Tuesday, March 1, 2011

First, Think

Did IQs drop sharply while I was away?
Ellen Ripley - Aliens
The single biggest problem with the Culture Wars, in my not-particularly-humble opinion, is that they make people stupid. Dumb things are followed by knee-jerk reactions that are just as, if not more, thoughtless than what is being responded to.

To wit. I read in the Root that a "Georgia Lawmaker Proposes Death Penalty for Miscarriages." No, really. That's what the headline says. But when you actually read the story, and put a just little thought into it, you develop a slightly different picture.

To make a long story short, Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin is on a crusade to criminalize abortion, and adjunct to that, to close any and all potential loopholes that people might use to get around the restrictions. To this end, he's calling for very stiff penalties for "prenatal murder," a blanket term that appears to cover not only abortion, but pretty much any deliberate action that leads to the death of a fetus. Now, if you're the suspicious sort, and I suspect (chuckle) that Representative Franklin is, you're likely to expect that one of the unintended, but perfectly predictable, consequences of making abortion punishable by life imprisonment or even execution is that there will be a sudden rise in the number of "miscarriages." So... you'd better close that loophole by requiring that a miscarriage be demonstrably not the result of any sort of human action; otherwise, you class it as a "prenatal murder," and proceed from there.

The conflict here isn't over Representative Franklin attempting to march as women as he can into Death Row. This is, plain and simple, about the idea that exists in some Conservative circles that abortion is part of some hateful conspiracy against - I have no idea what, actually. But if you start from the presumption that abortion, beyond being what the Catholic Church calls an "intrinsic evil," is a deliberate act of malicious and intentional evil, Representative Franklin's proposed legislation, bizarre as it may otherwise seem, makes a certain level of sense. And so, if you're going to criticize, that's where it should lie - in this world of Franklin's, where a woman who terminates a pregnancy and the people who aid her in that are automatically presumed to be such monsters that they deserve the punishments we normally reserve only for the worst of the worst.

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