THINKING IS DEAD; ABORTION AS AN EXAMPLE
Well…I haven't written anything in a while that would make someone hate me. It's been too long. So I'm going to kill that streak. Incidentally, are any of you aware how nice it is to have real opinions – things you actually believe and hold in your core to be steadfastly correct – that actually upset people to the point where they don't want to engage you in conversation? Let me tell you something: it's fantastic to be genuinely controversial and to know that you're not so simply to prod people into being reactionary. Whether you're liked or not, there's a fat piece of ego wedged in simply NOT being a talking head. I'll go so far as to say that I take pride in speaking openly about topics most people avoid and both refusing to bow to those who would rather not rock the boat and also accept any static I get in return. It's all part of the territory, but I'm downtrodden to find that it's territory traipsed by relatively few.
You should all remember a skit from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in 1975 that involved
P: What'd you say?
From this point on, the "test" devolves into a screaming match; soon, the two are openly bellowing their answers inches from each other's face:
PRYOR: WHITE TRASH!
C: JUNGLE BUNNY!
P: HONKY HONKY!
P: DEAD HONKY!
It wasn't just one of the funniest moments ever on TV, it was one of, if not THE, most politically incorrect moments ever on TV. It's a skit that no one would dare touch in this day and age, despite the fact that it was clearly mocking not only racism but white authority, employment discrimination and a slew of other social issues. The sad f*cking fact is that it's just not OK anymore to make certain kinds of statements – on TV, in a letter to the editor, in person – even if they're shrouded, for one reason or another, in a subversive or satirical context. It amazes me to this day that people still decry that skit as racist or mean or improper. Hearing someone say anything akin to the previous immediately tells me that A) they don't have a sense of humor, B) they don't/didn't understand a single thing about comedy's role in the Civil Rights Movement and C) they know absolutely nothing about what Richard Pryor – even a coked-out, paranoid, depressed and often delusional Richard Pryor – was all about. If you're a sentient being you have to realize that free speech is in danger not just because people are so afraid of offending someone else...but because the population at large is so much more ignorant than anyone (except myself, apparently) is willing to give them credit for.
So it blew my mind this afternoon when I read a letter that was published in the November 2007 issue of PLAYBOY that spoke out about the controversy and PC-ness that blatantly cloaks the abortion issue right now in this country. Not only am I amazed that someone had the balls to say it out loud – they're sure as HELL going to take some undue flak for their statements – but I'm more than a little disappointed that I didn't realize and state it somewhere MYSELF years go. I'm more than happy to admit that Brett McGinnis of
"In the August READER RESPONSE Tim Johnson writes about the atrocity that has taken place with the Supreme Court's ruling on late-term abortion. I am so tired of this debate. First, both Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicers are guilty of playing people. The issue is not 'choice' or 'life' – who would be anti-choice or anti-life? The issue at hand is abortion, specifically whether a fetus should be given the rights of an infant. It has nothing to do with women's rights. If we decided, through either a metaphysical argument or scientific evidence, that a fetus possessed the rights accorded a newborn, then abortion would be illegal regardless of the fact that a fetus occupies a woman's uterus. On the other hand, if we decided a fetus is nothing more than a cluster of cells, then by all means go ahead and remove it as you would a cancerous tumor. I cannot believe the debate has been allowed to go on this long with such shameful, slick rhetoric."
If you hear a rumbling, it can only be the collective sycophantic mewling of billions (or, in the case of my blog, tens) of self-important liberals/feminists who can't get past the sentence that reads, "It has nothing to do with women's rights." That rumbling is such a glorious noise because, if I'm on the mark in my reasoning for posting this entry, someone will go off the rails blasting Mr. McGinnis's opinion as a personal affront to the entirety of equality amongst men and women. If there's a God, some or all of those responses will be kind enough to label the fellow or – fingers crossed - myself a "sexist pig". Perhaps those with a clichéd vocabulary will go so far as to label one of us a "misogynist". When that happens, I'm going to laugh all the way to a back alley in
Notice that McGinnis didn't bother to expose his opinion on the abortion issue. I won't either. There's a time and place for that, but it's not now and not in this argument. What he IS doing is pointing out that the REAL core of this debate is being ignored in favor of special interest groups who want to drag the all of us in one direction or another. It's feminism vs. religion, "progression" vs. "tradition", and most uniquely disgusting, Democrat vs. Republican. It's a bunch of people spitting in the face of the people across the aisle, blustering and shaking fists and feeling full of righteous vigor. They're like Chevy and Richard battling it out from across the desk except, unlike Chevy and Richard, they don't have a true meaning at either of their centers. All the bellyaching is now more about political clout and perceived respect and narcissism rather than anything that resembles truth. It's more about protracting the conflict than whether or not there are lives to be saved.
McGinnis's letter reminded me of an argument I made once in a high school paper that my female teacher ripped me a new assh*le for; it was, quite honestly, one of the last times I can remember where I got less than an A on a written assignment. Having seen what my own father went through in his divorce – being systematically ignored and rubber-stamped at every turn by a legal system that attempts to save time in determining custody and alimony by chronically siding with the mother rather than the most competent of the two parents on a case-by-case basis – I posited merely that there should be a DISCUSSION about the father having some rights in the event that the mother decides to terminate a pregnancy. Ceremoniously ignoring the point I was trying to make, the Teaching C*nt Who Shall Remain Nameless sketched on my paper:
"C – You do realize that women actually carry the babies, right?"
Thinking back to the burning, confrontational feeling that remark left me with, I shuddered as I began to wonder how many really stupid smart people must be walking around out there. And then I began to wonder what other issues – really important issues that are important for so many different reasons, both great and small – have been truly hijacked by causeheads and movements that are, at their darkest, just as corrupt and dangerous as any corporation or government installation. And then I really started to quake in my boots as I realized that my "teacher's" bastardized view of the world didn't have a lasting impact on me. It did nothing to change the way I thought about my platforms, why we fight for the things we fight for or how we go about fighting for them.
So at the end of the day the point to this stream of conscious isn't about racism or abortion or free speech – it's that I'm worried to the tits that the ability to think has been blown out the back of humanity's collective brain. At least on the grandest scale. Thankfully, I'm left with a sense of peace (and a small bruise from all the back-patting) that I'm not swallowed up enough in my own limited worldview to believe that I've got everything figured out.
All the same, to paraphrase and disjoint Oscar Wilde...I live in terror of not being politically incorrect.