Abortion, Torture, and Ferocity of Opposition

July 4, 2008 § 2 Comments

The argument has often been made that we should basically shut up about torture as long as abortion is legal, since the legalization/normalization of abortion on a large scale is more grave than the legalization/normalization of torture on a small scale. Both are evil, and both ought to be opposed in principle, but we should basically shut up about torture until we can say ‘mission accomplished’ on abortion.

Needless to say, I find this argument unconvincing. We can’t say everything all at once, and we have an obligation to oppose the legalization/normalization of both torture and abortion ferociously, in general.

There is an underlying truth though, a truth which is being misused in this argument, which is not so easily dismissed. That underlying truth is that the legalization/normalization of abortion on a large scale is in fact more grave than the legalization/normalization of torture on a small scale.

What follows from this should no doubt make progressives and those with progressive sympathies uncomfortable. Progressives tend to be rather squishy on the compelling need to treat abortion legally as a form of murder, and to ferociously advocate for such treatment. Indeed “ferocity”, if it applies at all, usually applies to their efforts to undermine the point and reverse the objective priorities. As a result they have a credibility problem when it comes to torture, precisely because of the obviously upside-down priorities. And that credibility problem does a great deal of damage to making the case against torture.

When it comes to opposing torture in the company of those who are soft on making abortion illegal, the old adage ‘with friends like these’ comes to mind.

(Cross-posted to W4)

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§ 2 Responses to Abortion, Torture, and Ferocity of Opposition

  • lurker says:

    For once something I can agree on fully.

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Zippy,Indeed, it has been argued (I don’t know how convincingly) that the legalization and approbation of Abortion in the large scale facilitates and aids the acceptance of torture on the small scale. But regardless of aid and succor, one need not stop opposing one as one opposes the other. If it is evil, then it require redressing. Just as shoplifting (when not in dire necessity), a much lesser evil, should not be overlooked until we “solve” the problem of abortion. If one uses reasoning of this sort, reductio ad absurdum suggests that no evil is redressed unless and until the great evil is removed. Not a particularly appealing prospect for society at large.shalom,Steven

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