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Broken Clock, Etc.

[ 67 ] October 28, 2012 |

My contempt for Tom Friedman is without limit. But he nails this column like Luther and a church door. At least until the point where he brings up Michael Bloomberg. But I’m going to focus on this part, which is actually good.

In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”

“Pro-life” can mean only one thing: “respect for the sanctity of life.” And there is no way that respect for the sanctity life can mean we are obligated to protect every fertilized egg in a woman’s ovary, no matter how that egg got fertilized, but we are not obligated to protect every living person from being shot with a concealed automatic weapon. I have no respect for someone who relies on voodoo science to declare that a woman’s body can distinguish a “legitimate” rape, but then declares — when 99 percent of all climate scientists conclude that climate change poses a danger to the sanctity of all life on the planet — that global warming is just a hoax.

I actually have a certain amount of intellectual respect (although I completely disagree with the point) for the fetus as life position. I can see the point in theory. But of course it is always about controlling women’s bodies and punishing them for sex. It’s not “pro-life” at all.

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  1. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    But of course it is always about controlling women’s bodies and punishing them for sex. It’s not “pro-life” at all.

    Just call it “pro-rapist fatherhood rights” and be done with it.

    Rather like what was being done to women during the long civil war in Bosnia. When was it that the conservatives in the US decided that they were going to be pro-war-crimes?

  2. Blume says:

    obligated to protect every fertilized egg in a woman’s ovary, no matter how that egg got fertilized

    Big clunker with this phrase, though. Even though I agree with his larger point, I’m afraid I have to put this in the category of “men speaking offhand about conception in rather clueless ways.”

  3. Davis says:

    A recent Washington University study revealed that free contraception for low-income women reduces the abortion rate by half (duh!). Will this lead to their support for free contraception? Not on your life. It really is about controlling women’s sexuality.

    • DrDick says:

      This is the real tell. If they really opposed abortion on the grounds that they state, they would be out on the street corners passing out condoms and free BC, not picketing abortion providers.

    • Sly says:

      I think its simply more evidence that Pro-Life is not even a remotely well thought out position.

      Another example: Support for prison sentences for women who receive abortions is low, even among the Pro-Life crowd. It is a rather glaring inconsistency – if abortion is murder, then wouldn’t a woman who pays a physician to perform an abortion on her conspiring to commit murder in an ethical equivalence to someone who hires a hitman – that even the most ardent Pro-Life advocate has a hard time wrapping their minds around it. Ask a Pro-Lifer if they think a woman should go be charged with conspiracy to commit murder (which entails a sentence that varies by state from at least ten years to life in prison without parole, and perhaps even the death penalty in Texas), and the vast majority would say “no.”

      If this was purely about punishing women, and I would agree that it is to an extent, then the answer would be an unequivocal “yes.” The fact that it isn’t may be due to political expediency, but that’s not a trait for which the Pro-Life movement is generally known.

      The fact that Pro-Lifers oppose subsidized contraception is more likely political cross-over with what makes them believe that inefficient and expensive emergency room services is a more ethical and efficacious alternative to state-subsidized preventive care: the myopic narcissism that infects the conservative mind.

      • LazyMonkey says:

        I think they just want to punish them in a more Puritanical fashion: they want them to bear the child, wear a scarlet letter on their chest, and go about their business. That way the holier-than-thous among them can point and whisper and get off on their self-righteousness. Putting women in jail deprives them of their sport.

      • Snarki, child of Loki says:

        You have to distinguish between the “foaming at the mouth TRUE BELIVERS” and their “bears of very little brain” followers.

        The “follower” reaction is simple: abortion = ick = bad = should be illegal = punish the doctor.

        Take them along the logical path from “abortion = murder” to “execute the mom” and they’ll recoil from the implications, squirm in denial and cognitive dissonance, and ultimately doubt their positions.

        Which is why the TRUE BELIEVERS make strenuous efforts to avoid logical thought at all costs.

      • Ed says:

        I suspect there are plenty in the anti-abortion movement who wouldn’t mind some sort of prosecution for women. They won’t say that because it’s a political loser, at least in this country.

      • cpinva says:

        i think you’re being way too kind:

        the myopic narcissism that infects the conservative mind.

        really, they’re just jaw-droppingly stupid.

      • Ruby says:

        Of all places, this TV Tropes page explains the relevant phenomenon well. (Naturally, standard TV Tropes warnings apply…)

        Basically, in conservative thought, women are moral objects. They have things done to them, but don’t do things themselves. Put simply, you wouldn’t arrest a women for having an abortion any more than you would arrest the guns that James Holmes used in Aurora. Because, in both cases, you’re simply talking about objects involved in a crime someone else committed. Objects incapable of choosing to commit or not commit a crime themselves.

        Men are the moral actors, so generally only the doctor (who is always assumed to be a man) involved in an abortion is considered responsible for the abortion and thus, only he can be charged for the crime they consider it to be.

        [See also: parental (read: father) and spousal (husband) notification/consent laws.]

        Suggesting that a woman should do time for the “crime” of an abortion necessarily suggests you think said woman was morally capable of making the decision to abort in the first place. An idea which is completely foreign to 99.9% of conservatives.

    • Kathleen says:

      I agree with that, but I also think it’s about specifically punishing poor and middle class women for having sex.

      Wealthy women will always have safe abortions as an option.

  4. scott g says:

    “the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity”

    Oh for crying out loud. Even when he’s right Friedman’s a sanctimonious moron. The EPA has approximately diddle to do with protecting biodiversity.

    • DocAmazing says:

      He had to throw in something for the Third Way Sierra Club crowd.

      • Larry says:

        That was the very point of the piece. The rest was just to lull you into thinking what a reasonable man this Tom Friedman guy is, and by extension just how reasonable Bloomberg’s proposals are. Nothing he wrote in the lead up has not been written before.
        I’ll add that I’m not a fan of Bloomberg’s “public health” advocacy because it really does narrow the definition of public health. It becomes all about regulating and demonizing personal behavior. (of course 1%er personal behavior that has public health consequences such as tooling about in your fleet of personal aircraft is not to be demonized.)

    • Anonymous says:

      You can get there. If the EPA gets to regulate greenhouse gases, in order to fight climate change, that is pretty directly linked to biodiversity – the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity estimates that approximately 10% of biodiversity on Earth will be lost for every degree (Celsius) rise in temperature. Fight climate change, preserve biodiversity.

      • It’s much more explicit than that. The EPA is the lead agency working through the Endangered Species Act to prevent loss of species through pesticide use, and they’re in consultation with other agencies administering different parts of the Act pretty regularly.

        They also do a fair amount of research on biodiversity and have a few projects where preserving biodiversity is a primary goal.

        Biodiversity isn’t a big part of their brief and the stuff they do is a small part of federal efforts to preserve biodiversity, but saying that amounts to “diddle” is kinda silly.

        • scott g says:

          Yes, yes, the EPA does things that are good for biodiversity. But me saying they add up to ‘diddle’ in the context of the programs at FWS, NMFS, USFS, BLM, BuRec, and so forth is an order of magnitude less lazy than Friedman’s painting the EPA as The Environment Agency, because y’know, it’s in their name.

          • There’s just no reason to ding him on this. His point isn’t that the EPA is the end-all be-all of environmental protection, just like he isn’t saying with his earlier example of gun control policy that the only benefit would be stopping mass murder incidents like the Aurora theater shooting.

            The rhetorical strategy he’s using (my God it feels strange exploring the nuances of Friedman’s prose) requires a clear and simple example of a set of environmental protection policies the Republicans want to ax as part of a parade of horribles; the EPA fits both those criteria; to make his point he has to list a broad sampling of the benefits the EPA provides, one of which is in fact biodiversity protection . . . what’s the problem, here? There’s nothing in there treating the EPA as “the environment agency”.

            Are you upset he mentioned asthma? Sucks to your assmar.

            • RhZ says:

              Pro-life means not advocating war against *someone* because you are angry because *someone else* attacked you.

              Pro-life means not supporting policies that specifically and intentionally terrorize civilian populations.

              What a fucking pitiful tool Friedman is. You don’t need any new reasons to dump on this loser par excellence.

              My god, he wrote a sentence that might not be completely stupid! Ponies for everyone!!!

  5. ema says:

    “Pro-life” can mean only one thing: “respect for the sanctity of life.”

    “Pro-life” markers: common-sense gun control; not wanting to shut down the EPA; support programs like Head Start; be aware of climate change science.

    Not in any way a “pro-life” marker: acknowledgement of the uterine ovarian* container’s health/life.

    *Are reality-based anatomy and physiology relevant anymore?

  6. Angry Geometer says:

    common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle

    Semiautomatic weapons bans are a red herring. Only around 2% of gun deaths are caused by them. They are not widely used in crimes (hard to hide in your waistband, hard to buy on the streets for $50.)

    They are not widely used in the most common kind of gun death, suicide, which account for half of gun-related deaths.

    Lower the number of suicides by firearm by 4% and you’ve done more good than banning semiautomatic weapons (since some percentage of those semiautomatic deaths would’ve happened with another weapon).

    You want to make a meaningful change in gun violence, you’re going to have to ban cheap shitty handguns, as they are by far the most widely used. I just don’t see that happening.

    Considering the amount of political capital required to change gun laws in this country, maybe we should concentrate on attacking the roots of the problem.

    Maybe we should be fighting mental illness and poverty instead of ceremonial gun legislation, because they’re bad in their own right, and we could actually do something about them?

    What happened to “keep hope alive”? What happened to the idea of actually fixing structural inequalities in our society?

    • Derelict says:

      What happened to “keep hope alive”? What happened to the idea of actually fixing structural inequalities in our society?

      They went out of fashion when Reagan started squawking about young bucks and Cadillac queens. They really went out of fashion when we as a society decided to turn our penal systems into privatized profit centers. Lift someone out of poverty and they might pay back a half million in taxes over their lifetime. Toss their ass in jail when they’re 18 and keep them there on and off for the next 40 years, and Corrections Corp of America will make millions off of them.

  7. Davis X. Machina says:

    What happened to “keep hope alive”? What happened to the idea of actually fixing structural inequalities in our society?

    They don’t have coalitions powerful enough to drive policy. The nation isn’t the political nation. The median citizen is not the median voter. The median voter is not the median political influencer.

    And the median political influencer is far more often than not not your fried…

  8. Grant says:

    Republicans think a rape kit includes rohypnol and duct tape.

  9. Pinko Punko says:

    This is a dumb Friedman column. He’s basically starting the thing off with “Dictionary.com defines the word “pro” as… and the word “life” as…, therefore these people are definitionally hypocritical.” Don’t fall into the junior high rhetorical trap. Of course “pro-life” is a mess, but this is not how to go about being serious.

  10. DocAmazing says:

    This is a dumb Friedman column.

    Is there another type?

  11. Hanspeter says:

    Tom Friedman is so pro-life that he let the Iraqi people suck on something before bringing the nice bombs to them.

    • Jon says:

      I would click on links to his column if the Times used the byline, “Thomas L. ‘Suck on This’ Friedman.”

      • RhZ says:

        Remember when he supported the house-to-house searches as a way of achieving… some goal or another (Friedman’s logic is rarely clear, even if you want to read him carefully, for some incomprehensible reason)?

        Good times, good times.

  12. Anderson says:

    “like Luther and a church door.”

    Nice choice of simile for Reformation Sunday!

  13. bradP says:

    Is this some sort of joke?

    That is still an absurdly bad article.

  14. bradP says:

    I actually have a certain amount of intellectual respect (although I completely disagree with the point) for the fetus as life position. I can see the point in theory. But of course it is always about controlling women’s bodies and punishing them for sex.

    This seems like a contradiction.

    How can you have a “certain amount of respect” for an argument that is always driven by an ulterior motive?

  15. I couldn’t believe it either. Gone was the Buzz Word Stew that tasted like “NEW!” and “bland” meets “cat poop”. It actually made sense.

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