Wednesday, 4 February 2009

OMFG! Shoot me now

I agree with Babs Kay on the Genocide Awareness Project, the subject of the current kerfuffle at the University of Calgary.

The piece is a speech Babs gave to an anti-choice group. Before trying to ingratiate herself with the fetus fetishists, she critiques anti-choice propaganda campaigns.

Beginning with the worst, I cannot think of anything more damaging amongst educated observers to the pro-life cause than the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) campaign, which draws a moral equivalence between abortion and the Holocaust.

You cannot build an argument on an analogy alone. In any debate, emotional arousal must be subordinated to rational persuasion.

You have, or should have, the political right to turn people off through shocking images (for that is largely the effect of this campaign). But you don't have the ethical right to exploit for mere rhetorical advantage a human tragedy with no logical, moral or historical relevance to abortion.

The GAP campaign is intellectually flawed because it extrapolates one detail from the Holocaust -- numbers killed -- and on that basis alone proclaims a moral equivalence.

But the point of the Holocaust is not the number of lives extinguished. Genocides aren't about numbers. They are about ideology-based hatred -- unchecked hatred for an identifiable minority group that serves to unite the persecuting majority group, and paves the way for its horrible consequences.

Unborn children are not a minority identity group, nor are abortions performed by political fiat for the purpose of furthering solidarity amongst some dominant group. Every abortion is an individual choice made by an individual woman. None of these women "hates" the potential child she aborts; they hate their situation. Most women who have abortions in fact go on to have children that they love. Nazis did not kill some Jews, and cultivate friendships with others; they hated and considered subhuman all Jews.

Moreover, you are not only describing the action of abortion as evil in this comparison, you are implying that women who abort, like Nazis, are evil people. There is neither truth nor dignity in accusing women of such moral turpitude.

Choose any factual perspective, you won't find a single moral parallel between the situations. And that is why it is not in your interest to pursue the campaign. Or in our mutual interest, because it stands in the way of an alliance between us.

I wonder if those who think the GAP campaign is defensible have really assessed the damaging image it creates in intelligent observers' minds. It brands you as people who feel passionately, but who do not think clearly. High emotion and the absence of reason are the marks of extremists and conspiracy theorists.

Your cause deserves better than the GAP campaign. Because the result -- and I think this is a very grave consequence for any movement -- is that thoughtful, educated people do not take you seriously. They do not respect your strategies for persuasion. You must consider whether the emotional impact of your message is so important to you that it is worth burning the narrow but sturdy bridge you could be using to reach people like me.

Let's recap, shall we? 'Damaging amongst educated observers', 'intellectually flawed', '[not] a single moral parallel', 'neither truth nor dignity', 'not think[ing] clearly'. Yup, and yet that is what the fetus fetishists set up on a university campus. Then, when the university, consisting as it does of 'educated observers', objected, the FFs shrieeked 'free speech'.

Gimme a break.

BONUS: Here's JJ and Antonia on the topic.

8 comments:

deBeauxOs said...

That's giving over a lot of primo DAMMIT JANET! real estate to Jonathan's mommy there but I agree with you, she does the heavy lifting and delivers the smack-down.

eh.

"Every abortion is an individual choice made by an individual woman. None of these women "hates" the potential child she aborts; they hate their situation. Most women who have abortions in fact go on to have children that they love."

If I didn't know that the person (Kay) who wrote that was a rabid anti-feminist, I would almost think that she might be pro-choice.

fern hill said...

I know. I was gob-smacked too.

But it's another mote/beam thingy, innit? She can detect intellectual dishonesty in others, but . . .

MrvnMouse said...

If I didn't know that the person (Kay) who wrote that was a rabid anti-feminist, I would almost think that she might be pro-choice.

To be honest, I read that this morning and thought the exact same thing. http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=91ee1f16-368a-489c-8af8-651197ff029b&p=3

jj said...

Whoa.

I'm pretty sure a lot of anti-choicers don't like the GAP -- some of them are smart enough to realize that it's stupid and offensive and makes them look like idiots. It perpetuates the exact image they're trying to get away from, the raving spittle-flecked anti-abortion freak. Prowomanprolife doesn't like it either (at least the one who posted about it yesterday).

MrvnMouse said...

And yet, the UofC campus every year has a giant GAP-esque display up right in the center of campus pushing that garbage and big signs about 100 feet away from it claiming that it's free speech and by our "constitution" they are allowed to use the space.

Usually they also have at least 3 UofC security guards mulling around as well.

deBeauxOs said...

If the GAP speech is free, who gets stuck with the bill for the security guards?

J. A. Baker said...

But you don't have the ethical right to exploit for mere rhetorical advantage a human tragedy with no logical, moral or historical relevance to abortion.

I'm guessing that this means Babs would not be cool with Suzie-All-Caps's constant comparison of abortion to slavery.

deBeauxOs said...

I suspect that for Babs, it would depend on who the enslaved folks were.

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