Something That’s Missing

Kevin Drum has a guest post up by Bruce Reed, who was Clinton’s chief domestic policy advisor (calm down!). It’s a dead-on commentary on the pro-choice march in Washington last weekend (see pictures and commentary by a pro-choice Republican here).

He makes a key point:

After sharing the Mall with a million choice supporters yesterday, I don’t see how anyone could say that our side lacks religious fervor. People made pilgrimages from thousands of miles to stand up for their convictions, flocking to the capital of compassionate conservatism to demand more compassion from their leaders.

At the same time, I couldn’t help noticing that the one thing we seem to have no religious fervor for is religion.

And he concludes…

Still, the Mall could have used more sermons on Sunday, and fewer celebrities. It’s not fair to compare a Sunday spent listening to well-meaning activists with that day Martin Luther King called all God’s children to join hands and sing the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last.” But as we helped our children count the number of dogs at the march so they wouldn’t count the number of obscenities one entertainer was shouting from onstage, I couldn’t help thinking about what has been lost along the way.

And how much longer it will take to get where we want to go without it. (emphasis added)

I’ll drink to that.

I’ve followed the whole ‘defending Howard Stern’ discussion with a kind of sour grin. The only thing I like less than the coarsening of public behavior we’re seeing now is the censorship proposed to cure it; that’s as true of political discourse as entertainment.

45 thoughts on “Something That’s Missing”

  1. A pro-choice demonstration? That’s an Orwellian name for a pro-Kerry demonstration. It was about presidential politics, not about a specific policy. It was extremist leftists screaming that Bush should not be reelected. If it was a rally for all pro-choice groups, some Republicans would have joined. So would some religious people.

  2. My grandmother’s Hadassah group was there. So was my sister’s Hillel group. Plenty of religious people were there… religious does not equal Christian, and Jewish law requires that one be pro-choice in the context of secular governmental policy as abortion is, in some cases, *required* by Jewish law.

  3. I believe his point (and mine certainly) was that the dominant theme wasn’t religious, nor was it couched in a way that would appeal to someone who was – even progressively – religious.

    I certainly have seen that in recent labor and antiwar demonstrations here in CA, and I’ll suggest that the loss of that ‘strain’ – to borrow from twisterella – is harmful to having a useful and strong left.

    A.L.

  4. B-b-b-b-but, A.L., why is it good to decry the increasing seculariazation of modern American society, and at the same time bash Islam for its percieved inability to evolve into a secularized religion? I am so confused….

  5. There were plenty of religious speakers on stage; there were also plenty of religous groups marching, with signs identifying who they were. There were many religous groups listed as co-sponsers of the march.

    I’m not sure what more the organizers should have done. And I wish that Democrats who decry the lack of visible progressive religionists would report on their existance, rather than claiming they weren’t even there, as Reed’s post does. It seems to me that ignoring and minimizing the participation of religious liberals is contributing to the problem.

  6. Ampersand, the reason is simple: If they acknowledge religious liberals, then they also have to acknowledge religious conservatives, in order to be “fair.”

  7. twisterwlla – well, consistency is the bugbear of small minds…*grin*. But let’s try this on: for republican democracy such as ours or the ones we peopose to try and nurture abroad to work, there has to be some common base of values that exist outside the political sphere (cf Toqueville). As we lose those, we tend to overexpand the political sphere to try and make up for it, which is one of the weaknesses of modern societies (see: anomie).

    The issue isn’t as Stoppard says, exactly what mean by ‘moral'; it’s that we have an idea that morality exists and is good…

    The problem with fundamentalist regimes is that the political is captured by that common base, and so what we object to is the use of state power to enforce social and moral conformity.

    Further, the problem with millenial fundamentalist religious groups – even those without state power – is that like Aum Shinrikyo (sp?) – they tend to be fairly willing to brutalize both their followers and others who they see as being the the way of the One True Path.

    Better?

    A.L.

  8. Barry –

    Try listening to the recording of the speeches on the Mall in 1963. Then listen to any random set of speakers from a demonstration today.

    Notice a difference?

    A.L.

  9. I’m not sure what your point is. Are you saying that almost all the speakers have to be religious for the rally to have reached an acceptable level of religiosity, in your view?

    I don’t see what purpose is served by an article pretending that there was no religious presence at all. Wouldn’t Reed do more good for the movement (not just pro-choice, but liberalism as a whole) by emphasizing religious progressives, rather than making them invisible?

  10. A pro-choice demonstration? That’s an Orwellian name for a pro-Kerry demonstration.

    Nor more Orwellian than someone who favors forcing taxpayers to fund abortions trying call himself “pro-choice.” Particularly when the same group is there to support a candidate who is anti-choice when it comes to letting workers invest all or part of their Social Security taxes, Medical Savings Accounts, vouchers/tuition tax credits, and the right of law-abiding adults to own firearms.

    Since Kerry and his supporters are pretty much “anti-choice” when it comes to making the aforementioned choices that unambiguously do not involve infringing on the rights of others and reserve their “choice” for abortion (except for requiring the rest of us to pay for them), it would be more accurate to refer to this as a pro-abortion demonstration.

  11. Barry, you are missing one point and making another.

    First, the ‘tone’ of a demonstrtaion is fairly important in positioning an issue in the minds of those that see or watch it. I’ve suggested that I agree with Reed that there is a critical difference in tone today, and that that difference doesn’t make us look good.

    Next, a key issue I have (and have had in spades for the full time I’ve been blogging) with my compatriots on the left (remember me? I believe in environmental regulation, civil rights legislation, equal rights for women, some form of a welfare state, civil liberties, and marriage for gays) is that as soon as you criticize them – the response is a kind of – I lack an adjective here – belief that if only we’d say it’s OK, all will be well. You say it explicitly: ‘Wouldn’t Reed do more good for the movement (not just pro-choice, but liberalism as a whole) by emphasizing religious progressives, rather than making them invisible?‘ Well, a) when I think that advocates of liberalism are wrong, I’m gonna say so – and that doesn’t make me a conservative – and b) liberals are painting themselves into a smaller and smaller corner of the floor. Might I suggest that folks like Reed and I – who are pointing that out – might have liberalism’s best interests in mind?

    A.L.

  12. AL, I understand that you’re a liberal. I didn’t in any way accuse you of being a conservative, and I’m sorry if I gave you that impression. And I certainly don’t object to all criticisms of leftists.

    Here’s my problem: I think that the organizers of the march have heard and taken seriously the idea that liberal movements have to include progressive liberals front and center. They included a lot of religious folks in this march, including among the speakers. That didn’t happen by accident – it happened because they agree that the left needs to be more religious-friendly.

    They’ve heard your criticism, and they’re trying to do something about the problem you’ve identified. And in response, centrist democrats like yourself, and Kevin Drum, and Bruce Reed give them no credit at all. Instead, you entirely ignore their efforts, and criticize them in exactly the same way as you would have done if they didn’t do anything at all.

    The impression Reed gives me is that he’s made up his mind that people who run pro-choice marches are anti-religion, and no amount of effort on their part will change Reed’s mind. At some point, shouldn’t Reed be willing to acknowlege the presence of religious progressives?

    What, specifically, do you think the organizers of the march should have done differently?

  13. Er… the phrase “progressive liberals front and center” should have been “progressive religious folks front and center.” Read it that way and it’ll make a little more sense. :-)

  14. Amp: asking me (and others like me) to help out religious progressives instead of just complaining about the problem is fair enough. However, two points:

    1. For better or worse, it’s the religious progressives who need to raise their voice. I know that might not be fair, but it’s reality.

    2. Read the comments to my post (and Bruce’s). I’m 100% secular myself, but the tone of lots of the commenters is just unbelievable. It’s pretty easy to see how plenty of religious moderates, who might be talked into becoming allies, would be very, very uncomfortable joining a group that has such a sizable minority who hate religion in all its myriad forms.

    As for helping to make religious progressives more visible, I’m up for that. It doesn’t really fit into my favored blogging topics very often, but I’ll try to pay a little more attention to it in the future.

  15. BTW, speaking for myself (not Bruce Reed or anyone else), my main point has never really been to actively try to inject more religion into progressive politics. My point is simply to try and cease from doing things that make religious moderates uncomfortable and don’t really do anything for the cause anyway.

    I suspect the problem is that lots of liberals (myself included) have been so shellshocked and appalled by the antics of the Christian Right that we end up disliking any kind of religion whatsoever. Believe me, I understand. I just think we should move beyond this, that’s all. We shouldn’t allow conservatives to “own” religion.

    And please, one more thing: just because a liberal makes some critique of liberalism doesn’t mean he’s being a shill for right wing talking points. When I do it, it’s because I think it will make liberalism stronger. No movement is perfect, after all.

  16. Notice that all the female speakers at the pro-choice demonstration are adult women whom can easily afford to get their own abortions without state or national subsidization. Women’s societal roles or duties, as well as financial conditions, are only going to intensively deteriorate or worsen now that men as a lawful class are steadily being “channeled” or told, by activists, law, and government, that they as a gender don’t matter, or don’t have to be responsible for anything anymore, NOT FOR LAWFUL OR SOULFUL RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD, PARENTHOOD, PARTNERSHIP-COMPANIONSHIP, PATRIARCHY, ALIMONY,…etc. The Left and NOW love to proclaim they are fighting for nonpartisan, nongender-specific EQUALISM/FAIRNESS but in reality covertly work to achieve female-centric SUPERIORITY and now DOMINANCE! But, yet, they still get angry at being monickered the “LYING/LIAR LEFT” because as Lefties the Right should’ve known they are liars by definition ergo its the Right’s fault for trusting them on their personal honor or dignity when in fact as Lefties they don’t have any -IOW, the Left has the right to lie cuz its the Right’s fault for NOT stopping them or for listening for them. I FIND IT LAUGHABLE AND HYPOCRITICAL THAT AMERICANS FOUGHT TO END ALLEGEDLY DETRIMENTAL AND ARCHAIC STATE SCHOOLS OR HOMES FOR ORPHANS, DELINQUENTS, THE ELDERLY, AND UNMARRIED PREGNANT WOMEN,ETC. ONLY TO RE-JUSTIFY THESE IN THE 21ST CENTURY! As for gender “equalism” I don’t see very many FREE MEN’S CLINICS or MALE-ORIENTED REGIONAL HEALTH/MEDICAL CENTERS, DO YOU!? The Left and feminists cannot tell or ascribe physically stronger, econ competitive, and sociopolitically vital males, ie warrior-leaders, developers, and producers, they don’t matter but then demand they personally, unilaterally, unconditionally and QUIETLY/SILENTLY committ themselves as if to pretend they did or were never told. These feminazi activists are truly “MAD COWS”!

  17. The only thing I like less than the coarsening of public behavior we’re seeing now is the censorship proposed to cure it; that’s as true of political discourse as entertainment.

    Just one thought…

    Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    This law is exemplified by what happens if we step off a boat onto the bank of a lake: as we move in the direction of the shore, the boat tends to move in the opposite direction leaving us facedown in the water, if we aren’t careful!

    Perhaps we should put more time and effort in watching how we step.

  18. Well over a million people—amazing! STUPENDOUS!

    I watched most of the demonstration and while I was in one way very pleased and surprised that there were so many people of different genders, ages and whatever orientation, I was also struck by the sheer incoherent-stupidity of many of the “speeches” not to mention the crassness of the speechmakers.

    Each time I see the films of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, I again marvel at how eloquent he was, how handsome and now well spoken— how well “put together” all of the people in the mall looked—everyone in their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. Ladies and gentlemen had on hats. One does not see that any longer in the U.S. Dressing well along with civility are a mere, lovely memory to some of us. Of course, for those not old enough to remember—what the Hell. Today getting “dressed” means wearing a shredded “designer” tee, with factory-grubby jeans and a half a dozen visible piercings, tattoos and perhaps a bicycle chain about the neck as anti-establishment, anti-corporate jewelry. (That was what my waitress was wearing the other day in an upscale restaurant. It was all I could do to concentrate on my luncheon plate instead of her purple hair and the multiple nose rings that flared with every breath.) Running through my mind was the thought that one of these will be president someday.

    Let’s face it. The age is crass, our people are sloppy, fat and all too often extremely ugly because of their self-inflicted slovenliness as well as their boorish behavior.

    That said, (I feel better now) it was gratifying to see that the demonstration was not just about “abortion rights” it was about social justice: Universal health care, gay marriage, education, pro-choice, economic opportunity, equal access and of course—against the war.

    The youth seem to be waking up. This might get on a roll and then what would they do? ;-)

    One more thing. I note above that most of those SHOUTING about the “left” and women’s non-right to choice — are men. Fellers, when you can get pregnant then you can have a say about what women should do with their bodies. ;-)

  19. Kevin:

    Kinda funny that you and I both have blogs, but the only direct communication we manage is on a third blog. :-)

    I don’t recall accusing you of being a right-wing shill; that certainly wasn’t my intention. We’ve disagreed at times, and I’m to your left politically, but I consider you one of the good guys. (And the same goes for you, AL).

    I agree that there’s an anti-religious bias that you can see among the more… umn… passionately partisan democrats and leftists. I’m not sure what to do about it. All I was really saying is that I thought that Reed’s critique was somewhat misplaced, and failed to give credit to people who are actively putting into action the sort of thing that Reed’s theorizing about.

    I’m not saying no criticism is acceptable. Had the criticism taken the form “It was good that there were religious groups in the crowd, and some religious speakers. But there’s still another 90% to go before we’ve gone far enough, and here’s where more changes need to be made:” I think that would have been far more palatable.

  20. “One more thing. I note above that most of those SHOUTING about the “left” and women’s non-right to choice — are men. Fellers, when you can get pregnant then you can have a say about what women should do with their bodies. ;-)

    I hate this attitude. As a female, even I think men should have a voice in whether their potential children are aborted or not. Jeezus.

  21. “I hate this attitude. As a female, even I think men should have a voice in whether their potential children are aborted or not. Jeezus.”

    Certainly, the men who are directly involved can have a say. In the case of rape or incest probably not. However, the ultimate decision must remain with the woman, given that it is her body. The man will not have to carry the child to term. Additionally, men, more often than not, don’t care for and don’t support illegitimate children.

    It is not the place of men to legislate what women can and must do with their bodies. Women are more than ovens or incubators..

    And while I have no argument that a fetus is anything but an unborn human being, I believe that the rights of the living woman must take precedence. Because if that is not the case, then women are no more than baby making machines or brood-mares.

    That said, it is every woman’s responsibility to not get herself pregnant. As it is every man’s responsibility to not get a woman pregnant. Should that happen, then they are both responsible for the outcome. And both should pay child support if the child comes to term.

    I have yet to see any of the big-time anti-abortion folks volunteer to care for the “millions” of unwanted children they want to “save.”

    At the end of the day, it is the woman who must make the final decision on how her body is to be used. It is personal, private and should be between the woman, her health care provider and her God.

    Odd, is it not that the rabid anti-abortion protesters would murder in the name of their God? There were two women on the stands during the rally at one point. One was maimed by a bomb and the other’s husband had been killed and she had been wounded from such an attack.

    It seems to me that the principle is the same as militant Islam. Kill to save!

  22. Lili,

    You are perhaps unaware of the thousands of crisis pregnancy centers run by pro-life organizations that provide counseling, medical support, and financial support for pregnant women in difficult circumstances. They may not get much press, but their quiet actions help many, many women on a daily basis, and the staffers are quite often volunteers.

    For instance, a quick Google search found http://www.pregnancycenters.org. They have a toll-free number and a database of contact information for crisis pregnancy centers that spans the U.S. and Canada.

    These volunteers are the real heart of the pro-life movement, not the handful of wackos that have found a particular reason to kill. Remind me, when was the last time an abortion-performing doctor was murdered here in the U.S.? I think it’s been a few years.

  23. “It is not the place of men to legislate what women can and must do with their bodies. Women are more than ovens or incubators..”

    Except it is. Why? Because this is not a fascist police state run by women. It’s a democracy. (Break it down! Demo. Cracy.) Their opinion is just as valid and I’m pretty sure the Constitution gives them the right to an opinion as well as a vote on the matter.

  24. Certainly I am aware of crisis intervention centers and the like, Sam. However, I still believe that it is the woman who must decide how her body will be used. It is not for any man or society to tell her she must bring the pregnancy to term.

    As a man, you probably can’t quite understand what it means to be forced to bear an unwanted child and then to be forced to give it up for adoption because you don’t have the means to care for that child. Or worse yet to keep that child and force it to grow up in misery.

    I maintain that the decision must be that of the woman alone. And millions of women in this country and the free West agree!

    This is how they take care of these things in the Muslim world. Note that it is men who get a woman pregnant and men who then insist that she has sullied their “honor” and must be killed.

    A society that condones such practices is psychotic!

    Lili

    —–
    Burned alive

    As a teenager in the West Bank, Soauad became pregnant by a local boy. He ‘shamed’ Palestinian family condemned her to death and she was set on fire by her brother-in-law. Every year, thousands of women in the Middle East die in ‘honour killings’. Souad survived. This is her harrowing story

    He came towards me and said, with a smile: “Hi. How goes it?” He was chewing a blade of grass. “I’m going to take care of you.”

    I hadn’t been expecting that. I smiled a little, to thank him, not daring to speak.

    Suddenly I felt a cold liquid running over my head; I was on fire. I slapped at my hair. I screamed. My dress billowed out behind me. Was it on fire, too? I smelt the petrol and ran, the hem of my dress getting in the way. Did he run after me? Was he waiting for me to fall so he could watch me go up in flames?

    I’m going to die, I thought. That’s good. Maybe I’m already dead. It’s over, finally.

    My name is Souad. My story began almost 25 years ago in my native village in the West Bank, a tiny place, in a region then occupied by the Israelis. If I named my village, I could be in danger, even though I am now thousands of miles away. In my village I am officially dead; if I were to go back today they would try to kill me a second time for the honour of my family. It’s the law of the land. It’s because I am a woman. . .

    . . . More than 6,000 “honour” crimes are committed every year – in the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, India and Pakistan. In Pakistan the custom is an accepted part of national culture. In Jordan, a man who has killed his wife in a state of rage is entitled to the judge’s clemency; the same law applies to a man who kills his wife simply because he suspects her of adultery. It is increasingly common for “disgraced” families to hire bounty hunters, so women who manage to escape to other countries are forced into hiding. . . ”

    Read the full, horrifying story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=%2Farts%2F2004%2F04%2F26%2Fftburn26.xml&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=16154

  25. Lili,

    “As a man, you probably can’t quite understand what it means….”

    You know, it doesn’t really matter what follows here. Your tactic is both blatantly sexist and an attempt to quash the validity of my even HAVING an opinion.

  26. Lili wrote:

    It is not the place of men to legislate what women can and must do with their bodies.

    A.L. writes:

    WTF??

    So we need women’s courts then, since women shouldn’t be subjected to ‘men’s justice’?

    And how, exactly, is this different than Muslims explaining that it isn’t the place of kufirs to legislate what Muslims can and must do with their wives??

    Lili, I’m part of the generation that put the nail in the argument that women shouldn’t participate in the heavy lifting of poloitrics or business, and I’m bitterly ashamed to see you – and your cohorts – taking what we did and turning it into nonsense.

    A.L.

  27. “You know, it doesn’t really matter what follows here. Your tactic is both blatantly sexist and an attempt to quash the validity of my even HAVING an opinion.”

    Not al all Sam. Men may have all of the opinions they want on the issue of choice. But, they may not legislate nor may they make the final decision of whether a woman has the right to choice. The final decision of what to do must be left up to a woman.

    Certainly the body politic is comprised of men and women—and these will all vote on the legality of the issue. However, in this administration it is a huge group of white men who are pushing this issue to ultimately take away the right of a woman to have a choice. I recall seeing a panel recently, think it was the “partial birth” debate — these men, and they were only old, white, men, were presuming to legislate what women could do with their bodies regardless of the health of the woman, regardless of the circumstances. I am simply saying in principle that men have no right to force women to do what the men want!

    Certainly the life of the unborn must be protected. However, the living woman’s life must take precedence.

    Certainly the husband, lover, boy-friend of a woman can be consulted. But, only if the woman wants to do that. In the end, the decision must be hers alone to make—because his body is not affected.

    I have known women who have had breast cancer, some treatable some not. Occasionally a woman cannot bear the idea of having to have radical mastectomy—even if the husband or lover is supportive and swears he will love his partner without her breasts. I have known women who chose to not have the surgery, against the wishes of their mates— and thus they doomed themselves to death and their mates to widowhood.

    Would you say that those women had no right to make the choice of what sort of care they wanted to have for their cancer?

    If you had prostate cancer and needed surgery that would render you impotent and you chose to not have that surgery, do you believe that anyone else has the right to tell you that, you may not make that choice?

    I grant you that the above will be seen as selfish, because others are affected by those choices. However, my body, my self!

    “So we need women’s courts then, since women shouldn’t be subjected to ‘men’s justice’?”

    That is not what I said. This is about the fundamental right of a woman to make a choice. Perhaps I am not making myself clear. Let me try again.

    “”And how, exactly, is this different than Muslims explaining that it isn’t the place of kufirs to legislate what Muslims can and must do with their wives?

    It is very different A.L. Because it is women who must control what they can do with their bodies—not men—since the decision will not affect the bodies of men. One may argue about the “psyche” of men all the way to dooms day, but the fact remains men are not affected in the same manner.

    The fundies seek to control our women in the same way that the Muslims control theirs. The principle is the same. Perhaps the RR won’t pour petrol over the heads of women in an effort to “stop’ them, but they kill them just the same—either literally with an illegal abortion or figuratively by forcing women into choices they don’t want to make: bear a child and/or give it up for adoption. If there is no choice to safe abortions, affordable abortions, then women, in their desperation, will return to the back-alley butchers to be maimed and even to die—because women will make the choice, whether it is legal or not. And yes, affordability means that poor women must have access that is paid for by taxpayers. Because well to do women will always have access, whether legal or not. Not giving poor women access is sexist and also racist because so many women of color are among the poor.

    (Sex education and pregnancy prevention is another issue.)

    I am for choice, the difficult, lonely, devastating moral choice—that must be left to women alone to make. A choice that must not be legislated by the men who control our legislatures and our courts. If women have a choice then that choice can include whether to involve the man responsible in the ultimate decision of how to proceed. However, in the end, it is the woman who must bear the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy. She must live with the consequences of choice or no choice for the rest of her life because it is her body that is involved.

    You cannot say that a man is equally affected, no matter how much he may suffer pangs of conscience. His body is free.

    Have you ever known a woman who had to make the choice and then had to live with it—forever? I have. You NEVER get over it! I have known women, who in times of war, made the choice because there was no other choice— and mourned the rest of their lives. I have known others who gave up the child and mourned the rest of their lives—looking into the eyes of children they would meet, wondering if this child was the one. I have known women who were victims of incest or rape, who made the choice— and because of the double shame, never got over the grief. I have known teens who made the choice, some very nonchalantly, and then when it was over, mourned the rest of their lives.

    No A.L. the choice of what to do, whom to tell and whom to involve must be that of the woman—alone. And make no mistake it is a lonely choice, a terrible choice to have to make. That choice is what the RR is trying to take away from women. And thus, they are no different than the Muslim fundies in trying to control women.

    In Muslim lands there are scores of abortions being performed as well as infanticide because of an unwanted gender pregnancy. The mother in the story of Souad, above, smothered several of her female children. Thus, there is an imbalance in the sexes—with a plethora of young men who will not be able to find wives. This is the other end of the jihadi problem. Because women are the civilizing forces in society—if men allow them to be. All to often, men want to take away the rights of women to control their lives.

    That is what the demonstration of over a million people on the weekend seeks to stop—the taking away of women’s fundamental right to choice. I would urge you to remember that whether legal or not, permitted or not, women will always make the choice—one way or another without consulting men.

  28. Lili, I think it’s a mistake to make it about the sex of the legislators.

    I happen to agree with you; I don’t think the legislature has a moral right to force pregnant women to bear children against their will, any more than the legislature has a moral right to enslave people or force citizens to have surgery against their will.

    Every sane individual adult has the right to own their own body and make essential medical choices for themselves; women don’t give up that right by becoming pregnant.

    But women would have that moral right even if the legislature was 100% female (statistically, women in the US are just as likely to be pro-life as men). The right to reproductive choice is NOT dependant on the sex of the people in Congress. So by bringing the sex of politicians into it, I think you’re unintentionally creating a distraction from the real issues.

    Just IMHO.

  29. Lili, I’m not going to engage here, except to gently encourage you to look in the mirror and see the absolutism that all the rest of us see.

    And since, in fact, women are subject to the same laws the rest of us are, and those laws are made by men and women – including women who disagree with you – I’ll less gently suggest that your attitude, and the attitude of those who feel as you do is a big part of why the right to choose is under such intense siege.

    A.L.

  30. “But women would have that moral right even if the legislature was 100% female (statistically, women in the US are just as likely to be pro-life as men). The right to reproductive choice is NOT dependant on the sex of the people in Congress. So by bringing the sex of politicians into it, I think you’re unintentionally creating a distraction from the real issues.”

    I certainly agree with you Ampersand. However, it must be remembered that it is primarily men who rule the country and men who have passed this legislation and men who seek to ultimately take down Roe vs. Wade. additionally, it is men (to the best of my knowledge) who have perpetrated the violence, bombings and murders on abortion and family planning clinics.

    It is a gender issue because these men, for the most part, seek to control what women can do with their bodies—from GW on down to the bomb throwers and the shooters. There are of course women who are anti-choice. But, as far as I know, they are not the shooters or the bomb-throwers. (Anyone have info to the contrary?) And even if they were, it would not make a damned bit of difference.

    ” in fact, women are subject to the same laws the rest of us are, and those laws are made by men and women – including women who disagree with you – I’ll less gently suggest that your attitude, and the attitude of those who feel as you do is a big part of why the right to choose is under such intense siege.”

    There really is no point in arguing about it A.L. . Because, as I said, no matter what the law—made by mostly men— women will always make the choice, without consulting men. I agree that no one should be able to tell another human being what to do with their body.

    You should worry more about the “attitude”— as in the violent attitude— of the anti-choice folks. As far as I know, no pro-choicers have shot anyone or thrown bombs.

    As for my “attitude” tell it to the loved ones of the women who died because of the rules (mostly) men made.

    What I hear you saying is that if women were just nice, docile and quiet about their rights being eroded, then they would be better perceived— But, those rights would be taken away regardless. LOL

    Sorry A.L. your rights end where my nose and every other woman’s nose, begins. :-)

    Gees, I never thought we would have to “fight” this battle again. I remember the first time and now the bastards want to make us do it all over again. If you think my “attitude” is strident, hang on to your hat. Have you ever met one of today’s young, pro-choice women? I think you are in for a tough ride if you think they are going to be as docile as my generation was.

    These “ladies” have their gloves off because they never wore any in the first place. ;-)

  31. Lili is right, except she should not make it a man versus woman thing.
    The “absolutism” comes from the other side. As soon as a sperm meets an egg the State supposedly has a vested interest in what happens to it. That comes only from religion.
    There’s supposed to be a constitutional guarantee against the tyranny of the majority against the minority (a pregnant woman), for the right of privacy, and for the separation of church and state.
    It should not be a political football.

  32. In respect to AL, I do not want to debate the actual pro-choice/pro-life issue.

    However, I find Lili’s comments more than a little outrageous. There are a great women in the pro-life movement, just as there are men in the pro-choice movement. Polling shows that women as a whole in the US are more evenly divided on the question than Lili seems to understand.

    I suppose casting the issue as men wishing to control women is a good way to avoid the actual substantive ethical issues.

  33. “The “absolutism” comes from the other side. As soon as a sperm meets an egg the State supposedly has a vested interest in what happens to it. That comes only from religion.”

    Not necessarily. The whole abortion issue comes down to “at what point does a fetus/developing baby in the womb become fully human and subject to protection of the law of the land?” Reasonable people can disagree about this. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with religion, although usually it does.

  34. Lili, I’m pretty sure that AL is pro-choice, so speaking as if he’s the opposition does not (to me) make sense. Let’s not drive away allies, please.

    Of course, the few violent pro-lifers (and they aren’t at all typical of the pro-life movement) have been male, but that’s because most violent activists of ANY kind are male. Most eco-terrorists are male, most suicide bombers are male, etc etc. We could spend a lot of time discussing the reasons why, but it really has nothing to do with the abortion issue.

    Lili wrote: However, it must be remembered that it is primarily men who rule the country and men who have passed this legislation and men who seek to ultimately take down Roe vs. Wade.

    I’m not sure this is true. Most of the men you’re talking about are either elected representatives, or were appointed by someone who was elected. And the people voting in the elections include women and men both. In the end, it’s the pro-life voters of both sexes who are driving the legislative moves against Roe.

    Changing the sex of the legislature should be done, in my opinion; but I don’t think that alone will end the assault on Roe. It’s the opinions of the voters that needs to be changed – and not only the male voters.

    I’ve posted about this on my blog; perhaps you should go there if you’d like to continue this discussion, since A.L. seems to not want an abortion debate on his blog. (Correct me if I’m mistaken about that, please, A.L.).

  35. Yehudit,

    Exactly. While the essential question is moral, rather than factual, that does not necessarily make it religious in nature.

    Biology says that conception is the origin of a genetically unique individual. It does not, and indeed CAN not, make the judgement that this point in time defines the creation of a _person_ that merits legal protection of his existence.

    Clearly, there exists a point in time where one acquires the right not to be arbitrarily killed. Lots of people disagree as to when this point occurs (i.e. conception, measurable brainwaves, viability outside the womb, birth, possibly other options). I think there is broad–though not unanimous–agreement that past this point, the right of a person not to be arbitrarily killed supercedes the interests of any other person. Of course, where you locate the point dictates the resulting repercussions, on both an individual and a societal scale.

    This is a big moral question, and it deserves serious consideration. The timepoint origin of a human life raises philosophical questions that concern each and every one of us, men no less than women.

  36. Lili,

    You keep referring to a woman’s right to do as she wishes with _her_ body. The problem from a pro-life perspective is that it is not _her_ body we’re talking about in an abortion. One does not have to be a theocratic fascist or even particularly religious to believe that a fetus has a life separate from the mother’s. That is, in fact, a scientifically provable and proven fact. If it were not, such things as in vitro fertilization, surrogate pregnancies and embryo freezing would not be possible. Those procedures also make a hash of the viability argument. From conception, a fetus can in fact survive in environments outside the mother. It can be conceived in a test tube; it can be frozen for later implantation into a woman who has trouble conceiving, and it can be taken from the body of one woman and implanted in the body of another. How could any of that be possible if it had no life separate from the mother? And IMHO, no society can afford to allow “choice” in the matter of taking an innocent life. I also agree with Lindenen. I wouldn’t want a woman to murder _my_ child. Where are my rights, not to mention the child’s?

  37. Lili wrote:

    “Have you ever known a woman who had to make the choice and then had to live with it—forever? I have. You NEVER get over it! I have known women, who in times of war, made the choice because there was no other choice— and mourned the rest of their lives. I have known others who gave up the child and mourned the rest of their lives—looking into the eyes of children they would meet, wondering if this child was the one. I have known women who were victims of incest or rape, who made the choice— and because of the double shame, never got over the grief. I have known teens who made the choice, some very nonchalantly, and then when it was over, mourned the rest of their lives.”

    And I have known women who were too lazy, selfish and incompetent to demand a condom or take birth control pills, so they are now on their, respectively, fourth and sixth abortions. These people used to be my friends, but despite being pro-choice, I had to walk away from them because of their behavior. Women aren’t entirely saints and neither are they entirely victims. Sometimes they’re scumbags who don’t care about the health of their own bodies much less the lives they create.

    “However, it must be remembered that it is primarily men who rule the country and men who have passed this legislation and men who seek to ultimately take down Roe vs. Wade.

    And it was primarily MEN who handed down Roe Vs Wade and reversed the ban on legal abortion.

    ” I recall seeing a panel recently, think it was the “partial birth” debate — these men, and they were only old, white, men, were presuming to legislate what women could do with their bodies regardless of the health of the woman, regardless of the circumstances.”

    So we’ve got sexism and racism! Yay!

    And it was old white men who even wrote the Constitution that guarantees your rights! Those damn old white men! They’ve done it again!

  38. If A.L. did not want this discussion, why did he put up the thread? After all, that is what the demonstration was about. The mere fact that we have to discuss it at all or have a demonstration at all is pretty telling of how far back we have slipped.

    Fred, et al. I have stated that from conception a fetus is a human life. And any woman who wants/needs an abortion has to deal with that fact.

    However, the woman’s life should take precedence in my opinion, and in the opinion of the pro-choice people, up to a certain time in the pregnancy—at which point the child could be viable. That is how it has been for a long time now.

    And IMHO, no society can afford to allow “choice” in the matter of taking an innocent life. I also agree with Lindenen. I wouldn’t want a woman to murder my child. Where are my rights, not to mention the child’s?”

    Your “rights,” with respect to abortion, Fred, will begin when YOU can get pregnant!

    Now, if the woman is your wife or SO you will certainly want to discuss it. IF she tells you what her plans are. Otherwise, you are out of luck. Should not have gotten her pregnant.

    It is also a man’s responsibility not to make women pregnant. You see, men have since time immemorial used pregnancy as a way to control women. Men want women, they don’t take care, getting pregnant is a “woman’s problem.” Figuring out what to do after she gets pregnant also tends to be a woman’s problem. It is a rare man who takes responsibility for having caused an unintended, illegitimate pregnancy.

    As I stated above, when men can get pregnant then they can have a say in this. I am not talking about what the laws are. I am talking about asking a man for his “permission” to not bring a pregnancy to term.

    However, since “they” are trying to take women’s rights of choice away—again. I make the point.

    If society attempts to take a woman’s right to her body away she will find another way. The “coat-hanger” option is one, the back alley abortionist another. Infanticide is common when abortions are not possible in many parts of the world.

    Because women are more than just incubators for fetuses the right to choose must be safeguarded. If not,then this society is not any more advance than that of the 7th century Muslims!

    It is a moot point. Women will always do what they need to do.

  39. Lili,

    I’m a conservative who was pro-choice for a long time.

    I’d just like to say that it’s people like you who have been shoving me farther and farther to the pro-life side. I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m scrambling desperately to find a reason to stay pro-choice, and the best reasons you can come up with boil down to “Pro-life = Osama bin Laden.”

    Getting told that I’m basically an evil person who wants to oppress women and shoot doctors because I have a penis isn’t convincing me.

  40. Lili wrote:

    “It is also a man’s responsibility not to make women pregnant.”

    This is just ridiculous. Women control their own bodies. Not men. Remember? That’s the point of allowing legal abortion. Is the man supposed to shove birth control pills down the woman’s throat?

    It takes two to tango. If a woman doesn’t want to run the risk of becoming pregnant, then she shouldn’t agree to have sex. Period. She holds the keys. Except for rape, it will not happen without her acquiescence. This should be obvious on its face. If both agree that pregnancy is to be avoided, then both are responsible for taking steps to prevent it, but women will always be the ones bearing the most responsibility for what takes place, and this is a fact of biology. Nothing will change that.

    It’s interesting that you believe men should be responsible for the children they create, but women shouldn’t.

    Honestly, Lili, reading the things you write is enough to make me sympathize with the evil old white men who want to make women who chose to have sex take responsibility for their own actions.

  41. Folks, I really did not mean to open the abortion issue to debate; what I was interested in was the nature of the presentation the progressives in America are making, how that has changed in the last 40 years, and what the impacts might be.

    I’ll point to Rob Lyman’s post above as an argument for my case.

    I promise I’ll do an abortion post soon – we need more hits!!

    A.L.

  42. Folks, I really did not mean to open the abortion issue to debate; what I was interested in was the nature of the presentation the progressives in America are making, how that has changed in the last 40 years, and what the impacts might be.

    I’ll point to Rob Lyman’s post above as an argument for my case.

    I promise I’ll do an abortion post soon – we need more hits!!

    A.L.

  43. Lili, I believe I addressed the viability argument. And let me be sure I understand you; a fetus is a human life, but it’s ok for a mother to destroy it? My grandmother is a human being, but if I want to kill her with an axe, that’s my choice, right? And the last time I took biology, it took two people to get a woman pregnant. If she and I do so, then half that DNA is mine as is that child, but I have no rights? Obviously I don’t under the law as it exists, but I submit the law is wrong.

    Rob, I hope you never find that reason to return to “pro-choice.” If nothing else, Lili has rendered humanity a service in that regard :)

  44. It fascinates me how you boys twist everything around to suit your personal prejudices. :-) To reiterate and then leave this alone, because it is a MOOT point!

    1) For the “pro-life” folks, I have said the fetus is a human life. That happens to be a scientific fact. The fetus will not become a rabbit, rodent or primate, if carried to term it will become and is a human being.

    2) Again, I say that the living woman is not simply an incubator for a baby. Therefore her life and health must take precedence.

    3) It is the responsibility of BOTH men and women to not get pregnant. Each responsible for his own.
    I tell the girls: “It is YOUR fault if you have an unwanted pregnancy.” And I tell the boys” “It is YOUR fault if you make a girl pregnant.” Comes down to personal responsibility. All that drivel lindenen posted about a woman having to “ask” for a condom is just so much irresponsibility and the shifting of that to the woman! It is a man’s responsibility, in this day of STDs, to be sure he does not make a woman pregnant. Ditto for his partner—her responsibility to not get pregnant.

    4) Abortion should not be used as a birth control method. You don’t even want to get me started on irresponsible women who have pregnancy, after pregnancy and abort or bring forth half a dozen children whom they cannot support and then are on the dole the rest of their lives. My position on that makes the RR look benign!

    “It’s interesting that you believe men should be responsible for the children they create, but women shouldn’t.”

    You clearly have not read what I wrote, lindenen. Try it from the top. I never said anything of the sort!

    “a fetus is a human life, but it’s ok for a mother to destroy it? My grandmother is a human being, but if I want to kill her with an axe, that’s my choice, right? And the last time I took biology, it took two people to get a woman pregnant. If she and I do so, then half that DNA is mine as is that child, but I have no rights? Obviously I don’t under the law as it exists, but I submit the law is wrong.”

    Fred, a nonviable fetus, whether conceived via rape, incest or carelessness, has nothing to do with your grandmother who is here. Your grandmother is not attached to your body. I believe that LIVE women should be considered, their health, their lives. If you don’t then please be sure to keep your pants zipped and or be responsible for not getting a woman pregnant.

    I am not arguing the moral issue of abortion. I am arguing that men cannot dictate how women can and should use their bodies with respect to bringing a pregnancy to term—regardless of what any law says. It takes two to tango, but more often than not the man waltzes away. You may speak of a man’s “rights” on this issue when the majority of men, who produce not only illegitimate children but also legitimate ones, pay their fair share of child support. The record of that is dismally appalling. Last time I checked 85% of men who should, do not pay child support in the U.S.

    Let me ask you. Do you believe that if a woman says she is on birth control pills that you should still take precaution against an unintended pregnancy as well as STDs? If the answer is “yes” then you are a responsible man. If the answer is “no” then you are irresponsible. Mental disability not withstanding, IMHO everyone is responsible for their own behavior and the consequences of that at all times— including in the sack.

    You play, you pay! ;-)

    Again, women regardless of the law—in all cultures—will always do what they have to do. They will not ask a man for “permission,” because a man’s body is not affected and if he is not married to the woman, his life may not even be affected. Those are the grim facts of life, gentlemen.

    Arguing for the education of the masses might be more fruitful than whether or not abortion should be permitted. And just for the record, I believe that abortion should only be done only under certain circumstances and as a last resort. Not only that, I believe that some women, who have proven to be irresponsible, should be forced to use birth control. Now watch the eugenics folks come out of the closet. And all men and women who help produce a child should pay child support, as is required in other civilized nations!


    Careful what you wish for, A.L. an abortion thread may get you more “hits” than you desire.

    Biology is destiny.

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