intersection

the Church, the State, and me

Lord, thou hast made us for thyself, therefore our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.
- St. Augustine of Hippo
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Posts tagged "culture"

Originally published in Touchstone, an essay by Prof. Anthony Esolen opposing same-sex marriage based on secular considerations:

Most people believe that the principal objections, or even the only objections, to the drive to legalize homosexual “marriage” spring from religious faith. But that is simply not true.  Beginning with this post I’ll offer ten objections that have nothing to do with any religion at all, except insofar as the great religions of the world happen to reflect the nature of mankind.  These objections spring from three sourcesThe first is a commonsense observation of man — his needs, his shortcomings, and his aspirations.  The second is a consideration of history: our own recent history, and the history of those who once committed the mistakes we are committing now. The last is logic, that relentlessly honest instrument of thought. The objections are such as should make everyone in our world uncomfortable, both those who call themselves conservative and are busy destroying the heritage of western civilization, and those who call themselves liberal and are busy curtailing and denying every freedom but that of the zipper.

1.  The legalization of homosexual “marriages” would enshrine the sexual revolution in law.

Forty years ago, we were advised by popular singers that we needed to open our hearts to love, meaning a free and easy practice of sexual intercourse, without what were called “hangups”.  Modesty was decried as prudishness, and chastity ridiculed as either impossible or hypocritical.  Experimentation abounded: the so-called “open marriages,” public intercourse, intercourse under the influence of psychedelic drugs.  A few of the experiments fizzled out for a time, though they are now resurging, as witness the sewer of websites devoted to “swingers.” The #### explosion shows no sign of abating, having been given its second life by the internet….

Is there any honest observer of our situation, or any political partisan so intransigent, who dares to argue that the results have not been disastrous?  We were told that the legalization of abortion would lead, paradoxically, to fewer abortions, and fewer instances of child abuse.  Instead it led to far more abortions than even the opponents ever imagined, and it so cheapened infant life that child abuse spiked sharply upward….

We were told that the legalization of contraceptive drugs would lead to fewer unwanted children — certainly to fewer children born out of wedlock.  Anyone with a passing familiarity with the human race should have known otherwise.  Whatever one may believe about contraception, one must admit the historical fact: by reducing the perceived risk of pregnancy almost to zero, contraception removed from the young woman the most powerful natural weapon in her arsenal against male sexual aggression.  She no longer had any pressing reason not to concede to the boyfriend’s wishes….

2.  It would, in particular, enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.

It is hard for us to imagine, in a world of mass entertainment and its consequent homogenization of peoples, how central an event the marriage is in every culture.  It marks the most joyful celebration of a people, who see their own renewal in the vows made by the young man and the young woman.  For although marriage focuses upon the couple (and it is interesting to remember that even our word focus is a marriage word, denoting in Latin the hearth), it does so because the couple embody a rejuvenation in which everyone, young and old, male and female, take part….

Of course [marriage] is personal and private: and it is public, and universal, even cosmic.  It bridges two chasms that must be bridged, lest the culture, that is the cultivation of all that a people most dearly cherish, wither away, and the people separate one from another, into a suspicious world of privacy.  One chasm is that which divides the generations.  At the true wedding, the elders know that the future belongs to the couple, who in their love that night, or on a night soon to come, will in turn raise up yet another generation.  Sexual intercourse is, as a brute biological fact, the act by which we renew mankind.  We celebrate the wedding because it betokens our survival, our hope for those to come after us.

But we could not have children without the bridge thrown over the more dangerous divide, that which separates two groups of human beings who seldom understand one another, whose bodies and psyches are so markedly different; who try to love one another, and so often fail, yet who try again for all that.  I mean men and women.  The wedding is a symbol of the union of differences: the generations, certainly, and separate families, but most strikingly, man and woman.  The very word sex derives from Latin sexus, denoting that which separates; it is cognate with a whole host of words for severance, such as (in English) schism, scissors, sect, shed.

What man and woman do in the marriage bed is not “have” sex; the sex, that is the separation, they are provided with already.  What they do is to unite, across the separation.  And unless man and woman unite — and, given their differences, it always amazes me that they can — the culture cannot survive.  The women will split away to protect their persons and their relatively few children; the unattached males will pass the dull hours in destruction.

3. It will drive a deeper wedge between man and woman.

The unhappy parting of man and woman that I have described in argument 2 is already a common feature of our day….

Perhaps the reader will ask what homosexuality has to do with this problem. It is simple: the acceptance of homosexuality is predicated upon the tacit assumption that male and female are not made for one another. It defines male apart from female, female apart from male; or it leaves those terms free-floating, without definition. Young men and young women already are growing up without understanding what they are to be for one another. Again, the results are predictable. Fewer young people marry.  When they do marry, their emphasis on personal fulfillment, rather than on interpersonal and complementary gifts, bodes ill for the survival of the marriage; for a spouse will destroy many a foolish daydream of youth. They will have fewer children. In no western country does the birth rate now assure even a replacement of one generation by the next; in many countries, the birth rate is so low as to constitute a slow and numb despair, a resignation to cultural suicide….

5. It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men….

Let me give you an analogy. Our sexual customs constitute a language, one that we must all use, whether we like it or not. If, all at once, clothing becomes optional on a certain beach, then that beach is a nude beach. If you wear your suit to that beach, your action has a meaning it did not have before. At the very least it means that you do not approve of public nudity. It may mean that you are ashamed of your body. It may mean that your religion forbids it. It may mean you are a prude. But it does signify something; and it must. You cannot say, “It means nothing to me,” simply because language is by its nature public and communal.  Suppose the incest taboo were removed. You may say, “I will hug and kiss my niece in any case,” but your actions will now have a significance they did not have before. The shadow of the thought must cross any beholder’s mind; it might cross the niece’s mind. If you were at all considerate of her feelings, you would hesitate before you did it.

The incest taboo is surely not irrational: it allows members of a family the freedom to share each other’s company, in what might otherwise be often embarrassing circumstances, and to touch, in ways that would mean something, were it not a brother or an aunt giving the kiss. On pain of expulsion from the group, that taboo must be upheld, so that the deep feelings and intimacy of a family may develop freely and sanely….

Not so long ago, it was conceivable to suppose that two men might share an apartment merely as close friends; if Oscar and Felix of The Odd Couple did the same thing now, homosexuality would be the first thing to cross your mind, whether you support the homosexual agenda or reject it. One of my students related to me an incident that happened to him in a bar. His closest buddy had been abandoned by his girlfriend, and was weeping freely as the young man cradled his head in his arms. A young lady walked up to them and chirpily asked them if they were gay.

The effect upon boys is devastating; it is hard for women to understand it. Their own friendships come easily, and in general are not based upon shared conquest, physical or intellectual. It is simply an anthropological fact that male friendship is essential for the full development of the boy’s intellect: the history of every society reveals it. But now the boys suffer under a terrible pincers attack. The sexual revolution causes them to rouse themselves to interest, or to pretend to interest, in girls long before they or the girls are emotionally or intellectually ready for it; and now the condonement of homosexuality prevents them from publicly preferring the company of their own sex. This is simply inarguable….

6. It leaves us with no logical grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.

No culture in history has accepted (even celebrated!) homosexual acts between adult men or adult women. (I will deal with the case of Athens in a later post; it is lethal to the homosexual cause.) But plenty of cultures have accepted polygamy, or, more appropriately, polygyny, the marriage of one man to several wives. Certain religions allow it or encourage it: Islam allows a man to have up to four wives, and radical Mormonism is, as I understand it, even more generous….

What grounds could we possibly have to deny people the opportunity to marry more than one person? If we establish as a matter of law that marital relations are free to any two people who consent, why limit the number to two? Polygyny, after all, is much easier to justify than are homosexual relations: it does not violate the biology of the people involved; it brings forth many children; it preserves the ideal of the union of male and female. But what would happen if the door were opened to polygyny? Would we not find ourselves, almost overnight, in a world utterly different from the one into which we were born? Nor would it be enough to say to oneself, “I do not believe in it; I will never marry another.” What about one’s spouse? What about the members the opposite sex whom you may happen to meet? In every culture that allows polygyny, the pressure of the possibility of dalliance and marriage, no matter who you are (for it turns married men instantly into eligible bachelors), compels the severest separation of roles for men and women. Is that what we want?

On what grounds could we deny any combination of people who wish to “marry”?…

Read the whole essay.

From Brendan O’Neill for spiked.com (U.K.), a thought-provoking essay on who is pushing for same-sex marriage:

Nothing in the gay-marriage debate adds up. Nothing. For example, gay-marriage rights are presented as a radical rallying cry on a par with the struggles for women’s suffrage or black civil rights, and yet they’re enthusiastically backed by such superbly un-radical institutions as The Times, Goldman Sachs and David Cameron. Politicians say they must do ‘the right thing’ on gay marriage, just as earlier politicians eventually did the right thing on giving women the vote, neglecting to mention that there has been absolutely no sustained public agitation, no leaping in front of the Queen’s horse, for the right of gays to get hitched. Self-selected gay spokespeople present this effort as the logical conclusion to their 60-odd years of campaigning for equality, overlooking the fact that a great many gay activists once saw marriage and the family as problems, and demanded recognition of their right to live outside of those institutions….

Given its surreality, it is remarkable that so many intelligent people are taking the gay-marriage issue at face value, seriously saying ‘Yes, I fully support the enactment of this long-traduced historic right’. What they should be doing is asking why gay marriage is an issue at all and untangling how it came to be a defining battleground in the modern Culture Wars. Because it strikes me that what is happening here is that, under the cover of ‘expanding equality’, we are really witnessing the instinctive consolidation of a new class, of a new political set, which, lacking the familiar moral signposts of the past, has magicked up a non-issue through which it might define itself and its values.

The reason the gay-marriage issue can feel like it came from nowhere, and is now everywhere, is because it is an entirely top-down, elite-driven thing. The true driving force behind it is not any real or publicly manifested hunger amongst homosexual couples to get wed, far less a broader public appetite for the reform of the institution of marriage; rather it is the need of the political and media class for an issue through which to signify its values and advertise its superiority. Gay marriage is not a real issue – it is a cultural signifier, like wearing a pink ribbon to show you care about breast cancer….

One of the most striking things about gay marriage is the disparity between mass feeling for the issue (which is best described as weak to non-existent) and elite passion for it (which is intense). All sorts of elite institutions, from political parties to massive corporations, are lining up to back the gay-marriage ‘cause’, clearly having sensed that it is the issue through which their kind can now make a display of their sanctity. So not only are old-world, conservative media institutions such as The Times and right-wing parties like the Conservatives declaring their support for gay marriage, so is the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein. He has become a spokesman for one of America’s largest gay-rights group, appearing in its adverts to say ‘I support marriage equality’.

Gay marriage is clearly looked upon as an opportunity to demonstrate ‘true statesmanship’ at a time when other opportunities to do so are few and far between for our aloof rulers.

The transformation of gay marriage into a barometer of moral decency explains why the debate about it is so shot through with censoriousness and condemnation. That is another striking difference between the old genuinely democratic reformers and today’s gay-marriage supporters – where the proper reformers were in favour of openness and debate, the gay-marriage lobby seems far more keen to stifle dissent. As a writer for the Guardian put it, ‘There are some subjects that should be discussed in shades of grey, with acknowledgement of subtleties and cultural differences. Same-sex marriage is not one of those. There is a right answer.’ This is clearly not a political issue as we would once have understood it, where different views clash and compete for support; rather it is more akin to a new religious stricture, where the aim is to distinguish between those who are Good (the elite enthusiasts for gay marriage) and those who Bad (the people who oppose or can’t get excited about it)….

But even in its own terms, gay marriage is a bad idea, for many reasons. Primarily because, while it is presented to us as a wonderfully generous act of cultural elevation (of gay couples), it is more importantly a thoughtless act of cultural devaluation (of traditional marriage). An institution entered into by millions of people for quite specific reasons – often, though not always, for the purpose of procreation – is being casually demoted, with the Lib-Con government even proposing that the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ no longer be used in official documents. The overnight Orwellian airbrushing of two such longstanding titles from public records demonstrates the extent to which the elite is willing to ride roughshod over traditional identities in pursuit of its own new identity as gay-friendly and moral.

Now, perhaps you think the institution of marriage should be devalued, that it is stuffy and conservative and in need of an overhaul. Fine. Then argue for that, openly and honestly. But no one benefits from the charade of gay marriage. The fact is that marriage is not simply about co-habitation or partnership; it is not even simply about having an intense relationship. It has historically been about much more – about creating a unit, with its own rules, that is recognised by the state and society as a distinctive union often entered into for the purpose of raising a new generation. Yes, some couples enter into it for other reasons – for companionship, larks, a party or whatever – but we are not talking about individuals’ motives here; we are talking about the meaning of an institution. Collapsing together every human relationship, so that everything from gay love to a Christian couple who want to have five kids is homogenised under the term ‘marriage’, benefits no one. It doesn’t benefit gay couples, whose ‘marriage’ will have little historic depth or meaning, and it doesn’t benefit currently married couples, some of whom may feel a corrosion of their identity….

Read it all.

It’s not enough that the Journal of Medical Ethics published a paper on the ethical underpinnings of infanticide–the editors involved are now justifying the decision to publish and are outraged (outraged, I tell you) and “disturbed” that they are receiving passionate, sometimes rude, responses to that publication. (Infanticide is apparently something to be considered “rationally” but abusive language calls for immediate condemnation–go figure).

Two responses have appeared; one by Julian Savulescu, editor, Journal of Medical Ethics, and in the comments, one by Kenneth M. Boyd, Rev Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics and the editor responsible for deciding that the paper should be published.

First, Julian Savulescu:

The Journal of Medical Ethics prepublished electronically an article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

This article has elicited personally abusive correspondence to the authors, threatening their lives and personal safety. The Journal has received a string abusive emails for its decision to publish this article. This abuse is typically anonymous.

I am not sure about the legality of publishing abusive threatening anonymous correspondence, so I won’t repeat it here. But fortunately there is plenty on the web to choose from. Here are some responses:

“These people are evil. Pure evil. That they feel safe in putting their twisted thoughts into words reveals how far we have fallen as a society.”

“Right now I think these two devils in human skin need to be delivered for immediate execution under their code of ‘after birth abortions’ they want to commit murder – that is all it is! MURDER!!!”

“I don‘t believe I’ve ever heard anything as vile as what these “people” are advocating. Truly, truly scary.”

“The fact that the Journal of Medical Ethics published this outrageous and immoral piece of work is even scarier”

(Comments from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments)

What a thin skin to consider those comments “disturbing” in any way.

As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.

The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Tooley and Singer – but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.

Many people will and have disagreed with these arguments. However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises. The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.

And this is a very good point, and one that advocates for “choice” had better take a hard look at, because he’s absolutely correct. The logical decision to allow termination of a baby in utero for any reason at any time (which is legal in the U.S.) leads to questioning the arbitrary line of location: inside or outside the womb.

Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminalised. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern. The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression. The Journal welcomes reasoned coherent responses to After-Birth Abortion. Or indeed on any topic relevant to medical ethics.

What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

On the Blaze which reported it (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments):

“Liberals are disgusting. They have criminal minds. To think that a person must be considered “worthy” to live is criminal.”

“It seems to me if good people are not going to stand up to do away with people who believe in doing away with live babies, then it means no one is good, and it’s just easier for God to drop a couple asteroids on earth.”

“i can’t even comment on this atrocity. I know these people are murderers in their hearts. And God will treat them as such. They are completely spiritually dead.”

“I have to say that I would personally kill anyone doing a after-birth abortion if I had the chance. Is that clear enough?”

The comments include openly racist remarks:

Racism: bad, bad, bad; infanticide: not so much

“Alberto Giubilini looks like a muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted. If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.

“Journal of Medical Ethics” — hahaha! You libs and your quack science. Ya think that’s impressive, Albutt & Franpoop? No ****! I can beat you in my sleep. Here goes:

I take a ‘subject of a moral right to life’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to my own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to me.

Here’s the “projected moral status” you comunisti italiani pigs would get: Bang, bang. Drop in toxic waste dump reserved for left-wing contaminants.”

What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

Infanticide is now a liberal value? Who knew.

And now, Kenneth M. Boyd:

Coming up to me at a meeting the other day, an ethics colleague waved a paper at me. “Have you seen this ?”she asked,  “It’s unbelievable!” The paper was ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by two philosophers writing from Australia, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

Well yes, I agreed, I had seen it: in fact I had been the editor responsible for deciding that it should be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics; and no, I didn’t think it was unbelievable, since I know that arguing strongly for a position with which many people will disagree and some even find offensive, is something that philosophers are often willing, and may even feel they have a duty, to do, in order that their arguments may be tested in the crucible of debate with other philosophers who are equally willing to argue strongly against them.

Nothing to see here, folks, it was all just an academic exercise. Don’t worry that bioethics professors actually work on hospital committees that debate on what care, how much care, and whether any care should be provided for patients.

Of course for that debate to take place in the Journal of Medical Ethics, many of whose readers, doctors and health care workers as well as philosophers, may well disagree, perhaps strongly, with the paper’s  arguments, we needed first to make sure that the paper, like any other submitted to the Journal, was of sufficient academic quality for us to publish; and the normal way in which we determine this is to invite academics in relevant disciplines to review the paper critically for us, so that we can eventually make an informed decision about whether or not to publish it, either in its original or (as in this case) a form revised in the light of the reviewers’ reports.

So it appears that this paper passed muster with a number of academics. And none thought to disagree with the authors’ personal (not scientific, not medical) opinion of what a “person” is?

From the paper: We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

Well, that might be their definition, but it’s not my definition or the definition of most people, academics or not. According to this definition, someone unconscious (no matter how short or long) or even someone sleeping does not fit their definition of “person,” much less a baby or an elderly person with dementia, all non-persons according to these academic heavyweights.

Satisfied by the reviewers’ reports and my further editorial review that the paper was of sufficient academic quality to be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and being charged with making the decision as an Editor with no conflict of interest [ed. comment: of course not, you’re already born and weren’t terminated as a baby] in the matter, since unlike my fellow-editors in the relatively small world of international academic medical ethics I have never met the authors, and indeed personally do not agree with the conclusions of their paper, I decided that it was appropriate to publish it in the interest of academic freedom of debate.

It has subsequently been suggested to me that people whose lives might have been ended by ‘after-birth abortion’ were this legal, might be deeply offended by this paper. If that is the case I am sorry, but I am also confident that many of these people are equally capable of mounting a robust academic reply to the paper which, again subject to peer-review, the Journal of Medical Ethics will be very willing to consider for publication.

According to this paper, everyone might have had their lives “ended by ‘after-birth abortion’” since the authors hold that killing infants is justified for any reason. So I guess we’re all offended.

Because no one is like the Manolo:

The Empress Ming the Merciless prepares to give birth to the new age of despotism!

Indeed, the Manolo is only half joking, for as the more he watched the Madonna-tacular show of the halftime, the more he was struck by the unshakeable impression that this was the sort of Nuremberg Rally for the new age of crass narcissism aborning.

Beginning with its imperial fanfare and militaristic pomp, progressing through the forced adoration of the Glorious Leader (L-U-V Madonna! L-U-V Madonna!), and culminating in her apotheosis as the goddess and chief priestess of her own cult of personality, Madonna was urging on us nothing less than her hegemonistic vision of the Madonna-based future….

Check it out, and add Manolo to whatever blogroll you have.

From Matthew Continetti at the Washington Free Beacon:

Polling shows that the economy remains voters’ top priority. But there are signs that the business situation is improving. The dropping unemployment rate is just one example of good economic news. U.S. growth may be subpar, but it is growth nonetheless. Conservatives would be foolish to think that the media will dwell on the economy’s weak spots when the president is a Democrat and his party controls the Senate.

Running bulls will bring in additional revenue to the U.S. Treasury, which will temporarily mask the country’s dire long-term fiscal predicament. The dollar’s status as the global reserve currency will stave off inflation and high interest rates for a while longer. The administration will claim credit despite doing everything in its power to reward friends and punish enemies, delay the recovery, and increase the cost and intrusiveness of government. But even that may not be enough to secure the president’s reelection.

Why? Because culture trumps economics. The tenor of news coverage might lead one to believe that the assault on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation for ending donations to Planned Parenthood, and the debate over the administration ruling that universities and hospitals with religious affiliations must provide contraception to their employees, are winning issues for the Democrats. But any Democratic strategist planning a campaign around these issues might want to think twice.

Such controversies tend to mobilize conservatives more than liberals. As longtime consultant and analyst Jeffrey Bell observes in his excellent book, The Case for Polarized Politics, social issues tend to separate the populist, socially conservative mass from the progressive elite. That is why Republican social policy has been an electoral winner, whether the topic is crime or patriotism or affirmative action or abortion or religious liberty….

The debates over Komen and contraception are not solely about abortion and health care. They are both instances of a liberal minority attempting to coerce an organization to perform acts against its will. Patty Murray’s ridiculous suggestion that Komen’s “dangerous” decision to eliminate the grant to Planned Parenthood was the result of a “partisan witch hunt” is beside the point: Civil associations in a free society have every right to give money to whichever organizations they choose. Meanwhile, Barbara Boxer, M.D., can tell MSNBC that the Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive regulation is “a medical issue” all she wants; it does not change the fact that, if the regulation goes into effect, institutions affiliated with the Catholic Church will be forced to do something that violates fundamental tenets of their religion.

Both stories fit the classic pattern of post-cultural-revolution politics…

Tying the president’s fiscal policies to broader questions of society, culture, life, and freedom is the more effective route, because on these questions Obama has nowhere to go. He is a prisoner of his ideological biases. His elitist defense of social progressivism likely will lead him to commit a gaffe similar to when he said that the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” in arresting Professor Gates of Harvard….

Read it all.

One of the best articles I’ve read on the burden, responsibility, pressure, and accountability put on women by society since abortion became a viable pregnancy option (by Richard Stith for First Things, Aug/Sept 2009):

Men these days can choose only sex, not fatherhood; mothers alone determine whether children shall be allowed to exist. Legalized abortion was supposed to grant enormous freedom to women, but it has had the perverse result of freeing men and trapping women….

“Abortion facilitates women’s heterosexual availability,” [radical feminist Catherine MacKinnon] pointed out: “In other words, under conditions of gender inequality [abortion] does not liberate women; it frees male sexual aggression. The availability of abortion removes the one remaining legitimized reason that women have had for refusing sex besides the headache.” Perhaps that is why, she observed, “the Playboy Foundation has supported abortion rights from day one.” In the end, MacKinnon pronounced, Roe’s “right to privacy looks like an injury got up as a gift,” for “virtually every ounce of control that women won” from legalized abortion “has gone directly into the hands of men.”…

If [a young women] says she is pro-life so that [her boyfriend] thinks abortion is not an option for her, he might decide to keep her from getting pregnant by leaving her for someone more open to abortion, a woman who doesn’t insist on his using a condom. That is, the presence in the sexual marketplace of women willing to have an abortion reduces an individual woman’s bargaining power. As a result, in order not to lose her guy, she may be pressured into doing precisely what she doesn’t want to do: have unprotected sex, then an unwanted pregnancy, then the abortion she had all along been trying to avoid. Even though her abortion in this case is not literally forced, it would be, in an important sense, imposed on her. And, far from alleviating her overall situation, it would merely return her to the same sexual pressures, made worse by a new assurance to her boyfriend that she is willing to take care of a ­pregnancy.

Perhaps it was difficult to foresee such cultural trends back in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was handed down by the Supreme Court. But they simply track the inner logic of choice and the market. Economists have shown that such scenarios have in fact become common since abortion was legalized in the United States. Easy access to abortion has increased the expectation and frequency of sexual intercourse (including unprotected intercourse) among young people, making it more difficult for a woman to deny ­herself to a man without losing him, thus increasing pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections….

Furthermore, if a woman attempts to choose birth instead of abortion, she may well find the child’s father pushing the other way. Her boyfriend’s fear of fatherhood would once have been focused on intercourse itself and could have led him either to be careful to avoid conception or else (overcoming that fear) to commit himself beforehand to equal responsibility for the child. His fear now will turn to getting her to choose abortion….

When birth was the result of passion and bad luck, some people could sympathize with a young woman who was going to need help with her baby, though the stigma of bastardry was genuine. If money or a larger place to live were going to be necessary for her to stay in school, a sense of solidarity would likely lead friends and family to offer assistance. The father would feel strong pressure as well, for he was as responsible as she for the child. He might offer to get a second job or otherwise shoulder some of the burdens of parenting.

But once continuing a pregnancy to birth is the result neither of passion nor of luck but only of her deliberate choice, sympathy weakens. After all, the pregnant woman can avoid all her problems by choosing abortion. So if she decides to take those difficulties on, she must think she can handle them.

Birth itself may be followed by blame rather than support. Since only the mother has the right to decide whether to let the child be born, the father may easily conclude that she bears sole responsibility for caring for the child. The baby is her fault.

It may also seem unfair to him that she could escape motherhood (by being legally allowed to prevent birth), while he is denied any way to escape fatherhood (by still being legally required to pay child support). If consenting to sex does not entail consenting to act as a mother, why should it entail consenting to act as a father?

Throughout human history, children have been the consequence of natural sexual relations between men and women. Both sexes knew they were equally responsible for their children, and society had somehow to facilitate their upbringing. Even the advent of birth control did not fundamentally change this dynamic, for all forms of contraception are fallible.

Elective abortion changes everything. Abortion absolutely prevents the birth of a child. A woman’s choice for or against abortion breaks the causal link between conception and birth. It matters little what or who caused conception or whether the male insisted on having unprotected intercourse. It is she alone who finally decides whether the child comes into the world. She is the responsible one. For the first time in history, the father and the doctor and the health-insurance actuary can point a finger at her as the person who allowed an inconvenient human being to come into the world.

The deepest tragedy may be that there is no way out. By granting to the pregnant woman an unrestrained choice over who will be born, we make her alone to blame for how she exercises her power. Nothing can alter the solidarity-shattering impact of the abortion option.

Read it all and ponder (and support your local crisis pregnancy center).

Worth a read. From Mona Charen at National Review Online:

…The collapse of marriage among the lower and lower middle classes is rapidly tapping our national strength. Women from wealthier families get it. They generally wait until they’re married to have babies. They know that two parents create stability, financial security, and the social structure to optimize the chances of rearing happy, healthy, and productive new citizens. The illegitimacy rate among women with college educations, while it has tripled since 1960, is still only about 8 percent. As Kay Hymowitz noted in Marriage and Caste in America,“Virtually all — 92 percent — of children whose families make over $75,000 per year are living with both parents. On the other end of the income scale, the situation is reversed: only about 20 percent of kids in families earning under $15,000 live with both parents.”

The failure to marry on the part of the lower middle and lower classes — not the tax code, or Wall Street, or competition from China, — is what is aggravating inequality in America.

The toll is incalculable. In every way that social science can measure — school performance, drug abuse, unemployment, suicide, poverty, depression, dependence on government handouts, mental illness, violence, and far more — children raised by single parents (especially when their parents never married) are at a severe disadvantage. The failure to form families is devastating our schools, exacerbating inequality, and diminishing happiness on a grand scale….

Read it all.

1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Psalm 51: 1-3 (King James Version of the Bible)

Tallest Skyline by CTBUHFrom arch daily:

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat recently published The Tallest 20 in 2020: Entering the Era of the Megatall. Within this decade, the World’s first kilometer-tall building will be constructed, along with many other buildings over 600-meters tall. “The term “supertall” (which refers to a building over 300 meters) is thus no longer adequate to describe these buildings: we are entering the era of the “megatall.”

At the start of the 21st century, the 452-meter high Petronas Tower held the title of “The World’s Tallest.” As the decade ended, the Burj Khalifa took ownership of the title standing “over half a mile” high at 828-meters. Now, construction set to begin this month for Jeddah’s 1,000+ meter Kingdom Tower, doubling the height of “The World’s Tallest” in only two decades. It seems that “600m seems to be the new 300m.”

Check it out.

From Peter Wehner at Commentary:

First it was Alan Colmes; now it is Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, who went on MSNBC to mock  Rick Santorum for how he and his wife Karen dealt with the death of their son Gabriel. (A severe prenatal development led to his very early delivery, and Gabriel died two hours after his birth.)…

The second point is the casual cruelty of Robinson and those like him. Robinson seems completely comfortable lampooning a man and his wife who had experienced the worst possible nightmare for parents: the death of their child. It is one thing to say you would act differently if you were in the situation faced by Rick and  Karen Santorum; it’s quite another to deride them as “crazy” and “very weird,” which is what commentators on the left are increasingly doing, and with particular delight and glee.

We are seeing how ideology and partisan politics can so disfigure people’s minds and hearts that they become vicious in their assaults on those with whom they have political disagreements. I would hope no one I know would, in a thousand years, ridicule parents who were grappling with unfathomable human pain. Even if those parents were liberal. Even if they were running for president and first lady.

The third point is it tells you something about the culture in which we live that in some quarters those who routinely champion abortion, even partial-birth abortion, are viewed as enlightened and morally sophisticated while those grieving the loss of their son, whom they took home for a night before burying, are mercilessly mocked….

Read it all.

Drawing on the story of Elizabeth and Zacharias from the Gospel of Luke , Mark Steyn writes:

…The notion of life as a self-growth experience is more radical than it sounds. For most of human history, functioning societies have honored the long run: It’s why millions of people have children, build houses, plant trees, start businesses, make wills, put up beautiful churches in ordinary villages, fight and if necessary die for your country … A nation, a society, a community is a compact between past, present, and future, in which the citizens, in Tom Wolfe’s words at the dawn of the “Me Decade,” “conceive of themselves, however unconsciously, as part of a great biological stream.”

Much of the developed world climbed out of the stream. You don’t need to make material sacrifices: The state takes care of all that. You don’t need to have children. And you certainly don’t need to die for king and country. But a society that has nothing to die for has nothing to live for: It’s no longer a stream, but a stagnant pool….

Read it all.