I don’t really want to write about abortion. I can’t tell you anything new about this complicated legal and moral issue. My observations here aren’t about the issue itself. They’re about the people who are reacting to it — in ways that are irrational and downright idiotic.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. I didn’t support the Roe v. Wade decision. I also don’t support the decision which overturns it. I assumed my position about this would be obvious, but I was mistaken. Several people asked me Friday what I thought, assuming that I would either love the new decision or hate it.
I don’t “support” coercive government. Period.
I don’t recognize the legitimacy of the system which rules over us. I obey governments only because they have guns and can put me into a cage if I disobey. I’m not going to pretend I have a choice about any of it.
I have no say about abortion. Or taxation. Or wars. Or fiat money. Or anything else which politicians have taken it upon themselves to control without my permission.
But this doesn’t stop me from being both amused and annoyed right now at people on the progressive left who have loudly cheered for intrusive government for years — right up until the moment they discover they want some freedom after all.
Every time something controversial happens in the country, I read wildly irrational reactions on social media — from both sides of the controversy — and the dumber and more irrational the point someone makes, the more it’s going to be shared far and wide.
Most people are more interested in expressing the popular slogans of their “tribes” than they are in dealing with the facts of a matter. So far, the abortion debate has supplied plenty of candidates for “Idiot of the Year.”
But I’m just going to make a few big-picture observations. You’ll notice that I’m not going to give you some fiery words about what you ought to believe. The issue is far too complicated — both in the moral sense and in the philosophical sense — for me to give you a nice, neat answer. It’s complicated and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.
So here are my observations about the reactions to what’s happened:
— I suspect that fewer than one in a hundred of the people with very loud opinions about Roe v. Wade — for it or against it — have ever read the decision or understand the legal issues involved. If you have opinions about a legal document simply because on the outcome — you favor abortion or you oppose it — you’re being shortsighted, because legal reasoning ends up applying to other issues. And if you’re not paying attention to the reasoning, you might not understand what it might lead to next. (And let’s be honest. You might be too intellectually lazy to care until something you don’t like happens.)
— The actual reasoning of the Roe v. Wade decision — which required states to allow abortion — was always nonsensical. Whether you think abortion should be legal or not, the same legal reasoning in that decision would have made pretty much every decision we make into something personal that government can’t regulate. If some vague right to make your own decisions could apply to abortion, it would also apply to the rest of your life — which progressives would have hated. But the justices found this vague right to abortion, yet didn’t apply it to any other individual freedoms. It was a contradiction from the start.
— It’s amusing (and bizarre) that progressives online are suddenly talking about personal liberty. This crowd has been all about group rights and identity politics for years now, but I was suddenly hearing them talk about personal freedom on Friday. What’s odd is that they apply the notion of freedom only to abortion — and not to the rest of our individual lives. I could take them more seriously if they argued for individuals to have autonomy over their entire lives — but that would make them libertarians, so they can’t possibly allow that sort of intellectual consistency. Their heads might explode.
— For those who are upset about this decision or that decision — any political or legal decision — are you starting to see why secession is a good thing? Why should you be bound to obey a political system that you disagree with? Why shouldn’t groups be allowed to peacefully withdraw and take their property with them?
— I really wish people making sweeping generalizations based on their emotions right now could apply reason and principles to the broader issues, in context. Instead, all I seem to see are variations of either, “I hate you religious people for taking my rights away,” or else, “The baby-killers lost and can’t keep killing babies!” Reality is far more complex — legally, philosophically and ethically — than most seem willing to admit. But it’s easier to scream slogans and yell hatred of people who disagree with you.
— No matter what position you take about abortion and its legality, you should be able to understand why other people believe what they believe without having to demonize those people. There are a number of rational and morally consistent views on this issue. I don’t agree with most of them, but I can understand why people would accept those ideas instead of agreeing with me. Most people are not the monsters which your rhetoric right now makes them out to be.
— Here’s the position which is most popular right now: “Those who disagree with me about this issue are evil and stupid. I hate them all and they should die.”
And here’s what’s not so popular: “I think the people who disagree with me about this issue are mistaken, but their views must make sense from their point of view. Their intentions are probably just as honorable as mine are. I wonder how we can live peacefully with each other despite our strongly differing views?”
If you’re taking the popular and easy approach, you’re part of the problem, no matter which side you’re on.
— It baffles me that so many people are eager to insist that their political views must be forced on everyone — at the same time they complain about others trying to force their views on them. Why can’t they see this contradiction? Both sides of this debate are hypocrites about some issues — and they mostly seem blind to this fact.
— Progressives were acting Friday as though abortion was being outlawed in the country, but this wasn’t the case. All this decision says is that the U.S. Constitution is silent on the issue, so states have the right to allow abortion or ban it, just as they make a million other decisions — different from state to state — to control your lives.
— If Democrats want to pass a law requiring abortion access nationally, there is nothing stopping them. There’s nothing in the new Supreme Court decision that would stop it. The feds control all sorts of things nationally — often by claiming they’re regulating interstate commerce — and it would be trivial for Democrats to pass such legislation right now. Joe Biden would be happy to sign it.
— Those who keep claiming that the decision Friday was religious people trying to force them to obey their religion are delusional. If you believe that an unborn baby is a human being — as many, many people do — then this is no more about religion that it is when we have laws banning the murder of a child who’s just been born. Religious people tend to believe this more strongly, but many of the people who oppose abortion do so for reasons which have nothing to do with religion. Stop lying to yourself.
— I want to hate a lot of the people whose toxic rhetoric I’m seeing right now. I want to assume they’re just as stupid and vile and toxic as they appear to be. Part of me wants to lash out at them in anger. But I know this is wrong. It doesn’t solve anything. I know that there are things about them which I don’t understand — just as there are things about me which they don’t understand.
There’s already been enough hate and anger. Those never achieve anything. Sometimes, all I can do is try to love those who seem unlovable — and hope they can offer me the same grace.
There are plenty of times when I’m not loving enough. I know I should be, but I’m far too human. (I wrote about this not long ago.)
Unfortunately, I know that this is going to be a political and social tidal wave — as I also wrote about recently — not something that reasonable people will discuss and solve.
This is going to be used for political purposes. Republicans have used the issue for fundraising and campaigning for years (and will continue to do the same). Democrats are about to do the same thing on a large scale. These candidates don’t care about you. They simply want you money and your vote.
I wish people would decide to be reasonable and pragmatic and moral and loving. But I know better. We’re in for a bumpy ride. It’s just one more step on the long way to the national breakup which looms on the horizon.
Good luck with that. You can’t say you haven’t been warned. Repeatedly.