TF: 400 childless pages

Tribulation Force, pp. 1-401

I neglected to mention one other rather important thing the authors neglected to mention following their 18-month leap forward in time.

After the unexplained, instantaneous disappearance of every child on earth the whole world would be desperate to know if it would ever again be possible for women to conceive and bear children. There was no word on this question before the time-skip, as only about six weeks or so had elapsed since the Event. But now, 18 months later, the world would have its answer.

Except the authors don’t mention that answer. Nor does it occur to them to have anyone in their story ask the question.

As far as Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are concerned, this is not a big deal. For them it’s not much of a mystery. The way they see it, the Event was obviously the Rapture, and there’s nothing in their Rapture folklore that would indicate that children could not be conceived and born during the Great Tribulation that follows.

And because they already know that, it doesn’t occur to the authors that this is something the inhabitants of the world of their story wouldn’t already know. Nor does it occur to them that this is something that the readers of their story might be curious about.

And I, for one, am curious about it. The logic of LaHaye’s take on the Rapture and the Great Tribulation would seem to support the idea that more children could be born into this world. If people can be “born again” after LaHaye’s Rapture, then it makes sense to assume that they could be born physically as well. The Rapture, in LaHaye’s mind, is God’s way of sparing the saints and the innocents from the coming wrath, but if Rayford Steele and Buck Williams and the other post-Rapture conversion “Tribulation saints” must then live through (or die in) this period of judgment, then I suppose it’s consistent to have the newly born “Tribulation innocents” have to live through it (or die in it) as well.

The problem is that this undoes LaHaye’s patched-together theodicy — his way of trying to answer the moral objection to his End Times scheme that arises from the idea of a supposedly just and benevolent God pouring out vindictive wrath on a bunch of infants and toddlers. By allowing innocents to be reintroduced to the world of his story, LaHaye reintroduces that objection.

That word “theodicy” is the one theologians use for the biggest question for which they haven’t got a credible answer: the problem of suffering and evil. Briefly, the universe is filled with pain, suffering, death and unrestrained evils. How can such a universe be reconciled with the idea of a Creator who is all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful? This fallen world would seem to suggest that at least one of those attributes is suspect. (No, I do not have a succinct and satisfying solution to this problem either. I think the closest thing we have to a good answer is also the oldest — the story of Job. It has something to do with ostriches.)

That problem is hard enough to wrestle with here in the real world, but it’s much more acute and much thornier in the world of Left Behind. Here in our world, the real world, gravity pulls, flame burns, viruses spread, predators prey and mortals die. That’s how our universe seems to operate and the Almighty has some explaining to do for creating such a place so fraught with pain and suffering. But here, in the reality of our world, our objection and accusation is still a step removed. We object that the universe works the way it does and we question why its Creator couldn’t have put that omniscience and omnipotence to work creating a universe less prone to grinding us in its gears. If the long arc of our universe bends toward justice, it bends too gradually and too slowly.

But in the fictional world of Left Behind, and particularly in this setting of the Great Tribulation, the grievance is much more direct and immediate. In this story, God deliberately and intentionally intervenes for the explicit purpose of causing human suffering. In this story, evil and suffering are miraculous — with LaHaye’s God violating the laws of the universe in order to inflict ever-more extreme forms of pain and death on humans and other creatures. The calamities and injustices that befall the innocents in this story all come directly, deliberately and gleefully from the hand of LaHaye’s God. The universe of Left Behind does not bend toward justice, it is simply bent — twisted, warped and cruel.

LaHaye’s initial attempt to address — or to disguise — that problem was to whisk all the children off to Heaven. Take away all the innocents and the relentless wrath of his petulant God at least seems a bit less indiscriminate. He can reassure his readers that this absence of children means that everyone left on Earth deserves the torment and pain about to be inflicted on them by the hand of God. The absence of children allows him to portray the coming litany of death as a kind of justice.

That never quite worked in the first place. For one thing, children are not the only unaccountable innocents in the world. Should we not be concerned as well with the many people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?

But here we are 18 months into the Great Tribulation. The authors have skipped past the calm before the storm because it is the storm itself that fascinates them. All Hell is about to break loose. Wait, no, scratch that. In this story, the source of all this pain and suffering is not Hell. In this story all Heaven is about to break loose, battering humanity and the rest of creation with earthquakes, hail, famine, pestilence, demon locusts, a supernaturally fiery sun and worse. (In this story, there’s nothing scary about “the valley of the shadow of death,” but “thou art with me” becomes terrifying.)

And by the time all this divine brutality gets started, “18 months later,” the entire world is in the middle of the biggest baby boom of all time. The rapturing away of all the innocent children may as well never have happened, because the trials of LaHaye’s Tribulation are about to be poured out on a world filled with infants.

When it comes to massacring innocents, LaHaye’s God makes Pharaoh and Herod look like a couple of amateurs.

The ultimate status of these children in the universe of Left Behind is a bit strange. The authors have already established their rule of an “age of accountability,” which they’ve set roughly around puberty. Anyone below that age, the authors say, is not culpable for their sins. After the Rapture, there’s only roughly seven years left before the End of the World, so none of the children born post-Event will reach an age much beyond 6.

So the good news for these Tribulation innocents is that none of them will live long enough to eventually be condemned to an eternity in Hell. The bad news is that most of them will be killed in the various divine calamities to come, and the few that somehow survive throughout this poor, nasty, brutish and short span will then have to watch as their parents and most of the adults they know are cast into Hell before their very eyes.

These post-Rapture children are the focus of some of my favorite stories at Right Behind — the fiction site created and written by many of the fine folks who regularly comment here. That collection of stories — some hilarious, some haunting, some moving — arose as an inevitable consequence of the Left Behind books themselves, whose maddeningly incurious authors constantly create inadvertent conflicts and conundrums that they never explore or, as in the case of these post-Rapture children, never even acknowledge. Such situations are the raw material of stories but LaHaye and Jenkins couldn’t be bothered to tell them. They were too distracted by phone calls, status symbols and a prophecy check list that prevents either the authors or their readers from ever wondering what happens next.

Within the story of Left Behind, and here in the pages of Tribulation Force as we try to work our way through it, our unavoidable questions about these children, or about the billions of eerily not-grieving parents in the suddenly childless world after the Event, are a constant distraction that prevents us from getting anywhere in the book itself. The only way to make any progress through the book is to come to some kind of accommodation with the authors’ callous disregard for the massive, heartbreaking suffering ceaselessly unfolding at the periphery of their bland and uninteresting story.

We begin by shouting in protest during our supposed heroes’ first heedless stroll across a tarmac strewn with the dead and the dying. Rayford and Buck tiptoe through the burnt and bloody bodies of the wounded without a second glance and we recoil in horror at their self-centered, self-absorbed monstrosity.

Then we learn about the children and the horror of multiple plane crashes is supplanted by a deeper, pervasive horror that touches every corner of the world the authors have created. Every child is gone. Every boy and girl, every toddler, every infant and even every unborn fetus still in utero. The authors paused to acknowledge that last case, very briefly, but only to try to score points about the politics of abortion. Once they made that point, they lost all interest in the implications of that horror as well. The infants, toddlers and other children did not offer the pretext for such political point-scoring, so their disappearance scarcely registered at all for the authors or their protagonists.

Readers, however, are doubly shocked. Shocked first by the massive anguish that this suddenly childless world would entail. Then shocked again by the oblivious selfishness of the main characters and the authors. “For goodness’ sake,” readers shout. “What about the children?”

And we could go on shouting that after every chapter, every page and every paragraph of every book in this series. That protest never ceases to be necessary and appropriate. But we can’t keep it up if we ever want to get anywhere in the book. We don’t have to approve of the authors’/heroes’ careless disregard for everyone else, but we have to agree at least to stop shouting back at the page and to accept that this is who they are and this is the story they’re trying to tell.

The danger there, of course, is that if we stop shouting — even reluctantly, just to get on with the story — then we begin in a sense to emulate Rayford and Buck and the authors. We agree to ignore what they’re ignoring and, thus, we risk developing the habit of doing so.

This is the insidious moral lesson being taught to readers of Tribulation Force. It is a monstrous and horrifying lesson, and unless readers are very careful, they are in danger of learning it.

In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about people like Rayford and Buck, or like LaHaye and Jenkins:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. …

Fitzgerald, too, was teaching a lesson, but where he was condemning such “vast carelessness” and urging his readers to reject it, that same vast carelessness and destructive disregard for other people are held up as exemplary in the pages of Tribulation Force.

In the following pages, the authors fill us in on all the exciting evangelistic developments that occurred during the 18-month time skip. Tsion, Moses and Elijah have been packing stadiums all over the world. The authors tell us that their message is enthusiastically received, bringing them huge numbers of new converts.

Here we see another way that the authors’ and heroes’ utter lack of curiosity and lack of concern for others influences the story, because the authors don’t ever really tell us what that message is. The prophecy check list says that the witnesses will preach and thousands will convert, so that is what happens in the story. Yet the authors cannot imagine what message these preachers might preach that would strike so many thousands as compelling. Trying to imagine that would involve trying to imagine what other people are thinking, trying to think of them as real people, as human beings worthy of attention and care. And that’s not really something that interests these authors.

So they present us with a scenario in which Tsion is somehow drawing standing-room-only stadium crowds with a warmed-over version of the same “research findings” he presented on his TV show. Not possible.

This is where even one minute of thought about all those missing children could have helped the authors out of a bind. Announce that former rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah will be summarizing his research of ancient texts and you couldn’t realistically expect to sell out the local fire hall. But announce instead that for the first time the public will be told the truth about what really happened to their children and the stadiums would be filled to overflowing.

  • Kish

    I may have communicated badly. I was asking about your concluding statement, “At the moment, I think it is simply best to seek to become better machines.”

    From your perspective, which casts humans as machines, what does it mean for them* to seek to become better machines?

    *Setting aside, for the moment, the vanishingly small number of humans who are likely to not choke on considering themselves machines.

  • Anonymous

    I start ruminating on how the world is basically stacked against women. I
    honestly don’t know how women think about things like this without
    wanting to kick the shit out of every man they see just on general
    principle.

    I have things I want to do with my life that are harder to do when I keep anger constantly simmering.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I honestly don’t know how women think about things like this without wanting to kick the shit out of every man they see just on general principle. One of the frustrations is that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason how all this started. It’s a bit like waking up on a roller coaster midway through the ride and having no memory of even getting in the car. If this were Star Trek, one could imagine an alien species visiting Earth some time in the Stone Age and planting patriarchy through hypnosis in a way that it would be carried on by the culture. And I’m sure I’ve been guilty of harboring sexist attitudes in my life as well – in any culture that would be almost impossible to prevent.

    Hell, as a man I do not know how I stand it either.  Misogyny is one of the things that makes me want to go kick the crap out of other men, or maybe get the crap kicked out of me.  Preferably both at once.  I have a lot of internalized self-hatred as far as gender issues go.  Hell, sometimes I do not know why women even tolerate me to live.  If, in all balance, I cannot measure up to the execting standards they should expect, then I would rather be scrapped in judgement than live with the indignity of being a flawed product. 

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    Actually, Labyrinth Lord is based on the classic boxed set (non-Advanced), but the original clone, of AD&D 1st Edition, is called OSRIC.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Blotzphoto Louis Doench

    I like Penumbra… but it frustrated the heck out of me, I want to try Amnesia this winter… wintertime is videogame time…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Penumbra frustrated me too, at first.  I just could not get past that damned dog in the workshop.  Once I figured out how to pass that bit though, the rest fell into place. 

    I think that they learned a few lessons and applied them to Amnesia, and it has fewer frustrating segments.  The atmosphere feels a lot more oppressive too.  The darkness can hide you, but also drive you mad.  Much of the horror is simply not knowing what is beyond the range of your lantern’s light, and as you burn through your supplies of oil and tinderboxes, it feels as though your life is slowly seeping away.  You have no weapons either, and if something dangerous out there does find you, your only recourse is to run, fleeing in terror, find a dark corner to curl up in, and prey it goes away before it stumbles over you…

  • WingedBeast

    In Brave New World, it was a part of making humans into a product rather than individuals.  The Boskinovski Process caused “budding” of embryos in order to make more and more and more humans from just one fertilized egg.  There was a bit in the beginning about how there was a bit of good-natured competition with other factories about who could produce the most humans from one ovum.

    Depending on how it’s done, it can either be a wonderful way of freeing women from the pains of pregnancy of childbirth or it can be a horrific seperation of humans from humanity.

  • Aiwhelan

    I find it extremely strange to see people who are both prolife AND pro-death penalty.  I was raised Catholic, and there was a lot of emphasis on the idea of “whole cloth” morality- abortion and the death penalty are equally wrong, because we don’t have the right to take life away.  Believing in one and not the other baffles me no end.

  • Shallot

    I’m not much more than a lurker here, but welcome, Ricky–please don’t kill us with sheep.  (traditional Slacktivist greeting) 

    I figured I’d let you know that while Fred does read the comments, he doesn’t reply here.  Usually, if there’s something he wants to say about their/our conversation, he writes a followup post.

    Speaking purely for myself, though, I don’t consider all the depictions of the Old Testament God as having the same weight.  I justify some of it with the New Testament; for example, any themes that Jesus also mentioned get bumped up a couple notches.  (This tends to de-emphasize the vindictive God parts.)  I also think that “(a) God did it” was a common shorthand for things that people of the time didn’t understand.  It shows up all the time in mythology.  I know comparing the Bible to mythology makes fundamentalists twitch, but for me, it’s easier to reconcile a non-literal version of Exodus.  God chooses a poor and oppressed people, and together, they win against the greatest superpower of the time.  The literal version?  God wants the Israelites to leave Egypt, but he *also* makes Pharoah refuse to let them go… so that God’s justified in torturing the innocent civilians of Egypt?  That God’s a *jerk.*  I feel like I should flesh this out more, but it’s late here.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I find it extremely strange to see people who are both prolife AND pro-death penalty.  I was raised Catholic, and there was a lot of emphasis on the idea of “whole cloth” morality- abortion and the death penalty are equally wrong, because we don’t have the right to take life away.  Believing in one and not the other baffles me no end.

    “Life begins at conception and ends at birth” is the pro-choice side’s sour paraphrase of what the “pro-life” movement generally seems to actually believe.

  • Dan W

    Long time reader, first time poster. I must say, I only ever read the first two books of the Left Behind series, and while I tended to sympathize with the designated villains of the story, I didn’t figure out why until I started reading your posts about this. These books really are terribly written. That’s the problem with a lot of books, movies, music, etc. marketed specifically towards Christians- they focus too much on the message and not enough on making a good book, movie, or whatever.

  • http://twitter.com/tallin32 Chris Meredith

    The only people he kills swiftly are the people who love him. … So LB!God is actually Cthulhu?

  • Jenny Islander

    Her mother comes from a culture that embraced human genetic engineering with great enthusiasm, but her mother’s people also believe that human fetuses should be carried in utero.  This has to do with some very bad history surrounding fetuses gestated in vitro, as it were.

  • hf

    At the moment, I think it is simply best to seek to become better machines.

    This seems like a meaningless tautology. People will rightly think you’re trying to sneak your conclusion in through unrelated connotations of these words, although if the people in question don’t know you they’ll have the wrong connotations in mind.

  • hf

    Also, the best explanation I’ve gotten for the “Problem of Suffering” is that God is actually part of Starfleet and is forced to abide by the prime directive.

    Pretty much. But I don’t know what kind of deity that implies.

  • Tom S

    Well, Fred has made the point that (in his view at least) there’s disagreement amongst the writers of the Old Testament- Jonah, as he has pointed out, is a satire on the callous vision of God that a lot of the other books seem to put across. 

    It’s absolutely vital to remember that it’s an anthology of dozens of books written by different writers in different eras, and that the image of God we get is therefore scattered and refracted by dozens of viewpoints- and, even where the stories are meant to be taken literally, they were generally handed down through generations of oral storytellers, all of whom probably emphasized different things in their versions until the stories are more about them then they are about God.

    That’s kind of a cop-out, of course, but it’s also inherent to any piece of literature, holy or not- different storytellers always means contradictions, and you have to find your own path through the story to find what means something to you.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    This seems like a meaningless tautology. People will rightly think you’re trying to sneak your conclusion in through unrelated connotations of these words, although if the people in question don’t know you they’ll have the wrong connotations in mind.

    You might be right, and I am using those words to produce connotations to suggest different perspectives.  I just do not see why those connotations should be necessarily negative.  I could call humans bipedal hominids, and that would still be true.  I could call humans carbon-based lifeforms, and that would still be true.  I could call humans walking bags-of-mostly-water, and that would be true too.

    Part of the deal is that I do not believe that humans should be necessarily assigning different values to machines than they do to themselves, parts of themselves, or other creatures.  There are a lot of things that machines can do that are superior to humans.  And with things like animated, thought-motivated prosthetic limbs or prosthetic eyes and ears, the gap seperating human and machine becomes smaller every year.  Medical technology can already enhance a human body beyond its natural ability to cope (such as recovering from injuries it would never naturally heal from) and brains can be altered in thought process with chemical treatments, or more subtly with less invasive techniques such as education and experience. 

    At some point, there will cease to be a difference.  Why should people try to cling to it?

  • Diona the Lurker

    You’re thinking of the novel The Man who Loved Morlocks by David Lake.

  • Tonio

    I find it extremely strange to see people who are both pro-life AND pro-death penalty.

    For me, saddening but not strange, since their reasoning in both stances is that people need to be kept in line. They seem to define abortion as women trying to evade the consequences of their actions.

  • Tonio

    I have a lot of internalized self-hatred as far as gender issues go. 
    Hell, sometimes I do not know why women even tolerate me to live…

    No need to go that far. I think it’s more reasonable to expect males to regularly check their privilege and to regularly question their assumptions regarding gender. I’ve encountered far too many men who have the persecuted hegemon mentality, and many others who honestly don’t understand how cultures are stacked against females.

  • Anonymous

    I’m opposed to the death penalty because the litigation to keep any given death penalty case from proceeding to actually killing the person is expensive as all hell and it’d be cheaper to keep the person in prison for life, and also because it is kinda hard, once the person is dead, to make restitution should it be discovered that the person was innocent all along. I’m in favor of abortion in any circumstances (with a possible exception for ‘after medical science is capable of simultaneously ending the pregnancy and keeping the baby alive’, which is to say, about twenty-four weeks into the pregnancy assuming a healthy fetus) because under no circumstances should the supposed rights of a protohuman trump the actual rights of an actual human.

  • P_dragon500

    Wasn’t there a post back in the first book titled “Care Less” where Fred basically said the ‘moral’ of the series was “don’t care”?

    I really wonder what it must be like to be around people like L&J.

    Anyone got stories?

  • Kish

    At some point, there will cease to be a difference [between humans and machines].  Why should people try to cling to it?

    Because that claim is extremely questionable, from every perspective but one that presumes that humans exist to serve a super-organism called a “society.”

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    I find it extremely strange to see people who are both prolife AND
    pro-death penalty.  I was raised Catholic, and there was a lot of
    emphasis on the idea of “whole cloth” morality- abortion and the death
    penalty are equally wrong, because we don’t have the right to take life
    away.  Believing in one and not the other baffles me no end.

    It sounds like a contradiction, if one uses the words “I’m pro-life and pro-death,” but its really not.  It’s just a shorthand way of say “Under circumstances X, it is permissible to take a life, but under circumstances Y, it is not.” 

    It would be a contradiction if a person was pro-life in the sense that “It is wrong to take a life at any time, for any reason.”  yet was pro – death penalty.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Because that claim is extremely questionable, from every perspective but one that presumes that humans exist to serve a super-organism called a “society.”

    Which is, of course, ridiculous.  These days, everyone knows that us organic headcount-units exist to serve the super-organisms known as “corporations”.

    :(

  • eyelessgame

    I suspect I believe many of the same things FearlessSon does … but I wouldn’t use the words he’s using, because the words he chooses carry very different connotations to most people.  He is using “Machine” to denote a working physical system, and is apparently not conscious of the negative connotations to that same word that everyone else here (including me) understands.

    When everyone else sees things in your words that you don’t see and didn’t intend, you have not communicated successfully. :)

  • Tom S

    The reason ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-death’ sound contradictory is because they are. ‘Pro-life’ is intended to mean something beyond ‘anti-abortion’, it’s meant to mean that you respect the sanctity of human life so much that you feel that it is worth violating the rights of a mother to preserve what you see as something living. That is incompatible with being pro-death penalty.

  • Anonymous

    In my experience, ‘pro-life’, with few exceptions, never means ‘anti-abortion’ at all. Someone truly opposed to abortion would support comprehensive sex ed and improving access to contraception (both of which mean fewer unwanted pregnancies, which means fewer abortions), better prenatal health care (which means fewer pregnancies going awry, which means fewer abortions), and more support for mothers, especially single mothers (which means fewer women who feel themselves unable to support a child, which means fewer abortions). I can name precisely one person who identifies as pro-life and who supports any of the above. (Hi hapax!)

  • Tom S

    Actually, that’s more or less where my position stands- I identify as pro-life and I find the idea of abortions unsettling, but I think making them illegal is far less useful in maintaining the sanctity of life than the strategies you outline (along with better support for the adoption system, a concerted effort to fight the stigma unwed pregnant women face, etc, etc.) 

    Which reminds me of how revolted I was (along with more or less everyone below the level of Bishop among the Catholics) when the Catholic Church pulled their support from adoption programs in Massachusetts because they legally had to allow gays to adopt. Way to stay focused on what’s important, Archbishop.

  • Anonymous

    I actually wouldn’t consider you pro-life unless you also advocate other forms of bodily donation, including blood at the very minimum.  When people don’t like abortion they tend to only feel that a person has an obligation if they are genetically related to the thing that is considered a life.

    But I guess it’s easier to tell someone else to remain pregnant than to step up and save a life yourself by giving your body.  At least you’re reasonable enough to not want to make abortion illegal, but I still don’t think you’re being consistent.  Why should the uterus be the one thing that makes you uncomfortable for people to choose not to share?

  • Tom S

    Who said I wasn’t? I’m certainly pro-blood and organ donation.

    (And honestly, I don’t think I would feel I had the right to tell a woman what she could or couldn’t do with her fetus. I hate the idea of abortion, but I don’t know that it’s really up to me.)

  • Anonymous

    But would it be “unsettling” to you if someone turned down the chance to donate blood?  Would you “hate the idea” if someone chose not to donate blood?

  • Jenny Islander

    And my response to that is, “A baby is not a consequence.”

    Of course, this neatly explains why people who are against abortions generally scream about welfare queens when issues of supporting the resulting children come up.  If the baby is a punishment, life with the baby should be miserable and painful.  The fact that the baby is suffering for something they don’t like about the mother is immaterial. 

  • Anonymous

    I had a creationist try to explain to me, in apparent earnestness, that T-Rex teeth were well-suited for opening coconuts.

    Priceless.

    Were you able to prevent yourself from laughing?  Because I think I might rupture something inside trying to be polite in the face of so much absurdity.

  • Anonymous

    I had a creationist try to explain to me, in apparent earnestness, that T-Rex teeth were well-suited for opening coconuts.

    Priceless.

    Were you able to prevent yourself from laughing?  Because I think I might rupture something inside trying to be polite in the face of so much absurdity.

  • Tom S

    If someone’s life hung immediately in the balance? Certainly.

  • Tom S

    I mean, it’s not the failure to make a sacrifice part that bothers me, it’s the dying part- if someone dies because they can’t get a kidney transplant, that’s tragic and deeply upsetting, even if it isn’t anyone’s fault in particular. I’m not sure the case that you’re trying to make, that the pro-life aspect only operates when it’s someone you aren’t related to, is particularly relevant.

  • http://apolarity.tumblr.com Adrenalin Tim

    Were you able to prevent yourself from laughing?

    Fortunately it was online, so I neither had to be polite nor refrain from laughing.

    A meme was born.

  • http://apolarity.tumblr.com Adrenalin Tim

    Were you able to prevent yourself from laughing?

    Fortunately it was online, so I neither had to be polite nor refrain from laughing.

    A meme was born.

  • Mark Z.

    T-REX EATS COCONUTS.

    YOU CAN’T EXPLAIN THAT.

  • Tonio

    I suspect that the central disconnect in the abortion debate is that the two sides are generally talking about two different concepts. With exceptions such as the fundamentalists, the “pro-life” side interprets the debate as being whether abortion is right or wrong, with the broad assumption that what is wrong should also be illegal. The “pro-choice” side interprets it as being whether abortion should be legal or illegal, generally leaving the question of right or wrong up to individual conscience. The more reasonable people on both sides generally agree that there should be fewer abortions, but for different reasons. One pro-lifer insisted to me that abortion should be illegal even if this didn’t prevent any abortions, because such a law would be a statement of value. That’s not what laws are for.

  • WingedBeast

    “the “pro-life” side interprets the debate as being whether abortion is right or wrong, with the broad assumption that what is wrong should also be illegal. The “pro-choice” side interprets it as being whether abortion should be legal or illegal, generally leaving the question of right or wrong up to individual conscience.”

    That’s almost it exactly.  And, it’s almost impossible, sometimes, to get pro-choicers to admit it.  I once got into a conversation with someone who was pro-life where I asked if she would favor a law demanding Person A donate blood to save the life of Person B. if the injury in question was due to an accident caused by Person A.

    Her response was “ofcourse Person A. should donate the blood.”  I kept on saying “I’m not asking if he should, I’m asking if you would support a law requiring that he do so.”  She would only respond that “Ofcourse he should.”  She wouldn’t even acknowledge that there was a difference between the two concepts of “you should” and “the law should demand that you do so.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    And my response to that is, “A baby is not a consequence.”

    Mine was similar, but involved a lot more screaming. Something along the lines of “What sort of a monster wants to use a baby as a form of punishment?” 

  • Tom S

    The single fact that changed my mind about whether or not abortions should be legal is that, when they were illegal, a.) there were a roughly equal number of them and b.) they killed a lot more mothers. Presuming both of those statements be true, there is no conscionable way to support making abortions illegal, however much you think they are wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    One pro-lifer insisted to me that abortion should be illegal even if this didn’t prevent any abortions, because such a law would be a statement of value.

    That seems to really be the crux of the issue, and one of the things that really frustrates me about most pro-life supporters.  They are more interested in symbolic gestures than actual solutions.  Take something like Planned Parenthood.  PP does preform abortions, yes.  However, it also preforms lots of family planning and provides options for birth control, especially for people of limited means.  On balance, PP does a lot more to prevent the need for abortions than it does to provide abortions when that fails.  By logic, anyone who is pro-life should support that, since it furthers that cause by reducing the demand for abortions. 

    And yet, because it gives consideration to abortions at all, they consider it the enemy…

  • WingedBeast

    It seems to me that there’s a certain mindset that you can legislate people into being “good.”  It’s the same mindset that leads to people saying “America is a Christian Nation” so that prayer should be lead by public schools or that Freedom of Speech was never intended for non-Christians.

    So, every time people aren’t as good as you think they should be, there’s a fantasy thought, “there oughtta be a law.”  Hell, I work customer service and I think there ougtta be a law restricting your right to call up about your bill if you haven’t looked at it yet.  “They, they’re not like they should be!  We should make them be right!”

    That’s for things like making people have children and suffer slut-shaming (which is just one part of a great method for making more abortions happen), restricting people’s religious freedom so that they’re all forced to be more Christian (in whatever way possible), for making gay people suffer (the defenses of bullying are astounding).  But, it doesn’t apply to things like, say, giving to charity or organ donation.

  • WingedBeast

    It seems to me that there’s a certain mindset that you can legislate people into being “good.”  It’s the same mindset that leads to people saying “America is a Christian Nation” so that prayer should be lead by public schools or that Freedom of Speech was never intended for non-Christians.

    So, every time people aren’t as good as you think they should be, there’s a fantasy thought, “there oughtta be a law.”  Hell, I work customer service and I think there ougtta be a law restricting your right to call up about your bill if you haven’t looked at it yet.  “They, they’re not like they should be!  We should make them be right!”

    That’s for things like making people have children and suffer slut-shaming (which is just one part of a great method for making more abortions happen), restricting people’s religious freedom so that they’re all forced to be more Christian (in whatever way possible), for making gay people suffer (the defenses of bullying are astounding).  But, it doesn’t apply to things like, say, giving to charity or organ donation.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    The single fact that changed my mind about whether or not abortions should be legal is that, when they were illegal, a.) there were a roughly equal number of them and b.) they killed a lot more mothers. Presuming both of those statements be true, there is no conscionable way to support making abortions illegal, however much you think they are wrong.

    The problem with that reasoning is that I’ve seen no evidence that “Pro-life” people have any problem with poor people dying AFTER the umbilical cord is cut.  

  • Anonymous

    “When it comes to massacring innocents, LaHaye’s God makes Pharaoh and Herod look like a couple of amateurs.”

    Now, wait a minute.  The Biblical God already made the Pharaoh look like an amateur when it came to massacring innocents, didn’t he?  That’s sort of what the final plague was all about.

    It just seems like a weird example to use, is all.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    I’m pro-life and I agree with this. Fixing the root cause of a problem is always better than trying to stop the problem by prohibition.

    Also we should tackle the rape culture. Less rape = not only less abortion but less traumatised women, which is all win. Unless you really are some kind of anti-woman strawman. Sadly much of the US pro-life movement is made up of such strawmen it seems. I decided something was wrong over there (I’m in the UK) when I found out it can be near impossible for a woman whose baby has died in utero to get a termination. *facepalm* It’s already freaking dead and it’s critical to the health of the mother to get the baby out of there. Why is this even an issue?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X