Pro-life stockholm syndrome

January 26, 2013 § 17 Comments

Once someone has been held captive long enough dysfunction frequently sets in.  Prisoners become sympathetic to their captors and, wittingly or unwittingly, they begin to adopt their captors’ views and even aid and abet their captors.  Something similar has happened to the pro-life movement.

The reason abortion is legal is because it is physiologically easier for men to get away with casual sex than it is for women to do so.  Abortion provides the backstop that is necessary to make fornication and other consequence-free sex an equal opportunity sport.

This has created a dynamic wherein the pro-life movement often works to reduce, as much as possible, the consequences of female fornication.  Traditionally the consequences of out-of-wedlock sex could include (but did not always include, and never did so equally for both men and women) shame, loss of status and income, and other consequences.  Pro-lifers worry that these things will lead more women to abort: unborn children are hostages, keeping the pro-life movement captive.

As a result nearly our entire society is united on the goal of making unwed pregnancy and out of wedlock motherhood as easy and consequence-free as possible.  People formally support abortion on the left, people materially support abortion on the right (even though many genuinely wish to oppose abortion and do formally oppose it), and almost nobody actually opposes abortion.

More fuel on the fire is not going to put it out.

Waterboarding update: a “new” failed argument

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve updated my waterboarding catalog and nosology to include an argument we’ve all heard many times (number 36) but that my series failed to address.

Double-clutching the standard: how retaining fornicators leads to more abortion

January 25, 2013 § 75 Comments

The case of the unmarried woman who voluntarily disqualified herself from her job as a Catholic first grade teacher by fornicating and becoming pregnant has in my view become something of a litmus test for disordered views of justice and mercy.

Basically it has divided the world into those who care more about standards and those who care more about double-standards.

There is no question of this case being about mercy simpliciter.   If it were about mercy simpliciter the woman would not be suing the diocese.  She is suing the diocese because she feels she is entitled to the job she lost, even though she lost it because she voluntarily broke her contract.

Moreover, she feels entitled to the job precisely because she perceives a double standard.  She is not outraged that men are getting away with fornicating: she is outraged that some women are not.  The existence of a double-standard inherent in the nature of things is an outrage, and must be nullified by eliminating the standard altogether — even though she herself explicitly agreed to the standard when she signed the contract.  Eliminating double-standards – not even actual double-standards in principle, but in-practice double standards dictated by the nature of the differences between men and women – takes priority over standards.

It is precisely this liberal understanding of double-standards as the worst kind of injustice which drives the abortion holocaust.  Anyone who has read some of the canonical feminist works – say Backlash by Susan Faludi, for example – can see that the driving factor behind abortion is the double standard of nature herself: the fact that women can become pregnant but men cannot.  This is a basic violation of equality: a double standard.  So women must be allowed to abort.

If your goal is to add fuel to the fire of the abortion holocaust, one of the best ways to do so is to keep pretending that this case is about mercy.

How to tell that liberalism has distorted your moral sense

January 24, 2013 § 6 Comments

In the incident discussed in the previous post, we learn that

Kathleen Quinlan of Kettering … said in the Dec. 14 lawsuit that her firing for moral reasons was discriminatory because male employees who engage in premarital sex don’t face the same consequences “insomuch as they do not show outward signs of engaging in sexual intercourse (i.e., pregnancy).”

In situations where some people are – and others are not – getting away with doing grave moral wrong and violating their contracts, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to be outraged that some people are getting away with it!  But once you hear the word “discrimination” uttered, nine times out of ten you can be sure that the outrage is over the fact that some people aren’t getting away with it!

How not to handle a hostage crisis

January 24, 2013 § 31 Comments

A fairly common notion among right-leaning American Catholics has been colorfully characterized as “vote Republican or the babies get it”.   Capitulation in hostage situations is rarely a good idea, though, which is why I have to  dissent from the suggestion of some of my Catholic friends that capitulation to the hostage-taker is the right approach in a different situation.

To make a long story short, a Catholic school hired an unwed first grade teacher.  The unwed teacher became pregnant, in violation of her contract which has a morals clause prohibiting fornication.  The school let her go – really she let herself go – in compliance with her contract terms.

I’m with the school on this one.

I know all the arguments – we’ve argued about similar situations before. But I can’t get to where the right choice is to condone manifest grave sin and scandal around children because there are hostages involved. And to offer her a different, low profile, “back office” job for which she was not hired, so the school now has to figure out how to carry an extra salary for someone they don’t need and didn’t hire and go hire another teacher, is just capitulation to extortion because there is a hostage – her unborn child – involved.

Giving an unmarried pregnant woman a make-work job is not appropriate and likely not financially feasible.  Referring her to a crisis pregnancy center is the right, merciful, and just response. Would the school’s detractors suggest that the diocese hire all the unmarried pregnant women in the diocese?

If there happened to be a different, low profile, back office job opening for which she was qualified, permitting her to interview for that position – if she was interested and had a good attitude about it, and was willing to peacefully accept the result of not being hired, if that was the outcome – would be a mercy. Giving her even just an interview as a matter of entitlement or fear of what she might do if she isn’t given one isn’t just wrong. It infantilizes her.

On a cursory read, unless there are facts of which I am unaware, I think the school chose wisely, mercifully, and correctly. Furthermore the school treated her like an adult, a moral agent capable of making moral choices and being responsible for their consequences.

Some of the commentary expresses outrage that only a woman can manifest fornication in visible outward changes to her body.  Apparently in some quarters it is outrageous that some people can get away with fornication and breaking their contracts, while others, specifically women who become pregnant, cannot.

I guess the only solution to the unfair distribution of the natural consequences of sin is to make sure that no sins have any natural consequences.

Abstinence makes the heart grow stronger

January 15, 2013 § 38 Comments

Overdoing asceticism in our culture is about as much of a danger as dying of thirst in the Mississippi or drowning in the Sahara.  It can be done, but it is pretty bloody uncommon: man bites dog and all that.

Every man should prepare himself for extended periods of sexual abstinence, because even if everything goes right, which it usually doesn’t, most men will face periods of time in their lives where the choice is between abstinence and sin.

It follows that every man ought to, from time to time, practice abstinence.  If you have to do something you have never practiced it is possible that you will succeed.  But your chances of success are much greater if you have practiced.

This is obvious, but it sounds scandalous to modern ears.  I think that says something rather revealing about modern ears.

The neighbors are playing their stereotypes too loud

January 12, 2013 § 16 Comments

It is hard to believe that it has been fourteen years since the publication of Jim Kalb’s seminal essay on stereotypes.  Contrary to the demands of the zeitgeist, stereotypes are inevitable.  It doesn’t really matter what one thinks of them: being morally opposed to stereotyping is akin to being morally opposed to oxygen.  Human life isn’t possible without them:

What is to be done? The simple and obvious answer is frank acceptance of stereotypes and discrimination. Such things are often oppressive, just as government, private property, social standards, individual self-assertion, and many other things are often oppressive, but in one form or another they are necessary and inevitable. Treating women as different from men, taking ethnic kinship into account, and treating a judge with special consideration should all be acceptable as expressions of legitimate principles of social organization. Abuses can be dealt with piecemeal; to reject stereotype and discrimination in principle, however, is useless, since we will rely on them in any case. The attempt makes serious political thought impossible, and benefits only those with something to conceal.

At the same time, it is important to understand that our various modes of thought have limits.  In the manosphere, the term “apex fallacy” is just a specific invented label used to object to how women stereotype men without realizing the inherent limitations of the stereotype.

Now I could be a good conservative/reactionary and point out that this is not substantively different from feminists griping about the stereotyping of women, and I actually did point out that the more radically anti-women elements in the manosphere are engaged in their own version of the apex fallacy.

But the reality is that people who object to stereotyping (including the men who gripe about women committing the apex fallacy) do have a valid point: not that stereotyping is objectionable or avoidable, but that it does have its inherent limits.

One of those limits is that a stereotype loses its usefulness as one gets to know individuals better.  I’ve pointed this out before: when talking about hypergamy or the Meyers-Briggs test or any other social model we are basically creating stereotypes.  These are useful in understanding what things are happening in aggregate, and, absent more specific information, they are additionally useful in personal encounters with people, places, and institutions you don’t know (or don’t know very well).  But that usefulness has limits, and it decays as specific knowledge replaces the stereotype.  If I have worked with you for ten years and am still relying on knowing that your Meyers-Brigges evaluation categorized you as an INTJ it is probably a sign of something wrong with my ability to learn.

A second limitation on the value of stereotypes is the one called out by the apex/trough fallacy: that the stereotype is typically constructed based on the most visible members of a group, and therefore will provide a false reading about the less visible members of the group.   Those less visible members will inevitably feel unfairly pigeonholed or ignored, and not entirely without justification.

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