Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Monday, November 19th, 2007.


Boxes

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abortion, Republican Party

Today many people are posting this anti-abortion video and noting the subliminal message — that women are just objects, not people.

As Trailer Park Feminist (who has a transcript) says, “And shouldn’t we treat women like property, you know, just in case?”

Conversely, if you thought there was a chance a woman might actually being a fully sentient human being, and not just an ambulatory major appliance … well, I second Mustang Bobby:

I’m not sure which is more amazing; the ease with which the anti-abortion folks can reduce a complicated and intensely personal event such as a pregnancy down to this simplistic and dehumanizing idiocy, or the idea that they can portray women as nothing but a cardboard box and get away with it.

See also Bean (the comments are a hoot).

I’ve written many times before that an absolutist anti-choice position requires denying the autonomy and humanity of women. Certainly people of good will might favor some restrictions, such as gestational limits, on elective abortion. By absolutist I’m referring to the people Ellen Goodman wrote about earlier this year

Cynics, take heart. We offer you advance word from the troops preparing for Monday’s annual March for Life marking the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The parade’s theme this year is “Thou Shalt Protect the Equal Right to Life of Each Innocent Human in Existence at Fertilization. No Exception! No Compromise!”

No exception! No compromise! Lots of exclamation points!

You can find high-flown absolutist rhetoric declaring that even a zygote has rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That may sound glorious and all, but in real life an absolute “protection” of “human life” from conception requires stripping fertile women of their rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and in extreme cases their rights to life, also. There are copious real-world examples of women living under draconian abortion laws who die gruesome deaths because of those laws. Clearly, such laws value the lives and humanity of women less than the lives and humanity of embryos. Women in these countries often go without medical help after a miscarriage because they fear persecution by the Womb Nazis. This is nothing other than political oppression.

For that reason, I continue to be astonished at the number of self-identified libertarians who see nothing wrong with banning abortion. The same people who roar with righteous indignation over big, oppressive government have no problem with government treating women like brood animals.

The words libertarian and liberal share the root word liberty. Over the years a great many views and opinions have been labeled “liberal,” but liberty and equality remain liberalism’s cornerstone. As it says here, liberalism’s fundamental principle is that “freedom is normatively basic, and so the onus of justification is on those who would limit freedom, especially through coercive means.”

I bring this up because I want to make it clear that, although liberals may disagree on many issues, no one who wants to criminalize all abortion can rightfully be called a “liberal.” If libertarians like Justin Raimondo want to claim that person, of course, that’s their business. But he ain’t one o’ ours.

Libertarians will disagree, but I say the essential difference between liberals and libertarians is that the latter define oppression as something only the federal government can do. If state governments violate the rights of its citizens and treat women and minorities like chattel, that’s OK with them. Liberals, on the other hand, think oppression is wrong no matter who or what is doing the oppressing. We think, for example, that if a state is denying its African American citizens equal treatment under the law, it’s a legitimate use of federal power to force the state to stop the oppression. Libertarians generally disagree, and would rather allow states to discriminate than concede any part of state sovereignty to Washington or federal courts.

Thus, to most libertarians, liberty and equality are less important than maintaining a weak federal government.

Justin Raimondo asks why “neocons and sectarian leftists” have united to “smear” Ron Paul. I can’t speak for everyone, but I do want readers of this blog to understand what Ron Paul stands for. And he stands for the political oppression of women. His followers seem to think it is enormously significant that Paul wants to keep the federal government out of abortion law and give the states total authority in the matter. I, on the other hand, think Womb Nazis are Womb Nazis, no matter what branch of government they report to.

I have seen people show up at liberal/progressive gatherings with Ron Paul T-shirts and buttons who don’t seem to know anything about Paul except that he’s against the war in Iraq. Well, folks, educate yourselves.

If you agree with Ron Paul’s views (meaning you aren’t one of my regular readers) then vote for him. That’s what republican government is about; you vote for the candidate you think will best represent you. My intention here is to be sure we’re all clear that Ron Paul is no liberal.

Yes, the Iraq War is a vital issue, but it’s not the only vital issue, and Ron Paul is not the only anti-war candidate. The struggle for liberty and equality in this country will continue long after the Iraq War has scrolled off the page into history.

And women aren’t boxes.

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