OMG PRO-LIFERS ARE HYPOCRITES (And so are you. And so’s your mom, probably.)

I’m not really the first person you would expect to be pro-life. I’m a registered Democrat; I voted for Obama once and will vote for him again; I’m one of the biggest apologists I know for public safety nets and universal health coverage. By all stereotypes, I should probably be giving my personal thumbs-up to abortion, as well. I can’t get myself to go there, though.

The reason for that is pretty simple, I think. Abortion, however you may want to dress it up verbally, is the taking of a human life. It’s nice and all that the human life in question has little if any self-awareness and few loved ones depending on it; it’s unfortunate that the human life in question inconveniences another human life; and of course I admit that I myself will never be so inconvenienced. (Because I have a penis. Heehee, penis.) None of that changes the fact that a human life is being taken when an abortion is performed. And you can tell me all you want that the “human life” I’m referring to is not (yet?) a human being, and therefore not deserving of my pity; I would respond, naturally, by beating a bunch of adorable kittens with a gigantic baseball bat. (I mean, what’s the problem? It’s not like they’re human beings.)

That’s what it comes down to for me, really. The “pro-choice” crowd likes to respond to this simple “It’s-a-human-life,-n00b” argument with a litany of sob stories regarding unwanted pregnancies, unwanted children, poverty, and birth defects — and then tries to sell abortion as the only reasonable solution to such things. Of course, this is all very silly. I’m aware that unwanted pregnancy is a problem. I’m aware that poverty is a problem. I’m even willing to take the bold, controversial step of acknowledging that birth defects are a problem. I would be open to any and all solutions to these things — including proliferation of birth control, a better public safety net, and better sex education — provided there’s solid evidence to back up their efficacy, of course; the one solution I can’t, and won’t, get behind, is “Let’s kill some people.”

(And before you come back with “BUT TEH FETUSEZ ISNT PEOPLE!!!!11” please recall my kittens-and-baseball-bats analogy. If you could reduce — not end, mind you, but reduce — childhood poverty by beating nearly 4,000 kittens a day to death with a baseball bat, would you? And if you would, thanks for reading, Creepy Uncle Joe!)

That’s the thing, though. If you’re in the “pro-choice” camp, you’re essentially telling the world that you think the murder of many, many, distinctly human-like things is a viable solution to the world’s problems. This really doesn’t leave said camp with a leg to stand on, morally. Which explains why their arguments usually boil down to IT’S SO SAD THAT THERE ARE SO MANY UNWANTED CHILDREN SO LET’S KILL THEM ALL.

It also explains, though, the classic PRO-LIFE PEOPLE ARE SUCH HYPOCRITES argument, which they bring out when they’re really out of ideas. That one goes something like this: OMG, pro-life people are such hypocrites! They only care about people before they’re born! They’re against government aid to starving children, and they’re against universal healthcare, and they’re a bunch of bloodthirsty war hawks, and they all want to marry the death penalty and make sweet love to it!!!!

To which I reply: I agree.

Shrug.

I do agree. Abortion isn’t the main problem with the modern world — on the contrary, it’s just a symptom. It’s a symptom, just like the Ayn-Rand-worshipping and poor-people-hating Paul Ryan is. It’s a symptom, just like that bloodthirsty, flag-waving warmonger George W. Bush was. The problem isn’t really that we murder 4,000 unborn-human-lives every day; it’s that no one, at all, really gives a damn about human life in the first place. Whether they call themselves “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” everyone has defined certain groups of people out of their own, personal definition of “humanity.”

The political climate we live in doesn’t leave us the option of valuing all human life. It’s designed that way.

It’s a two-party system. You choose one slate of opinions, or the other. You’re a Republican — and therefore sold wholesale to an uncomfortable marriage of cultural conservatism and warmongering corporatism — or you’re a Democrat — and your heart bleeds for poor people, as long as they’ve been exposed to air. Either you think fetuses are human, or you think poor people are human. You can’t have it both ways, unless you’re willing to think for yourself instead of memorizing a party platform. And, if you are, good luck ever getting anyone at all, let alone your elected officials, to listen to you. If you don’t want to rock the boat, you’ll just hang out with your red-or-blue-state buddies, pat each other on the back for toeing the party line, and value the human lives you’re told to value, and only those lives.

And it’s that sort of posturing that I can’t stand. Sure, it’s hypocritical to be horrified by abortion and 100% a-okay with the murder of Arab civilians. But it’s just as hypocritical to freak out about the poor Arab children and say “Screw you” to the dumpster full of murdered fetuses. Neither slate of opinions is the moral high ground; they’re both morally and intellectually bankrupt. By condemning one, you’re condemning them both. As you should. They’re both bullshit.

Of course, in an ideal world, we’d all put the idiotic accusations of hypocrisy aside and work together to create a world where human life is truly valued.

But then again, that would be hard to do.

And, more to the point, it wouldn’t win elections.

19 thoughts on “OMG PRO-LIFERS ARE HYPOCRITES (And so are you. And so’s your mom, probably.)

  1. Mom says she thinks if you put the kind of effort into your education that you put into facebooking and blogging you wouldn’t need to drop classes. Also, she doesn’t like you calling her a hypocrite.

  2. I’m gonna have to disagree with you here (try not to faint).

    I mean, not on any serious point that you made, like that most people only toe the party line and don’t care about human life. Just that it’s impossible to both toe the party line and care about human life.

    Full disclosure: I’m saying it’s possible to toe the Republican party line and care about human life, merely because I don’t see any way you can justify abortion. But the rest of it? Opposing government aid, supporting war, and advocating the death penalty? Well… yeah.

    I’ll start with government aid, because I think that’s the easiest. In general, most people who oppose government aid aren’t opposing the “aid” part. They just don’t think having the government give out the aid is the best method. But according to every statistic I’ve seen or read, those same people opposing government aid are giving the majority of the funds donated to charities and the like. You can question the bias of my sources until the cows come home, I’m sure, but it’s still interesting data. So to say that those opposing government aid “don’t care” about poor people is criminally uninformed at best, a bold-faced lie at worst.

    I’m gonna go ahead and lump war-mongering and the death penalty together because, well, let’s be honest, they’re pretty similar. But this is a much more complicated issue. However, if you truly care about human life, there have to be times when, in pursuit of protecting life, you have to be willing to take it. The issue is further complicated by people who take this principle and run wild with it, but that doesn’t make the basic principle any less true. When it comes to murderers and dictators, people who have previously demonstrated that they have no qualms in taking a human life, for the protection of people in general, their ability to do so must be eliminated. Now, ideally, this would be done without bloodshed, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Sometimes murderers have to be killed for the sake of public safety. Sometimes dictators have to be removed from power by force.

    Now, I have no doubts that very many people have put much thought into these issues, and many of them are just toeing the party line because that’s what they’ve been raised to do. But this post is still less than ingenuous.

    I would also take issue with calling President Bush a war-mongering imperialist, but if I get into that I’ll be here all day.

    • Well Thadd, for starters let me say two things:

      -I didn’t really write this piece with conservatives like you as my target audience. This one was for the libs. So obviously there’s a lot you’ll disagree with here.

      -I’m aware of the objections you raised. If I had addressed all of them, this post would have been thousands of pages long.

      That said, let me give you a few quick thoughts.

      I know the conservative position is (often) not “Don’t help the poor” so much as “Let the private sector help the poor,” but on the one hand, that’s a clear false dichotomy, and on the other, I find it pretty disingenuous. Whether we like it or not, the government is directly responsible for economic policies that affect how many poor people there are and how bad they have it. You may be interested to know (for example) that abortions have been shown to go down significantly during Democratic regimes, because liberal economic policies leave fewer women in the sort of poverty that pushes them towards abortions. Not sayin’, just sayin’.

      I’m also aware that self-described conservatives are much more likely to give to charity and volunteer. Frankly, I think I (and probably you) have a lot to learn from them. That doesn’t mean they’re right about everything, though.

      I’ll be the first to agree that just war is often necessary, but the keyword there is “just.” I was pleased to see Osama killed and Saddam captured, but I wish it hadn’t come at the expense of so many innocent human lives, and I wish our leaders hadn’t been so cavalier about the whole thing (not to mention so sanguine about torture). War is hell, yes, but it is not our duty to exacerbate that hell. There are guidelines for just war-making, reaching all the way from the Old Testament to the Geneva Conventions, and we would do well to treat them with a bit more reverence.

      • Sure, obviously it’s a false dichotomy, that’s pretty obvious. And I didn’t say I agreed with the conservative stance, it, either. In a lot of ways, it makes a lot of sense to have the government regulate how the poor are cared for, simply because it’s pretty much the one organization that doesn’t really have to worry about a profit, or at least breaking even, becoming an issue. Not saying I agree with the liberal ideal, necessarily, but I do understand it and it does make sense.

        And yes, I realize that to address every issue, counterpoint, or school of thought would take far, far longer than its worth. However, when I see a reasonable counterpoint ignored, it is my tendency to raise it. It’s what I do, because my time is worthless. And given that your writing specifically came out and said “Either you think fetuses are human, or you think poor people are human” (speaking of false dichotomies… just sayin’) I think it’s reasonable that I present at least one alternative viewpoint.

      • Yeah, I assumed you’d say that. But it kind of feels like what I just decided to call the Catch 22 of John Stewart (or the Catch 20-Stew, if you will). See, what I hate about John Stewart is that you can quote him and there’s no way to lose. If he proves your point or everyone agrees, then you get to feel smugly superior to everyone. But if someone points out the logical fallacies and shortcomings then you smugly dismiss him as someone who just clearly doesn’t understand your satire. In spite of the fact that no one was taking it as satire or comedy until that guy spoke up. For all his claims to the contrary, neither Stewart nor the vast majority of his fans treat his show as anything other than reliable, unbiased news, except when it becomes inconvenient to do so.

        And it’s the same here. Or maybe it’s not, but in a lot of ways it feels the same. Your irony doesn’t really feel like irony when a large portion of your argument is based on the presupposition that conservatives don’t care about poor people (for that matter, most of your political comments over the past year have been based largely on the same presup).

        [Side note: do you think anyone ever signs a presuptial agreement?]

  3. Pingback: Drawing dicks on the walls. « The Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism

  4. I’m a little bit confused about your thesis for this article – is your point “people against legalized abortion are not hypocrites”? Because you’ve got to admit, there are a whole lot of politicians feeding that negative stereotype. Actually, you DO admit that at the end of your article – and you didn’t even get to mentioning all of the supposedly “pro-life” politicians and activists who are in favor of the death penalty (as if “thou shalt not kill” includes unborn babies, but not grown humans who have committed crimes that we deemed bad enough). It seems to me like your thesis is “well, I’M not a hypocrite” – which is cool and all, but in the grand scheme of things, who cares what you think? Doesn’t it make you mad that the only people “on your side” are people who honestly believe that the poor are lazy drug addicts (who do you think voted for mandatory welfare drug testing, Democrats? heck no!)? People who think that we have the authority to decide who lives and who dies? People who think that pushing a baby into an already stressed, broken and over-crowded foster/adoption system is a better alternative?

    Most GOP politicians don’t care about the poor. They don’t care about the welfare of other human beings – it honestly never occurred to them that you can try your hardest and still fall through the cracks. To them, the only way you can not make it in America is by sitting back and doing nothing. I’m glad that you, personally, care about poor people and also are against legalized abortion, but guess what? The guys on your side in the government hate the poor and ARE hypocrites. You should do something about it.

    Also, are you aware that legalized abortion is correlated with – among other crazy things – a lower crime rate, beginning about 18 years after legalizing abortion for the first time? It’s almost like the babies being aborted would have grown up neglected and abused otherwise.

    • Arthur, you seem to have been so determined to find something to argue with that you didn’t bother to actually read the post very carefully. You say that you can’t find my thesis; well, let me point it out to you:

      The problem isn’t really that we murder 4,000 unborn-human-lives every day; it’s that no one, at all, really gives a damn about human life in the first place. Whether they call themselves “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” everyone has defined certain groups of people out of their own, personal definition of “humanity.”

      In other words, what I’m trying to say is that the usual slate of Republican and Democratic talking points represent a false choice — that they’re just two sides of the same culture of death. My point is that there’s a better way, and that better way is to create a true culture of life.

      I expound on that further here, here, here, here, here, and here.

      Your attempt to categorize me as a Republican is cute, but if you’d bothered to read a bit more of my work, you would know that I’m decidedly not a Republican (and in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I voted for a Republican in any election). What you’re trying to do amounts essentially to an ad hominem argument, and weirdly, it’s the exact same argument I’m decrying in this piece. You keep referring to the guys “on [my] side,” but the reality is that there’s almost nobody out there who’s truly on my side (that is, the side that values all life, not just the ones that are convenient for them to value). If there’s anyone who’s truly on my side, it’s probably these guys.

  5. I love your kitten argument. It reminds me of an anecdote of Francis Schaeffer’s. He was talking with a Hindu student who contended good and bad are ultimately the same, they both necessarily contribute to the overall balance of the universe. Schaeffer’s response was to get up, take a tea kettle, and act as if he were going to pour the boiling tea on the student’s head, because after all there is no difference between good and evil actions.

  6. Pingback: Toward a Progressive Pro-Life Ethic | The Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism

  7. Your kitten argument is terrible, because it completely ignores basic biology. Yes, the kittens are not human. No rational person could argue that they are. The problem here, is that the kittens are feeling beings aware of their surroundings. The kittens understand the pain and terror of not just being beaten, but seeing other kittens being beaten. The fetus is not aware of anything. It is not cognizant, and no matter how much the pro-life zealots cry and stamp their feet, the fetus does not feel anything because it has no capacity to do so.

    Your argument also fails to realize that these kittens are not causing anyone else harm. They are not putting a women’s life in danger, like a dangerous pregnancy would. They are not born out of trauma, like fetuses conceived out of rape or incest. Your railing against abortion essentially places the wants and needs of an unfeeling, unaware being that cannot hold any wants or needs above the real wants and needs of an actual person.

    So, thanks for creating a poor argument that hinges entirely on a false equivalency. Bravo.

    • Hey now. You’re ripping the analogy entirely out of context. The kitten analogy is there to demonstrate that most people have moral qualms about killing/abusing beings, even if they are not human. That’s the only purpose it was intended to serve.

      A couple other things, though: first, on what ground are you making the assertion that the morality of a killing is determined by its victim’s cognizance (or lack thereof)? That’s a pretty big assumption, so you’re going to have to convince me of it before you build an argument on it.

      Finally, you are aware that rape, incest, and maternal jeopardy make up maybe 7% of all abortions, if that? That’s not very many, dude.

  8. According to the ASPCA, roughly 2.7 million unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized annually in the US. So although I’d prefer a less savage method than bludgeoning with a baseball bat, I don’t take much issue with the daily death of 4,000 kittens. And if killing four thousand kittens a day would save even a few families from poverty, I’m totally on board.

    I realize this is entirely tangential to your thesis, but that’s intentional — the abortion debate is so stale to me I’d much rather argue the merits of simultaneously reducing childhood poverty and overpopulation of domestic animals.

    • You actually make an excellent point. Like it or not, our “functioning” “society” is built on the deaths of many, many innocents — and simply passing laws against it wouldn’t really solve the problem, either (in your example, it would just cause the streets to overflow with homeless dogs, spreading disease).

      I guess this is why real change always has to come back to local action. A law against killing homeless dogs or a law against abortion wouldn’t solve the root problem; we all have to work to make a difference. I’ve actually spent many years volunteering with a no-kill animal shelter, and would encourage anyone else to do the same.

      Have you read the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” (and hey, here it is online in its entirety)? It’s a heartbreaking illustration of this.

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