electra310: (strongsad)
[personal profile] electra310
Okay, it's late and I've been spending all night, for the past four nights, reading political news and blogs. Not that I wasn't reading them before, but this was the big eight-hour-at-a-time pushes. Everything from Daily KOS to FoxNews to Andrew Sullivan to Savage Blog to "Oh No They Didn't!-The Politics Edition, peppered with lots of CNN and several episodes each of the Daily Show and The Colbert Report. In some ways, it's been a search for entertainment. My unemployment continues unabated, and when my shitty job-hunting skills combine with an economic meltdown, that may not be changing for awhile. The election is, right now, the hottest thing going. From Lolitics to the daily gaffe roundup, there are many lulz to be had. Sarah Palin is God's gift to anyone trying to get a giggle out of politics, if only a horrified "this isn't really happening" nervous chuckle.


But I've learned a lot as well. I've learned a lot about politics in general over the four years since the last election, of course, law school will do that to you. I've had to examine a lot of the assumptions that eighteen year old Cori took for granted when she went into the retirement community, all breathless and eager with excitement over casting her very first ballot, and voted straight ticket Republican because that's what her parents were doing. I've had to repudiate the 22 year old new-college-graduate Cori, living in Chicago (just a half mile from the Obamas, btw), who didn't like George Bush but voted for him because he was pro-life and she hadn't taken the time to analyze any other issue in the race. That Cori sort of withered away on her own, really, over the last four years of facepalming.

Now that I'm a grownup, for reals no fooling, I feel like I have an obligation to be informed on what the hell it is I'm actually voting for in a candidate. And truthfully, I've been flirting with (and sleeping with) the Democrats (well, only one) for awhile now. I'm not sure about their tax policies or their policies for the economy. I've been doing a lot of reading on that. It's easy to find information on both sides. I like the idea of having access to health care even though I'm a fat chick who's had some health issues and I don't have much money. I would like to get a tax cut, rather than see that tax cut go to someone who has more money than I will ever see in my entire life. I think Obama has a strategy that is at least plausible, and hell, he certainly can't do any worse, amirite?

The social issues are at once more compelling and more complicated to me. I grew up in a religious, Republican home. I love my family. I love my parents, and I love my church. Up until I went away to college, I didn't really seriously consider the possibility that they could be wrong on any issue. I only remember meeting one gay man in my entire childhood, and nobody told me about it until later. So why should I doubt that homosexuals (homosexuals were men, lesbians were pretending) made a choice to sin against God and only needed to make a real commitment to Christ before they would start loving both Jesus and women? If anyone I knew had been raped, they didn't talk about it, and if the child of one of my parents' friends got pregnant, there was a hasty marriage and those parents stepped in to help the somewhat-stigmatized new family. Abortion was the most important political issue in any election, sex-education was abstinence only and birth control was what you got when you got married and wanted to start your career before having kids.

Then I got to college, and I met some gay people my own age who would actually mention it in conversation (and t-shirts, and chalk it all over the sidewalks, and have some interesting objects d'art about it.) They pointed out to me how they might actually have preferred to maybe not be ostracized by society and alienated from their parents and denied benefits from the government, and if they could have flipped a switch in their brains to suddenly make everything okay in their worlds, a lot of them would've done it, at least at some point in their lives. And that made sense to me. It took a long time, but I started to believe that people are gay or straight because that's the way their minds and sexualities are wired, and not because they weren't trying hard enough.

I think that was the pivot point for me in how I saw the intricately intertwined mess that was politics and religion in my life. A lot of that was from the neoconservative movement. These were opinionleaders that claimed my faith, to know my Jesus. But I saw, with confusion that turned to horror that turned to revulsion, that these people didn't know the same Jesus I did. I didn't have ten years of parochial education that taught me that my Jesus was a god of hate. My Jesus is a god of love, who came to save the whole world, who loves sinners and embraces the hurting and accepts the outcasts. My Jesus blessed the peacemakers and those who mourned. The only people I know my Jesus hates are hypocritical religious leaders and those who would use his Father's house and his Father's name to make money. That's not the same Jesus. Even then it took me a long time to admit that they were wrong, and that the things that they said didn't make sense, and that a religion I knew locally as being loving and accepting and charitable was, on a national scale, more interested in making sure people who loved each other couldn't get married than they were in feeding the hungry or caring for the sick or encouraging the hopeless. They didn't believe what I believed, and I decided that what I believed was better.

It came to a point, early this year, really, when my last bastion of political-religious-Republicanism was the question of abortion. That was a hard one for me. I have a very complex stance on abortion that I don't think anyone in the entire world actually shares with me. This is probably because I'm a philosophy major and I did a senior thesis on the moral implications of anencephaly. I believe that abortion is wrong, but that it should not be illegal. I believe that there are things that should be regulated by law, and things that we should believe are wrong but allow to exist in a controlled and contained way. I believe that a woman has a right to get an abortion, but that doing so is an offense against good conscience and charity in proportion to the circumstances, most notably her own health and her own culpability in getting pregnant in the first place. It is far more wrong for a woman who had a one night stand and decided not to bother with birth control to have an abortion than it is for a woman who was raped and had no choice in her participation to have an abortion, but both should be legal, up to a point. (I told you this was complicated.) My view ties in closely with legal theories on the duty of rescue and is influenced heavily by Phillipa Foote's notions on justice and charity, as well as considerations on where we can plausibly draw the line on when a collection of cells gains personhood, and how careful we ought to be when making that consideration.

I'll probably expound on that during another sleepless night, in what will surely wind up being a four or five page LJ entry, and aren't you all lucky! But anyway, my theories on the wrongness of abortion hinge heavily on the idea that a woman must have a choice in whether or not she gets pregnant in the first place. I am pro-choice in that I think there is an iron-clad morally correct right to choose whether or not to have sex, and whether or not to use birth control. Without that, there is no choice at all, and the woman is merely a bystander to what's going on, and has no duty to mitigate any damage to anyone as a result. Which means that in order for a woman to have the agency required for any eventual choice of abortion to be wrong, she basically needs two things: access to education, and access to effective birth control. I took a major step away from the church here, right around when I turned nineteen and started spending significant amounts of time with my internet boyfriend. I believe that people are going to have sex.

Sex is a powerful and mysterious thing, and pretending it's not there is not going to make it go away. If you want teenagers to not be getting married right out of high school and instead doing things like going to college and getting jobs, you've got to find a way to make sure that the sex is not going to result in the bebbies. I think encouraging abstinence is absolutely the way to go with sex ed. I think that teens should get more positive messages that tell them they're important enough to wait and that sex can make you feel really bad and shitty if you don't respect it and yourself. But abstinence-only education is the equivalent of closing your eyes and assuming that makes it nighttime. What you get from that is kids who have sex with no protection, operating on urban legends about pregnancy and STDs, and the occasional hapless married couple who go on the honeymoon and don't fucking know how to put on a condom! Ahem.

Anyway, the last straw for me was when the same people who were talking about Roe v. Wade started to go further. I understand wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade. My nuanced view of the abortion question cost my parents eighty thousand dollars in tuition and I had to go through law school on loans to boot, just for a theory that I'm not even sure does anything useful. People who believe that human life begins at conception and that there is no excuse ever for not preserving every single human or potentially human life see an overturning of Roe as the fastest way to stop murder. I don't agree with them, but I understand it. But when they started saying, not just one or two, but a lot of them, that pharmacists shouldn't have to dispense contraception and that contraception wasn't really important for women to have access to, they lost me. Even more so when they said that any form of sex-education that actually taught kids about sex was morally bankrupt. They lost me, and I was once their base. Good married Christian woman, Christian education, Christian family, strong pro-life tradition. I held a sign up once a year for three years running saying "Abortion Kills Children." But now I think they're crazy, beyond the pale, beyond defensibility.

The thing that really gets me about it though is that there is no ethic of life, as I believe the Catholic church put it, in these peoples' philosophy. There's no massive push for better prenatal care for teen and single mothers, there's no massive support for adoption initiatives or for better public education or for making sure that the churches are open to make sure people have enough to eat more days than just on Christmas. Some churches fill these niches and that's great and they're amazing, but those aren't the same people who are telling us that abortion is the most important issue in every political campaign ever.

Here's the secret that I didn't know in 2000 and 2004, the secret that if I'd known then, might have changed things. No one is actually in favor of increased abortions. No feminist group, no political group, no legitimate interest of any kind wants to see more women getting abortions just to get that abortion rate up. And right now, the same people who want to keep abortion legal are the ones with the sane ideas on how to get the abortion rate to drop. How the hell are you supposed to argue against abortion at the same time as you argue against sex education and argue against birth control? It's sloppy rhetoric, fucking sloppy rhetoric, and I'm ashamed I didn't pay more attention. I think that everyone who is truly against abortion and who truly sees it as the death of a child should stop contesting Roe v. Wade right now, and start throwing all their energy behind actual sex education that works, the promotion of safe, effective and available birth control, and improved care and counseling for both rape victims and women who experience unplanned pregnancies. That's how abortion rates are going to go down, and the Republicans are running away from that as fast as their little legs will carry them. My last bastion has fallen, and now I'm an independent. Which means that I actually have to do the legwork and decide who from each side agrees with me on more issues, and how important I think each issue is. Dammit.

Wow, that got really, really long. If you made it this far, congratulations. I guess what I really wanted to say out of this is: Go President Obama! You better be as good as you look, or I'm going to be more disappointed than I can even say. Now I'mma go put an lj-cut in this monster.

Date: 2008-10-24 12:00 pm (UTC)
schoolpsychnerd: (Fabulous)
From: [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd
I feel like I understand your position on abortion, and while it is not exactly the same as mine, it isn't that different (though I may not understand some of the philosophical nuances being as I'm more into the psych realm.) My problem is I tend to get too caught up in circumstances which makes it hard for me to really debate. I do find your arguments well reasoned for what it's worth and I enjoyed reading it. I think, considering how early it is over there, you make your points very clearly.

I miss you Kasa-desu.

Date: 2008-10-24 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] electra310.livejournal.com
I think a lot of people have that problem, abortion is such an extraordinarily emotionally fraught issue that when you start arguing, the personal examples can rush right up and overwhelm what was intended to be a reasoned debate. When philosophers start doing work on the problem, the debate quickly shifts, I've seen, from actual abortion hypotheticals to things like "you have a violinist sewn to your back, sharing your kidney," and the ever-popular trolley problem.

And I wrote this between about 4:30 and 6am this morning. I haven't been sleeping lately, and at some point your mind either shuts down or goes into overdrive. Surprisingly, I went to bed and slept great after writing it all down.

Date: 2008-10-24 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bexplant.livejournal.com
your stance on abortion makes a lot of sense.

Date: 2008-10-24 03:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zen-master.livejournal.com
Wow, I've really missed reading well thought out statements such as this. Most political positions I read these days are crap. Thanks for the post and the insight.

Well said...

Date: 2008-10-24 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] damascus23.livejournal.com
I think your view on abortion coincides with what you say at the end of your statement about pro-choicers. I would bet there are a vast number of pro-choicers (including myself) who believe abortion should be legal, but that it is still wrong. I would also pose this question: If we allow pharmacists to deny birth control on religious grounds, where do we draw the line on what they can deny on religious grounds? For example, if a person had type 2 diabetes because of their weight, should a pharmacist that believes gluttony is a sin be allowed to deny that person insulin? I've also never understood the idea that hooking someone up to life support was okay, but taking them off was playing God. Isn't putting them on life support playing God?

Re: Well said...

Date: 2008-10-24 09:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] electra310.livejournal.com
I think the position on life support coincides pretty heavily with my views on why the fetus should be considered a person with rights and obligations at all. If we can't tell, for a certainty, exactly when the line of humanity starts, except that it's sometime between the moment of conception and the delivery of the baby, that thoughtful people with a view to the importance of the value of human life will lean towards giving the fetus the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it's not quite a person in the way a philosopher wants to define person at certain given points, but it's so difficult to draw a principled line of demarcation that you almost can't without being arbitrary.

It seems like the same idea applies in putting people on life support, that often in the moment, there is no real way to make a principled decision on whether or not the person is still alive in a meaningful way, and so the thoughtful person will, absent previous instruction to the contrary from the patient, give him the benefit of the doubt and act to save his life. Then, once the patient is on life support, you run once again into the thorny problem of a line of demarcation between what is a person and what is not. I think it's a different line, potentially an easier line, than the one faced on the other end of life, but there are certainly parallels.

Also, I hadn't considered that point about pharmacists. Interesting!

Date: 2008-10-24 07:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sparkindarkness.livejournal.com
*hugs* Would that more would have the same awakening you did. I fear many people just grow up with a set political, well, impression (because ideal isn't the right word nor is position because they haven't researched or experienced it properly) and continue it forever more, never realising how far from their own beliefs and stance their votes are being cast


I think one of the great sadnesses of the Religious so-not-right is one that we see with many organise religious movements - the extremists are so vocal that they are beginning to paint their whole faiths with their own vile brush. Because the crazies are so loud, people believe they speak for the whole faith. Christianity doesn't deserve to have bigots and haters smear it - but they are succeeding with every screed of hate they do in Christ's name.

I believe that there are things that should be regulated by law, and things that we should believe are wrong but allow to exist in a controlled and contained way

I think many sensible people feel that way about a variety of things. There are things people do that I consider wrong. I find racist, sexist or homophobic language deeply wrong. I find my neighbour allowing her husband to speak to her in demeaning terms to be wrong. I even find people disrespecting the meat on their plate wrong. But I would never ever want to make any of them ILLEGAL because the legal prohibition would do far more damage than the act I consider immoral (and, of course, because my personal dislike should never be grounds why anyone else should be constrained)

Date: 2008-10-24 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] electra310.livejournal.com
I am really hoping that we are almost ready for a revolution of moderate, loving, outreach-ministry focused Christianity around the world. Watching so-called religious leaders in this country basically calling God out and saying He'd better make sure Obama doesn't win or the terrist god is bigger than Him makes me throw up a little in my mouth. I can't be the only Christian whose head is ringing with cognitive dissonance. I am praying for a landslide in this election, because it will be a wakeup call for organizations that I know are important and should be relevant, but that have really, really gone off the deep end.

Date: 2008-10-24 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] radar-72.livejournal.com
*clap*
*clap*
*clap*


Very well spoken, very well indeed.

I see this exact attitude many times a day in the Catholic environment that I work in (not being a Catholic here definitely gives you the 'third person view' sometimes). However, I don't think that I've ever seen it as clearly portrayed and would like to warn you that I may shamelessly steal from or direct people to this post--with your permission, of course.

Date: 2008-10-24 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] electra310.livejournal.com
Sure, go ahead. You may also feel free to redact it and take out the cussing, if you like. =D Though why more people don't pepper their political positions with them, I'll never know.
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