Sunday, June 30, 2013

Abortion, the battle from on the ground

You sometimes see me post an example of something ludicrous and alarming and say "this is what we're up against."  These posts, while highlighting specific examples of whatever the issue at hand is, tend to have an abstract angle to them; a pro-choice politician may be saying what he personally believes, but being a politician his actions will tend to affect people more conceptually than personally.

I mentioned my un-PC coworker a few days ago.  In the conversation he was having with some of his other coworkers who are pretty liberal (I'm currently residing in a very blue state, so we're all soaking in it), the talk somehow turned to abortion.  My coworker said that, while he is perfectly happy with prevention, he won't countenance abortion especially when used solely as birth control.

I think he used the word "pro-abortion" at this point, because one of the others denied being pro-abortion, but rather was pro-choice...and that if she had a twelve year old daughter who was molested by some guy and ended up pregnant, the first thing she would do would be to drive her to an abortion clinic.

"So she doesn't get a choice."
"No!  At that age she's not mature enough to understand the consequences."
"What if she doesn't want the abortion?  Would you at least discuss it with her?"
"No.  She's not capable yet of making an informed decision."

Okay, she's a minor and the parent gets the last word on medical decisions; even the law agrees with this, except when the situation is reversed.  But the hypothetical daughter is 12, not an idiot; she's going to have an opinion, despite having been raised by an "I'll choose who has abortions in this household" mother, it might not be the same, and she's at least going to want to feel like her feelings and preferences are being considered before they're overruled.

This; this is really what we're up against.  People who have listened to the rhetoric and already made up their minds, who don't believe in Choice as a virtue and civic right to be protected so much as they believe abortion is just a means to some other end, who are going to vote for politicians and laws that will let them pursue those other ends without inconvenience.

This is the battle we have to fight:  not just beating with rhetoric the sin-darkened intellects of talking heads who themselves may only be using the abortion issue to achieve some other end, but breathing on the embers of conscience in the people who both who are on the fence or see abortion as a necessary evil, and those who have inclined themselves to using the last resort of abortion so cavalierly that it is the first resort.

We have to win hearts.  You can get a little traction by winning arguments, at least trying to plant seeds, but it's such a charged topic, like evangelization itself, that if you come after them with logical guns a-blazing, they'll retreat into emotional counterarguments that you can't touch.  The woman who said she would choose abortion for her underage daughter no matter what walked out of the room before I could add anything to the suggestion that her daughter's feelings should be considered whether or not her own choice would be.  The topic might come up again and I might have another chance to play the "kindler, gentler conservative" next to my other coworker, but it might not.

But I'm still curious:  if someone says "I'm not pro-abortion, I'm pro-choice," what does he think someone admitting to being pro-abortion would say differently?  That he just wanted to kill babies for the sake of killing?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

As a nation, we turned a corner yesterday.

I'm not sure which bothers me more, the fact that SCOTUS decided that no one has any business opposing gay marriage in California when Californian legislators can't be bothered to defend traditional marriage, or the fact that POTUS has merely promised that he would refrain from trying to bring to heel any dissenting groups.

I concede to painting with an overly broad brush.  I just had to read the verbiage about California residents not having standing to oppose the overturn of Proposition 8 several times before I gave up trying to see how the logic was not actually applied in reverse.  Would people with same-sex attraction be permitted to participate in the debate if they opposed gay marriage, or would they also be told that they don't have a right to promote their opinions or reasoned arguments because they're on the wrong side of history?  How tidy:  you're on the winning team or you're not allowed to play.

As for the president, well, I've seen him promise not to abuse his power in the past.  One time, he even said he wasn't going to get into the whole gay marriage thing.  Now he's reassuring Christians that they will be able to indulge their own bigotry undisturbed in private.  Of course, he won't be able to stamp out every last vestige of orthodox morality, that's too vast and tedious a task to bother with, but there are terms for an announcement like this.  In sparring, it's called a telegraph.  In literature, it's foreshadowing.  In naval warfare, it's a shot across the bow.  

I do think it's true that there's a supernatural conspiracy here, and possibly not a human one on top of it; and thus I agree that ultimately gay marriage is a vehicle to persecute the Church.  What scares me on this matter is I cannot imagine the circumstances in which homosexuals will be thrown under the bus when (that is, how) they cease to be useful to that end.

I wish people had some perspective.  Gay people have never been banned from marriage; they just don't have the right to marry absolutely anyone they wish.  This prohibition is in place for all of us.  Romance literature is chockablock with stories about unrequited or thwarted love.

"Why, Ed, don't you want people to marry whomever they love?"

Setting aside the question of whether the person they love loves them back and wants to be married, the government has no truck with whom someone does or does not love.  Marriage is to provide a stable environment for raising children, and well-raised children make for a healthy nation, so the government is wise to promote that.

Stray into emotional territory, and you open the door wide to abuse.  I promise you, there is nothing the government can do in applying itself to the emotional domain that is not going to be abusive.

Finally, an anecdote illustrating the "ruthless narcissism" Mark Shea describes comprising this whole movement.
I have a coworker who is terribly fond of using politically incorrect humor. He loves talking about cooking meat and killing animals in front of one of our technicians who is an on-again, off-again vegan; he talks in front of his female coworkers about how he orders his wife to do this and orders her not to do that, and how women shouldn't be allowed to do various things; when talking to one of our black technicians, he often refers to "your kind." He doesn't mean a word of it and he doesn't offend any of the people he teases (trust me, they dish it right back). But this morning, he was asked if he had talked to the sole admitted lesbian in the office. She's a sweetheart, but he said "What, are you crazy?  I'm not stupid!"
Some people just want to mind their own lives, and when they do it really is nobody's business, but it

Take a lesson from Evangelicals, abortion clinic bombers, and Phil Plait:  you're not going to prick consciences and win hearts and minds by being a jerk.  For every George Takei there are ten Andrew Sullivans, and the Sullivans are undoing whatever progress was being made by the no-big-deal desensitization plan.  Granted, a lot of progress has been made on that front, judging from prime time TV and the nigh-complete failure of everyone to articulate the fact that the Boy Scout thing from a few weeks ago now means that sexuality has to be discussed openly with ten year old boys instead of leaving the sensitive topic to be broached at a discreet time.

This ain't exactly Gandhi's M.O.  Don't pretend it's even close.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A little perspective on the privacy issue

I've heard more than one person say "Well, I've got nothing to hide, so I don't care what the NSA does."

This scares me as much as the proverbial government official saying "Well, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."  While in the latter case you have a threat from an authority figure hidden in a reassuring deflection, in the former, you have a civilian acquiescing to the encroachment of the police state because they are not exercising any forethought.

It amazes me sometimes how people see things like this and never consider what might go wrong.  It doesn't affect them now, so that's the end of the story, until they're shocked down the road that someone let something bad happen.  Haven't they noticed anything in human history?

You know, I don't have a lot to hide, either, but my concern isn't that the NSA was probably already doing something clandestine under the ECHELON protocols, or that the NSA might be doing something good with its burgeoning powers now.  My concern is that if it's out in the open and appears to enjoy the benefit of being legal, if unpopular, it is going to embolden and empower the government universally to do more of the same.

Whether or not abuses have happened in the past or are happening now, it creates vast new opportunities and temptations for abuses to happen in the future.  This isn't exactly new legal ground we're covering; there are already laws curtailing the actions of government forces precisely in order to minimize the damage to society, whether or not there is foresight to anticipate specific problems.

After all, we don't have the Fourth Amendment simply because Madison said "What if..." and Jefferson responded "Well, just in case...."  The Bill of Rights was largely inspired from abuses that really did happen that the Founders wanted to prevent from being repeated.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Post hoc procrastination roundup

I haven't had much time to write lately, as you might surmise. I'd try to jot down a few thoughts at work while on break, to e-mail myself later, but I never seemed to get around to checking my e-mail for this account and cleaning the prose up.  I'm taking some time now, though, and what with it being so far after the fact on some of these issues, I'm just going to take some pot shots at several of them at once.

Pope Francis: I like his style.  I think Benedict was more my speed, I think we would have benefited from having someone in charge who made a point of focusing on things like orthodoxy and liturgy, but God knows better than I do and it's not like I really have a problem with the preferential option for the poor. My only worry would have been if people would see Francis give an inch on social justice and then take a mile in the direction we're already headed.  But, maybe someone who doesn't give the first impression of "Oh, he's that kind of Catholic because he's politically conservative," which tended to be the [mis]understanding by modern pundits of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, would seem less threatening to people who....aren't politically conservative.  Apparently it's the right time to show that you can help the needy and still stand for something more foundational than the endless advance of novel civil rights.  Plus, it gives the old Jesuit conspiracy theorists lots of fodder to play with it, and we're one step closer to being done with the silliness of the alleged prophecy of Malachy.  Also, it was interesting to see early and frequent criticism from people who are ignorant of the College of Cardinals or at least ignorant of the limits of their understanding of the Church; after hearing and reading comments from both Catholics and non-Catholics like “There was no one of intellectual stature after Ratzinger,” “John Paul packed the College full of yes-men,” "The only thing we have to look forward to is a papacy of mediocrity, because there is no one to choose from other than lousy bureaucrats” and “I don’t like him; it was a political move, he’s just the first pope from Latin America,” I know I can sleep easily knowing he's already made all the right enemies.

The IRS scandal: Sure, maybe Republicans did much the same under Dubya. I don't know why it wouldn't have gotten more press; I'm still inclined to believe that reporting is more honest during Republican administrations because reporters are happier to air the GOP's dirty laundry, but whether it was just covered up better or they just focused more on warrentless wiretaps, it's happening now; as Mark Shea says, Obama voters, own this.

The Boy Scout decision to accept openly gay boys:  I don't think it was a mistake to be accepting, but I think getting drawn into the debate to where they felt they had to say something one way or the other was a mistake.  I don't know how much has changed since I was active in Scouts, but no, we didn't really talk about girls or sex much at all, what with busy doing boy stuff and camping and learning about good citizenship and character.  There was one boy I know of who came out of the closet in college, and I don't know if he was hiding it the whole time or hadn't quite figured it out for himself yet (my tangential knowledge suggests this was common, especially so before homosexuality got normalized), but it just didn't matter, and while most of the guys in my patrol probably would have been more scandalized if he'd said something to us when he was SPL, we still would have been a bit off-put if other guys just started talking about what he liked about girls.  It's just not the place for it, and that is the whole pitfall. If there's someone who can help a confused kid, great; I think that's why the national council ruled the way it did. But it introduces sexuality explicitly where it should never have been in the first place. On top of that, how are they going to handle all the gay Eagle Scouts when they hit their 18th birthday? It's one thing when all the concerned parties in a scandal are minors, but how long is the fear of gay ephebophilia going to withstand the pressure of youths who want to have their sexuality approved--and behind them, the pressure of real gay predators who have just been waiting for this target-rich environment to expose itself?  And I'm kind of surprised the LDS Church didn't kick up more of a fuss, what with Scouting being a huge component in its youth program for boys; for years, the Mormons provided the backbone in resisting encroachment by the gay agenda.  Again, just to summarize, I don't think gay boys should be kicked out of Scouting--a concrete, masculine but otherwise asexual environment is probably the most healthful place for a confused youth; but Scouting should never have gone down this road.  There's no way to answer "Have you stopped beating your wife?" without sounding guilty, and there's no way to address the issue without introducing it into Scouting culture.

Meh, I thought this was going to be brief, but it's late and I'm tired and I have to work today, so if I think of anything else worth going over old ground for, you'll be the first to know.