had learned to accept, if not be comfortable with, this little sin. After all, Ethan was a gallantly capable husband in most other situations and he had a way with words such that he had successfully sold proverbial snow to the trite and obviously foolish Eskimo. Not that Jasmine would ever buy anything that Ethan so glibly and casually marketed day in and day out. His specialties included elaborate excuses, preposterous propositions, and he was currently advertising a sale on whatever it was that justified him ogling women in front of his wife.

Ethan's male friends and coworkers also disapproved of his wandering eye but for different reasons as their own eyes were more often than not drawn to Jasmine. Ethan's female friends and coworkers also disapproved of his wandering eye, though for the same reason as Jasmine. "The Guys" and "The Girls," then, got along quite well in no small part due to Ethan. Despite divergent reasons, the stories about Ethan and his seemingly carelessly cavalier attitude towards life was a frequent topic of conversation. It was a good group of friends that the couple had though and Ethan especially enjoyed the camaraderie and humor that permeated most of their social gatherings.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rich Man's Burden

Don't let that title fool you. I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I do OK within my social/economic context though, which is that of a starving graduate student. So I'm not uncle moneybags (though I have been called that once) but I indulge in some luxuries. In fact, I take back my sentence before last: I'm doing horribly as a starving graduate student. For one thing, I'm not really starving.

When I started as a graduate student, I had a standard 4 door saloon. Oops, too much British television lately. Make that a 4 door sedan. It got me around fine, had room for friends, and didn't break down much. Over the years, though in reality just one, I've abandoned that car for a convertible and all of a sudden, every thing is more expensive. This is to be expected, of course, since the better engine, wheels, brakes, suspension, transmission, and car in general costs more to maintain. But that's not really it.

The main reason why I feel my fancy schmancy please-don't-think-I-have-a-small-Richard car is so much more maintenance-heavy, expensive, and "unreliable" than my old car is that I unconsciously hold it to a higher standard. Something like a Toyota Everyone-Else's-Car LX is a means of transportation but a BMW I'///M-Compensating Roadster, let's say, is more fun and personal expression. Can anyone blame me for wanting to keep my automotive phallus in tip top shape? Speaking of which, I think I need to take it in for a wash. It's getting dirty >)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Responsiblity to Posterity

The "erosion of the English language" that is going on in America, as if we spoke "English" in the first place, is often attributed to the internet, or a lack of high educational standards, or a lack of good teachers, etc. etc. et cetera. The people making these attributions, all the while, sit in their ivory tower sniffing brandy, quoting Faulkner, holding entire conversations with nostrils pointed at others, and making the same mistakes. I am no less guilty in some ways, since I also live in an ivory studio, partake in good scotch, quote the Simpsons (the highest of high class humor), and talk with my butt facing people behind me. Close enough. But I do try to watch my grammar and what I write.

The decline of the English language in America can not really be blamed entirely on the stupid students. If a student sees, in a university setting, a professor confusing "it's" for "its" and "weight" for "wait", that student will take on an intuitive psychological justification for not paying attention to his or her own words. Sure, said example professor can probably write correctly for a publication. "It's just a lecture," the thought goes, "so why sweat the small stuff."? In this case, the small stuff has fairly large implications. Sweat the small stuff, because if you don't, all that sweat is going to build up and we're going to have a stinking chunk of an English language in no time at all.

Remember kids: It's not its!