The Ghost of Confederates Future

Editorial Note: I started writing this quite a long time ago, which will become obvious because some of the references I make will be to things that have happened in the past.

Over at National Review, Charles C. W. Cook points out that his fellow conservatives tend to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to excessive use of force or the inappropriate use of lethal force by police officers.  It’s a bit of a strange admission coming from the flagship conservative magazine in the U.S.  Speaking of strange admissions…

TIME Magazine reports that Newt Gingrich, purportedly on the short list to be a Vice Presidential candidate alongside a soon-to-be Presidential candidate Donald Trump, said that white folks don’t understand being black in America and the additional discrimination and risk that entails.  That’s certainly true in my experience, and I’ve never been black in America.

I just grew up in the same neighborhood as people who were, and it was obvious enough from that experience once I moved to a city that was overwhelmingly white and saw the difference.  It is perhaps an irony that it wasn’t until I left the big-city South and moved to the Midwest that I heard the word “nigger” used casually in a derogatory way by a white person.

It’s not that there aren’t folks in the South who do that too, of course.  There certainly are.  Nonetheless, what I’ve noticed after venturing into the land of the Yankee Northerners is that they seem to be in general unaware of how very much like Southerners they are when it comes to racism.  Except perhaps in the sense that Southerners are slightly more likely to be honest about racism (whether they see it as a good thing or a bad thing).

By and large, racism is seen as a matter of individual choice by both those in the South and in the North (rather than as an institutional or structural problem).  This was pointed out very effectively in Emma Green’s article in The Atlantic about the Southern Baptist convention (which has its origins in upholding racism) making a continued push to include justice for racial minorities and immigrants an important part of its official stances both on paper and in practice.

Russell Moore, a critical figure within the Southern Baptist organization, has called for listening to our African-American brothers and sisters when they say they are experiencing a problem and having compassion for those penned up in detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border.  But his calls are not always greeted positively by other Southern Baptists, suggesting that racial tensions may not healed in the way that he would prefer.

There seems to be a contemporary pattern of a minority of white conservative political pundits, politicians, and high-profile religious leaders recognizing that we are facing the ghost of confederates future: an unwillingness to even listen to the concerns of those who claim that they are discriminated against unfairly, a reflexive dismissal of them because their political tribe is not our own, and a failure to consider that their values may be different because they face different problems.

This ghost is revealed to us by the prophets in the midst of the land of white conservative and religious men, themselves the descendants of the men whose ancestors were willing to exclude their fellow men from political and civic life and unwilling to face down the bigotry that kept them chained and treated as inferiors.  Even when they did not approve of it personally, they may have thought it too risky to use their position and power to address it.

Will these men learn the lessons of the ghosts of confederates past?  Will they learn the lessons of the ghosts of confederates present?  Will they listen to the prophets in their midst who advise them that they are missing something important?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I sincerely hope that I’m wrong about the ghosts of the Confederacy that will haunt the future, a future that won’t listen to black folks, a future that will dismiss their views, and a future that doesn’t see how their values are shaped by a history of oppression…a future that gets worse before it gets better.

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Fair Questions: How should I punch a punching bag?

Recently, a friend of mine asked me for some tips on starting to use a punching bag.  As someone who has done many things wrong while punching a heavy bag and learned from those mistakes, I can provide 3 quick tips based on that experience.

  1. Wrap your hands for a while.  Maybe for always.  Eventually, your hands probably will toughen up a bit from regular use.  But it’s still probably safer to keep them wrapped to avoid blood blisters (I learned this the hard way), and it should help a bit to cushion against broken fingers and other problems.  These days I usually punch a heavy bag with minimal covering or without any hand covering, but I don’t recommend it as the way to start.  Also, using a punching bag too often can cause problems from the repeated impact, and those are more severe without wrapping around the hands.
  2. Clench your fist tightly, but not quite so hard that it’s perfectly immobile, because you don’t want your fist to absorb the full force of the impact if it’s unable to adjust to an uneven surface.  Also, keep your thumb outside your fist and below the first two knuckles to avoid breaking it.  Your wrist should be held in perfect alignment with your fist to avoid spraining your wrist when you strike the bag (or any other surface).  Strike so that you hit the bag primarily with the knuckles of your index and middle finger because they’re less likely to break.
  3. Don’t punch as if your target were the surface of the bag in front of you. For best results, punch as if you were hitting a target on the other side of the bag and put your weight into it.  This way of punching through a target is how you would punch an actual assailant if you wanted to be effective, and so you should train to that.  Don’t stop at punching, though.  You can use elbows and knees to strike the bag. They don’t need quite as much padding, but when you’re first starting out, a little padding may be necessary depending on how calloused you are in those areas.

Kicking the bag is a slightly different process, and I may write a few tips on that later.  I hope this was a helpful brief guide.  Until next time!

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Collected Aphorisms 2016

Editorial Note:  I have been asked by a small number of people over the last few years if I were going to write a book with my pithy thoughts and aphorisms.  I probably won’t because books are expensive to produce and I would like what I’ve learned from my mistakes to be freely available to anyone who wants to use it or to critique my youthful and not-so-youthful stupidity.  So I’ve collected some of my thoughts from the past year for those who are interested to review them and ponder or laugh at how silly I am.  Whichever.  See my thoughts from 2011, 2012, 20132014, and 2015 if you care to.

January 6th, 2016 – It’s a very easy thing to reflexively disagree with someone. It’s a much more difficult and worthwhile thing to reflectively disagree with someone.

January 9th, 2016 – On the mountain, we can see far more than we could see before we reached the peak. We can look back and see the desert in the distance, remembering the long journey across the barren desert that taught us that reaching our destination requires sacrifice which gradually separates us from our compulsive reliance on comfort. We can look back and see the garden in the valley that lies below the foothills, remembering our simple and serene life in the garden that taught us to take the time to cultivate the best food for those we love, dedicating our lives to tending the land we have been given and growing in the soil watered by the river.

So too on the spiritual mountain, we can see far more of the spiritual life than we could see before we reached the peak. We can look back and remember our journey through the spiritual desert which began the process of separating ourselves from our fleshly pleasures so that we could have room in our hearts for divine joy. We can look back and remember our time in the spiritual garden during which we began the process of cultivating love in our hearts so that they would bear the fruit of divine love watered by the river which springs from the summit of the spiritual mountain.

January 10th, 2016 – On the mountain, the moon seems to loom larger in our vision at night when the sky is clear. Her light shines upon us so brightly, a necessary reflection of the light of the sun upon us even when the sun is not visible to us because the earth has turned the other way, always drawing our gaze to the sunlight even in the cold dark night.

So too on the spiritual mountain, Mary the Mother of God seems to loom larger in our vision during the dark night of the soul, reflecting the light of the Son upon us even when we cannot see Him because we have turned to look the other way. Oh, how delightful it is that her light consoles us through the cold dark spiritual night and allows us to see His light!

January 11th, 2016 – On the mountain, the sun is even brighter than in the desert, its rays reflected more powerfully by the snow and ice, saturating our vision with light. In the cold mountain air, we treasure the warmth provided by the sun even more, knowing that its rays are sustaining us quietly while we climb higher toward the peak where its rays can reach us from every direction.

So too on the spiritual mountain, the Son is even brighter than in the spiritual desert, His light saturating our vision and filling our mind with the things of heaven. We treasure the warmth in our hearts provided by the Son more than ever, knowing that it is His light showering upon us always from every direction, a divine light which sustains us while we climb to the peak on the heavenly heights to meet our Love.

January 11th, 2016 – In the end, the end is the beginning.

January 12th, 2016 –  At the peak of the mountain, there is nothing to hide us from the view of anyone who might be looking; we are exposed to the wind and sun and to the vision of all, whether they love us or wish to do us harm, and yet we are not afraid. The joy of reaching the summit overtakes all our doubts and fears, and we delight in drinking from the mountain spring from which came the waterfalls on the mountainside and the river in the garden.

In the same way, at the peak of the spiritual mountain we do not attempt to hide from anyone who might seek us because we know that we are ever visible in the light of the Son; we are at peace while we welcome both friend and enemy into the embrace of Love. The joy of reaching the spiritual summit fills our hearts so that there is no room for doubt or fear, and we drink reverently of the Living Water which springs forth from the mountaintop to fill the world with the chance for life eternal in the garden of Paradise with God’s Love.

January 23rd, 2016 – It’s important to be confident that we can navigate life, but it’s dangerous to be confident that we have made the right decision simply because it was the decision we made.

January 25th, 2016 – Discipline without love is like taking a walk of a thousand steps through the beautiful countryside without ever delighting in the wonders of the scenery. Love without discipline is like admiring the scenery from a distance without ever taking the thousand steps through the countryside to reach it and experience it fully.

February 8th, 2016 – Let us not allow our care for a person to turn into despair for a person.

February 21st, 2016 – We should plan to do good things in our lives, and remain open to God’s plan for us to do even greater things with our lives.

February 21st, 2016 – We begin the process of dying every time we stop the process of loving.

March 13th, 2016 – Lent should be challenging in such a way that we are transformed gradually by self-denial into people who affirm the lives and love of others, delighting in them and lifting them up to the Father in the heavenly household.

March 24th, 2016 – Sometimes it takes being sick to remember what it takes to be healthy.

March 30th, 2016 – To delight in friendship first is not to love less, but rather to love more.

April 16th, 2016 – If we believe that the highest form of human relationship is the sticky collision of sex, then we are very wrong.  And if we believe that the lowest form of human relationship is the sticky collision of sex, then we are very wrong.  Fortunately, these are not the only two options, despite what many people seem to think.

April 18th, 2016 – As icons of the living God, we fulfill our purpose most fully when we present His image and likeness most clearly.

April 21st, 2016 – Some people say that it’s not about the rules, but rather the relationship. I say that the rules are there to support the relationship and help it to grow in strength and beauty. In the end, the rules exist for the sake of the relationship.

April 22nd, 2016 – We aren’t here in this life to win. We’re here in this life to grow in love. And to grow in love means to lose in many other things in order to make room in our hearts for more love.

May 1st, 2016 – Your body is not a problem to be solved, whether by covering it with yards of cloth so that you cannot be sexy or by the ubiquitous tanning and exercise packages promising to make you sexy so that you can uncover it without worrying that it might not be good enough to objectify.  Your body, dear woman, is a gift which has the power to give life to another by participating in the act of creation.  You are in spirit an icon of the Creator, who in the Temple is veiled in the Holy of Holies, a sign of honor to the Living God.  So too you should have the honor of being veiled, as your body is a temple built for your spirit, a spirit made in the image and likeness of the Holy One.

May 4th, 2016 – As with many things in life, we can do what works or we can do what feels so very good by blaming others. Only rarely do those things intersect in the world of human relationships.

May 24th, 2016 – Spirituality can be both personal and universal at the same time; indeed, spirituality is inherently both personal and universal.

July 4th, 2016 – We inevitably teach others by our actions, whether we intend to do so or not.  The only question is: what will our actions teach those who look to us for learning?

July 19th, 2016 – God isn’t intangible. He’s just difficult to see and touch when our hearts are filled with everything else.

September 15th, 2016 – If you gaze long into your enemy’s errors, you may not notice that they are your own errors.

September 27th, 2016 – The ocean of Love’s tides carry us out into the deep and sing to us of divine compassion.

November 2nd, 2016 – Let us be bold not in overcoming the challenges necessary to find comfort, but rather in overcoming the challenges necessary to give selflessly to others out of the great love we ourselves have received.

December 20th, 2016 – Evidence is the faith that things seen are as they appear to be.

Posted in Philosophy, Poetic Prose, Relationships, Religion | Tagged | Leave a comment

Fair Questions: Why not have multiple genders?

Over at Everyday Feminism, Suzannah Weiss explains her personal journey into the land of non-binary understandings of her own gender identity.  It’s quite instructive to read, for a variety of reasons.

Apparently, as a young woman she was socially discouraged from identifying as non-binary or genderqueer because she didn’t perform the right mix of behaviors to fit the label.  Understandably, her peers wanted her gender identification to be based on some kind of evidence, and since she wasn’t providing evidence that she was non-binary or genderqueer by behaving in a manner suitable to that identity, they were reluctant to recognize it.

Nonetheless, I’m sure they all agreed with her that it doesn’t make sense to call people “men” or “women” based on the evidence of their physiological characteristics.  That is just a basic truism of those who embrace the methods of Critical Theory as it relates to gender these days.  They’re pretty sure that the individual is the only one who can determine his, or her, or (whatever pronoun might be preferred)’s true nature.  It’s a subjectivist ontology.

But that isn’t their only truism, and Weiss does a good job of explaining a few others.

  1. Gender Can Change From Moment to Moment
  2. Gender Is a Social Construct
  3. There Aren’t Any Rules

I really like #1.  It’s brutally honest about the implications of their perspective.  It doesn’t matter how respectful you try to be to people who are gender non-conforming in any sense, because their preferred pronoun can change at any time and you need to respect that or be labeled oppressive or perhaps even a bigot.  And there’s simply no way to keep up unless your entire life revolves around doing so, which isn’t possible or practical.

Nevermind that it’s first and foremost profoundly confusing for most other people, and that their response is understandable, it has to be oppressive and bigoted to be a fairly average human being with perfectly normal emotional responses to sudden dramatic changes in another person’s identity without any evidence of such a change.

#2 is a hackneyed cliche of a dead horse, but it has to be beaten a few more times.  Sure, gender is socially constructed in the sense that the boxes we put people in with regard to their gender identity are indeed socially constructed.

#3 is the perfect summation of what this is all about.  There should be no social conventions around identity.  Disregard physical evidence, social evidence, or any other kind of evidence.  Just identify as whomever you feel that you are in the moment based on socially constructed understandings of what it means to be non-binary or genderqueer.  And later, when those categories are deemed by a consensus of the few people who care to debate the issue any longer to be oppressive themselves, we’ll have even less precise or useful terms.

Actually, let’s just get rid of labels altogether and have multiple undefined genders; it’s the rational conclusion to all this.  Personally, I’m ready to just accept people as they are rather than trying to navigate the minefield that is contemporary theories about how gender totally isn’t a real thing but it’s super important nonetheless, so important that we all need to pay obeisance to the God of Sex.

Posted in Current Events, Education, Politics, Relationships, Science | Leave a comment

Fair Questions: Are those who call Trump a white supremacist just crying wolf?

The author of SlateStarCodex is a very intelligent and well-read person who is politically and culturally on the liberal/progressive part of the American political spectrum, and he recently came out and delivered a surprising message to the other members of his political tribe: You’re Crying Wolf.

Specifically, he makes an evidence-based case that those who claim that Donald Trump is uniquely racist, a white supremacist, using dog-whistles to appeal to white identity, and so on have some serious explaining to do, because the data points to the conclusion that, if anything, he’s just a really weird dude who insults everyone who attacks him.  I recommend reading the whole thing.  It certainly prompted me to re-examine my views on Trump, which are generally quite negative.

While I didn’t agree with the people who said that Trump was anti-gay or anti-LGBTQIA?? or anti-transgender or anti-Semitic or openly racist, I do think that he was playing identity politics (and the author of SlateStarCodex admits this as well at the beginning of his piece as something to keep in mind).

The point on which I disagree with the author is: I do think Trump was openly courting the White supremacist voters by retweeting their messages and recruiting Stephen Bannon.  Granted, he was also courting the pro-Israel voters, the LGB?? voters, the transgender voters, the Black supremacist voters, Hispanic voters, Rust Belt voters, and anyone who could vote from the grave, probably (zombie voters?).  Trump was desperate for any votes because the polls generally showed him losing, first in the Republican primaries and then to Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Trump scrambled to get very single vote he could by talking at people.  And because he’s Donald Trump (as we all should have noticed) he was absolutely tone-deaf and incoherent in how he went about it.  He tried to appeal to Pro-Life voters by insisting that we should punish women who have abortions, which is something the Pro-Life movement has generally opposed.  This is a common theme with Trump.

His appeals to Bernie Sanders voters often failed because he was absolutely tone-deaf to their other concerns and only attempted to appeal to them while only superficially understanding their concerns.  He did the same thing with African-American voters, courting their votes, but doing a fairly terrible job of getting those votes because he really didn’t understand their concerns.  And those who did vote for him or consider doing so because Trump was at least open about his lack of regard for their concerns, unlike the Democrats who pander to those concerns and accomplish nothing.

Is Donald Trump a white supremacist?  It’s unlikely, but he’s a man who is happy to be whoever people want him to be if it’s likely to get him what he wants, so he might be when it’s convenient for him.  He’s certainly not committed to an ideology of white supremacism, or any other ideology.  He’s simply not a principled person of integrity, not even a person of integrity with the wrong values (like white supremacists, white nationalists, or white separatists, for example).

I don’t go around calling Trump a white supremacist, or a racist, or anti-gay, or whatever else gets thrown at him from an identity politics perspective.  He’s not principled enough to wear any of those labels.  But there is good evidence that he’s perfectly willing to engage in the worst kind of identity politics, including (among many other things) courting and tolerating white supremacist and otherwise racist voters and their worst behaviors.

Is it crying wolf to point out that the new shepherd wants the votes of the wolves, and the sheep, and the fox, and the hens, and the pigs, and everyone else on the Animal Farm?  Maybe.  But it’s not irrational to worry about it and vote against him because of it.

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Fair Questions: Can one be an ally to all marginalized people at all times?

As with the answers to many questions, the answer to this one depends on the definition of the key term.  It hinges on how we understand what it means to be an ally.  For some people, to be an ally requires only expressing the right feelings of sympathy.  For others, it is much more serious.  It requires never giving the slightest bit of help to an oppressor, which is a serious problem when almost anyone can be part of one of many oppressor classes.

Some people think that it’s not possible to be an ally to all people at all times, and I can offer an example that might help illustrate why that would at least be very difficult to do. Let’s suppose that you want to be an ally to people of color and also to poor rural white folks who are struggling with addiction and depression. And let’s suppose that a part of what we mean by “being an ally” is that one needs to never give aid and comfort to the oppressors of an oppressed or marginalized group. If there is even a small percentage of those poor rural white folks struggling with addiction and depression who are also racists who discriminate against people of color, and you’re trying to be a good ally to their group because of struggles with poverty and mental illness, it’s likely that you would end up giving aid and comfort to those racists. Probably not intentionally, but it would happen because of your support for that group.

Another possibility is that the interests of marginalized groups just happen to conflict sometimes, and if being an ally means supporting their interests, then it won’t be possible to be an ally to all groups. For example, you might want to advocate the idea that sexual identities are innate and based on genetics because that supports the interest of the same-sex couples who want to be able to have a legally recognized partnership. You also might want to advocate the idea that sexual identities can be determined by the individual even when their genetics and general physiology indicate that their sex is different than their self-identification, because that supports the interest of transgender persons to modify their bodies to match their self-identifications. These ideas are at the very least in significant tension, and advocating one might well harm your advocacy of the other.

In these kinds of situations, it’s unavoidable that you would fail in your duties as an ally to at least one group to which you were honestly trying to be an ally.  Which leaves us with an interesting set of questions.  Is it possible to be an ally to every marginalized or oppressed group?  And if so, what does it mean to be an ally in the first place?

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A Taxonomy of Positions on Abortion

One of the things that’s really frustrating for me about the political debate over abortion in the U.S. is that many members of the two major sides on the issue refuse to use accurate terminology.  So what is the accurate terminology to describe the various positions on abortion, and why is it important?

I’ll be examining a variety of terms, including “Pro-Abortion” and “Anti-Choice” and “Anti-Abortion” as well as the standard Pro-Life and Pro-Choice terms generally accepted by members of their respective movements.  I’ll start with “Pro-Abortion” first.

The Misconception:

Pro-Abortion is a label often used by folks who think that abortion procedures should be illegal either all or most of the time to describe people who think that it should be legal all or most of the time.  It is not “Pro-Abortion” to merely propose that abortion should be legal all or most of the time.

The Explanation:

Most people who want abortion to be legal aren’t pro-abortion in the same way that most people who want alcohol to be legal aren’t pro-alcoholism or pro-DUI.  They just think, when looking at the trade-offs, that it’s less dangerous to have it legal than it is to have it illegal.  Many point out that it’s very difficult to write legislation to cover the possible range of cases in which a woman might want to terminate a pregnancy and that we should therefore leave it up to those who have the most knowledge of each situation, which would be the mother and the doctor assisting her.  Now, there is a small minority of feminists who think that having an abortion is a good thing, that it is a liberation of women from the chains of a patriarchal culture that sees them as baby-making machines rather than people.  But that’s only a small minority who can be accurately described as pro-abortion.

Accurate Definition:

Those who take a genuinely Pro-Abortion position believe that abortion should be legal and also that it is a morally good choice for women to make, though perhaps with certain exceptions.  They might, for example, still object to sex-selective abortions which are used to kill female fetuses because male children are valued more highly in the culture in which these abortions are occurring.  They would likely see it as an instance of patriarchal oppression in action, which is also how they generally see attempts to make abortion illegal or access to it more restrictive.

Now let’s move on to another inaccurate label (Anti-Choice) that’s used by the opposite side of the debate.

The Misconception:

Anti-Choice is a label often used by folks who think that abortion procedures should be legal either all or most of the time to describe people who think that it should be illegal all or most of the time.  It is not “Anti-Choice” to merely propose that abortion should be legal all or most of the time.

The Explanation:

Most people who want abortion to be illegal aren’t anti-choice in the same way that most people who want murder to be illegal aren’t anti-choice.  They just think that abortion is the killing of a child, and that it rationally follows that we should prohibit it like we do other killing.  And many of them will admit that there are rational exceptions to this prohibition, such as when the mother’s life is intrinsically endangered by carrying the child to term.  This would be roughly analogous to self-defense as a moral justification for killing another person who poses a threat to one’s life.  And, depending on whether or not the sexual activity which lead to the conception was consensual, it might be analogous to inviting someone into one’s home and knowing that the person might be unintentionally a threat to one’s life or analogous to someone breaking into one’s home and placing a threat to one’s life within it.  Many people who identify themselves as Pro-Life make these important distinctions and adjust their policy views accordingly to leave it up to a personal choice in those involuntary cases as to whether or not to risk one’s life.

Accurate Definition:

Those who take a genuinely Anti-Choice position believe that the decision to have an abortion is rightly made by the State (or other government agency) rather than the individual mother in concert with her doctor.  And they aren’t particularly concerned about whether it’s murder.  The concern of people who could rightly be called Anti-Choice is more that individuals are terrible at making their own choices, and they usually believe that the solution to this is to have some political authority make those choices instead based on what the utility of the child’s life is likely to be to the future of the State.

Now let’s look at “Anti-Abortion” as a label.

The Misconception:

There are some in the Pro-Choice movement who charge all those in the Pro-Life movement with being “Anti-Abortion” rather than Pro-Life in any meaningful sense.  It’s not uncommon to read suggestions that the movement to end abortion is actually about controlling women’s bodies rather than preserving life, because the people they associate with the Pro-Life movement don’t seem very Pro-Life on issues related to the death penalty, euthanasia, foreign policy, environmental regulation, and other issues.  So they conclude that it’s not actually about life at all.

The Explanation:

There are indeed some people in the movement to end abortion who don’t seem to have a consistent ethic of life.  That’s important to acknowledge and deal with.  They should be held to account for the inconsistency.  It’s also the case that most people who are serious enough about being Pro-Life to be active with fund-raising to help women dealing with crisis pregnancies, educating women on options other than abortion, and prayerful protests are generally the kinds of people who have a more consistent ethic of life because they also take their religious or intellectual commitments seriously in general.  Pro-Choice folks tend to massively overestimate the popularity of combining the “Bomb them all!” and “Life is precious, so stop killing babies!” statements.

Accurate Definition:

Those who take a genuinely Anti-Abortion position untethered from a coherent Pro-Life philosophy are opposed to the killing of babies in the womb, but their position isn’t grounded in a general concern for the preservation of human life.  It may simply be grounded in a visceral moral disgust at the idea of killing babies, and that’s understandable.  It may even be grounded in misogynistic views of women as mere baby-making factories which are ultimately disposable, though it’s very rare for anyone to make that case.  Or it may be that the person who holds an Anti-Abortion view just hasn’t spent much time checking their moral and political views for rational consistency.

Let’s move on to look at the more common labels of “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life” used by members of the movements themselves.

“Pro-Life” used accurately would describe people who advocate for an end to abortion because they have a consistent ethical framework through which they determine their policy positions based on how to best support the preservation of human life.

The opposite of this position would be “Pro-Death” which is sometimes used by “Pro-Life” individuals to describe their political opponents.  While it’s possible that someone could have a consistent ethic that promotes all possible kinds of death for humans, it’s extremely rare that anyone has such an ethical framework.  The Pro-Choice folks they’re generally referring to are often opposed to many forms of death, including the death penalty, various war-related policies, and sometimes others.

“Pro-Choice” used accurately would describe people who advocate for easy access to abortion because they have a consistent ethical framework through which they determine their policy positions based on how to best to ensure that people’s options are maximized when they make choices.

I will concede that most people who describe themselves as Pro-Choice are not very intellectually consistent in applying an ethical framework that maximizes personal choice.  Pro-Choice libertarians are the most consistent about it, and Pro-Choice progressives are usually much less consistent about it even in other cases in which their arguments for keeping abortion legal would apply very well for analogous reasons.

This is probably because Pro-Choice progressives are often more motivated by what they see as pro-woman concerns and anti-patriarchy concerns than by a general concern about personal liberty.

This highlights one of the problems with our political labels for groups who takes one or another position on abortion.  It’s generally the case that our positions on abortion are a result of factors other than a straightforward examination of the issue of abortion itself.

We bring gut feelings, evidence, values, and philosophical assumptions to our policy analysis, and those will inevitably shape our conclusions.  What’s less inevitable is how they will shape our conclusions.

There are a lot of ways to respond to abortion because there are a lot of different combinations of gut feelings, sets of evidence, sets of values, and philosophical assumptions that can be brought to bear on the question of whether or not it ought to be legal.

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