That’s about right

That’s about right January 1, 2010

cartoon

(I can’t remember where I found this cartoon. Happy to give credit if anyone can identify it.)

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  • Frank

    Never saw it before. It’s an amusing but sad commentary on the wide spread perception of prolifers or the movement in general. Too many pit bulls at the top and other self-appointed spokespersons who hide behind a noble cause to spout hatred. Dare to critique that flawed approach and you are liked to be called a proboart or strongly suspected of being one. Normal people are drowned (or driven out) by the crazies.

  • ron chandonia

    How is it “about right”? I’ve carried a sign like that and had it pulled from my hands by screeching pro-“choice” types who threatened to kill me for praying across the street from their base of operations. Of course, if they had done so, it might not have made the NYTimes or even the local news, where tributes to victims of so-called “pro-life violence” ring in the new year.

  • Excelsior

    I’m with Ron on this one.

    I don’t see anything remotely realistic about the cartoon. It’s basically a meaningless image, for several reasons:

    First, because pro-life protesters don’t make aggressive statements or gestures with anything like the frequency of pro-choice counter-protesters (perhaps because the latter feel braver for having the guns of government on their side). So that part seems unintentionally surrealistic.

    Second, because the cartoon depicts two men conversing in a laid-back, matter-of-fact, or even a bored kind of way. These mannerisms bear no obvious relation to the topic, and are contradicted by the words spoken by the man on the left.

    The fellow on the left doesn’t seem perturbed or wild-eyed or defensive in any way. Yet his words are the kind of thing a person would say from a defensive crouch. The fellow on the right doesn’t look aggressive and may even have his hands in his pockets; what made the first guy think he was going to touch his sign?

    There’s such a disconnect between the words that I suspect the nonchalance of the two men [i]must[/i] signify something, only I can’t imagine what. Or is the problem merely one of bad artistry? Is the artist being lazy, copying from an older sketch he made of two guys discussing baseball scores, and he updated the dialogue without updating the body-language?

    Third, the fellow on the left is wearing what looks like a tweed blazer, narrow-lens spectacles, and a fluffed-out pocket-square. This signifies…what? That he’s a refugee from academia? (Not a lot of pro-lifers in the ivory tower.) That pro-lifers are prone to sartorial missteps? (Maybe it’s a checkered blazer, rather than tweed?) What’s the point?

    Perhaps this is one of those images which, like some bits of government-subsidized modern art, is motivated by the artist’s desire to feel superior to most viewers by offering an image which doesn’t communicate anything meaningful, and then reveling in how much cleverer he is than the benighted masses who “don’t understand his work”…is that it?

    Nah. I’m trying too hard to find meaning, here. This is just a lame cartoon.

  • brettsalkeld

    Oddly, I agree with Frank and Ron. I am scandalized by many in pro-life leadership, but I think most of the people out on the street with signs (or working the crisis pregnancy clinics etc.) are heroes who, in my limited experience, are at least privately embarrassed by the rhetoric.

  • David Nickol

    It is a political cartoon, and if you interpret it to mean that people in the pro-life movement would kill you for touching their posters, you should not be allowed to see any more political cartoons!

  • David – Yes.

  • Kurt

    I would imagine it was drawn is response to the Tiller murder.

    • I would imagine it was drawn is response to the Tiller murder.

      Isn’t it interesting how much mileage mainstream pro-lifers think they are getting from the Tiller murder? “Look, it’s THEM who are violent! Not us!”

  • Gabriel Austin

    Was it not the fellow carrying a pro-life who was killed?

  • Magdalena

    Gabriel – yes it was a pro-life protester who was murdered, but I don’t remember if they found he was killed BECAUSE of his message.

  • Colin Gormley

    Most likely wont make it but..

    This is why no one belives that the people who run this site are prolife. All the protests to the contrary fall on deaf ears when things like this are run.

    Fourtunatley the tide is turning. Most of this country doesn’t want to fund abortions, a majority identity themselves as prolife, and opposition to expansion is growing. Also the clinics are closing down. A good year for the prolife cause.

    • Most likely wont make it but..

      If you’re thinking this before you post a comment, then that’s an indicator that you probably shouldn’t post the comment. Just a suggestion. But hell, I’ll bite.

      This is why no one belives that the people who run this site are prolife. All the protests to the contrary fall on deaf ears when things like this are run.

      So obviously, to you, being “pro-life” means not being self-critical. That’s not surprising. That seems to be the standard among Catholic pro-lifers.

      If bring pro-life means one can’t be self-critical, or critical of the perversities of the movement, then I’d rather just be called a Catholic rather than “pro-life” because more and more the latter is a tarnished term.

      Fourtunatley the tide is turning. Most of this country doesn’t want to fund abortions, a majority identity themselves as prolife, and opposition to expansion is growing. Also the clinics are closing down. A good year for the prolife cause.

      A good year indeed, and I applaud these developments if they are in fact true. (But hell, I’m probably not really pro-life and am just saying that, eh?)

  • jh

    “If bring pro-life means one can’t be self-critical, or critical of the perversities of the movement, then I’d rather just be called a Catholic rather than “pro-life” because more and more the latter is a tarnished term.”

    Yeah I guess it is a tarnished term for some . But so is the Church at this time. Benedict called this in his book “Intoduction to Christianity” that unholy holiness.

    Yeah idiots exists. I can’t exlain why God decided to have falliable men and women with all their weakness to lead the pro-life movement. I can’t explain why Christ decided his bridegroom the Church should be led by such people but it is what it is.

    Regardless of that the pro-life movement is led by some great people and the people in the trenches are like that. THEY ARE NOT LED BY HATE.

  • jh

    “So obviously, to you, being “pro-life” means not being self-critical. That’s not surprising. That seems to be the standard among Catholic pro-lifers.

    If bring pro-life means one can’t be self-critical, or critical of the perversities of the movement, then I’d rather just be called a Catholic rather than “pro-life” because more and more the latter is a tarnished term.”

    So most prolifer want to lill people that disagree with them as the cartoon seems to portray. I don’t even have that view among PRO-Choice people that oppose me.

    As another post on here recently said lets try not to demonixe the oppents. Perhaps that should go for us that are on the same side

  • Yeah idiots exists.

    Well said.

  • Glad to see Vox Nova is filling in the important niche of smearing those who defend the unborn. Lord knows there is not enough of that in the mainstream media, and it’s good that Catholics now have independent media in blogs to get the word out that those who defend the unborn are nothing but violent hypocrites.

  • Kurt

    Fourtunatley the tide is turning. Most of this country doesn’t want to fund abortions, a majority identity themselves as prolife, and opposition to expansion is growing. Also the clinics are closing down. A good year for the prolife cause.

    I am hopeful the tide is turning and I think this is a good year for the anti-abortion cause, mostly because I have hope for anti-abortion advances independent of the Pro-Life Movement.

    Colin joins with me in seeing advances this year debunking the Pro-Life rhetoric at the begining of the year that we have “the most Pro-abortion President in history” and the FOCA will be imposed as the first priority of the new Administration. The credibility of those making such claims is not outside of the bounds of serious consideration.

    The language in the health care bill is being worked out by reasonable actors such as Rep. Stupak, Senators Nelson, Reid and Durbin, and the USCCB without the Pro-Life groups at the table. More and more Americans against abortion have declared their independence from the Pro-Life Movement and following their own counsel and judgment on how to best respond to the tragedy of abortion.

    Politicans are also discovering that voter opposition to abortion does not mean support for the Pro-Life Movement. Republican operatives and other campaign consultants increasing advise candidates to term themselves “anti-abortion” rather than the less appealing “Pro-Life.”
    Deo Gratias!

  • What were you hoping to accomplish with this post?

  • John – I was hoping to point to a problem. But I should know by now that Catholic pro-lifers do not like to think about their problems and inconsistencies.

  • Kimberley

    I’m confused as to your issues with mainstream pro-lifers. I’ve been active in he pro-life movement for ten years, I stared in high school. Also righ out of college I was a consultant which allowed me to travel to a lot of places in the US for about four years. In each assignment I tried to connect and volunteer with the pro-life ministry at the nearby parish or the pregnancy center. So I’ve got to see about a dozen pro-life ministries. The volunteers for the most part were the proverbial church ladies. Almost all female mostly elderly witha mix of college or high school women if there was a neighboring college or high school. The focus of these groups was fundraising to buy diapers, baby clothes and formula for women who chose to keep their baby. In addition we prayed the rosary in front of abortion clinics. The most political we get is to march in the Walk for Life. These are the mainstream pro-lifers that you dislike so much. What are we doing wrong?

    • Kimberly – Many of the people you describe do very good, compassionate work. I have no doubt about that. A vast majority that I have encountered (having been involved in similar circles, like you, since high school) are, however, completely oblivious to the political alliances that they maintain, many of which promote violence and death of post-birth human life. Sometimes it’s not even a matter of being oblivious — often such alliances and the embrace of death-dealing politics is quite deliberate. So, no, contrary to what some commenters here seem to think, I do not simply have abortion clinic bombers in mind. I have war-supporting, nationalistic, capitalist and racist pro-lifers in mind. And there are many of these people in the churches of the united states.

      I also think there is something symbolic in the “don’t touch my sign” thing going on in the cartoon. It’s as if many u.s. pro-lifers (including Catholic ones) act as if to say “don’t touch or threaten or question my pro-life cred, my outward pro-life appearance, the sign that I hold, because if you do…” and then the threats come. It may not result in literal violence. But the response is fanatical. Look at any “mainstream” or right-wing Catholic blog.

      So yes, I criticize “mainstream” pro-lifers, because mainstream pro-lifers are not seriously interested in nonviolence as seen in their (conscious or unconscious) support of death-dealing systems. In short, they are not interested in life. They are interested in babies. I am interested in a radical, consistent pro-life ethic and nothing short of this is worth supporting. I do consider myself pro-life, but for me (and for the Catholic church) that means much more than being anti-abortion or pro-baby.

      Thank you for your comment, and for your questions.

  • ron chandonia

    I am interested in a radical, consistent pro-life ethic and nothing short of this is worth supporting. I do consider myself pro-life, but for me (and for the Catholic church) that means much more than being anti-abortion or pro-baby.

    “Pro-baby,” Michael? As if caring for the most helpless and vulnerable were somehow irrelevant, a distraction to the larger issue of respect for human life? I believe it was Edna St. Vincent Millay who captured the irony of such a remark: “I love humanity, but I hate people.”

  • Tom

    I am interested in a radical, consistent pro-life ethic and nothing short of this is worth supporting.

    As it stands, this statement cannot be defended on Catholic grounds.

  • Kurt

    Kimberly,

    God bless you on your anti-abortion work and my prayers for its success. But by “leaders” most of us (certainly in my case) are thinking of figures more than a member of a local pregnancy assistance project.

    On another thread I twice asked for example of a member of the Board of Directors of a national right to life organization (NRTL, HLI, ALL, AUL, March for Life)or a Pro-Life Republican member of Congress who affirms a “pro-life” stance on war, torture, and economic justice. I was met with silence. Not one example?

  • Michael,

    Do you think a significant number of Vox Nova readers are unaware that many quarters perceive the pro-life movement as violent hypocrites?

    And, BTW, didn’t you brag of your support for torching SUV’s? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova/2009/02/03/against-suvs/#comment-48033

    Yes, that was not violence against people, but seeing how above you blur the lines between “fanatical” responses and actual violence, you are not well-positioned to complain?

    I am interested in a radical, consistent pro-life ethic and nothing short of this is worth supporting.

    Just like churches, if you find the perfect pure consistent pro-life movement, don’t join it because you’ll ruin it.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us will be doing the work that needs to be done. It might mean working alongside people who supported the war. It might mean working alongside people who support the death penalty.

    But it will also mean I didn’t stand by while this was going on.

    • And, BTW, didn’t you brag of your support for torching SUV’s?

      I didn’t quite brag, no. I was asked about my support for Jeff Luers and I explained what my support entailed. I don’t see what this has to do with my concerns about the pro-life movement as you yourself have noted that the Luers case has nothing to do with violence against persons.

      Just like churches, if you find the perfect pure consistent pro-life movement, don’t join it because you’ll ruin it.

      You seem to be missing my point. I do not expect a “pure” church nor do I expect a “pure” pro-life movement because all persons are sinful. Any pacifist will admit to being unavoidably violent in his or her personal life. What I do expect is that the Church and that the pro-life movement take human life seriously and oppose the unjust killing of human persons. The alliances of the Catholic pro-life movement as well as the personal views of many of its members do not merely demonstrate the reality of human sinfulness in the inability to live up to one’s life-affirming ideals. They demonstrate a perverse understanding of what being “pro-life” means because it honors only certain forms of human life and working positively against other forms of human life and human flourishing. I am identifying not the problem of human sinfulness which is always with us, but a form of ethical myopia that needs to be called out and condemned for what it is: selective pro-life commitment.

      I hope this clears my position up for you. I’m trying to take the time to go into it in some detail, as it is clear that you don’t get it.

  • “Pro-baby,” Michael? As if caring for the most helpless and vulnerable were somehow irrelevant, a distraction to the larger issue of respect for human life?

    Ron, you are distorting what I said. Of course I am pro-baby. I never said fighting abortion was an irrelevant distraction. I said being pro-life means being more than being pro-baby. Please stop letting your emotions take the lead, as it makes you misinterpret those with whom you are engaged in conversation.

  • As it stands, this statement cannot be defended on Catholic grounds.

    And why not? A radical, consistent pro-life ethic is what the Church calls for, and nothing less.

  • All – Please keep in mind that the views I am expressing about the pro-life movement are meant to apply to the u.s.american context alone, not universally. My experience living in Canada let me see a way of being pro-life that has not been perverted by the distinct distortions of american political culture.

  • IMO, you are holding the pro-life movement to a standard that no movement has ever been subject to.

    I think you could pick any movement, and pick an action that would be antithetical to that movement’s stated principles, and put it in that comic, and it would resonate.

    Perhaps this is because we ended up with the euphemisitic “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels for the movements for and against legal restrictions on abortion. (I’ve noticed that, not satisfied with that, Ezra Klein has taken to referring to those who oppose restrictions on abortion as “pro-rights”). One could argue that by taking on the “pro-life” label, the movement is accepting a higher standard that it is obliged to live up to. So, the presence of hawks in the pro-life movement is scandalous in a way that, for example, slaveholders being part of the American Revolution is not.

    Still, it seems defensible that some people would have a particular charism to defend those who are subject to arbitrary killing. And if so, it does not seem unreasonable that one would then be drawn to the unborn, since currently they are the only class of persons subject to legal arbitrary killing. Perhaps even to the exclusion of all other issues.

    This doesn’t mean that such a person would not have obligations to other victims of violence and injustice, or can be excused for being on the wrong side for those issues. But I don’t think it is necessarily a sign of moral failure that one would consider the abortion issue a particular focus.

    I would also argue that Roe v. Wade itself is one of the major “distinct distortions of american political culture.”

    • IMO, you are holding the pro-life movement to a standard that no movement has ever been subject to.

      Not at all. This kind of criticism is quite common among social movements in dialogue with one another. Movements frequently critique one another for “not seeing the whole picture” and for holding views that undermine fundamental principles.

      I think you could pick any movement, and pick an action that would be antithetical to that movement’s stated principles, and put it in that comic, and it would resonate.

      For the second time, I’m not talking about actions at all really. I’m not talking about failure to put into practice what one believes in principle. I’m talking about holding principles and commitments that are diametrically opposed to any sensible valuing of “life.”

      One could argue that by taking on the “pro-life” label, the movement is accepting a higher standard that it is obliged to live up to.

      Well sure, I’d agree with that. The “pro-life” movement in the united states (including among many Catholics) should call itself the anti-abortion movement. The Catholic view, though, which is what I am interested in, is a PRO-LIFE ethic. It is radical, holistic, consistent. This is why I distance myself from mainstream “pro-life” circles: it is not “pro-life,” merely anti-abortion. It sounds like you agree that they should refrain from using the term “pro-life.” Right on.

      And if so, it does not seem unreasonable that one would then be drawn to the unborn, since currently they are the only class of persons subject to legal arbitrary killing.

      See, here you go. The only class of persons? Seriously? You are willfully ignoring the thousands upon thousands and perhaps millions of human persons who are subject to the legal arbitrary killing of war. This is the ethical myopia I am talking about.

      But I don’t think it is necessarily a sign of moral failure that one would consider the abortion issue a particular focus.

      Of course we should have a “particular focus” on the unborn. But that is one focus among many victims of violence and death. It is not a moral failure to focus on abortion. It is a moral failure to not be able to focus at all on other victims, or to actively promote a politics that obscures them as victims or blatantly defends such violence.

      I would also argue that Roe v. Wade itself is one of the major “distinct distortions of american political culture.”

      Of course.

  • I (perhaps foolishly) like to believe that we don’t deliberately target non-combatants during warfare. And I also don’t put killing combatants into the same moral category as killing defenseless non-combatants, and I think Church teaching will back me up on this.

    Perhaps this makes me guilty of “moral myopia” and makes me an ineffective witness for life. Let’s stipulate that it does.

    How should that impact whether or not you will advocate on behalf of the unborn. Why should they pay for my sin?

    I think there’s a blurring of the lines between what we are called to as Catholics, and what we need to require for the causes we support.

    I agree that, as a Catholic, I am called to witness to a “radical, holistic, consistent” ethic of life.

    But in doing so, I submit that I may form alliances with some who do not share this commitment.

    Over the past couple months, there have been a number of posts arguing that Catholics should support health care reform, even if it did fund abortion.

    By the logic of this thread, such a stance would be nonsense — how could Catholics support a bill that is blind to an entire class of people? How could Catholics align themselves with those who favor the legalized killing of the innocent?

    As for the “pro-life” label, I agree that “anti-abortion” may be a more apt label. But would not a movement that called itself “anti-abortion” rather than “pro-life” that behaved exactly like the “pro-life” does merit the support of Catholics? I submit that it would.

    And if so, then why should my decision whether to advocate on behalf of the unborn be governed by the euphemistic labels the movements gave themselves a generation ago?

    • I (perhaps foolishly) like to believe that we don’t deliberately target non-combatants during warfare.

      Then you are ignoring the facts. The myopia I am talking about is more serious when it is willful.

      And I also don’t put killing combatants into the same moral category as killing defenseless non-combatants, and I think Church teaching will back me up on this.

      Church teaching also backs up my view, which is that both are wrong.

      How should that impact whether or not you will advocate on behalf of the unborn. Why should they pay for my sin?

      Your moral myopia does not impact on whether or not I will advocate on behalf of the unborn. I advocate on behalf of the unborn no matter what your politics look like.

      I agree that, as a Catholic, I am called to witness to a “radical, holistic, consistent” ethic of life.

      But in doing so, I submit that I may form alliances with some who do not share this commitment.

      Certainly. I form alliances with people who are on the right side of various issues, but who are pro-choice. But I make vocal my disagreement with them. I am precisely criticizing those pro-lifers (including Catholics) who form alliances with death-dealing political movements and who agree with those movements and positions.

      Over the past couple months, there have been a number of posts arguing that Catholics should support health care reform, even if it did fund abortion.

      By the logic of this thread, such a stance would be nonsense — how could Catholics support a bill that is blind to an entire class of people? How could Catholics align themselves with those who favor the legalized killing of the innocent?

      You are already complicit with the funding and practice of abortion. We all are. A better analogy, closer to what I am criticizing among pro-lifers, would be if I were really really insistent upon the right to health care for all, and then I said “oh, by the way, I’m pro-war, pro-choice, pro-capitalism…” etc.

      And if so, then why should my decision whether to advocate on behalf of the unborn be governed by the euphemistic labels the movements gave themselves a generation ago?

      It should not be governed by labels, but by the deliberate, concrete commitments and positions that one aligns him or herself with. The “pro-life” movement in the u.s. by and large has other concrete commitments and positions that reveal it is hardly pro-life.

  • David Nickol

    Some in the pro-life movement — including some of the most vocal — seem to think that what is most important is the pro-life movement. Not even the unborn are as important as the pro-life movement.

    Example: On dotCommonweal today, Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, one of the official contributors, wrote a post titled “Death penalty advocates going out of business” that began:

    Here’s an interesting development: ”Last fall, the American Law Institute, which created the intellectual framework for the modern capital justice system almost 50 years ago, pronounced its project a failure and walked away from it.”

    The first comment was actually about the death penalty, but the second comment was this:

    Since the reinstitution of the death penalty in 1976 there have been 1,188 executions in the United States. By closing time today there will have been 3,846 abortions in America (assuming 1.2 million a year with executions going on six days a week).

    And some wonder why pro-lifers care about this above any other issue.

    There is a certain type of pro-lifer who can’t bear seeing a discussion about a life issue other than abortion without trying to turn it into a discussion of abortion. If someone is truly “pro-life,” why can’t he or she be diverted, if only for a moment, from talking about abortion to discuss another life issue?

    Also, Evangelium Vitae says,

    It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

    From this, certain pro-lifers draw the conclusion that while abortion is a matter of “intrinsic evil,” whether or not to execute people is a “prudential decision.”

    Matters of prudential decision just don’t seem to be important to some pro-lifers. The only evil is “intrinsic evil,” and where prudential decision is involved, there really is no right or wrong. It’s just opinions. So when George Bush signed 152 death warrants as governor of Texas, he made 152 prudential decisions in a row that something that should be “very rare, if not practically non-existent” was “absolutely necessary.” So honoring George Bush at Notre Dame was perfectly acceptable, because although he signed more death warrants than any other governor in history, capital punishment is a matter of prudential decision.

  • David,

    For a week, try addressing your posts to the people actually engaged in the discussion rather than “some pro-lifers.”

  • David Nickol

    John McG,

    I was not addressing my post to some pro-lifers. I was writing about some pro-lifers. I’m trying to write about issues and not get personal.

  • Tom

    “A radical, consistent pro-life ethic is what the Church calls for” does not imply “Nothing short of this is worth supporting.”

    On the contrary, the Church has consistently called for supporting efforts that fall short of a radically consistent pro-life ethic. The Catholic response to racists who oppose legal abortion is to join in their opposition to legal abortion while challenging them on their racism.

  • grega

    ..pro-life movement are meant to apply to the u.s.american context alone..
    I think Michael points here to a very important distinction – for me what the cartoon depicts is very much an issue arising strictly out of an US political context. However in the kind of global economic and educational environment we are in, one does not get bonus points for being particular inflexible and morally stiff.
    That is why in my opinion a number of the most important Asians and European Nations will run circles around the local political gridlock – look no further than to the current health care reform joke.
    In my view European societies found a much better solution for the sort of ancient questions that arise when humans desire to get a handle on the number and spacing of their children.

  • On the contrary, the Church has consistently called for supporting efforts that fall short of a radically consistent pro-life ethic.

    We are speaking on different levels. You are referring to Catholics collaborating with movements that do not hold the fullness of the Catholic vision of a consistent pro-life ethic. I am referring to Catholics willfully holding views that are directly opposed to the fullness of the consistent pro-life ethic. In other words, to use your example, Catholics who not only collaborate with racists or whatever, but who are racist themselves. Not Catholics who merely collaborate with the fascist Christian right on the issue of abortion despite their views on war, for example, but Catholics who hold these same views.

    I have pointed out this distinction now a few times. I hope it is sinking in. I realize it’s challenging to hear these critiques. But try to hear what I am saying rather than what I am not saying.

  • Tom

    […]

  • Tom, please see our comment policy.

  • David Nickol

    We’re not allowed to be elliptical? 😛

  • Ronald King

    There are two victims of the “intrinsic evil” of abortion and it seems to me that it is much easier to care for the unseen and unborn child than it is to care for the mother of that child. There is an insidious aspect to evil that will create a diversion from awareness of the machinations of evil. C.S. Lewis gave us a glimpse of this in his Screwtape Letters. So the diversion is the obvious act of abortion and the obvious innocent victim being the child. The primary victim is then relegated to a position of being something less important.
    Now, consider the cartoon that has the two men facing each other. Males are responsible for the political and social systems that women must adjust to. The “culture of death” begins with the lack of awareness of the “gift” of women as the source of life and love. Women then are influenced by the social system to mutate into something less than who they were created to be.
    The two males facing each other seems to be a “Freudian slip” that reveals a hidden truth that is critical to explore in order to form the correct understanding of the machinations of evil. Another aspect of the two males is the nature of how their perceptions tend to be dominated by the influence of the left brain which functions in a linear, logical, literal and linguistic world of detailed oriented myopic processes. When more value is given to this style of functioning in which the “intellect” has “authority” over the emotions then we are left with a fragmented concrete misunderstanding of reality. If we only look at the obvious “intrinsic” evil without looking at the global picture of evil we then unknowingly continue to support the evil that results in abortion.
    Being focused only on abortion as the “intrinsic” evil is evidence of left-brain dominance that results in the fragmentation and weakening of faith and inhibits the development of a united faith based on a wholistic understanding that “intrinsic” evil is insidious and it is always to be found working within the unknown and unrecognized comfort of our daily lives which keeps us detached from the reality of the global evil that we support each day which brings death into the heart and soul of women who are created for life.

  • I think this is the fundamental problem seeing things as abstractions rather than human persons.

    Those would identify themselves as pro-life without qualifications see the unborn as human persons. They might see victims of other injustices like war and capital punishment as abstractions. The converse is probably true for those whose charisms move them to prioritize these other issues.

    This is also true of “the pro-life movement.” It is a collection of individuals. So, posting a comic like the original post, or making statements about “some pro-lifers” is offensive to those real, flesh-and-blood persons who consider themselves pro-life.

    And this offense does not go away by qualifying, that “we’re not talking about you,” any more than I could assuage a black person offended by me saying, “Some black people are lazy.” by responding that if they’re not lazy, I’m not talking about them, or to condescend to them about how difficult it must be to confront had truths.

    I think most Vox Nova readers who consider themselves pro-life would not be guilty of the general charges of Michael’s post, either the extreme charge of actual violence, or the minor charge of blindness to other injustice.

    And if the latter is a problem, I think that would best be served by shining light on those injustices, rather than calling names.

  • I think this is the fundamental problem seeing things as abstractions rather than human persons.

    Those would identify themselves as pro-life without qualifications see the unborn as human persons. They might see victims of other injustices like war and capital punishment as abstractions. The converse is probably true for those whose charisms move them to prioritize these other issues.

    This might be true in some cases, sure. I think in others it’s clearly not. Many pro-life pro-choice people do not think preborn people are persons, but not because they see them as abstractions. Others do see them as persons but think that the rights of the mother trump the rights of the preborn person. (Both positions, needless to say, are wrong.) Likewise, some pro-life war supporters support the latter not because they see war as an abstraction but because they think killing human persons is “worth it.” The problem of abstraction is certainly a real problem but again I am talking about pro-life people who think other types of killing are “worth it,” justified on similar grounds as the classic “pro-choice” arguments.

    This is also true of “the pro-life movement.” It is a collection of individuals. So, posting a comic like the original post, or making statements about “some pro-lifers” is offensive to those real, flesh-and-blood persons who consider themselves pro-life.

    But I’m pro-life and I’m not offended by the comic. I think it’s true.

    Making an analogy to calling black people lazy is absurd. They are two different types of statements.

    I think most Vox Nova readers who consider themselves pro-life would not be guilty of the general charges of Michael’s post, either the extreme charge of actual violence, or the minor charge of blindness to other injustice.

    Most people who comment on Vox Nova often defend u.s. war making, often with violent language. Insofar as they support war, they are precisely guilty of the concerns that I have raised.

    And if the latter is a problem, I think that would best be served by shining light on those injustices, rather than calling names.

    I’ve tried to do the former. Did I call anyone names? Does the cartoon call anyone names?

  • The cartoon takes a common stereotype about pro-lifers to an absurd extreme. That will be offensive to members of that group that do not consider themselves guilty of the stereotyped behavior.

    I hate to sound like Bill Donohue here, but we would not have much difficulty recognizing the offensiveness of such a comic targetting other groups.

    That there is a kernel of truth to the stereotype is beside the point. Most sterotypes that are considered outside the pale also have a kernel of truth to them.

    Come on, would a casual reader of that comic think, “There are some issues of consistencies that some pro-life people need to confront, ” or “pro-life = violent hypocrite.”

    The comic was clearly intended to bring about the second reaction, and I don’t think it is out of line to be offended by someone claiming to sympathize with the concerns of the pro-life movement to approvingly post it.

  • John – Which pro-lifers ever would consider themselves guilty? I’m guessing none.

    The comic does not portray the pro-lifer as violent. Nor have I interpreted it to mean anything like that.

  • brettsalkeld

    This might be true in some cases, sure. I think in others it’s clearly not. Many pro-life people do not think preborn people are persons, but not because they see them as abstractions. Others do see them as persons but think that the rights of the mother trump the rights of the preborn person. (Both positions, needless to say, are wrong.)

    Did you mean to type “pro-choice” here?

  • Yes, of course! Thanks.

  • Matt Clement

    I’m reminded of Merold Westphal’s admonition at the beginning of his book Suspicion and Faith that we ought to read the atheist’s critiques of religion (Westphal is speaking specifically of Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx) and let them reprove and teach us (when they are valid — which is to say, often) rather than jumping into a knee-jerk, “I-must-defend-the-faith-from-all-detractors” kind of mentality (Westphal actually reads their most pointed critiques as a Lenten practice). To regard them as unholy prophets and, in humility and repentance, admit our faults.

    This doesn’t seem far from what Michael is suggesting here. Regardless of stereotypes (remember that stereotypes are such for a reason) and offense the cartoon (which I think neither “extreme” nor “absurd”) above may cause, knee-jerk defenses aren’t the way to alleviate those generalizations. The world sees “pro-lifers” (those quotations are intentional) as often Republican in political allegiance (and thus as a bunch of bomb-dropping, comfy middle-class statists) and that’s a reality — one that we need to repent of.

    John: I think it’s rather the case that pro-lifers who, on the one hand, try to protect the unborn (and thank God for all their good and holy work) and who, on the other, support united states imperialism that are substituting abstractions for persons. Michael’s just suggesting that we be consistent. It makes me wonder why his admonition is met with such a cacophony of “yeah-but’s” and “just-hold-on-a-minute-will-ya’s”. Pro-lifers are against abortion because they (rightly) identify the unborn as people, but often go on to ignore (or outright deny) the personhood of the brown-skinned “others” that we are murdering in the Middle East largely so we can continue to sate our glut and whet our gullets with more oil. Remember the forest and trees deal? That’s what they’re missing.

    I don’t see why the distinctions that Michael’s making are so hard to grasp. If you want to call yourself pro-life, then, well, be pro-life.

  • Ronald King

    Excellent comment Matt Clement.

  • I have no problem with pursuing a consistent ethic of life, and being challenged on that.

    I do have a problem with smears against the pro-life movement.

    That is what the comic was. The intent of the comic was to associate the pro-life movement with hypocritical violence.

    I would like to think I’d respond the same way if the sign in the comic read “anti-war.”

  • Kurt

    JohnMcG,

    It may or may not have been a healthy criticism of the Pro-Life Movement. It is an editorial cartoon, which tend to make their point by overstatement. I can accept that it might have been unfair. Though I think such comments are encouraged when Pro-Lifers tend no to acknowledge their movement is simply a secular, human socio-political organization subject to the same errors of judgment, strategy, tactics, theory and policies as any other human endevor. It is not an extention of Divine Revelation through the Magisterium.

    I appreciate your indication of consistency with the Pro-Life Movement and the Anti-War movement. I try to honor that principle of consistency myself even with my different view of the Pro-Life Movement.

    I beleive the Anti-War movement needs critical review as well. It has, at times and among elements, been negatively influenced by isolationism, naïveté towards Communism and other totalitarian ideologies (if not outright fellow traveling) and anti-Americanism.

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