February 18, 2003
Update: In the interest of protecting the Unnamed Blogger, I have removed all of the quotes that were in my original post, and summarized the basic points. I do this after realizing that someone who really wants to find her page can do so by plugging pieces of the quotes into Google and running a search. My intention has never been to draw attention to her site, but rather to the mentality I found there among her readers.
So, through a long chain of bloghopping I stumbled upon a blog written by a woman who is funny and insightful and a good writer. She had just recently written that she was thinking of taking her site down. I sent her an encouraging email, and put a link to her site on my page. Later I returned to her site and found that she had written about my email. She informed her readers that she had looked at my site and that I seemed like a decent person, until she read my essay on abortion. She concluded with instructions for me to remove my link to her website.
She and her friends are afraid, you see, that we pro-life Internet totalitarians will bombard her with hateful emails in reaction to the fact that she has had two abortions.
I responded that I would not do this because I can see good in people even when I disagree with them, and suggested that she should adopt the same approach. I was then treated to responses from her thuggish readers, which among other things asserted the position that people who are pro-life have no redeeming qualities. One even equated pro-lifers to racists.
I responded that they should consider the possibility that they are wrong, and accept the reality that people can disagree with them without being evil. To avoid debate by calling the other side demons, I argued, is not to be open-minded or intelligent.
This didn't quite elicit the open-minded response I was looking for; I was told that I simply can't be right and therefore shouldn't be listened to, and that any further business from me was going to result in my comments being deleted. One of the readers, meanwhile, accused me of trying to get people to overwhelm the website owner with hate mail, and suggested that I delink her site in the interests of "intelligent discourse." (Note to Google searchers: I already verified that plugging in the quoted phrase won't lead you to the Unnamed Site -- I'll refrain from further comment on that.)
In short, in the interest of intelligent discourse, we should refrain from it. War is Peace, Hate is Love. See how that works?
Now, I have no quibble with someone's property rights over her website. If you only want to let people whose name begins with "S" post comments on your site, that's your prerogative. If you only want to hear from people who affirm your life (or death) choices, that's fine as well.
It's the willful ignorance that gets under my skin. Not that of the site owner; she is clearly struggling with anguish over her actions. I'm speaking rather of the intellectual cowards who sniped and snarled in the comments section. They cannot cope with people who challenge them except by means of insults and demonization. They threw back half-reasoned retorts and, insulated from rebuttal, concluded that they had made arguments. But this has always been the way of people who have education but no wisdom.
So I delinked her site. I don't want to be blamed for harassing emails, or to become an excuse for her to quit writing. I think sometimes that we are the greatest obstacle to our own understanding. Perhaps in writing she will one day face the parts of herself she is afraid to examine.
Posted by Woodlief on February 18, 2003 at 09:51 AM
Your efforts would seem to fall under the "no good deed goes unpunished" category of life. The longer I live, the more uumph that one seems to have.
The great problem with discussing abortion is that there is a certain segment of women who've had them, feel very deeply defensive about it, and will truck no further discussion on the matter.
That would seem like proof that abortion should not be discussed, until you run across women who've had abortions and are now ardent pro-life activists.
As someone who is fundamentally pro-choice on abortion (yes, I said choice) I am constantly appalled at the lack of civility, the outright hatred, so often expressed by my side of the debate.
But then, I've also moderated my views, so that people like them think of me as "anti-choice" whereas people on the polar opposite think me "pro-life." In fact, what I am is where the great majority of women in America are--somewhere in between.
You can't get the zealots to hear anything but the cartoon arguments in their heads, unfortunately.
How unfortunate. As a huge fan of Sand in the Gears and Tony I'm sure I would have enjoyed the unnamed blogger's site if he describes her as funny and insightful. Now, since I'm sure Tony will feel ethically obligated to not share the address with anyone as requested, I may never stumble across her blog.
If the unnamed blogger or any of her regular readers should happen to come to Tony's blog and see this comment I hope they might e-mail the address to me despite the fact that I am a staunch pro-lifer.
I have been responsible for funding the abortion of my child at the request of his mother when I was a teenager. My wife (a different woman) and I have since made the decision to let our anencephalic son be born, though we knew he would live for only a very short time, a half-hour as it turns out. If I had those decisions to make again it would be the first that I would change.
We now have two beautiful children with a third on the way. I do not condone abortion. I do consider it murder. I have been a party to it. If the unnamed blogger or one of her readers would deign to share her address with me I will read and post my views there as I do here. If the subject of abortion comes up I will probably put in my two cents. However, I hold no ill will toward anyone who has made my mistake or who continues to make it. When I pull my mind away from the millions of distractions, both worthy and not, that make up my own little self-centered world I do feel a terrible fear and sadness for the world's unborn children. While the responses that Tony received do not inspire confidence I would hope that my views would not be held by others to be irredeemable faults, and that, one day, we might even see things the same.
I read an article by David Frum recently in which he recapped a mini-debate he had with Barbra Streisand, of all people, on the subject of global warming, of all things. Frum said to her, in effect: "Barbra, to you this is religion. To me it's science. And I'll be honest. I don't know the science well enough to know what to think. But even if I knew it cold, and even if it demonstrated that you were dead wrong, you'd cling to your beliefs. That's the way religion is." That's the way it is with this woman on this issue. Like Tony, I have a very rational, logical mind. When a dispute arises, I say, "Okay, let's work through the logic here. Let's look at the evidence." But when you bump into a belief that is on par with a religious conviction, you're just wasting your time. It's frustrating, for sure, but there's nothing to be done about it.
Although I appreciate sarcasm, dry-humor, and such, I'm not sure using those tools when discussing such a volatile issue is appropriate. You kinda came off, at least from my perspective, like a jerk, and probably validated their perspective about the pro-life crowd.
Personally, I agree with you, but when it comes to these issues we have to handle these people with an immense amount of love, patience, kindness, and more patience.
A lot of their hatred and anger is fueled by trying to prove to themselves they made the right choice. Sarcasm and insults only stoke the fire.
Of course I will apologize if what you posted on your blog was what your were saying in your head and not in your e-mail.
To Gary---My heart goes out to you.
Can you point to where in my posts I insulted someone?
Sure, but I want to first throw out a disclaimer. I'm a guy. I fart, burp, and scratch. My sense of humor is drier than average and my wife regularly has to tell me to tell people when I am joking. I am a connoisseur of shoe soles (I regularly stick my foot in my mouth). I identify with your world view as well as your theology.
Leaving out the "You ought to try it." comment from your first response would have been perfectly fine. It's an attacking comment, basically telling the person they cannot see the good in others. (I could be wrong on this since I didn't read the post this was in response to).
In your second response you began your post/e-mail with "Earth-shattering thought". Again it's combative and can, although may not have been meant to, imply the person was not consciencious enough to think through their arguments.
I said insults, and I probably should take that back. It's clear you weren't explicitly insulting anyone, you were just being a guy with a sense of humor, (dry with a slight twist of sarcasm). I also probably shot off my post before thinking all the way through; I think I may have confused your closing remarks with what you had communicating to the opposing side.
I hope I didn't offend you with my initial comment, and hope this may explain it more clearly.
Thank you. I reread my post and realized I may have come off a bit melodramatic. I wasn't actually trying to elicit sympathy, though I'm sincerely thankful for yours. I was trying to point out to any pro-choice readers that I did not speak from atop some high horse with my nose turned arrogantly up in the air at those who hold their view of life. At the risk of sounding melodramatic yet again, I have blood on my hands as well. Yet, I (and my wife) have also made the choice to allow a child who most would have destroyed upon discovering his "handicap" to live for the short time allowed him by God.
I have experienced first hand the consequences of many of the views held by both camps, barring the actual invasion of an abortion performed within my own body. Therefore, I hope when pro-choicers read my words they hear some measure of authority rather than the empty conviction of a pure theorist. My experience is that the results of abortion are a dead child, wounded parents and a warped society. The child, at least, is now beyond any more of the pain of this world. The parents' wounds can heal, but our communities become more and more out of sync, with people becoming twisted and hateful, many defending the murder of helpless children while their detractors resort to their own, sometimes vicious, means of getting their point across.
Though I wish I could undo my mistake it is not a guilt that rules my life, only tempers future decisions. However, I have made the final decision to never be a party to abortion again. Our nation, even our world, is wounded repeatedly by the abortions that occur constantly in our midst. It is an ongoing evil that leaves blood on all of our hands and is a guilt that, collectively, we cannot begin to heal ourselves of until we stop committing this atrocity.
I apologize. I simply meant to thank you for your sympathy and clarify my earlier motive for sharing a bit of my life. Instead I have indulged in a rant. It's late. I shall retire to my bed. I hope I have not muddied the waters too much.
By mere mention of this conflict, you have brought unwelcome attention to my site (and my inbox soon enough, I'm sure, judging by the quality and disposition of your readers). Just let it fucking die already.
Wow...Boy do I hate this type of conflict.
As with many other of your readers, I too have more of a logical, pragmatic style of reasoning through an argument. That in and of itself can many times be the death knell for a conversation with people who hold so "religiously" to certain beliefs (as Frum was quoted as saying). It is just so disheartening because you feel immediately thrust to the opposite pole on EVERY issue if you do not agree with the "fundamental" core issue that the other holds so dearly (welfare, abortion, taxes, etc..).
It is so unfortunate because such a large tract of (possible) common ground is immediately snatched away.
I do think Tony was a "touch snide" in his comments back, but I cannot say I would have said things any different. And the torching he got in response was more than unwarranted, especially this last post I read from (allegedly) the "Unnamed Blogger".
"Let it f**king die already"? How are we ever to proceed if a discussion cannot be carried through? How are we ever to bond together against the common threats to mankind, to democracy, to common decency when we cannot even share links in cyberspace to people with differing viewpoints?
I guess I was raised in a sheltered environment - a place where my peace-loving, civil rights marching, 40+ years married parents fostered discussion, encouraged opinions to be heard, and accepted all viewpoints as vaild (even as they transitioned from loving JFK to loving GWB).
Peace to all and God bless the Pope and President (as my father sometimes signs his emails).
Fuck you all and your crusade to prove how righteous you and your cause are.
"How are we ever to proceed if a discussion cannot be carried through? How are we ever to bond together against the common threats to mankind, to democracy, to common decency when we cannot even share links in cyberspace to people with differing viewpoints?"
What you don't realize is that you're interfering with someone's life by cramming your worldview (and that of all the other fucking assholes who threaten her on a weekly basis) down her inbox. You're not going to change her mind or anyone else's with your pomposity, so just stick it up your asses and go read your bibles *quietly*. Far away from us and the people who have enough of a brain not to believe in such silly superstition and dogma.
How's that for carrying through a discussion? Of course, you don't want to hear how wrong you are, so you'll just end up taking this down, like you did with my other post.
Let me ask all of you something: how many of you have adopted a child? Particularly a child of color, or one who is physically or mentally disabled.
Once you're willing to put up and do your part to provide homes for children that didn't have to be born into tremendous disadvantage, then perhaps you'll be allowed to judge people's decisions (because maybe your God granted you some authority to do his job since you're such loyal servants).
Dear Unnamed Blogger,
Tony is at least correct in that you are a good writer. You have managed to convey more strongly how you feel about this discussion in your short post than I did in my lengthy one. However, other than the powerful and succinct nature of it, I find nothing laudable in your comment. Not satisfied with Tony's capitulation to your request of link removal you have come here to further attempt to serve the interests of "fair play and intelligent discourse" by berating him and us for daring to discuss the issue on his site. Your arrogance is awe-inspiring. Is there a small island somewhere that we can provide for you so that you can indulge in your aspirations to Dictator of Discourse? I agree with Tony in that you may certainly design your own blog to fit your desires, including the desire to shut out dissenting arguments. However, in case you lost your way, this is not your site! If you wish to hide behind the wall of your views and allow no debate, fine. Go hide. Do not presume to come looking for us for the purpose of telling us to shut up.
As a side point, since Tony won't tell us who you are, as per your wishes, how exactly do you expect us to fill your inbox with "unwanted attention", even supposing we are all the rabid attack dogs you visualize?
If you find me angry and offensive, I make no apology. While I'm willing to rationally and compassionately discuss the issue at hand I will not stand for someone butting into my conversation with others and telling me that the issue is not open for discussion. If you don't like what we have to say, DON'T READ IT! I disagree with your views on this issue as well, but I would have been willing to try to talk about our differences. I'm even willing to leave you alone, if that's what you want. I will not quit talking about the issue here among friends and associates just to give you peace of mind, however. I am enraged that you have the audacity to demand it.
I will end here. It seems the more I write the angrier I become. If it is not too late I will cut myself off before I let my anger run away with me and I begin to speak from pure emotion rather than principled conviction.
A "Friend" writes:
"Of course, you don't want to hear how wrong you are, so you'll just end up taking this down, like you did with my other post."
I've removed two comments in my tenure here: one by a redneck who made racist comments, the other by someone who made an improper and embarrassing personal accusation. Which are you?
"You're not going to change her mind or anyone else's with your pomposity, so just stick it up your a**** and go read your bibles *quietly*. Far away from us and the people who have enough of a brain not to believe in such silly superstition and dogma."
So here you are in the comments section of my website, engaged in an irrational rant telling the rest of us to go away and quit talking. That's rich.
I have not named the Unnamed Blogger, nor directed anyone to her site. I believe her desire for seclusion obligates me in that regard. It does not obligate me to refrain from talking about her views and the views of her readers, however. If you all want total protection from contrarian views, then create a password for the website, and take down the email address. You cannot have a publicly accessible site, registered with Google no less, with your email address plastered all over it, and then complain when it draws attention.
Thanks for the clarification, and I'm not insulted. I wasn't as polite as I should have been, given the sensitivity of the people involved.
Of course now that we see a sampling in these comments of what they (not the website owner) are like, perhaps I can be forgiven.
"A Friend" writes:
Let me ask all of you something: how many of you have adopted a child?
Right here. Five of 'em.
Particularly a child of color, or one who is physically or mentally disabled?
Yes, and yes. Our first was Mexican/Asian mix. A beautiful child. Our fifth suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome...we knew it going in...our greatest joy...even though he is quite a challenge. Oh, and yes, I am pro-life.
I never cease to be amazed at how pro-death zealots can debase their arguments their positions through uncivilized attacks and shock jock language.
My heart is heavy for these people engaged in the dark side of this discussion. God loves you; the guilt that is with in you is from God. He created you in his own image... Everything can be forgiven!
My prayers for you will not cease.
Tony, I think that you have handled yourself very admirably.
Forgiven in spades.
I find this just a little bit amusing. It's usually the pro-Choice crowd being attacked, literally, by rabid, so called pro-Lifers. I find these people disgusting and small-minded. They are part of my reason for remaining pro-Choice. How embarassing to see that people on my own side of this issue can be almost as vile.
I say "almost" because one does not see the pro-Choice movement out blowing up churches and shooting priests as "pro-Lifers" have blown up abortion clinics and murdered doctors, nurses and volunteers.
I suspect that churches HAVE been blown up and priests HAVE been killed by people who are pro-choice; they are prosecuted and put in jail, and no one thinks anything of it. When an abortion clinic is blown up or a doctor is killed, the person who did it is publicly labelled "PRO-LIFE", and that's their defining quality.
That's just a suspicion, mind you.
Also, while I certainly do not condone murder, the arguments used by those who kill doctors are sound: since they consider abortion to be murder, they are preventing many more murders than they commit, or, even, they are executing a self-acknowledged murderer. There is no matching logic on the pro-choice side.
As I said, I do not condone that activity, but the logic behing it is essentially sound. We use the same logic all the time - if someone breaks into your house, you have the right to defend yourself, which includes killing them. If you happen upon a rape in progress, and you shoot the rapist and he dies, you aren't going to prison; you'll (hopefully) be lauded as a hero.
To use an *very *overdone comparison (only because it fits the logic of those who actually DO kill abortion doctors), it is like killing concettration camp soldiers in Nazi Germany - if you are caught, you'll be punished (probably executed), but trying to prevent the murder of the camp inmates would certainly be considered moral. FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THOSE WHO *DO* KILL ABORTIONSISTS, this is the same logic.
Please note again that I do not condone this behaviour; I am only trying to point out the underlying logic of those who do.
In fact, I think the only reason there isn't more such acts is that the vast mojority of the more fanatical pro-lifers are also fanatically fundamentalist Christian (though I find many of the extreme fundamentalist groups to be at least very misguided if not just plain psycho), and Christianity, if you actually bother to read the Bible (some of the extremist groups basically depend on their leaders to do it for them, which opens the door for cult-like manipulation), prohibits murder. Depending on the way you read it, even supporting state-sanctioned execution of convicted criminals can be difficult.
As I have said before, I personally think that "murder" vs. "abortion" depends entirely on the when human life is defined as having started. Until there is some law (or at least group consensus) on this, the whole abortion thing will remain a nasty mess.
And no, "birth" is not an option. Anyone who has bothered to hear about someone who has heard about fetus activity in the ninth month cannot honestly condone "birth" as when life begins. "Viability", perhaps, but not birth.
I support "implantation", by the way, not fertilization. So many fertilized eggs perish naturally that it's hard to say that we should protect the fertilized eggs we have in test tubes.
So that's why someone came to my blog from a Google search for "blog+woodlief+abortion". I came right over to see what I'd missed. Obviously "A Friend" made your argument for you. Not a whole lot of reason there. He's quite Singerian, apparently, advocating killing the disabled and people of color in utero because, well, they'd be a drag on society. Can't have that, can we.
When I first read your comment I wanted to angrily point out all of the examples of rabid pro-choicers attacking pro-lifers, defending the folks on my side and demonizing your camp. Having calmed a bit I realize that this would serve no purpose and would likely start a vicious battle here between the more vocal and less compassionate people in both camps. I cannot let your comment pass unanswered, however.
As you have pointed out, the responses here have been a strong example of pro-choicers on the attack. I'm sure both of us could name all kinds of terrible examples of pro-choicers and pro-lifers trying to make their points in horrible, atrocious ways. Yet, you seem to think pro-choicers hold some moral superiority because they haven't planted a bomb at a pro-life gathering. Though I find the fanatics that shoot at abortionists and bomb abortion clinics to be twisted, insane individuals who have lost all sense of coherent analysis I would go so far as to extend them one small bit of defense. They are reacting to an atrocity that all of my flowery adjectives cannot begin to describe the horror of well enough. What excuse (and I acknowledge that my defense of the fanatics is just an excuse and doesn't make them right in any way) does the pro-choice movement have for murdering countless helpless children who have done nothing to earn the ire of their murderers? And they do this not with a bomb or a gun but with a scalpel. How intimately destructive can you get? Also, it's not just the fanatic pro-choicers who condone this casual slaughter, it is every pro-choicer. Small wonder that some portion of the pro-lifers have felt that returning the violence was the only way to turn back the tide of blood poured out by your brethren. Stupid, yes. The wrong answer, yes. Small wonder, though.
One other point, if you have let the actions of a miniscule group of trigger-happy morons shape both your view of pro-lifers and your stance on the abortion issue ("I find these people disgusting and small-minded. They are part of my reason for remaining pro-Choice."), I'm appalled at your method for formulating your worldview. If you meet a black man from the inner city who hates white folks with a passion because of his situation will you take to wearing a sheet and burning crosses in response? Or, perhaps you are that man I described and blame the white man for your oppression having become a more hateful racist than 90% of the white people you will meet. Your logic can be applied to any situation, not just abortion and racism. I truly hope you base other decisions in your life on something more substantial.
About seven abortion providers have been killed during the past 30 years.
46% of Americans describe themselves as pro-life, according to a 2001 Gallup poll.
There are about 190,000,000 Americans between ages 15 and 65.
So, as a rough guess, currently about 90 million pro-lifers are physically able to kill abortionists. Some people outside the age range are also “able,” and some within the age range are physically incapacitated.
This means that fewer than one in ten million pro-lifers has killed an abortion provider.
What do you call someone who characterizes a group by the actions of less than one ten-millionth of its members? "Delusional" seems inadequate.
I recently had a friend tell me that she had been scanning through the sites of people who blogroll her and was shocked when she got to one site that was written by a woman quite openly pro-life. My friend is staunchly pro-choice and while she enjoyed some of the non-political pro-life based posts on this woman's site she confessed she'd never link to her or be able to read her regularly because the pro-life posts threaten her so much.
I thought that was odd, but normal. I have some rather personal reasons for the sites I choose not to frequent, and she didn't have a problem with the pro-life blogger linking her. She was just suprised, and mildly impressed that this blogger liked and respected her inspite of their difference on such an obviously pivotal (for both of them) topic.
I immediately thought of that when I read this post. That the Unnamed Blogger received a supportive email from Tony, then came here, surfed his site (like we all do when we get a nice comment from someone) and was one would assume happy to have been liked by him until she found a completely unrelated post where he spoke about his view on abortion.
It can't possibly be fear of angry pro-life posts in her inbox. That's just unfathomably illogical. I mean did Tony link to the blog with some offensive disclaimer (I really like her site, even though she's a baby killer)? No. The only thing that makes sense is that Unnamed Blogger, like so many of us, is touched by Tony's words and presence. To get a supportive email out of the blue form someone must have felt awesome. And then to surf through their site and like their writing enough to keep reading through their archives until you find a post that very eloquently questions something you have done in your life. Well it's easy to disregard the views of assholes (note how we've all disregarded "A Friend") but it's much harder to drown out the quiet words of someone who's only been nice to you.
Oh I definitely understand the fear factor. I just don't believe it's from what she's saying it is.