Saturday, 12 September 2009

Murder of Pro-lifer Exposes Pro-choice Bias

So, it happened. Just a few months after the US went berserk over the murder of abortionist George Tiller, an anti-abortionist protestor has been shot dead. And yes, it has been confirmed that the murder was due to the fact that the murderer did not like his protests.

Now, it does sound as if this murderer was a complete nut. He certainly doesn't seem to have had any connection with any Pro-choice organization. Pro-choicers are making a great deal out of this - while in their uproar over the Tiller shooting they conveniently downplayed the fact that his murderer was also a nut without any formal connection with Pro-life organizations, choosing instead to blame the Pro-life movement as a whole for the killing.

At that time, some people opined that the Department of Homeland Security had been right to issue warnings about the prospects of violence perpetrated by "right-wing extremists". The National Organization of Women labeled the act a case of "domestic terrorism". President Obama issued a condemnation, while the former president of Planned Parenthood called on him to "immediately outline an action plan to increase federal protection for providers and clinics".

It will be interesting to see how this current episode plays out in the media over the coming days. As of today, CBS has not reported the story. I wonder if the media will be publishing allegations about "left-wing domestic terrorism" and whether the President will make a statement.

But one thing is the news media. When Dr. Tiller was murdered, I looked through a considerable number of internet forums where pro-lifers were derided for not being strong enough in their condemnations and even for being hypocrites when they condemned the murder. Well, now if you click into the combox at the über-liberal Huffington Post, you will discover some nifty comments such as these:

"If some weirdo was waving signs depicting aborted fetuses outside my kid's school, on a regular basis, I'd be a bit peeved, too. In my case, I'd probably just give the twisted f*ck a well-deserved stomping, but many people lack my exceptional self-control."

"Being in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing sometimes brings about an abrupt end."

"To use a school for his vile tirades, I say he got what was coming to him. Now if only the protesters outside funerals and churches could only get a little of the same. No pity here!"

"One less birther pro life crazy."

"Sorry, some people are a waste of time and space and there are only so many strawberries to go 'round."

CMR has more from earlier in the day. Now, most of the comments at the Huff are civil and condemn the killing. So did most of the pro-lifers who commented on the Tiller murder. A great deal were, in view of Dr. Tiller's very publicized and unapologetic work to end the life of little babies in the womb, rather indifferent but stated as a matter of course that violence was never a solution to the problem of abortion. A few expressed real hatred of Tiller and even glee at his murder. This was very sad to see and was rightly picked up upon and condemned. However, the above comments show clearly that pro-choicers need to acknowledge that there are problematic people on their side of the aisle as well. They must acknowledge that hypocrisy and disgusting attitudes towards other people is certainly not the prerogative of Conservatives or religious people. Each side must acknowledge its failings so we move beyond name-calling and start tackling the real issue at hand, which is not whether the persons on this or that side are morally superior, but which value we should assign to the lives (for they are alive) and rights of the babies in the womb - or foetuses or whatever we want to call them. The morality or otherwise of abortion is not determined by the virtues and failings of those who are for and against it, but by its objective nature.


  1. "The morality or otherwise of abortion is not determined by the virtues and failings of those who are for and against it, but by its objective nature".

    But since the status of an object can never be separated from the more or less diverging subjective perceptions and representations of that object, the moral status of subjects will often play a role in configuring the position of power from which the dominant description/construction of the object is possible.
    Is power not the making of objects, or the privileged right to decide what is natural? Has there ever been human nature, other than the constant reinvention and -construction of our life-world - that is, of nature?

  2. I wonder what Mr Benjamin Dalton means by the phrase:

    "....the moral status of subjects will often play a role in configuring the position of power from which the dominant description/construction of the object is possible."

    I am not sure but he appears to advocate a form of moral relativism.

    Let's just ask a simple question.

    A. Why is abortion sinful?

    Q. Because it is the killing of innocent life which is contrary to the Commandment of God "Thou shalt not kill".

    Any discussion of why abortion is a grave sin which does not explicitly refer to God's commandment loses its best argument. In discussions with pro-choice advocates we need to use the best argument we have.

  3. Benjamin, my friend, you have been reading too much philosophy and not enough logic.

    "But since the status of an object can never be separated from the more or less diverging subjective perceptions and representations of that object"

    But what do you mean by "the status of an object"? What it is subjectively held to be in the minds of individuals? If so, then your sentence is merely a tautology. Of course subjective opinions about an object cannot be "separated from" the subjective opinions about it.

    But you may have been talking about the 'objective' status of the object, what it is in and of itself. If so, why should that depend upon the diverging (and ever shifting, we might add) subjective opinions about it held by individuals?

    I am also not sure what you mean by saying that "the moral status of subjects will often play a role in configuring the position of power from which the dominant description/construction of the object is possible." Do you not mean "the moral status of objects"? (or subjects as in discoursionary subjects, ehich should still be termed objects for the present purpose) Or do you mean that the subjectively viewed moral status of an individual affects his ability to influence the construction of an object in discourse?

    Both are quite correct. In the instance of abortion, following observations can be made:

    1. The perceived moral status of the object (abortion) has shifted completely in the Western world - several times even. In the Classical world, abortion and even infanticide were widespread and accepted (both still are many places in Asia, notably in China and rural India). With the advent of Christianity, a new ethic imposed itself on the Western mind, one where the life of every human being, even from the moment of conception, was valuable, even sacrosanct, in and of itself because it was willed by God. But in the modern age, yet another ethic has been imposed, according to which the life of an unborn child is increasingly seen as only possessing value if the mother herself ascribes value to it. Thus, the moral status of abortion, in the view of most individuals, has shifted from being an affront to the divine to being acceptable if the mother deems so.

    2. Proponents of the availability of abortion have for a long time sought to influence the perceived "moral status" of opponents and utilise this in the framing of discourse on the "moral status" of abortion itself. Opponents of abortion are referred to by derogatory terms such as "single-issue voters", "religious fanatics", "fundamentalists", "nuts" and the like. It is alleged that opponents of abortion do not care for the lives of women who die because of unsafe, illegal abortions, and that they only care for unborn children while they are in the womb and do not want to do anything for children who have been born and are facing oeconomic hardship. In this way, opponents of abortion are perceived highly negatively, and by extension their cause is, too, while their adversaries are perceived as morally superior, and thus their cause as well.

    I argue in the above that the perceived moral status of persons who are for or against an issue has no bearing whatsoever on the moral status of the issue they are fighting for or against, because perceptions, thank God, are irrelevant to truth. If this is not so, why should you criticize a man like Adolf Hitler, as the perception of his genocides as being morally repugnant is obviously only the result of a purely arbitrary discoursary "construction" imposed by those in power, i.e. the victors of WWII, who had an obvious motive to define perceptions in this way? [/sarcasm]

  4. Well,

    First of all, I do follow and sympathize with your efforts to free your main case from accusations based on individual acts of terror. And I agree; we shouldn't resort to biographical empirics, if we want to seriously engage with an argument that has been made.

    What I reacted to, as I think you've guessed, was the appeal to the whole objective moral/objective truth/ahistoric, formal logic constellation – an appeal which you make once again, in your counter-biographics argument. (Truth is separate from perception).

    So, the lines between us are quite thick, and it is – biographically – obvious that you would be on the side of Thomistic/Aristotelian metaphysics ;-)

    My point, in bringing up the pre-phenomenological dichotomy of subject and object at all, was to say that looking for the ”objective nature” of anything whatsoever seems pointless to me. Yes, my statement was a tautology, and it testifies to the complete stalemate of the subject-perception-object model in epistemology.
    You complain about my lack of training in logic, but – again, as you probably know – this lack has to do with a more or less deliberate choice on my part; a flight line into continental philosophy. So let me stage myself as the artist and the sophist, which Plato must expell from the state, in order for the remaining population to agree on the logical structures that everybody (except the degenerate castaways) has unconsciously known since before they were born...

    Cutting to the chase:
    I am a moral relativist.
    And I don't think that makes me ethically incompetent, unable to pass moral judgment, bound to pardon any act by claiming its placement within a different discourse or paradigm.
    We must, to some extent, be able to agree that moral standards shift and change over time – so you've shown yourself. My next point is that so does logic – that is to say, for all we know, it might as well. (Just bear with me for now).

    If logic is to be absolute – the same for all – it must be an ideal logic (as in ”the ideal wife” or such), which can be recognized by any epistemologically and morally free agent, if he rids himself of all his particular interests.
    This accounts for Kant's passage from epistemology (Kritik der Reinen Vernunft) to ethics (Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft). But if the agent is free, then what sort of faculty will compel him to opt for the ideal logic – to percieve and thus act rationally?
    Answer: He must make an aesthetic judgment. Which, in turn, explains Kant's final drift towards aesthetics (Kritik der Urteilskraft) (and the breakdown of his entire system, pillaged by his academic successors as he withers away in a corner, senile and drooling, and never get's to finish Kritik der Schmutzigen Vernunft) Of course I'm doing violence to Kant all the way, but I do have a point to make, and Kant's dead!.



    I find Hitlers acts morally repugnant, because I find them aesthetically apalling. There's no need to hold the holocaust up against an unchanging, absolute standard that exists, as it were, behind the actions or events themselves. Those of us who are disgusted by the memory of the holocaust (there's a few of us around, I've been told), can work and fight to avoid its repetition or the actualization of its likeness, and if we remove ourselves far enough from metaphysics, we won't even have to worry that, say, present neo-nazis might be the ones with God on their side. We can follow our artistic will, and if we analyze cleverly enough the social, political and ethical landscape in which we are situated, we may even be able to turn it into an act of sorts.

    After all, I don't think ”who are we to judge Hitler” is the ethical ground zero of WWII. Most of us do judge him. The question is, in doing so, how different are we from the gas chamber operator who, appalled by the acts he must commit, forces himself to ignore his own compassion (his aesthetico-ethical judgment of the situation), in order to serve the objective truth and good that his Führer has pointed out to him?
    (I'm not talking about compassion for Hitler here, just saying that a dull mind looking for objective truth may end up in... strange places)

    Now, on the subject of abortion:

    … no, just kidding, I'm off to bed. Keep talking, people!

  6. "Kritik der Scmutzigen Vernunft" LOL!

    Of course to set up any eternally valid moral system you must needs found it on an eternally valid truth, and an eternally valid guarantor of that truth - something all ancient peoples and all the great philosophers have known very well. When someone doesn't believe there is anything that is eternally valid, discourse becomes rather pointless because it is ultimately arbitrary. Why would you want to argue with a Neo-nazi that the Nazi genocides were wrong if you know that this judgment of yours is based upon your own subjective aesthetic experience - or will you argue that he 'should' somehow share this experience? I hope you see how patently ridiculous such an assertion would be if you want to be consistent - then again, you might not want to be consistent, but either way you will render discourse impossible.

    What about the Golden Rule then? I must admit I would right now find it rather "aesthetically appealing" to ram a kalabash down your throat, but I'm not so sure you would agree with me... If someone cannot realize the evil of abortion by contemplating how he would feel if he were lying in his mother's womb waiting to be born and experience the warmth of his mother's bosom, the brightness of the sun, the breezy meadows, making snowmen in winter, cuddling the kittens and the lambs, plucking flowers for the cute girl down the road......... and someone suddenly stuck a syringe into his belly and poisoned him, I have to wonder what he's actually doing on this planet.