Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jack Scanlon to Michael Egnor: 'the internet will remember you!'

Jack Scanlon, one of the more engaging bloggers on Panda's Thumb, has a post on my post satirizing the analogy between abortion and the murder of Caylee Anthony in Florida.

My feed reader recently saved a post by Egnor entitled “Closing arguments in trial of Florida woman for abortion of post-term fetus”, a satirical piece likening abortion to the murder of a child well past the newborn stage. It was subsequently deleted for unknown reasons from his blog in between the time it was first posted and my attempt at following the URL my reader gave me. My personal guess is shame, given how in poor taste it was, although I doubt that it doesn’t actually reflect his state of mind on the issue.

As Jack noted at the top of the post, my post went back up a short time later.

First, I assure Jack that I stand by the post. I don't recall taking it down, but it's common that I will note a typo or a mis-phrasing that can be corrected easily. I'm an inveterate editor. I take the post down for a minute or two, and correct it. Also, on occasion I mess up the draft/scheduled/posted queues, and take something down (or put something up) without intending to. When I find the error, I put it back where it belongs.

I don't take posts down out of "shame", because I don't post shameful things. I think that the "post-term abortion" post was fine. One of my favorites, if I may be immodest.  I've found over the years that atheists/Darwinists/pro-abortionists are a remarkably humorless bunch. They hate satire, directed at them.  In a sense they're right. Satire can be a devastating weapon, because it's entertaining (I hope),  cogent, and very difficult to reply to without playing into the satire. Alinsky (in his rule # 5) understood this well, and it's useful often to use these thugs' own tactics against them. So I do as much satire as I can.

Jack had a few substantive comments about my post:

Even looking at abortion in the simplest way, it’s easy to see that it’s a tricky issue: and making it black and white, as Egnor did in this piece, isn’t really an easily defensible position.

It was satire. Satire depends on extracting the key themes, illuminating them, and making inherent contradictions obvious by exaggerating them.  Satire is not subtle. It's not meant to be.

For one, Egnor’s view likens infanticide with abortion – any abortion, mind – which logically could go back to extremely early pregnancy, where the fetus is just a zygote, a one-celled “organism” far more similar to naturally disposable reproductive tissue than to the end result of pregnancy, a biologically self-sufficient infant. Is “killing” one cell the same as killing a newborn child? To agree with that question requires some major justification, which is seldom done sufficiently and rationally by the people that do so, Egnor included.

Jack missed the point of my satire. It wasn't the link between abortion and infanticide per se that I highlighted.  I highlighted the link between the rationale for most abortions (>90% of abortions are performed for what could be described as 'lifestyle' reasons)  and the rationale for a murder of a child that appeared to be for lifestyle reasons.  If killing a child in the womb is moral because it interferes with the mother's plans/enjoyment of life,  just how is the motive for killing a toddler because she is interfering with her mother's lifestyle so different? (Casey Anthony's acquittal doesn't change the argument). 

Although there obviously is more angst about killing a two year old- child who is seen and heard and known personally,  Caylee would have been just as dead if Casey had aborted her in utero.  There's a troubling similarity in motive between infanticide for lifestyle (blessedly rare) and abortion for lifestyle (damnably common). 

Many things in ethics are spectrums, where we must decide for ourselves where to draw a line in the metaphorical sand – and often the extreme positions don’t sit well with most people. Abortion is one such issue, where the extreme positions involve either allowing the termination of all pregnancies, no matter how advanced, for any reason or preventing all abortions from taking place, including in situations where the mother’s life is at risk from the pregnancy.
Satire is not the vehicle with which to explore "spectrums".  Jack shouldn't expect nuance in a satire. 

I don't consider the viewpoint that life begins at conception and that killing is always wrong to be an "extreme" position.  I am more inclined to characterize the view that it's ethical to kill some people if they are very young, can't be seen, and have no say in the matter as "extreme".  The pro-life view is quite moderate: respect life.
Debate about the topic should and will continue, but satirically implying that the people who disagree with you (which is, in Egnor’s case, everyone who isn’t a hardline anti-abortion proponent) would have no problem with clear-cut murder is not something to be proud of. Hmm. But such is the mind of a conservative Catholic neurosurgeon.
I'm a consistently pro-life.  I detest killing (which is a plus for a doctor!)  I detest war, I detest capital punishment, I detest euthanasia, I detest any intended killing.  In my view killing is only licit if the purpose is to avoid a much greater evil, and the killing is an unintended and unavoidable consequence of the intended good (a soldier protecting his county in wartime, or a police officer killing a suspect to prevent an imminent murder).  I believe that Aquinas' theory of double effect is the most cogent expression of pro-life philosophy.  Much of the evil perpetrated by mankind has been done by otherwise reasonable people who make exceptions for killing ('well... killing is wrong... except for killing those people....'). I oppose killing, period. It is an ancient Christian ethic, often dishonored, too often by Christians.

And, Jack, "hardline" is the adjective used by those who find consistency frustrating.  I would presume that you are a hardline murder and genocide opponent.  No exceptions for Jews or Armenians, right, you hard-liner? I just carry respect for innocent life a bit further.

And I didn't imply that people who disagree with me would have no problem with "clear-cut murder".  No one supports killing toddlers for reasons of lifestyle.  The problem is that there are people who support killing children in the womb for lifestyle.

There are distinctions, of course, between postnatal and prenatal killing (e.g. one is called murder, the other is called 'reproductive choice'). But is the distinction really, in the final analysis, a difference that you can defend?

1 comment:

  1. Why are atheists such persistent & insistent dullards when it comes to reasoning?

    I see so many like this all the time; arrogantly mocking some creationist's or IDist's statements somewhere and then posting rebuttals that demonstrate that they understood nothing at all.

    Abortion for any other reason than saving the mothers life is murder. There are ~50 million such murders every year in the world.
    And then the idiot hypocritical governments complain of aging populations.

    With one hand they pay to kill their own future tax payers and on the other they complain they need more tax payers.

    Abortion - now euphemistically called "pregnancy interruption" in Canada to play down its cruel & gruesome reality - makes barbarians out of every society that allows it.

    But even barbarians didn't murder their own young out of convenience for the poor "victim" mothers.

    In reality these "moms" are nothing more than irresponsible twits that should have gotten the message - seen everywhere today - about contraceptives.

    All this is largely due to St Darwin, the atheists' prophet, and to his high priest dupes.