Why James Dobson is unable to speak of the actual murder of actual children

Dr. James Dobson is a popular, influential and revered evangelical author, radio host and political activist.

On his radio program Monday, Dobson offered his explanation for the massacre Friday at a Connecticut elementary school:

Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I’m not talking politically, I’m not talking about the result of the November 6 election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God.

I mean millions of people have decided that either God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me. And we have killed 54 million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences, too.

And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God Almighty, and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on.

(Audio here.)

I feel bad for Dobson.

Like most of us, he is rightly horrified by the slaughter in Newtown. He is reeling, recoiling, and struggling to come to grips with the shock and sorrow he feels in response to the murder of 20 children, all aged 6 and 7, and of the teachers and school leaders who cared for them.

But Dobson has no way of expressing this horror and sorrow — not even to himself. He has elsewhere expended the vocabulary that would allow him to speak of it, or even to think of it, and it has left him with no words to articulate, to grasp or to convey the deep sadness he is feeling.

That sadness is right and true and appropriate. It is a proper human response to the murder of children.

But for Dobson, “the murder of children” refers not to Sandy Hook, but to abortion. Hence the weird assertion on his radio program Monday that the murder of 20 schoolchildren is somehow God’s judgment falling on America because of the murder of “54 million babies.”

The incoherence there comes from Dobson’s heartfelt and undeniable recognition that the Newtown massacre was far, far worse than any number of abortions. He knows that. He feels that.

But Dobson has painted himself into an ethical and rhetorical corner and so he cannot allow himself to admit that.

For decades, James Dobson has insisted that abortion is “murder,” that it is “killing babies” and that no distinction — ethical, moral, theological, legal — can be allowed between those “unborn babies” and actual babies. Like most evangelicals and many Catholics, Dobson has always fiercely maintained that the killing of unborn “children” is no different from the killing of actual children.

But whenever horrible crimes like this one occur, then Dobson, just like the rest of us, beholds what has happened and recognizes that it is vastly different and wholly incomparable.

Dobson knows this. Decades of rhetorical obfuscation have deprived him of any way of expressing it or of admitting it, but James Dobson still knows this.

All that talk has left him unable to describe what he is feeling or why. He doesn’t know how to name the sorrow he feels on the news of the actual murder of actual children.

But he knows that this is a different thing. He knows that his revulsion at this crime is nothing at all like the opposition he has always expressed to abortion, even though for all these years he has used identical language demanding that we all regard the two things as identical and equivalent.

But they are not identical and they are not equivalent. Dobson knows this. Every moral intuition he has screams that these things are not equivalent.

We all know this. All of us. Even those of us who have staked our rhetoric, our politics, and our moral reasoning on the glib pretense that it is not so.

Every “pro-life” evangelical, every Operation Rescue picketer, every March for Life participant, every Christianity Today editorialist, every Catholic bishop, priest and pope knows that the murder of 20 children is essentially different and far worse than any 20 abortions. All their beloved rhetoric of “abortion is murder” and “abortion kills unborn children” turns to ashes in the wake of incidents like the slaughter in Newtown.

It seemed so simple. Declare that “personhood begins at conception” and everything clicks neatly into place. You can then insist that no ethical or moral distinction exists between a fetus and a child, between a zygote and a 6-year-old. And ethics seems so much simpler when we don’t have to make or acknowledge distinctions. Then we can have thick black lines and unambiguous rules. We can make sweeping ethical claims with the certainty and clarity we have always coveted.

That certainty and clarity is a delicious indulgence. It means we don’t even have to listen when others point out the distinctions that might threaten our clear, bold lines. When others try to argue that a fetus has great value, but not the same value as a child or as a mother, we can dismiss them as apologists for “murder.”

The simplicity and clarity of this claim of personhood-from-conception is so appealing that most of the time it more than makes up for the persistent nagging intuition that it’s not true. The appeal is almost enough to overcome the sense we can never be rid of that a zygote and a 6-year-old are obviously different, and that pretending the two are equivalent is deeply offensive to some moral intuition that we can never wholly silence.

And when, as on Friday, something horrific happens to force us to remember that, then even someone like James Dobson — one of the most forceful and vocal proponents of the “abortion is murder” claim — is unable to maintain the pretense.

That pretense is corrosive. It is rotting the hearts, minds, souls and tongues of good Christian people. And it has to stop.

Read the names of the slain children — the precious persons murdered Friday in Newtown.

Then go ahead and give it your best shot. Try to sustain the pretense. Try to tell yourself that this is no different from 20 abortions. Try to tell yourself that every fetus, every zygote, every frozen embryo at a fertility clinic, is morally and ethically and theologically and legally identical to these 20 children. Try to tell yourself that every abortion does and should sadden you just exactly as much as the cruel snuffing out of each of these sacred young lives.

Can you do that? Can you sustain that pretense?

Poor Dr. Dobson gave it his best shot, but he failed. I don’t think you can do it either. I don’t think you should.

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  • Jim Roberts

    And I am soundly convinced that the reason they cannot articulate this sorrow is that to do so would mean a loss of control. And since they’re whole reason for opposing abortion is controlling others, that is simply unthinkable.

  • Truth

    I hate to break it to everyone, but pro-lifers genuinely believe abortion is murder.  Period.  They don’t do it to control anyone.  That doesn’t even make sense–do the pro-life women want to . . . control . . . other women?  Or something ridiculous?

    I say we leave religion out of this.  My views on abortion have never been decided by my religion.  The Bible doesn’t even address the issue.  My stance has been based on logic and scientific definitions.  Instead, I am with passionate atheist Christopher Hitchens in this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/11/28/no-god-and-no-abortions.html

    “As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an
    embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did
    used to argue) a growth on or in the female body.  There used to be
    feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even-this
    was seriously maintained-a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped.
     Of the considerations that have stopped it, one is the fascinating and
    moving view provided by the sonogram, and another is the survival of
    ‘premature’ babies of feather-like weight, who have achieved ‘viability’
    outside the womb. … The words ‘unborn child,’ even when used in a
    politicized manner, describe a material reality.”
    – Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great (pp. 220-21)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > pro-lifers genuinely believe abortion is murder.  Period

    So, does it follow that pro-lifers believe that someone who performs an abortion should be subject to the same legal penalties as someone who performs any other murder, and that someone who arranges for an abortion to be performed should be subject to the same legal penalties as someone who hires someone to commit any other murder?

  • Carstonio

    “Pro-life” doesn’t mean just opposition to abortion, but also opposition to its legality. “Pro-choice” means support for its legality, and this group includes many people who believe abortion to be wrong.

    If one wants to reduce abortions, the most humane course is better access to contraception and better sex education so women conceive only when they choose to do so, and better support for women who do choose to become mothers.

    Making abortion a crime is woefully ineffective is one’s goal is to prevent abortions. But it’s wonderfuly effective if one’s goal is to shame women who don’t want to become mothers. Even exceptions in cases of rape or incest wrongly treat the desire for sex without motherhood as a legal or moral crime. Criminalizing abortion would treat women and their wombs as community property.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I hate to break it to everyone, but pro-lifers genuinely believe
    abortion is murder.  Period.  They don’t do it to control anyone.  That
    doesn’t even make sense–do the pro-life women want to . . . control . .
    . other women?  Or something ridiculous?

    So… You think that a reasonable response to systematic mass murder is… to vote republican? To picket abortion clinics?

    I spent the better part of this weekend seeing it demonstrated that an awful lot of the exact same people who claim abortion is murder believe that if you see someone systematically murdering 20 children, the only reasonable response is to get a gun of your own and shoot him.

    So, 20 kids and the reasonable response is to go all Charles Bronson, but millions of kids every year and the reasonable response is to vote for Rick Santorum?

    Does. Not. Fucking. Compute. 

    If they really believed abortion was murder, there would be a lot more dead women and doctors.

  • Kryptozoon

    “I hate to break it to everyone, but pro-lifers genuinely believe abortion is murder.  Period.  They don’t do it to control anyone.  That doesn’t even make sense–do the pro-life women want to . . . control . . . other women?  Or something ridiculous?”

    Women do often want to control other women, either to reduce competition for males by preventing each other from offering easier access to sex, or, more likely, to satisfy some really hideous kind of envy I think primarily motivates the anti-choice movement. Here is how I think it works:

    In my experience, any anti-choicer can be trolled into a frothing rage about those other people suspected of having ample access to sex and enjoying it without the associated traditional baggage. The growth of these anti-choicers was stunted by their upbringing, their culture, their religion, and now they have to cope with the terrible inferiority complex, the sneaking suspicion of permanent children that they aren’t really grown-ups like those other people. So they can be called to fight to make sex more costly and dangerous for others, but not in those exact words, because who wants to acknowledge being an emotional cripple out to cripple others as well? And thus have been homosexuality (as everybody knows homos have it even easier than heterosexuals when it comes to cruising for a sexual adventure), out-of-wedlock sex (they should bear the consequences of their actions!), contraception of any kind (what, make it safe for them?) thoroughly demonized in their minds, and this is why they do convince themselves that they are, in fact, acting on righteous impulses – it’s a classic case of cognitive dissonance resolution, believe that I am a stunted freak or believe I’m a noble crusader?

  • Loki100

    They don’t do it to control anyone.

    That does not matter. It does not matter that they don’t want to control people and therefore are anti-choice. What matters is the fact that their only response to abortion is to try to control people.

    That doesn’t even make sense–do the pro-life women want to . . . control . . . other women?  Or something ridiculous?

    You do realize that there are dozens of women who have fabulous careers dedicated to the fact that women should not have careers? There have always been women perfectly happy to self-righteously oppress other women. Slut shamming and food shamming are two of the most common ways, but they are hardly the only ones.

    The Bible doesn’t even address the issue.

    The bible has an abortion ritual in it…

  • Kellynorthcott

    If the aborted babies had names would that make a difference.
    If the zygote or embryo was put in a casket would that make a difference.
    Remember God knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb.

    Kelly Northcott

  • EllieMurasaki

    What does God knowing us before our respective fathers ejaculated have to do with the legality of forcing women to endure an unendurable pregnancy?

  • AnonymousSam

    No, not really. What it would do is add even more unhappiness to an already unhappy necessity.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s okay, I didn’t know God back then.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Nope, nope, and OK.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    The Religious Right’s entire worldview is based on denying the obvious fact that morality is  a matter of intuition.  They have always insisted that all moral truth is dictated by a ‘higher father’, and that all moral tenents are inseperable from both each other and from all physical facts.  They have always insisted that treating morality as the obviously intuitive matter it is can only lead to orgiastic heavy metal chaos. 

    They can hardly be expected to change their tune after all these years, even though one could make a drinking game out of how predictiably and mechanicaly they blame terrible deeds on athiests/liberals/gays/multiculturalism/all the above.  If they ever gave up the conceit that they own The Truth and are so entitled to paternal control over the US, then they wouldn’t be the religious right.  Fish gotta swim. 

  • Carstonio

    I suspect morality is combination of intuition and calculation. Our moral sense is offended by injustice and unfairness but it’s far from perfect, and with complicated moral problems, two people who agree that it’s wrong to cause others to suffer can disagree on which course is the most moral. Perhaps folks like Dobson can’t or won’t distinguish between their moral sense and their squick. That’s probably also true of the Pope, who cannot argue against same-sex marriage without invoking meaningless concepts like “nature” and “normal.”

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    I suspect morality is combination of intuition and calculation. Our moral sense is offended by injustice and unfairness but it’s far from perfect,

    True true. Morality is based on our own human judgement and therefore condemned to be occasionaly wrong.  People who are especially phobic towards humiliation or loss of control, people who have been taught that Real American Men must always be in control and always know the answer, cannot tolerate this.  Which brings us back around to the man who beat his pet dog for being uppity and bragged about it in print. 

  • Carstonio

    I was unaware of that but I wasn’t surprised. Probably no coincidence that a man who believes that torturing people in hell forever is a just punishment for loving the wrong person, would also believe that beating an animal is justified to defend his authority. In his world, it’s apparently dominate or be dominated.

    http://bulldogpolitics.blogspot.com/2005/08/struggle-continues-james-dobson.html
     

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Exactly.  It’s important to remember that this is a man who advocates spanking for babies of fifteen months and who recommends that spanking is best done with “an object.”

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    The Religious Right’s entire worldview is based on denying the obvious fact that morality is  a matter of intuition.

    You mean King Solomon calling for a baby to be split in half was just “going from the gut,” as it were?

  • Carstonio

    But Dobson has no way of expressing this horror and sorrow — not even to
    himself. He has elsewhere expended the vocabulary that would allow him
    to speak of it, or even to think of it, and it has left him with no words to articulate, to grasp or to convey the deep sadness he is feeling.

    My own conundrum is that I have no way of responding to Dobson without sounding like Rorschach in Watchmen:  “It
    is not God who kills the children. Not Fate that butchers them or Destiny
    that feeds them to dogs. It’s us. Only us .” While I don’t know Alan Moore’s religious beliefs, the scene almost equates atheism with amorality.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    While I don’t know Alan Moore’s religious beliefs

    You really should. They’re …very interesting. 

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    While I don’t know Alan Moore’s religious beliefs …You really should. They’re …very interesting.

    Yes, and certainly unique.  There’s actually a pretty good explanation of them to explain some context around Doctor Who on the blog TARDIS Eridutorium.  As for that specific quote, I think it reflects an existentialist philosophy.  As I understand existentialism, it is often, but not always atheist.  Regardless of the specific existentialist’s view on whether God exists or not, he or she would  say that we are all collectively responsible for the horrible things in the world that humans do, not some outside force.  It doesn’t say that people are amoral without God, but that you can’t hold God responsible for the actions of people.

  • Carstonio

     That’s a view I can understand and appreciate. When I first read Watchmen, I had the impression Moore was using Rorschach to slam existentialism.

  • Isabel C.

    I get the impression Rorschach, if a Take That at anyone, was a Take That at Objectivism and some of the more hardcore Nietzsche fanboys in the comics world: The Question, who inspired him, started out Objectivist. 

  • Tricksterson

    IIRC Moore was shocked that he became the most popular character from that series.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Moore must have been vastly overestimating the moral maturity of his audience, and it makes him sound painfully naive at the time. “No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise,” is damn appealing for the stand it makes against someone who, for all his big ideas and moralistic claims, just committed a series of tragedies and then a statistic (aka holy crap lots of murders).

  • DCFem

    I read this totally differently than you did since you are able to find some sympathy for this man and you think he is struggling on some level with his belief that life begins at conception. I read that quote and thought that he is saying that the mass slaying of innocent children in Connecticut is our judgment for Roe v. Wade and for allowing gay marriage in several states. He says God has allowed punishment to fall on us. Which makes me think he believes God is a self-righteous bully (projection anyone?) who is just fine with children being slaughtered because we don’t hate women who have abortions and gay people like we should. Which makes Dobson the same smug, self-righteous, butthole he’s always been.

    I’m sure there are people out there who are grappling with trying to sustain the “life begins at conception” notion with the pictures published of those adorable children. The reality of precious children  murdered in their school has to force people to reexamine a lot of their beliefs.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Here’s my problem with Dobson’s statement:  If God views abortion as the murder of innocent children and is angry about it, why would He arrange to have innocent children murdered?  If God wanted to physically punish anyone for abortion, wouldn’t He punish the women who have abortions and the people who provide them?  Because otherwise, God is doing the very thing He’s supposedly punishing *us* for.

  • stardreamer42

    I would describe this as yet another case of “God sure has terrible aim.” Whenever the RRR starts talking about this or that thing being “God’s judgment on America for not hating enough,” it always seems to have fallen (1) completely wide of the mark and (2) more heavily on The Faithful than on The Sinners. Honestly, believing as strongly in disasters being God’s messages as they do, by this time you’d think that the message of, “I am displeased with YOU and the things you do in My name,” would have come thru loud and clear.

  • Dan Audy

    Well if God had good aim inevitably human’s would take advantage of that fact to their own benefit.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    (content advisory. you may want to skip this.)

    Fred… seriously… I don’t know.

    I mean, I oppose treating fetuses as people legally, and I don’t consider them morally or ethically equivalent to children, or even babies. 

    But I’m not sure that comparing people’s grief has a lot to do with that.

    And I’m sure as hell not going to tell my friend that she doesn’t get to grieve her miscarriage, for example. Regardless of how we classify her loss legally, or ethically, or morally, the fact is she grieves that loss with everything in her, and it seems proper to me that she ought to.

    To compare her loss with that of someone who loses an infant child, or an adult child, is necessary in many contexts and I accept that necessity. But to compare the depths of her emotional response to theirs?

    I don’t know.

    I remember when the Challenger crashed, and my high-school English teacher assigned us to write something expressing our feelings about the incident.

    I wrote about how sad it was that Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher, had died in the crash. And how sad it was that Dick Scoobee, an astronaut, had died in the crash. And how sad it was that four other astronauts, whose names I didn’t know, had died in the crash. And how much sadder it was that some number of other people had died in car crashes the same day, and not only didn’t I know their names, I didn’t even know how many of them there were, except that it was probably way more than six, and how that really didn’t seem to matter to anyone, and I knew that because about the same number had died the day before, and the day before that, and probably every day for my entire life, and the same number would die the next day, and the day after, and probably every day thereafter for the rest of my life, and nobody would really care about them except for the loved ones they left behind, and how angry that made me.

    I was, perhaps unsurprisingly, chastised for missing the point of the assignment, which was to express my feelings about the Challenger explosion.

    Anyway.

    I guess my point is: I know what it’s like to grieve one person’s death. Sometimes only one person is gone and the whole world seems empty. And I sort of understand how the loss of two people, or ten, or even twenty-seven can stack, how even when I think it can’t possibly get any worse, it somehow does with each additional body on the pyre.

    But one hundred and fifty thousand people die each day. And if I try to wrap my brain around one hundred and fifty thousand deaths today, and another one hundred and fifty thousand deaths tomorrow, and again on Thursday, and… and… and… stretching out into the indefinite future… and that each of those deaths is someone’s loved one, just as worthy of grief as my father…

    I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. I don’t know how. I can grieve one death. I can grieve twenty-six deaths. I suppose I can grieve one hundred and fifty thousand deaths. But I don’t know how to do all of those things at once.

    That doesn’t mean they don’t all deserve just as much individual grief as each murdered child of Newtowne, or as my dad.

    It just means I, as a human, am limited in the ways that I can experience grief.

    So, like I say… I just don’t know that comparing people’s grief has a lot to do with who counts as a person.

  • Carstonio

    From my reading, Fred wasn’t comparing anyone’s grief, but instead suggesting that Dobson’s show of grief over fetuses is not genuine. Dobson has been playing for decades at being a righteous warrior against evil, something that’s cheap and easy to do. It’s left him unprepared for evil in the world outside the womb, because his self-image is tied up in denying the distinction.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Dobson’s grief over fetuses may well not be genuine. And he may well be unable to express genuine grief over the murder of the children of Newtowne. 

    And these things, if true, may well be related causally as you and Fred suggest… that is, his fake show of grief over fetuses might make his genuine expression of grief over the murder of children impossible. 

    All of these things are possible. I don’t much know Dobson, and what I do know I really don’t like. I’m certainly don’t have any desire to defend him.

    And perhaps I’m just being oversensitive to the idea of judging
    someone’s expressions of grief over the murder of children by relating
    it to their expressions of grief over the termination of fetuses. I
    dunno.

    I grant that this is not an area where I’m thinking terribly clearly or dispassionately. So if I’m being unfair to Fred, or to you, I apologize for that.

    All that said, I do know people who genuinely grieve over fetuses. And I know that the relation between grief over one loss and grief over another is too complicated for me to make definitive claims about, even when to an outside perspective one loss is “clearly” more important than the other.

     

  • Carstonio

    You’re right to be concerned over expressions of grief. Look at Dobson’s behavior instead. He doesn’t act like someone who believes abortion is murder. Put aside the fact that better access to contraception and sex education would do far more to reduce abortions than making the procedure illegal. He’s not even barricading clinics like some other pro-lifers, or pleading with women to carry their pregnancies to term, unless I’ve missed him doing so. Or even throwing himself on the doctor about to perform an abortion and wrestling away the tools.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Yup, all of that is true.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    The problem you’re having is that you’re picturing a miscarriage, the unplanned death of a wanted fetus. That might be biologically the same as an abortion, but they’re worlds apart emotionally. You seem to be operating on the pro-life assumption that pro-choice people don’t consider a miscarriage to be a big deal, which doesn’t line up with reality.

    You need to think in terms of what the evangelical right says about abortion. Pro-lifers claim that abortion is a holocaust of children, but their response to Sandy Hook says a lot about whether they believe that rhetoric themselves. I don’t think they do any more than Fred does. None of those “abortion is murder” arguments carry the same kind of shock as the reactions we’ve seen over the last few days.

    Dobson – while continuing to act like a dick to keep up his rep – seems to have a hard time using the term “murder” to refer to the shooting. Why do you think that is? Fred is arguing that Dobson has so thoroughly degraded the term murder through overuse that he can no longer use it to refer to an actual murder. If you can think of a better reason why Dobson would use such cool language, I’d love to hear it, because I can’t think of anything.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    You seem to be operating on the pro-life assumption that pro-choice people don’t consider a miscarriage to be a big deal, which doesn’t line up with reality.

    I have no idea where you got this idea from. I am myself a pro-choice person who considers miscarriage a big deal, and the bulk of my friends are pro-choice, and I don’t know any of them who wouldn’t consider a miscarriage a big deal. If you were inclined to point out what it was that I said, specifically, that suggested to you that I’m operating on this assumption, I would greatly appreciate it.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Miscarriage and abortion are COMPLETELY different things. They are so different, that what you just said is deeply offensive. Miscarriage is something that happens to a woman’s body without her consent, it is often extraordinarily painful, bloody, and violent, and it can be deadly to her. It is a loss of something she wanted, that goes so deep there are no words to articulate it. 

    Abortion is an extremely safe, fast, and relatively painless surgical procedure. 

    Most importantly, miscarriage is something unwanted happening to a woman’s body. Abortion is something wanted happening to a woman’s body. Conflating the two is what misogynists like Dobson do. Do not do it again.

  • Carstonio

     

    Miscarriage and abortion are COMPLETELY different things.

    Whoa, of course they’re different. The only commonality they have is that both terminate a fetus, and Dobson claims to care deeply about such terminations. But he focuses all his attention on when a woman chooses to do so. That makes it obvious that his true interest in fetuses is only in using them to subjugate women. Just as Brown cares about kids only as proxies for perpetuating straight male privilege.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    The only commonality they have is that both terminate a fetus

    An abortion terminates a pregnancy. Fetuses don’t get aborted. Pregnancies get aborted.

    We need to be very cautious about accepting their frame. One of the big differences between an abortion and murdering a child is that “murdering a child” is a thing that happens to a child. “having an abortion” is something that happens to an adult woman.

    (The further thought occurs that this isn’t that far removed from “Oh yeah? Well cars kill more people than guns. Why aren’t you trying to ban cars?” in that both of them are based on willfully ignoring the difference between something whose entire raison d’etre is killing, and something whose actual purpose is at best tangentially related to killing)

  • Carstonio

    A valid concern. It would be accurate to also describe miscarriages as terminating pregnancies. The point I’m making is the same as yours – these folks claim that abortion is the equivalent of gunning down children but their responses to the two aren’t even comparable.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    (The further thought occurs that this isn’t that far removed from “Oh yeah? Well cars kill more people than guns. Why aren’t you trying to ban cars?” in that both of them are based on willfully ignoring the difference between something whose entire raison d’etre is killing, and something whose actual purpose is at best tangentially related to killing)

    That and it’s general red herringness. Car accidents kill people too? Well, let’s work on car safety then, because we have the amazing ability to deal with more than one problem at a time.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I apologize for being offensive.

    Disqus is being unhelpful about identifying which comment you’re replying to, so I’m not quite sure what it is I said that equated the two. If you can point explicitly to the comment you’re responding to, that would be helpful.

    In any case, I absolutely agree that miscarriage and abortion are completely different things, in that miscarriage does not involve consent and consent is very important, and in that the health impacts of the two can be very different, as you say.

    That said, I won’t agree that abortion is necessarily something wanted happening. Sometimes, it isn’t. It’s fine when it is, and this should absolutely be a choice that women have available to them, and they should be absolutely free to make it and supported when they make it… but I am unwilling to erase or disregard the experience of women who are obligated (for medical reasons, for example) to abort pregnancies they would prefer to continue by making or endorsing flat statements like “abortion is something wanted”.

  • Persia

     A fetus or an unborn child is the death of an idea. It can be tremendously painful. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I’d lost my (premature) child at her birth or miscarried before. I know I would be devastated.

    But it is not the same experience as losing a child, because a child is something different. It’s not about who feels the most pain. It’s just something different.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > It’s just something different.

    I don’t doubt it.

    And perhaps someone who has been through both is in a position to speak to how the grief in the first case differs from the grief in the second case, and what we can learn from the differences.

    I wouldn’t presume to.

  • Jim Roberts

    Hi.

    They’re different.

    No, I won’t say more.

    But they are.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    But it is not the same experience as losing a child, because a child is something different. It’s not about who feels the most pain. It’s just something different.

    It’s not the same, but it’s not nothing either.

    Fred’s abortion rhetoric bugs me for a number of reasons, one of which is that he appears to imply that either abortion is exactly equal to the murder of a fully developed child or adult (which yes, some people say), or it’s nothing at all from a moral standpoint. The thing is, there are huge numbers of people who think that, while it’s not equivalent to murder of a fully developed child or adult, it’s not nothing either.

    It would be nice for someone like Fred who usually goes to great efforts not to polemicise, even giving the benefit of the doubt where it’s almost certainly not due, to acknowledge that the shades of grey exist. Black and white thinking is not helpful from either side. 

  • banancat

    If you truly believe that Fred out anyone else here thinks miscarriage is nothing, then you need to quote examples because I don’t believe it.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    If you truly believe that Fred out anyone else here thinks miscarriage is nothing, then you need to quote examples because I don’t believe it.

    Luckily I believe no such thing, and haven’t suggested otherwise.

  • Carstonio

     I don’t know if Fred believes that, but Dobson claims to believe it. Very frequently Fred shows the hateful and disingenuous aspects of the religious right by taking their arguments to the logical conclusions. One would think that someone like Dobson who professes grave concern about fetuses would campaign to make research into miscarriages a national priority. One would think that someone like Brian Brown who professes grave concern over fatherless children would favor mandatory marriage for single or widowed mothers.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Considering a fetus requires the body of a human being to survive, and both tortures (for most women) and endangers that human being in order to exist, and, best-case scenario, changes the body of that human being forever…

    I don’t give one fine damn about any supposed moral distinction. It could be three years old, or thirty, or sixty. If the human being who is required to keep the whatever in existence does not choose to be used in such a fashion, it’s no one’s business but her own, and those of any people she chooses to talk to about it, when she stops. 

  • AlexJarr

     I’m curious, what is the difference between men like Dobson and Mike Huckabee (who recently made similar remarks about the shooting) and the Westboro Baptist Church. Both see any national tragedy — a hurricane, a mass-murder, a terrorist attack — as an excuse to displace blame onto minorities (religious or otherwise), secularists, and political rivals. The only difference that I can tell is from the reaction they get — virtually everyone loathes the WBC but Dobson, Huckabee, etc. still have a sizeable contingent of the population who thinks that they are upstanding faith leaders.

    I don’t understand this dichotomy — why is Phelps condemned for making the same horrific arguments as his brethren? Is he just less photogenic? Less charismatic? Is it the pickets that make him less popular? (If Dobson or Huckabee had given these speeches at the funerals, would that make them less popular?)

  • Adrienne Sanders

    The difference, as far as I can tell, is that WBC is saying it in people’s faces by showing up at funerals.  Dobson & Huckabee have the same opinions but not the conviction to demonstrate it in front of a crowd. I wonder if this is b/c they know it’s actually wrong. Either that or they’re just cowards. Personally I think if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face you should reconsider whether you should say it at all.

  • Tricksterson

    I think it’s because they’re a lot less honest and more calculating than the WBC.  They know that to spout the same line openly as the WBC would cost them, so they don’t.

  • rrhersh

     It is not only the pickets, it is the choice of targets.  If Phelps were picketing Planned Parenthood offices and gay bars, he would be cheered on by the right.  Instead, he chooses targets the right approves of, most typically funerals of soldiers, presumably in order to garner attention through shock value.  In a twisted sort of way, this has an admirable element to it.  He is a nutcase through and through, but he isn’t a popularity whore and he is willing to offend persons who otherwise would be his natural supporters in order to get his message out. 

  • AlexJarr

    That makes a lot of sense. It’s kind of screwed up though — Huckabee and the other guys make these comments about child murders, terrorist attacks, etc. too — the only difference is that they don’t actually attend the funerals, but that should only make it slightly less offensive, not significantly less so.

  • stardreamer42

    It’s simpler than that. WBC’s primary source of income is settlements from lawsuits in which they accuse someone of infringing on their right of free speech after forcing a confrontation (and, if they’re lucky, physical assault) at one of these funeral pickets. And it’s much easier to provoke such a confrontation if they choose sympathetic targets. Once again, it all comes down to “follow the money”.

  • rrhersh

     “WBC’s primary source of income is settlements from lawsuits…”

    As soon as I hit the reply button, I knew that someone would bring this up.  It is, so far as I can tell, something of an urban legend, treated in some circles as gospel.  There is some evidence that they tried this strategy years ago, but nothing this millennium. 

    Nor should we expect this to be an ongoing strategy, as it doesn’t actually make sense.  The notion that frivolous lawsuits are a good source of big buck$ is a right wing corporatist talking point, designed to de-legitimize individuals’ use of the legal system. (Corporations are more than happy to use it for their own ends, of course.)  The next time you read about some wacky lawsuit, follow it through.  You will almost always find that it gets kicked out early, or that the actual payout isn’t nearly as impressive as those numbers that were tossed about early on, it isn’t so wacky as it was played up to be by the press (who, after all, have little incentive to print stories about sensible litigation resulting in sensible results).

    If this doesn’t persuade you, then consider this:  the press absolutely adores ‘wacky lawsuit’ stories.  We see them all the time.  The press is also enthusiastic about ‘crazy Westboro Baptist’ stories.  A combination of the two would be pure press gold!  So go search for these stories.  Not random people claiming that they happen all the time, but actual news account of specific cases.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Phelps may not be a popularity whore but he sure as hell is an attention whore. He’s pretty much geared his whole family toward generating as much noise and controversy as possible so they can garner all kinds of attention for their twisted message, and provoke others into actions that they can then sue over. “Admirable” is the last thing I’d call it, in any possible use of the word.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Magelan-Smejkal/1184382595 Magelan Smejkal

    I don’t know about the difference,but I have often wondered if Dobson is the one who contributes to the Westboro Church to go and protest.They have to be getting money from somewhere to travel nationwide.I am almost convinced it has Dobson’s fingerprints! 

  • AnonymousSam

    A lot of Westboro’s money comes from a constant string of lawsuits. Pretty much every member of the family is a lawyer, and they’re quite lawsuit-happy when it comes to getting back at people for assault and battery, free speech rights and whatnot.

  • anon

    I think it’s because WBC also blames the death of US soldiers on those things, something Dobson and other mainstream folks would never do. For them, the US military is sacred and God would never arrange for the death of US soldiers. For WBC, they are totally fine saying so and showing up at military funerals to say it. That is the difference. The mainstream folks won’t transgress the most sacred thing in the US – the military.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Life is what’s most sacred.  LIFE

  • VMink

    If life is what’s most sacred, what should the penalty be for someone who takes a life, any life? What should the penalty be for a woman who has an abortion in a jurisdiction where abortion is illegal?

    Come on, Ginny!  You can answer this!  It’s not hard.  Look, I’ll even do you a favor and not automatically assume that you want the mother put to death.  If you want to make something a crime, you have to attach a consequence (reparative, punitative, or rehabilitative) to that crime.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not strictly necessary. I mean, there has to be an official penalty for anyone convicted, but that doesn’t mean anyone ever actually gets investigated, let alone prosecuted. (Financial crisis. Iraq war crimes.)

  • VMink

    Well, yes, that’s (unfortunately) true.  I should have added a ‘hypothetically’ there.

    Though I’m pretty sure Ginny wants there to be some sort of penalty, I suspect she, like so many others, either wants it to be death by stoning  (and will never admit it, because that’s seen by most others as barbaric, plus I recall a gentleman saying something about throwing the first stones or something) or just lacks the clarity of thought to realize that just saying something is illegal won’t make it suddenly, magically Go Away.

    (There’s those two words — “go away” — again.  Why do they always seem to make an appearance when dealing with hard-authoritarian reactionaries?)

  • EllieMurasaki

    just saying something is illegal won’t make it suddenly, magically Go Away

    Did we seriously learn nothing from Prohibition?

    Though we clearly learned nothing from the Great Depression and New Deal, so…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     As a general rule, anti-abortion hardliners want very much to forget that there is a woman involved at all. It’s all about an evil murdering doctor and a poor innocent baby. The woman is erased.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I just realized something.

    The people debating this with Philip are me (female handle), Ross and Dave (male handles), and people with nongendered handles.

    The only one who’s gotten tone-policed by Philip? Me.

    I do know this happens all the time, but I don’t think it’s ever happened to me before.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     That turns out not to be the case, actually.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    If that’s truly your view, Dave, would you not be grieving had you lost a child at Sandy Hook? 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I assume you would want the Newtown shooter to be tried and convicted had he survived the shooting. Would you want the same penalty imposed on a woman who gets an abortion as on the Newtown shooter?

    Seriously, stop fucking equating a living breathing beloved first-grader with an unwanted and/or dangerous pregnancy.

  • Lunch Meat

    If that’s truly your view, Dave, would you not be grieving had you lost a child at Sandy Hook?

    Are you seriously saying that something is the most sacred thing ever or else it’s not sacred at all? Do you understand how comparatives and superlatives work?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    It is truly my view, Ginny.
    And I would be grieving had I lost a child at Sandy Hook.
    Indeed, I grieve the dead at Sandy Hook, despite their not being my children.
    As it happens, I grieve many of the dead not at Sandy Hook, as well.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    I should not have posed that question to you, Dave.  I’m sorry about that, for you are the only one here kind enough to show empathy for me concerning the death of my first and only grandchild.  You get it that SOME grieve deeply, for that is how we are made.  However, I regret that you are not in agreement about the sacredness of all human life.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m at a loss for whether we should let you know we sympathize with you over the loss of your grandchild when you so loudly, vehemently, and repeatedly refuse to sympathize with anyone whose life or health is put at risk by continuing a pregnancy.

    What penalty should apply to a woman who gets an abortion in a jurisdiction where abortion is legally murder?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I should not have posed that question to you, Dave.

    You are welcome to pose whatever questions you wish to me.

    However, I regret that you are not in agreement about the sacredness of all human life.

    I also recommend you pay attention to what I actually say in response. It makes communication a lot easier.

    In this case… you said “Life is what’s most sacred.  LIFE”
    I disagreed.
    You are mistaken to infer from this that I hold any particular position about the sacredness of all human life.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    However, I regret that you are not in agreement about the sacredness of all human life.

    So, you’re a pacifist?   Opposed Bush War 1 and 2, as well as Obama’s drone-attacks?  Against the death penalty?

    Or are you one of those tedious fetus-worshipping hypocrites who acts like they think life begins a week before conception and ends at birth?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    If it helps, which I doubt it does, in subsequent discussion she clarified that respecting the “sacredness of all human life” she and I aren’t in agreement about didn’t preclude killing humans (of any age); what she apparently meant here was something to do with one’s relationship with Jesus, not one’s metabolic status.

    That said, I wouldn’t suggest counting on that staying true as the conversation continues.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    What is more sacred than life, Dave?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Patrick Henry said liberty. I don’t know if you’d recognize any of the names of people who say honor or people who say duty. (I admit I don’t know any such off the top of my head, either. But they do exist.) There’s lots of people who say love, and lots more who say other people’s lives.

    Numbers 5 has a ritual to induce abortion in adulterous women. Do you approve?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Liberty is the freedom to do that which is right,  Ellie.  

    God is love.

    It matters not what I approve.

  • Lunch Meat

    “True freedom is doing what I tell you.” -Shift the Ape, The Last Battle

  • EllieMurasaki

    You can have any color car you want as long as it’s black, is that it?
    Numbers 5 entails forcing a woman to have an abortion on the grounds that the babydaddy is suspected to be someone not her husband. I find that abhorrent because it’s forcing an abortion, but because your morals are Biblical, you must find it the right thing to do in the circumstances, which requires you to admit that abortion is not always wrong.

    If you do not want anyone to suffer, why are you so vehemently opposed to measures that let someone suffering from being unwantedly pregnant move to the less-shitty situation of having just had an abortion?

    What penalty should apply to a woman who has an abortion in a jurisdiction where abortion is legally murder?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    babydaddy is such an idiotic term

  • EllieMurasaki

    Let me repeat myself, without the distraction of a term you object to.
    You can have any color car you want as long as it’s black, is that it?
    Numbers 5 entails forcing a woman to have an abortion on the grounds that the fetus’s father is suspected to be someone not her husband. I find that abhorrent because it’s forcing an abortion, but because your morals are Biblical, you must find it the right thing to do in the circumstances, which requires you to admit that abortion is not always wrong.

    If you do not want anyone to suffer, why are you so vehemently opposed to measures that let someone suffering from being unwantedly pregnant move to the less-shitty situation of having just had an abortion?

    What penalty should apply to a woman who has an abortion in a jurisdiction where abortion is legally murder?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > Liberty is the freedom to do that which is right

    That’s part of liberty, but not the entirety of it.

  • Tricksterson

    I don’t hold anything or anyone, including myself as sacred because that would mean holding it/them as beyond reproach and I’ve never ecountered a reason to hold anything or anyone beyond reproach.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    What is more sacred than life, Dave?

    As a Christian, Ginny, I would think you could answer this yourself. The history of Christianity is full, after all, of martyrs who willingly give up their lives seeking something more sacred. The glory of God, for example.

    I’m not a Christian, and I think that to claim to know what the glory of God really is is nothing but arrogance.

    But I know that something is more sacred than life.

    How do I know that?
    Well, consider the following two scenarios.

    1: Earth has 7 billion living humans, many of whom have the opportunity to explore and grow and learn and experience glory and passion and fulfillment and delight and joy.

    2: Earth has 70 billion living humans, all of whom live lives of quiet desperation, in solitude and darkness, with no opportunity for exploration or growth or learning or glory or passion or fulfillment or delight or joy.

    Which is more sacred?

    It is clear to me that the second scenario has far less that is sacred than the first. (Do you disagree?) But it has ten times the human life. I conclude that it is possible to add life to the Earth and make it less sacred.

    Life is not the most sacred thing.

    You asked me a more specific question: what is more sacred?

    I’m not sure.
    I don’t have all the answers; not even close.

    But the first step in finding an answer is giving up the false belief that we already know it.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Eternal life is what is most sacred, Dave, and those who die as martyrs in Jesus’ name, go to experience it forever!  What an honor that would be!

  • EllieMurasaki

    So if every doctor performing an abortion says they’re doing so to ensure that the fetus (which is of course Christian, since nobody has yet told the fetus to be otherwise) won’t grow up Christian, all those murdered babies get whisked up to spend forever in joy in heaven?

    Why are you opposed to abortion again?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    That is true that each of those precious babes get to spend eternity in the presence of Jesus, never having experienced pain, suffering, sadness, sin and temptation in this corrupt world.  The greatest blessing is that they never had the opportunity to reject Jesus, thereby spending eternity OUT of His presence, for that is what hell is – eternal separation from blessed Jesus!

  • EllieMurasaki

    So…why are you opposed to abortion again?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Because God Almighty is…..duh!

  • Lori

    If the book you claim to follow is actually true then God Almighty is far more concerned about other things, so shouldn’t you be too?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    I am realistically concerned about many things, but GOD IS IN CONTROL.

  • Lori

    If God is in control then you should butt out and leave him to it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    God Almighty, in Numbers 5, mandates abortion for women who are pregnant by a man not their husband.

    Why do you oppose abortion again?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Your memory doesn’t serve you well, Ellie.

  • EllieMurasaki

    God Almighty, in Numbers 5, mandates abortion for women who are pregnant by a man not their husband. This strongly implies that there are circumstances under which God does not forbid abortion.

    Why do you oppose abortion again?

  • AnonymousSam

    God’s miraculous powers are channeled to perform abortions in Numbers 5, so, um.

  • AnonymousSam

     And just to ensure there is minimal chance of missing it:

    If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.

    The magic potion she is forced to drink disfigures her womb and destroying the fetus within. God’s involvement is explicit:

    if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband … may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell.

    I think you most certainly can be a Christian and oppose abortion despite this being in the Bible. You can argue that Jesus revered life of all kinds (although there is material to contradict this). You can argue that he abolished the old laws (although there is material to contradict this). You can argue that God, as the incarnation of love, would never demand this of his people (although there is lots of material to contradict this). Either way, you have to admit that the Bible is far from a straightforward reading for guidance on this subject.

    The lessons I took home from the Bible were that love and forgiveness trump everything. If someone has sinned–and Jesus is very clear that I’m not the one who gets to decide this, let alone punish it–then God will mete out judgment as he sees fit, regardless of how I feel about it. All that’s left to me is to decide how I feel about it, then, and that means I have a choice between being a jerkass and adding misery upon misery… or I can do just the opposite and do what I can to alleviate suffering.

    I think it takes a special kind of person to decide that making people miserable is what God wants. I also think that if God exists, he’ll have interesting judgment to make about those people.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Just to be absolutely clear: The woman who is made to drink that shit is suspected of adultery. Whether she is convicted depends on what happens next.

    Ain’t no possible way for an abortifacient of any nature to distinguish between a pregnancy where the fetus’s father is the woman’s husband and a pregnancy where the fetus’s father is not married to the woman. The priests and the husband are counting on God to know the difference and to let the abortifacient do its work if and only if the woman had sex with someone not her husband.

  • AnonymousSam

    That’s if we assume the waters have any effect of their own, which going by the recipe, doesn’t seem like it would be the case. In reality, I would assume that unclean water, sanitation in general, nutrition and a thousand other natural biological factors compounded by ignorance of the body and pregnancy probably caused miscarriages all the time. Jewish texts elaborate a bit upon the ritual, explaining that the period of time after the waters have been drunk until the woman is considered innocent could vary from a matter of weeks to years after the birth (so if the child suddenly died at the age of 5, she was a adulterous witch and should be punished).

    Also, deliberate choice of words: “until the woman is considered innocent.” The same texts also explain that the ritual entailed the exact same treatment as a prostitute, entailing that she be stripped bare to the breasts with her hair let down, exactly in the manner of a woman already considered guilty. This ritual wasn’t to establish guilt, but to establish innocence: she’d be considered guilty until God proved otherwise.

    Whiiiiich is why I don’t consider the Bible a good book for exemplifying human judgment, let alone by Biblical standards.

  • Lori

    Yeah, this is why I added the note about these people thinking that a woman committing consensual adultery is worse than a man committing rape. Because their point was, is and always will be hating women and wanting to control them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know shit about abortifacients prior to modern medicine, so I’ll take your word on that.

  • AnonymousSam

    Numbers 5 gives it as “some holy water in a clay jar and dust from the tabernacle floor.” Unless we assumed that filthy, unwashed farmers had been tracking in fecal matter or other godawful things on the floor and that eventually became reduced to a powder, it doesn’t seem like the combination would be all that toxic — at least, not more so than things the woman would be likely eating and drinking anyway.

    Given that the time of Moses also set up the priesthood as Holier Than Any Man*, I find it doubtful that people would be tracking that kind of filth onto the tabernacle floors, so it’s more likely that the mixture contained nothing worse than what would be found in any well (which could still be bad; they didn’t exactly know about e.coli back then). I have no doubt that many women did sicken and become severely ill and have miscarriages, but probably it had less to do with God than it had to do with life in general, especially among people under that particular priesthood.

    * Seriously have a look at the latter half of Exodus starting at about Exodus 25; it is disgusting. “God” decrees that the priesthood is to commission and have made, for his [and their] exclusive use, many solid gold, silver and precious gemstone items, the best and quite a lot of food, wine and incense, and a constant influx of tax monies. The penalty for not providing any of these? DEATH.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …this is what I get for skipping the details of how the abortion is induced, isn’t it. Ew, and also, yes, not actually abortifacient.

  • AnonymousSam

    BCE mysticism, indeed. Every part of this ritual speaks of superstitious barbarism and misogyny, especially the fact that if the woman was innocent, no penalty befell her husband for accusing her and no restitution would be granted. Guilty until proven innocent, and the assumption of guilt could last indefinitely until her husband was finally satisfied (after however many years) that the child was in fact his.

    So what if the child was born with, say, different colored hair and eyes?

    I have no doubt that some women were guilty until the nearest convenient excuse to put them to death.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I was kind of wondering if the active ingredient was ash. During this period, they would have still been doing animal sacrifice. At least in principle, the potassium in ash could induce hyperkalemia, which has been shown to sometimes cause placental hemmorage. Of course, it would be heavily dependent on what and how much they’d been burning and what kind of shape the woman was in beforehand.

    Of course, absent modern medicine, pretty much anything that would have the effect of mildly poisoning a pregnant woman could have abortifacient effects. Could just as easily be that they were using something mildly toxic to polish the floors.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Oh!

    So, by “life” in this exchange, you don’t mean the thing that distinguishes a human being from a human corpse, you mean eternal life: the thing that goes on after my brain decomposes into dust, the thing that God knows before gestation.

    Gotcha.
    Glad we cleared that up; I’d misunderstood.

    I don’t have an opinion about whether anything is more sacred than eternal life… you may well be right that it’s the most sacred thing.

    That said… while I am incarnate on Earth, I have choices that affect my (non-eternal, incarnate) life. I can choose to degrade others, or I can uplift them; I can harm others, or I can help them; I can pollute my environment, or I can purify it; I can subvert justice, or I can seek it; I can act selfishly, or with compassion. Put more simply: I have the choice of whether or not to work towards a better world.

    In Judaism this idea is known as tikkun olam, but it’s
    hardly unique to Judaism.

    And when we live our (non-eternal, incarnate) lives for the sake of tikkun olam… that is, when we live them seeking to uplift and help others, seeking to purify ourselves and our environment, seeking justice and compassion, working towards a better world… that’s plenty sacred enough for this life, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    For whom, and how we live, in this dark world determines whether or not we will be experiencing eternal life.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     No, that isn’t true.

  • Tricksterson

    Why?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WGSJBUGWP7TVETSL3D3NYR7FEE Jonathon

    Got the following comment on Facebook from sharing this article. Any help on fleshing out a response would be appreciated. Unless I’m dealing with a troll. 

  • Carstonio

     Again, I think that’s a misreading of what Dobson is doing and what Fred is saying. (Here goes with another Jean Shepherd reference…) Dobson is like Ralphie Parker fantasizing that he and he alone stands between his tiny, huddled family and insensate evil. His view of abortion is just as cartoonish, with the villains being selfish sluts and greedy doctors. If he really had to face diabolical mauraders to save fetuses, he would probably shit his pants in terror.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Well, I basically agree with your interlocutor’s conclusion about the problem with judging based on sensibilities the way I think Fred is doing here, as I tried to express in an earlier comment.

    So if it would help to discuss the issue with someone who holds a similar position  before responding to them on your Facebook, feel free to respond to me, either here in comments or privately.

    Of course, this presumes that you don’t think I’m a troll.

  • smrnda

     Perhaps a difference is that people don’t feel bad about Pakistani or Afghan kids killed in drone strikes simply because the actual details slip under the radar. We don’t get the names of these kids, or the details of how the drone strike killed them along with a detailed report of who made the drone, who ordered the attack and who piloted the drone. We aren’t interviewing their parents or neighbors. They’re only listed as statistics.

  • Robyrt

    I am really uncomfortable with this sort of argument that goes, “This person I don’t know is feeling something diametrically opposed to what they say they’re feeling. Deep down, they know they’re lying.” I would hesitate to say that about anyone because I know how untrue it is in other contexts. I just don’t see the difference between this post and the atheist-troll argument of “Deep down, you know there is no God. Stop lying to yourself!”

  • PatBannon

    This, very much. Fred does this a lot, and this is a point of contention I have with him, deep though my respect for him is. I too fail to see the difference between the sentiments Fred expresses and religious nutjobs insisting that there is no such thing as an atheist, just people perversely denying that which they know to be true.

    Well…there are a few differences. Fred is speaking about one person as opposed to a whole group, and Fred is actually trying to be charitable and assume the best of his subject.

  • http://www.dandleblog.com/ Thedandler

     I absolutely agree with you. It’s an arrogant way to argue, for sure, and I don’t think there’s any backing for this blogger to just assume Dobson’s attitude or beliefs without asking him for his justification.

  • Jessica_R

    Yeah, I believe that sometimes an asshole is just an Oh My God What The Fuck Is Wrong With You Can’t You At Least Just Keep Your Fucking Mouth Shut Just For Once incredible asshole. It’s why I have slightly more respect for Phelps, because Phelps is a horrible person who doesn’t make any effort to hide it and will hate you right to your face. I can handle that so much better than the pose  of niceness and civility Dobson and Huckabee strike. 

  • Leum

    I don’t understand this dichotomy — why is Phelps condemned for
    making the same horrific arguments as his brethren? Is he just less
    photogenic? Less charismatic? Is it the pickets that make him less
    popular? (If Dobson or Huckabee had given these speeches at the
    funerals, would that make them less popular?)

    Yes, it’s the funerals. Well, not just that. It’s the funerals of people they like. When WBC was only picketing gay people’s funerals, no one cared.

  • LL

    I actually would like the fundys and their Republican friends to keep on talking and saying terrible things. Please keep reminding people of how terrible you are and how you shouldn’t be considered an authority on anything besides being a colossal asshole. 

    So keep on talking, Dobson. 

  • jamesprobis

    I think you give the child abuse advocate James Dobson far, far too much credit here. Read any of the Christian child raising guides Dobson has written if you want to see how much he cares about violence against children, see him advocate in favor of violence against children in his own words. Dobson doesn’t care about murdered children, to him they are nothing more than yet another excuse to attack his political enemies.

    When theofascist Christians blame America and blame the schools for this shooting they are blaming the _victims_ of this shooting. And they don’t care. As long as it gives them another chance to scam money from the gullible and meanspirited they don’t care.

  • Luke A

    The implication in all the Rights’ prognostications is that some veil of protection that once previously existed has steadily been lifted off of American culture as it continues to violate perceived objective standards in Scripture.

    I guess my question is and will continue to be: When did the veil cover America? That is, at what point was there protection over America so that we can now decry the fact that said protection has been removed?

    These types of pseudo-prophetic diagnostic statements sound extremely wise and forbidding to those who already agree with them. But they just sound short-sighted to anyone who takes a second to think them through.

    Although, I seem to remember Abraham Lincoln claiming that perhaps the Civil War was God’s judgment on slavery….and I’m not completely willing to disregard that statement…..

  • Kubricks_Rube

    A lot of commenters think Fred’s being too soft on Dobson. Am I the only one who read this as Fred pretending to misread Dobson’s intended point so he could shred what Dobson inadventantly conveyed?

  • TheDarkArtist

    After this whole tragedy, I’ve come to realize something. And, I’m really sorry if this offends anyone, honestly. I’m sure that a lot of conservatives are personally really nice people.

    But I really, really hate the fuck out of every conservative. I’ve heard nothing literally nothing but vitriol from them about this. It’s God’s judgment for evolution being taught in schools, or for “killing babies” or some other stupid shit. It’s “liberals” fault for “gun free zones” and teachers should be armed with M4s. It’s this and it’s that, and those fucking Liberal Logic 101 image macros. And talking about how “Obama was faking his tears” so he can TAKE ARE GUUUNS.

    So, you know what? I hate you. I fucking hate conservatives. If I saw someone with a Romney/Ryan bumper sticker on the side of the road, broken down, I’d try to splash a puddle of water on them. Hey, that’s how Rayford handles the anti-christ, I’m sure it’s fine for some random asshole.

    I just can’t take these people. They have no shame, and I hope they rot in the hottest bowels of Hell. Fuck them.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It’s not even so much that there are some people who don’t realize that arming teachers is a monumentally terrible idea (Though I’m told that they do in Israel).  It’s that there seem to be a lot of people who don’t just think it’s a reasonable idea, but are dead certain that armed teachers are a panacea that would 100% guaranteed have prevented this attack and anyone who thinks differently is a deluted, freedom-and-child-hating nazi.

    You know, I actually do have the courage of my convictions. Let’s try a 100% gun ban, and if it doesn’t reduce the rate of gun-related deaths, I’ll consent to let the president of the NRA shoot me.

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

      It’s not even so much that there are some people who don’t realize that
    arming teachers is a monumentally terrible idea (Though I’m told that
    they do in Israel).

    I think the fundamental example that completely disproves the idea that “more guns = safety” is the mass shooting at Fort Hood.  At someone on my Facebook pointed out, that was in a facility where everyone was armed and trained to shoot to kill and yet the shooter still killed 13 people and wounded 29 others.  If there was any place in the world that would prove a shooting could have been prevented with more guns and more security, it was there.  And that many people still died.

  • Makabit

    It’s not even so much that there are some people who don’t realize that arming teachers is a monumentally terrible idea (Though I’m told that they do in Israel).

    Actually, they do not. Schools have armed security in many places in Israel, and in some places children going on a field trip may be accompanied by security or army personnel, but the fantasy developing that the young lady who teaches the second grade walks around with a loaded Galil rifle all the time is not the case.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Everman/1464936167 Bill Everman

    It is a fallacy that “everyone was armed” at Fort Hood.  No one was armed; the weapons on military bases are locked up except when needed for training, etc.  At best there may have been a few armed guards near the gate.  The police who eventually arrived at the scene were the first armed people there.

  • Lori

    Unless you want to advocate having unlocked weapons around young children then arming school personnel would end up being not all that different from Fort Hood—guns present, but not readily usable in an emergency.

    Having an armed security guard in every school isn’t going to do the trick either, Columbine showed us that.  The Columbine shooters were well aware of the school’s guard and targeted him as soon as they saw him approach the building, before he could even get a sense of what was happening. That day he just happened to be outside. If he had been in the cafeteria as usual and they had shot him there it’s not likely that he could have done much to stop them and worst case scenario his death would simply have provided them with yet another gun.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Everman/1464936167 Bill Everman

     Despite my correction, I completely agree that arming teachers is a bad idea–at least requiring them to be armed.  There might be very specific circumstances in which trained, armed volunteers might be a good idea, but I’m not sold on it yet.  I apologize for not having a definitive opinion on this, and the clarity of thought to know that everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot.  I’m funny that way.

  • AnonymousSam

    The reference isn’t completely inappropriate, though. It’s not that one expects that there would be soldiers milling about with guns of their own, it’s just the combination of things one would expect to be advantageous (guns, training, and an abundance of both). The fact that a responsible gun owner keeps their firearms away from casual access goes completely over the head of the average gun nut. In their minds, having a gun automatically makes one into a hero waiting to happen. A whole base full of people who couldn’t possibly be better chosen for this possibility — and an ensuing massacre in which this didn’t happen, is still a pretty good argument for why “guns + training = kills the bad guys” is fail logic.

    In reality, teachers would almost certainly have to keep their firearms locked away as well, not just to prevent them from being a distraction to students and a target of curious fingers, but–in the worst and unfortunately common scenario–to prevent them from being stolen. I just don’t see them being an effective deterrent to another shooting. After all, given how many of the shooters kill themselves as the authorities are arriving, I don’t think the prospect of being killed really matters to them — and only one side of these hypothetical shootouts needs to worry about aiming carefully. The whole concept is just rife with horrible potential.

    “Fortunately”, the NRA and their supporters have shifted away from “arm the teachers” to “let’s have armed guards in the schools,” which I don’t think is a much better solution. I can’t imagine it would be very cheap (and our schools are in no position to squander money), and the implementation itself leaves me with concerns. How many guards would we have? Would they just sit in their office until needed? Would they patrol the halls? How ready would their access to firearms be?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Everman/1464936167 Bill Everman

    The real problem is the inability of government-worshiping Americans to recognize that  some problems cannot be solved by legislation.  First, mass casualty shootings are rare events, and appear to be declining on a per capita basis, so it’s not cost-effective to undertake huge programs to protect ourselves from them.  Gun control meaningful enough to actually change the likelihood of incidents like Sandy Hook would require mass confiscation…which would doubtless trigger numerous violent confrontations and many times more deaths than the shootings they would prevent.  Want armed guards in the schools?  Great.  But since school is the safest place most kids will be all day, are you going to put armed guards in the playground, on the ride home, at the corner store and in all their houses, too?  Or do you only care about kids dying at school?  Want to tighten up our mental health system and make it harder for people with mental illness to get guns? Okay, I like that…but if you push too hard, you may discourage people from seeking treatment for fear that they will lose their ability to have a gun.  And remember, as we watch the dust-ups in the wake of the DSM-V’s publication that mental illness is largely a politically defined thing.  If we put in place such restrictions forty years ago, might your gay friends be legally restricted from buying a gun due to their “psychological issue”? 

  • EllieMurasaki

    FYI, there hasn’t been a single mass shooting in Australia since Australia decided it wasn’t going to let civilians have guns without a really fucking good reason.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Gun control meaningful enough to actually change the likelihood of incidents like Sandy Hook would require mass confiscation

    Urban Legends Central just revoked your licence, buddy.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The real problem is the inability of government-worshiping Americans …

    Wow, your argument turned to shit after only 10 words. That’s quite impressive!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    mass casualty shootings are rare events

    Rare as in several times a year? Let us know how frequent spree killings need to become before they’re worth preventing at the expense of Rambo’s ego and we’ll get back to you.

  • Lori

    The real problem is the inability of government-worshiping Americans to recognize that  some problems cannot be solved by legislation. 

    1. Not wanting to die at the hands of a mass murderer with enough firepower to start a small war =/= government worship.

    2. If mass killings are a problem that cannot be solved by legislation why does the US have a mass killing rate and an overall homicide rate that dwarfs that of other countries which are, in all relevant ways save the issue of gun ownership and regulation, pretty much like the US?

    In formulating a response to #2 you need to take into account at least 2 things. First, the absence of mass shootings in countries which enacted stricter gun control after experiencing mass shootings. Second, the fact that the UK has an overall violence rate that’s actually a bit higher than ours, but a homicide rate that’s far, far lower and no mass shootings at all since they changed their gun laws (see issue #1).

    You want to treat mass shootings as if they can’t be prevented because then you won’t have to face the fact that you’re willing for innocent people to die in order for you to retain unlimited access to guns and ammunition. That doesn’t make it true.

  • Lori

     

    Gun control meaningful enough to actually change the likelihood of incidents like Sandy Hook would require mass confiscation…   

    This isn’t true either. We could go a long way toward making ourselves safer by restricting purchases of high capacity magazines, making private guns sales subject to the same rules as dealer sales and probably placing some limits on new purchases of some kinds of guns. Attrition will take care of the rest because gun ownership is declining. We have a staggering number of guns in circulation, not because our gun ownership rates are so terribly high, but because we have a core of gun owners who each own a lot of guns.

  • Beroli

     You apparently have the “clarity of thought” to know that everyone who disagrees with you is a government-worshiping American. That only differs from “an idiot” in that the one sounds better in your serious argument and the other sounds better in your strawman.

  • Lori

     

    I apologize for not having a definitive opinion on this, and the clarity
    of thought to know that everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot. 
    I’m funny that way.   

    It doesn’t matter whether the people who disagree with you, or with me, are idiots. It matters whether or not the idea being put forward is a good one. The ideas I’ve heard from the cold dead hands folks since this shooting, and after every other mass shooting we’ve had in the last couple of decades, have not been good. It doesn’t take extraordinary clarity of thought to see the problems. What it takes is starting from the position that the goal is to have fewer mass shootings instead of starting from the position that the goal is to have zero new regulation of civilian firearms.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    there are some people who don’t realize that arming teachers is a monumentally terrible idea 

    It seems reasonable to me to require people in one of the more stressful and poorly paid professions in America to carry deadly weapons.  What possible repercussion could there be?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Well, I’d like to see what happens the next time they try to bust up the teachers’ unions afterward.

  • Tapetum

    You’d think they might have some pause about the idea of turning the teacher’s union into a para-military force, wouldn’t you?

  • http://twitter.com/Didaktylos Paul Hantusch

    I can see “going teacher” replacing “going postal” …

  • Makabit

    It seems reasonable to me to require people in one of the more stressful and poorly paid professions in America to carry deadly weapons.  What possible repercussion could there be?

    I remember an episode some years ago, where a teacher at a private Christian school in Texas opened fire in the classroom. No one was hurt. He was apparently screaming “I’m going to get peace and quiet in here if I have to kill everyone to get it.”

    Classroom management gets to some people.

  • crossforce

    I think Fred’s off the mark here. 

    I don’t think Dobson is particularly shocked.  Surprised that something like this happened, yes, but any shock he feels is a distant, weak sort of thing.  He probably didn’t know any of the victims or their families or friends personally, therefore he can’t really summon too much emotion about it one way or another.  Besides, in his belief system, this is a fallen, sinful world, therefore events such as the Newton shooting, the Aurora theater shooting, the Dunblane school massacre and  and the Columbine massacre are simply par for the course.  Things like this are to be expected–and in exponentially greater magnitudes and numbers–until the Messiah returns to correct the world. 

    Besides, in his mind, those lives lost were God’s property anyway, and God is therefore free to do whatever He wishes with his property.  If that means leaving them alone to live to 90, ending their lives in a pointless war, killing them with cancer or other diseases or simply having them struck dead by lightning, that’s His prerogative and His alone.   And if He wants to punish the killing of children by…killing children, well, that’s God for you.  Sanctity of life is much less important than property rights, and God’s property rights trump all. 

  • smrnda

     Thanks for pointing that out so clearly, and it helps me see the connection between certain religious beliefs and the extreme economic libertarianism that is often paired with Christianity. I guess to some people, we are God’s property, and therefore, property rights are from God, and everything is understood as a hierarchical relationship to be determined by whose property you happen to be standing on.

  • Justin

    I found it interesting that when people were posting remembrances of Victoria Soto, the teacher killed who lied to the gunman about where her kids were, the religious-themed ones left out the fact that she lied. Similar to Dobson, I think they have trouble reconciling the fact that according to their religion, she’s burning in Hell now for bearing false witness.

    Remember when Christine O’Donnell said she wouldn’t lie to protect Jews from the Nazi’s? Wonder what she thinks of Vicki.

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    Name one evangelical who said Victoria Soto is in hell.

    Could we maybe not use this as an excuse to air our political grievances? Comments like this one and those from TheDarkArtist and crossforce really just come across as astoundingly crass. This is not about you, not right now.

  • Justin

    None of them said it. That’s my point. According to the Bible, she bore false witness. What happens to people who disobey God’s law? Like Dobson, they can’t actually believe what they claim to believe (i.e. their religious views), so they retreat into denial. Such is the poison of religious thought that results in the Dobsons and WBCs of this world.

  • stardreamer42

    Shorter James Dobson: “My god is an extortionist, and if you don’t pay the vig, it’ll happen to you too.”
     

  • MaryKaye

    I don’t think what Dobson feels, how he grieves or doesn’t grieve, is any of our business.  When his *actions* make things worse for the rest of us (and words are actions) then that’s worthy of condemnation.  But I regret reading this article; I think it goes in a direction we are better not going.  And I agree with the poster who says that “Dobson says X but he must believe Y” is pretty much the same as “People like MaryKaye say they’re pagans but they’re really Satanists at heart” and similar arguments.  This line of argument does not lead to truth and is useful only tactically, to smear someone.  I feel it is beneath us and should be avoided.

  • PatBannon

    Also this.

  • AnonymousSam

    Like most of us, he is rightly horrified by the slaughter in Newtown. He is reeling, recoiling, and struggling to come to grips with the shock and sorrow he feels in response to the murder of 20 children, all aged 6 and 7, and of the teachers and school leaders who cared for them.

    Ah, Fred… I’m so sorry, but once again, you are giving someone more credit than they deserve. Dobson is not like “most of us.” He is like me. To him, this isn’t a tragedy as you think of it; it’s the logical conclusion to an equation wherein the variable Faith has been defined as “too little” and so the only possible Y is “thus, massacre.”

    I can read that list and compare it to abortions, although to do so would be intellectually dishonest. So can Dobson, except that he sees no difference whatsoever and he gives them both equally little value, except as rhetorical evidence for the failing of the world in his ethnocentric and magical worldview.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    We meet again.  You are 100% incorrect, Sam.  Exemplary Dr. James Dobson (Godson) is as far from a sociopath as one can get!

  • AnonymousSam

    Right. Because being willfully ignorant, child and animal abusive, a liar, and a Nazi apologist is the mark of an exemplary man.

  • Jenny Islander

    I’m sorry, are you trolling?  Godson?  Seriously?

    The one story I trot out every time to explain why I don’t trust Dobson’s word on anything is the story he himself uses to uphold his claim to authority: the story of the family dachshund.  Dobson is a lousy dog owner and dog trainer, but he appears to be proud of what he did to that 12-pound animal.

  • JC

    The Christian Church doesn’t baptize the unborn nor have I ever heard of a denomination that performs funerals for miscarriages, though a church might have a separate rite for grieving for a miscarriage.  So, liturgically the Church does see a difference between a born human being and a fetus.  

    I do not question Dobson’s genuine belief that abortion is wrong.  But he never seems to campaign for increased availability of contraception nor does he argue for an expansive social safety net that might conceivably reduce the need for an abortion.  The problem with much of the anti-abortion movement is that it seems to be motivated by a desire to control women, rather than in any genuine commitment to reducing abortion.  

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I don’t think anyone per se doubts that Dobson believes abortion is wrong — the real point of contention is why. He claims  he believes it is wrong because it is a form of murder. But his reactions belie that. This suggests that his actual reason for believing abortion is wrong is something else. I, and a lot of us, think that the explanation that least contradicts the evidence of his actions is that he thinks abortion is wrong because it takes away his power to control other people (Women in particular, but there’s certainly other forms of control there, since by preventing abortion he can force entire families into poverty and deprivation).

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I don’t think anyone per se doubts that Dobson believes abortion is wrong [..] he thinks abortion is wrong because it takes away his power to
    control other people

    It is perhaps worth clarifying the distinction between believing that Dobson knows that the reason he opposes abortion is because it takes away his power over others, and believing that that is in fact his reason (whether he knows it or not), and believing that this is his reason though he doesn’t know it.

  • banancat

     Funerals for miscarriages are slowly catching on as A Thing in some very extreme fundagelical circles.  They have begun to realize that if they claim this embryo is  a precious baby then they really should mourn a miscarriage like the loss of a living child.  The biggest spectacle of this that I know of is when the Duggars went through a second miscarriage (the first being about 20 years ago).  This was held in a megachurch and was complete with photos of the fetus’s hands and feet and a burial at what I believe was a normal cemetery.  Of course, they are in the spotlight and likely would have reacted differently if there was nobody around to point out the hypocrisy of believing and embryo is a baby but only being somewhat sad at a miscarriage (instead of devastated).  I’m sure the Duggars thought they were doing a great job of evangelizing (one of the two reasons they did the show in the first place, the other being money), but in reality it just made outsiders see them as exploiting a sad event for fame and money (donations).  It really was a big tacky spectacle.  Michelle wrote a letter about the experience and forgot to mention her OTHER precious angel baby that she lost to a miscarriage all those years ago and when someone pointed that out she actually went back and changed it and tried to pretend it had always been that way. 

    It really highlighted how different they felt about the two miscarriages, one of them being early-term and decades ago, the other being late-term and recent.  Nearly everyone would be more saddened by the latter and that’s completely understandable, but if they actually admit that then they would be implying that an early term embryo maybe isn’t exactly the same as a later term one which maybe isn’t exactly the same as a newborn baby.

    I have stopped following them because it all just got to be too much, but for awhile after the miscarriage they included the fetus in their count of children, and then started counting the earlier miscarriage too.  The first miscarriage was after their first child and they never counted it among their other children for the next 18 kids that followed.  But it will go down the memory hole among their followers and they’ll insist that they always counted that first one, just like how Evangelicals have always been at war with abortion.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Given American gun culture I am actually really surprised nobody from the WBC has been shot in a scuffle or argument.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    According to Dobson, his God murdered children because he was angry at America about atheists, lukewarm Christians, abortion and gay marriage. Therefore he believes in a God that we should rightly hate.

    Why does anyone think “evangelical” is an appropriate label for this theology? Where’s the good news?

  • http://www.mymusingcorner.wordpress.com/ Lana

    I sure can’t say that, no way.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Again, Fred is giving someone the benefit of the doubt who does not deserve it. As I am not Christian, and as I do not see anything to be gained from giving evil assholes the benefit of the doubt…

    James Dobson does not care about children. At least, he does not care about children anywhere near as much as he cares about controlling women’s bodies, particularly controlling women’s bodies sexually. Fred’s coming from a point of view that assumes Dobson must care about children more than about keeping women under his heel.

    Actually, Fred ALWAYS does this with anti-choicers. He has all these well-written pieces on pretending there’s an enemy and fraudsters and blah blah, but I cannot remember him once addressing the true motivations of anti-choicers. Or even bringing it up as one of the motives of anti-choicers, if he insists on giving them so much more credit than they deserve. It’s misogyny. Purely, simply, nothing more nor less than attempting to make all women be incubators and nothing more, the way anti-choicers like to believe God intended it, because they have made God in their image.

    Fred appears to be trying to square the circle, in his constant attempts to address anti-choicers without even mentioning misogyny. It’s… sickening, actually. A way of erasing the women who are the victims of anti-choicers. 

  • DorothyD

    Actually, Fred ALWAYS does this with anti-choicers. He has all these well-written pieces on pretending there’s an enemy and fraudsters and blah blah, but I cannot remember him once addressing the true motivations of anti-choicers. Or even bringing it up as one of the motives of anti-choicers, if he insists on giving them so much more credit than they deserve. It’s misogyny.

    Always? Maybe you can’t remember, but did you actually look?

    It may be true that most of Fred’s anti-anti-choice pieces focus, as does this one, on the question of whether the fetus should have the same legal status as a chld and whether anti-abortionists are hypocritical in arguing as much. But it’s a mistake to say he completely neglects the importance women’s rights.

    Here, I looked for posts tagged with both “abortion” and “gender” and came up with seven hits:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/tag/abortion+gender/

    That’s just the ones he tagged with “gender”. Even a cursory look over posts tagged with just “abortion” came up with this example:

    Miller presents the compelling argument for contraception as the most effective approach to radically reducing the abortion rate. If that is the goal — as opponents of legal abortion claim — then the Affordable Care Act is a more effective means of achieving that goal than overturning Roe v. Wade would ever be. But what if that goal was only a pretense? What if opposition to legal abortion wasn’t really based on a desire to reduce the number of abortions, but were based mainly, instead, on a desire to control and punish women? – If conservatives really believe in the evil of abortion, they are morally obligated to embrace a policy that stands to limit it so impressively

  • Carstonio

     

    If conservatives really believe in the evil of abortion, they are
    morally obligated to embrace a policy that stands to limit it so
    impressively.

    Right, and that was the point I was trying to make earlier, except more broadly. These people don’t act as if they’re confronting a monstrous evil that must be stopped. At best, they act as if they’re declaring loyalty or support. I once asked a pro-lifer what was the point of making abortion illegal if it wouldn’t prevent abortions. (But it would the grievous harm it would cause women and doctors.) His response was that it was necessary to stand up for the unborn. As if laws were mere proclamations.

  • DorothyD

    Right, and that was the point I was trying to make earlier, except more broadly. These people don’t act as if they’re confronting a monstrous evil that must be stopped. At best, they act as if they’re declaring loyalty or support.

    Maybe it’s a problem of immediacy. I can understand how someone who believes abortion is murder might be inclined to focus mainly on stopping the abortion that’s happening today or this week, to the neglect of future abortions of pregnancies that haven’t even happened yet. Just like someone whose neighbor’s house is on fire is all about getting the fire department there as fast as possible and in the meantime organizing a bucket brigade or getting out the garden hose. And to continue the analogy, supporting the fire department when millages come up for renewal, and understanding the necessity of things like manufacturing and construction codes that reduce the possibility of fire in the first place.

    And not just ignoring all those things, not calling in the fire department, watching their neighbor’s house burn down and then saying neener neener.

    Yup. It’s mostly about the misogyny.

    (I had no idea where that analogy was going when I started typing and now that I look it over I’m pretty sure I did some sort of slight-of-hand somewhere in there…)

  • Carstonio

    And not just ignoring all those things, not calling in the fire
    department, watching their neighbor’s house burn down and then saying
    neener neener.

    Great analogy. Exceptions for rape and incest would be requiring the homeowner to provide proof that the fire was arson when calling the fire department.

  • Mks Mary

    I don’t know. If someone broke into a neo-natal intensive care unit and killed those premature infants — born at 30 weeks or 27 or even 24…. I mean, why should we feel outraged about that, and not about abortions at 24 or 27 or 30 weeks?

    Even if Dobson is inconsistent for feeling differently about abortion than about the slaughter of elementary school kids, I think abortion rights activists are sometimes inconsistent in a similar way, reacting emotionally to the deaths of very premature infants or mature fetuses as though they really are people… Emotional reactions aren’t always logical or consistent.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It is 100% logical and consistent to want to not force someone to give their body over to the existence of another person/fetus/whatever you want to call it, no matter the circumstances. Otherwise I’d be stumping for everyone being forced to give up a kidney, bone marrow, and blood every time they were physically capable of doing so.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Born infant, however small, no longer capable of posing a physical threat to the person whose uterus ze’s in on account of not being in a uterus, obviously wanted by somebody on account of neonatal intensive care costs a shitton and somebody’s paying the bill, versus fetus, certainly a physical threat to the person whose uterus it’s in on account of nobody waits till twenty-four weeks in to get an abortion unless there’s a threat to the pregnant person’s life or health that arises that late in pregnancy. (Or unless the decision to abort was made earlier but there were delays–maybe the pregnant person had trouble coming up with the money, maybe there’s only one clinic in the state and the pregnant person had trouble coming up with enough days off in a row to drive there, not to mention all the many legislative roadblocks people like putting in place.)

    Yes, Mary, there is a difference.

  • CoolHandLNC

    I don’t know. If someone broke into a neo-natal intensive care unit and killed those premature infants — born at 30 weeks or 27 or even 24…. I mean, why should we feel outraged about that, and not about abortions at 24 or 27 or 30 weeks?

    This is typical. People who want to use law to address the issue of abortion practically never take into account the woman the fetus is attached to. That it is her body means nothing. That it is her risk means nothing. That it is her cost means nothing. She is morally equivalent to an intruder in the NICU. 

    The sad thing is that this lack of recognition of the unique nature of the relationship and the agency of women makes it impossible to truly minister to the needs of women who are making choices about their pregnancy. They are shouted at and legislated against, and spoken of in absolute terms, or simply treated as if they did not exist. No, I don’t know what brings women to the decision to abort. Do you? Life has some hard choices. Rather than judge, we should follow the example of God in Christ, and be present. Will you comfort a woman who had to choose between her unborn child and her own life? Will you help with prenatal care, child care, bills when the mother cannot work? Will you tell a mother not to worry, you will take care of everything, hold her hand in labor, see that her child is placed in a loving home, help her with her grief? Will you help a young mother be a good parent? Will you do your part to see to it that her children will receive adequate nutrition and a good education?

    Pick up the cross, or go home.

  • Carstonio

    She is morally equivalent to an intruder in the NICU.

    Yes. In some cases, it’s a narcissistic hero fantasy. Probably the “happy” ending has the woman tearfully confessing to the hero that she can’t go through with the procedure. She pledges that she will be a dutiful mother who faithfully submits to the righteous authority of her husband. If this were in a Chick tract, I would expect the evil abortion doctor to embody anti-Semitic stereotypes.

  • Lunch Meat

    I don’t know. If someone broke into a neo-natal intensive care unit and killed those premature infants — born at 30 weeks or 27 or even 24…. I
    mean, why should we feel outraged about that, and not about abortions
    at 24 or 27 or 30 weeks?

    I think I can make this analogy work. Let me just get my red pen…

    If neonatal incubators were sentient, animate, had moral agency, and could feel pain and it interfered with their normal functioning to support a premature infant, and parents with premature infants forced the infants on the incubators without asking if the incubators wanted to support the infants, because there was no other way to keep the infants alive, and the incubators rejected and killed those premature infants — born at 30 weeks or 27 or even 24…. I
    mean, why should we feel outraged about that, and not about abortions
    at 24 or 27 or 30 weeks?

  • Lunch Meat

    I forgot to mention that the parents in question have no intention of compensating the incubator for its time, or indeed even of coming back to take responsibility for the infant, and once the infant is developed enough to not need life support, the incubator will be legally and financially responsible for it, and will be expected to either raise it or arrange for someone else to do so, and the incubator has no way to transfer the infant to another incubator who might be willing to accept the responsibility.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sorry, I’m just trying to imagine an animate neonatal incubator with financial responsibility. With what would it endorse its paychecks? The IV needle?

  • Lunch Meat

    And where does it earn its money? Clearly it must have a job. Picture a neonatal incubator as a teacher, or a writer, or a CEO, or a lawmaker, or a McDonald’s fry cook. Or maybe a starving street musician.

    (The fact that I did my level best to fix the analogy, and that’s how it came out, should tell you how fundamentally broken it was in the first place.)

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    We did care for a teenager in a crisis pregnancy in our home.  She was our own prodigal daughter who came back to Jesus and to her family because of her precious unborn daughter, my granddaughter.  Not only did she save Lily’s life, but Lily was instrumental in saving her mother’s life.  Sadly, Lily’s heart stopped beating at full term, and we were left with empty arms, an empty cradle and holes in our hearts.  We walked out the pro-life talk.  Check out Hannah Rose’s inspirational story.

     http://www.roseandherlily.com/2010/06/guideposts-writers-workshop-contest.html

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani Sharmin

    It’s nice of you to have some measure of sympathy for Dobson, Fred. I have to admit that though I try, I find it difficult. My guess is that some of the people who equate a zygote or embryo with a baby do realize the difference deep down, as you suggest, but perhaps some don’t. Add to that the fact that Dobson is a well-known public figure, and it leads me to believe that maybe he’s just saying it to get support, but my guess is there are at least some people who actually do believe it.

    And, related to previous comments, I agree that what he’s saying is similar to the kind of things that Fred Phelps says, but people don’t dismiss him as they do Phelps because he’s not protesting funerals and doesn’t phrase his positions as “God Hates [Insert hated group here]”. I think you wrote something similar to this earlier in “You can’t deny people their rights and be nice about it”. They want to be thought of as better just because they phrased a very similar idea in a different way. 

    Thanks for writing, Fred. I’ve known about your blog for a while now and would occasionally come by, but I’ve been visiting more often recently.

  • Pam S

    Covering what this idiot says—–publishing it—is some of what is really wrong.  It leads those who are mentally ill to believe that what they do is ok.  AND IT IS NOT!   Dobson has gone past his time——he has moved slightly into a mental health cliff.   God has never and will never operate that way.   There are, an have always been, REAL people who love, worship and honor Him.  They do not spread hate and promote vile behaviors!  

  • BryanCooper

    People – its called dogmatism.  Its not new problem.  This is actually a pretty good narrative of the problem.  Using one’s belief in God as a prism for viewing the world can lead to this corner.  Once there, all new events, no matter how small, must be viewed the same way.  Tighter and tighter strictness must be maintain lest one’s God be let down.  Their view of God though is based upon fear – fear of Hell, fear of others going to Hell, that drives these types of folks.  Trying to be rational with folks who have rationalized their own fears, their own God, every single event in the news – well its called dogmatic thinking for a reason.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Dr. James Dobson speaks on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, especially vulnerable, defenseless unborn babies.  That’s what all disciples of Jesus are called to do.  Yes, they are just as valuable as the precious children who were killed at Sandy Hook.  No life is any more valuable or any less valuable than any other.  It’s evil when some are not attributed dignity and worth by narcissistic fools, and nihilism results.  Each life begins at conception.
    Your thinking, Fred, is convoluted if you think Dr. Dobson said that the defenseless young children gunned down in their elementary school were ruthlessly slaughtered due to God’s judgment on our wayward country!  That is most definitely not what he meant.  We cannot continue to live in outright rebellion to God, and His precepts, and expect to continually be blessed by Him as a nation.  That is what Dr. Dobson was saying.  There are natural laws that govern this world, and we are reaping the consequences of rejecting Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords.  We are reaping the expected consequences of not surrendering our allegiance to Him as Master and Saviour.  You are knowingly misleading your readers, and they are relishing every false nugget.  You are well aware that they want more reason to hate on Dr. Dobson, and you seem to delight in providing them with hateful, intolerant, judgmental, false information.  As a Christian, how do you feel free to slam such a righteous man as Dr. Dobson?  Where’s your brotherly love?  How can you say that the Newtown massacre was any more horrific than is our unrelenting American holocaust of abortion that has killed over 54 million humans?  Granted, there are differences between the two atrocities.  The massacre took place in a public setting for our entire nation to be made aware of, not tucked covertly away, like abortion, under cover of darkness, in an abortion mill.   Had this diabolical deed gone unreported to the general public, just like abortion is, we would not all be outraged, for we would not know about it, just like we are not made aware of the evil daily perpetration of the violent slaughtering of unborn humans.  Reporting opposed to lack of reporting is pertinent to understanding how these two situations differ.  Pathetically, the ruthless slaughtering of the unborn is not something that is reported much at all.  If it is reported, it is done so in a manipulative way so as to brainwash people.  This brainwashing has been going on for decades now, and unthinking, uncaring, immature individuals who irresponsibly care more about their right to “free love” than they do about the lives of the most defenseless among us, have allowed themselves to be bamboozled by such poison.  Those lies that are perpetrated upon the American people that not all life is valuable are what’s rotting our hearts, minds and souls, Fred.  That evil MUST stop!  The massacre was seen as wrong by all, while abortion is viewed as right according to law.  Just because something is legal does not make it right.  The families of the 20 children, whose lives were snuffed out last Friday, were blessed with time to get to know them.  TIME.  The families of aborted babies are not afforded the gift of time in the presence of their children.  TIME spent together is a main difference between the deaths of babies and the deaths of older children.  They are all wanted by someone!  The main difference, of course, is that the 20 children who died too soon had worth attributed to their lives.  Babies in the womb do not, according to the heinous law of our faltering nation.  How diabolical for those bent on spreading the poison of abortion to cause naive females to believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to have their own babies killed in their safe havens.  That is the epitome of evil.  The deep sadness that will inevitably come due to the killing of one’s own flesh and blood is one that will never go away, just like the sadness that will never leave the families egregiously wounded at Sandy Hook.  Unborn babies, whether allowed the dignity of their right to life, or violently killed in what’s meant to be their safest haven of nurturing on earth, are actual babies, actual children.  For a mother to do something so against nature as to have her own child ripped from her womb is the most unnatural of acts.   

    My daughter’s baby girl was born still at full term.  The morning she delivered her much-anticipated, much-loved daughter, we were on our merry way rejoicing to the birthing center, hearts full of delight about a new member joining our family.  Within minutes of our arrival, it was discovered that Lily’s tiny heart that had been beating strongly and steadily for 40 weeks was beating no more.  With that devastating news, it was if the life was sucked out of us as well.  How could our hearts go on beating without her?  How could the sun go on shining without her?  How could the wind go on blowing without her?  It was even difficult to breathe.  We will never have, with our Lily, the blessing of time, like the families at Sandy Hook experienced with their children.  We didn’t get to hear her cry after delivery.  We never gazed into Lily’s blue eyes.  We never heard her talk or laugh, or watch while she took her first steps.  My daughter was not afforded the beautiful gift of breast-feeding her baby girl.  We never felt her hugs or her kisses.  We never got to celebrate even one birthday with our little flower.  Along with the Sandy Hook families, we won’t get to celebrate Christmas with our missing child.  Just like them, we will not see Lily graduate, or marry or have children of her own.  Like them, we have been forced to live with shattered dreams, and we will never forget the hopes we had for her.  Lily’s brief life was just as significant as each of the lives of the 20 children who were murdered at Sandy Hook.  We will never stop missing her.  Children are not supposed to die before their parents or grandparents.  Death is such an unnatural robber, and it is difficult at any stage, any age, for any reason, anywhere in the world.    

    Dr. James Dobson cares deeply about children just as much as anyone else in this world, and more than many.  He is not pretending anything.  He is a genuine servant of Jesus.   There is no pro-life rhetoric.  It is truth.  It is factual.  It is simple.  Life does begin at conception.  Period.  There is no distinction made between a new person just conceived or a six year old or a ninety-nine year old.  Every single life has the exact same value in God’s sight, for it is He that creates every life, and that is what counts!  Every abortion that ends a sacred life developing in the womb does sadden me just as much as each of the lives ended on Friday.  I am not pretending.  Abortion is evil too.  It sends the message that human life is not sacred at any stage of development.  After all, we are just animals fighting for survival, right?  Tragically, abortion was born out of the teaching of atheistic evolution.  The unfathomable repercussions of that egregious lie are many and far flung, like feathers in the wind.  Common sense is no longer common.  I am willing to stand with Dr. Dobson, for why should he take all of the heat?

    http://www.drjamesdobson.org/Broadcasts/Broadcast?i=32d0ea7c-eeb2-41fb-9c05-f6e0c733d58a

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    My sympathies for your family’s loss.
    As you say, grief is difficult, no matter the reason for it.

  • CoolHandLNC

    I would sympathize with Ms. Allen’s loss, except that it means little enough to her that she is willing to exploit this sad, irrelevant story as coin to elicit sympathy for her political/religious views. We’re supposed to be nice to her and defer because of her grief. Nope. Step in the ring and you better have the boxing gloves on. Heck, it is so long and melodramatic that I have no problem believing that it is some fake cut-and-paste from somewhere.Of course her screed is so long and filled with so much nonsense, including the usual ignorance of reproductive biology, that she is obviously trolling. Add to that her adulation of Dr. Dobson. This is obviously someone who has no capacity for critical thought.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I don’t mean to suggest that anyone is obligated to be kind to her, whether because of her personal loss or for any other reason. And I certainly agree that her personal loss does not provide evidence for her political, religious, and/or scientific beliefs, many of which are simply false.

    I do, in general, endorse people being kind to each other, but that’s just my preference. It’s not an obligation on anybody’s part.

  • CoolHandLNC

    I don’t mean to suggest that anyone is obligated to be kind to her, whether because of her personal loss or for any other reason.

    That isn’t exactly what I meant. People sometimes use their personal grief as a bludgeon or shield. For example, I was at a public hearing about a proposed policy to do random drug testing on students who apply for parking passes at my son’s high school. One vocal proponent told a story about his son who had died of a drug overdose. I definitely felt he was using the story to intimidate. I stepped up and politely said that was terrible about his son, but the proposed policy was an ineffective waste of resources, with the potential through false-positive to create real problems for innocent students. Too, it would not address alcohol, the most frequently abused drug. (The policy was enacted. I have no idea whether they actually test anybody.)

    The same sort of thing comes up in reverse with the argument “if your wife were murdered wouldn’t you want the killer to get the death penalty”. My response would be that I might want to cut out his still-beating heart with a pocketknife then go and burn down the town he came from, but that isn’t how I decide what to do, nor is it how we should decide how to run our society. To my mind, that someone has an emotional story potentially diminishes their credibility, to the extent that they might not be thinking clearly. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Yup, agreed with all of this, or close enough.

    Had this been my first time around the mulberry bush with Ginny, I might have bothered to follow up my polite expression of sympathy with a more detailed response, as you did with your polite expression of sympathy for the gentleman at the hearing.

    It isn’t, so I didn’t.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    I appreciate your kind expression of sympathy, Dave, for apparently unworthy, me  I saw Jesus in that thoughtful gesture.   :)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    It is hardly my place to evaluate your worth. And while I’m not a Christian, I welcome the company of any entity that manifests itself in thoughtful gestures.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    I am certainly not attempting to elicit empathy or compassion from anyone for my family’s profound suffering.  My essay is all mine, birthed today out of my critical thinking skills and compassion for all people, including Dr. James Dobson.  I came here to show my undying support for a man who, for 32 years, has been instrumental in helping shape the person I have become.  He has been a mentor to me throughout my entire marriage.  I will be eternally grateful to him and his organization, Focus on the Family. 

  • Lunch Meat

    My essay is all mine, birthed today out of my critical thinking skills
    and compassion for all people, including Dr. James Dobson.

    Just curious…if it was just “birthed” today, was it an essay before you wrote it, while you were still thinking about it, or was it a potential essay?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Essays begin at misconception.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And assumption is the brother of all fuck-ups.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you then saying that a woman who gets an abortion in a jurisdiction where abortion is legally murder should get the same penalty the law would impose on the Newtown shooter had he lived to face trial?

  • AnonymousSam

    For those who haven’t yet made her acquaintance, Ginny here is a  56 year old conservative who prides herself on not learning new things or arguing in good faith, is prone to walls of copy-and-paste rants from conservative websites about the evils of abortion, and rarely bothers to acknowledge when she is asked a legitimate question. Those thinking to make an argument in return to the above would be better served by shouting at a wall for a few hours. The wall is more responsive.

  • Isabel C.

    Right.
    Also, her God seems to disapprove of excessive paragraph breaks. 

  • Kiba

    For those who haven’t yet made her acquaintance, Ginny here is a  56 year old conservative who prides herself on not learning new things or arguing in good faith, is prone to walls of copy-and-paste rants from conservative websites about the evils of abortion, and rarely bothers to acknowledge when she is asked a legitimate question. Those thinking to make an argument in return to the above would be better served by shouting at a wall for a few hours. The wall is more responsive.
    Also, lest it be lost in the wall of words, yes, Ginny just blamed abortion on the teaching of evolution.

    She’s also a tiresome hypocrite with a martyr complex who treats others like shit then complains when she’s called on it. 

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Where’s the tolerance, man?

  • EllieMurasaki

    How about you start being tolerant of people whose physical, mental, emotional, and/or financial health requires them to not be pregnant tomorrow regardless of whether they are pregnant today, and we’ll start being tolerant of you?

    Speaking of which, what penalty should apply to a woman who gets an abortion in a jurisdiction where abortion is legally murder? Is it the same penalty that should apply to a woman who kills her toddler? If not, why not?

  • Kiba

    Ah, “tolerate my intolerance.” Yeah, not going to happen. 

  • Baby_Raptor

    You’ll get tolerance when you give it. Sitting back and screaming “Tolerate my intolerance!” is the height of hypocrisy, and is only used when the user needs to feel superior. 

    You have your views. You have the right to live them out. When you allow the rest of us those rights, no matter how our views contradict yours, you’ll get the tolerance you want. Until then, you’re going to be called on your bullshit.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    My dear wise old dad, if he were yet alive, would ask you if you were born in a barn, Sam.  Your skills at etiquette are lacking, for you neglected to introduce all your buddies here to me.

  • Leum

    I
    don’t know. If someone broke into a neo-natal intensive care unit and
    killed those premature infants — born at 30 weeks or 27 or even 24…. I
    mean, why should we feel outraged about that, and not about abortions
    at 24 or 27 or 30 weeks?

    Even if Dobson is inconsistent for feeling differently about abortion
    than about the slaughter of elementary school kids, I think abortion
    rights activists are sometimes inconsistent in a similar way, reacting
    emotionally to the deaths of very premature infants or mature fetuses as
    though they really are people… Emotional reactions aren’t always
    logical or consistent.

    Under Roe v Wade third trimester abortions can be–and have been–restricted to those that are medically necessary. They’re also really, really rare. The vast majority of abortions in the US occur during the first trimester.

  • Truth

    Congratulations on doing something the extreme right always does–politicizing a tragedy for advancing your beliefs on abortion.

    And your *HUGE* assumption that the reason Dobson didn’t word something a particular way was because he doesn’t believe abortion is equal to killing one of those kids is not only ridiculously unfounded, but it has no shred of logic or fact to back it up.  It’s asinine to the ridiculous degree.  Seriously, this is Tea Party-level rhetoric, and it’s disgusting.

    Let’s take religion out of this debate.  My abortion stance has absolutely zero to do with religion.  It’s founded on logic, facts, and scientific definitions.

    “As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an
    embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did
    used to argue) a growth on or in the female body.  There used to be
    feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even-this
    was seriously maintained-a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped.
     Of the considerations that have stopped it, one is the fascinating and
    moving view provided by the sonogram, and another is the survival of
    ‘premature’ babies of feather-like weight, who have achieved ‘viability’
    outside the womb. … The words ‘unborn child,’ even when used in a
    politicized manner, describe a material reality.”
    – Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great (pp. 220-21)

  • Loki100

    Congratulations on doing something the extreme right always does–politicizing a tragedy for advancing your beliefs on abortion.

    What… what? This is a level of insanity that makes me actually want to question your reading comprehension. Fred Clark posted this as a response to James Dobson politicizing a tragedy for advancing his beliefs on abortion.

  • AnonymousSam

    Is anyone else having issues with this thread and Disqus e-mail subscriptions? I just checked and at least one third of the replies are not being sent to me via e-mail.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Aw shit. Because work flat refuses to load Disqus comments.

  • AnonymousSam

    That doesn’t even make sense–do the pro-life women want to . . . control . . . other women?  Or something ridiculous?

    There are plenty of conservative women who argue that women should not be allowed to work, receive educations or go outside without their husband’s presence, so it’s not as though there aren’t women out there who are perfectly willing to shoot themselves in the foot.

  • Carstonio

    My first exposure to Dobson was from a book on marriage that I received as a wedding present. Midway through, Dobson goes on a two-page rant about gender roles, insisting that women were created deliberately to be inferior and subservient to men. The instrument has not been invented that could measure the repulsiveness of that claim. Put aside for a moment the fundamental immorality and injustice of mandatory gender hierarchy. No one asks to be born into a sexual identity, and I have difficulty imagining any woman wanting a life where she’s always under the control of a man, whether it’s a father or a husband. If that were just part of life, it would be a very good reason for females to abandon society entirely like in Methuselah’s  Children.

  • DorothyD

    I was thinking at first that the fetus is what has to be rescued, which would have the house-fire analogous to an abortion that must be prevented. But somewhere midstream my brain switched over to the woman’s perspective – she wouldn’t be seeking an abortion unless she had some good reason for it. Having a baby at that time would be a disaster for her and it’s that disaster that she wants to prevent.

    So then manufacturing and building codes are analogous to access to health care, contraception and education to prevent pregnancy. Fire departments analogous to access to an abortion clinic should she become pregnant anyway and I hope no one would ask first whether she’d been smoking in bed or something. Or as you say, only calling for help if it was arson and she could prove it. 

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    As exemplary Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

  • AnonymousSam

    Given that Mother Teresa also equated suffering with godliness and thus opposed the use of anesthetics, I don’t consider her view on morality to be particularly enlightened.

    But hey, she also opposed secular learning and praised obedience over thinking skills, so I imagine you can find plenty to appreciate about her.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Eh. Broken clock syndrome.

    (I typed ‘broken cock’ first. brb giggling forever)

  • AnonymousSam

    I’ve never particularly had a high view of Mother Theresa to begin with, so this clock manages to be wrong even more often than most. Let’s just say the Salvation Army could appreciate her model of charity– “No, you don’t get any because you’re a disgusting pagan. Hey! Stop learning about physiology! The last thing we want to do is HELP people! The point is dying in agony, people, get it through your thick skulls!”

  • Kiba

    I’ve never particularly had a high view of Mother Theresa to begin with,

    That makes two of us. Not a fan at all. She discouraged the sisters working in her facilities from attaining any kind of medical training because God is supposed to empower the weak and the ignorant, but when she, herself, fell ill she went and sought out proper medical treatment. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which absolutely applies when we’re talking about, you know, children. Should a woman who gets an abortion in a jurisdiction where it’s legally murder get the same twenty-five-to-life as she would if she paid someone to kill her three-year-old?

  • Carstonio

    Don’t make assumptions about why some women have abortions. Or why some women don’t. Whatever good that Mother Theresa accomplished, her central sin was in presuming to know what was best for people, and helping them on her terms. Both are wrong no matter what one’s religious affiliation or one’s position on abortion.

  • VMink

    What should the punishment be for a woman who has an abortion in a jurisdiction where abortion is illegal?

    Stoning, right?  Death by stoning?  That’s appropriate, isn’t it?

  • Carstonio

    The risk with using analogies such as yours is that they’re too often misread as being about abortion itself. I read your analogy as applying specifically to Dobson’s characterization of abortion and the disconnect with his behavior.

  • DorothyD

    That’s how I started thinking about it – as others already said, if he really thought abortion was murder, he’d be doing a lot more to prevent it. 

  • DorothyD

    As exemplary Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

    It is a poverty for you to decide that another woman must live as you wish. 

    The woman’s house is on fire. To her, that’s what it is. If she wanted to be pregnant, she’d see it as a cozy little blaze in the fireplace.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not strictly true. I understand that Savita in Ireland wanted that pregnancy. It’s just that the pregnancy went wrong in a way potentially fatal to her (and for bonus points certainly fatal to the fetus, but the fetus was taking its time about expiring), and she wanted the pregnancy less than she wanted to live.

  • DorothyD

    Eh, it still works. In Savita’s case, the fire escaped from the fireplace. Sadly. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which still ends up with house on fire.

  • DorothyD

    To which the only sane response is “put out the damn fire.” 

  • Makabit

    ‘she wanted the pregnancy less than she wanted to live’
    The pregnancy was doomed. The mother was not, until they decided they couldn’t make a move until the fetus was actually dead.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    It’s a soothing argument, but it doesn’t work for me on rational grounds sorry. Whether we feel that the lives are equal or not has no bearing on whether they actually are. We naturally have stronger feelings for those we relate to, so many Christians care more for say Christian refugees than Muslim ones. You could have used the same argument for the deaths of Taliban lives vs those in the World Trade Centre, or white slave owners comparing the deaths of slave children to their own. We see children, we know their faces and laughs and we relate deeply, but unborn children are out of sight and sound and even the photos of them look different to us. Does that really make them worth less?

    Objectively, all we actually know is the biological reality that an embryo or foetus is a human being – not part of its mother, an actual human. All other arguments around personhood may have their place, but lets be honest enough to admit that they are philosophical and emotive arguments, subject to our basic prejudices. We need to openly discuss if the human rights of an unborn child are different to an older one and I don’t propose a simple solution to that, but what I do think is that the discussion is doomed from the beginning if we continue to retreat into our own blindspots and use them as fortresses.

    As for the idea that the massacre was God’s judgement, Adam Lanza shot those people, not God. He was a man raised to revere the right to violence that a gun symbolises – that’s turning your back on the God that loves his enemies. Even those that we just can’t relate to.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How do you propose to give any rights to a fetus, any at all, without taking away rights from the living breathing grown human in whose uterus the fetus resides?

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    I believe very much in the rights of the mother and that’s where my natural sympathies lie, but the reality of human rights is that sometimes they conflict. Sometimes we need to compromise on our own rights or comfort for those of another.

    Again, it’s a subjective line to be drawn. Maybe it’s reasonable to place the rights of the mother over her unborn child in situations of health for example, but not in others; I don’t want to draw that line. Nothing is black and white there, but for that extremely complex discussion we can’t stick our heads in the sand. We are talking about human rights for two different humans. We can depersonalise one of them but the reality still stands; once those DNA groups combined a new Homo sapiens came into existence. One will argue that they have less rights because they are dependent on the other, but someone else will say that dependence mandates greater care. One will say that the right to education and meaningful employment of one is being threatened, but another will say that the right of life itself outweighs that. Let’s not try to make this simple, it is not.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I believe very much in the rights of the mother and that’s where my natural sympathies lie, but the reality of human rights is that sometimes they conflict. Sometimes we need to compromise on our own rights or comfort for those of another.

    I admit my judgment may be compromised by the level of work stress I am currently experiencing (did I mention I’m aiming for a sixty-hour work week? better than fifty-six-hour, for sure); does anyone concur in my judgment that this is a concern troll?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    does anyone concur in my judgment that this is a concern troll?

    I’m not sure they’re a concern troll per se, but I’m coming to doubt their sincerity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Ellie, please don’t be offended by my discussion. If I say anything hurtful, let me know because I have no intention of that.

    I work long hours myself, but in addition I open my home to homeless kids and spend most of my free time working through their lives with them. I discuss on blogs like this because the pain of people matters to me and because I see so much damage in the way people withdraw to irrational corners without thinking through the implications of their beliefs. I find the ‘Religious Right’ very difficult to have any time or respect for, but I also recognise the tribal temptation to just adopt all the views of the opposition. I want to think independently. If you can give me good reasons to think differently than I am then I will gladly change my thinking, but whether I am debating you, the gun lobby or climate change denialists, calling me a troll doesn’t cut it as a good argument.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You keep saying you want women to have reproductive rights (implication: you are pro-choice), and following it up with insisting that rights are conveyed to a new human before birth (implication: you are pro-life) without saying anything about how you are going to preserve reproductive rights in the process (implication: you are a question-dodging jackass).
    Classic concern troll.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Again Ellie, I’m not calling you names, please lets keep this genuine.

    Like I said before, I don’t want to pick a tribe and identify my enemies. I am neither pro-life nor pro-choice. I acknowledge the biological reality that no matter how you want to cage it, a Homo sapiens embryo is still a Homo sapiens and anything saying differently is a subjective opinion. That has been my point from the beginning – let’s acknowledge the facts before we discuss the details. Reality, then opinion. Whether someone has human rights before or after birth is opinion.

    Reproductive rights means different things to different people; anything from the right to take the life of the unborn on the morning after, as an embryo, a foetus, full-term or shortly after birth as Singer proposes. Which reproductive rights would you like me to say yes or no to? Do you not agree that this is a complex issue, and if so why should I be pressured to side in an unproductively polarised argument? Why not discuss it as adults and leave the complexity and nuance in there, even if we don’t solve it all in one day?

    So no, I will not pick a side and if that makes me a troll or a jackass, I can live with that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If a pregnant person drinks alcohol, or does drugs, or takes a medication or goes on an amusement park ride that pregnant people are warned off of, and this does injury to the fetus, should this person be charged with the degree of criminal negligence appropriate to if this person had through similar negligence injured a toddler to similar degree? If so, how will you investigate and prosecute such crimes without knowing who’s pregnant, or will you monitor every potentially pregnant person for signs of pregnancy? If not, why not?

    If a pregnant person ends the pregnancy, what charges should be filed against that person? Are they the same as the charges that would be filed against that person if the crime was instead the murder of a toddler? If not, why not? If a pregnant person miscarries, should it be investigated as though it is an attempted murder? If not, why not?

  • AnonymousSam

    Concurred, as the rhetoric coincides a little too neatly. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Concern_troll

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    From that link Sam:

    In environments of genuine groupthink, applying the concern troll label may serve as a means of enforcing conformity and punishing (or silencing) dissent. And even without actual groupthink in play, many Internet posters find dismissing an argument much quicker and easier than evaluating it. In addition, the term “concern troll” focuses not on what the person is actually saying, but on some alleged “secret real agenda”. Thus, it is the perfect refuge for someone who has no counter to the actual argument: simply ignore the points made, allege some other position, and then accuse the other person of lying if they deny that that is what they’re really saying.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You ARE advocating a pro-life position, and we ARE engaging with that argument, and you ARE doing all this while claiming to support reproductive rights, without once advancing a proposition to simultaneously preserve reproductive rights and extend rights to fetuses.

    Your quote would work better to slam us with if it, y’know, applied.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Sorry Ellie, no. I’m just doing what I said I was all along and I don’t have any secret agendas. I recognise the biological reality that an unborn Homo sapiens is a Homo sapiens, and I recognise that you are avoiding this simple fact and elevating your personal opinion and emotion over objective reality.

    Yes, I do believe that an unborn human has rights and like any other human deserves some level of protection. I also don’t believe that our value decreases the more dependent we are on others. On the other hand, I would never judge a woman that opted for an abortion for reasons of necessity that I don’t have to deal with. I would like to see freely available contraception so that a young woman I know of that looks for sex to medicate her feelings of worthlessness doesn’t have to have abortions afterward. But those are my opinions. You would call me pro-life, pro-lifers call me pro-choice. I choose not to pick a side, I just wish that on Christian sites I did not always run into such determination not to think.

    Have a good day.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Should someone who gives birth to a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome be charged with criminal negligence? Should someone who has a miscarriage be investigated for murder?

  • EllieMurasaki

    a young woman I know of that looks for sex to medicate her feelings of worthlessness

    What the actual fuck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    I didn’t want be caught up in your argument Ellie, but please try to understand what people say to you without retreating to aggression. Try to understand this person, she is just one person but she matters to me and this simplistic black and white world you live in that can’t comprehend her makes me angry.

    Deserted by father, years of anorexia and self harm as a response to bullying at school. If someone looks at her badly she leaves school and hides in her room. She lies awake at night crying most nights in terror that she will not be loved. She is attractive, dresses to be noticed, strips to her underwear in a crowd when drunk. She has been drawn to an endless list of boyfriends that have taken her for sex then treated her as worse than dirt, but they are the only people she is attracted to because she feels completely worthless and mistrusts anyone that shows her genuine love. She doesn’t understand love, but she knows sex and knows how to feel loved temporarily. Afterward I spend ages searching for her and eventually find her in a crumpled mess or get a call at 3am to take her to the hospital because the emotional pain makes it hard for her to breath. That’s what the actual f**k.

    There is a real world out there of situations that are messy and confused, and you hiding from it helps no one. You can be better than this.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh. This was a specific person, not a generalization about young women who have sex. I misconstrued. I apologize, to you and to her.

    Should someone who gives birth to a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome be prosecuted for criminal negligence? Should someone who has a miscarriage be investigated for murder?

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Thanks Ellie, much appreciated.

    Here are my opinions, but they are only opinions.

    1) Fetal alcohol syndrome issue – I think it’s criminal to drink so much that you harm your unborn child, but there may be better ways than  prosecution to deal with an addiction. Should someone be forced to abort because they have acted criminally and potentially harmed their child? That depends again on whether you accept the science or not. If you accept the science then you are talking about forcing someone to euthenase a human to save them from future pain. That *may* be the kinder thing to do but don’t you think it’s a complex dilemma still? Should we really turn it into a black and white issue? Remember that by the same definition of personhood, a heavily disabled human has no more rights than an unborn child.

    2) No, I think that would be ridiculous.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Jesus Herbert Walker Christ. Forcing someone to have an abortion is utterly, completely abhorrent, and a person with disabilities is entitled to all the same rights as any other person.

    The thing is, if a fetus is the legal equivalent of a toddler, drinking while pregnant is an unacceptably risky act and should be treated as such. And if a fetus is the legal equivalent of a toddler, a miscarriage must be treated as a suspected murder until it is proven that the pregnancy was not aborted.

    You say someone who drinks while pregnant is not being criminally negligent and someone who miscarries should not be treated as the prime suspect in a murder investigation. This proves that you do not actually consider fetuses the equivalent of toddlers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    I’m glad that isn’t what you were suggesting then, that’s good.

    I don’t understand why a miscarriage would be treated as suspected murder if a foetus and toddler are equal. Are you suggesting then that all cot deaths should be treated as suspected murder?

    Ellie, you’re putting words in my mouth to win an argument. Again, I don’t care who ‘wins’, what does that change? I discuss issues so that I and others can learn and think better. You asked if someone should be prosecuted as criminally negligent, I replied that I thought it was criminal, but that there are often better ways than prosecution to deal with addictions. That does not equal “someone who drinks while pregnant is not being criminally negligent”. Like I said, listen to what people are saying to you and put your aggression away. We could probably have had a good discussion without it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    My understanding is that all accidental deaths are treated as murder investigations. Maybe not for long, depends how long it takes to establish that the death is accidental, and it’s entirely possible that nobody actually says the word ‘murder’ until somebody’s sure it is, but they all get investigated. And given the relative frequency of abortion and infanticide, the death of a fetus is much more likely to be murder (assuming the killing of a fetus is indeed murder) than the death of an infant is. How could a miscarriage, in a world where abortion is legally murder, not be investigated as a suspected murder?

    So if criminal negligence in conjunction with consumption of alcohol results in permanent harm to a toddler–maybe the adult put the kid in the shotgun seat of the car and then drunk-drove and crashed, I don’t know, invent your own scenario–that should be treated as though the main problem here is the consumption of alcohol, not the harm to the kid?

    Don’t you fucking dare tone-police me.

    I am aggressive about this because Savita Halappanavar is my sister. Every woman who dies or who suffers permanent damage to her health or financial standing due to being denied an abortion is my sister.

    I only have so much money to give Planned Parenthood, but words are free. Every person I can convince of the necessity of legal unrestricted abortion (and the related causes of mandatory comprehensive sex ed, inexpensive and widely available over-the-counter contraception, and all the antipoverty programs including but not limited to such programs targeted at pregnant people, new parents, and single parents) is one more person helping my sisters. Every person opposed to any of the above whom I can convince to stop opposing those things is one fewer person hurting my sisters.

    Don’t you dare say I should do less than everything I can to help my sisters. Don’t you fucking dare.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Then do something useful for your sisters rather than just screetching melodramatically at everybody that raises a reality you can’t deal with. I have just wasted a day trying to reason patiently through your childish outbursts and insults; if you genuinely believe that violence is doing something useful then go and join the gun lobby. Otherwise, try to find some way to help your sisters that can accommodate real world facts, as I am doing. Goodbye.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Have you ever been, are you ever capable of being, pregnant? Will you ever be putting your life and health and emotional stability and financial security at risk for even the smoothest and least complicated of pregnancies?

    No?

    FUCK RIGHT THE FUCK OFF.

  • EllieMurasaki

    My brother’s wearing a “Pro-Life Vanguard” T-shirt with the little footprints in the logo, which reminded me of something.

    You know those Precious Feet pins, the ones sized to match the feet of a ten-week fetus? (I think it’s ten weeks. Not relevant, though.)

    I had one of those on my purse for years.

    I would have saved Savita on the grounds that live mother and dead baby was better than dead mother and dead baby. I would have permitted abortion to someone with a pregnancy gone wrong in one of the shitty ways that doesn’t result in a live one-year-old no matter what one does. (Age chosen arbitrarily, I admit.) If it was only the mother’s health at risk, I would have needed more details before deciding. Rape exception? That’s stupid. Not the baby’s fault who their biodad was. Too poor to raise a baby? No such thing–haven’t you heard of churches and food stamps?

    Then I started meeting feminists on the Internet.

    Know why I spend time on the Internet trying to show people who are against legal abortion what harm is done by making abortion illegal and/or difficult to safely and quickly get and/or by requiring anyone other than the pregnant person and their doctor to have a say in whether the pregnant person gets an abortion?

    Because.

    It.

    Works.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > Objectively, all we actually know is the biological reality that an embryo or foetus is a human being – not part of its mother, an actual human.

    Objectively?
    Really?

    OK, then, if we’re actually going to accept that as our standard for this discussion: what are the objective criteria that define an actual human? How do we know that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    I’m talking human from a biological, scientific point of view rather than a philosophical one. If the DNA of an embryo or a severely disabled adult are Homo sapiens then they are human, even though neither qualifies as a “person” by most definitions of that very subjective idea.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Uh, adult humans are people regardless of whether or what disabilities they have.

    Is a single embryo two people before it divides into identical twin embryos? What about after two fraternal twin embryos merge into a chimera embryo? And how are you going to give any embryos any rights without taking rights away from pregnant and potentially pregnant people?

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    People like Peter Singer would differ with you on that Ellie. One of the main criteria used to define personhood is whether they have expectations for their life that would be robbed if it is taken from them. So although it responds to stimuli, a foetus is unaware of its existence and if an abortion is painless, the argument goes that the foetus has lost nothing compared to an adult that is aware that they will no longer care for their children for example. Singer and others apply the same logic to severly disabled people. I agree with you on this.

    Your discussion on twins etc illustrates my point that there are no other clear points of distinction than conception, and that everything else is a subjective judgement call. Please see my other answer to your final question.

  • EllieMurasaki

    there are no other clear points of distinction than conception, and that everything else is a subjective judgement call.

    BIRTH.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    The difference between the human inside the womb and the one outside is that you can see one of them. It is equally dependant on the mother for survival.

  • EllieMurasaki

    False. A neonate is dependent on somebody, yes, but not anybody in particular. The person who gave birth can hand the baby over and walk away. A fetus is dependent on one very particular person who does not have the option of handing the fetus over and walking away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    It sounds like you agree that both are dependent, but you assert that the ability for the mother to hand over the infant to someone else is the difference. So if that really is the difference, why is the death of a newborn infant that can be handed over so much worse than one a day younger that can’t?

  • EllieMurasaki

    One day before birth is plenty far enough into pregnancy for induced birth followed by adoption to be a possibility. Assuming of course that the pregnancy is proceeding normally. If the pregnancy is not proceeding normally, which is invariably the case with abortions after twenty-four weeks or so (unless the pregnant person wanted to get an abortion sooner but couldn’t afford it or had much too long a trip to the nearest clinic or ran into any of the many other legislatively imposed delays), a healthy birth is not really on the table.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Ageed, but not everyone does. In Victoria (Australia) it’s legal to have an abortion at full term if the doctors agree that the mother will find it emotionally difficult to have the child.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Does it ever actually happen that a woman in Australia gets an abortion at full term because it’ll be emotionally difficult, not because her health or life or the fetus’s life are at risk from continuing the pregnancy?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for legal abortion in any stage of pregnancy no questions asked (it is nobody’s place bar the pregnant person’s and that person’s doctor’s to determine when it might be appropriate for that person to get an abortion, and it is sure as fuck not the legislature’s place), but I really, truly doubt that anyone who’s got a healthy full-term pregnancy goes on to have an abortion.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Again, just to be thorough: you can’t have an abortion at “full term”. Because you abort a pregnancy, not a fetus. If you’re at full-term, the procedure for becoming un-pregnant is called “childbirth”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Pretty sure that biology understands a difference in meaning between “human” and “a human”.

  • AnonymousSam

    This. Otherwise, we can argue that a teratoma should be counted as human life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Except that the DNA of a teratoma identifies it as part of the human it grows on, whereas the DNA of a foetus identifies it as separate. 

  • AnonymousSam

    You’ve shifted the goal posts from “it is human” to “it is human with separate genetic material.” The latter point is functionally meaningless. Chimeras can have internal organs with different genetic material, but that doesn’t make them equivalent to a separate human being in any meaningful way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    I’m not shifting any goal posts Sam, I suspect that in reality you secretly do know the difference between a human embryo and a teratoma :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, one is sometimes wanted. An unwanted embryo is effectively a tumor that gets more funny-shaped the bigger it gets, and, like a tumor, should be
    got rid of as quickly as feasible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    The implication of course being that if it is not gotten rid of, it will eventually grow into a full walking, talking tumour. I don’t know any people that fall into that category.

    Anyway, it sounds like we’ve exhaused genuine discussion, but thanks for your time Ellie.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Don’t be absurd. An unwanted pregnancy brought to term turns into an unwanted child upon birth, who then grows up in poverty and/or foster care.
    …wait, poor people are popularly considered a drain upon society by the very people who so oppose measures to reduce the number of people in poverty. Calling them tumors in the body of society fits right in with that rhetoric.

    We can’t possibly have exhausted genuine discussion. I know this because you haven’t answered whether someone who gives birth to a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome should face criminal negligence charges, or whether someone who miscarries should face a murder investigation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Not sure what you’re saying sorry Ross. I’m saying that biology identifies the species of the embryo as human.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I’m talking human from a biological, scientific point of view rather than a philosophical one. If the DNA of an embryo or a severely disabled adult are Homo sapiens then they are human, even though neither qualifies as a “person” by most definitions of that very subjective idea.

    Right, and I’m asking you from a biological, scientific point of view, what are the criteria that define an actual human?

    You didn’t quite answer the question, but I might infer from your reply that your answer is “If something contains Homo sapiens DNA, then that thing is human.” Do you assert that?

    If not, I’ll repeat the question: what are the criteria that define an actual human?

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Yes, you’re right; human DNA is only found in humans.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    human DNA is only found in humans.

    So, does that mean that you assert that if something contains Homo sapiens DNA, then that thing is human?

    If not, I’ll repeat the question: what are the criteria that define an actual human?

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    A human is a species formed from their own human DNA. Perhaps you could explain where your confusion is here so that I can answer it better.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    My confusion is that your original comment suggested that you were interested in discussing, from an objective scientific perspective, what is and isn’t an actual human.

    Objective scientific discussions about what is or isn’t a member of a category imply some kind of articulation of the criteria for membership in that category. So I’ve been asking you what, on your view, those criteria are.

    If I want to discuss objectively and scientifically what is and isn’t an
    insect, for example, it helps to understand what the criteria are for being an
    insect. Then, if I want to know whether a spider is an insect, I can
    compare a spider to those criteria, and if it matches, I can say “yes, a
    spider is an insect” and if it doesn’t match, I can say “no, a spider
    is not an insect.” And if that leads to inconsistent or silly results, I
    have to accept that my criteria are mistaken.

    This is the difficulty with objective, scientific discussions…
    categories mean something, and there are criteria for what gets included
    in those categories, and those criteria are consistently applied, and it’s possible to be wrong. That’s how objective, scientific discussion leads to progress from one generation to the next.

    Thus far, I don’t know what your criteria are. You’ve said things from which I might be able to infer criteria, and I’ve tried to do so and asked for confirmation, and you haven’t confirmed.

    For example, earlier you said “human DNA is only found in humans”.
    That’s clearly a partial criterion — if human DNA is
    found in me, then I’m human — but again, it’s probably not what you
    mean. When a mosquito bites me, human DNA is found in that mosquito, but
    I’m pretty sure you don’t believe that mosquito is human. So, no,
    that’s probably not what you meant.

    You say here that “A human is a species formed from their own human DNA.” Well, OK, maybe that’s your criteria. So, OK, am I a species formed from my own human DNA? No, I’m not a species at all. But that’s probably not what you meant. Did you mean perhaps a member of a species formed from their own human DNA?

    That makes more sense. So, OK, am I a member of a species formed from its own human DNA? Well, I don’t know… what is human DNA? Is it just whatever DNA we find in something we consider human? Or is there a particular genome we compare that DNA to? Or something else?

    You seem to think this is a simple question that we all just “know” the answer to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Sorry Dave, I do think that. If Police for example analyse blood at a crime scene they can identify it as human based on the DNA in the blood cells. Yes, it could be contaminated by other DNA, but the DNA in the cells is human and in making that decision, no one really has to think “ah, but is human DNA really human or do we just think it is?” Not really.

    You see, we’ve ended up at a place where you’re suggesting that we don’t even really know what human DNA is, all the while telling me that I’m avoiding the point.

    Thankyou for your time, but I might get on with some other more productive things.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Human blood isn’t a human person, which is the point Dave is making and you are so intent upon avoiding.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > Thankyou for your time, but I might get on with some other more productive things.

    (chuckle) Yeah, OK.

  • Mark Z.

    And in anything humans have touched, licked, bled on, etc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    I think you can see the difference there if you want to Mark.

  • Lunch Meat

    I would say that an embryo in particular–something undifferentiated and less than a month old–is a potential human, and is not “objectively” an actual human anymore than an acorn is an actual tree, an egg is an actual chicken, a pile of yarn is an actual sweater, or a set of unarticulated thoughts in an essay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    I get where you’re coming from and intuitively it makes sense, but it’s still a subjective argument. As an environmental scientist I’m interested in the numbers of fertile eggs in the nest of a bird that is close to extinction. You may say that they are potential birds as there is no guarantee that they will survive, but you could say the same about the hatchlings or the fledgelings. In reality, there is a continuum from fertilisation to reproductive age, and whether we put the line at embryo, foetus, birth, toddler, school age etc they are all just different levels of dependence on a sliding scale. There is no clear point of distinction. We have to make a subjective, phlosophical judgement because unlike the unarticulated thoughts in an essay, this essay has been written because the DNA is all in place and it says Homo sapiens. 

  • Lunch Meat

    Yes, there’s a continuum, and no, there’s probably not one clear moment of distinction before which it’s not human and after which it’s human, but it’s clear to me that there is at least a time period of some length before which it’s not human and after which it’s not human. An apple tree seed that has split open and sprouted from the ground and started to put out leaves is a sapling. An apple tree seed that has split open and is starting to sprout might be a sapling. But an apple tree seed that is still inside an apple which is still on the tree is definitely not a tree. And I just don’t see two cells that have just started dividing as a human being.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    The difference between the seed inside the apple and the one that has germinated is that one has not started to divide and grow yet. An embryo is analagous to the germinated seed. Again, while you and I may not think of the dividing cells as a person, that is still a matter of subjective perception. That’s what I’m asking, that we recognise where we are being subjective and applying opinions and where the solid lines actually do lie.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Germinated tree seed? Not tree. Sapling? Tree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Again, subjective. Perhaps of different value to you, but completely subjective. My dog dug up my patch of germinated corn seeds – it had just the same effect as if someone had mowed the patch down. Corn was in there before, then it wasn’t.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Corn stalks, like the planted corn seeds they used to be, have no value until the corn’s grown enough to harvest. So if your metaphor holds, we should consider adults to have value and toddlers and fetuses not to.

    (By the way? Your metaphor doesn’t hold.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    Thanks Ellie. Why do you say that it doesn’t hold? I said that removing either the seed or the plants removes the corn; what do you disagree with in that idea?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Neither a terminated pregnancy nor a murdered toddler results in an adult human, just as neither a dug-up corn seed nor a torn-up cornstalk results in corn.

    A murdered toddler is a tragic loss. A terminated pregnancy…is not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    100% agreed on your first paragraph. As for your second, this is again your opinion and you are welcome to it, but please don’t be offended if I don’t adopt it because I hear it repeated often enough. I agree that the toddler’s death feels more tragic because as I said in my first post, we can relate to the toddler. Objectively, the difference between the two is age, level of dependence and visibility. The species is the same, we are still discussing two humans.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If the people with parental responsibility to a toddler want to be shut of that responsibility, that can be arranged, and it is possible that the toddler will take no harm from the process and it is certain that the toddler will live through it. If a pregnant person wants to not be pregnant, and the pregnancy isn’t far enough along for induced birth to be an option, there isn’t any way to end the pregnancy that doesn’t involve killing the fetus. Sucks, but the pregnant person is more important than the pregnancy. The toddler is also more important than the pregnancy. That’s because toddlers are people and pregnant people are people and pregnancies are not people.

  • Lunch Meat

    My dog dug up my patch of germinated corn seeds – it had just the same effect as if someone had mowed the patch down. Corn was in there before, then it wasn’t.

    So if I dig up an acorn that has started to germinate in a public park, can I be arrested for cutting down a tree that’s not mine?

    One will argue that they have less rights because they are dependent on the other, but someone else will say that dependence mandates greater care. One will say that the right to education and meaningful employment of one is being threatened, but another will say that the right of life itself outweighs that.

    If you are actually asserting that the right of life for one outweighs the right of bodily autonomy for the other (and not just saying that “some people” believe that), and if you actually think this is a reasonable position, than in what other circumstances does this rule apply? If I need a kidney or I will die, and there is literally only one person available who matches me, can I force them to donate a kidney for me? If not, why not?

    It’s not that dependent people have “less rights”; it’s that there are no circumstances in which a person can invade another’s body and use their organs, nutrients and resources without their consent. Period. No one has the right to that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    1) No, but if you take all the dependent young of a threatened species you will help to wipe out the species. A life is a life, whatever its age.

    2) I’m not sure what your point is I’m sorry. It sounds like you’re suggesting that the existence of an embryo is innately wrong because they have invaded another person’s body and used their resources. Are you saying that the unborn deserve death because they are stealing from their mothers?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you saying that the unborn deserve death because they are stealing from their mothers?

    If the fetus is stealing from the pregnant person (and if the pregnancy is an unwanted one, that’s exactly what it is), hell fucking yes. If it is a gift from the pregnant person to the fetus (and if the pregnancy is a wanted one, that’s exactly what it is), hell fucking no.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    So, some of us started life by criminally sucking the life from our mothers, not even knowing that we were death-deserving criminals by simple fact of our existence?

  • Lunch Meat

    No, but if you take all the dependent young of a threatened species you will help to wipe out the species. A life is a life, whatever its age.

    The fact that there would be no more trees if we took all the acorns is a question of effect, not of definitions. Definitions do not depend on effect, but on characteristics. Yes, if every pregnant woman aborted the pregnancy (and we didn’t know how to make babies in artificial wombs yet), then the human race would die out. Fortunately, no one’s talking about systematically wiping out fetuses. (And humans are hardly threatened.)

    If I remove all the eggs in the world and destroy them, the human race will die out. Does that prove eggs are human? If I remove all the testicles in the world and destroy them, the human race will die out. Does that prove testicles are human?

    Are you saying that the unborn deserve death because they are stealing from their mothers?

    I don’t know. What would you think of someone who needed a kidney, so they hired a doctor to surgically remove one from you without your consent?

    In which case an infant is worth slightly more than a foetus, but nowhere near as much as a school-aged child, who in turn is worth much less than a fully functioning, capable adult. … If one of our gun-loving friends shot a newborn baby would you think it was a disaster or just mildly sad as the baby was only a few days more developed than a foetus? Just the first few rows of knitting complete in your analogy?

    (I probably should have used the word “completeness”, not “development.” I obviously do not think that. You seem to be saying that potential, incomplete things are the same as complete things and should be treated as such. I am trying to prove why that is inherently ridiculous. An acorn is not a tree and will not, cannot be treated as one, because it doesn’t make sense. A few rows of knitting is not a sweater.

    But, as I said before, it’s not about value. It’s not about less rights. I used that framing in the sweater analogy because you did, and I was trying to show why it doesn’t make sense, because we don’t treat incomplete things as valuable as complete things. It’s about the fact that no person can individually be forced to sacrifice to support another being. (Though society may, through taxes, support dependents, there is no situation in which a single person is forced to take on the care of someone or something else.) We just don’t do that in this society. If you really think the need for help outweighs someone else’s individual right to decide to help in such a dramatic way as pregnancy (a life-changing event), then you ought to support mandatory organ donation. If that’s not logical, tell me why it’s not logical.

    And there is a reason that from the very first post, I have been talking about embryos. As I said earlier, there may be no defining moment, but there is a defining period of time. A newborn baby is obviously complete in a way that an undifferentiated clump of cells is not.

  • Carstonio

    It’s about the fact that no person can individually be forced to sacrifice to support another being.

    Exactly. Where abortion is concerned, no woman should be forced to either carry a pregnancy to term or to have an abortion. Governmental power, and parental power in the case of teenage girls, can just as easily be used for the latter as for the former.

    It’s damn near impossible to define rights for fetuses without denying rights to the women carrying them, and as we’ve seen with the personhood amendments, that would block access to contraception as well. The rights argument is, like the pro-life argument in general, about stopping women from having abortions. That’s not only wrong and cruel, but also ineffective unless one is prepared to imprison pregnant women until delivery. Revealing that the argument treats the lack of desire for motherhood as the core problem.

    Anyone who claims to want to reduce abortions should instead address the reasons that some women choose to have them, finding ways of possibly changing the realities faced by women before and after unwanted pregnancies.

  • Baby_Raptor

    “Objectively, all we actually know is the biological reality that an embryo or foetus is a human being – not part of its mother, an actual human.”
    No. No, we don’t. You might believe that, but the fact that you believe it doesn’t make it fact, or make it something that everyone knows. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    What species would you say a human embryo is then?

  • EllieMurasaki

    You might as well ask what species a kidney is. Human, of course (assuming you haven’t pulled one out of a pig by mistake), but that doesn’t make the kidney a human being, nor does it make a human embryo a human being.

  • AnonymousSam

    What about a transplanted kidney residing inside a human, but which was originally harvested from a pig whose genetic material was spliced with that of a human (via replacing the nuclei within its cells with that of a human’s)? These things exist and certainly seem to indicate, to me, that tissue and genetic material is only indicative of exactly as much as we say it is.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m gonna call that one ‘not my field’. And even if it were my field, I bet it’d be above my pay grade.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    To get a kidney, you take it from an organism and leave behind the rest of the organism. You have to break the organism to take part of it. Yes, if you break the baby then it won’t survive, so you take the whole thing. An organism is the whole package. I’m not sure how to explain this any better I’m sorry; an embryo is not part of an organism, it is supported by another, different organism with different DNA. Can you sort of see the difference between an organism and a small part of one?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Objectively, all we actually know is the biological reality that an
    embryo or foetus is a human being – not part of its mother, an actual
    human.

    I don’t know that. And since it’s false, neither do you.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    The fetus, meaning little one, IS a separate individual from its mother.  Facts is facts.

  • Tricksterson

    Not at least until an individual brainwave pattern is detected.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     So then, what should be the punishment for a woman who commits murder by having an abortion?

    A fetus is not a separate individual from the woman it’s growing inside. Personhood isn’t binary and it isn’t magic. A gamete isn’t something separate from its progenitor, but rather part of the person who made it. A zygote is less a part of either progenitor and more something separate, but it’s still part of the people who made it. A morula is more separate, but still a part of its progenitor. A blastocyst is more different from the people who made it, but it still isn’t a separate individual. An embryo is more of an individual but isn’t a person. A fetus becomes increasingly separate, less part of its progentior, and more of a person over the course of months.  There is no magic switch. There is no magic line. There is no single moment where you can point and say “Not a person here” and then “A person there.”  Personhood is a process. Personhood takes time. Becoming a person doesn’t happen in some magical instant, it’s something that a parent and a child work at together to make happen over time. Every day, I watch my son become a person. It’s a process. You don’t get to take that away.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    You are arguing for process, rather than point of origin.
    That is your choice, but I’d like to show you why it isn’t
    the superior line.
     
    For example, it cannot fit the Christian model.  We do not
    find, in Genesis, the metamorphosis from single simple
    molecule to man.  Instead, we find instant creation.  And,
    that is quite logical, because God thinks of the idea,
    speaks it forth, and it becomes an object.  No, the Christian God does not create incrementally, because how would anything survive while awaiting the systems necessary to live?
     
    Psychologically, you are arguing that persons develop
    after birth.  No, the Bible’s position is that personality and
    character are inborn.  What you are seeing as development is maturation and knowledge.  Your son most definitely knew right from wrong, although he may not have known why.  It is maturity and experience that grow.
     
    But, I believe that people have motivations to what they
    believe.  So, I am wondering what yours is to take the
    position you do.  You are trying to prove something,
    not from reality, but to make your concept of reality come
    true.  Why?

  • EllieMurasaki

    You are trying to prove something, not from reality, but to make your concept of reality come true. Why?

    Oh look, an explanation for why Ms. Allen is ignoring basic evolutionary biology and human psychology.

  • AnonymousSam

    You are reminding me of a seventeenth century argument: if a child was taken soon after birth and locked away in a room with absolutely no human contact until the age of manhood, would they come out of the room speaking Latin, or Greek?

    Some of us eventually learned the answer to this question.

  • Lori

    No, the Bible’s position is that personality and
    character are inborn.   

    Please provide the book, chapter & verse that states this position.

  • Lunch Meat

    For example, it cannot fit the Christian model.  We do not find, in Genesis, the metamorphosis from single simple molecule to man.  Instead, we find instant creation.  And, that is quite logical, because God thinks of the idea, speaks
    it forth, and it becomes an object.  No, the Christian God does not
    create incrementally, because how would anything survive while awaiting
    the systems necessary to live?

    That’s actually the complete opposite of true.
    -God creates light before a sun to give it.
    -God creates plants and trees before animals to fertilize them and insects to pollinate them.
    -God creates owls and eagles before small mammals to feed them.
    -No word on when God created bacteria, but unless they were created first, nothing could have survived without them–every living thing depends on bacteria.
    -Most importantly, God explicitly creates humans as a process. God does not say “Let there be humans.” God picks up some dirt and starts molding it. And the human does not become a human once the form of the human is there; no, the human does not become a living being until God breathes life into him. Genesis explicitly ties breath to life, and as we all know, babies do not start breathing until they are born.

  • Isabel C.

    And you’re getting yours where, exactly? Other than the obvious…

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    I live by a Biblical worldview, Isabel.  What about you?  What is your worldview?  Whom do you serve?

  • EllieMurasaki

    The Bible has a ritual to induce abortion in women pregnant through adultery. Do you approve?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    You obviously do not understand the wondrous tapestry, fraught with meaning, that is woven between the Old and New Testaments, Ellie.  You have a miserable view of the God of the Bible, and misery loves company.  I NEVER expected anyone like YOU to offer me any condolences over the loss of my precious little flower.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+5:11-31&version=NIV

    11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousycome over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he
    is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah[a ] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

    16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[b ] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

    “‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

    23 “‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the Lord and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial[ c ] offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. 28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

    29 “‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, 30 or when feelings of jealousycome over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her
    stand before the Lord and is to apply this entire law to her. 31 The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’”
    The Bible has a ritual for inducing abortion in a woman pregnant from adultery. Do you approve?

    I am sorry for the loss suffered by your grandchild’s parents and other near relations when your grandchild died. I am not sorry for your loss, because–and only because–you want women who find themselves unwantedly pregnant or enduring a dangerous pregnancy to suffer and (if applicable) die rather than permit them to get a legal abortion without fuss.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    If it were up to me, which it isn’t, I would not allow anyone to suffer, Ellie.  I do not WANT any pregnant females to suffer for any reason, but suffering is part of life in this world.  Out of the darkness of suffering can come great light, as it has in the death of my granddaughter.  

  • Tricksterson

    I don’t “serve” anyone including my patron deity, nor would Trickster want a servant, certainly not one who obeyed him blindly.  I follow a path that is a lesson, keeping in mind that any path he lays out is bound to be filled with potholes, boobytraps and blind alleys.  Before you ask why I’d follow a path like that it’s because they’re all part of the lesson.

  • AnonymousSam

    Life is sacred according to the Bible? Why, then, does it prescribe death as the consequence for so many sins? What about Deuteronomy 13, which demands death for anyone who worships anyone other than YHWH, up to and including an insistence that immediate family members be the ones to murder their loved ones for this crime?

    And for that matter, why does it prescribe abortion as the consequence of adultery, if abortion is so wrong?

    I’m genuinely incapable of understanding how anyone can so incuriously ignore such things while insisting that the rhetoric has the exact opposite message.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The only bit of the Bible that deals with abortion is the poem about God knowing that poet before forming him in the womb. What many many instances of admonition to help the poor and not hurt them?

  • AnonymousSam

    Quite a number, including that little inconsequential bit about how Jesus himself will judge our worthiness to enter Heaven based upon how often we perform such actions. And yet somehow, there are so-called godly men who teach that the exact opposite is true, and that wealth is God’s way of rewarding them for their faithfulness.

  • Isabel C.

    Not your pleasure-hating, misogynist, vindictive excuse for a deity, that’s for damn sure.

    Far as I can tell, you and yours are no better than the cultists of the Great Old Ones in Lovecraft. You just make your human sacrifices more gradually: no blood shed, just the gradual grinding down of the human spirit to feed the hungry maw of your evil patron. 

  • The_L1985

    I’m not Isabel, but I figure it never hurts to add another perspective. :)

    As a Neopagan, I value the 1st Amendment freedom of religion here in the US a great deal. I feel that all Americans should be free to follow the dictates of their conscience and their religion. Christians already have that freedom, and they should continue to enjoy it, but should not force others to obey YOUR God over our Gods. He is your God; he’s an ok fellow, but I don’t mesh with him that well, and I get the feeling that both He and I are happier for me to be with the Lord and Ladies who make me happy and fulfilled.

    WRT abortion, different faiths have different priorities. Many branches of Judaism, for example, teach that if a woman’s life is endangered by a difficult pregnancy or birth, then doctors must do everything in their power to try to save her life so that she can try again to have more children in the future if she wants–even if that means having an abortion. In such a case, abortion is considered by many Jews to be THE morally-right thing to do, because the fetus, while human, does not yet have the breath of life described in Genesis and other parts of the Bible. (The soul is identified with the breath in many places in Hebrew Scriptures, but this is less clear in English than it is in the original Hebrew.)

    Also, if you ask 10 different Christians what a “Biblical worldview” is, you’ll get several different answers. If you ask 10 Jews, you’ll get 10 more. If you ask 10 atheists and Neopagans, you’ll get another 10 answers, but I’m afraid most of those 10 will probably be a bit less flattering. Many of us have had bad experiences with people who are Christians, but don’t seem to pay much attention to what Jesus actually said.

  • Lori

     

    If you ask 10 Jews, you’ll get 10 more. 

    I believe the standard math on this is “ask 10 Jews, get 11 opinions” :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, it’s ask two Jews, get three opinions, so with ten Jews there ought to be at least fifteen opinions.

    Though I’ve heard it with lots of different people nouns. The way it shakes out, I understand, is ‘whatever the first speaker says ze believes’, ‘the diametrically opposing opinion endorsed by the second speaker’, and ‘what the second speaker actually believes’. There’s room for the first speaker to say and believe different things, but nobody seems to think that happens.

  • The_L1985

    True, but I didn’t want to break her brain too much.

  • AnonymousSam

    Countdown to aborted flounce in …

  • Lunch Meat

    One more question: Could I get away with selling a skein of yarn, two needles and a pattern for the same price as a handmade sweater, on the grounds that dependent things don’t have less value than independent things and we shouldn’t discriminate against things based on the level of development?

    If your answer is that the sweater hasn’t begun to be produced yet and therefore is analagous to an ungerminated seed, what if I cast on the yarn before I sell it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

    So, are you suggesting that the worth of a person depends on their level of development? That we should discriminate on that basis? In which case an infant is worth slightly more than a foetus, but nowhere near as much as a school-aged child, who in turn is worth much less than a fully functioning, capable adult. By your argument, the school massacre was not really a disaster, just a bit sad. The disastrous part was the loss of the teachers as they were the most developed.

    Is that really what you believe? If one of our gun-loving friends shot a newborn baby would you think it was a disaster or just mildly sad as the baby was only a few days more developed than a foetus? Just the first few rows of knitting complete in your analogy?

  • Dan Grossenbach

    So we can let our emotions dictate human value, not sound reason? If I’m mistaken, I didn’t hear an argument for the author’s position. Rather than rest our case on our heartstrings, let’s hear a solid case for how a zygote is intrinsically less valuable than a 6 year old child. Obviously it’s easier to tolerate killing someone you can talk to or have lived with for 6 years over something that doesn’t even “look” human who you’ve never met or didn’t experience pain. Clearly a fetus and a kindergartner aren’t the same. But how does it follow by that alone that they’re of unequal worth? Because I feel that way? Because I can’t convince you otherwise? Come on man. I think Dobson is wrong, but for other reasons. You offered no argument here. This is a big issue that deserves serious thought. I need more than a mushy appeal to my emotions to guide clear thinking especially at a time like this. When we’re talking the value of human lives, I think we all do.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Why are you obsessing over the relative values of a 6 year old and a zygote>? Surely the question is whether or not a zygote is worth more or less than an adult woman, since there’s no way to protect the zygote’s rights without stripping the woman of hers. 

    If the state can find some way to take custody ofthe zygote so that the woman doesn’t have to use her body as a life-support system for it, they’re welcome to do that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Should someone who gives birth to a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome be prosecuted for the criminal negligence this person obviously engaged in by consuming alcohol while pregnant?

    Should someone who miscarries be investigated for murder? After all, there’s no way for the police to know without that investigation which of the people who say they miscarried did miscarry and which murdered their fetus.

    Should someone who got an abortion be prosecuted for murder?

    When doctors in Ireland refused to give Savita Halappanavar an abortion on the grounds that her doomed fetus still had a heartbeat, resulting in Savita’s death, were they in the right?

  • AnonymousSam

    Some people use strawmen, others unite the Legion of Dry Grass under their banner and march on hapless threads.

  • Isabel C.

    Jesus fucking Christ, I am on vacation here. So a few brief points.

    “Genetically human” does not equal “a human.” “Human blood” does not mean that said blood will get up and walk around like the villain in Blade. Pretty much everyone seriously involved in biology gets that. Pretty much anyone who…talks…gets that the same word can mean two different things depending on context. 
    Likewise, pretty much everyone who…I don’t even know…gets concepts…grasps that a complete form is different from the components and also that an organism which, um, has a perceptive system and can feel pain is different from a blob of cells with no sensory organs at all.

    Either Philip is insincere or very dumb.

    As far as aggressiveness goes:

    Dudes? It is *very fucking easy* to sit back and “see both sides” and treat the abortion debate as an academic exercise in philosophical blah blah blah.

    You’re not facing nine months of dramatic and often permanent bodily changes. You’re not facing potential health complications that include death. Suggesting that women should get on board with your decision to treat this like Philosophy 201 is condescending at best. Fuck right off.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     >Either Philip is insincere or very dumb.

    FWIW, I concluded he was insincere a while back, but I don’t think he’s dumb.

    He understands perfectly well that native English speakers use the phrases “human being” and “organism with human DNA,” for example, to refer to different sets of things in the world.

    He wants to confuse the two so he can justify applying our intuitions about the first set to the second set.

    It’s a relatively sophisticated bit of sophistry, actually. People fall for it all the time on all kinds of issues.

  • Isabel C.

    Also, I support abortion rights and contraception because women should be able to pursue their own sexual goals and interests, not out of concern for women who have sex for understandable/pitiable reasons. Ew. 

  • Lunch Meat

    Also also:

    Are you saying that the unborn deserve death because they are stealing from their mothers?

    “Deserve death”? No. “Not automatically deserve life if the only way they can get it is by limiting the freedom of someone who does not consent” is more like it. Listen, no one wants to kill embryos. No one gets joy or pleasure from killing embryos. Killing embryos is not the goal. Ending the pregnancy is the goal, and the unfortunate fact is that we (currently) cannot end a pregnancy without the embryo dying. It’s not that they deserve death because they’ve “sinned”, it’s that they don’t automatically deserve life by virtue of the simple fact that they are there and will eventually become people (who deserve life).

    If you are a scientist and want to go out and develop an artificial womb and a procedure for safely and painlessly transferring embryos out of the bodies of pregnant women, go right ahead. I am all for that. I would love for there to be a way to preserve the lives of embryos without limiting the bodily autonomy of women. If we had that, there would be no need for abortion (except for wanted pregnancies where the fetus was going to die anyway or was harming the health of the woman). But there isn’t one yet.

  • Isabel C.

    Also, when someone asks where you get a fact from and you say “I live by a Biblical worldview,” that’s…not an answer, so much.

    Especially because nowhere in the Bible does it say that a fetus is an independent person. 

    But also: you live by a Biblical worldview. Good for you. I don’t. Why do you think citing said Biblical worldview will convince anyone who isn’t at least marginally Christian? 

  • EllieMurasaki

    To be entirely fair, the Tanakh is central to Judaism and both it and the New Testament are respected by Islam.

  • Isabel C.

    Fair point, that. And I respect them myself, for that matter–it’s just that I don’t claim them as support for national policy decisions. 

    I was grading papers for a class on magic in my younger years, and ran into one where the student added, as a footnote, “I was a siren in a previous incarnation, so I know this is true.”

    Now, I believe in reincarnation, in a vague “well, maybe” way. (I’m skeptical of people having been sirens, and I think anyone who’s that invested in finding out and talking about their past lives is probably fucking up their current one somehow.) But you still can’t use your past life as an academic citation.

    Same principle.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, and I wasn’t suggesting that Bible cites should be used in support of secular policy goals. (They can be, certainly, but only when there’s a secular justification for the policy goal as well as the religious justification, and only when addressing an audience that considers that text to have authority.) I was just saying Bible cites can be convincing to a broader set of the population than you said they can.

  • AnonymousSam

    If nothing else, because unsubstantiated first-hand accounts are barely more than hearsay. :p

    (Otherkin interest me. I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying the Otherkin culture, even attending a couple of gatherings. I still have to wrinkle my nose when I am informed that the person I’m speaking to is the reincarnation of a particular video game character’s lover, when I’m intimately familiar with that game and can say with some confidence that this role isn’t even possibly canon within the video game setting, much less our spectrum of reality.)

  • AnonymousSam

    For that matter, it helps to quantify a Biblical worldview. If the subject were marriage and I were to say I believe in a Biblical worldview, what would that mean? That I believe in polygamy? Having a thousand mistresses? Having the ability to sell my wife into slavery? That’s all material supported by the Bible, so…

  • Lori

    Oh good lord, the idiot has escaped from her original enclosure and is now roaming in another thread. Her stupidity was mildly amusing when it was confined to one old thread defending a racist adulterer, but having her derailing other threads really isn’t funny.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Hasn’t she always been in multiple threads?

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    “Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery there is a crown..” ~Corrie ten Boom   :)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You quoted Corrie ten Boom. Do you believe she should have lied to the Nazis?

  • AnonymousSam

    You do realize ten Boom’s particular flavor of Christianity had a huge emphasis on forgiveness, right? That there is no crime so tragic that God cannot forgive it, to the extent of invoking his grace to forgive the Nazis who murdered so many friends of her family?

    I just ask because you haven’t shown many signs of understanding that love and forgiveness require some effort on behalf of the worshiper.

  • Lori

     I only remember her from the racist adulterer one. Have their been others and I missed them? If so, I was truly blessed and just didn’t know it.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Merry Christmas, Lori!

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    Well, well, well, we meet again.

  • Lori

    You’ve now sunk to the level of a B movie villain. That’s just pathetic.

    So, will you be attending church this Sunday Ginny? It’s Christmas, time for the unfaithful to make one of their 2 annual appearances for appearances’ sake.


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