Sunday, May 5, 2013

"I hope we forgot to kill him properly."

Sam Rocha, on Patheos:

Beyond Abortion: Gosnell and a New Dark Age
I avoided the Gosnell story... initially. The headlines seemed too fantastic to be the wholly true and the details I gleaned made my stomach turn. I tend to monitor stories like these from a distance to see if they stick. This one stuck, thanks to Twitter and Facebook. I’ve only been able to read two articles — from the Atlantic and Slate — on this gruesome crime, and I read them hastily, with a sense of disgust and despair. I also found this article from 2011 about Gosnell in the New York Times, which I scanned. 
There has been some media coverage out there all along, it turns out, but it is the question of degree and quality — and volume — that is highly suspect. Salon seems to think that we just don’t read enough alternative media, which is true, but that doesn’t address the primary concern. 
This event is different, but strangely related to Savita [Halappanavar] for me. What got me so worked up about Savita now has me depressed and despondent, senseless and void. Numb. 
Let me be clear: cultural despair is not the same thing, I think (I hope?), as theological despair. Hope against hope. 
Welcome to the dark ages. An age where darkness is not the result of widespread ignorance or circumstance or feudal folklore. No. This is a time of intentional darkness. 
The Enlightenment is over. The grand experiment of it all, the United States of America, has failed, miserably. We have nothing left but a futuristic fantasy that propels us into techno-economic nihilism. 
We’ll forget Gosnell soon enough. Just as we forgot about the last person who told us that we’re headed for cultural suicide. 
No one gives a shit. 
The press that didn’t forget and buried the story, for whatever reason, is perhaps more laudable. At least they did the work. At least they remembered to forget. The rest seems fine with the forgetting whatever it needs to continue the business of distracting and forgetting and, slowly, killing memory and feeling. 
Flesh without blood. No life. 
There is utility in selective memory: the only reason to remember Gosnell will be to forget about what happened and, instead, advance the cause of the tribal interests we all have to play with at some point. 
The issue here is not just abortion. I know many Catholics who scoff at the naive and impractical “whole cloth” approach to questions of life and human dignity, but without a holistic view of the matter, we miss the real scope of this particular atrocity. It is a spectacular ecology of perversity and filth. This an “issue” of race, poverty, abortion, women, infants, fatherhood, and even capital punishment (depending on the sentencing of Gosnell). 
It is also a simple case of cold blooded murder. It doesn’t require as much nuance as other cases. It is closer kin to Newtown than Savita, in this regard. 
If we wanted to remember, we’d have to do a lot of serious work. Blogging, grabbing headlines, and pushing topics on Twitter is easy. But the hard work is memory work. Without memory there is no healing or forgiveness or proper war and melancholy.
Nothing lingers anymore. We are beyond abortion, we are on our way to nowhere.
Freud was right: we are unconscious. But we sleep without dreaming, we only snore, droning on and on. Noise. 
As I’ve said before, the culture wars are over. They are not resolved so much as they are too much work. Thinking in America has become a lost art. This is a post-Cartesian place.
Platitudes and melodrama don’t set a very good example, but that’s the point: I feel it too. I’m as lazy as you are. 
Don’t take this as anything but a reminder that everything is lost and the details are too tedious to remember. We can’t keep track of news headlines, much less history and ancestry and the Divine.

I guess I’ll see you all in hell. Only God can save us now, I hope we forgot to kill him properly.

"Welcome to the dark ages".

A bit pessimistic, but I can't argue with his assessment. We are in deep evil, and like Nietzsche's Last Men, we are too addicted to our comforts to care or fight.

I disagree with Rocha that "the Enlightenment is over". Abortion is where man's quest to measure all things by himself-- without God-- has long flowed. Gosnell is the Enlightenment, finally reaching its ocean. Abortion, like population control and genocide and total war and totalitarianism and euthanasia, is the Enlightenment's alluvium.

I agree that the Gosnell atrocity is an ecology of many evils-- abortion, murder, hatred of children and women, racism. Many things. The press hides it, but it's not clear that many of us care anyway. So many have lost all conviction. The killers work with passionate intensity.

Only God can save us. Only God could ever save us. Pray that we haven't killed Him too, in our hearts.  


  1. "Gosnell is the Enlightenment, finally reaching its ocean."
    Hear, hear.
    Excellent post, Mike. Really got me thinking.
    Strange coincidence, really. We were just talking about this after services. I attend a small group / think-tank at my parish hosted by the order I belong to. Gosnell and the implications were the topic.
    I wish I had this essay with me at the time. I will print it out (and your response) for next time.
    Once again, thanks for expressing what so many of us think, mate.
    That's why I haunt your blog... well, that and your sparkling personality and humour :P
    Keep it up, Doc.
    God bless you, and know that this Christian will join you in your prayers for the very soul of our civilization.

  2. I see. It is all the Enlightenment's fault. Time to go back to the Dark Ages.


    1. Hoo,

      A modern Renaissance would be welcome, but it is not one segment of our cultural history we should draw from.
      No need to regress into medieval feudalism when we have authoritarian technocracy.
      Come on Hoo!
      You're as sceptical as they come.

      The 'dark ages' are now.
      They NEVER ended. The enlightenment was a hoax; or better yet a 'con'.
      Your or I, or anyone, are not enlightened simply because of the date on a calendar. A new 'deal' that looked great, but was designed to kill lock us in with interest.
      We have not 'transcended' anything.
      We have only confirmed what we experience and attempted to explain some of the mechanisms of the physical reality we exist within. That is what living creatures do. Humans best of all. There is nothing special about us that in that respect.
      Science kills as swiftly as it heals.
      History is nakedly cyclical, despite or study and preservation of it, and man is STILL man.
      Think about the term itself.
      An 'age of enlightenment'?
      Sound too good to be true?
      Well, you know what they say....

      The enlightenment was a political shift. A shell game.
      A better term would have been 'elitism 2.0' and in the west we've been lucky (thanks in large part to our cultural heritage and faith) 'elitism 2.0 plus business edition SP3'.
      It was the birth of the modern political dialectics.

      I am not suggesting we need to go back to 1.0.
      I am saying we need to switch to Open Source.
      You follow what I mean?
      I am not asking you to agree, you understand - just to consider my position.
      I don't want to get rid of presidents or kings.
      I don't want to stop science or silence people of other (or no) faiths.
      I just want these powers and forces to be responsive to an obviously beneficial and object morality.
      My tuppence.

    2. @Hoo:

      The Enlightenment was preceded by the HIgh Middle Ages, a time of extraordinary learning and advance. The first Dark Ages weren't necessarily all that dark, and ended anyway by the 12th century.

      The Enlightenment, to the extent that it rejected God, hijacked the Renaissance and the High Middle Ages, and turned man in on himself.

      The fruits of the Enlightenment-- the rejection of God-- ripened in the 20th century-- the World Wars, communism, Nazism, genocide, totalitarianism, population control, radical environmentalism.

      Face up to reality. We are entering another Dark Age. Gosnell is a token of our new currency, well-described as the Culture of Death.

    3. "The first Dark Ages weren't necessarily all that dark, and ended anyway by the 12th century. "
      This is entirely true. My letters are in that field and period.
      Ask ANY of my colleagues about the term 'dark ages' and they will say it is both politically loaded and inaccurate. The Middle Ages were an incredibly productive period and was the very basis of our modern society.

    4. I should also add that from this soldier's perspective the current trend seems more like a return/regression to a Babylonian or Egyptian bronze age mentality and morality than that of the Middle Ages.

    5. The time before Enlightenment wasn't all that bad. Two out of three children died before reaching the age of four, but if they survived childhood then they could live till their 50s or 60s. Yeah, let's go back to the good old times.


    6. Which time period before the enlightenment, Hoo?
      In which region of the world, and in what nation or kingdom?
      Which statistics are you using for your estimates of per-enlightenment child mortality?
      What about the child slaves sold throughout the 'enlightenment.'
      Do they count?
      Perhaps it is the PROJECTED numbers guessed up by modern scholars and based on broad regional assumptions about hygiene and life expectancy in the late medieval that you refer to?
      What where the abortion figures like back then?
      How about violent crime figures?
      I am sure you will see my questions are rhetorical.
      We don't know.
      I have spent literally decades studying the post classical period, and I could not even begin to guess at populations.
      It would be an educated speculation.
      I could only refer you to (some, rather rare and incidental) death records and projected numbers.

      Surely, there has been technical and medical advances that make life more comfortable (for those lucky few who have access) and extend our years. Nobody is denying that.

      Social advances too, right throughout our history.
      But NONE of that exempts us from morality.

      Anyway, my point is not that any past period was utopian and we should return to those ways of life.
      I am suggesting we NEVER transcend a 'dark age'.
      We are in one now.

      I am suggesting that the very concept of the enlightenment is a deception. In many ways a self deception.

      Eating the fruit of knowledge does NOT give you power over what is evil and what is good, nor does it make you like a god.

    7. crus,

      Here is The Decline of Childhood Mortality by Kenneth Hill from Johns Hopkins. The paper quotes numbers obtained from records kept by the medieval upper classes.


    8. Hoo, Rocha specifically says that we're living in the dark ages, which is clearly a bad thing. Did you read that part?

      He's right. Most of us don't realize that we live the dark ages because we enjoy the benefits of technology. We think we're pretty slick.

      Unfortunately we have a very rotten core beneath it. Gosnell's clinic is a medieval torture chamber, plain and simple. There are plenty more Gosnell clinics out there. Some are a little more hygienic than others, but a hygienic medieval torture chamber is still a medieval torture chamber.

      We haven't come very far. I think that's the point.

      There's a horrible slaughter going on just out of view. People who care enough to pay attention to it know that it's there and they're sounding the alarm to alert everyone else but most people just avert their gaze. There are some good programs on the tube tonight, maybe a few sports games. Look away, look away.


    9. Another thing, Hoo. Of course infant mortality was high in the Middle Ages. It remained high right up through the early days of the industrial revolution. Look how long working men lived in Victorian England, for example. Life was drudgery.

      The infant mortality rate had a lot to do with the fact that food was scarce and medicine wasn't very advanced. It's a good thing that we've made strides in both areas, unless you're a rabid environmentalist of course, in which case you will now complain about overpopulation.

      The point about these infant mortality rates is that these were accidental deaths. These children died because there wasn't enough to eat or because they were infected with diseases that were likely preventable or cureable in the modern age. No one is pleased with theses deaths but they can't be compared to intentional slaughter.

      That's what we do. Our technology has exceeded our humanity.

      If you ask me, I'd say that we should retain the good things about modern life--the fertilizers and pesticides that make food abundant, the medicines that cure diseases--while jettisoning the ongoing atrocity known as abortion. We can pick and choose.


    10. ...and Hoo those numbers are from the last 200 years. Hardly the Middle Ages.

      I quote the author in the section 'Data availability and data deficiency':
      “Reasonably good information about child mortality only becomes available with the emergence of sophisticated civil registration systems for recording births, deaths and population. Such systems first developed in north-western Europe in the late eighteenth century, and have since spread to countries in many other parts of the world.”

      If I put in my historian's hat, what can I pull from this statement?
      1)The first efforts to record and examine the specifics of the human population occurred POST enlightenment.
      The first and nastiest projections occur at the height of the enlightenment.
      2)The information we base those projections are localized numbers. They begin in one region and expand, but very significantly omits Sub-Saharan Africa.
      3)The word 'abortion' is not found in the entire document. Such figures directly effect how many children are born and if taken into account would invert the central thrust of the study. Technology has saved countless, but has made abortion easily available killing multitudes of potential babies.
      That omission not just laziness or coincidence.

      So I would conclude that this is not a useful historical approach, but rather a commercial for 'today' and a promise for tomorrow.
      From Johns Hopkins. Shocker there.

      Great paper for a feel-good funding drive, but not exactly a useful or realistic contrast with our past.
      History is not about how great we are. It is about learning from our recorded past. It's about comparisons and contrasts. How to make things better, not brag about how good we have it.

    11. Read the damn paper, crus, then make your conclusions. It crunches some hard data from the 16th century. You have an attention span of an 8-year-old.


    12. Ah,
      I did read it. I don't know that anyone else did. But it's me that gets the admonishment?
      I knew it was only a matter of time before the insults began, my Post-Soviet Comrade. You had a good run, and I applaud you for that. It's only your nature. I know it is only invective, and you do not mean it. But, it's silly contremarche.

      Consider: You read an article, I complete a masters course and post graduate for two degrees in the period, and it's ME with the short attention span? Remind us again, what field are YOU in?
      YOU should read my comments again.
      YOU should read the article again.

      BTW, The 16th century does not fall in the period we have named the Middle or 'dark' Ages.

      There is good cause to believe medicine is MUCH improved from the periods described in the article.
      There is also good cause to state that the very same advances have improved an arsenal of means to kill and destroy people. It's the balance we must consider.
      If we consider how the technology and techniques we have developed for the purposes of improving child birth have been used to improve methods to kill the unborn on an industrial scale, we begin to see the contrast.

    13. Meant no offense, crus, just prodding you to read the article carefully. 16th century (the Renaissance) was after the Middle Ages, I agree with that, but that's beside the point. It was still pre-Enlightenment. Times were really hard during the Renaissance, they were harder still during the Middle Ages.

      At any rate, you were calling the article's method "projection" and it hardly deserves that. It mentioned the difficulty of obtaining hard data but such data were nonetheless available for the upper classes, who kept pretty family records at the time. I think we can agree that the estimates are not based on "projection" but reflect the reality.


  3. In the past 15 years 31 children have died following dental treatment. There are dentists out there that have killed multiple children. Where is the media? How will civilization survive?


    1. Thirty-one children died in abortion clinics in about the past ten minutes. Killing them was the intention. Dead babies are PP"s product.

      No comparison. Sorry.


    2. So all abortions are equivalent? Do you think all abortion providers should be tried for murder Joey?


    3. Yes and yes.


    4. I noticed you didn't try to minimize the Trayvon Martin murder by comparing it to accidental if negligent deaths occurring in dentist offices. Absurd, KW. That's ridiculous even for you.


    5. Michael,

      But you still insist that the Colorado Catholic hospital was justified in using the Colorado law that 7 month gestation twins don't have rights in order to defeat a malpractice suit. Despite three Colorado Catholic bishops expressing disquiet at the tactics.

      You don't agree that all unborn 'babies' are equal.

    6. “You and I see things quite differently, KW.”

      Yes, you think you’re equivalent to a fertilized egg in a freezer somewhere, and that there is no difference between killing you and discarding it.