Jesurgislac’s Journal

June 27, 2010

Why is abortion like setting fire to kittens?

As many of you may know, I am a fervent and committed believer in a woman’s right to choose: I support all six demands of the women’s liberation movement: equal pay, equal employment opportunity, free contraceptive services, abortion on demand. (The last demand, free 24-hour childcare, I think is brilliantly utopian, world turned upside down, but the first five are all achievable in our present political state….)

Setting fire to kittens, on the other hand: inarguably wrong. Even if you hate cats, and as many of you may know, I am a fervent and committed cat worshipper whisperer.

Pro-lifers generally run blogs that do not accept dissenting viewpoints. (They’re like gay marriage opponents in that way.) But for pro-lifers, the “dissenting viewpoint” can be anything like “Contraception is a good way of preventing abortions” or scientific facts about how methods of contraception work, to assertions that women have abortions for all sorts of reasons, including the purely economic fear of losing your job, and these reasons are none of them outrageous or wicked. If you don’t want a woman who works for a Catholic school to have an abortion because she can’t afford to lose her job, then – as the ACLU did – you fight the case of a woman fired for getting pregnant, so that Catholic schools in future will refrain from encouraging their employees from having abortions. If you think a high abortion rate is a bad thing, you fund free access to contraception, you put in place sex education in schools that encourages children to think about sex positively as a source of pleasure for themselves and each other and using contraception whenever they have sex unless they intend to engender a child, you provide maternity care and paid maternity leave and rights for working parents to have time to care for their children and earn a living. We know that pro-lifers are not interested in reducing the number of abortions because, as a political movement, and, mostly, as individuals, they support none of these things.

What are pro-lifers interested in?

They hate abortion. And they want you to know they hate abortion.

Part of this goes right along with hating abortion because it means women can have, in the pro-life euphemism, “sex without consequences” – why pro-lifers also oppose free access to contraception. Women, in this view of things, ought not to be allowed to have sex joyfully, for her own pleasure, without fear: the fear of becoming pregnant is something that ought always to be looming over a woman’s mind when she thinks about having sex. Especially an unmarried women: hence pro-life support for firing an unmarried woman who decided not to have an abortion. This hatred of women having sex for pleasure is very strong in the pro-life movement, and for many years I’ve assumed it to be the key motivator. There’s considerable evidence for this in the policies/campaigning of the pro-life movement, as this post by Ampersand outlines:

In contrast, the leaders of the abortion criminalization movement have consistently put their political weight behind policies which make little or no sense if they genuinely think that abortion is identical to child murder. And those same leaders routinely endorse policies that make a lot of sense if their goal is to penalize women who have sex – to, as I’ve heard many of them put it, make sure women “face the consequences” of having sex. And they’ve done so with the apparent backing and blessing of the vast majority of the rank and file. [Further analysis at Alas a Blog.]

This belief – that denying access to abortion is an effective means of turning pregnancy into punishment and babies into “consequences” – is why many pro-lifers say they think abortion ought to be allowed for rape or incest, or to save a woman’s life.

But for some pro-lifers, that’s still not acceptable. For them, the key is hating abortion, and hating people who support the right to have an abortion. They don’t care about women dying: they don’t care about fetuses dying, or babies dying: they certainly don’t care about preventing abortions, because where would their source of hate be then?

I read this post on Slacktivist about false witness some time ago; Fred illustrated his point with reference to an awful incident the paper he worked for had reported on, a “group of disturbed and disturbing children doused a kitten with lighter fluid and set it on fire” and other incidents in which disturbed and disturbing people had done this awful thing. Fred noted that people were universally and unsurprisingly against kitten-burning:

But one also came away from reading that thread with the sense that people seemed to think this ultra-minimal moral stance made them exceptional and exceptionally righteous. Like the earlier editorial writers, they seemed to think they were exhibiting courage by taking a bold position on a matter of great controversy. Whatever comfort might be gleaned from the reaffirmation that most people were right about this non-issue issue was overshadowed by the discomfiting realization that so many people also seemed to want or need most others to be wrong.

The kitten-burners seem to fulfill some urgent need. They give us someone we can clearly and correctly say we’re better than. Their extravagant cruelty makes us feel better about ourselves because we know that we would never do what they have done. They thus function as signposts of depravity, reassuring the rest of us that we’re Not As Bad As them, and thus letting us tell ourselves that this is the same thing as us being good.

Hating abortion is a political tool to get people to vote against their own economic self-interests: as Avedon at the Sideshow summarises succinctly: “the lie that the anti-abortion movement was an organic reaction to Roe v Wade, but of course that’s not true – like everything else, it was orchestrated by rich right-wingers as part of their ongoing program to polarize society.”

In the US in the 1970s, racism was becoming less and less acceptable as a means by which right-wing politicians could convince working-class white Americans to vote and even campaign against their own economic interests. (As an example: By the end of that decade,even the Mormon Church had had to receive a revelation from God that it was unacceptable to ban black men from the priesthood. But in the 21st century, the Mormon Church actively campaigns for discrimination against lesbians and gays.) In 2002, the then-Senate Majority leader, Trent Lott, had to apologize for saying that the United States would have avoided all these problems if the racist Strom Thurmond had been elected President in 1948: in 2004, George W. Bush could endorse a national campaign for homophobic bigotry and inequality.

But if you can’t, any more, use racism as a trigger to get people to vote against their own economic self-interest, what can you use to drum up hatred? In the 1970s, the LGBT equality movement wasn’t widespread enough for gay-hating to work as a national trigger – too many parts of the US where LGBT people just kept their heads down and tried to be invisible and inaudible – but women, everywhere, need access to abortion and contraception. Turn this natural human need into a hate campaign and you’re off to a winner.

Abortion is like setting fire to kittens not because human fetuses are like kittens (there is no lolfetuses website) but because pro-lifers get their buzz out of believing themselves to be better than others. The opposition of pro-lifers to intact dilation and extraction, and their invention of the non-medical term “partial birth abortion”, is otherwise inexplicable: IDX is an abortion technique, one which can be safer for a woman who needs an abortion in late pregnancy, but banning IDX will not prevent any abortions: it merely ensures that a method which may be less safe for the woman must be used. Many pro-lifers have reacted with anger and rejection when asked if their opposition to IDX is because they want women to be hurt or permanently damaged: apparently what they want is a return to the pre-IDX days when the only way to remove a dead or dying fetus from the uterus was piecemeal. This belief that IDX in particular is bad makes no sense to many people, but if what pro-lifers want is the reassurance that they’re better than people who support a woman’s right to choose, thus letting them tell themselves that this is the same thing as “being good”, then it makes sense that they want abortion to appear “extravagantly cruel“. Performing IDX means the fetus can be removed intact, allowing the parents to hold the body as they mourn their loss: to pro-lifers this is as unacceptable as legislation for social justice is to Trotskyites who believe in a worker’s revolution.

I was 27 weeks by this point. I was terrified. The moment I met the doctor, all of that ended. He was a wonderful and loving man. I came in on Monday and gave birth to our baby girl on Friday. We were able to hold her after, and say our goodbyes. That doctor will always be in my heart. (From A Heartbreaking Choice, the website set up to commemorate Doctor George Tiller’s work.)

Pro-lifers are the movement for setting fire to kittens. They are not interested in preventing abortions: they are not interested in protecting women from harm. They are not interested in saving fetal lives. What they want is to compare access to abortion with the holocaust, with slavery, with torture – they want abortion to be performed as dangerously as possible: they want to claim that abortion is dangerous and performed by uncaring people; they want to campaign against evil like brave, brave, brave Sir Robin without actually running any risks because the evil empire they tourney against is entirely of their own invention.

Unfortunately, the women condemned to suffer and die from their tourneying are not.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!

April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle: “I dreamed a dream”

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving

I don’t often post Youtube links. Nor do I often post them with this recommendation: Listen to this. Watch it.

I swear to you: it’s a peak experience. It’s worth just listening to, but the first time through: watch it, watch the faces. Then the second time through: watch it again knowing what you’re going to see.

Then come back here and tell me I was right to steer you there.

(more…)

April 10, 2009

Maggie Gallagher says NOM

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

(For past posts on the claims by Maggie Gallagher and her nommy crew, see Maggie Gallagher redefines marriage, They’re trying to ‘protect marriage’ with this dreck?, and, for the benefit of the Christians still earnestly trying to figure out where in the Bible Jesus said anything about same-sex marriage, Jesus just sat down with sinners, he didn’t offer them health insurance!)

moar lolcats under the cut
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April 4, 2009

I love you.

Filed under: Dragons,Good Stuff Happens,Internet — jesurgislac @ 7:16 pm
Tags: ,

In the name of love.

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you…)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love…

It came upon the noontide clear,
That glorious song of Pride,
And marchers bending near the Clyde
Their rainbow banners steer.
“Peace on the earth, good will to all”,
From queens and dykes drag-king
The streets and traffic do not stay
To hear the marchers sing.

Still through the traffic’d streets they come,
With rainbow banners unfurl’d
And still their whistles blow the noise
O’er all the straightly world.
Above its grim and stony roads
They march with song and Pride
And ever o’er its Babel sounds,
The Prideful marchers sing.

Yet with the woes of gay-hating
The world has suffered long;
Before the march of Pride has rolled,
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not,
The love song which we bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the marchers sing.

And ye, beneath hate’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow
Look now! for gay and rainbow hours
Come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the marchers sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
by dykes and queens descried
When, with the ever-circling years,
Shall come the Age of Pride;
When Pride shall over all the earth,
Its rainbow splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song,
Which now the marchers sing.

March 16, 2009

Collective noun cats

Filed under: Dragons,Polls — jesurgislac @ 3:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

What collective noun should be in use for cats?
( surveys)

(Collective nouns from Rinkworks: the only one I’ve never seen in use is dout, which I find is more commonly used for wildcats – I didn’t include “a destruction of cats” as that is properly only used for wildcats. Oddly enough.)


March 8, 2009

Verb Noire: this matters

A new small press is in the process of being born.

Verb Noire is being set up “To celebrate the works of talented, underrepresented authors and deliver them to a readership that demands more.”

Donate here.

Jim C. Hines:

With all due love and respect, get over it. You publish your work, you’re going to get criticism. Some will be valid. Some won’t. Most of it will sting. Don’t like it? Stop trying to be a writer.
And as far as I can tell, the only people saying “White authors aren’t allowed to write about non-white characters” are the white authors. And most of the time, “not allowed” seems to mean “people might say mean things”.
Seriously. Get over it.
I’m struggling with a working definition of privilege, and coming up with something like, “In a discussion of racial stereotypes, appropriation of the ‘shiny bits’ of other cultures without real respect or understanding of those cultures, the ongoing underrepresentation/misrepresentation of large portions of the population in fiction and other media, and the need to do better, privilege is when the most important piece of the conversation is your hurt feelings.”

Niall Harrison in Torque Control – which is the blog of the editorial staff of Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association. Niall is editor of Vector and also senior reviews editor for Strange Horizons: Reasons to care about Racefail 09.

PS: The People Whites Don’t See: An Open Letter to Kathryn Cramer. Yes: that Kathryn Cramer, of fail, fail, and fail. Also, from Roz Kaveney’s blog: Sometimes things become very clear.

Links mostly courtesy of Rydra Wong’s collection.

March 4, 2009

Kathryn Cramer: fail, fail, and fail

Back in February, Kathryn Cramer announced (Stupid Things People Say On the Internet 4690) that all of us who use pseudonymous identities are “criminals and conmen”. I read, I mocked, I moved on.

(Warning: don’t click on the link from my post to her blog. Kathryn Cramer did something bizarre to it that ensured anyone trying to click through to there from here ends up at one of those spam-friendly sites that promise you FREE MONEY IN YOUR OWN HOME.)

Kathryn Cramer, regrettably, found herself unable to move on. She picked on one specific person active in a recent discussion of racism/cultural appropriation on livejournal, who blogs under the id CoffeeandInk, and decided to out her real name on www.kathryncramer.com. (I’m not linking directly to Kathryn Cramer‘s blog: I see no point, if she’s decided that people who try to check out her blog from mine will be redirected. Update, 3 – In fact Kathryn Cramer, using her pseudonym of Pleasantville, had already outed Coffeeandink on the feministsf wikipedia: when Coffeeandink complained about that first outing, Kathryn Cramer then outed Coffeeandink on www.kathryncramer.com.)

This wasn’t an accident: Kathryn Cramer knew that CoffeeandInk preferred to be identified online only by her chosen pseudonymous identity, and not by her real name.

Following an outpouring of sympathy for CoffeeandInk, and criticism of Kathryn Cramer, the entry in which CoffeeandInk was outed has now been password-protected so that only friends of Kathryn Cramer can read it.

(Warning: don’t click on the link from CoffeeandInk‘s post to Kathryn Cramer‘s blog; Kathryn Cramer did something bizarre to it that ensured anyone trying to click through to there from here ends up at one of those spam-friendly sites that promise you FREE MONEY IN YOUR OWN HOME.)

A couple of people took screenshots (with CoffeeandInk‘s name redacted) of Kathryn Cramer‘s post before she password-protected it.

Kathryn Cramer’s outing of CoffeeandInk – cache of the googlecache”

Kathryn Cramer's outing of CoffeeandInk - screenshot

So yeah. She did it. Kathryn Cramer decided to out someone’s RL identity, linking it with her online handle, knowing that this person did not want it to happen, because – Kathryn Cramer justifies this – she feels CoffeeandInk was insufficiently respectful and nice to two people with whom CoffeeandInk worked thirteen years earlier, at a company where Kathryn Cramer‘s husband now works. Kathryn Cramer used her privileged information about CoffeeandInk‘s legal name, because of some Kathryn Cramer Thing about how one ought always to be polite and respectful to people for whom/with whom one once worked, at all times and under all circumstances.

(Will Shetterly, who is in his own estimation a well-known writer, also outed CoffeeandInk, because she wrote a post quoting things he said and linking to the posts in which he said them and linking to his rebuttal of her post, which in Will Shetterly‘s world is called ‘misrepresentation’) but then changed his mind and deleted her legal name, though he’s been protesting ever since that he was jolly generous to do even that.)

Honestly: I think that even if I’d agreed with Kathryn Cramer in all respects up until the moment she did this, at the point she did this, I’d have to quit supporting her. Because… people have all sorts of reasons for wanting to maintain a pseudonymous identity online. And, no matter how much I disagree with them politically, no matter how rude or offensive they are to me or to people I care for, I know I have no idea what pressure they may be under to keep their online identity covert – whether being outed will lose them their job, lose their marriage, lose their children, lose their life, even. I just don’t know. I have no right to bust in and potentially do damage I can’t measure, to people whom I’ve never interacted with.

So, I consider that a minimal standard of decency in debate: if for any reason or none you happen across information that enables you to link someone’s legal identity to their online handle, you just don’t do it. Not just out of respect to that person’s right to privacy: but out of respect to all the other lives that person’s right to privacy may be protecting.

Kathryn Cramer fails that basic test. Further, I am unimpressed by her attempting to take some kind of high moral ground about this – and yet doing things such as redirecting links to her blog posts to spam sites to avoid people reading the post in which she outed CoffeeandInk‘s legal name. She hasn’t apologized for doing it; she hasn’t taken the post down; she’s just trying to stop people who disagree with what she did from linking to her blog.

We deal with each other on the Internet on a sometimes painful level of honesty, and often with poisonous vituperation. I’ve been awesomely rude to some of you reading my blog now, and frankly, I think I usually had good cause. (Feel free to disagree.) But, there is one thing I would not do, and that is the one thing Kathryn Cramer felt herself justified in doing: I would not link your legal identity to your online identity, unless you had made explicitly clear it was OK to do so. I would not link to a post in which I saw it done. I would protect the frame of our debate, our ability to exchange our views honestly and freely. I may loathe you, but I’ll loathe you on a level playing field.

Kathryn Cramer: fail, fail, and fail.


Update: Kathryn Cramer has posted a demand for an apology from the person she outed on her blog. I cannot link to her blog, because she has set up a redirect to a spam website. I e-mailed her to ask her if she would remove the redirect so that I could link to her demand for an apology: she responded instructing me to never contact her again and to remove the name Kathryn Cramer from my blog. I find this culmination of fail …strangely ironic, really.

–Update 2: Because I am a bad person who cannot resist a good story:

Teresa [Nielsen Hayden] recalls a Readercon Midnight Horror Panel showing that US pros know how to have fun. The title was ‘Is Violence Necessary?’, and ‘a dead-drunk and bizarrely dressed Kathryn Cramer first monopolized the discourse, pacing back and forth in front of the panel while ranting incoherently into her-friend-the-invisible-mike; then assaulted another panelist who’d been holding up signs (“HELP US PLEASE HELP US”) and intermittently suggesting she sit down and shut up (during the early phases of which struggle she inadvertently kicked David Hartwell in the face, whereat David went and sat in the audience); then capped it all when, upon the panelist’s extricating himself from her clutches, she toppled face-first from the dais, too drunk to even put out her hands to cushion her fall, and announced while lying there with her face in the carpet that said panelist was fired from The New York Review of SF. “I quit six months ago,” he reminded her. (That was John Ordover.) After that David collected her up for future use, and the panel ended.’ – Ansible 80, March 1994


February 10, 2009

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: Cheese and Potato Pie

In its simplest form, this isn’t even a pie. It’s just the fastest way to get three hungry kids fed, presuming that you routinely have potatoes and cheese in the house. This was my dad’s fast food meal for us.

(more…)

February 2, 2009

Banned From Argo

Yes: banned again. This time, most unusually, not for arguing too hard that same-sex marriage is a civil right, or that safe legal abortion is an essential choice. I got drawn into a conversation on Livejournal about race, cultural appropriation, and racism, Patrick Nielsen Hayden jumped in with both feet and Teresa Nielsen Hayden jumped after him with a flamethrower.

There’s a quick recap here. More information here. A timeline of events here.

And a rather brilliant post called Laurels Wither, or, It Just Doesn’t Work That Way by Bellatrys.

(Teresa’s response to my posting these links in a comment at her journal: “Jesurgislac, my only remaining point of curiosity about you is why I didn’t ban you earlier.”

I’m impressed: I normally only get banned for making comments with information the owner of the blog/journal does not wish people to read, at blogs which either (a) are rigidly anti-choice or (b) rigidly against same-sex couples having the right to marriage.)


If the following makes no sense to you, don’t worry about it; I fitted in as many injokes as I could. Potentially NSFW due to one use of a word that, while technically no more obscene than “dick”, is usually regarded as far more offensive.

Banned From TNH

When we pulled into TNH to talk of race and such
The fans set out investigating every little touch
We had high expectations of her hospitality
But found too late she isn’t geared for nithlings such as we
(more…)

January 29, 2009

Saddleback

from this week’s Savage Love

And now… without further delay… the winning definition of “saddleback“… by a gaping margin… definition number 5: “Saddlebacking: the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities.” After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she’s saving herself for marriage.

Here’s why this definition is perfect: Saddlebacking, like barebacking, involves one person riding up on another’s backside. But in this case, it’s not the bare-naked cock-in-ass that’s the most important feature of the ride, but the fact that the person being ridden has been saddled—thanks to the efforts of the Rick Warrens of this world—with religious hang-ups and serious misconceptions about sex. Like the barebacker who casually tosses away his health—or his partner’s health—because he believes, quite erroneously, that “risky = sexy,” the saddlebacker offers up her ass because she believes, quite erroneously, that she can get fucked in the ass—vigorously, religiously—and still be considered a virgin on her wedding night.

I’ve set up a website—www.saddlebacking.com—to popularize the new definition. (Get to work, Google bombers!) Now let’s get this term into common usage as quickly as possible.

Let’s go!

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