Sunday, June 24, 2018

Abortion



This little essay was composed before the wonderful news from Roman Catholic Ireland: a thunderous yes to legitimizing abortion. Now if only other Catholic countries would share the pluck of the Irish.

Because if only the alt right were against abortion, as well as only the NRA were against gun control, such a piece as follows were not needed. But unfortunately abortion is opposed even by less extremist persons, so here goes. Because only a woman’s body, a woman’s safety, is involved in abortion, it is she and not a man who should have the last word about it. But when is something actually so merely because ideally it would be?

It seems to me that when a woman wants an abortion it is because she sees herself unable or unwilling to cope with parenting. Surely a lot of persons make for bad parents, often because they themselves have had bad ones, or simply because of the difficulty of the task.. It is just barely possible that a would-have-been aborter falls in love with her baby, but that would seem to be too good to count on. How good a driver would a person suffering from carsickness make? How good a couturier would a nudist make? Many people think that where there is already a heartbeat, it is too late in the game for abortion. Maybe so, but it is hard to determine what is absolute life or absolute death. What about a corpse still growing hair and fingernails? Does that make it alive? Even leaving a an unwanted newborn on the doorstep of a hospital or police station is poor guarantee for its prospects.

Assuming that an unwilling mother is pregnant in a country where abortion is illegal, what else can the woman do? If she has enough money, she can travel to another country where abortion is legal. If not, all sorts of horrors await. There is abortion by some quack or other, which can have serious consequences, or, worse yet, there is the notorious attempt by a woman at self-administered abortion, most often with knitting needles, from which no good can come.

Suppose, however, that an illegitimate birth succeeds, and the infant grows up into manhood or womanhood, is there not often enough whispered hostility in many a community against so-called bastards? This also because of the problems in an unenlightened society of fighting off the onus of being different in any way. There the effort can cause much misery for the guiltless bastard. Granted the existence of the popular euphemism “love child,” and some people’s belief that such children grow up more passionate, there is the opposite belief that they will remain forever outsiders. Famously, Edmund, the villain in “King Lear,” invokes the gods to stand up for bastards, but, at least as far as that great play goes, they don’t.

Te most obvious example of the argument against illegitimate motherhood is in the child murders in Klinger’s and Goethe’s dramas, even if the deed is viewed with deep compassion. It is always the story of an innocent maiden being beguiled by a ruthless male, and then being severely punished for something she cannot help. But for such infanticide to be taken as a serious consequence of illegitimacy by the broad audience is like hoping that, because bees sting, we should give up on apiculpture altogether and miss out on honey.

It is interesting to note the comment of the famous lawyer, Florynce Kennedy that “if men would get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” Well, abortion will never be a sacrament, but neither should it be a crime. It is, rather like euthanasia, also considered criminal by many, even if in the case of intense, incurable suffering it is rather a blessing. And what about a teenager becoming pregnant? From such a one successful parenting is, I repeat , unlikely, and could have been avoided with a little bit of prophylaxis. How much space in your wallet or pocket does a condom require?
Yet from people not capable of such minimal precaution, how can we expect the intelligence required for making good parents--not the easiest thing in the world.

Let us consider for a moment how in Roman times the equivalent of abortion was handled. If a newborn proved defective in any way, the baby was allegedly tossed off Mount Taigetus for riddance. This may be merely a legend, but it sounds disquietingly convincing enough.

As for my opinion on the matter, as this blog entry I hope makes clear, I am very much in favor of abortion. And I can name quite a few people whom the world would be a better off without, had they been aborted--starting with persons very high up. In such cases, one yearns for more, much more abortion. It is conceivable, however, that even with only as much abortion as there is, things are at least that much better than would have been the case without it.

     


30 comments:

  1. Florynce Kennedy: “If men would get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

    Rosa Luxemburg: ”If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."

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    Replies
    1. Quentin Crisp: "To me, politics is the art of making the inevitable appear to be a matter of wise human choice."

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  2. Oops! I meant Emma Goldman! I get those radical ladies mixed up!

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  3. Terrific essay.

    My favorite film on this subject is "Vera Drake" by the underrated Mike Leigh. Great performance by Imelda Staunton in that movie. Some other Leigh movies to see are "Naked," "Secrets and Lies," and "High Hopes."


    My top 3 underrated directors are:

    3) Mike Leigh (Naked, Vera Drake, High Hopes, Life is Sweet)

    2) John Sayles (Lone Star, Matewan, Eight Men Out, Passion Fish)

    1) Hal Harley (Trust, Simple Men, Henry Fool, The Unbelievable Truth)

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    1. I love most of the work of Leigh and Sayles, but I've never seen anything by Hal Hartley. Have you seen any films by Alex Ross Perry? 'Listen Up Philip' and 'Queen of Earth' are both really good...

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    2. Nooch, I've seen 'Phillip,' and really liked it. I'll have to get 'Queen' from Netflix.

      Hartley's out of Long Island and was at his best during the 90's. The films I listed plus 'Amateur' are his best. He also has a film called 'No Such Thing,' which the critics hated, but I absolutely loved. A lot of people describe Hartley as 'an acquired taste,' but I disagree. I think he was the best filmmaker from the 90's (this side of the Coen brothers). His newer films are hit or miss (I love them, though), but any of his films before, and including, 'No Such Thing' are terrific. My order of viewing would go like this: (He has others, but these are essential Hartley)

      Trust
      Henry Fool
      The Unbelievable Truth
      Simple Men
      Amateur
      Flirt
      No Such Thing

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    3. I just read this summary of THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH: "A comedy of errors surrounding a beautiful college bound girl disturbingly preoccupied with the threat of nuclear destruction. Nevertheless, she falls in love with a handsome ex-con who is rumored to have murdered, many years before, the father of his high school sweetheart." Sounds great!

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    4. U.K., in the realm of music, do you like Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks? This perf. is amazing!

      https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2wq80x

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    5. You turned me on to Hicks months ago (or was it years?). He's fantastic. Love that guy with the Martin guitar. I've always wanted a Martin.

      Yes, The Unbelievable Truth was Hartley's first film. It was done very cheaply. Basically shot in his back yard, or in his own neighborhod. His other films are more "polished" but that movie holds a special place in my heart. With Hartley, the plot is secondary (Simon would hate him). The camera, individual performances, dialog, and scenes are what I enjoyed the most about his movies. He's very unique. I can't think of one director to compare him to.

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    6. The writer George Gurley is a native Kansan, but I'm pretty sure he's in favor of abortion rights. Here's a classic column by the Gurley-meister:

      http://observer.com/2005/08/whats-up-doc/

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    7. I would need a lot of drugs of the recreational kind to enjoy a film by Mike Leigh. There is an arrogance in making films and boring and slovenly as his. I am perfectly aware of how dull and dreary life can be. But the drear of life in Daumier, for example, or in a film of Kurosawa, is not the drear of the film.

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    8. U.K., I didn't care for THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH, but HENRY FOOL is on its way from Netflix.

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    9. That's okay, Nooch. It was worth a try. 'Fool' comes from a very similar vein, so you may not like that one either. Hartley isn't for everyone.

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    10. @Mark, not everyone can do Superman and Star Wars. I wouldn't call Leigh's film-making 'slovenly.' Maybe the characters, but his directing skills are first rate. I suggest Umberto D for full dreariness. Why couldn't the train have just run over both Flike and Berty?

      My top 5 directors of dreary films:

      5) Andrei Tarkovsky
      4) YasujirĂ´ Ozu
      3) Michelangelo Antonioni
      2) Vittorio de Sica
      1) Ingmar Bergman

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    11. U.K., I don't see how I can't like HENRY FOOL: an unsuccessful writer encourages some homeless guy to write, and the latter ends up achieving literary success! An exploration of the bitterness and envy of the scribbling classes is my idea of entertainment.

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    12. I think Leigh's best body of work is his films for the BBC made in the glorious 1970s. The best of these are:

      ABIGAIL'S PARTY
      NUTS IN MAY
      THE KISS OF DEATH
      GROWN-UPS

      These films and others are on a 6-disc box set available under $40; the discs are region 2, but they are subtitled, which is a necessary feature for this half-deef Yank:

      https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Leigh-BBC-Collection-anglais/dp/B001UHNXOC/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531476430&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=mike+leight+at+the+bbc

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    13. Nooch, you may like 'Fool.' It's Hartley's most mainstream film. Still, the same quirky sense of humor, and general film-making sensibility permeate Henry Fool. Hartley is a true auteur. No one makes movies like he does, for better or for worse.

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    14. Nuts in May is my fav from those early TV episodes. I don't find Leigh 'dreary' like Mark does. Most of his films have a wonderful sense of humor. You may have to look for it, at times it's sneaky, but it's there.

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    15. Thanks U.K, and HENRY FOOL has Parker Posey in it too, which for me is a huge plus!

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  4. A powerful passage on this subject from the 1950 novel 'Scamp' by Roland Camberton:

    https://scarriet.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/vida/#comment-55131

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  5. Brown Bodies v. Bored Education

    Childless white woman physician,
    Survivor of Swedish extraction;
    Black African with his harem:

    Both no longer slaves,
    The miracle of Western medicine
    Due to, riding the wave of liberation.

    A strange brew in Minnesota:
    She, offering safe female circumcision;
    He, savagely birthing a new nation.

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  6. I think the problem is the destruction of life. And the issue of genocidal tendencies in the promotion of abortion among less desirable groups.

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  7. If men regularly posed for motorcycle calendars, perhaps abortion *should* be a sacrament?

    https://www.unfinishedman.com/burly-men-turned-motorcycle-models-manigale-calendar/

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  8. Simon kills it again on Theater Talk. He even gets in a grammar jab on some dude.

    https://theatertalk.org/comedy-legend-renee-taylor-%ef%bb%bfplus-critics-john-simon-justin-brown-matt-windman/

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    1. Three girls wipe the floor with old fogey John Simon!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv5fUK_aHZs&t=121s

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    2. I thought Mr. Simon was going to chide the dad for not having the girls read "The Snow Queen". Maybe he bought his daughters the book, but they weren't interested.

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  9. Mr. Simon, why you are semi-retired and scrounging around for some philosophical topic to talk about -- we don't need your thoughts on abortion; the lines are drawn and it's not uppermost on people's minds now -- the nation, the country, the republic, is in flames. We need you to speak up for once about politics, which you have always avoided. You were absent before the election, except to denounce Bernie Sanders for having a honking Brooklyn accent. As if Obama's suave, elegant tenor would save us.
    Samantha Bee was shouted down and humiliated for having called Ivanka Trump a cunt. Which she is. Cunt is a denunciation of character, and yet Bee was accused of using a slur. What slur? A cunt is a cunt, just as a jerk is a jerk, a scoundrel is a scoundrel.
    And yet instead of finding Simon on the case, he is off some where playing with abortion blocks on the porch.
    Mr. Simon, stand up, gird thy loins, and join the fray. You are an important American still. Live up to it.

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  10. Mr. Simon, I think you should write about whatever you want. And if you want to watch tennis in your pajamas for hours each day, you should do that too.

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