jasonbwatson

July 10, 2014

Listening to the Other Side

Back in May Janie B. Cheaney wrote a piece for WORLD entitled “The debate is never over.” I was reminded of it yesterday when I wrote about Amanda Marcotte’s rant against those who hold to the position that unborn babies have a right to life. Cheaney began her column by quoting Barack Obama’s assertion that the debate over the Affordable Care Act “is over.” She went on to explain why that assertion was false and also why the tactic of declaring a debate to be over in the midst of that very debate is a tried-and-true, although entirely un-American, strategy.

I am not going to elaborate on Cheaney’s comments about Obamacare; you can find and read her column if you’re interested. But she made a point near the end of her piece that pertains to Obama’s declaration in the ACA, to Marcotte’s declaration on abortion, to many evolutionists’ declarations on creation and to any other debate in which either side tires of the debate and simply decides to say, “It’s over. I win.” Here is what Cheaney writes…

The nation that began with shouting and guns has–with one notable exception–developed a talent for settling disputes without guns, though always with shouting. Violent argument in pursuit of reasonable law is what we’re all about. But as dead set as we are on our own opinions, we must make room for listening and responding to what the other side actually says. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). In this country, debate is seldom over. If and when that day comes, what will really be over is the United States.

Cheaney’s point is that the United States is built around the idea that opinions and beliefs should be freely and passionately argued in the pursuit of law. Those on either side of the political spectrum who would rather just tell the other side to shut up and then declare victory are not only attempting to become philosophical bullies, they are undermining the very essence of what it means to be American. So rarely do we stop to think about what it would be like to be on the other side! Amanda Marcotte would never suggest the debate is over if the law of the land currently prevented abortion. Barack Obama would never have declared the debate to be over if Congress had voted to de-fund Obamacare. Evolutionists would never declare the debate to be over if every school board in the country decided that creation would be taught in the classroom as well as the theory of evolution. That’s the way bullies work, though; as long as they are the biggest, baddest, toughest and meanest it’s their way or the high way. Let someone bigger and badder some along, though, and their position instantly does a one-eighty. So I would ask Mr. Obama, Ms. Marcotte and others to kindly recognize that the debates are not over.

At the same time, though, I would like to ask those of us on the other side of those arguments–myself included–to remember the same thing. We have to be willing to listen to and respect the positions of those who disagree with us if we want them to listen to and respect us. We do not have to agree with them. We do not necessarily even have to be willing to compromise with them. But we do have to be willing to listen and to show respect if we want the same in return. No, we do not have to welcome Ms. Marcotte’s potty-mouthed insults, and certainly we could insist that we will listen only if she is respectful in her speech and tone, but we must all remember that we have to be willing to show respect if we expect to receive it. Mr. Obama and Ms. Marcotte and others may not see it that way but, if anything, that is all the more reason for us to listen and show respect to them. After all, the Golden Rule does not say “do unto others as they do unto you.” No, it says, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Quite a difference, isn’t there?

July 9, 2014

The Sanctity of Life

Caution: the contents of this post may sicken you and will no doubt offend you. Reader discretion is advised.

Sadly, there is a woman with an even more confused, twisted and disgusting view of abortion than Heather Ault. Her name is Amanda Marcotte and she is, according to her entry on Wikipedia, “an American blogger best known for her writing on feminism and politics.” She is just a few months younger than me, but we have beliefs and convictions that could not be further apart. On this past March 14 she wrote an article or blog post (is there a difference?) for the webzine The Raw Story entitled, “The Real Debate Isn’t About ‘Life’ But About What We Expect of Women.” Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-Chief of WORLD Magazine, called it “the foulest defense of abortion I’ve read in 30 years.” That is a sad commentary. Just to give you an idea of Marcotte’s views, take this… Her article leads with a picture of a very pregnant woman at a baby shower, surrounded by friends, presents, cupcakes and “Its a Girl!” balloons. Beneath the picture is the caption, “This is my idea of what hell looks like.”

Marcotte begins her rant by saying that the “atheist/skeptic” community was in an uproar over the issue of abortion. I am not sure of the details of their uproar but Marcotte thought she should “weigh in.” Here is how she begins her comments on the topic (though she used the expletives I am editing)…

The question isn’t whether or not legal abortion is moral—outside a few kooks, nearly all non-believers are pro-choice—but whether or not those anti-abortion kooks should be indulged and given the privilege of having everyone treat their [crap] arguments like they have value in free-wheeling discourse, or if they should be shunned on the grounds of being [crap] arguments the same way anti-gay or overtly racist arguments are shunned.

Notice that Marcotte begins from the same point so many who deny there is such a thing as absolute truth begins–by asserting that the issue has really already been settled and that anyone who does not agree with her is either a kook or a believer, and in her mind the two are no doubt synonymous. She begins by declaring the debate to be already over. Pretty easy to way to win, that.

Notice, too, though, that Marcotte goes further than simply declaring the debate over. She is not content to fling names at those who disagree with her. Rather, she speculates on whether or not those holding views contrary to her own should even be allowed to hold such views without being shunned. In the process of this speculation she once again insults their very position, of course, twice calling it an argument with merit equivalent to that of excrement.

Marcotte goes on, in her next paragraph, to state that she believes the pro-life argument should be shunned if for no other reason than that it is boring and has been used for the past forty years. “They’re still pooping out the same old crap argument they’ve been using for the past forty years—that an embryo or even fertilized egg that has no brain has more human rights than the woman who has been drafted into growing it against her will—that’s been debunked a million billion times,” she writes. Ignoring her apparent fascination with bodily functions that she seems to think will somehow enhance her argument, Marcotte is simply wrong in her position. Not only has the argument not be debunked at all, much less “a million billion times,” the scientific evidence that an embryo does have a brain and does feel pain at a very early stage of development has only continued to increase over the past forty years. Furthermore, no one, to my knowledge, has ever suggested that the unborn child has “more human rights than the woman” carrying it. Instead, those of us who hold to the pro-life position believe that the unborn child is entitled to the same human rights as the woman. That is what the sanctity of life is all about; no life is more or less valuable than any other. The woman carrying the child is doing it against her will, Marcotte suggests, but unless the woman was raped that simply is not true. Perhaps she did not choose to become pregnant, but choosing to engage in sexual intercourse is a de facto acceptance of the possibility of becoming pregnant.

To the suggestion that if society were more accommodating to women who are also mothers Marcotte has an answer; in short, it will not make any difference to her at all.

Well, let me just put a stop to this [crap] right now. You can give me gold-plated day care and an awesome public school right on the street corner and start paying me 15% more at work, and I still do not want a baby. I don’t particularly like babies. They are loud and smelly and, above all other things, demanding. No matter how much free day care you throw at women, babies are still time-sucking monsters with their constant neediness. No matter how flexible you make my work schedule, my entire life would be overturned by a baby. I like my life how it is, with my ability to do what I want when I want without having to arrange for a babysitter. I like being able to watch True Detective right now and not wait until baby is in bed. I like sex in any room of the house I please. I don’t want a baby. I’ve heard your pro-baby arguments. Glad those work for you, but they are unconvincing to me. Nothing will make me want a baby.

There’s no misunderstanding that position, is there? Of course what Marcotte is saying is that she is self-centered, but we all are as a result of our sin nature, so that is not unusual. What she is really saying is that her self-centeredness and her desire to keep her life exactly how she wants it for her own convenience trumps the right of the child she might carry to live. If that’s true, why does my convenience to get down the road in a hurry not trump the right of the guy in front of me going nowhere in a hurry to stay alive? I’ve often said (jokingly) that if I had a James Bond car I would have blown away an awful lot of morons on the highway. That is a joke but it points to the fact that I’m self-centered too and want whatever is convenient for me. The difference between Marcotte and me, then, is that I do not believe I, or anyone else, actually has the right to end the life of someone irritating or inconveniencing me. While Marcotte would no doubt agree with when it comes to the guy on the road in my example, she thinks that because the unborn baby would be temporarily residing in her body the situation is different and she can kill the baby if she wants.

Marcotte goes further in her argument though, stating that carrying the baby to term and putting it up for adoption is not a reasonable option, either, for a woman who does not want a baby at all.

And don’t float “adoption” as an answer. Adoption? [Screw] you, seriously. I am not turning my body over for nine months of gaining weight and puking and being tired and suffering and not being able to sleep on my side and going to the hospital for a bout of misery and pain so that some couple I don’t know and probably don’t even like can have a baby. I don’t owe that couple a free couch to sleep on while they come to my city to check out the local orphans, so I sure as [crap] don’t own them my body. I like drinking alcohol and eating soft cheese. I like not having a giant growth protruding out of my stomach. I hate hospitals and like not having stretch marks. We don’t even force men to donate sperm—a largely pleasurable activity with no physical cost—so forcing women to donate babies is reprehensible.

Forcing women to donate babies? Really? Again, unless the woman was raped, no one forced her to get pregnant. Society forces people to accept the consequences of their choices all the time; why should we not when it comes to carrying a baby to term?

When it comes right down to it, Marcotte’s position can be summed up in her own statement: “This is why, if my birth control fails, I am totally having an abortion. Given the choice between living my life how I please and having my body within my control and the fate of a lentil-sized, brainless embryo that has half a chance of dying on its own anyway, I choose me.” That is what it is all about. Whatever you may want to call it, Marcotte, and those who think like her, are one hundred percent self-centered and want to do whatever works for them. That is about the only thing about Marcotte’s article I can appreciate–she is bluntly honest about this fact that too many on the pro-death side try to avoid.

Just as I suggested with Heather Ault, we need to pray for Amanda Marcotte. But we also need to pray for our country, because we have, for more than forty years, made Marcotte’s position legal. Perhaps her argument will get enough attention that enough people will realize how incredibly stupid and inconsistent is the idea that the woman’s convenience trumps the baby’s right to live. We can pray for that, too.

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