YDATL Blog NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Monday, April 10, 2006
The Values Thing
I unfortunately missed the march for women’s lives this Sunday. I heard it was a great event and that YDAtl was well represented. I wish I could have been there. I enjoyed Benson’s post and Shelby’s highlights. Today, I wanted to focus some attention to Shelby’s final comment about his own reservations about this painful issue.
I agree that too often liberals assume that their opponents on abortion are simply misogynist assholes. I’m not saying that we need to be sensitive to the feelings of abortion clinic bombers and I know it’s hard to be polite when someone is waving a picture of a bloody fetus in your face. However, many thoughtful and loving individuals are pro-life and it might not hurt us to treat them with some respect. If you believe that a woman is carrying a life during a pregnancy you might be justified in your concern for how that life is treated. Saying “if you’re against abortion then don’t have one” is like saying to me “if you’re against child abuse, don’t abuse your child.” Not really an effective argument.
I have trouble with a lot of these moral/values issues – they always feel like red herrings to me – Republicans bring up divisive social issues to distract us from the fact that our democracy has been sold to a corporation. It’s not that I don’t think abortion, gay rights, and teaching evolution in classrooms are really, really important topics. It’s just that one’s opinions on these issues are so personal and so strongly held. I know other people have more patience than me with this kind of thing, but I just have no interest in arguing with a stone wall – which is how I feel when I talk to someone who is staunchly anti-choice or vehemently anti-gay rights.
Some of these people seem to be decent and intelligent and then we start the values argument and some chip gets activated in their brains and all real discussion ends. I actually think that’s how some people have thought of me, especially during the 2004 election year.
I have this feeling when I’ve been baited into a values debate that I’m being duped. I might be doing just fine and then all of a sudden I’m aflame with passionate anger. It’s easy to get the liberal riled about something. I must be the butt of some joke. I wonder how people think they’re going to legislate this stuff. How can you legislate something like abortion when the majority of people don’t even think it’s a sin? What is the plan for all those unplanned pregnancies? How morally satisfying will it be to punish young women? What about gay rights? What law would be effective? The one keeping them out of the military? What about one preventing them from living in committed partnerships with each other? No, this plan to create a fundamentalist, police state just doesn’t sound feasible. Have these guys been to Midtown Atlanta?
Sadly, it’s not a joke. And, even if it’s a diversion away from vital economic issues it’s a diversion with serious consequences that I can’t just blow off. But I think I would prefer to change the flavor of the debate – a debate with more compassion and consideration. The crazies – the Rick Santorum’s of the world – must be fought and exposed for the frauds they are. Many others however, should be treated with the respect and dignity due to any human being. We are always going to stand up for equal rights and for a women’s right to make her medical decisions. But we are also going to stand up for everyone’s right to voice their own opinion and for tolerance and respect.