Saturday, April 21, 2018

Kevin's having trouble walking back

I found that I was able to read the whole of a WSJ article by recently fired conservative opinion writer Kevin Williamson, in which he (as you would expect) bemoans the unfairness of his treatment for his views on abortion.    I don't know if this link will work for my reader, but here it is.

I think there are two remarkable things about the piece:

*  no where does he simply say "Of course I do not genuinely support capital punishment for women who have abortions."   Instead, his statements all seem to contain hedges:  "I am generally opposed to capital punishment"  No one asked him "Did I really want to set up gallows, despite my long-stated reservations about capital punishment?"  "I’m not eager to be any sort of executioner."   Yeah, way to convince us you're not a little bit disappointed you were born in the wrong era to be a member of the witch hunting Inquisition, Kevin.

*  his thinking on abortion is problematic because it is so fundamentally over-simplified, of course it is going to make him wonder whether it would be a good idea to execute a woman or two as an example for the rest:
Let’s not equivocate: Abortion isn’t littering or securities fraud or driving 57 in a 55-mph zone. If it isn’t homicide, then it’s no more morally significant than getting a tooth pulled. If it isn’t homicide, then there’s no real argument for prohibiting it. If it is homicide, then we need to discuss more seriously what should be done to put an end to it. For all the chatter today about diversity of viewpoint and the need for open discourse, there aren’t very many people on the pro-choice side, in my experience, who are ready to talk candidly about the reality of abortion.
That sentence in my bold - it's so patently not obvious, it's startling that Williamson can't see it.

Of course you can oppose abortion morally without thinking it is the same as,  or classified as,  homicide. Of course people draw distinctions between interference with something with the potential for fully formed human life, and something that has achieved capacity to have independent human life.   If Williamson wants to be consistent, why isn't he writing articles calling on pro-lifers to rally in protest in front of fertility clinics which can hold a thousand tiny embryos on ice, and then let hundreds of them defrost and die.   Is that the same as Hitler gassing Jews?   Williamson seems so incapable of drawing the most obvious of distinctions, I wouldn't put it past him to argue it is.

As long time readers would know, I do have pretty conservative views when it comes to sex and reproduction - I regret the IVF industry as going a step too far in commodifying a process which should be a more natural.  I certainly think surrogacy is morally flawed for similar reasons, especially when used by gay men.   

Yet I am capable - as every normal person with common sense is - of drawing distinctions between, say, a woman who takes a "morning after" pill that might prevent a pregnancy by stopping a fertilised egg from implanting, and a woman who demands a right to abortion of a fully formed fetus capable of independent life if she discovers it has a feature she does not view as desirable.   (The case of a Melbourne woman who wanted a very late abortion due to dwarfism being a good example of the latter.)  

If Williamson's only point were to be to criticise the "fundamentalism" of pro-choicers who argue that abortion right up to the day before the birth of a healthy baby is something a mother should never be criticised for - well, very few people could disagree.  

But the formulation of what he sees as the problem with abortion just reads as complete and unthinking fundamentalism of the most extreme kind in the other direction - and one which indicates a desire to punish women more than men.  (Not only that, as I mentioned in my previous post, historically, even religious authorities with political power have rarely considered it an appropriate response.)    

What Williamson did was troll about women deserving death for doing something against his fundamentalism.   Yes, he deserved to be sacked from writing for a respectable magazine.


not trampis said...

Abortion is killing an unborn baby and we know it is mostly for lifestyle reasons.

Mayan said...

a) Then blowjobs are cannibalism.

b) Men get to whine about this when the technology is developed such that they can carry the foetus. Until then, it is worth recalling that the forced use of another person's body is slavery.