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Friday, October 19, 2007

Is this the Way "Pro-Lifers" Promote Their Cause?

MOB Parrot Mitch Berg is whining about a post of Jeff Fecke's on Shakespeare's Sister. He fails to link to the post to allow readers to see for themselves.

It's the blog equivalent of demonstrating with jars with fetuses. Whine in the Dark:

Abortion is, obviously, one of the most contentious issues there is. Like many such issues, there is a hard core of 10% on the right that wants it banned and criminalized, and 10% on the far left that wants to make it a civil sacrament. In between, there are an awful lot of shades of belief, including many - myself included - who are fundamentally libertarian, but believe personally that life begins at conception and that a “fetus” - given the fate that God or physiology or remorseless fate has in mind for at least half of them if you leave them alone - is attended with a little more moral gravity than a toenail or a plantar’s wart, and that just because God or evolution or what-have-you has set things up so that that incipient life form needs a female uterus for a few months isn’t a sign of its lack of ethical and moral weight, but a sign of how much weight the whole idea of physiology, sex, pregnancy, reproduction and men and women themselves have in the great scheme of things.

Actually this is a straw man description of what pro-choice means. The issue is whether or not abortion should be criminal, not whether abortion is right or wrong. I don't know anyone on the pro-choice side who is "pro-abortion." That is the political issue here. So Mitch, if you oppose criminalizing abortion, that makes you pro-choice.

As Jeff Fecke wrote:

Back in May, my friend and then-editor at Minnesota Monitor, Robin Marty, announced she was expecting a child. It was great news for Robin and her husband Steve, and obviously those of us who know them were happy for them.

Now, Robin was and is a longtime supporter of abortion rights. Something about women having the right to determine what happens in their own bodies. Anyhow, like many pro-choice women, Robin was still able to enjoy her pregnancy, knowing that even though it was early in her term, the fetus that she carried was going, eventually, to grow into her child.


So like any good blogger, she posted an image of the first ultrasound.

At this point, enter Tom Swift, crazy Minnesota blogger and erstwhile GOP candidate for school board in St. Paul. (I won't link to him, and if he finds his way back here, Melissa, terminate him with extreme prejudice.) He blogs under the name Swiftee, and he created an image to welcome Robin and Steve's child into the world:

You get it? Because Robin was pro-choice, she might decide to abort the child she wrote about, so let's get it some protection.

Disgusting doesn't even begin to touch it. The insinuation Swiftee makes is that Robin would want to harm her child, not just as a fetus, but once born, too. It's attacking Robin, using the image of her eventual child to do so.

That's not the interesting part of the story, though. Swiftee's image got those of us on the left seething, but we let it go, primarily because we don't want to give him the traffic. But that seething got back to local blogger Mitch Berg, who styles himself as a "reasonable conservative," someone who believes in hitting his opponents hard, but fairly. And Mitch's response to Swiftee was what I remembered:

Is Robin and Smarty’s baby “fair game” for satirists, given that

1. she put the ultrasound out on her public website, and
2. she and her colleagues from the “Minnesota Monitor” rentablog she “edits” have stumped for abortion on demand and partial birth abortion, and fumed and phumphered when the SCOTUS shot the procedure down?

Well, I’d say “I hope not” - but of course, in the world of internet “cartoonists”[...]pretty much everything is fair game. If there’s an unflattering or embarassing pic of yourself out there somewhere online, it’s going to pop up sooner or later, intended to dink at some belief of yours or another.

So - did Swiftee “cross a line” with his cartoon? What line? Where? In the coarse thrum of the political blogging interchange, I’m not sure there’s a line left anymore; any line one person draws is someone else’s sport to cross, and ones’ best bet is to strictly separate the personal and the public (as, indeed, I do). The one that civil people try to observe when dealing with one another…

Very Pilate-like, Mitch was. But it was that line -- "fair game" -- that caught my memory. Mitch styles himself as reasonable, but if you cross out the official hemming and hawing, Mitch's meaning is clear: heck yes, the child of Robin and Steve is fair game. If you can make a political point by attacking the Martys, then by all means, go for it.

Mitch responded:

Not to speak for Tom Swift - a person who truly needs nobody to speak for him - but that is the most overdramatic possible reading of his point.

What was his point? Maybe that any “fetus” - not Robin’s, in particular, or not just hers - might have reason to be nervous, since the same consciousness that decides he or she is important enough to carry to birth can change his or her mind. Or maybe - given the number of people who don’t credit a fetus with “existence” until the umbilical is cut - that given the existence of partial birth abortion the “fetus” is never really safe. Maybe that a mythical, cognitive “fetus”, lacking an objective, hard-wired standard like “Tenure” that’d cause his/her parents (in general, not Rew and Smartie) to consider him/her a real person, isn’t any safer than that non-tenured professor - except the fetus isn’t going to wind up teaching freshman literature at Normandale if he/she doesn’t make the convenience cut.

So do Mitch Berg and Tom Swift think that people who believe abortion should be legal should not have children?

Mitch Berg defends himself with this:

A fetus baby with a helmet. It’s kinda funny, if you don’t know the people involved. Still funny when you do, but it makes me a little uneasy. I generally prefer to keep politics impersonal. And yet it’s hard to look at, say, this (not safe for work or queasy stomachs; it’s the end-result of a “partial birth abortion”, and it’s horrific) and not want to make it very personal and not-abstract-at-all for those who support it.

Berg also tries to compare Avidor's post that exposed his public online record at Wikipedia with Swiftee's post:

I’ve had stalkers (and still do, although they’re really not very smart ones) - and so I keep my kids, my job, my girlfriends (when I have one) and their kids religiously out of this blog and everything else I write. Partly because anything you do put out there is “fair game”; partly because the concept of “fair game” is unfair.

Tom Swift later followed up his photoshop of Robin Marty's sonogram, with adding his cartoon image of me to the sonogram. I didn't post about this at the time, so I never understood why he brought me into it.

Berg concludes:

And while I wish that the world - and its agent, in this case, Tom Swift - had left Rew and Smartie’s ultrasound pictures alone, and that this flap wouldn’t have involved two sets of friends of mine (and that puppies didn’t die, for that matter), the fact is that Swiftee was right. It was perfectly-aimed satire - and for left-leaning public figures (as Fecke is) to barber that it’s “tasteless” opens us all up to an endless dissertation about “tasteless” satire that the left defends even more blythely on principle, and with even less consideration, with counterexamples and counter-counterexamples, ad infinitum.

It sucks that it involved people I know.

I have no problem with tasteless satire. I just totally disagree with the point Tom Swift was trying to make. Tom Swift's posts were the blog equivalent of fanatics demonstrating near public schools carrying jars with fetuses.


A Transportation Enthusiast said...

Your criticism of Swiftee rings hollow, given some of the tasteless stuff that goes on at your blogs.

Avidor said...

Whatever, Chris....

A Transportation Enthusiast said...

There are a log of people named Chris in the world...