We Are Not On A Racism Cliff

 

“It’s the CIA’s wet dream; there is no Yuri.”

 

              —Gene Hackman as Secretary of Defense David Brice in No Way Out

 

I know better than to read Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts.  But sometimes I can’t help myself.

All-too-predictably, Pitts is thoroughly inflamed over the jury’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Florida.  But he takes it a step farther than the typical outrage over the perceived injustice, or even the bogus use of the case as a springboard for opposition to “stand-your-ground” laws (which weren’t even an issue in the trial).  Pitts cries out that the verdict must serve as a wake-up call for the black community to take action to prevent what he claims is an impending tsunami of white erosion of hard-won black rights.

Arguing that black history has always been a cycle of two steps forward, one step back (one could make a good argument that that’s a universal story of mankind, but who’s counting), Pitts warns that blacks are standing on a cliff with whites preparing to push them over into a new era of deprivation.  For him, the Zimmerman verdict—a unanimous verdict of a jury approved by the state of Florida in a trial in which the state overreached in its charges and then couldn’t make its case despite having virtually every possible advantage—heralds a new “crushing period of pushback” against which blacks must be vigilant.

Pitts tells blacks: 

  • While we were celebrating, others were calculating.
  • While we were writing nasty rap lyrics, they were writing senators.
  • While we were organizing Obama victory parties, they were organizing tea parties.
  • While we were buying DVDs, they were buying candidates.
  • While we were sending texts, they were building propaganda machinery.
  • While we were resting in the past, they were seizing the future.

What the hell is he talking about?

Pitts, of course, cites exactly zero evidence for his charges that unnamed “others” or “they”—we can understand him to mean universally racist white people, although he doesn’t say that out loud—have been “calculating,” “writing senators,” “buying candidates,” etc.  And although Pitts insinuates that these activities are inherently sinister and aimed at blacks, just what these racist whites are going to deprive blacks of, Pitts conveniently leaves unspecified.  Who these people are, and what they’re going to do (if anything) are unknown, but blacks should nevertheless be very afraid.

For all Mr. Pitts’ incessant whining about pervasive racism, the fact is—leaving aside the impact of the continuing Great Recession, which has hit all groups—by almost any measure the black condition has steadily—if slowly—improved over the last half century.  Consider the following:

  • We have a black President, recently re-elected despite an objectively dismal record in office;
  • In the 2012 election, black voting turnout surpassed white turnout for the first time, and in 2008, 2010, and 2012, blacks voted in record numbers;
  • Black per capita income, while still lagging behind that of whites and of the nation as a whole, has closed that gap from 43% below the mean (in 2011 dollars) in 1967, to 31% below the mean in 2011;
  • The mean income for middle fifth of the black population has risen from $25,294 in 1967 (again in 2011 dollars) to $32,452 in 2011, although that has tailed a bit with recent extended recession;
  • From the peak of the 1982 recession, black unemployment dropped steadily from a high of around 21% to a low in 2007 of about 7.5%;
  • Black-owned businesses increased by 60.5% from 2002 to 2007, and represent one of the fastest growing segments in the US economy;
  • The percentage of black students at U.S. colleges rose from 9% in 1976 to 14% in 2010, meaning blacks are actually now slightly overrepresented relative to their percentage of the population.
  • In 2011, the FBI recorded 2,076 “hate crimes” with anti-black bias, down from 3,674 incidents in 1996, the earliest year for which such statistics are available.  That reflects a 43% decrease over the last 15 years.

This hardly suggests an impending new white conspiracy to roll back the clock on blacks.  Blacks are voting and getting their candidates elected.  More blacks are getting jobs and earning more money.  More blacks are attending college.  Black business is up, racially-motivated crime against blacks is down.  Yet somehow Pitts contends that the Zimmerman verdict is a harbinger of doom for blacks.   

The Zimmerman case had nothing to do with race.  Zimmerman isn’t white; he self-identifies as Hispanic.  And in his 911 call to police—if you get the one NBC didn’t fraudulently edit—he didn’t originally identify Trayvon Martin as black.  Nor is this a situation where a racist Jim Crow government turned a blind eye because the victim was black and the accused was white; there was a trial in which the State of Florida did everything it could to finagle a conviction even after the local police, the original D.A., and the FBI all concluded there wasn’t enough evidence, and the jury didn’t buy it.  That’s how the system works: if the State can’t prove its case—and here Florida couldn’t and didn’t—the defendant is acquitted.  That’s not racism.

And despite Pitts’ unfounded fear of the Tea Party movement, the Zimmerman case had nothing to do with Tea Party politics, and the Tea Party movement has nothing to with race.  The Tea Party movement didn’t invent the law of self-defense, or even the irrelevant “stand-your-ground” law.  The Tea Party movement didn’t hire the prosecutor, appoint the judge, or select the jury.  The Tea Party movement is all about reeling government back in to its Constitutional limits, reducing spending, and playing by the damn rules.  Yes, that may mean fewer handouts and less voter fraud; if that hits black people, maybe Mr. Pitts should be looking at how blacks are conducting themselves, rather than trying to find racism under every pebble.

I am not so naïve as to believe there is no racism.  But the constant blame whitey cry is a cop-out, and it’s getting old.  What’s holding down blacks today—to the extent they’re held down—isn’t white vigilantes hunting down innocent black children.  It’s young black men killing other young black men by the hundreds.  It’s too many black kids growing up with unmarried mothers (or their grandmothers) with no father around.  It’s too many blacks in a permanent cycle of dependence on government welfare.  Only one of those—welfare dependency—has anything to do with whites, and that was a creature of the white Left, not Tea Party racists.

But that doesn’t sell well in the race-victim industry.

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Abortion And Due Process

Lecter:      And what did you see, Clarice?  What did you see?

Starling:   Lambs.  The lambs were screaming.

Lecter:      They were slaughtering the spring lambs?

Starling:   And they were screaming.

                  —Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and Jodie Foster as Agent Clarice Starling in The Silence Of The Lambs

 

As a supplement to the previous post, I wanted to expand on a thought about abortion as it relates to the Constitution.  I used to take the position that Roe v. Wade was wrong because abortion was a states’ rights issue.  I was wrong.  Abortion is very much a federal Constitutional issue, but for very different reasons than usually supposed.

I have previously observed that Thomas Jefferson forever enshrined the right to life in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life[.]”

For our Founders, it was “self-evident”—something so patently obvious it required no additional proof or explanation—that all people were equally vested with certain rights that were “unalienable.”   In our modern parlance we would say “inalienable,” but the meaning is the same:  incapable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one in possession.  Thus, it was so obvious as to be beyond question that everyone had these rights that could not be taken by any person or power but the consent of the holder. 

This is the starting point for our Declaration of Independence.

If we turn to the Constitution, and we find the same concept of a right to life expressed in the Fifth Amendment (and again in the Fourteenth, applying to the States):

No person shall . . . be deprived of life . . . without due process of law.”

Admittedly, this is a bit of a hedge from Jefferson’s absolute of “unalienable.”  Still, the protection is fairly plain: nobody loses their right to life without “due process.”  The concept of due process fills volumes in our law libraries, but at its essence isn’t that difficult to understand.  According to Webster’s, “due process of law” refers to “legal proceedings established to protect individual rights and liberties.”  To put a little more legal detail on it, Black’s Law Dictionary tells us:

Due process of law implies the right of a person affected thereby to be present before the tribunal which pronounces judgment upon the question of life, liberty, or property, in its most comprehensive sense; to be heard, by testimony or otherwise, and to have the right of controverting, by proof, every material fact which bears upon the question of right in the matter involved.”

So “due process” means that none of us may be deprived of our self-evident unalienable right to life without being afforded the opportunity: 

  • to be present “in the most comprehensive sense” before the body making the decision;
  • to be heard; and
  • to controvert every material fact bearing on the deprivation of that right.

Also key to the concept of due process is that the conclusive presumption of any fact against the one to be deprived is in itself a denial of due process.  We resolve doubts in favor of the one whose rights are in jeopardy (hence the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal cases).  We’ll come back to this.

Well, what happens to this due process concept in the context of an abortion?  To the extent the right to life is “unalienable,” the being whose life to be taken certainly hasn’t consented to the taking.  I suppose she is present before the decision-maker in the literal sense that she is physically attached to her mother in the womb.  Whether that constitutes being present “in the most comprehensive sense” is, I think, questionable at best.  What isn’t questionable is the fact that she has no opportunity to be heard, and no opportunity to controvert the material facts bearing on the decision whether her life is to be taken.  There’s been no judge or jury, no ability to present a defense, and no one to argue on her behalf.  If an adult were sent to Death Row after a trial at which he was only permitted to sit in the lobby, and at which he was not permitted to introduce any evidence or even have the benefit of counsel, that conviction would be overturned in a heartbeat as an unconstitutional denial of due process, even if there were no question that he did it.  Our law books overflow with examples of this very result under far less egregious circumstances.

I am at an absolute loss, then, how we square permitting abortion at all with the principles of our Declaration, and the law of due process expressed in the Constitution.  And consider that in the case of abortion, we’re not talking about someone guilty or even accused of murder.  The life taken is taken from one who is objectively and absolutely innocent of anything except existing and even that condition was not of her own volition.  We move heaven and earth to protect a confessed murderer’s right to life, yet we do nothing to ensure due process for the most innocent of the innocent.

How can that be?

Our dilemma is the conflict between the child’s right to life on the one hand, and on the other the mother’s “reproductive rights” or “right to choose” flowing from her right to privacy in her body.  Even accepting at face value that this “right to privacy” exists—you won’t find the term in the Declaration or the Constitution—and poses a Constitutional conflict, however, there remains a serious problem:

Of the two people involved, only one of them created the conflict.

In the law we have a concept called “estoppel,” which means you cannot avoid the consequences of your own actions to another’s detriment.  It’s a sort of you-made-your-bed-you-lie-in-it rule; you cannot create a situation and then seek relief from that situation at someone else’s expense.  That’s what we have in the case of abortion.  To the extent there is a legitimate conflict between competing Constitutional rights, that conflict was created by the mother, and as between the two she is the one who should not be heard to complain that that conflict is impairing her rights.

The only way around this is to eliminate the conflict by saying that the being whose life is to be taken is not a “person,” such that the self-evident unalienable right to life and due process guarantees do not apply.  And indeed that is exactly the tack taken by Justice Blackmun in Roe v. Wade.  But this presents two problems.  One is that the common understanding of “person” means “human being,” which requires you to accept that (a) a fetus in the womb is not a human being, and (b) at some point none of us can define that fetus magically crosses the line from non-human being to human being.  

The bigger problem is the argument is inconsistent with the Constitutional notion of due process itself.  Those who contend that a fetus is not “person” and therefore has no right to life protected by due process, are engaging in a pre-emptive conclusive presumption against the unborn child, which in itself is a denial of due process (this is the concept to which I said we’d return).  Put another way, they deem the unborn child to have no right to due process, without affording any due process in making that determination.  It’s simply so because they say so.

There is considerable disagreement as to when one becomes a “person” entitled under our Constitution to due process to protect their right to life.  Even the staunchest abortion advocate, however, will concede that it happens at some point, although the best they can say in answer to the question of when is I don’t know.  But our notion of due process includes the idea that we resolve doubts in favor of the one whose rights are subject to deprivation.  If we don’t know when the threshold of personhood is crossed, due process requires us to assume in any individual instance that it already has been crossed; if that is the case, then the unalienable right to life and its due process protections are in full play.

Leave moral and religious concerns aside; I don’t see how you get around the due process issue and have anything left of the Constitution.

Where’s Your Sense Of Justice?

You see the world through your cynical eyes

You’re a troubled young man, I can tell

You’ve got it all in the palm of your hand

But your hand’s wet with sweat, and your head needs a rest

And you’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it

You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it

            —Styx, Fooling Yourself

 

Color me shocked.

Over the weekend a Florida jury returned a verdict of “not guilty” in the second-degree murder—er, on second thought, manslaughter—trial of George Zimmerman over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  And as predictably as the sun rising in the east, protests—some might say “riots,” but that would be racist—broke out in major cities across the U.S.  The usual entertainment industry suspects immediately took the twittersphere to howl at the moon over the horrible injustice of it all.  And the Obama Administration—apparently ignoring the investigation of its own F.B.I. in the matter—is considering civil rights charges against Zimmerman to make up for the justice gap.

Now, Trayvon Martin’s death was and remains a tragedy, and I’ve said from day 1 that if Zimmerman’s self-defense claim didn’t hold up I hoped he’d go to jail and rot.   But here’s the thing.

We had a trial, and the jury voted 6-0 that his self-defense claim did hold up.

Not one of these people who are now apoplectic over what they’re calling this unthinkable failure of the system was there that night to see what happened, and so they can’t speak intelligently to whether the “system failed.”  If in fact the incident went down as Zimmerman said it did—that Martin attacked him and was on top of him pounding his head into the pavement, and he was in fear for his life—then as tragic as Martin’s death is, the system got it exactly right.  But none of these protesters were there to know. 

Moreover, none of them were on the jury, and I’ll bet you a million dollars not one of these self-righteous loudmouths sat through more than a few seconds—if that—of the coverage of the actual evidence in the case, or knows anything beyond a few seconds of irresponsibly (some might say fraudulently) edited audio aired by NBC (h/t Mr. Commodore for pointing out that one to me).  Here’s what we do know: 

  • The only eyewitness in the case said he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman;
  • The forensics indicated that Martin’s shirt front was several inches from his body at the time he was shot, meaning he was leaning forward, not laying backwards;
  • You can argue about the severity, but there is no doubt that Zimmerman had injuries on the back of his head and his nose.

The physical evidence in the case was all consistent with Zimmerman’s story.  The prosecution, for its part, wasn’t able to produce anything of substance to contradict this, nor to establish their central theme that Zimmerman was a racist.  And it failed to do so despite a trial judge who was openly hostile to the defense, despite virtually every evidentiary and motion ruling going the State’s way, and despite reprehensibly sandbagging the defense on evidence and playing borderline unethical games with 11th hour changes in the charges.  In other words, this political show trial was rigged from the get-go in the prosecution’s favor, and they still couldn’t prove a case against Zimmerman.

And in truth that shouldn’t be surprising.  Recall that the local police originally refused to arrest Zimmerman because they had no evidence to support a case, and they said so publicly.  The F.B.I. later made a similar finding that it had no evidence Zimmerman’s actions were racially motivated.  With two different law enforcement agencies concluding there was no evidence to counter the claim of self-defense, why wouldn’t we expect the prosecution to fail to prove its case of racism run amok? 

But of course none of that matters to the moronic Hollywood intelligentsia, or to the gullible subscribers in the politics of racial victimhood.  All they know is a young black person was killed by someone with lighter skin, and for all their original cries that all we want is a trial, what they really wanted was the preordained result of a conviction, facts and evidence be damned.  Anything less is ipso facto evidence of the pervasive racism in an inherently unjust society that leaves no black person safe anywhere.

Really?

Let me run some figures by you.

According to the Chicago Police Department, in 2011 there were 433 murders in the Windy City.  Of the 433 victims, 196 (45%) were between the ages of 17 and 25.  Another 114 were between 26 and 35, yielding a total of 72% of all victims being between the ages of 17 and 35.  390 (90%) of the victims were male.  And 326 (76%) of the victims were black.  Over the same period, the Chicago Police had 173 identified perpetrators.  Of those, 91 (53%) were between 17 and 25, and another 45 were between 26 and 35, for a total of 79%.  153 (88%) of the known killers were male. 

And 122 (71%) of the known killers were—wait for it—black.

Given the level of vitriol over George Zimmerman, you’d think we had an epidemic of white vigilantes hunting down and killing young black men.  The truth, however, is that if you were murdered in Chicago in 2011, the odds are overwhelming that you were a young black male, and that your killer was another young black male.  This was and is happening in Chicago at a rate of almost one every single day. 

And it’s not a phenomenon isolated to Chicago.  As I highlighted back in December, using 2011 F.B.I. statistics, nationwide a black person was 13-14 times more likely to be killed by another black than by a white.  In fact, there were only 193 black victims of white killers across the entire U.S., significantly fewer than the total number of black victims of black killers in Chicago alone (extrapolating from the Chicago police data implies approximately 230 of the 322 black victims (71%) would have been killed by other blacks).

This indicates an epidemic of a whole different sort.  Yet where are the marches and rallies to stop the self-immolation of the black community?  Where is Al Sharpton to lecture blacks about stopping the killing of other blacks?  Where is Beyonce’s moment of silence to remember the hundreds upon hundreds of black youths dead at the hands of other black youths over the wrong color of basketball shoes, or a dime bag of dope, or “disrespecting” the wrong person at a night club at 2 a.m.?  Why aren’t Jesse Jackson, Quanell X, the Hollywood elite, and the Occupy protesters camped out in Hyde Park demanding an end to it all?

They all cry for justice for a young black man, but instead of focusing on a very real and widespread problem they spend untold time and energy trying to take an isolated incident and manufacture a false and deliberately divisive case for endemic racism in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

And that is an injustice.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

[Talking to God, who has just sprayed him with a lawn sprinkler] “I know, whatever you do, you do because you love me.  Do me a favor:  love me less.”

            —Steve Carrell as Evan Baxter in Evan Almighty

In Atlas Shrugged, the industrialist Hank Rearden supports his widowed mother and unemployed adult brother, both of whom live in Rearden’s home rent-free.  Nothing wrong with that, so far as it goes, and we might even say that’s what families do.  But Rearden’s mother takes it a step further.  Recognizing the younger Philip’s discontentment at living off his brother’s largesse, she visits Hank at his office and insists that he give Philip a job in his steel mill.  When Hank asks what possible use his brother would be in a steel mill, his mother incredulously responds that Philip’s competency is irrelevant; Hank should give Philip a job precisely because Philip is Hank’s brother and needs a job, not because he is qualified to do a task Hank needs done.  She is totally oblivious to the economic (and moral) implications of Hank’s point that it is irrational and irresponsible for him to pay Philip to do a job Philip cannot do, thus denying employment to someone else who could do the job.

It’s a pervasive concept with Progressives that society—more to the point those in society with money (other than themselves, of course)—owes people something as a matter of fundamental fairness, basic economic principles be damned.  What’s interesting, as economist Thomas Sowell frequently points out in Intellectuals and Society, the Progressive intelligentsia who spew these ideas are almost invariably operating outside their particular area of expertise.  Of course, what does that matter?  After all, these people are self-proclaimed intellectuals, which makes them inherently better able to assess and opine on all things for the greater good of “the people,” so long as the ideas they espouse are currently in fashion and give them the appearance of siding with the angels against the forces of oppression.

Hopefully they stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

The fact is, it matters a great deal.  For all their education, credentials, and specific subject-matter expertise, the Progressive intellectuals who arrogantly assume the mantle of surrogate decision-maker for the great unwashed masses can never have the same degree of information and self-interest in the outcome of those decisions as is held collectively by those very masses on whose behalf the Progressives purport (at least outwardly) to operate.  Predictably, despite the lofty intentions upon which they were based, these Progressive programs to legislate artificial fairness frequently end up harming the very constituencies they were ostensibly aimed to help.

There is a real world case study on this concept unfolding right now in Washington, D.C.  The D.C. Council—comprised of 11 Democrats and 2 “Independents”—has voted 8-5 to pass the “Large Retailer Accountability Act,” which would require retail outlets whose parent company generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue to pay a “living wage” of $12.50 per hour, 50% above the current $8.25 minimum wage in D.C.  Query what it is the large retailers are being held “accountable” for, but the idea is apparently another iteration of the Progressive notion that those who have owe those who don’t, simply as a matter of fairness. 

According to Councilman Jack Evans, a supporter of the bill:

“It has become very difficult, as you know, to live in the District of Columbia.  We are prospering beyond what any other city in America is doing and, as a result, it is expensive to live here.  So many people who are working, particularly in the retail industry, are having a hard time.”

Huh?!?  It’s “very difficult” to live in D.C. because it’s “prospering,” and D.C. is prospering therefore many people are “having a hard time”?  I’m not sure what this prosperity is Evans is talking about; according to BLS as of May the District of Columbia at 8.5% joined eight states with unemployment rates “measurably higher” than the national average of 7.6%, and the latest ranking (April 2013, using 2010 data) put it at 25th among the nation’s 50 largest cities.   

If you can wade past the gibberish, I gather that the point is simply that it’s expensive to live in D.C., therefore a higher wage is needed to compensate.  That of course begs the question why not simply raise the minimum wage across the board.  Do people who work for smaller retailers somehow magically have a lower cost of living?  One might also suggest that Evans and other Progressives examine why it’s so expensive; could it be the enormous tax burden (D.C. ranks 5th in terms of the highest “state” income taxes) imposed by the Left that has long been in control there?

The real problem, however, is the unintended consequences of this kind of measure.  Wal-Mart, which was set to open three D.C. stores and had plans to construct another three, has announced that if the bill passes, it will scrap the construction and review whether to open the three already built.  Council member Vincent Orange arrogantly proclaimed that “we’re at the point where we don’t need retailers.  Retailers need us.”  With all due respect, Mr. Orange, I submit that Wal-Mart will do just fine without D.C.  Meanwhile, however, hundreds of jobs will vanish if Wal-Mart pulls out, and I’d like to see Mr. Orange’s conversation with the people who lose those jobs about just exactly who needs whom.  Collaterally, other developments like the still-in-progress Skyland Town Center, which was depending on the new Wal-Mart there as an anchor tenant, are now in jeopardy, and hundreds of additional jobs with them.

The idea of a legislatively-mandated minimum “living wage”—set, of course, in the infinite wisdom of a self-proclaimed intellectual acting in benevolent protection of “the people,” meaning he pulled the number out of his ass—seems nice in feel-good theory, but it’s not much use if the job doesn’t exist at that wage in actual practice.  And this has always been the problem with minimum wage laws.  The free market forces of supply and demand will set wages at an inherently fair rate, because they will settle at the level at which workers are willing to accept and employers are willing to pay.  This provides the most efficient allocation of resources to employ a maximum number of people, and allows for labor competition; the only real means for a low-skilled laborer to compete for a job is to be willing to accept the job at a lower price.  But minimum wage laws eliminate that opportunity.

Thus, the Progressive ends up hurting the very people he claims to be trying to help.  By disrupting the normal function of the markets, the Progressive eliminates some jobs (in the case of the Wal-Mart example), and prevents the low-skilled laborer from competing for the jobs that remain.  Further, by artificially inflating the price of labor, the minimum wage law forces an increase in prices across the board, thus aggravating the very cost of living issue that was the original justification for the minimum wage in the first place.  And the people who end up harmed by this are those at the lower end of the economic chain.  This has been the empirical result time and again (see any number of works by Professor Sowell and Professor Walter Williams for details). 

The supposed need for a “living wage” is illusory.  Left alone, the marketplace and millions of decision makers acting in their own self-interest based on better information about their individual circumstances than any Progressive know-it-all will take care of everything on its own.  If the wage offered by the local Wal-Mart isn’t enough for you to get by on, don’t take the job; if enough people do that such that Wal-Mart can’t get enough employees to operate, it will raise wages all on its own.  If you want to work in D.C. but it’s too expensive to live there, then don’t; do like everyone else and move to Virginia or Maryland and ride the Metro.

The problem isn’t “living wages,” it’s Progressives getting in the way for the sake of their own self-aggrandizement and keeping themselves in charge.  

Parts Ain’t Necessarily Parts

Every sperm is sacred

Every sperm is great

For every sperm that’s wasted

God gets quite irate

                  —Michael Palin as Dad in The Meaning Of Life

I long ago accepted the fact that Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg has a pathologically fanatical obsession—some might say “fetish”—with abortion.  She’s never met an abortion she didn’t like, and while I haven’t counted them, it seems like half her twice-weekly columns are devoted to promoting the practice.

But this time she’s let her blind devotion lead her into absurdity.

What’s set her off this time is yesterday the Texas House passed a bill that would push back the outer limit for abortions in Texas from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, and require doctors performing abortions to actually have access to a hospital in which to perform them.  This bill has been the subject of much hysteria on the Left here in Texas, and to tell you the truth, I don’t see what’s so controversial.  Is five months really not enough time for you to figure out you’re pregnant, decide you don’t want to be pregnant, and make arrangements to exercise what Ms. Falkenberg calls your “constitutionally protected medical option[]” have an abortion?  And given that for the Left the abortion debate always centers around protecting women from the horrors of back-alley practitioners, how can there possibly be an objection to requiring that this potentially dangerous and even—pardon the expression—life-threatening procedure be performed in a hospital?  Nevertheless, Ms. Falkenberg is all in a tizzy, as though any limitation of abortion on demand is a sacrilege against the most holy right in the universe.  

Um, Alex, what is “life”? 

Smugly presuming herself to be engaging in the clever and skillful use of turnabout, Ms. Falkenberg Wednesday morning proposed new regulation of “man parts” parodically modeled after the informed consent legislation Texas passed in 2011, and which took effect in 2012 after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court injunction.  In Ms. Falkenberg’s proposal, men seeking vasectomies would have to submit sperm samples and have magnified images of the sperm shown and explained to them, and men seeking Viagra prescriptions would have to submit to rectal prostate examinations, ostensibly mirroring the informed consent law’s requirement of a sonogram and medical explanation prior to having an abortion.  Expressing her mocking concern for men’s health, Ms. Falkenberg appears to equate vasectomies and Viagra with abortions, as though any activity touching upon genitalia is the same as any other, and after all “similar regulations restricting the reproductive rights of women have been deemed acceptable policy by the state of Texas.”

You want to regulate my chicky parts?  Well I got you now, *Mister Man*!

If all this were about were the regulation of adult body parts, Ms. Falkenberg might—might—have something of a point.  But it’s not.  Viagra, of course, has nothing to do with abortion or even contraception; with very rare exceptions, it doesn’t even have anything to do with anything permanent.  And contrary to Ms. Falkenberg’s deliberately over-generalized comparison, vasectomies in men are not similar to abortions for women; in point of fact, they correspond almost exactly to tubal ligations in women, and so far as I am aware the State of Texas hasn’t imposed any restrictions on women’s “rights” in that regard.  Ms. Falkenberg’s cynical and intellectually shallow parallel doesn’t withstand even the most elementary of scrutiny.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the inescapable fact that abortion deals with taking another human being’s life, while Viagra and vasectomies do not.  Ms. Falkenberg attempts to avoid this problem by couching her discussion in global terms of “potential life,” thus equating an isolated sperm with a viable prenatal human baby, both being equally protectable or disposable, depending on your point of view.  I’m open to correction, but I don’t think even the Catholic Church argues that sperm and fetuses are equivalent forms of (potential) life; the Church opposes abortion based on the nearly universal (even the vast majority of atheists accept it) precept that we should protect existing innocent human life, but its opposition to (non-abortive) contraception such as condoms is based on the theological construct that human sexual intercourse should not be isolated from the divine act of creating human life, not on the life-sanctity of sperm itself.

The fact of the matter is that even at 20 weeks’ gestation, with modern technology the human fetus is viable—she has a fighting shot to survive outside the womb.  And—not that it matters—she is not just a primordial blob with a heartbeat, she is recognizable as a human being.  She has fingers and toes.  She has hair.  She even—since gender identity is so vitally important to people like Ms. Falkenberg—is identifiable as a girl.  This is what—or more correctly, who—you destroy when you undertake an abortion that late.

But by focusing on body parts and an analysis that can’t get beyond the infantile level of you-touch-mine-I’ll-touch-yours, Ms. Falkenberg ignores that truth, which allows her to posture the issue of time restrictions as purely an imposition on her right to abortion on demand.  Presumably even the existing 24 week limit is, for her, too intrusive a burden, which of course begs the question where, exactly, we can draw the line.  I assume she would object to someone killing their 1 year old, so we know that even people like her recognize that at some point it becomes unacceptable to kill a child.  So where is that point?  When the umbilical cord is cut?  When the body clears the birth canal (or belly, in the case of Caesarian section deliveries)?  When labor begins?  At the end of week 37 (week 38 is considered “term,” with 40 weeks +/- 2 weeks being the “normal” gestation period)?  Ms. Falkenberg can’t answer that question.  She’s so selfishly caught up in the fallacy that abortion is solely about her “rights” and regulation of her body parts that she can’t or won’t see the logical (never mind moral) dilemma she’s in.

It is an inalterable fact of life that all things are not equal when it comes to matters of reproduction.  Male and female bodies are different, and we play different roles in the process, with different burdens and consequences.  If a woman chooses to have sex (for reasons that would take another column to explain, the rape argument is irrelevant), even with contraception, she might get pregnant, and it’s not the same for the man.  That’s just the way it is, and no amount of legislating, judicial activism, or imbecilic column writing will change that. 

Restricting abortion—if you can call limiting it to 20 weeks a “restriction”—isn’t reducing a woman’s “rights” at all.  If she does not want to get pregnant, her remedy for protecting her “reproductive rights,” “right to choose,” or whatever you want to call it, is to choose not to have sex.  If she has sex, nobody has deprived her of anything; she’s made her “choice” and exercised all the rights she has.  But in so doing, whether she likes it or not she has also chosen to accept the risk that there might be consequences in the form of pregnancy.  And once that pregnancy occurs, it’s no longer just about her rights and her body parts; there is now another human being involved—a human being who is totally innocent, who has had literally no opportunity for choice, and who if her mother won’t protect her has little other voice or chance for due process—whose life is at stake.  Are you really willing to sacrifice another human being so you can have a second chance at exercising “rights” that didn’t seem to matter that much to you when it was just about sex?

With all due respect to Ms. Falkenberg and her ilk, pro-life people like me don’t have the slightest interest in putting our hands (or rosaries) on your ovaries, and it is almost impossibly egocentric for you to think we do. 

We’re trying to keep your hands off innocent lives.

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EDITOR’S NOTE:    My apologies for the extended absence.  I’ve been on a lengthy vacation, and it’s been difficult upon returning to choose from the multitude of running stories.  That, and I’ve been preoccupied with other projects.  Hopefully we’ll be back to a more regular posting schedule.