E.J. Dionne writes about the hypocrisy of much public discourse on abortion:

Our political system has created strong incentives for candidates to be less than candid about what they really think.

To begin with, candidates are rarely willing to say outright what’s true for so many of them: that they do not consider abortion the most important issue in politics and that it is not the reason they entered public life. …

… Plenty of Democrats entered politics primarily because of a mix of commitments related to social justice, poverty, labor rights, health care, civil rights and the environment. Many equally principled Republicans were animated largely by skepticism of government interference in the marketplace, support for lower taxes and, in many cases, a belief in an assertive foreign policy.

Yet politicians who acknowledged that abortion was not one of their driving concerns would be denounced, oddly enough, as unprincipled.

From time to time liberal writers and bloggers break out in a rash of discussion about how to discuss abortion. Not what we think about it, as we pretty much settled that years ago. No, we ask ourselves how to talk about it, because the crims (e.g., people who want to criminalize abortion) are eternally carping on our alleged insensitivity to “life.” I take it the crims are not staying awake at night worrying about offending us, however.

Anyway, I take it we’re supposed to acknowledge that terminating a pregnancy is a bit sad when you think about it, but we can’t go too far in that direction because that would be admitting abortion is bad. Yet the crims are never put on the spot to consider the desperate measures women take to abort

“Most commonly, they ingest a whole bottle of quinine pills, with castor oil…we try to get them to the ER before their cardiac rhythm is interrupted…Sometimes they douche with very caustic products like bleach. We had a patient, a teen, who burned herself so badly with bleach that we couldn’t even examine her, her vaginal tissue was so painful….”

“Our local hospital tells me they see 12-20 patients per year, who have already self-induced or had illegal abortions. Some make it, some don’t. They are underage or poor women mostly, and a few daughters of pro-life families…”

I find that terribly sad. Yet it’s OK for crim activists to scream hatefulness at abortion clinic patients.

I’ve noticed over the years that one cannot interact directly with a psychologically challenged person. Instead, you interact with their disorder, whatever it is. A common example is the manager with an explosive temper; the employees quickly learn how not to set off that temper. People with behavioral or character disorders are difficult people, and when they can’t be avoided most of us almost instinctively cater to their craziness to keep them from getting even crazier. This is why enabling is so common. It’s a lot easier to tip-toe around Uncle Frank’s alcoholism than to try to get him to stop drinking.

Today there is much discussion all over the blogosphere about Amanda M.’s resignation from the Edwards campaign. Although there is much criticism flying in many directions, the bottom line is that Amanda was hounded out of the job by a bigoted whackjob, Bill Donohue. In a rational world, nobody would give a hoohaw what Donohue thinks.

Seems to me we’re all being held hostage by whackjobs. In spite of overwhelming public opinion against the war, too many Dems are tip-toeing around ending it because whackjobs will call them soft on national security. This is irrational, because the war in Iraq is hurting, not helping, national security. Yet craziness must be catered to. Bill Kristol comes to mind; the man is nuttier than a peanut farm, yet no one in professional media (except maybe Keith Olbermann) is willing to say so.

I don’t have a solution to this, except to suggest we all stop being enablers.

10 thoughts on “Enabling

  1. I think you have a point about not being enablers, but I’d say its a bit different. I don’t know if people enable, but simply, we live in a society where we’ve let those who shout the loudest run things.

    The problem is that many people feel alone when confronted with the screaming wackjobs. So people need to BAND together and support each other. The wackjobs will be wackjobs – we can stand up to them and make sure they don’t control things.

    The wackjobs will scream and rant. A few will get violent, but most of them, being what they are (insecure bullies) will back down and seek other targets.

  2. . . . the crims (e.g., people who want to criminalize abortion) are eternally carping on our alleged insensitivity to “life.”

    We should respond to them about the evidence of their insensitivity to “life” (not alleged) because voting for George W. Bush was a vote for death, destruction, torture, genocide, and war based on lies. None of these things can be construed as remotely sensitive to “life”. And, if it hurts their feelings, then our response has been successful. I have a few acquaintances (used to be friends) who do not even bring up the subject around me any more. I knew they used to, trying to get my goat–like you said they don’t stay awake worrying about hurting our feelings. I left them all speechless; although one responded about not caring about the Iraqi people, which gave me more ammunition. I believe at least 95 percent of the whacko right to lifers voted for Bush. They have no moral authority over any of us by that one action. They just need to be reminded of that by us over and over. I decided to start actively fighting back because in the end, their reasons for being antiabortion are based in their religious doctrine. They are the only group who has been allowed to shove their religious doctrine down the throats of those of us with different religions, different beliefs–very un-American. The innocent lives that have been snuffed out violently by an illegal and immoral war should be as important as a fetus if they truly care about “life.” One more time–They have no moral authority lecturing us on “life.”

    I am sorry that Donohue is going see this as a victory; however, he will get what he deserves another time. It’s Catholics like him that make it easy to be anti-Catholic.

  3. Boehner followed her to the well of the House seconds later, the first Republican to speak.

    “There is no question that the war in Iraq has been difficult. All Americans are frustrated we haven’t seen more success more quickly,” he conceded. Pivoting quickly, he called the Iraq War the latest in a string of conflicts dating to the founding of the nation more than two centuries ago.

    “Every drop of blood that has been spilt in defense of freedom and liberty — from the American Revolution to this very moment — is for nothing if we are unwilling to stand against this threat,” he said.

    How’s that for an example of enabling? a melodrama in the defense of failure.

  4. Swami, if he had been the least bit honest, he would have said, “Every drop of blood that has been spilt in defense of freedom and liberty…..is for nothing if we are unwilling to stand against the threat of our President ignoring the Constitution.”

  5. I don’t have a solution to this, except to suggest we all stop being enablers.

    That’s precisely the solution. This takes courage, because it often means risking your position, whatever it is. But this sort of direct confrontation is exactly what’s called for. Our country desperately needs people who are courageous enough to risk speaking the truth to the whackjobs in power. This is why Keith Olbermann is so popular.

    One of the few things I admired about Ross Perot, was his ability to plainly state how he felt about abortion (“it’s a woman’s right”) and then move on. The guy simply did not care who he offended with that statement. He had already made his fortune elsewhere, was in no danger of losing this fortune, and so he risked only his political bid with this bit of honesty.

    Side observation: It’s always amazed me how organized religion has a way of ossifying, becoming so rigidly conservative that it turns the founder’s revolutionary beliefs on their heads.

    I hope Amanda can find a technical way to keep her site up despite the hate traffic.

  6. Yeah, Donna…then it would make perfect sense. Boehner is such a major asswipe..some of them just rise above the crowd with an aura of obnoxiousness and stupidity…Boehner is one of them. He’s stupid on a molecular level and obnoxious to the bone.

  7. “…we’re all being held hostage by whackjobs….”

    This formulation is misleading. It transmits the old, false theory of totalitarianism, which assumes that a small, inauthentic faction can somehow gain disproportionate leverage over a society and/or its discourse. When you put it that way it is obvious that it is absurd.

    We must face up to the fact that whenever you talk about Bill Donohue (or George W. Bush) you are talking about half the country, plus or minus statistical noise. You cannot simply wave your hand and declare that 50% are inauthentic. They may be wrong, as we both believe, but they are authentic. Unless you are prepared to envision a polity in which authenticity doesn’t matter (i.e., not a democratic or self-determining one), you cannot even use the argument from wrongness.

    We have to ask ourselves what is to be done when half of a nation is irreconcilable. There are practical and moral considerations, both of the utmost difficulty. The fairest solution is to separate the factions. The most practical one is to destroy both. The least moral solution is to allow one side to win. The least practical one is to allow the conflict to drag on forever. Now quickly (to paraphrase one of the Zen masters) say what you will do.

  8. you are talking about half the country, plus or minus statistical noise

    Nonsense. 25 percent, tops. Probably less. Where do you get 50 percent?

  9. From the outcome of the 2000 election. Everyone ought to have a copy of that map pasted to the inside of their glasses. It describes a country in which peaceful governance is not possible nor can be evolved towards.

    But suppose they were 25%. Then could they be put down? How? Should they be put down? Why? Is 25% too many? 15%? 5%?

    You have (along with many others) raised these questions and cannot evade them. My point is that as soon as you even start asking any questions like these you have already given up on democracy.

    Then again: and were they 99%, they would still be wrong. What then?

  10. From the outcome of the 2000 election.

    Your logic is seriously flawed. Lots of people who voted for Bush in 2000 were not whackjobs. Ignorant perhaps, but not whackjobs.

    Now, however, after six years of the Bush Administration, we can use Bush’s favorability ratings to guess at the bedrock of whackjobiness. Bush’s favorability ratings in most polls are in the mid-30s these days, but the polls don’t make distinctions between people who just say they like Bush out of party loyalty and those who actually believe it. I say that anyone who still believes Bush is a great president has got to have some screws loose. I’m guessing 25 percent.

    But anyone who is familiar with American history knows we’ve always had a substantial subpopulation of whackjobs. I don’t know that we have any more now than we have had at any time in the past 200-plus years. The difference is that, today, the whackjobs are running the asylum.

    Then could they be put down? How? Should they be put down? Why? Is 25% too many? 15%? 5%?

    Lordy, why put people down? I’m just saying they shouldn’t be catered to.

    Then again: and were they 99%, they would still be wrong. What then?

    There’s a difference between “wrong” and “crazy.” Get to know it.

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