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Conservertarianism: Still Dead

[ 191 ] February 20, 2012 |

Great catch by Susan of Texas, as Megan McArdle shares some thoughts about abortion regulation in a comments thread. [via Mr. Bogg.] Let’s start with this:

I think that abortion should be legal, but I also think that it should be a last resort, and I’m all for the government using any non-coercive methods it can to encourage women to carry their pregnancy to term, including things that will make them feel bad about aborting. I think, for example, that sonograms should be mandatory before termination, I’m in favor of waiting periods and parental notification laws, and I’m agnostic on spousal notification.

Well, first of all, it’s unclear how mandatory waiting periods, mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds, parental involvement laws, regulations that make it nearly impossible for abortion clinics to operate, etc. don’t represent “state coercion.” Generally, if the state requires you to do things and attaches penalties for failing to comply, we describe this as “coercion,” something McArdle seems rather less likely to forget if we were talking about, say, a business that didn’t want to pay the minimum wage or wanted to be able emit all the carbon it wanted. Anyway, since by this logic the mandate in the ACA also doesn’t represent “state coercion” — hell, you can’t even face any jail time; you just have to pay a higher tax — I guess her argument that in principle it should violate the Constitution is out the window. Although, in fairness, she’s merely “agnostic” about whether coverture should be restored to American law.

At any rate, what’s refreshing about this is that there isn’t even any Saletan-like pretense that these arbitrary regulations accomplish anything independently useful. Creating an obstacle course for women to get through isn’t the means; it’s the end. Women who want abortions should go through burdens (that are quite substantial for women less socioeconomically well-situated than McArdle) and humiliations before getting an abortion because Megan McArdle thinks abortions are icky. She’s openly advocating what conservertarians accuse liberals of when they’re making strawman arguments — favoring regulations solely for the purpose of burdening a class of people she intuitively doesn’t like. These regulations, in other words, are pretty much the definition of an “undue burden,” however much the courts look the other way.

But might perhaps laws like Virginia’s mandatory sexual assault regulation go too far? We have an answer:

Ever had an abortion? Considerably more invasive than a trans-vaginal ultrasound.

Yes, and Abu Ghraib was nothing compared to fraternity hi-jinx! If there’s anything holding the contemporary Republican coalition together, besides a shared fondness for anything perceived as pissing off liberals, it would seem to be an utter inability to grasp the concept of “consent.” Hint: nobody says that doctors shouldn’t be allowed to perform transvaginal ultrasounds in cases where they’re medically necessary, or if patients request them. The question is whether women should be forced to have their bodies invaded for no medical reason because they make reproductive choices some reactionary moralizers don’t like. The answer, according to McArdle, is yes. But as long as we’re not providing women with access to medical care — that would be nanny statism!

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  1. Erik Loomis says:

    But shouldn’t someone who throws such popular Washington Christmas parties be immune from such criticism? I want to be invited this year!!!!

  2. Richard Hershberger says:

    Some time ago I was part of an exchange with a somewhat prominent libertarian (of the extreme, self-described “anarchist” variety) on the topic of gay marriage. It was fascinating how he hemmed and hawed around actually taking a position. He pointed out that in his experience a lot of gay marriage proponents seemed awfully political ([1] a textbook ad hominem argument, and [2] duh). He also pointed out that he could imagine scenarios where gay couples would still be screwed by society, with the implication being that therefore gay marriage is a moot point. He also brought up the argument that the government ought not be in the marriage business at all, which is arguably true but obviously irrelevant. The whole line of argument was remarkably disingenuous and directly contrary to the purported ideal.

    This was what finally persuaded me that libertarianism, as the word is understood today, is distinguishable from conservatism, as that word is understood today, only by the level of pseudo-intellectual pretension.

    • BradP says:

      He also brought up the argument that the government ought not be in the marriage business at all, which is arguably true but obviously irrelevant.

      Really? Obviously irrelevant?

      • commie atheist says:

        When has the government not been involved in the marriage business? In this country, at least, that has been the case since before the Constitution.

      • elm says:

        Obviously irrelevant because the government IS involved in the marriage business. So the practical question is should gays be discriminated against in marriage laws.

      • rea says:

        In the South, in the 60′s, for some reason the position that the government ought not to be in the business of operating public swimming pools suddenly became popular among conservatives. This sudden enthusiasm for getting the government out of marriage strikes me as being much the same.

        • Warren Terra says:

          I’m actually sympathetic of the idea that the government should only perform civil partnerships, and not touch such a freighted thing as peoples’ different ideas about “marriage”.

          But it isn’t just to use such an argument to delay equal treatment of Gay couples, and I’ve never seen the slightest movement towards legislation for the state to stop “marrying” people. In the absence of such, it’s just a delaying tactic and an excuse.

        • BradP says:

          In the South, in the 60′s, for some reason the position that the government ought not to be in the business of operating public swimming pools suddenly became popular among conservatives. This sudden enthusiasm for getting the government out of marriage strikes me as being much the same.

          I have a hard time seeing the analogy. The opposition to public pools is pointless without law allowing private pool owners to exclude.

          I’m not sure where the scarcity and denial would come from as it concerns marriage.

          • Slocum says:

            Wow. Right over your head.

            • Malaclypse says:

              And yet he sees this as a good analogy. In this very thread.

              If I have learned one thing about what libertarians are not willing to see any restrictions on, it is that they demand unrestricted buggering rights to the unconsenting corpse of irony.

          • Furious Jorge says:

            Wow, Brad, that’s obtuse as hell.

            The allowing of private pool owners to exclude is the whole point of opposition to public pools. Specifically, allowing private pool owners to exclude black people.

            Starting to understand the analogy any better now?

            • BradP says:

              The allowing of private pool owners to exclude is the whole point of opposition to public pools. Specifically, allowing private pool owners to exclude black people.

              I thought that was my point. The outlawing of public pools was preferred because it allowed whites to exclude blacks.

              I don’t see how getting government out of marriage allows heterosexuals to exclude homosexuals from joining in civil marriage contracts. There is nothing analagous to private property enforcement.

              • Richard Hershberger says:

                The analogy is not perfect, in that the Southern pool strategy required that local governments actually get out of the pool business to achieve the desired end. But the situations are similar in that the sudden interest in the government abandoning a traditional function is based on a horror of including the Wrong Sort of People in the benefits of said function.

                • BradP says:

                  But the situations are similar in that the sudden interest in the government abandoning a traditional function is based on a horror of including the Wrong Sort of People in the benefits of said function.

                  I don’t agree. I’m a libertarian who doesn’t believe the government should have a role in marriage, and it is neither sudden nor rooted in my concern for homosexuals getting married.

                  In fact, I would like to point out that the government’s role in marriage is entirely relevant to a libertarian. Marriage is a social institution that is regulated by the government to provide justified unique benefits to married couples, but has been used to specifically exclude a large portion of the population from benefits that should be extended to them.

                  I do not think marriage would be the problematic issue it is today if the institution revolved around “I want to share everything with this person contractually” rather than “I want to legally marry this person”.

                  Government involvement in marriage is extremely relevant to the exclusion of homosexuals from marriage rights.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Yes, really. Were there a serious chance of the government getting out of the marriage business, then it would be a relevant point in a concurrent discussion of whether or not to allow gay marriage. Since there is not in fact a serious chance of the government getting out of the marriage business, raising this in the context of gay marriage is merely an attempt at smoke and mirrors.

      • DrDick says:

        Why yes, this is not only obviously irrelevant, but patently absurd. Marriage is everywhere and always has been a preeminently secular institution concerned with the allocation of legal rights. In most cultures and religions it remains exclusively so today (as in Islam for instance).

        The Christian church did not recognize marriage as a sacrament at all until the 12th century and it did not become a central element of Catholic dogma until the 14th century, at which time the protestants said it was explicitly not a sacrament.

  3. R Johnston says:

    I wonder if McCardle will kindly explain how, even forgiving her complete failure to give a shit about consent, a trans-vaginal ultrasound probe is less invasive than swallowing a pill or two. Perhaps she’s never heard of medical abortions? Perhaps the fact that medical abortions are most common at the time-frame under which this legislation would require trans-vaginal probing never occurred to her?

    Of course there is no forgiving someone who thinks it’s okay to traumatize women for shits and giggles just because they happen to be seeking abortions.

  4. R. Porrofatto says:

    I’m all for the government using any non-coercive methods it can to encourage women to carry their pregnancy to term, including things that will make them feel bad about aborting.

    Gee, I wish we knew it would be a sign of liberty for the government to make people feel bad about other perfectly legal things they might want to do. For example, we could have forced, i.e., encouraged, Joe Cassano at AIG to stick his dick in a light socket before trading billions in worthless credit default swaps. Or we could have made Lloyd Blankfein eat shit before bilking investors out of billions for John Paulson. You know, so he’d be informed about just what it was he was doing to them. There’s no end of freedom to be spread around. The government could’ve even encouraged people to feel bad about purchasing a cooking appliance costing more than the median weekly income of most people by having them be humiliated on the Internet… oh who am I kidding. Nothing could do that.

  5. MPAVictoria says:

    “I’m all for the government using any non-coercive methods it can to encourage women to carry their pregnancy to term”

    Okay. No one is THIS stupid. How does this woman still have a job?

  6. Malaclypse says:

    I’m all for the government using any non-coercive methods it can to encourage women to carry their pregnancy to term, including things that will make them feel bad about aborting.

    Logically, it seems she would have no objection to requiring a woman to wear, say, a Scarlet A on all her clothing after obtaining an abortion.

  7. BradP says:

    Using regulatory power to enhance the cost of certain legal but undesirable economic activity is the quintessential liberal policy. Since it is also a conditional requirement triggered by undertaking a service that would not be near as accessible without public social works, the coercion angle has been pretty effectively undermined as well.

    McArdle has always struck me as the “cosmotarian” type, rather than a first principle type, so none of this surprises me.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Using regulatory power to enhance the cost of certain legal but undesirable economic activity is the quintessential liberal policy.

      What possible externality do you think Megan is trying to address with her slut-shaming? Is female sexuality somehow equivalent to pollution?

      • BradP says:

        What possible externality do you think Megan is trying to address with her slut-shaming? Is female sexuality somehow equivalent to pollution?

        This increasing liberal propensity to ignore the idea that human beings are worthy of moral treatment before they are born is not going to pay off in the long run.

        • Erik Loomis says:

          Hmmm..yes it is clearly not going to pay off. All the polls suggest this obsession with unborn embryos is really paying off at the polls!

          • Malaclypse says:

            I’m so old that I remember then Mona was mocked as the Libertarian Who Hates Liberty by other libertarians for being anti-choice. Who knew Mona would take over the whole of internet libertarianism?

        • Malaclypse says:

          This increasing liberal propensity to ignore the idea that human beings are worthy of moral treatment before they are born is not going to pay off in the long run.

          I know that internet traditions require that I not use the term “beg the question” correctly, but holy shit, that begs the fucking question.

          Also, you did not answer my question. I hope. Because if you think you did, damn that was offensive.

          • BradP says:

            My point is that a great deal of the opposition to abortion is due to a natural sympathy for the fetus/unborn child/WTFever.

            • Sadly, after that child is born he becomes just another looter and moocher.

              • DrDick says:

                Cannon fodder and a revenue stream for the prison industrial complex, actually.

              • BradP says:

                Sadly, after that child is born he becomes just another looter and moocher.

                I absolutely agree with this.

                Those most likely decry abortion are also the most likely to ignore and exacerbate the social problems that make it a much bigger problem than it needs to be.

                • Slocum says:

                  Which are you?

                • RhZ says:

                  Right. They care, care don’t you see about the number of abortions. But don’t tell them that poverty leads to higher abortion numbers. And don’t tell them that access to affordable contraception, or sex ed in schools, or just better education overall leads to less abortions. Because they aren’t listening.

                  And what’s really shameless is that they simply refuse to acknowledge this contradiction. Which is when you realize that they don’t care about shit except for political/moral power over others/the country.

        • Yes it will, because our society has decided to let abortion be a matter of individual conscience for good reason. The vast majority of women who need family planning services use them, whether liberal or conservative, pro- or anti-abortion. We know what we want and need.

          Our society routinely supports immortal treatment of other humans, whether through war or abortion or torture or adverse economic and environment-destroying policies. We constantly struggle to find common ground that we can live with, even if we aren’t always happy with the results.

          But make no mistake–when push comes to shove, both men and women want to control when and how they have babies. That scientific advancement will not go away just because some men want to take away family planning decisions from the women affected by them.

          • NBarnes says:

            From Orwell, via John Holbo’s all-purpose internet-winning essay;

            “So long as the machine is there, one is under an obligation to use it. No one draws water from the well when he can turn on the tap … Deliberately to revert to primitive methods, to use archaic tools, to put silly difficulties in your own way, would be a piece of dilettantism, of pretty-pretty arty and craftiness. It would be like solemnly sitting down to eat your dinner with stone implements. Revert to handwork in a machine age, and you are back in Ye Old Tea Shoppe or the Tudor villa with the sham beams tacked to the wall.”

        • witless chum says:

          Is this really Brad?

          The continuing conservative idea that women are not worthy of moral treatment ever is not going to pay off in the long run.

          • BradP says:

            The continuing conservative idea that women are not worthy of moral treatment ever is not going to pay off in the long run.

            Agreed, but you are opposed by people who put babies with angel wings on billboards, not Moms in devil costumes.

            • DrDick says:

              That is simply a marketing ploy. And it would seem that you are among those witless is referring to from your comments here.

              • witless chum says:

                I’d actually be surprised if Brad was actually antiabortion, based on his generally principled libertarianism, which is why I suspected somebody was taking his name in vain.

                And yeah, they tell themselves it’s about that, but the smarter ones know that the best way to lower the abortion rate is hand out contraception like it’s candy and maybe rename condoms Penis Americas. They don’t do that and most actively oppose and fight doing that, which is why nobody who’s paying attention should believe them.

                They’re actually mad about the idea that women get to control their own sexuality, for good or for ill, so contraception doesn’t help.

                The sorta charitable version would be that they’re afraid society will teach their daughters this, usurping their rights as parents to raise good Christians.

                • BradP says:

                  I’d actually be surprised if Brad was actually antiabortion, based on his generally principled libertarianism, which is why I suspected somebody was taking his name in vain.

                  I’m pro-choice.

                  I just understand the dislike and discomfort most people have for abortion. And for someone like McArdle, who doesn’t go for the same type of libertarianism I typically stick with, saying “I want it to be legal but legally discouraged” is an entirely reasonable argument.

                  And yeah, they tell themselves it’s about that, but the smarter ones know that the best way to lower the abortion rate is hand out contraception like it’s candy and maybe rename condoms Penis Americas.

                  Now granted I don’t talk abortion with many people, but those I have who oppose abortion do not oppose contraception in any way.

                  I just don’t know who these people are “who tell themselves its about that”. You act like the whole country is made up of interest groups, lobbyists, and pundits.

                • witless chum says:

                  Now granted I don’t talk abortion with many people, but those I have who oppose abortion do not oppose contraception in any way.

                  I just don’t know who these people are “who tell themselves its about that”. You act like the whole country is made up of interest groups, lobbyists, and pundits.

                  They may say they don’t have a problem with contraception especially for themselves, but do they prescribe making it much easier to access and free to anyone who wants it? Because I don’t think I’ve ever heard that from someone who wasn’t in favor of legal abortion.

                  Usually, when I make that point, I hear a lament that it should be societies job to pay for anyone’s birth control and such. We very quickly go from being concerned about the fetus, to not wanting to pay for someone else’s birth control.

                  Which leads me back around the idea that people have a problem with the idea that people, mostly women, can fuck whoever they want.

                  You also get the mostly younger people who describe themselves as “pro life” but if you ask about them, they don’t actually want abortion made illegal. At most, they want it harder to obtain. Or they want it stopped for that the proverbial woman who “USE IT AS BIRTH CONTROL.”

                  Again, we’re back to a whole bunch of people who want to register their displeasure with an imagined woman’s sexual behavior, not people who think aborting a fetus is in any way like killing baby.

                  That’s my anecdata and I think it comports well with how these things play out with those interest groups, pundits, etc. And with the polling, that shows a majority want abortion legal, but a majority will also support any hoop you want to make a woman jump through.

                • Anonymous says:

                  What the hell is “Snakes and Ladders”? I’ve heard of Chutes and Ladders . . .
                  Did we raise three kids and somehow not play an annoying game?

                • Hogan says:

                  They’re the same game. When Milton Bradley put out its version, it changed the snakes to chutes, probably in deference to the kind of child psychology theorizing that thinks it’s a bad idea to read fairy tales.

                • BradP says:

                  Again, we’re back to a whole bunch of people who want to register their displeasure with an imagined woman’s sexual behavior, not people who think aborting a fetus is in any way like killing baby.

                  Actually you are back to painting with broad strokes again.

                  Sure, there is a lot of misogyny in the anti-abortion movement, but I think that even were you to eradicate the women-hating involved, there would be a strong sympathetic impulse towards the fetus.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Sure, there is a lot of misogyny racism in the anti-abortion anti-integration movement, but I think that even were you to eradicate the women-hating negro-hating involved, there would be a strong sympathetic impulse towards the fetus not eating in the same restaurants.

                • BradP says:

                  Mal. You aren’t arguing against what I am saying here.

                  Again, by equating anti-abortion opinions with anti-intigration, you completely ignore that anti-abortion opinions are also concerned for the moral treatment of a third party: the fetus.

                  I don’t fall in that group, but I admit that they exist.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Anti-integrationists argues that it was all about protecting a third party as well – innocent white Southern maidens. I don’t see any reason to take that seriously.

                • BradP says:

                  Anti-integrationists argues that it was all about protecting a third party as well – innocent white Southern maidens. I don’t see any reason to take that seriously.

                  Why do you keep hinting around that you don’t take objections on behalf of the moral standing of the fetus to be taken honestly at face value, yet explicitly deny holding that opinion.

                  Can objections on behalf of the fetus be taken as seriously as those southerners who objected on behalf of white women, or do you admit that not “all anti-choice activities slut-shaming”?

              • BradP says:

                That is simply a marketing ploy.

                That plays off something basic.

                And it would seem that you are among those witless is referring to from your comments here.

                I’m not, but I’m not going to pretend that this isn’t also very much about how the rights of the fetus are defined.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  That plays off something basic.

                  Yes, the desire to see oneself as better than others – status anxiety – is indeed fairly basic.

                • I can see how you would support the fetus’ right to life but the fetus’ right to liberty is going to be a tricky one.

                • BradP says:

                  Yes, the desire to see oneself as better than others – status anxiety – is indeed fairly basic.

                  Yeah, the snarky liberals on here would know nothing about that.

                • BradP says:

                  I can see how you would support the fetus’ right to life but the fetus’ right to liberty is going to be a tricky one.

                  The same goes for children.

                  Children can’t vote or manage their finances, but parents aren’t allowed to simply abandon their responsibility to provide for them.

                  Note that I am not saying fetus=child, I’m just saying that I’m not going to call someone a monster because they think that parental responsibility begins at some point before birth, or even conception.

                  Albeit, I am open to the argument that mandating this particular procedure is barbaric. I’m honestly not all that familiar with the process involved.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I’m not going to call someone a monster because they think that parental responsibility begins at some point before birth, or even conception.

                  Wait, what?

                  Please explain, in simple terms as I am a simple man, how parental responsibility can begin before conception.

                • Children can’t vote or manage their finances, but parents aren’t allowed to simply abandon their responsibility to provide for them.

                  Yes they are.

                • R Johnston says:

                  Please explain, in simple terms as I am a simple man, how parental responsibility can begin before conception.

                  Ceasing use of Thalidomide and Accutane would be prototypical examples, although I doubt Brad really had that kind of thing in mind.

                • God. Every argument with Brad is like playing Snakes and Ladders without ladders.

                • BradP says:

                  Wait, what?

                  Please explain, in simple terms as I am a simple man, how parental responsibility can begin before conception.

                  I’m sorry. That was meant to say “at conception”.

                  Note, I honestly can’t understand the at conception argument really, but its among that set of beliefs that I’m inclined to tolerate a difference of opinion.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  God. Every argument with Brad is like playing Snakes and Ladders without ladders.

                  Speaking as the parent of a five-year-old, dear Christ I hate that game. Candyland is so much less awful, especially once you realize how to cheat so that the kid almost always wins a quick and decisive victory.

                • elm says:

                  Speaking as the parent of a five-year-old, dear Christ I hate that game. Candyland is so much less awful, especially once you realize how to cheat so that the kid almost always wins a quick and decisive victory.

                  Speaking as the uncle of similarly aged children, can you share the secret to this? Will be invaluable on my next visit to family.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  The secret only works if you are only playing with a single child:

                  While shuffling, pick out the Princess Peppermint card – the one that jets you almost to the very end. Then carefully place the card so that it is either the second or the third card the child draws – always placing it first makes things a bit too obvious.

        • Prodigal says:

          How’s the increasing conservative propensity to ignore the idea that human beings are worthy of moral treatment after they are born working for you?

          • DrDick says:

            Given that he is a libertarian, that is central to his ideology, which fetishizes greed and selfishness.

            • BradP says:

              Gotta break down and respond to the trolling here.

              My libertarianism is informed by the idea that man defines himself by his choices, and that humanity is unique in the degree humans can consciously choose.

              I also believe that there are certain moral and conceptual rules built into understanding that inform a basically libertarian morality.

              Finally, I acknowledge that government is not only a source of distruction, but can overcome certain difficulties that a catallactic society would not be able to overcome. I am simply very wary of the incentives the structure needed to correct these problems puts upon society.

              • DrDick says:

                I also believe that there are certain moral and conceptual rules built into understanding that inform a basically libertarian morality.

                Care to actually enumerate and elucidate those, because so far as I have ever been able to tell libertarianism is simply moral cover for rank sociopathy (the antithesis of morality). I find it hard to even conceive of a moral code which says, “You are on your own and fuck the hindmost.”

                • DrDick says:

                  I would also add that this is not “trolling”. I really do find libertarianism morally bankrupt and repugnant. It is also, as I have repeatedly pointed out (with evidence), based on a whole series of false assumptions and assertions.

                • BradP says:

                  I would also add that this is not “trolling”.

                  I know you know what trolling is, even though you completely misunderstand the term in that comment.

                • DrDick says:

                  Brad -

                  You still have not responded to my request to elucidate the “moral” underpinnings of libertarianism. Could it be that there are none?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Dick, I’m blaming you in advance for the ensuing discussion of self-ownership.

                • BradP says:

                  You still have not responded to my request to elucidate the “moral” underpinnings of libertarianism. Could it be that there are none?

                  I don’t believe there are objective libertarian moral rules, first off.

                  I believe there are certain categories of human understanding that are built into how we think about ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we communicate these.

                  I think these are natural and biological, and I think they can serve as an axiomatic backbone for human morality, and I think its application leads to a broad moral guideline that ends basically with “Treat others as ends in and of themselves.”

                  Going beyond that would probably result in a lot of wasted time as this topic gets buried.

                • DrDick says:

                  I don’t believe there are objective libertarian moral rules, first off.

                  So I was right, it is an inherently amoral philosophy.

                  I believe there are certain categories of human understanding that are built into how we think about ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we communicate these.

                  I think these are natural and biological, and I think they can serve as an axiomatic backbone for human morality, and I think its application leads to a broad moral guideline that ends basically with “Treat others as ends in and of themselves.”

                  There are basic human (and primate) tendencies which provide the foundations for human morality, but these run exactly counter to libertarianism and in the direction of communitarianism. It is also the case that, in practice, all morals and values are culturally constructed and therefor variable between cultures.

              • Prodigal says:

                Given that I took your own statement that liberals “ignore the idea that human beings are worthy of moral treatment before they are born” changed all of two words, who’s the actual troll here?

                • BradP says:

                  I’m not trolling. I’m just saying that Mal calls anti-abortion opinions slut-shaming, when I know a good deal of people who honestly believe the fetus is worthy of moral treatment.

                  Mal completely ignores the possibility that people may oppose abortion for reasons other than suppressing female sexuality.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I did not call all anti-choice activities slut-shaming. Nice goalpost moving.

                  What I said was, there is no possible reason for this particular law other than shaming/hurting women. Please note that the advocates of this law are the ones saying that this is the law’s purpose. So yes, I am ignoring the possibility that there is a better purpose, because nobody, including you, has offered one.

                • BradP says:

                  What I said was, there is no possible reason for this particular law other than shaming/hurting women.

                  And McArdle was pretty explicit in saying that she didn’t believe this law to make getting an abortion significantly more invasive or harmful.

                  McArdle is saying, quite clearly, that she finds abortion to be lamentable. This is a feeling shared by a majority of people I know.

                  McArdle doesn’t, however, feel abortion should be outlawed. There are plenty of reasons why, even if you find abortion objectionable, you would see the pragmatic benefit in allowing it (or the counterproductive effects of banning it).

                  She then supports this as regulation that discourages abortion. It is even done in a manner by which externalities should be handled: forcing the woman seeking the abortion to confront and consider the third party.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  And McArdle was pretty explicit in saying that she didn’t believe this law to make getting an abortion significantly more invasive or harmful.

                  Did you even read McArdle???

                  I’m all for the government using any non-coercive methods it can to encourage women to carry their pregnancy to term, including things that will make them feel bad about aborting.

                  It is, explicitly, about slut-shaming. Or are you going to now resort to your traditional “let’s redefine words” mode of argument?

                • BradP says:

                  It is, explicitly, about slut-shaming. Or are you going to now resort to your traditional “let’s redefine words” mode of argument?

                  Again, consider the possibility that “making them feel bad about aborting” is a similar statement to “making them consider what would be moral standing of the fetus”.

                  I really don’t even get how you make the jump from “make them feel bad about aborting” to “make them feel bad about having sex”. Do you really think McArdle thinks that forcing a woman to get an ultrasound is going to make that woman ashamed of being a slut?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Nobody could have predicted you would shift to arguing definitions.

                  Oh, wait, I did predict that.

                  Once your argument hinges on exactly why McArdle believes sexually active women should feel bad, you have lost the argument.

                • BradP says:

                  Once your argument hinges on exactly why McArdle believes sexually active women should feel bad, you have lost the argument.

                  Quit this shit. This is ridiculous.

                  She wants to make women who get an abortion feel guilty. Not sexually active women.

                  You keep pretending like the act of abortion is not objectionable and lamentable all on its own to a lot of people. If all women were artificially inseminated, McArdle would still support making women feel bad about getting an abortion.

                  And she supports that precisely because she is concerned about the moral ramifications of abortion. I don’t agree with McArdle at all on principle, but I completely understand the concern that abortion could be an immoral act.

                • You keep pretending like the act of abortion is not objectionable and lamentable all on its own to a lot of people.

                  And you keep pretending that you have a say in the matter. You do not. It is between a woman and her conscience, not a woman, her conscience, and your feelings.

                  And she supports that precisely because she is concerned about the moral ramifications of abortion.

                  McArdle dismissed the moral ramifications of abortion in favor of legal abortion. If she regrets that choice she can always become anti-abortion. Since she has said that abortion is ending a life and if you believe abortion is ending a life you should be anti-abortion, it is a wonder that she would be pro-choice. But she is, so we must conclude that the fetus’ life is not her concern, inflicting emotional pain on the woman for having an abortion is her concern. And no matter how much Megan McArdle enjoys inflicting emotional pain on others, she does not have the legal right to force them to suffer for their decision.

                • Hogan says:

                  You keep pretending like the act of abortion is not objectionable and lamentable all on its own to a lot of people.

                  I’ll concede that it is, but you still need to get from there to “every woman who wants an abortion should be made to feel the same way.”

                • BradP says:

                  And you keep pretending that you have a say in the matter. You do not. It is between a woman and her conscience, not a woman, her conscience, and your feelings.

                  That begs the question of rights. It is not simply between a woman and her conscience whether she cares for a baby or throws it in a dumpster. She has a moral and legal obligation to at least take action to insure the well-being of the child.

                  The same would be true if you felt that certain parental responsibilities/child rights existed before birth.

                  We would never say that slavery is a matter of the slaveholders conscience, its a matter of the moral rights of the slave as well.

                • BradP says:

                  I’ll concede that it is, but you still need to get from there to “every woman who wants an abortion should be made to feel the same way.”

                  Pragmatic regulation that forces actors to input the costs of all those effected but without voice in the decision is a hallmark of liberal government.

                  We don’t ban coal generated electricity because of pollution, we institute regulations that attempt to balance out the social cost of the pollution.

                  I will admit that McArdle is likely wrong about the level of invasiveness of the procedure in relation to abortion itself, but the argument that society should impose some sort of cost upon the pregnant woman does not make her a monster.

                • That begs the question of rights. It is not simply between a woman and her conscience whether she cares for a baby or throws it in a dumpster. She has a moral and legal obligation to at least take action to insure the well-being of the child.

                  I will take this passage as an admittal that my point is correct, since you now change a fetus to a child, which has different rights.

                  We would never say that slavery is a matter of the slaveholders conscience, its a matter of the moral rights of the slave as well.

                  And yet we did; some men refused to own slaves for moral reasons. We even had a war over it, and slavery was outlawed. If you don’t like the law, change the law. If you can’t change the law because most Americans want abortion to be legal, you do not get to force doctors to vaginally probe women to make them suffer for disobliging you.

                • Hogan says:

                  the costs of all those effected

                  What costs do your uncomfortable friends bear when a woman gets an abortion without state-mandated shaming?

                • BradP says:

                  What costs do your uncomfortable friends bear when a woman gets an abortion without state-mandated shaming?

                  They don’t bear any costs. They are inconsequential. I was referring to the rights of the fetus.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I was referring to the rights of the fetus.

                  Again with the begging of the question.

                • BradP says:

                  I will take this passage as an admittal that my point is correct, since you now change a fetus to a child, which has different rights.

                  I agree with you. It just doesn’t take a woman-hating monster to believe that a pregnant woman doesn’t share a lot of the same responsibilities towards the fetus as the mother of a newborn.

                  And when you believe that, as many, many good people do, it changes the whole perspective of the argument.

                  Since she has said that abortion is ending a life and if you believe abortion is ending a life you should be anti-abortion, it is a wonder that she would be pro-choice.

                  I’m going to visit this again, for better or for worse, but I believe hunting for sport is ending a life and morally objectionable.

                  Yet I still believe that banning hunting for sport as a whole would make matters worse.

                  Similarly, you can be opposed to abortion itself, but be very concerned for the safety of women who pursue them through other avenues or be concerned for the social cost of the unwanted pregnancies. Its a second-best solution where no good solution exists.

                • BradP says:

                  Again with the begging of the question.

                  If the fetus has rights, then there exists and obligation upon the rest of us to respect and defend those rights.

                • So you believe that the state department of parks and wildlife should shoot a man before he gets his hunting license, so he is aware of the exact nature of what he is about to do.

                  Not fatally, of course. Just enough to make him suffer.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  If the fetus has rights

                  Yes. See the word “if”? That is the question that you are begging.

                • Prodigal says:

                  Brad, you were starting from a premise that was at best wrong due to ignorance, and at worst a deliberate strawman argument. Then when your own words were quoted back at you in slightly altered form, you called your own statement trolling. Once you accused your own words of being trolling, you don’t get to claim that you weren’t trolling when you wrote them. And no amount of attempts on your part to make this all about how Malaclypse was being mean can change that fact.

          • BradP says:

            Typical conservative views as to what rights can be denied or denigrated to certain groups of people are dispicable.

        • DrDick says:

          What human beings are you referring to? In my universe, which is the one backed by science and medicine, it is not a human being until it is born, period. Until then it is only a potential human being with a rather slim chance of survival. Over half of all fertilized eggs fail to implant and perhaps more than half of those which do never make it to term. Do try to visit the real world someday.

        • herr doktor bimler says:

          This increasing liberal propensity
          I question the historical accuracy here. Shirley concern for fetal rights is a modern invention.

        • Warren Terra says:

          That’s pretty damn weak stuff there. If an early-term pregnancy is a pre-born human being, it’s worthy of considerably better protection than you achieve by inconveniencing, humiliating, and, yes, raping its host.

          If it isn’t yet a person, you haven’t come up with an excuse for the inconvenience, the humiliation, and the rape.

          • BradP says:

            That’s pretty damn weak stuff there. If an early-term pregnancy is a pre-born human being, it’s worthy of considerably better protection than you achieve by inconveniencing, humiliating, and, yes, raping its host.

            Agreed. Most who believe that would want far greater protections.

            I think McArdle considers it something inbetween. Similar to the way I know hunting can be important for wildlife populations, but nonetheless rather disturbed by the act itself.

            • Malaclypse says:

              For this to be a reasonable analogy, there would need to be some subset of women who could be reasonably described as “abortion enthusiasts.”

              • BradP says:

                For this to be a reasonable analogy, there would need to be some subset of women who could be reasonably described as “abortion enthusiasts.”

                Or….

                There would need to be some subset of people who control animal populations as a profession rather than a hobby…

                There would need to be some subset of people who offer abortion as a service in exchange to fulfill some other hobby.

                • Anonymous says:

                  So wait, if this is about the people providing the service, where do the women fit in?

                • Warren Terra says:

                  Anonymous, you’re not seeing the genius of Brad’s position: now we just need to legislate mandatory inconveniencing, humiliation, and rape of abortion providers. Because it’s important for society to express disapproval of and to impede this legal but apparently icky procedure.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  now we just need to legislate mandatory inconveniencing, humiliation, and rape of abortion providers.

                  But only if they can be reasonably described as enthusiasts. Otherwise we would be on a slippery slope to deontology.

                • BradP says:

                  So wait, if this is about the people providing the service, where do the women fit in?

                  You are right. I’m not even entirely sure why I went down that line. I just wanted to argue with Mal, I guess.

                  The purpose of the analogy was to show how I can support something for pragmatic reasons, while being opposed to the act itself.

    • Julian says:

      Why quintessentially liberal?

    • DrDick says:

      And once again a libertarian trots out the ubiquitous “No True Scotsman” defense when a fellow traveler is caught making monumentally stupid, but entirely consistent, comments.

      • BradP says:

        No, McArdle is a libertarian, of sorts. She is just not of the first-principle, non-aggression sort.

        Deontological libertarians would be subject to a charge of hypocrisy if they said what McArdle said, but McArdle isn’t a deontological libertarian. Quite far from it, in fact.

        Libertarianism, for her, is about good government, not non-coercion.

        • DrDick says:

          Oh goody! An even more weaselly version of the “No True Scotsman” defense. She may be a Scotsman, but she is a heretical Scotsman!

        • Malaclypse says:

          Libertarianism, for her, is about good government lower taxes and fewer regulations, not non-coercion.

          FTFY.

          • DrDick says:

            In other words, exactly what it is to pretty much all libertarians.

            • Malaclypse says:

              Well, there is Jim Henley, but I think he stopped calling himself a libertarian. Not sure if Radley Balko calls himself a libertarian still or not.

              • witless chum says:

                Very much so and Balko’s no different than his Reason colleagues on economics.

                It’s just that he’s been so great on criminal justice that I, at least, give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s not really just Rand Paul.

                • Murc says:

                  Very much so and Balko’s no different than his Reason colleagues on economics.

                  This is his most maddening trait. When Balko writes about criminal justice and civil rights issues he is persuasive and eloquent.

                  Then you remember that this is a man who can argue that unlimited, anonymous money should be allowed into politics and, indeed, should be protected and encouraged, and then, in the same breath, decry the corruption that comes from politicians being far too cozy with private companies.

                • And of course some of those private companies might run prisons.

                • Holden Pattern says:

                  And of course some of those private companies might run prisons.

                  The wrongful imprisonment claims can all be sorted out in the courts by appeal to the COMPLETELY impartial ball-and-strike-calling judges that are chosen (directly or indirectly) by the outcomes of elections into which unlimited money has been poured, using the laws written by the people who are chosen by the same elections, and the wrongfully imprisoned will of course have sufficient funds to mount a successful claim in those courts using those laws.

                  Libertarianism is TOTALLY compatible with consequentialist ethical theory.

              • DrDick says:

                I did leave room there for a few exceptions (and I might even include Brad in there, though I am not totally convinced yet).

    • Hogan says:

      economic activity

      Ah.

    • Furious Jorge says:

      “Using regulatory power to enhance the cost of minimize externalities as much as possible and push the true costs of certain legal but undesirable economic activity back onto the people who actually enjoy the benefits of said activity is the quintessential liberal policy.”

      FTFY.

  8. I know it’s an obvious thing, one pointed out daily in multiple places, but this McArdle person is breathtakingly awful. I once thought she was just ignorant. But I’ve come to think simply that the things she knows are wrong, and she couples that ignorance with practicing the purest variety of bad faith argument available anywhere on the internets today.

  9. Unholy Moses says:

    As someone at Wonkette noted, libertarians/conservatives want to shrink government to the point it fits inside a woman’s uterus.

  10. commie atheist says:

    If there’s anything holding the contemporary Republican coalition together, besides a shared fondness for anything perceived as pissing off liberals, it would seem to be an utter inability to grasp the concept of “consent.”

    This. I have seen this point made relentlessly on blogs of late, and my hope is that somehow, someday (hopefully not after it’s too late) it gets picked up by the mainstream media, as a substitute for the “both sides do it” bullshit that dominates the pundit class. Well, a boy can dream…

  11. misterbones@gmail.com says:

    To the question “Why did McArdle write [x]?”, the answer is invariably “Because she is a monstrous person.” Sure, her politics are repulsive, but the real problem is she’s a sadist.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Still, I am shocked to see so many liberals today saying that the correct response is, essentially, doubling down. Make the law more friendly to abortion! Show the fundies who’s boss! You know what fixes terrorism? Bitch slap those bastards until they understand that we’ll never compromise!

    Well, it sure worked in Iraq. I think Afghanistan’s going pretty well, too, right?

    Using the political system to stomp on radicalized fringes does not seem to be very effective in getting them to eschew violence. In fact, it seems to be a very good way of getting more violence. Possibly because those fringes have often turned to violence precisely because they feel that the political process has been closed off to them.

    This is from her dreadful post on the Tiller murder. Beyond her own desire to fuck with people, she can’t really imagine how anything else even operates.

  13. ajay says:

    I think that abortion should be legal, but I also think that it should be a last resort

    Well, it is. I mean, really. By definition. If you’ve got to the stage of having to make that decision, then other methods of preventing an unwanted birth are not really going to be an option. Abstinence has a very low effectiveness rate when used by people who are already pregnant.

    • witless chum says:

      They’ve all got this image of a woman who needs to be punished for her sexual choices when they think of abortions. (I bet this persists in some people even after the person who has an abortion is them.) And they’re happy someone’s doing the punishing. It’s the same impulse that makes people say ‘hurr, hurr Bubba’s gonna rape yer ass’ whenever someone’s going to prison and it’s just as banality of evil.

  14. [...] Scott Lemieux: If there’s anything holding the contemporary Republican coalition together, besides a shared fondness for anything perceived as pissing off liberals, it would seem to be an utter inability to grasp the concept of “consent.” Hint: nobody says that doctors shouldn’t be allowed to perform transvaginal ultrasounds in cases where they’re medically necessary, or if patients request them. The question is whether women should be forced to have their bodies invaded for no medical reason because they make reproductive choices some reactionary moralizers don’t like. The answer, according to McArdle, is yes. But as long as we’re not providing women with access to medical care — that would be nanny statism! [...]

  15. jim says:

    Megan McMandatory-Sonogram.

    What a perverse hulking beast she is indeed.

    Perhaps she’d also warm to the idea of adding mandatory topical applications of Himalayan blue salt to the procedure in order to “make them feel bad about aborting” even better?

    LADIES & GENTLEMEN … THE ARISTOCRATS ATLANTIC!

  16. GeoX says:

    Boy, let’s hope McArdle never finds herself in need of an abortion only to run up against legislation designed to make the process as emotionally and physically painful as possible. Boy oh boy would we ever hear about governmental overreach if that ever happened! But as long as we’re just talking about women who aren’t her–ppft. Other people? It’s not even so much that she doesn’t care about them as it is that she can barely imagine they even exist.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Boy, let’s hope McArdle never finds herself in need of an abortion only to run up against legislation designed to make the process as emotionally and physically painful as possible.

      My favorite part of the obvious analogy is

      6. Car accidentally driven through red light in Logan Circle.

      Now that, boys and girls, is how you work the passive voice! Also, personal responsibility, which is so Lacking In The Modern Era.

      • Hogan says:

        I’ll bet it was a GM car. That’s the gubmint for you.

      • Malaclypse says:

        And now that I have thought about this:

        I think that abortion driving should be legal, but I also think that it should be a last resort, and I’m all for the government using any non-coercive methods it can to encourage women to carry their pregnancy to term people to take public transportation, including things that will make them feel bad about aborting driving. I think, for example, that sonograms breathalyzers should be mandatory before termination ignition, I’m in favor of waiting periods and parental notification laws, and I’m agnostic on spousal notification.

        • Warren Terra says:

          Go further. Since she wants abortion to include getting manually raped for no conceivable purpose (and several days before the actual procedure), at the very least the driving regulations should require a manual transmission, and the use of a gearshift.

          … to shift gears, of course. I’m not sick like the Virginia legislative majority.

      • Warren Terra says:

        That list is a whole cavalcade of Fail.

        She is irate that she isn’t rewarded for having spend two decades as a fugitive from justice in Pennsylvania. She had forgotten about it – why couldn’t they? She doesn’t seem to consider that she should have taken her medicine when she was sixteen. I thought Libertarians were all about personal responsibility? Note that later she determines that being a fugitive really did pay off – the state missed their chance to impose the correct legal penalty. She sees this as a vindication, rather than as the legislators having failed to foresee scofflaws like herself.

        The whole passive-voice car-driven-through-red-light thing Mal noted. Cars, calculators, affordable blenders: her tools just consistently let her down, don’t they?

        Her mother crashes her car into Megan’s, and Megan’s sister owns a car she can’t fit in her garage. Maybe the Fail is genetic? Or maybe, considering that she says her mother winged the one car of many, Megan did a bad job of parallel parking? Maybe she was Mooching off of the traffic lane?

        Several months are spend trying to avoid a license suspension of several months. An excellent use of time.

        Several months pass before the fine for running the above-mentioned red light is paid (assuming chronological order). This causes problems because “the fine was received late”. Note the passive voice; no mention is made of the “several months pass” part.

        She doesn’t fix her mirror (note, again, the breaking of the mirror comes before the “several months pass”, and the consequences after), and when called on this she is outraged that she can’t get special dispensation to drive her legally undriveable car. For the second time. Apparently she’s heard of neither triple-A nor of tow trucks in general. And never heard of auto parts stores that have actual helpful, knowledgeable staff and don’t make you wait for delivery.

        Oh, and there’s a postscript: she ran the red light because it was designed for people to run it. It’s unfair that temporary tags are temporary. Etcetera

      • JoyfulA says:

        Ick! All the people in the comments are sympathetic! To an adult USian who’s never encountered the concept of auto supply store.

        And what’s with this blatant underage drinking—16-year-olds (esp. middle-class white girls) hardly ever are arrested unless they’ve passed out on a street corner or started a riot.

        Number 6. is passive voice to the degree I thought someone other than Megan drove through the red light.

    • L2P says:

      Isn’t she getting close to the age of drastic measures to get pregnant, though?

      • Warren Terra says:

        Isn’t that a little personal? I’m fine with tearing her a new one on the quality of her contributions to the public discourse, in quite a crass and borderline-abusive tone, but that’s a bit too far for me; her personal reproductive activity is none of our damn business, just as we don’t agree with her desire to see other women’s personal reproductive activity accompanied by mandatory rape.

        • R Johnston says:

          It’s no one’s business if she reproduces, but I like children, have sympathy for them, and don’t want to see them raised to be monsters. It’s everyone’s business if she parents.

        • KadeKo says:

          her personal reproductive activity is none of our damn business

          I agree about her private life, right up until the nanosecond that she pulls a “liberty for me but not for thee” stunt.

          I consider her fully capable of telling us how someone exactly like her is supposed to have access to all the now-legal “icky” things I want all American women to have (thanks to it being hard-coded into law).

          I can easily see her telling us that she gets to have it for some incredible moral leap of an argument that she will take for herself but won’t allow others to even get to the starting line on. Or that she should not be judged for taking advantage of this, while she can blindingly pass judgment on other women.

          • Malaclypse says:

            I can easily see her telling us that she gets to have it for some incredible moral leap of an argument that she will take for herself but won’t allow others to even get to the starting line on.

            Exactly. From her car post:

            9. Several months of unsatisfactory wrangling pass with Commonwealth. Angry DMV employees stick to guns, claim that attempts to bypass system are sheer egotistical requests for favoritism.

            • Holden Pattern says:

              Here’s a question: can a creature with that little self-awareness even be said to be sentient?

            • Hogan says:

              It helps to remember that the whole point of the car post was “do you want the people at the DMV in charge of your health care?” McArdle would so be the woman at the front of the line shrieking, “Yeah, I lost my prescription, now give me the goddamn morphine!”

  17. Gerald Fnord says:

    Haidt help me, but I seems plain to me that these people value purity codes much more highly than autonomy, and so they’re much more concerned about Which Bits Touch Which Other Bits than consent.

    After all, people are Totally Depraved, so what they want should really matter least.

  18. Aaron Baker says:

    Wow. I think you just obliterated her. There’s nothing left. Well done.

  19. [...] McArdle and Cowen are making somewhat different arguments, and yet they’re both strongly rooted in [...]

  20. [...] out a lot more libertarian types are willing to go where Cowen goes—and then some.  Check out Scott Lemieux’s take on Megan McCardle. And though Dana Loesch is not, as far as I know, a self-identified libertarian, [...]

  21. Tybalt says:

    Shorter McArdle: Where the heck does your supposed compelling interest in not being raped with a probe come from?

  22. [...] McArdle‘s not what you would call a bleeding heart libertarian. When she’s not trying to put obstacles in the way of women getting an abortion, she tends not to shed too many tears for the poor, the [...]

  23. [...] “Our side,” eh? One rather obvious problem with McArdle’s assertion is that attacks on her alleged “side” constitute, as far as I can tell, the only occasions when she shows any interest in abortion rights at all. She’s apologized for Operation Rescue while poo-poohing anti-abortion terrorism, she opposes Roe v. Wade, and she not only (being a principled libertarian and all) supports mandatory vaginal ultrasounds but believes in all arbitrary impediments to abortion as posi… [...]

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