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Monday, June 29, 2009

That damned Comparison

What's Mallard raving about today?

John Brown.

I will accept the comparison between John Brown and the man who shot Dr. Tiller. Both were murderers who engaged in terror tactics. The justice or injustice of their cause makes no difference.

I would be reasonably sure that anti-slavery rhetoric did come in for blame, and perhaps some some of it deservedly so, although I am not a historian of the period or subject.

On the other hand, unlike John Brown, we know the terrorist who killed Dr. Tiller is that he was subject to a 24x7 stream of "mainstream" commentators on television, using eliminationist rhetoric to reduce their political adversaries to sub-human status. Historically, the use of such rhetoric has incited, and continues to incite,misguided fanatics who put rhetoric into action.


Factinista said...

Moral of the story: It's a good thing that today's media wasn't around in 1856, or else Mallard would have just parked himself in front of a TV for 153 years.

GeoX said...

Disagree rather strongly that "the justice or injustice of their cause makes no difference," actually. How exactly are you SUPPOSED to react to a monstrous evil like slavery? Meek acquiescence? Without people like Brown, there would have been no Civil War, and slavery would have taken substantially longer to be abolished.

If abortion truly=genocide, then armed resistance is morally justified. It isn't, of course, and only crazy people actually believe that--as opposed to just paying lip service to the idea--but if you accept the premise, there's nothing wrong with the conclusion.

Iron Dragon said...

The problem is that functionally speaking, aside from the specious comparison, that this attitude WAS common. People in favor of slavery used John Brown as an example as to how horrible and depraved abolitionists were.

But let's consider for a moment, I haven't heard people say that anti-abortion types are all responsible, what I've heard people say is that those who put up websites that work as hit lists, groups that support clinic bombers, and media juggernauts who call a doctor 'Tiller the Baby Killer' might be at least somewhat responsible or at least partially linked to the mindset that causes people to assault and murder these people.

And as an aside, why is it that these people who all claim to care so much about these children are the same ones who fight against social programs to help them and their families? I myself am somewhat uneasy about abortion, I don't think it should be used as a method of birth control but I also understand that a woman shouldn't be forced to bear the child of a rapist, and if the pregnancy would endanger the life of the mother I also have to question it.

BakaHoushi said...

@Iron Dragon
What you said is very similar to an act by the late, great George Carlin (taken from memory):
"And these same people who are against abortion are against the social programs to help them once they're born. No healthcare, no school lunches, no neo-natal care, no day care, nothing. If you're pre-born, you're fine, if you're pre-school, you're fucked."

Life is hard enough as it is. I'd rather we DON'T floor orphanages with kids who will get next to no help from anyone.

And this is such a lazy comic, even by Mallard's standards. Drawing Mallard in front of a TV in the 1850's? Would it kill Tinsley to draw him in psuedo-old fashioned clothes, maybe reading a newspaper or letter or something? I understand you can't draw for shit, but could you at least TRY to draw? Even if you fail miserably at it, it's far less pathetic than not even trying.

John Ball said...

You know--speaking as something of an admirer of John Brown--people tend to forget that slavery supporters were ATTACKING abolitionists, destroying the presses of abolitionist newspapers, and in some places even killing them. All in the name of one of the greatest evils in this nation's history.

In the modern abortion debate, about the only thing the anti-abortion crowd face is occasionally get arrested when they take things too far. Which is why it fails as a comparison.

CasualBrowser said...

It's a great day for political discussion. Usually I get to read, even participate in, a little Tinsley-and-the-right bashing. It's a decidedly snarky tone. But today, we have some really good discourse on a divisive subject. Rather than being reduced to "we're right, you're wrong!", we have some considered, thoughtful examination. THIS is how we're supposed to work on disagreements about policy and philosophy. Let's keep it up people!

Anonymous said...

Good for CasualBrowser! It'd be nice to see some intelligent, measured discourse here rather than the usual bashing of stereotypes. John Brown harmed what was obviously a legitimate cause by his violent actions. The problem is that many people refuse to accept that killing the unborn is as wrong as slavery and that those opposed to that killing have a right to call it what it is - a monstrous evil that cannot be covered up with platitudes like "pro-choice." Euphemisms are necessary because pro-abortionists cannot sell their views without them.

dlauthor said...

Wow, Anonycoward's up early. Or probably, just hasn't passed out yet from last night's drinking.

Madpuppy said...

And as an aside, why is it that these people who all claim to care so much about these children are the same ones who fight against social programs to help them and their families?

I think it was Bill Maher who said this: "Conservatives believe that life is sacred from the moment of conception all the way up until birth."

rewinn said...

Tinkley's text is, as usual, badly done; most people think "Harper's Ferry" when they see John Brown's name, but the "five pro-slavery settlers" refers to the Pottawatomie Massacre (May 24, 1856), which Brown lead in response to the Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas (May 21, 1856).

But the real punch line is that if today's media were around in 1856, Tinkley and O'Reilly would be pro-slavery ... since they favor enslaving women's wombs to the whim of government.

John Ball said...

Now, now--let's not be so hasty. It's easy to hurl the whole "if this was 1858, you'd be for slavery" canard around, largely because there's no way of disproving it. Politics of that era really don't track well to the modern one, especially as there really wasn't a Right as there is today. Look at Martin van Buren who stood behind the prosecution of the Amistad mutineers--and later ran for President in the ant-slavery Liberty Party.

Personally, I think it's completely possible that O'Reilly and Tinsley would have been ardent Free Soilers--for the abolition of slavery, and the shipping back to Africa of the US's entire black population. You have to admit--it sounds just like them.

wavydavy said...

The George Carlin and Bill Maher descriptions of the anti-abortion crowd are certainly on target.

But, for me, every time I think of these people and their "philosophy", the first thing that comes to my mind is the Steely Dan lyric from "Throw Back the Little Ones" on "Katy Lied":

Throw back the little ones
And pan-fry the big ones
Use tact, poise, and reason
And gently squeeze them

WV: cesses. "Excesses" before they were fired.

Jazzbumpa said...

Anon -
Stereotypes should be bashed. They are a lazy substitute for thinking - and, unfortunately, a pillar of the conservative mindset.

Just a couple facts: Prior to about 24 weeks, a fetus is not viable. The life-at-conception crowd believes the a pre-viable fetus is "human life." Well, in that case, so are the red blood cells I spilled the last time I nicked myself shaving.

There are many legal and medical roadblocks to third trimester abortions - what Tiller was reviled for. The total per year in the U.S. is about 100 - less than .01% of the total. Late abortions are never done as birth control, and always for some very serious reason.

Blallard is such a god-damned tool.

Kip W said...

Well, obviously the liberalmedia would have been in favor of slavery, because, uhm... Hey! CHAPPAQUIDDICK!

exanonymous said...

Ah, the sliding ruler of morality.

Guns to shoot people in the face who want your wallet = good.

Women having the choice to terminate a pregnancy because it threatens their health and life = bad.

Public programs to support child from birth until adult status = tax = bad.

Maybe one day this country will be able to get rid of abortion. That'll be a long time coming, since sex ed needs reformed, stigmas and sexism need to disappear (the woman usually gets the job of raising the child unless she's insane) and both health care for the woman while she is pregnant and childcare after the child is born need to be cheap if not free.

Michael said...

I'm shocked Tinsley knows who John Brown was. That either took up all 80 hours of his weekly research, or it happened to be on TV.

Squid Vicious said...

In addition to all the excellent comments raised today, it's also worth noting that a significant majority of the anti-abortion crowd is also anti-contraceptive. Likewise, a significant portion of the anti-abortion crowd is against criminal penalties for women who choose to have abortions. These may seem like unrelated facts, but they are not.

The asserted first principle of the anti-abortion crowd is that abortion is tantamount to murder. Murder, at its root, is a legal term requiring that a person kill another person AND have the requisite mens rea (i.e., level of intent) to commit that killing. If anti-abortionists are serious that abortion is murder, then one would expect them to militate for appropriate criminal sentencing for women who have abortions. But they don't. Why not?

Well, consider that these same anti-abortionists also oppose the use of contraception. In other words, these anti-abortionists' ideal legal landscape would be on in which if a woman wants to have sex, she may do so BUT without protection against pregnancy and without access to abortion in case pregnancy occurs. Given that set of facts, the anti-abortionists start sounding more like they're pro-forced pregnancy than anything. And why is that?

Because anti-abortionists are, fundamentally, opposed to female sexual (and likely political, social and personal) sovereignty. Abortion and contraception have given women control over their bodies and their lives, and the pro-forced pregnancy/anti-abortion crowd hate that.

CW in LA said...

I think it was Bill Maher who said this: "Conservatives believe that life is sacred from the moment of conception all the way up until birth."

Or, another way to put it: A moderate conservative is one who believes in life after birth.

Some excellent points here, especially by Squid Vicious. I'm always struck by how anti-choicers will sentimentalize fetuses as "babies", but they don't have much to say about the woman housing such at all.

fuckreagan said...

I love seeing Tinsley attempt to wrap his tiny brain around the concepts of moral relativism and indirect causation. He is so used to rambling one sided arguments against strawmen that he cannot handle the idea of sujective morality and denies its existence.

Most abolitionists were opposed to slavery but an extremist faction- including Abraham Lincoln-supported the horrors of slavery. Were they equivalent to the Republicans, all of the members would have been required to actively support slavery, libel anyone who disagreed and ostracize any memers who questioned the idea. Republicans have created a belief system based on absolute extremes, one that, inevitably, leads to chaos.

Republicans believe in absolutes, thus, they cannot understand moral relativism. All the things that they hate are equally evil.

Their position on abortion relative to slavery is incredibly hypocritical because they hate Blacks and love to see working men enslaved by corporations. Chuck Asay-one of the worst Republicans-explained this in and

Bill the Splut said...

He's really saying that people had to be killed to stop slavery, so it's okay to kill people to stop abortion...and yet abortion is wrong because it kills people, and encouraging murder is okay.

You'll never find someone "pro-life" who's against the death penalty. You may also have noticed that Dullard, O'Reilly and their ilk haven't been saying that Roeder should get the death penalty. And he committed murderin a church.

dlauthor said...

Asay always amazes me, because he's so far beyond insane. The fact that he exists makes the fake wingnut cartoon they (used to?) run in the Onion pretty much unnecessary.

Iron Dragon said...

The problem is also that with Harpers Ferry, we need to look at the overall context. There had been skirmishes between those in favor of turning human beings into property and those who recognized that they were, in fact, human beings. Those in favor of freedom were assaulted, faced damage to their property, and even murdered for trying to ensure that these people were given equal rights. The alleged massacre was actually in response to an assault on a free soil city by those in favor of slavery (a fact which is often omitted in textbooks) and was a part of a goal to arm slaves and help them perform an uprising. Looking at it it seems to be a fairly specious comparison, comparing a psycho like Tiller who stalked and murdered a doctor to a hero like brown who died in a firefight against those who wanted to turn human beings into property...somewhat of a difference there.

As to the issue of 'killing the unborn' tell me this, why is it that a pregnant woman has a child 'on the way' instead of saying she has a child? Why can't I clam a fetus as a tax dependant, why aren't we listed as nine months older for purposes of age? Just saying, societally speaking there are a lot of questions that come up if we care abotu consistency. Do we charge her with manslaughter if she has a miscarriage because of strenuous activity or if her body naturally releases a fertilized egg due to her period? Where does it end? It essentially turns a pregnancy into a prison sentence, practicalyl forcing her to remain in bed and never do anything strenuous because it might hurt the baby.

I also have to ask what the anti-choice crowd does if the woman is raped or if the pregnancy could kill her. Do they say that she has to carry the rapists baby to term?

But as a side note, I really wish that the government WOULD deal with the Christian militant terrorists in our country. These people have blown up buildings, have murdered, post hit lists online. These people need to be stopped, especially as some of them are tied to white supremacist militias.

Iron Dragon said...

Slight mistake in what I wrote, I know that John Brown was killed after being convicted. What I had meant was that those whose deaths were attributed to John Brown died in a firefight. I really need to pay better attention before I post, my apologies for the mistake.

Patrick said...

I despise the mealy mouthed evasions the far right demagogues engage in when someone actually reacts to their rhetoric.

rewinn said...

"...I despise the mealy mouthed evasions the far right demagogues engage in when someone actually reacts to their rhetoric.


1. Violent lyrics in music CAUSES CRIME!

2. Violent rhetoric by reichwingers DOES NOT CAUSE CRIME!


Music is more powerful than the reichwing!!

Anonymous said...

It's okay to kill doctors who perform abortions = bad.

It's okay to have a gun to shoot people in the face who want my wallet or to harm me or my wife or children = good.

MartyRotten said...

If Mallard Fillmore were around in 1856. He would be pro slavery. He would run straw men arguments about how wrong it is to deprive plantation owners of their "private property". He would have Abraham Lincoln mouthing inane "liberal" dialogue with a bearded phallic chin and, after the civil war was over, he would be defending the Klan and lynching with the same fervor that he today defends racial profiling.

exanonymous said...

It's okay to have a gun to shoot people in the face who want my wallet or to harm me or my wife or children = good.

How about a compromise? You can have the right to chose to use your weapon with the same restrictions as the women Dr. Tiller saved had. Before you get your gun, you need evaluations from two psychiatrists and proof that you have a wife and/or child and that your area is dangerous that you need that level of protection.

If a woman cannot be trusted to make her own choice about her own body, why is ANYONE trusted with a weapon that has the sole purpose of ending someone else's life?