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...

1 comment:

Dan said...

I think your reaction is probably typical of all of us lucky enough to live in the Western World - we like unpleasantness sanitised [I'm British by birth, hence the UK spelling]: our hamburgers come in nice containers so we are not inconvenienced thinking about the abattoirs involved in the process; TV news editors censor distasteful images for us; even our death penalty is made to appear more humane. As far as possible we want someone else to deal with unpleasantness (an ethos summed up nicely by Homer Simpson's campaign slogan for refuse commissioner: "Can't someone else do it?"). So it's natural that when someone smashes our rose-tinted shades we are outraged.

As adults, if we are going to take a view on abortion it is incumbent on us to know what abortion entails; hiding from this duty is cowardly and dishonest. Was that picture you saw a murdered child or just the result of a surgical procedure? You have to weigh up the evidence and arguments and decide, but shooting the messenger is just an excuse not to face up to the difficult questions.

You seem to be arguing the narrow definition of "genocide" (albeit the one that Lemkin initially proposed); but this is, of course, not the definition that was incorporated into the Convention for the Prevention and the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by the UN in 1948, which is the more widely accepted definition.

Your argument re the definition of "pro-abortion" is slightly illogical: you claim an absolute, i.e. if one is described as "pro-abortion", one must always be in favour of all abortions and advocate prematurely aborting all pregnancies: this is specious reasoning. If your reasoning were to be extended, and one was to be described as "pro-choice" (a term you seem to prefer) then one would be in favour of all choices; this is illogical as choices may be mutually exclusive and the choice of one individual can inhibit the choice of another. Who decides which choice prevails?

I do agree with you inasmuch as the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" are clumsy, inaccurate shorthand terms: there are those who are anti-abortion, but in favour of the death penalty; equally, abortion obviously denies the right of an aborted individual an entire lifetime of making choices. It is therefore more honest to use the terms "pro-abortion" and "anti-abortion", to avoid the euphemisms on both sides.

You talk about not having heard about the woman's right to choose: surely a child has a right too? If that child is female, anti-abortionists are protecting women's rights at a much earlier stage in life. Pro-abortionist activists have deemed that one life takes priority over another ; they try to argue that the foetus is not a real or "viable" person, but they are inconsistent about defining when the foetus becomes a real or viable person - in some states and countries it is a few weeks after conception, in other places it can be right up until the second before birth. Exactly at what time during pregnancy does the foetus become a baby?

Many anti-abortion activists also fundraise to support schemes that will allow mothers to have their babies and support them. There are many schemes across the USA, Canada, Europe and Africa that will give the mother financial aid, emotional support, housing, counselling etc to raise their children, they will also arrange for the baby to be adopted or fostered if the mother feels that she could not cope with a baby.

I'm not sure about your comments re rape, as I do not know what the argument put to you was, so cannot comment on whether or not it was synecdochic. Rape is an evil crime, but the person who should be punished is the perpetrator: no-one else. Why should the child be punished and denied life because of the sins of the father? The child is equally as innocent as the woman. Some anti-abortion campaigners believe that rape can be an exception; although I believe that position to be inconsistent and fundamentally wrong.

You say that the pro-choice camp has lots of counter examples, and I would have responded to them if you had presented them.

You also say that what annoyed you was that there was no substance to the campaign, yet you have obviously been moved enough to think through the issues and write a blog on it and I have been moved enough to, perhaps it wasn't so lifeless after all.

Best regards,