Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Abortion, Gays, and other great ways to avoid writing the paper that's due on Monday

Fellow Bloggers,
If you're completely bored out of your skull, you can read my response to a lib classmate on gays and abortion issues.
....Or you could come over to school and help me write the campaign finance reform paper that I SHOULD have been writing instead of engaging in e-mail combat.



Thanks for taking the time to write.

The first round of posters that I put up was identical to the second round. Simple, text-only posters providing the opposing viewpoint to the GayLaw "end the ban" posters. Unless simply stating the text of the current law of the land and the majority view of Americans and their elected representatives is in and of itself insensitive, than my posters were as innocuous as possible. Nevertheless, my posters were torn down by other students within 12 hours.

Any "anger" (that the letter accompanying my second round exhibits) is due entirely to my frustration over the general intolerance for conservative views on campus -- not restricted to this particular issue. Our faculty and administration may LOOK like America, but they certainly don't THINK like America. Our school fawns over liberal causes and viewpoints across the entire range of social issues and portrays conservative Americans as intolerant haters. I have a problem with that. The marginalization of conservative viewpoints on issues of major social concern makes W&L an instrument of liberal indoctrination, not education.

My view of the "gays in the military" issue is as follows:

1. The purpose of the military is to fight and win our nation's wars.
(historical and current policy decision).

2. Inclusion of gays would weaken the military as a fighting force.
(a matter of opinion on which reasonable people can differ -- but with which I agree).

3. There is no constitutional right to serve in the military.
(constitutional law as it stands at present).

4. DoD agrees with points 1&2 and asked Congress to re-codify the ban on gay military service.

5. Congress responded with a legislative ban passed by a bi-partisan, veto-proof majority.

6. Given no constitutional right, the will of the elected majority SHOULD prevail, and the courts SHOULD NOT take this issue out of the political process.

7. Yet I'm doubtful that courts will stay out of the fray -- because, frankly, judges don't respect their limits under the constitutional separation of powers.

8. So my prediction is that gays will be extended a judicially-created right to serve, and there won't be much of anything the majority of Americans who disagree with the judiciary's decision will be able to do about it. After all, a President with his own party in the majority of both houses of Congress still cannot seat judges of his choice on the federal bench (witness the filibusters of conservative -- and especially minority conservative -- judiciary nominees). Federal judges are today's Olympians, legislating by judicial decree and shaping society to suit their particular ideological bent, without regard for the great tradition of American democracy. THAT is what really gets my blood boiling...not the relatively small potatoes of one particular social issue.

Yet having just termed single social issues "small potatoes," I'm afraid I have to immediately distinguish abortion, which is an issue of singular gravity in our society....

As for abortion and Matt's posters, all I can say is that I (like Matt) am convinced scientifically, philosophically, and theologically that pre-born humans are persons who are entitled to the equal protection of the laws. At present, millions of pre-born Americans are being denied the most fundamental of our rights -- the right to life -- and are being slaughtered in a commercial industry to make the lives those who should be their most ardent defenders (their parents) more convenient. I hold the view that mass murder of the innocent is being committed on our watch; and this view allows no mushy middle ground for a moral actor to tread.

Many Americans once considered Blacks less than human. Many Germans once considered Jews less than human. Should we have "entertained all sides" of those arguments and "empathized" with those who butchered Jews and reduced Blacks to slavery (and worse)? Wouldn't you agree that in the face of pure evil, political correctness and niceties must give way to decisive action -- even if such action is deemed shocking or offensive to some?

You find Matt's use of grisly abortion photos offensive and shocking, yet if we study social reform movements, we find that they ALWAYS exposed the injustice they were fighting, and that this exposure was an integral key to their success.

For example, the civil rights movement was galvanized when the 14-year-old boy, Emmett Till, was killed and thrown in the Tallahatchie River. Authorities wanted to bury the body quickly, but his mother insisted on an open casket funeral so the world could see what was done to her boy. Black Americans everywhere saw the mutilated corpse when the photo was carried in Jet magazine.

Dr. King was guided by the philosophy he expressed in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, in which he wrote, "Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured." As long as segregation was hidden under the veils of euphemism, or was discussed in words alone, it could not galvanize the opposition required to overcome it. But when the injustice of it was brought before the TV cameras of America as Blacks were attacked with dogs, hoses, and other forms of violence, people saw the evil that words alone could not convey.

In the Library of Congress there is an exhibit of about five thousand photographs taken by Lewis Hine in the midst of another struggle for justice. He used these photographs to combat industrial exploitation of children. He said to those who complained, "Perhaps you are weary of child labor pictures. Well, so are the rest of us. But we propose to make you and the whole country so sick and tired of the whole business that when the time for action comes, child labor abuses will be creatures of the past."

Government officials have been well aware of the power of photos for social change. President Woodrow Wilson ensured that no photos of the World War I battlefield carnage ever reached the public. These same suppressed photos were later used by isolationists trying to keep the United States out of Word War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set up a special section of the Farm Security Administration to use ΒΌ million photos to sell his New Deal programs.

Educators likewise are not unaware of the need to graphically portray injustice. Just look at the way the movie "Schindler's List" has been used to educate the young about the holocaust. Some have objected that such a graphic portrayal of such violence may in fact hurt children psychologically. Yet liberals who support the use of the film claim that greater weight must be given to the need to prevent such violence in the first place.

In 1995, the LA Times reported an effort at Jefferson High School to stop street violence. Freshmen were shown slide after slide of victims blown apart by bullets.

In the courtroom, photographic evidence holds a critical place. "There are no charts, no words, that can convey what these photographs can," argued prosecutor Brian Kelberg in a dispute over whether photos of the slashed murder victims could be shown to O.J. Simpson's jurors. The defense had argued that the photos were too distressing and sickening, and should not be shown. Charts and diagrams were suggested as an alternative. But the judge allowed the photos.

Examples can be multiplied, from the efforts to make people aware of famines and starvation, to the horrors of the Vietnam war, to the efforts of environmentalists and animal-rights activists to awaken the public to the abuse of other living creatures. Can you blame Matt and other pro-lifers for simply exposing the injustice we are fighting in abortion in the same way that successful social reform movements of the past have done?

The WORD abortion has lost practically all its meaning. Not even the most vivid description, in words alone, can adequately convey the horror of this act of violence. Abortion is sugar-coated by rhetoric which hides its gruesome nature. What a pro-life person has in mind when he speaks about abortion and what the average American has in mind when he hears the word are two very different things. One of the key reasons the pro-life movement is not making more progress is that we so often assert before the public that abortion is an act of violence, but do not produce the evidence which would lead people to this conclusion.

Photographic evidence is the most trusted source of information in any discipline. It transcends language and logic, and goes straight to the heart, where people are motivated to take action, instead of merely to the head, where people passively entertain all sorts of concepts without any commitment necessarily following. People absorb impressions rather than substance. Although a photo is just a slice of reality, if it is the right slice, it captures the distilled essence of an event in a way that nothing else can. A photo is even more powerful than a video, since it is the difference between 30 images per second vs. one image for 30 seconds.

The fact that the use of such images is disturbing does not mean such use is wrong. The free-speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment apply even to speech which is disturbing, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld. Such disturbance is part of the price we pay for freedom. People might also be disturbed, annoyed, and upset by the blaring sirens of an ambulance rushing through the neighborhood. Yet the noise serves a purpose: People's lives are at stake, and the ambulance must be given the right of way.

Abortion is a poverty, an unspeakable crime, and a scourge on our land. I believe that America will only reject abortion when it SEES abortion. So, yes, I support the posters Matt has been hanging around the school and have urged him not falter in the face of those who call him "insensitive" or "intolerant."
Childrens' lives are at stake.

Well, if you've read this far through my too long epistle, I think you have the fleshed out viewpoint you asked for...and possibly more than you bargained for... Enjoy the rest of your break!


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