Saturday, November 20, 2004

Climate of Fear
Well, I've posted on this before, and now it's official. The climate of fear has come to Yale. I left my room for dinner last night, and came back to notice that something had changed on my common room window.

You can't really tell, but the W '04 sticker is on the inside, and the swastika is on the outside. I'll refrain from further comments, because they will likely boil down to unintelligible ranting. Suffice it to say, I was understandably upset, as was my friend (a Democrat) who was walking with me at the time.

I have since placed signs on the inside of the window stating "I did not place this sticker here. Whoever did should be ashamed." with an arrow pointing to it, and then below it, the word "Fascism," followed by the definition from, notification of the fact that I oppose every tenet listed therein, and an invitation for anyone who thinks otherwise to kindly stop by anytime, or email me. If someone takes me up on it, maybe I can turn hatred into understanding; then at least one person's ignorance can lead to another's education.


Anonymous said...

In response to the past week or so of abortion commentary:

From a legal standpoint, you may be right-abortion may or may not be a "fundamental" right included under the 14th amedment's due process clause. That decision was left up to the Supreme Court to decide- a power of interpretation granted to it in the Constitution. The 1973 decision in Roe empowered the individual, and should not be overturned. That is my legal position.

The way I understand your argument is basically as follows, and please correct me if I am wrong so that we may further our discourse:

1. You believe that life begins at conception
2. We cannot establish (1) as true
3. We cannot establish (1) as false
4. If (1) is true than abortion is murder.
5. It (1) is false, then abortion is not murder.
6. (1) must be either true or false
7. If (1) is true, abortion is murder, if (1) is false we comit no wrong.

Using this logic, it seems much better to be safe than sorry, and outlaw abortion (and I apologize for the proof-style content). In fact, this is logically sound. It is akin to an old argument for religion: "By believing in God, I lose nothing if I am wrong and gain eternal salvation if I am right, but by opposing God, I gain nothing if I am right, but risk eternal damnation if I am wrong."

Because of this weighing-options scenario, if someone like me wants to convince someone like you that abortion is right, my argument must also base itself in the fundamental right to life.

Why then, would anyone oppose abortion or not believe in god? It doesn't seem rational, unless of course, there is a flaw in this argument.

In terms of abortion, it seems just as arrogant to assume that you know where life begins as it is for your critics to argue against you. Since neither you or your critics have any more reason to be right, and both of you employ the same amount of arrogance, we must look to different foundations for our answers.

Lets start with cases where abortion might be considered morally acceptable.

I will grant you premise 1. I am trying to argue from all premises you agree with.

1. Human "Life" begins at conception.
2. Both the fetus and the mother are alive.
3. Both the fetus and the mother have specific rights.
4. The fetus and the mother are, to a certain extent, dependent on each other.
5. The mother is autonomous.
6. The fetus is not.

In certain circumstances where the life of the mother is at stake, abortion weighs the rights of an autonomous creature against those of a possible developed autonomous creature. I am specifically talking about the right to life in each case. Even if you believe the fetus has the exact same right to life as the mother, this still seems acceptable. In these cases, abortion is not only acceptable, but could be considered the morally correct action to take.

Now, the Christian response might be to leave it up to God to decide who lives and who dies, but if you've ever been to the doctor, you don't seriously believe this.

As a result, abortion must be accepted in cases that put the health of the mother at serious risk. In those circumstances, it must be left up to the autonomous, functioning being of the two to make the decision.

Can abortion become morally acceptable in any other cases? Lets check rape:

First (all from premises you hopefully agree with)

1. Sex is a voluntary, natural act with known consequences.
2. A woman willingly accepts the risk of childbirth by consenting to sexual relations.
3. Rape is non consensual sex
4. In a rape scenario resulting in pregnancy, the mother and fetus are forced into a symbiotic relationship.
5. To accept responsibility for something is to accept that one operated as cause in the matter.

A woman who is forced into pregnancy has no responsibility to carry the child. Just as you are not responsible for the theft if I leave a stolen computer in your room. Morally, she does not have to take on the burden that was forced upon her, especially if the abortion can be performed with all due speed.

Now, you might counter that although the circumstances are poor, the woman now has a moral responsibility to take on the burden of childbirth and not commit "murder" through abortion. Childbirth is a known risk, and is both mentally and physically taxing, and a woman should not be forced into this position. A women enters willingly into sexual relations with the hope of creating a loving family. If the woman is not ready for pregnancy, then corrective action can be taken.

If abortion can be either morally acceptable or justified in specific scenarios, then we must look at which situations exist before making broad judgments. I welcome all intelligent discourse, as I am still fleshing out my own opinion.


Jeffery said...

I thought I would tell you about a program that will increase traffic to your blog. We need more conservative sites there too.

RFTR said...

Alex -
I don't always respond to comments, but you did a thorough job of making your point, and you are far more comprehensive of my position than the majority of people, so I feel it's my job to respond. I won't refer to every point, as I agree with the premises behind most of them. Instead, I'll mention the specific points of contention between your theory and mine, and then maybe we can figure some things out.

The first point of dispute arises where you assume that because the mother is autonomous and the fetus is not, it is wrong to choose in favor of a possibly developing autonomous creature. To my thinking, this neglects the fact that you are choosing one life over another. Yes, you are doing so specifically because one is autonomous and one is not, so it's not entirely arbitrary, but in my mind it is equally important that the fetus is innocent. This is a fully-valued human life that we are choosing to kill that we might save one other. I just don't think that's the right thing to do.

That also addresses the reason I can feel (somewhat) comfortable saying maybe we should just let God sort it out despite the fact that I go to the doctor. When I go to the doctor and ask him to intervene against nature, I am not requiring the destruction of another human being in order for him to do so.

On rape, I think you're on shakier ground altogether. First of all, "to accept responsibility is to acknowledge cause," is simply not true. When a person adopts a child, they take responsibility for it, but they obviously did not cause the child to exist or to be put up for adoption, and they are certainly implying no such thing.

I think it's slightly disturbing that you equate a fetus in an impregnated woman to a stolen computer in my room. But anyway, let's go with it. If I came home to find a stolen computer in my room, I do have some responsibility for it. If I just throw it out the window, I'd be wrong. I'm supposed to report it to the authorities, who attempt to apprehend the criminal, and in the meantime take the computer and make sure it gets to where it belongs. Obviously, this is a shaky parallel. I don't expect a woman to raise a child that was created by rape. But I also think it is irresponsible to simply have the fetus (which, again, I consider to be a living human being -- that's the key) destroyed.

I likewise appreciate the opportunity for discourse, as my views are anything but firm. You'll notice in my abortion comments preceeding this one, I've mentioned that I'm shakey on rape and danger to the mother. I just find it hard to justify homicide of an innocent.

Tanstaafl said...

I have a razor blade designed for scraping things off of windows that you're welcome to borrow. You just have to remember to put the blade into the retractable handle.

Tanstaafl said...

A couple of thoughts. First, I think the abortion debate is a stupid one, at least as it relates to American politics. As you have both demonstrated, the issue doesn't boil down to a logical answer. It rests on base-line assumptions, and unless you have a way of changing someone's core beliefs, you're going to have a hell of a time changing their mind. I also think the issue is really pretty settled. There may be some things on the margin like partial birth abortion that still need to be sorted out, but otherwise, the electorate has pretty much said it's comfortable valuing the mother's needs and wants over those of a fetus (which are admittedly difficult to discern).

However, I'm a bit disturbed by the questions you pose in regards to the health of the mother taking precedence over the "life" of the fetus. Isn't it sort of craven for a mother to put herself above her child? Don't most women who have a child growing inside of them feel a bond or connection? I think the problem is that many people consider this akin to cutting off an infected appendage, and it seems to me that this should have a higher threshold of necessity. If neither the fetus nor the mother would survive then I would say that the choice becomes eaiser. But if the baby would likely live, then the mother may have the right to abort it, but isn't exercising that right a pretty gruesome act? It means that the mother is willing to kill her child to save herself? I would hope that most parents, faced with that decision would choose the opposite.

Also, kudos Alex and Brian for engaging on civil debate. As it would appear from the pictures of Brians window, the benefits of such discourse seem lost on some Yalies.

Airin Ahmed said...

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