Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Monsters and Straw Men

This letter appeared in my local newspaper last week. I started to draft a pithy reply to it, but quickly realized that to meet the paper's parsimonious word count would require me to edit it down to a nubbin, which I was loath to do. Anyhow, here's the diatribe:

Did vote match philosophy?
By Cindy M. Flakoll
legislative liaison Concerned Women for America of South Dakota
PUBLISHED: December 19, 2006

South Dakota's abortion ban failed on Election Day.

Which group's philosophy aligns with your personal philosophy?
Organization No. 1 believes:

# Abortion hurts women and kills unborn children. Babies conceived in rape/incest deserve prenatal care and birth just as much as babies conceived under other circumstances.

# A woman confronting an unplanned pregnancy should be supported medically, emotionally, spiritually and financially so she can give birth to a healthy child, then choose to raise the child or choose adoption.
Organization No. 2 believes:

# The woman's need to kill her own child is all-important. Her child's needs should not be considered.

# No matter how the child is conceived, the woman should utilize any means to kill her child rather than allow "it" to become burdensome - medically, emotionally, spiritually or financially - for herself and her chosen partner or rapist.

Where are you? If you believe like Organization No. 1, you should have voted "yes" to ban abortions. If you voted "no" on the ban, then you voted against your own beliefs.

If you believed the ban was too extreme, your philosophy matches Organization No. 2. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, on Election Day you became a supporter of the culture of death in America.

Well. You can imagine how gratifying I find it when someone who doesn't know me presumes to know what my innermost thoughts and feelings are. For the record, I voted against this state's near-total ban on abortions because I felt that it was bad law--unnecessarily harsh and drafted for no other reason than to force the issue into the court system, ultimately to the Supreme Court. I fail to see why every taxpayer in the state should be shanghaied into such a blatantly illegal undertaking. (Legislators take a vow to uphold the Constitution. To pass legislation that contravenes the Constitution violates that vow. As far as I'm concerned, every legislator who voted for the ban should be impeached and possibly prosecuted for treason. Same goes for the governor who signed the measure.)

Ms. Flakoll's hardly unbiased letter does serve as a shining example of the Straw Man argument, one that my old high-school debate coach would have been proud of. See, she gets to present both sides of the argument, and in so doing gets to portray The Other Side as morally monstrous, evil, and all kinds of other bad things, while Her Side is virtuous, noble, and full of sugar and spice and everything nice.

And so, in the spirit of Ms. Flakoll's dishonest and spurious presentation, I proffer my own:

Which group's philosophy aligns with your personal philosophy?
Organization No. 1 believes:

# The government should be in the business of making health-care decisions for women, no matter what the woman and her doctor think best.

# Women are simply too emotional to know what's best for them, so the totalitarian state must make decisions for them

# There is no room for sympathy or mercy if a woman is the victim of rape or incest, and the government forcing her to continue her pregnancy is for her own good

# It's probably her own fault that she's pregnant, anyway.

Organization No. 2 believes:

# Abortion is a hard choice, and we should feel great empathy toward women who are faced with making that decision.

# Women are intelligent enough to be able to make their own medical decisions, in consultation with their physicians and with the support of their family.

# A woman or girl who has been the victim of rape or incest should not be further victimized by the legislature, the governor, social activists, or others who always know what's best for everybody else.

# It's very easy for someone to dictate what other people "should" be doing, when the consequences do not weigh on him or her at all.

See? With no one to refute or rebut, you may simultaneously slander and demonize people who don't agree with you to your little heart's content. Loads of fun, and you can do it in your own home!

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