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Archive for the 'Critical Issues' Category

The alleged rape is real, but it is the rape of sexuality itself

Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2015 (9:13 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Saturday, September 12th, 2013:

Pete Jermann, writing on-line last week for Crisis Magazine, anticipates that the new school year will see the resurgence of the phony “college rape crisis” narrative that became de rigeur of late, especially last year. Except that Jermann sees that it is not phony at all, but simply a disordered expression of a genuine response to violation, but a violation that encompasses (and implicates!) the entirety of modern “sexual” culture:

 

The crisis is not in the competing true/false allegations of the parties involved, nor in the inability to define rape, but in the underlying hopelessness of lives denied authentic sexual meaning. The real crisis is the forlorn cry of a generation lost in the wilderness of the Sexual Revolution. The alleged rape is real, but it is the rape of sexuality itself.

An excuse for feminist outrage, the manufactured campus rape crisis is a facade behind which lies a ghostly terrain where not only “man,” and “woman,” but “sex,” and “love” are empty shadows of an earlier time. …

The campus rape movement is an outcry of this emptiness. It is the cry of those trapped in a world without meaning, a world seeking love without knowing love. It is not the oft heralded number of one in five college girls that have been raped. It is an entire generation, both male and female.

The campus rape movement is not a continuation of the Sexual Revolution but an inadvertent counter-revolution. It is inadvertent because its proponents consider themselves part of the revolution they challenge. It is a counter-revolution because it seeks meaning in a revolution that destroys meaning. Without help it will fail because it cannot see itself for what it is, for what all lies are, a mass of contradictions. The demand that women be respected falls flat in a culture that has already condemned respect as patronizing male chauvinism. A generation raised on the love of self, a “love” based on feelings of one’s own goodness, cannot understand a “respect” that begins with the denial of self and the consideration of the other. Nor can it understand what it means to respect a “woman” when there is no concept of woman larger than any particular woman, or, in the new transgendered world, even any particular man. The aggrieved women of the campus rape movement demand a recognition of womanhood they themselves do not acknowledge. They seek love without definition of either love or the object loved.

In such a world, one where love has no meaning and feelings are all-meaning, a woman who awakes with bad feelings, whether the morning after or any morning after, has indeed been raped. With sex reduced to good feelings there is no accounting for bad feelings. …

Rape is the crime of sex forcefully taken. The Sexual Revolution is an act of rape that has taken our sexuality itself.

Jermann is simply spot-on. Read the whole article – it’s only 1,500 words. His comments (final paragraph of article – not quoted above) on the sad Columbia “Mattress Girl” saga from last year struck me as exactly true to my almost-despairing thoughts on the matter at the time: there was no side to take in the conflict, no good actors to be found. There was only a poisonous social context, in which these hapless fools were submerged, in which there is simply no readily available option to do good, in which no one remains with a sense even for what virtue is, never mind what it consists of, or how to embrace and embody it.

When I consider what concerns me most about sending my daughter off to college next year, it is precisely that toxic stew of moral imbecility that I fear: not my daughter’s judgment, and not even so much the judgment of others, but the vacuum created by the relentless lies about what it means to be human.

The weakness of it is not due to the argument itself but to the condition of the hearer

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013 (8:39 pm), by John W Gillis


Published on cnsnews.com last Friday, the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo provides a lengthy response to Bill O’Reilly’s recent dismissal of “Bible thumping” in the public square over the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, including the following comments on the incompatibility of the type of law involved in establishing such a legal fiction with a constitutional order per se:

O’Reilly fails to make clear distinctions. For example, on the issue of religion in the public square, his claim that theological arguments are unacceptable in the public square is meant to indicate that if someone does not have faith in the authority of Divine Revelation, such argumentation holds no sway. This is true.

It is incorrect, however, to grant the further implication that religious argumentation should not be used in the public square. … To presume that the public square is owned [by] or exists because of the atheists of our modern day is historically false and an easy way out of a more complicated debate.

… The clamor for same-sex marriage is symptomatic of but not the root cause of our demise. The eroding of the philosophical and cultural foundations of the West is at the root of the problem. To ignore this is to miss the forest for the trees.

… The argument from faith, being revealed by God is essentially the strongest argument per se. It may not be understood to be so, by those who do not believe in Divine Revelation, but, if God exists and Christian revelation is true, it is undoubtedly the strongest. God does not have opinions, or positions on issues. God is simply Truth. The fact that the argument from eternal law cannot be used with the homosexual lobby, which is markedly atheistic, does not grant the further claim that Divine Revelation is a weak argument. The weakness of it is not due to the argument itself but to the condition of the hearer, who does not recognize Divine Law.

… If Bill O’Reilly believes in Divine Revelation and the divinity of Christ, he surely should realize that theology and reason (philosophy) are simply two different ways of arriving at the same conclusion. Theology and revelation are necessary, even in cases where one can arrive at the same conclusion [by] reason alone, because not every individual has the time or ability to arrive at correct conclusions from reason. Revelation in this sense is a service to the human conscience, for it affords another way for many people to arrive to necessary conclusions, quickly, and without the admixture of error. Revealed doctrine is a service to reason, not an obstacle.

But since Mr. O’Reilly demands "more than Bible thumping," I argue from reason, that homosexuality is simply not a normative inclination in the individual and therefore its existence constitutes shaky ground to make a norm for society as a whole. One has to take a deep breath and depersonalize the issue. We speak at this level when evaluating policy. The question before us is whether the tendency of some men and some women toward a same sex attraction is reasonable grounds to legislate for an entire nation or state.

… Now, when we discover non-normative tendencies, we seek causes. We ask: Why is this non-normative behavior taking place? We don’t start making laws for an entire population based on the non-normative tendencies of a tiny segment of the population. More clinical, sociological, and medical science is needed here, not lawyers and judges acting by fiat to institutionalize in the nation’s law non-normative tendencies of any type. This is, I submit, an unreasonable and insufficient ground for law.

… The problem here is that if non-normative tendencies become the criteria for constitutional or state law, law itself will become biographical. This atomization of law, culminates in the inability for us to have fundamental rights, as human beings. Things are institutionalized after centuries in law and custom, because they are recognized as normative, and, in the case of marriage, as a good for society. The legal institution of marriage is the normalization of that which is de facto normative in man. Marriage institutionalized in law and by religion is the proper effect the fruit of a normative tendency in man. Heterosexual, monogamous unions were not simply admitted into the marriage franchise (to which others now seek entry), it is rather the author that produced marriage as we know it. They have as it were, authorship rights over marriage since they produced the institution.

Creating institutions in law and possibly at a constitutional level, using non-normative tendencies (which are many and vary greatly in our society), as the justification is unreasonable and theoretically unsound.

Equality under the law in this sense is already being assaulted by post-modern philosophy, as unfair. Precisely for this reason, "the notion of "equality under the law," is now seen by many as failing to address the biographical preferences and tendencies of all kinds of biographical groups in society.

If we continue down that path, there will be no end, except the end of what we now know as the rule of law. It is unreasonable to legislate on constitutional order in this fashion.

Although I’m not sure how much of Guarnizo’s far-flung argument addresses the problem with O’Reilly’s libertarian indifference to non-utilitarian aspects of public life, the article nonetheless articulates a number of ideas that rarely make their way into the public discourse on this contrived controversy.

Given the hysterical nature of the thought-policing imposed on the matter (e.g. anyone who disagrees with the idiotic pretenses of the radicals is a “bigot’), it’s good to see some of the underlying intellectual errors exposed, as this piece does in pointing out how the special-interest nature of “biographical preference” law undermines the very basis of lawful order by replacing genuine equality under the law with targeted “rights” meant to benefit the politically well-positioned. Ostensibly advanced to serve the cause of “equality”, these kinds of laws are ultimately tyrannical, precisely because they are irrational, and that which is not rooted in the truth of the nature of things has no capacity to (continue to) exist on its own, and must be propped up by raw power. They are politically dangerous, socially poisonous, and morally unjust.

HT to Ed Morrissey at HotAir.

Not so much a cultural revolution, as it is a mop-up job

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013 (8:45 pm), by John W Gillis


Thanks to a link provided by Operation Rescue Boston’s Bill Cotter in a recent newsletter email, I recently came across an article by John Jalsevac at LifeSiteNews.com, which I consider the most insightful piece of short literature I have read on the cultural phenomenon of gay marriage, recognizing not only the problem the concept presents, but also acknowledging the very thin grounds modern (i.e. liberalized) “conservatives” have to stand on in resisting the expansion of the modern notion of marriage to include gays:

But an honest look at the cultural landscape raises the question of just how much is left to defend. The statistics suggest that social conservatives may be brandishing their scimitars not in defense of a robust institution suddenly threatened by a new and hostile cultural force, but rather the smoking ruins of an institution long ago surrendered and abandoned as lost. The Sexual Revolution of the 60s, and what a friend of mine calls the subsequent “hell of the Divorce Tsunami” of the 70s, have already swept this Thing That We Used to Call Marriage out to sea, leaving us clinging to the bobbing flotsam and jetsam.

By this point the statistics are so familiar that they have ceased to be shocking. And yet the numbers ought to shock us. Right now, some sixty percent of couples cohabit before marriage; nearly half of all marriages end in divorce; a record number of Americans aren’t bothering to get married in the first place, and those that do get married are getting married ever later; 41 percent of all children are born out of wedlock; 35 percent of children live in single-parent homes; only 61 percent of children under 18 live with their biological parents; and the birth rate has now dipped below the replacement level, as couples are having fewer and fewer, or sometimes no children at all.

So much for marriage being “life-long,” “exclusive” and child-oriented! Well then, what do we have left? Only the final third of our definition of traditional marriage: that marriage should be between one man and one woman. From the perspective of the gay rights movement, getting rid of this final scrap of our definition is not so much a cultural revolution, as it is a mop-up job. The revolution already happened. Now it’s simply a question of tying up the loose ends.

And they are not wrong.

Jalsevac insists that what is being defended against the encroachment of homosexuality is not marriage in any historically meaningful sense, but a liberal institution he calls New Marriage, which is little more than the corpse of that institution upon which civilization has been built. He is absolutely correct.

Liberalism – understood in its older sense, and not something that began in the 1960s or late 19th century – has had as its aim the destruction/replacement of two fundamental institutions: the Church, and the family. In fact, I think one could reduce its aim to the singular goal of the destruction/replacement of fatherhood (i.e. patriarchy). On the family/marriage front, the main battle was lost about fifty years ago. I barely know anyone who understands marriage as anything that even closely resembles the reality that formed human culture.

Were it not for the working of grace in my life, I don’t think I would be able to understand what the difference is. But there is a difference – a momentous difference – and the truth, however elusive, must be pursued, embraced, and proclaimed. I recommend following the link to the entire article.

Alan Keyes Schools a Journalist on the Distinction Between Principles and Particulars

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 (1:12 pm), by John W Gillis


Alas, how different the world might be today if that 2004 Illinois U.S. Senate race had turned out differently:

 

The video provider labels this “A strong argument against gay marriage”, though I would be inclined to call it something like “A simple elucidation of the fundamental error of gay marriage”.

For what it’s worth, Alan Keyes is the only presidential candidate I’ve ever donated money to (in the 2000 election), though I very well may have donated to Rick Santorum this year if he had been the GOP nominee.

I love the look on Obama’s face when they cut to him near the end. It looks like he’s hoping he won’t get called on. He’s clearly out of his league with Keyes intellectually, but intelligence, unfortunately, does not win elections: politics does. And don’t we know how much craftier a politician Obama is than Keyes. Keyes never really had a chance as a politician, but he sure elevated the conversation.

Update: Video fixed, I hope.

Forced Abortions & Sterilizations in Massachusetts?

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 (11:28 pm), by John W Gillis


Occasionally, I read or hear about something so stunning that I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience, watching from a detached vantage point as the world unfurls strangely in front of me. Yesterday afternoon, I had one of those experiences.

I was at work, pausing to check the headlines, weather and traffic, when I saw the surreal headline: “Massachusetts Appeals Court rules that judge was wrong to order mentally ill woman to have an abortion and to then be sterilized”.

Forced abortions and sterilizations in Massachusetts? Granted, the court-ordered violation of this woman – and murder of her baby – were stopped, but it still seems hard to fit these facts into the perception I have of the world I inhabit. This isn’t China, or some other totalitarian state; despite the admittedly growing monstrosity of state hegemony over too many areas of life, America’s still seems like a system worth saving through correction, not overthrowing. Judges don’t really order things like that, right?

I’m not wholly ignorant of the history of these kinds of criminal depravities in American jurisprudence; I know these kinds of judgments were not unheard of during the early heyday of Progressivism, 100 years ago or so, before the “historical marches” of fascism and communism progressed Europe into post-Christian, scientifically-ordered hell-holes, giving the eugenics and related movements a rather tarnished public image. I’m also very aware of the broad based public support for abortion, in both varnished and even unvarnished guises; for eugenics in just about every conceivable form excepting the currently unfashionable sex-selection killing of fetal girls practiced by Hindus and others; and even for sterilization of the “unfit” as part of the eugenic spirit, at least insofar as it is reflected in attitudes that some people, for the common good, just shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce. even if the means of accomplishing that are not part of the reflection. Still, I wouldn’t have thought any judge in 21st century America would dare to be so craven, regardless of her own level of contempt for the human being.

A day later, there are still a few lingering things haunting my mind about this fiasco, after getting past the shocking moral depravity of the judge in the case – Norfolk (MA) Probate and Family Court Judge Christina Harms, who retired from the bench last Wednesday, less than a week after handing down this ruling, which among other indecencies, stipulated that the mother ‘could be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed … by ruse” into a hospital where she would be sedated and an abortion would then be performed’, according to the original Boston.com story I read, as well as the few others I’ve found.

The first is the amazing lack of legs this story has (not) grown. I would have expected that a story reported on  pretty major MSM news site about a judge in America ordering this forced abortion and sterilization would have gone close to viral within 24 hours – especially during an election year. This has barely caused a blip. Am I the only one shocked by this, or is this a case of the MSM looking the other way from what could be a political hot-potato for their political sponsors? Is there another explanation? I’m lost on this.

Secondly is the realization that it was apparently only the attempted forced sterilization that brought about the judicial rebuke from Appellate Court Associate Justice Andrew R. Grainger, who noted that the ruling contradicted a 1982 (MA) Supreme Judicial Court ruling on the right to procreate. The fate of the baby appears to have been handed over to yet another lower court judge for dispositioning! The courts might yet order the baby to be killed for having a mentally ill mother! Incredible.

Lastly, I was profoundly struck by what I can only characterize as a thunderous moral tone-deafness and spiritual imbecility on the part of the alleged adults involved in this, including the reporters (with the exception of Ben Johnson writing for LifeSiteNews.com, who picked up on this). It is a tone-deafness to the cruel irony that the mental incapacitation afflicting this women (schizophrenia), which is the cudgel being used to beat her into the torture chamber, appears to have its source in a prior abortion she had committed. Court records are clear that she had a breakdown after the abortion, and has been a basket case ever since, especially around issues concerning babies.

This poor woman is tormented by the evil of her earlier abortion, and this knuckle-dragging judge wanted to trick her into having another abortion! And her own parents are advocating for killing her child! May God have pity on all of them in their deformities. This tortured soul does not need an abortionist, she needs a priest. I pray one finds her soon.

Same-sex marriage violates the right of the family to protection by society and the state

Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 (4:23 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Thursday, January 5th, 2012.

Douglas Farrow, from an outstanding piece in the new (and terrific-looking) issue of Touchstone, entitled Why Fight Same-Sex Marriage? Nail-head, meet hammer:

[W]e should observe also that when a family of some description is founded by a same-sex couple, it is always founded by violating the natural parent-child bond that marriage is intended to nurture and protect. It deprives the child, whether in the same way that divorce does or in some more innovative technological way, of its prima facie right to its own father and mother. But we should notice something else as well, and not merely parenthetically—something too little noticed either by the detractors or by the champions of marriage. Same-sex marriage violates the natural parent-child bond in every family, and the right of the family to protection by society and the state.

How so?

In Rerum Novarum Pope Leo XIII rightly described the family as “a society very small . . . but none the less a true society, and one older than any State,” with “rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the State.” This society, “founded more immediately in nature,” is what the Universal Declaration has in mind when it speaks in article 16 of the family. The family’s status as “natural”—that controversial adjective is deployed only in this one specific article—allows it a certain priority over civil society and the state. The latter share an obligation to protect the family, but the family is not at their disposal.

Same-sex marriage dispenses with all of that, however. By excising sexual difference, with its generative power, it deprives itself of any direct connection to nature. The unit it creates rests on human choice, as does that created by marriage. But whether monogamous, polygamous, or polyamorous, it is a closed unit that reduces to human choice, rather than engaging choice with nature; and its lack of a generative dimension means that it cannot be construed as a fundamental building block.

Institutionally, then, it is nothing more than a legal construct. Its roots run no deeper than positive law. It therefore cannot present itself to the state as the bearer of independent rights and responsibilities, as older or more basic than the state itself. Indeed, it is a creature of the state, generated by the state’s assumption of the power of invention or re-definition. Which changes everything.

I have little to add except that I can happily cross “write a short but cogent defense of marriage from an anthropological perspective” off my to-do list – I can simply point people to Farrow’s article, which is far better than anything I would have come up with. Next time some sneering cynic asks you “How is your marriage ‘damaged’ by same-sex marriage?”, share this link. Marriage matters like nothing else matters in human society, and Farrow knows why. And he knows why contraception lies at the root of the breath-taking collapse of the institution over the past century – and especially the past half-century. Required reading for any morally serious person.

A Final Note on Hvistendahl’s Incoherence

Posted: Monday, September 5, 2011 (4:36 pm), by John W Gillis


Prior to my summer blogging hiatus, I had posted a couple of entries on some responses to Mara Hvistendahl’s recent book on the social consequences of widespread sex-selection abortions in Asia. I ended up requesting the book from my local public library, and checked it out in mid-July. I couldn’t get past the prologue; it was dreadful.

As Hvistendahl laid out her project in the prologue, it was hard not to detect something like a sadness for a great hope gone bad; a belief that abortion should have been not just a means for individual women to “gain control” of their own lives, but a vehicle for social transformation, one sure to lift the world out of the darkness of an evil past. In other words, it was supposed to be a shining example of the fundamental piety (and conceit) of progressivism: the new, technologically-empowered order of Modernity triumphing over the evil institutions of tradition. And yet, something had gone terribly wrong, somehow:

While ultrasound technology was modern, like many people at the time I thought that using it for something as crass as sex selection had to be temporary; one last instance of sexist traditions rearing their ugly head. (p. xiif)

It’s scary to consider how normal this thinking appears to many people – especially educated people.

There’s not a lot of need to explore in too much further detail the fundamental intellectual and moral error embraced by Hvistendahl: as if it were morally unacceptable to select for boys, but perfectly acceptable to select for health traits or some other eugenic purpose – or more to the point: that the practice of adults deciding which children to kill in utero can be justified on the basis of any utilitarian calculation, but only as long as the intention does not violate the sensibilities of people like Mara Hvistendahl. Abortion can’t be wrong simply because it is murderous, but it can be a thought crime, if your reasons don’t pass muster. Imagine that.

I understand that professional academics generally occupy a rather different world than that of working stiffs like me: they travel within their own peculiar orbit of fashionable dogmas that seek to explain the world according to mythologies that place professional academics themselves at the epicenter of a deterministic universe, as gatekeepers to the science of the Answers to Everything™. They function as the Priesthood of Progress – and if they also wear a white coat, then they’re like high priests, or bishops, or something. I get that. But what is a simple thinking person to make of fatuity such as this:

If females are scarce, males may kill a female’s existing offspring to maximize their chance at passing on their genes, inadvertently speeding up the species’ path toward extinction. (p. xv)

It’s hard to know where to start. Although written as a support for her theorizing on the declining prospects for peace in the world given the new gender imbalance among mankind in Asia, it is clearly standard-fare, goofball Darwinistic mythology – applicable, as must be the case, to sexual species generally. It’s tough enough to come up with a credible scenario wherein men might find a scarcity of women an inducement to kill other men’s children in order to try to ensure their own progeny, but to postulate such a clever motivation to irrational, purely instinctual creatures is beyond laughable. Of course, it’s hard enough to see how anyone can reconcile a Darwinist orthodoxy with an abortionist mindset to begin with, unless it is out of utter self-contempt. Still, this may seem somewhat irrelevant to my assessment of her book, but I offer it as an exemplar of the intellectual quality of the work as a whole.

What we’re given in this prognostication is a transparently dubious assertion about reality, being pressed down for validation into the quasi-sacred space of Darwinistic “explanations-of-everything via the progressive/evolutionary struggle for existence”, an intellectual playground where all kinds of absurd explanations for the world around us (sometimes derisively known as just-so stories) are readily embraced without much comment, and are supposedly validated by the fact that things are indeed the way they are (i.e. the just-so explanation for why things are that way must be true, or they wouldn’t be that way, right?). This is the logical fallacy known as affirming the consequent. It attempts to ride the coattails of a meaningless tautology (whatever exists is that which had been most likely to survive), but reads that tautology backwards, via a neo-pagan cosmology of primordial chaos and violence, into an origins mythology of a universal struggle for survival, which begets magical thinking in various affirmations of causeless effects, and assertions of motivated matter and acting secondary substance (i.e. species).

Sufficiently coated now with enough Darwinist dogma-dust so as to be protected from serious intellectual questioning, the idea is then walked back from the murky mists of evolutionary just-so-ism to a place where it can be supposed to be applicable to human society. Again, I understand how popular this kind of mental processing is, but I just can’t stomach it. Now, whether or not a theory of evolution, recognizable as such to a modern Neo-Darwinist, will ever offer a satisfactory biological explanation for the mysterious analogy of life on Earth is quite beside the point here. The point is that the kind of cheesy magical thinking exposed above, coupled with the ideological credulity already evident in Hvistendahl’s thinking on abortion, rendered the idea of a close reading of the entire work, in my judgment, a waste of precious time – although I would end up spending a bit more time scoping out the other sections to better grasp the work as a whole.

Browsing further, I found an interesting section exploring the effects of the woman shortage on marriage norms in Asia, where young women are now routinely imported as sexual commodities into countries with more aggressive girl-aborting practices, where they are very often taken by abusive men with no understanding (or concern) of how to treat women properly. There is also, of course, a burgeoning market in prostitution. In short, Hvistendahl reveals that abortion has facilitated the subjugation of the region’s poorer women in a cruel and demeaning system of sexual slavery. Who would have thought that imposing a barbaric institution designed to kill children for profit and convenience could give rise to such blatant disrespect for women as persons? Go figure!

Hvistendahl might be right about the ominous practical implications of the Asian gender imbalance facilitated by abortion technology – and championed by Western “do-gooders” – but she is blind to the root cause, which is not the prevailing circumstances themselves, but the underlying moral imbecility of embracing pure evil as a vehicle for achieving a desired good. Moreover, little do the Mara Hvistendahls of the world understand what’s ultimately in store for women in the West, whose status, in order to descend to such complete depravity, has to fall so much further than it did in societies in which women have not traditionally been viewed through the dignifying lens of Christianity. But the chickens will surely come home yet to roost, as men – increasingly alienated from any sense of duty, purpose, or responsibility in a consumerist, “liberated” society – continue, progressively, to see women not as wives and as partners in the perpetual generation of civilization in the family, but as more or less useful playthings.

The “freedom to choose” touted by abortion apologists is nothing but a fraudulent license to kill, and the price of murder is the loss of all decency. The bill for this idiocy is coming due.

The tragedy is that they’re dead

Posted: Monday, June 27, 2011 (9:25 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for June 27th, 2011:

The New York Times’ Ross Douthat’s take on the Mara Hvistendahl book I posted on last Wednesday:

This places many Western liberals, Hvistendahl included, in a distinctly uncomfortable position. Their own premises insist that the unborn aren’t human beings yet, and that the right to an abortion is nearly absolute. A self-proclaimed agnostic about when life begins, Hvistendahl insists that she hasn’t written “a book about death and killing.” But this leaves her struggling to define a victim for the crime that she’s uncovered.

It’s society at large, she argues, citing evidence that gender-imbalanced countries tend to be violent and unstable. It’s the women in those countries, she adds, pointing out that skewed sex ratios are associated with increased prostitution and sex trafficking.

These are important points. But the sense of outrage that pervades her story seems to have been inspired by the missing girls themselves, not the consequences of their absence.

Here the anti-abortion side has it easier. We can say outright what’s implied on every page of “Unnatural Selection,” even if the author can’t quite bring herself around.

The tragedy of the world’s 160 million missing girls isn’t that they’re “missing.” The tragedy is that they’re dead.

My initial reaction upon hearing of this book was to be interested, but not interested enough to add it to my absurdly and hopelessly overgrown reading list, but the more I read about it, the more it appears that the author really did her homework, and that it might be worth a look.

Appropriately, Douthat seems concerned primarily with the complicity, unveiled by Hvistendahl, of self-righteous Western institutions in the propagation of the Orient’s “gendercide”, and I suspect that is not at all what the author had in mind, but the facts speak for themselves – eventually.

It seems also worth noting that the figure of 160 million “missing” (i.e. dead) girls is grossly understated as far as I can see, because it only refers to the delta from the imbalanced birth rate, not the total number killed, which would necessarily add a number approaching half the number of world-wide abortions, though one could argue that the others were killed for different reasons – as if that were important.

The lunatic fascist and socialist tyrants who were the dominant objects of public fear and loathing during the 20th century, it turns out, had nothing on the bureaucrats running The Rockefeller Foundation, Planned Parenthood, or the various liberal governments of the “civilized world” which oversaw the project of progress – not when it comes to the shedding of innocent blood for personal and political gain.

‘I want to abort because if this baby is born it will be a Gemini, but I want a Libra.’

Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 (6:45 am), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011:

Jonathan Last, in a review published at the Wall Street Journal Online of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, a recent book by feminist Mara Hvistendahl:

Ms. Hvistendahl is particularly worried that the "right wing" or the "Christian right"—as she labels those whose politics differ from her own—will use sex-selective abortion as part of a wider war on abortion itself. She believes that something must be done about the purposeful aborting of female babies or it could lead to "feminists’ worst nightmare: a ban on all abortions."

It is telling that Ms. Hvistendahl identifies a ban on abortion—and not the killing of tens of millions of unborn girls—as the "worst nightmare" of feminism. Even though 163 million girls have been denied life solely because of their gender, she can’t help seeing the problem through the lens of an American political issue. Yet, while she is not willing to say that something has gone terribly wrong with the pro-abortion movement, she does recognize that two ideas are coming into conflict: "After decades of fighting for a woman’s right to choose the outcome of her own pregnancy, it is difficult to turn around and point out that women are abusing that right."

Late in "Unnatural Selection," Ms. Hvistendahl makes some suggestions as to how such "abuse" might be curbed without infringing on a woman’s right to have an abortion. In attempting to serve these two diametrically opposed ideas, she proposes banning the common practice of revealing the sex of a baby to parents during ultrasound testing. And not just ban it, but have rigorous government enforcement, which would include nationwide sting operations designed to send doctors and ultrasound techs and nurses who reveal the sex of babies to jail. Beyond the police surveillance of obstetrics facilities, doctors would be required to "investigate women carrying female fetuses more thoroughly" when they request abortions, in order to ensure that their motives are not illegal.

Such a regime borders on the absurd. It is neither feasible nor tolerable—nor efficacious: Sex determination has been against the law in both China and India for years, to no effect. I suspect that Ms. Hvistendahl’s counter-argument would be that China and India do not enforce their laws rigorously enough.

Despite the author’s intentions, "Unnatural Selection" might be one of the most consequential books ever written in the campaign against abortion. It is aimed, like a heat-seeking missile, against the entire intellectual framework of "choice." For if "choice" is the moral imperative guiding abortion, then there is no way to take a stand against "gendercide." Aborting a baby because she is a girl is no different from aborting a baby because she has Down syndrome or because the mother’s "mental health" requires it. Choice is choice. One Indian abortionist tells Ms. Hvistendahl: "I have patients who come and say ‘I want to abort because if this baby is born it will be a Gemini, but I want a Libra.’ "

Though the selection quoted here paints Ms. Hvistendahl as something of a crackpot, the review is largely appreciative of what Last takes to be a worthwhile expository work which explores some of the unintended consequences of what people saner than Ms. Hvistendahl recognize as the fundamentally evil franchise of legalized abortion. The practical social implications of the abortion movement are chickens slowly but surely coming home to roost, and represent nobody’s sexually-liberated utopia, needless to say. Nevertheless, it is truly astonishing to see how writers like Hvistendahl can maintain their ideological blindness in the light of such damning evidence of their murderous folly.

Privatizing Prisons?

Posted: Saturday, January 29, 2011 (11:24 pm), by John W Gillis


Jazz Shaw has a troubling post on the blog over at HotAir.com, dealing with a recent suggestion from Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner to freeze new prison construction funding in PA. As the Entitlements Chicken comes home to roost, states are likely to begin looking at their corrections systems for ways to save. Nothing wrong with that in theory, but I have a hard time seeing how the typical alignment of political squabbling will produce a good path forward. To wit, Shaw’s two-cent’s worth on available options:

Wagner is excluding the ranks of murderers, rapists and their ilk, as previous, sensible plans have done. And rather than some sort of catch and release scheme, he’s examining alternate options including half-way houses, electronic monitoring for home detention, and evening – weekend release programs (which free up beds) for the well behaved.

All of these have potential, and I hope he’s not too badly excoriated solely for political gain over this. But the one item which seems to have been left off the table is privatization. While such plans have hardly been problem free, some have shown a great deal of promise. Getting the prison system off the state government’s books entirely and turning it over to a for-profit organization which will be motivated to do the job in the most economically efficient manner possible should also be considered.

Let me be blunt: the notion of privatizing prisons is inane – and perhaps insane. Securing the public order is one of the few unquestionably legitimate functions of government, and that includes the administration of punishment for wrongdoers. In fact, in one of his more famous and widely-quoted passages, Saint Paul tells us in Romans 13:4 that it is a sacred duty of the state; that the ruling authority “is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.” Trading this duty for a price break is grossly irresponsible. Furthermore, it establishes a dehumanizing institution wherein human punishment – human degradation – is undertaken as a for-profit enterprise, which while not as completely evil as, say, the abortion industry, nonetheless flagrantly flouts decency’s law against the objectification of our fellow human beings, in ways more than a little reminiscent of slave trading. Yet, I fear this idea is likely to gain traction within certain circles.

Before this gets too far, I hope we can have a serious public discussion (ha!) about the meaning and purpose of punishment for crime. We seem to take the prison system as being essentially synonymous with the idea of a penal system, as if there aren’t any other serious alternatives except for options that could be bundled under the rubric of leniency – this despite the historical reality that the ubiquitous use of prison time  for punishing crime is relatively new. I realize the prison-focused model was implemented as a humanitarian alternative to older forms of punishment, but I’m not convinced prisons aren’t often very expensive means for completing the social alienation of men (and women) who are obviously already at least tending anti-social – further coarsening them, and facilitating and/or creating a criminal sub-culture that in turn facilitates permanent alienation from whatever virtue “straight” culture can manage to foster in its conforming members.

It’s also true that some people get their lives turned around in prison. But I suppose there are prisons and there are prisons, and again, there are prisoners and there are prisoners. For every prisoner that gets his life turned around doing time, how many become conformed to an anti-social norm that mitigates against their ever being prepared to function properly in virtuous society, and how is this related to the unmistakable and steady decline of virtue in an “outside” culture that lionizes moral transgression as a kind of counter-cultural bravery? At any rate, it should be clear enough that the actual consequences of the prison movement have not produced the results liberal society expected to achieve in its penal system.

Any serious conversation about this issue would require that civic leaders and other concerned parties understand the overall purpose of criminal punishment in American society; its intended goals from both a societal perspective and that of the individual offender; the relation of punishment to rehabilitative purposes in modern penality; the breadth of content of the actual practices of incarceration in America; and the effects of both actual and threatened incarceration on various elements of the population.

No small task that, but America has a ridiculously large prison population, and people are about to start arguing over whether or not we should turn its administration into a profitable business for someone – in order to expand that population even further, without interrupting tee times.