[personal profile] wingedbeast
Content note: Discussion of abortion, pro-life politics, and the recent act of terrorism at a Colorado Planned Parenthood

In the story of The Wind and the Sun, the two characters have a disagreement over which is more powerful, force or gentleness. They decide to have a competition. A single person is walking along a road, wearing a coat. The one that can get the person to take off the coat will win. The wind blows harder and harder and colder and colder and the person only holds tighter and tighter to the coat. The sun shines and warms up the area and the person takes off the coat.

That's the bare bones, there are better tellings.

That's also the basic problem I see with the pro-life movement. (Pro-life movement, here defined as those who want to criminalize abortion.) They choose force over gentleness and rarely even allow gentleness to enter mind. The force of law, the force of emotional manipulation, the force of shaming. Even the ostensibly gentle method of a pregnancy crisis center is commonly filled with lies, manipulations, half-truths, and broken promises; force in the clothing of gentleness.

I've proposed gentler methods as means to the end of abortions that don't happen, when otherwise they would. Universal Pre-K, stronger social safety net including SNAP and WIC, higher min-wage, and the most obvious standard of comprehensive sex ed, the response is anywhere from resistant to hostile. I'm told that it's important to stop the abortions from happening (to save the lives of innocent babies as goes their rhetoric), but not so important that it merits taxation (or steeling from the rich as per their rhetoric). Such would be socialism, which would beggar us as a nation, because we'd be paying those lazy people not to work, when it's their responsibility alone to make moral decisions, regardless of conditions.

Part of this focus on force comes from subtler element of force. "Murder" "Holocaust" "selfish" "innocent babies". This rhetoric serves two purposes. Firstly, it helps keep people engaged through heightened emotions. Emotions are high, the thrill of defeating the evil is high, the volume of voices is high.

That leads into what may be the more important part. The rhetoric helps keep the members of the cause from listening to the opposition. After all, if they support infant murder in the womb, there can't be anything else of note to what they say. Therefore, there's no need to really listen to them, even in order to come up with a better argument.

The result is a subculture that views force as applicable in all levels and gentleness as only acceptable on small scale. Yes, they'll say that they've hosted teenagers who were pregnant in order to help them through the process and eventual adoption, but they'll still not argue that such an effort should be taken on a national scale or without the conditions of religious devotion and manipulation.

When you are only allowed various kinds of hammer for your tool, it is important that all problems be culturally understood to be nails.

The end of all of this is a culture that only looks to force to deal with its issues and that cannot view people as people. The opposition isn't people who disagree in good conscience, but monsters who want to kill babies. The doctors aren't people providing a service, but murderers who get rich off their craft. And, of course, the women who choose to have abortions aren't people in sets of conditions, making the best decision they can for themselves and their families, but selfish caricatures.

But, through all of that, there's one tool that's easy at hand. It's a tool that doesn't take much thought because thought, long term planning, game theory, aren't a part of the rhetoric. Complexity is a lie, force is at hand.

With that end, can anybody claim to be honestly surprised at what happened this past Friday?

Fred Clark has made the point that taking hostages and killing people is the logical extension of the rhetoric that I mentioned. If you actually believed that you were in the midst of a holocaust and that you could stop even part of that by killing a few people and giving up your freedom, doing so would be the logical course of action*.

I'll add on that, when you promote a culture in which the only means of accomplishing anything is by gripping the world tighter in your hand and using more power to pound it into moral shape, you shouldn't be surprised to find that some people use the tools at their avail.

* http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2015/11/28/the-awkward-ritual-of-having-to-condemn-violence-by-people-who-believe-your-own-rhetoric-about-satanic-baby-killers/
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