Shouting “Abortion!” in a crowded blogosphere

No, human rights — including womens’ rights — are not like free speech rights which some (though not I) believe can and should be legally curtailed in the interest of the so-called “greater good”.

In fact, the state’s prerogative to impose its will ends where my uterus begins.

Human Rights — including women’s rights — are non-negotiables: the benighted who walk among us may privately agonize over the rights of others all they want.  But in the interest of maintaining those rights, they’d be well-advised to keep their inner conflicts to themselves, particularly in the face of an imminent threat to said rights.  There is no valid “nuanced” position when it comes to human rights, and anyone who disagrees has never had theirs “up for debate”.

It is mindblowing in the extreme that some people can’t understand how completely and utterly, dumptruck-full-of-dirty-assholes offensive this whole “Debate My Rights” thing really is.

48 Responses to “Shouting “Abortion!” in a crowded blogosphere”

  1. 1 fern hill Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I’m worn out at the moment (see DJ! over last couple of days). But I’m not sure I’d have anything more to say if I weren’t than ‘Brava!’

  2. 2 Beijing York Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I’m so tired of having to fight this battle, over and over again, in these past five years. But to see so-called ‘progressives’ jump on board with the conservative retrogrades in this faux scientific and philosophical debate is infuriating.

  3. 3 JJ Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Hi fern hill 😎
    I’ve been offline most of the last couple of days trying to fix my computer which had become intolerably sluggish. I was just intermittently checking DJ & didn’t see anything Ka-boomy, so when I got back online late last night I was shocked to say the least to see PBs full of posts about this thing.
    Though I found it funny/sad that this was what it took to get the anti-M312 blogburst I tweeted about a few days ago

  4. 4 Dana Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:08 am

    If they’re progressives the word has no meaning.

  5. 5 JJ Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Well that’s the thing, Beijing.

    I’m the last person to discourage contrarian opinions, since I hold a few myself 😉 But not when it comes to human rights: on that I’m 110% progressive.

    I was sort of hoping everyone at PBs would, if not get on board, at least not make a big deal about supporting the idea of debating our rights.

  6. 6 JJ Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Hi Dana
    Like I told Beijing, I’m the last to discourage contrarian views — usually I enjoy them. But human rights, of which women’s rights are necessarily a huge part, are not something that should be “debated”. When it comes to human rights, there’s a right side and a wrong side, and it’s disappointing to see some progs get on the wrong side.

  7. 7 Orwell's Bastard (@orwellsbastard) Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Hey, can you ignorant hysterical feminazi sluts keep it down in there? We’re trying to have a Calm, Reasonable debate about whether your uteruses should be state property …

  8. 9 JJ Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 11:28 am

    BTW, thanks for your posts on this topic… well said

  9. 10 Scotian Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Basic human rights start at being able to control your own body and protect it from unreasonable harm from outside, this is as true for males as it is for females, it is not the fault of women that biology left them with all the physiological repercussions and consequences of procreation, but since they must bear that consequence they also must have the right to deal with thy as they see fit since it is their bodies, QED. Why that is so hard for so many to grasp/understand is something I have never understood. As I have sad in the past I personally have a lot of discomfort with abortion, but I have ALWAYS been ARDENTLY pro-choice politically because it is the only possible way for there to be and believe/practice true equal rights between men and women. It really is that simple. Since this blew up I’ve left supporting comments at Dave’s, DJ, and Rev’s, and now here. I’m even considering writing a post at Saundrie on this point because I find it so important and basic an issue, and I’ve been essentially inactive there for a year or more. In any event, chalk me up here as one more solidly on the correct side of this nonsense.

  10. 11 JJ Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I’m going to add a link to your post if its okay with you

  11. 12 JJ Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Scotian
    Many people are personally uncomfortable with the idea of abortion, but in that case they are not obliged to have one. Problem solved. It’s possible to be “personally uncomfortable” or even “personally opposed” without believing the government needs to step in and regulate them. That’s the crux of this shitstorm: that some people can’t deal with the idea that women and doctors could make these decisions without the “help” of the Law. Because every other country has one!

    It doesn’t occur to them that Canada might be ahead of the curve, while other countries are mired in the muck of old ways based on religious doctrine. Canada has had this fortunate opportunity to test the legitimacy of abortion laws, and the results show that the laws are redundant and ridiculous.

  12. 13 Orwell's Bastard (@orwellsbastard) Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Link yourself silly, dear. Just don’t frighten the horses.

  13. 14 cityprole Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    You just know I agree with you in principle, but…Let me just play devil’s advocate here and point out that this discussion has become the death knell for the Cons everywhere in N.America…and that’s just fine with me..women are flocking to the alternatives, again, good news..
    Anybody wanna fight?
    After all, someone once said that the worst thing you can do to an enemy is point out that they are screwing up…
    I don’t see the Taliban North going too much farther in this lifetime…

  14. 15 Scotian Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Yes, it is sort of like “if every other country shot itself would you say we must do the same too” kind of reasoning. You and I both watched this fight actually get dealt with a quarter century back and the resolution was one that most Canadians felt was reasonable even then, and it certainly was in line with the Charter, so for the vast majority of Canadians that was it. It is only the fringe percentage of the population aside form the seriously religious that want to revisit this issue, and we in this country do not tend to let religious belief dictate public policy anymore, we have had too many examples in our history of how that can horribly wrong in both English and French Canada.

    I mean really, why is the concept that the first and most basic human right is the right to control your own body so hard for so many to understand? Not to mention if women’s biology gives them 100% of the consequences of procreation then it only follows they get 100% of the rights too, Women get all the responsibility in every other aspect of pregnancy so why isn’t it an obvious connect that they get it here? I mean really, there is no good reason to place the government between a woman and her body, and I remember all the holocaust horror predictions we would see once abortion became legal and yet I haven’t seen an abortion clinic on every corner like I remember being warned about (as I ‘m, sure you do as well JJ).

    Seriously JJ, this gets really old really fast for me and I’m male…I shudder to think/feel how it is for women having to put up with this idiocy time and time again. At the least I can stand behind them with my open support, as I have always done.

  15. 16 JJ Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Interesting point.

    I have long said that Harpie wouldn’t go anywhere near either of the 2 big human rights “social issues”, abortion & equal marriage, no matter how many dog whistles he allows his MPs to put out there.

    The only way he managed to get a majority after 5 years was by appearing more “centrist” than conservative. A move to the right (esp the extreme, teabagger right, as personified by any interest in social issues) would be toxic to the moderates who put him over the top last election. Why would he sweat for a majority for 5 years, finally get it, and then throw it away to please a constituency he already has a lock on — socons?

    It would appear that I’m right when it comes to marriage. Socons have given up on it, even they realize that society has moved on. But abortion is another thing: it will always be a fight, because there are too many so-called “liberals” who have socially conservative views on it. And too many people can’t think of it without internalizing it (“this is what I’d do if it was me”), and think it’s valid to impose their internalized views on others.

    The biggest threat to abortion rights isn’t conservatives, who have to be careful lest they lose their majority, it’s liberals who bolster the conservative position. This is why people (esp. feminists) are so angry right now about some “progressive” bloggers giving voice to their inner conflicts about the issue. Timing is everything: how about at least waiting until after Motion 312 is history, and we know our rights are secure?

  16. 17 cityprole Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Well, have to say that more or less backs up what I’m saying; those sheeple who think that the federal Libs are somehow “progressive” need to realize’s part of the reason that coalition is /would be a short term disaster..and the Cons know it..let’s say, they were in Opposition next time (please!) all they would do is torture the right-wing Libs trying to push forward anti-abortion crap to break them up..and it would work.
    Goes to show that the only progressive Liberal is one that crosses the floor to the NDP..and I am, and always will be suspicious of those who use current polls to decide their position…
    Liberals who are leaning to the Right will always go with their own opinions, rather than what their constituency thinks..

  17. 18 JJ Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 8:46 am

    LOL – That was my first thought when I read that lame argument: if Europe jumped off a bridge, would Canada do it too?

    The problem here is that too many people buy into the “legal right up until the moment of birth!!!!11!!” baloney. While that may be true in an absolute sense, it doesn’t follow that just because there’s no law against it, women are aborting “right up until the moment of birth”. You know, it’s legal to drink battery acid, but nobody does it.

    Unfortunately, too many people believe that unless there’s a “Law” against something, people will go hog-wild doing that thing, and the only thing that can stop them is a “Law”. (Never mind that Laws don’t stop people from smoking pot, nor would the absence of a law cause a spike in pot-smoking.) Some people really believe that women are so ethically-challenged that we would decide to abort at 36 weeks because we want to fit into a bikini on our vacation, and that there’s no shortage of doctors who’d provide the service.

    You have to wonder how people who believe such pap view women and doctors.

  18. 19 pale Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Hey JJ.

    Totally agree. Of course.
    Our lack of abortion laws and much better sex education policies and access to birth control have been a great help in so many aspects.
    They hate to admit that because of those things we have lower teen pregnancy rates, women who can actually regulate their own reproductive lives, and thus a lower abortion rate than countries that criminalize it is simply natural. And women aren’t dying here either.
    Because of the lack of a law, most abortions happen safely, and early. The late ones are self regulated, and only happen for pretty good reasons, and that is the woman’s decision anyway. We do have the capacity to think.

    The ones who wish to “discuss” have not acknowledged any of these facts, nor the repercussions of the “fetal personhood” laws. They just merrily think that Woodwoth isn’t going to load the deck for this “discussion” and he’s not going to do what the Rethugs have been doing in the US.

    Naive. Stoopid, And quite franky it smacks of male privilege. It isn’t their rights being bandied about and decided by fat white assholes.

  19. 20 JJ Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I’m totally non-partisan, but that’s one reason I think the NDP is far more legit in a progressive sense than the Libs. The Liberal Party is infested with socons: at one point, about 1/4 of sitting Liberals were socons 👿 A couple of them have even tabled anti-choice bills (Paul Szabo, I’m looking at you) 😯

  20. 21 fhg1893 Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 9:38 am

    if Europe jumped off a bridge, would Canada do it too?

    Unfortunately, the answer to that question seems to be “ussually.” Consider the Eco-fascist race to the bottom, and the ecological disaster that is the Province of Ontario…

    I think that what you should try to understand about the right in this particular case, is that most of them probably have babies, or children and since they see themselves as good parents, they consider themselves very attached, and extremely protective of their children. And that protective instinct probably extends to other people’s children to some degree, and by extension, to pregnant women as well. They would never dream of harming a child – the very idea triggers some of the strongest instincts that human beings have – , and to some degree, they see the fetus in a woman’s uterus as a child. There’s no way to reconcile abortion without acknowledging that on some level, something human is being put to death.

    I’m not trying to legitimize their fear-mongering, threats, and general craziness, I’m trying to put a very human face to the anti-abortion movement. As I’ve said, I’m not comfortable with the idea, BUT, in a society of laws, as difficult as it may be, we must ultimately respect the rights of those who bear the risk.

    I say all of this because I think that the left would be more effective if it would be willing to raise the level of discourse, and take the effort to understand the underlying currents that have siezed the right in this case.

  21. 22 JJ Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Hi pale 🙂

    Well said.
    I don’t know how they square their insistence that we need a “Law” with the lower worldwide rates you reference plus statistics that show abortion rates in Canada alone continually falling over the last 20 years — all without a law.

    However, there are some authoritarian types who never met a law they didn’t love, and the LPC is crawling with them. IMO, why have a law you don’t need, when all it would do is codify the status quo but would also allow anti-choicers to get a foot in the door to more restrictions?

    There is a reason they don’t understand the threat of “fetal personhood” legislation: because they’re on board with it, regardless of the unintended consequences to abortion rights in general.

  22. 23 fhg1893 Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Not to derail things, but I think there’s a shiny thing that needs some examination and speechifying over here:

  23. 24 JJ Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Yep, you’re right: that’s what I mean by “internalizing”. You know, we’ve all been talking to someone and they go “But I wouldn’t do that”… so what? 😆 What one person would or wouldn’t do has no meaning in the context of what the State should allow everyone to do. It’s frustrating when people start arguing like that, but it is reality as you say.

    I understand where anti-choicers are coming from (although I vehemently disagree — a human being does not a person make). However, I find their position somewhat hypocritical.

    ie. ask any one of them the question “If you were in a lab that caught fire and you had the choice of saving one 5-year-old child or a tray of 10 embryos, but not both, which would you choose?” and things get pretty uncomfortable. If an embryo is = to a 5-year-old kid as they claim, logically the right choice would be to save the tray of 10 embryos and let the 5-year-old burn. Yet nobody in their right mind gives that answer. So, I find most anti-choice arguments a little specious and dumb. They don’t really mean it. All the more evidence that the anti-abortion position is really about punishing women for indulging their sexuality.

  24. 25 JJ Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Ezra’s just stirring the pot. No doctor can be compelled by the state to perform any surgery he/she doesn’t want to. They get around it with something called a “referral”.

  25. 26 fern hill Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Punishment, yeah. I posted this old link somewhere else today. “Pro-Life” Poster Boy. The rancidness exposed.

    BTW, I love the title of this post.

  26. 27 fhg1893 Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I’m not so sure. If Alison Redford means to compel Doctors who object to perform abortions to be compelled to perform abortions, I think that might well be significant.

    Of course, I have to try to stay honest and acknowledge that it is a political campaign, and what’s said on the campaign trail might well be meaningless. Especially if the PC’s lose as badly as Ezra is suggesting they’re going to lose.

  27. 28 fhg1893 Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 10:29 am

    logically the right choice would be to save the tray of 10 embryos and let the 5-year-old burn.

    Enh. I’m not so sure that you can conclude this, but I think maybe there would be a better, more illustrative example for the point you’re trying to make. Care to give that another go?

    They don’t really mean it. All the more evidence that the anti-abortion position is really about punishing women for indulging their sexuality.

    Hmm. Given what we know of religious fundamentalism I’m open to this idea, but not entirely convinced. I suppose that I could see this current in the context of the Catholic church. But, trying to remain impartial on this point, I think it’s on you to provide something a little more concrete. I want something a little stronger than your say so. As you know, I don’t tend to run with the pro-lifers much, so this is as much a confession of my own ignorance as anything else. So… Anyway, have you got something I could sink my intellectual teeth into? I’m honestly curious to see if I can detect that same motivation.

  28. 29 cityprole Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Kinda sad isn’t it, when part of the definition of progressive becomes a politician who will actually carry out the wishes of the constituency he or she represents…ala Nathan Cullen, yer guy, in reference to the gun registry..

  29. 30 mikebrock Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Let me preface by saying that I am 100% in support of a woman’s right to choose. Her body is her own property, and the state has no business there. I’m a pretty radical libertarian like that, so I shouldn’t need much qualification.

    But: “No, human rights — including womens’ rights — are not like free speech rights”

    I’m curious, just for the point of philosophical discussion as to why these things are different kinds of rights. They’re certainly different kinds of things; passing wind over my windpipe is mechanically and environmentally much different than having a fetus grow inside you.

    But on the other hand, freedom of association is different from freedom of speech, too. But these rights are given equal weight in our law.

    Anyways, you bold this point: “Human Rights — including women’s rights — are non-negotiables”.

    I agree with this. But you started off your blogpost by seemingly downgrading freedom of speech from the status of “human rights”, since you seemingly have cast it aside as a right worthy of equal protection to a woman’s right to choose.

    As a libertarian, I hold freedom of speech in equal absolute to that of a woman’s right to control her own body. I can cleanly define the philosophy that drives this definition of human rights, and thus my invocation of these principles in absolute is self-consistent.

    But you’ve stated an absolute, including women’s sovereignty over their body, and in my opinion, with insufficient philosophical distinction, simply cast freedom of speech/expression out of this immutable mold you’ve created.

    Certainly, there are many neoconservative “free speech” activists in this country who are equally guilty of selectively acknowledging people’s rights to suit their worldview. But that is just, in my opinion, another side to the coin of progressives doing the same.

    So if the definition of a human right is constrained to a black and white condition (ie. you have it or you don’t), then I must assume, to extrapolate your position, using your own reasoning and your separate and explicit categorization of free speech as “not the same” as other human rights, that what you’re saying is, to put it succinctly: free speech is not a human right.

  30. 31 bleatmop Monday, April 9, 2012 at 1:57 am

    I have to side with Redford on this one. Should health professionals whose religion tells them blood transfusions are wrong be allowed to refuse to do a blood transfusion? How about immunizations? What about people who think birth control is wrong? Should we allow them to not prescribe birth control? Rip out IUD’s?

    I think the most reasonable option is to say, let them refer if they can, but if they can’t find a referring doctor, such as in remote rural areas, lets not let our health professionals’ religion et al. to decide the personal choices of an entire community.

  31. 32 fhg1893 Monday, April 9, 2012 at 4:04 am

    If this is the case in Alberta, then might I humbly suggest that this debate is going to happen, whether the progressive bloggers like it or not.

    Further, I strongly suggest that you are going to have to avoid hiding behind the SCC decision. The reason I say this is that a number of Harper initiatives are almost certainly going to end up before the Supreme Court, and they’re being brought about in such a way that the Court will probably have no choice but to hear the cases, and this may well extend to the abortion issue, even if Harper doesn’t do anything about it, and it’s all Alberta.

    Consider C-19, and Quebec’s tantrum. I’ve said it many moons ago, and it looks like my prediction is going to come true. It’s going to the Supreme Court, and a previous decision would have the Court inclined to side against the Harper government, and this wouldn’t be the first time.

    Sorry to the bearer of bad news, but I’ve got a feeling this thing is about to explode back into the spotlight, whether or not Stephen Woodward’s motion goes anywhere. Just look at what’s happened on the progressive bloggers…

  32. 33 fhg1893 Monday, April 9, 2012 at 5:52 am

    There’s an assumption that is floating around this issue that I’d like to challenge in a somewhat novel, and hopefully interesting way. I want to preface this by saying that in no way am I seeking to change the current status quo, rather, I want to have interesting thoughts about this interesting idea I’ve had. I like things that are interesting, sue me.

    The assumption is this: because men don’t get pregnant, they don’t really have a say in the abortion issue – they don’t get to control what happens in a woman’s body.

    But that’s a little narrow isn’t it?

    I’m probably out to lunch here, but the issue of bodily autonomy in this case is hopelessly tangled up with reproduction, or rather, with life its self. What I mean by this is that when it comes to raising children, and guiding what kind of society we should have, only the most radical of radical feminists would argue that men don’t have a say. Quite the contrary, I would suggest that men actually should perhaps have a disproportionate say in guiding affairs. And I say this not to diminish women, but because of what society demands exclusively of men that it does not demand of women. And this demand is intimately tied up with life, that is, the demand for death. Every country in the world if faced with annhilation would institute conscription if said annhilation could possibly be prevented by doing so. And contained within conscription is the idea that men shall die first. Men are exclusively called upon to make the supreme sacrifice to protect the locus of life, the bodies and lives of women and children. This is a reality that I accepted as a boy, and it is a responsibility that I accept as a man. This responsibilty exists on a personal level, and it exists on a national level. If my family is threatened, I shall risk life and limb to protect them. If I am able, I will to my dying breath do everything in my power to protect them from harm and violence. At a national level, if all of society is threatened with harm and violence, then I shall be compelled to don a uniform and possibly to make the same sacrifice to protect all of society. It isn’t really a choice for me, I have no say. And indeed, when the proverbial barbarians are at the gate, I have every reason to believe that women in general will have no shame when they demand that I get out there and die if necessary. We men cannot make the same demand of women – if we do, then our society its self will surely perish. And this reality is not up for debate, cannot be debated. A society that does not protect women and children first is finished, pure and simple. A society that does not put a premium on the life and safety of a pregnant woman is finished all the more, because we know that there are two lives at stake, not just one. And therefore, there might be cause from this perspective to say to women, that as the bearers of life that under normal circumstances, they must do their duty in the same way that men must do their respective duty.

    Since therefore, the exclusive burden of being called upon to die to defend society, then might I humbly suggest that we men do in fact have a dog in this fight afterall? Might I suggest that the state being made of of men, the defenders and sacrficers of life, and women, the loci and bearers of life does in fact have a vested interest in the status a woman’s uterus, no matter how personally offensive that might be?

    Now, please remember that I’m not in the pro-life camp. I’ve never run with that group, and I still think that the ultimate choice must rest with the risk-bearer – the woman. As I said at the beginning, I want to have interesting, and hopefully somewhat compelling thoughts about this. Quite sincerely, all I want to do is have a good long philosophical think about this one.

  33. 34 jimbotex Monday, April 9, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Hey, JJ. I lost the ability to access my blogger account (and I’m reluctant to create a new one), so I can’t comment over at this guy’s blog. I was wondering if you could pass this message to him:

    The state has no business sticking its nose in womens’ personal medical decisions. If you think some government bureaucrat is better suited to making these kinds of decisions than women and their doctors, you don’t think much of women and doctors.

    So tell me, how do statements like this:

    Prior to being born, in the last trimester, a fetus should have some degree of individual protection as it is becoming a full person.

    not suggest that you believe some government bureaucrat is better suited to making these kinds of decisions than women and their doctors?

    I guess you don’t think much of women and doctors.

    If you do, could you say that it’s from “A Friend South of the Border”?


  34. 35 jimbotex Monday, April 9, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Speaking of “punishing women,” it seems that asking fetus fetishists what punishment they would mete out to the woman getting the abortion is something of a logic bomb for them.

    (J. A. Baker)

  35. 36 JJ Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Hi Mike
    Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been insanely busy 😯

    You’re very perceptive. Let me first say that I do consider free speech a human right, equal to abortion rights (or any other human rights). In fact I had originally planned to write this post from an angle more like “Womens’ rights and free speech rights are alike, but not for the reason you think: they’re alike because it’s wrong to limit either”.

    But, I thought that might take the focus off abortion rights and add a secondary debate about free speech among progressives. As you no doubt know, a lot of progressives, the same people who oppose abortion restrictions, are not opposed to limiting free speech. And frankly, this was a debate I wasn’t really up for, having locked horns with progressives over a few other issues recently. So instead I tried to *quietly* indicate that I felt it was also wrong to limit free speech by adding the bracketed “though not I” in the first sentence. That way, I hoped, readers would stay focused on one issue.

    But you’re right, it was kind of a clumsy approach because it ends up looking like I consider free speech a “lesser” right, which I don’t. It might have been a more interesting post (and certainly a more debated post) if I’d stuck with my original perspective, but, well, I have to admit it: I wimped out. I’ve been called a PINO enough for this year 😛

  36. 37 JJ Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    fhg, you’re not always the bearer of bad news. At least from this progressive’s perspective 😉

  37. 38 JJ Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    hi bleatmop

    Whenever the expression “conscience rights” comes up, I can’t help thinking it’s a lot of paranoid agitprop from extremist religious wingnuts, mostly the product of the visions they get while in the throes of a persecution high.

    The fact is, most people know what’s expected out of them before they embark on a career, and most of them are prepared to do whatever the job entails (including writing prescriptions for the pill if you’re a pharmacist, doing abortions if you’re a gynecologist, marrying gay couples if you’re a marriage commissioner, etc.) People who have legitimate objections to doing something can just refer the patient. If someone is such an extremist that they can’t even bear make a referral, then they’re clearly in the wrong business. As I’ve said before, Walmart is always hiring greeters.

  38. 39 JJ Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    fhg – I’d take anything that gets said on the campaign trail with a massive lump of salt.
    The one thing they can be compelled to do is to make a referral, and if they can’t even do that, they deserve to get the boot. The bible doesn’t say anything about making referrals.

  39. 40 JJ Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Hey! LTNS!
    I’ll see what I can do
    Sorry for the lateness, I’ve been busy in my yard burning fires of such deranged magnitude that I’m surprised the cops haven’t shown up yet 😛

  40. 41 JJ Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    No kidding.
    But that’s where hyperpartisanship takes you. Party before people!

  41. 42 cityprole Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Personally, I prefer to party WITH people, but hey, that’s just me…

  42. 43 JJ Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Hey troublemaker 😉

  43. 44 Terrence Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Hi jj,

    Like Mike, I had questions about how that distinction between speech rights and human rights was being drawn. I like your answer, but wanted to ask a follow-up question:

    I get that debating group X’s right to A is (or at least can be) morally offensive to those in X. And rightly so, on some level, since even posing the question “Does X have a right to A?” might suggest that maybe X does not have a right to A. The fact that the people raising the idea of a debate do not belong to group X just adds insult to injury.

    So I see where you and other people are coming from in pushing for an injunction forbidding that kind of debate, even if it runs counter to my general presumption, engendered in philosophy seminar rooms, that no questions should be completely off the table.

    At the same time, I’d like to know why that injunction does not extend to any debate looking into the question of whether some X has a right to some A.

    From what I can see, there are at least two explanations:

    (1) A debate over whether some X has a right to some A should be off the table if it is not possible to reasonably believe that X does not have a right to A.

    (2) A debate over whether some X has a right to some A should be off the table if the legal status of said right is under sustained attack from some influential faction in society.

    The main difference between (1) and (2) is this: (1) takes certain debates off the table permanently. (2) takes certain topics off the table temporarily, at least as long as the faction actually attacking the status of the right has sufficient influence to really threaten its status.

    I’ve seen people take both positions over the last week or so. Since I believe you a reasonable, non-partisan person, I’d like to know which of them, if any, sets the bounds of discourse in your view. Myself, I’m very uncomfortable with (1), for all the reasons J.S. Mill set out in On Liberty.

  44. 45 JJ Friday, April 13, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Hi Terrence
    In a nutshell, my position would be more in line with #2.

    Normally I’m pretty much “anything goes” when it comes to free speech/expression, offensiveness not an issue. There’s no right to *not* be offended, after all (though I’m pretty sure there are some who
    think they do have such a right).

    ie. Take the issue of anti-abortion protesters who wave gross signs around, or put up displays that compare abortion to the Holocaust. Some people think they shouldn’t be allowed to do this because they’re advocating limiting womens’ rights; some even consider it “hate speech”. I think it’s their right to protest however they see fit, even if (IMO) it makes them assholes. No law against being an asshole (yet). I’d be more inclined to respond to such protests with counter-protesting. My attitude towards speech I disagree with is usually “sunshine is the best disinfectant” and all that.

    This blowup at ProgBlogs is a different scenario. It isn’t just random hypothetical debating or navel-gazing or philosophizing. Normally I don’t get that excited about what people say — Gordie’s always running off at the mouth about how we need an abortion law, 21 posts about it by his own count, and I’ve never had an issue with it. But right now, there really IS a possibility that womens’ autonomy may be threatened as a result of the debate on Woodworth’s motion. So at this point, it’s not only tactless to suggest that the debate might be a good thing, it’s basically giving encouragement & at least passive support to the side that would radically restrict womens’ rights.

    However, when push came to shove, I wasn’t calling for a ProgBlog injunction against saying certain kinds of things. Just saying that these rights are absolutes and they are threatened right now, so let’s use some diplomacy before mouthing off. It’s possible be diplomatic without the right to free speech being squeezed.

    I hope that all made sense, I’m having trouble posting comments here for some reason (can’t see what I’m typing)

  45. 46 Terrence Friday, April 13, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Hi jj,

    Thanks for the cogent reply; it made perfect sense to me.

    There is probably a good distinction to be drawn between debate over abortion as such, and this particular debate, at this time, and advanced by Woodworth’s motion. That context does seem to matter, because it is the context that will largely determine the consequences.

    I was mostly responding to a few comments I’ve seen maintaining that the debate should never occur, because one side (theirs’) is right and everyone else is wrong.

    That kind of attitude is, in my view, extremely harmful to a free society in the long run, even when one side is completely in the right (which hardly ever happens, and even if it did, how would we know?)

    Liberalism is possible — and, indeed, necessary — only insofar as it is possible for reasonable people to arrive at different answers to important questions. That doesn’t mean every faction gets its way; it does mean we ought to hear them out before dismissing them.

  46. 47 JJ Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    “That doesn’t mean every faction gets its way; it does mean we ought to hear them out before dismissing them.”

    I agree 100%

  1. 1 Holiday Weekend Link Round-up (Or, Yes, I WAS too lazy to write something original. Deal.) « bastard.logic Trackback on Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

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