Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Responding to Comments
[Editor's note: In spring 2005 I changed my template on blogger, and lost all the comments that had been made on this blog up until then. (In the early days of blogger, there wasn't a comment section built into the template, and like many people I used Haloscan's comments as an added feature. All these comments were erased when I changed templates.) Therefore, the original comments that I was responding to in this entry are no longer present. Although it is probably easy to infer their nature from my response.]

The last few entries I've posted have attracted a few comments (just when I thought no one was reading this thing). I really enjoy getting feed back on what I write, so thank you to everyone who took the time not only to read this blog, but found what I had to say worthy of thinking over and commenting on.

I thought I'd take a moment to respond to some of the concerns raised. I hope I'm not breaking any rules of blogging etiquette here. I've noticed from reading my friends' blogs that standard practice seems to be responding to the comments in the comment box itself, but since my comment box apparently can't handle long messages without breaking it up (I'd fix that if I knew how), I'm responding by blog entry.

Election Day in Japan
I'm going to have to improve my writing, but that entry was actually my attempt at humor. The joke being that all the liberals get together and discuss why there are no conservatives, and inevitably arrive at the conclusion that it is because conservatives are so close minded. If there was a conservative present, a different conclusion might be reached, but if there was a conservative present the question wouldn't exist, and so it's a bit of catch-22. I was trying to poke a little fun at myself by saying I also agreed with the consensus, but what do you expect from me?

As to why actually there are no conservatives in the ex-patriot community, I'm still stumped on this one. You'll notice, however, if you read the comment box, that Chris Baker backed me up on this one. I wasn't jiving you kids.

comment: "More likely than not, those evangelical voters were trying to vote in a president who would fight for less abortion rights rather than Kerry who is for more rights like partial birth abortions.”

This is actually a really good point if taken simply on its face value that undoubtedly a lot of people did vote this way, and this was something I think Bork and I both missed initially. (As I've been reading more about the election, it appears I in particular under-estimated the impact of values on the result.)

But let's keep reading. More comment: "In this sense, there have been millions more deaths domestically vs. Iraq. I believe that many of us are more concerned with these murders from abortions because the numbers are so much higher and therefore more significant than the deaths in Iraq"

And here I have some disagreements. Abortion is a tough issue to discuss because it is so polarizing. In my year and a half of writing crazy left wing articles for the Chimes, the only article that really got people mad (aside from the Rehnquist affair) was this article on abortion, which which resulted in both harsh verbal and written criticism. (In my opinion much of it unfair.) Although I do note with a bit of pride that someone found it worthy to link to.

Where was I? Sometimes I get so carried away talking about myself. Right, abortion. I still believe what I said in the introduction to my Chimes article. If I may quote myself:
"It is with a tired attitude that most writers now approach the issue of
abortion. After being a controversial topic for the past 30 years, what is left to say that has not been said already? You have heard all the arguments; if you are not already convinced of one position or another, who am I to think my rhetoric will win you over?"
But let's go through the motions anyway.

Bork already laid out some of the ground for this, but look, nobody likes abortions. We just need to ask the question: will making abortion illegal stop or even diminish the practice? If you believe the statistics Bork and I have put forward, (although admittedly not everyone does), the answer is no. The result is only to put in danger the life of the teen-age girl with the coat hanger.

Secondly (although I again stress I do not like abortion) I have problems equating a fetus with a fully developed human being in Iraq. Most abortions occur in the first term when the fetus has neither a brain or developed nervous system and no sense of self-existence. Now I do understand the concern of the pro-life movement that the moment when a fetus receives a soul is not something humans know, but I still find it hard to equate these abortions with the deaths of children in Iraq.

If one really believed this, that a fetus was equal to a human life, than wouldn't the logical conclusion of this be to shoot abortion doctors and bomb abortion clinics? Wouldn't killing a few doctors be justified if it saved more lives?

Although the newspapers tell us that indeed some have gone down this path, the majority of people are still repulsed by the murder of abortion doctors. Furthermore let me suggest that in all other aspects of life a fetus is not equated to the life of a human being. When a miscarriage occurs, the fetus is not given the last rites by a priest. Miscarried fetuses are not buried in grave yards. Mothers who drink and smoke while pregnant are not charged with child abuse.

It is only recently with in the past 30 years that this concept of "fetus equals human being" has arisen, and in my opinion largely for political gain. If the Republican party really cared about the life of a fetus, than why isn't the Republican party concerned that currently 1/5 of expectant mothers do not receive pre-natal care? This is one reason why the US has the highest infant mortality rate in the developed world (twice as high as Japan's). Furthermore every fifty minutes a child in the US dies of poverty or hunger. (Source-Saasta; Institute for Policy Studies Harvest of Shame; Ten Years of Conservative Misrule Washington, D.C. Institute for Policy Studies 1991 page 11).

Now it has been estimated that for $1 billion dollars the US spends to maintain just one of it's aircraft carriers for a year, free natal care could be provided to 1,600,000 expectant mothers, saving the lives of thousands of babies (Source: Prenatal Care costs $625 per mother: Background Material and Data on Programs with the Jurisdiction of the committee of Ways and Means Washington DC, US Congress 1990)

So if the Republican party is so concerned about the well-being of fetuses, why have they so strongly opposed all measures for mothers in poverty? And why is the party that is Pro-Iraq war, pro-capital punishment, pro-guns and anti-National Health Insurance, take such a strong stand on pro-life when it comes to opposing abortion? Allow me to suggest (even though I know I'm going to get in trouble for it) that the pro-life movement is not so much concerned about the fetus as it is about combating sexual liberation.

I know every pro-life advocates strongly deny this in public, but having grown up in a conservative religious environment I'm well aware of what they say in private. And the lectures I heard at my Christian schools growing up always railed against sex and abortion in the same breath. Furthermore I'm not convinced it is a coincidence that people who have strong religious views against pre-marital sex are the same people who tend to be the strongest anti-choice. This last point is anecdotal, so I guess no one has to accept it who doesn't want to, but I suspect many other people who grew up in conservative environments are nodding their heads in agreement at this. As for stem cell research one could take that either way. You could look at the half of the Republican party who opposes it and say, "Well, at least there's ideological consistency here." Or you can look at the half of the Republican party who is in favor or it and say "I knew that anti-abortion thing was just about the sex anyway."

I've probably gone to far now and alienated any moderates I could have hoped to win over. Look, the basic point is what Bork already said. When all is said and done, the Democratic party, which tries to provide medical benefits to the poor, is much more pro-life than the Republican party. Until we can provide adequate medical coverage for all expectant mothers the abortion issue shouldn't even be on the table.

comment: "And, doesn't the Bible clearly state to not swear at all? Maybe I am pushing too far today, but you do have a comments section to expose my feelings and right now I am annoyed with your Blatant lack of considerate language you used."

No specific verse is given, but I'm assuming this is a reference to Matthew 5:33-37. Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm sure you all have that verse memorized already, but I'll quote it in case there are any heathens reading this.

"33"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

I'll admit that I don't know Greek, so I will open myself up to correction on this, but my interpretation of this passage has always been that it is a reference to swearing in the sense of "I'll clean my room tomorrow, I swear it." And not referring to any specific four letter words in a language that didn't even come into existence until 1000 years after Christ's death.

There are many "swear" words in English, but for the sake of discussion let's use the word "Fuck" because it is the most offensive and because it's the word I used.

What is so offensive about this word? It is not the letter F or U or C or K. Dare I say that it is not any of these letters or even their combination together. And it isn't the sound. After all the Vietnamese name "Phuck" is not offensive. Is it the meaning of the word that makes it offensive?

But often when we use this word it is stripped of it's meaning. You'll note my usage of it was once as an adjective and once as an exclamation, both usages being far removed from the original meaning of the word as "to have sex". But even the literal meaning of the word, is it that offensive? After all, if I said, "I slept with her," or "I fucked her" what is the difference, really?

May I suggest that "Fuck" is just a word like any other word and is only as offensive or as inoffensive as we care to consider it. May I suggest that the taboo surrounding the word "Fuck" is a matter of societal custom, and not a moral issue.

But if we are going to choose to be offended by the word, then let's at least be consistent about it. The FCC was flooded by letters of complaint after Bono said "Fucking" on TV, but after Dick Cheney said, "Go fuck yourself" on the floor of the US Senate, most of the letters that arrived at his office expressed support. It's as if people thought to themselves, "Of course the Vice President of the United States is going to talk like that, but I expected better from a rock star." Dare I say this is another example of the Right-wing being extremely reluctant to criticize anything this administration does ever.

As for me, I've chosen not to be offended by the word. And so I do make frequent use of the word "fuck" among like-minded people. In fact I quite enjoy the many different ways the word can be used in various linguistic functions. I am aware that the word does offend some people, and so generally speaking I make a point of trying not to use it on this blog, but sometimes there are points where it is hard to find a good substitute. I actually originally had typed "Ah nuts" on my blog, but it just didn't seem to have the punch I wanted, so I deleted it and wrote fuck. Sorry if this offended anyone, and I'll try not to make a habit of it.

Okay, obviously I have too much time on my hands tonight. After this entry I probably won't be updating this blog for a while again, but if anyone has any thoughts on anything, as always feel free to use the comment post. I do enjoy feed back.

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