Tuesday, January 17, 2006

An Answer for TheRobb

In the rather heated exchange going on in Sean's recent post on Alito, our good friend TheRobb asks the question:

"Why do (Dems, Liberals, Leftists) appear to be 'hung up' (for lack of better words) on protecting Roe v. Wade?"

And I endeavor to answer...

Now, I don't pretend to speak for Sean, S9, or anyone else on my team, but to my mind there is a very easy answer for this, in two parts; part one, is that most people who support Roe do not view unviable foetuses as persons, with all rights and obligations thereunto pertaining. A potential, certainly; but not a full fledged person.

Part two, the classic liberalism that many of us passionately defend is predicated on a certain self-determination and freedom from undue influence over our own particular destinies.

Now, whether we believe that undue influence takes the form of capital run amok over of the lives of ordinary people to the point where they are enslaved by an allegedly "free-market" ...


whether we believe the threat to freedom stems from a callous, incompetent and self-interested government working openly against the interests of personal liberty in order to guarantee its own self-perpetuation ...

Or some combination of the two...

The basic starting point is the same, the previously mentioned personal control over one's own destiny.

And there are two arguements that I like to use in this situation:

a1: Not really so much an arguement as an observation... Our position is soley about freedom and choice. A government that has the ability to prevent abortion, also has the ability to enforce abortion (c.f. The People's Republic of China). The door really does swing both ways.

a2: The concept of making abortion unlawful and putting it in the category of "crimes against the person (e.g. murder, manslaughter, assault) leaves most people in a curious position on this.

If we postulate that a foetus at any point in gestation is a legal "person" then anyone who takes a deliberate act to harm that foetus is guilty of one of those aforemention "crimes against the person."

At that point, I believe it morally obligates those who take that stance to support putting doctors and would-be mothers in jail for the rest of their lives for terminating a pregnancy. Perhaps even the death penalty here in California, because the laws againt torture and "mayhem" (basically dismembering someone) would require it.

And yet, I see very few people who are willing to go there. The question becomes, if we put a mother in jail for murdering her kids in a bathtub, like that lady in Texas, then why wouldn't we put her in jail for terminating a pregnancy?

And if you do believe that is what should be done, then at least I would respect the consistency of your belief, but I don't know if that is how you really think about this.

Why is there such vitriol involved?

I think part of the answer is at least that both sides see the issue as a matter of a fundamental right or part of human nature. It goes straight to the very dignity of our existence and our right to order our own lives. Both sides see the other as an anathema to everything we believe is important about our country and our society.

Quite simply, these two substances cannot occupy the same space.

But also, I think a lot of the vitriol on both sides is artificial. Both in the safe snarkiness of the Internet where no one really knows who (or what) they are talking to as well as the relatively controlled nuclear reaction of street action where the cops are on hand to make sure no one gets too far out of hand.

There is also the media angle. As a former news reporter, I often used to notice that those who were the most outrageous and loud on an issue often got the coverage as opposed to the circumspect or quiet. You wanna get your name and your issue in the paper, say something wild.

No, I didn't (and still don't) think that is a particular good way to present news and issues to the public, but that's the way it works. And it is a shame.

But some of the vitriol simply comes from being attacked. I have had people spit on me, physically assault me, call me all manner of ugly names (all in the name of Christian love, you understand). After a while, that kind of pseudo-combat becomes second nature.

For example, I regard the Kelo v. New London decision as much more of a disgrace than Roe.

I whole-heartedly agree with you on that one, and I am doubly disappointed because the majority in that case came from the justices with whom I usually find myself in agreement. I was deeply distressed by the court's reasoning in Kelo. And to my mind, I find cases like that far more instructive on a justice's potential jurisprudence than an abortion litmus test.

Although, to return to Roe for a moment in that context, I think the issue is not so much whether a justice supports abortion in an of itself, but whether that justice can find a reasonable reading of the Constitution that says a woman has an absolute right to control her reproductive destiny. This was essentially the arguement in Griswold.

So at the end of the day, I don't think it's so much about "abortion" as a concept as it is about the government's ability to declare very intimate aspects of our lives as public domain and susceptible to government control.

And I would hope in this moment of clarity and non-snarkiness, that you would at least acknowledge that liberals are not all about government control of people's lives, like we have been trying to tell you for, lo, these many years.

I got into it the other day with the children over at Moonbattery (Even consider the name of the blog, as to why we get worked up...) And a guy was wondering aloud about the persecution of Christians compared to some kid in the upper mid west who won the right in court to wear his Sikh dagger (part of the religious garb of Sikh's, like a yarmulke for Jews).

He was complaining that some kid could now wear his ceremonial knife to school, but they still couldn't put a crèche out on the lawn of the courthouse. And I attempted to explain to him the difference between the freedom to wear religious accessories on one's person as a spiritual fashion statement as opposed to placing a religious display on public property where people would now have to pay for subsidizing a religious display that they might violently oppose...

And yet this person could not see the difference (or at least claimed he couldn't, but I have my doubts there). As far as this person was concerned, there was no difference between wearing a cross or crucifix on one's person, and erecting a giant cross on public property subsidized by the taxpayers.

I know I have wondered a little far afield from the original questions, so I will cut it off here, but these are my answers, such as they are without snark or sarcasm.

I hope this helps clarify my position for you.

mojo sends.

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