Tag Archives: abortion

Authority Rules (or does it?)

Yesterday I gave a talk on political framing, the audience was mixed, but leaned heavily toward favoring environmental protection – which likely meant there was a majority of progressives in the room. One of the comments and questions that was put forward was, “is authority truly the ultimate conservative value?”

Those that are familiar with this blog or the works of George Lakoff know that authority and tradition are stated to be the primary and highest priority of values of conservative opinion. A few people questioned whether the word “authority” has positive or negative connotations itself – the word “authoritarian” seemed to lean negative, while the word “tradition” seemed to lean positive in the general frames they evoke. Labeling a school of thought -conservatism- with a word that conjures up negative feelings, might not be the best way to get folks from that school of thought to start talking, so it is worth a look.

First of all, when we talk about the conservative view on any issue, it is not necessarily describing the person with that view. You may have a conservative opinion about a particular policy, yet overall describe yourself -and behave as if – you are liberal, libertarian, or another political orientation. For any issue that “authority” does not feel right, I would propose that one is not very conservative in their stance.

For instance… Continue reading

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What is “Pro-Life”?

What is a “culture of life”? How do you define it? When someone speaks of a “culture of life” or “pro-life” agenda, it is usually assumed that abortion is the topic at hand. Abortion is not the only issue that pertains to the sanctity of life. If someone wants to literally be a pro-life voter, there are a wide variety of policies that that moniker supports.

How about starting with an easy one? The death penalty. Is there anything more clearly pro-death? There is no logic in calling yourself “pro-life” when you support the death penalty. If you support the death penalty you are saying that you are morally ok with not only killing people, but letting the (fallible) state decide which people to kill with your blessing.  Perhaps someone has other moral reasons they can cite for supporting the death penalty, but they can’t still call themselves “pro-life” with any integrity.

Here’s another gimme – war. War = death, it’s kind of the modus operandi for winning a war. Aside from the direct killing of soldiers by soldiers, with war comes countless life altering tragedies and injuries. The pollution of war equals death to those living things around it. The corruption inside war equals death for those willing to take risks for money or power. The private contractors are let loose to roam lawlessly across the land, bringing violence and oppression. Living in an occupied land means living in fear; simply being alive is not the same as living. Please don’t call yourself pro-life if you support war, especially pre-emptive ones wars of aggression.

Is it part of a culture of life to allow corporations to pollute our water supplies, harm our animals, disrupt natural systems, and poison our food? Is it life giving to look away as humans are abused and exploited in the name of profit? All life relies on a certain level of purity to our air, land, and water, there is nothing – no industry, no product, no privilege – that makes it acceptable to poison us all.  If you don’t believe in protecting the sanctity of nature and those natural systems that sustain life, you are not pro-life.

Universal health care is pro-life. We can live our lives when our basic health care needs are attended to. Unchecked pain, fear of debt, and exclusive access – hallmarks of a health care system that puts profits before patients – is not pro-life (it’s pro-profit). In fact, someone in a dismal health care situation is more likely to consider numbing pain or their reality in an unhealthy way.

Humans are not born to be slaves, we each want to carry on with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When corporations turn us into slaves, or indentured servants, or take away our dignity, or abuse us, or force us to work against our morals, we are alive, yet not. When a company sucks the life out of you so you have nothing for your family, no time for community, and no living wage, they are not working on a pro-life agenda. Like stories you can read from our own history of slavery, the plantation owners were all for more babies, they couldn’t wait for those babies to become commodities. In those stories you can read the anguish of the enslaved parents at bringing another life into the world under hellish conditions, knowing that their offspring will be treated like expendable chattle. An unregulated capitalist dynamic promotes death to humanity.

Guns may be useful in providing sustenance for families – we are at the top of the food chain and all humans (even vegans) have some amount of “death” in their diet (think of the earthworms). It is part of our natural evolution to eat meat, but guns aren’t a part of our natural evolution and they are used for so much more. Guns can and have brought about human death on an epidemic scale. Handguns and automatic weapons are designed to kill people (sure target practice is fun but you don’t need steel bullets to pierce a piece of paper-that is not its end use). Those working to limit the availability of guns and frequency of human death caused by guns would earn the “pro-life” moniker more readily than those that believe all guns should be available and unrestricted. Gun lovers want to be prepared kill; killing is pro-death.

Again, even with acknowledging our omnivorous tendencies, humans often kill animals unnecessarily. Animal testing, environmental devastation, cruelty, or entertainment. If you are a polluter, a trophy hunter, a sadist, an eater of factory farm animals, or a supporter animal testing – you can’t say you are pro-life. There are humane standards for how to treat animals – even how to end their lives if we are going to eat them. Treating animals humanely is pro-life.

The joining of a sperm and egg is a special moment in time – especially if that sperm and egg are going to unite, go full term and become a person. Eggs are fertilized round the globe, round the clock, in every species that procreates via sex.  All of those moments are special if they create another being. For some of us, we want to protect all of those zygotes – at least human ones, for others, we want to focus on the living breathing people that have already arrived. Those that are pro-choice may believe in the sanctity of life just as much as those who are anti-abortion; they could also claim the title of “pro-life”.

It is pro-life to help moms-to-be get nutrition and health care.

It is pro-life to help mom-to-be get educated.

It is pro-life to ensure the baby has adequate nutrition and child care.

It is pro-life to see that all families are earning living wages for their work.

It is pro-life to provide education for the child.

It is pro-life to require unpolluted space to raise a family.

It is pro-life to stop war.

It is pro-life to recognize that life is much, much more than anything that could be held in a petri dish.

Anti abortion advocates work for what they believe in, we should respect that they are following their own moral code at the very least. For many of them, the struggle is a spiritual calling, which is an honorable quest. However, a heightened level of sanctimony tends to come with the “pro-life” label and it is part of why this debate is so polarizing. Pro-choice advocate are not the opposite of pro-life, far from it. Many times those same advocates also don’t like war, guns, pollution, or our grave corporate machinery. Recognize that though your idea of life – no matter which “side” of the debate you’re on – does not have a monopoly on supporting life. We need to break this frame and call anti-abortion activists exactly that – unless they want to consider the entire roster of ways our state sanctions killing. Voting “pro-life” means voting in the interest of all living humans, not just one issue.

Pro-choice could be broken down in a similar manner. Both labels, “pro-life” and “pro-choice”, are the products of marketing an idea. They are good hooks, but inaccurate. Let’s use our hearts and brains to talk to one another about these issues important to us.

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Life Begins When?

Abortion is such a polarizing issue and hard to talk about with those that disagree. Leave it to the funny people with John Stewart to add some levity while making a point. At issue is the recent bill in the Oklahoma state senate that passed declaring that life begins at conception. The implications of this bill obviously would relate to abortion and birth control laws. Most women don’t know the moment that they become pregnant, so this bill covers something happening inside of women’s bodies that a woman is likely still unaware of. Several female state lawmakers have proposed bills in response to this far reaching legislation and the imposition it means for women. In Oklahoma a bill was put forth that got some men a little miffed.

Check out the video: Bro-Choice.

Go ahead, I’ll wait (the video is not compatible with this format, so I couldn’t provide it here, but it’s really funny so take a few minutes to watch).

It is funny hearing a Republican representative making the argument for men that is made for women when talking about personal liberty and privacy. The “investigative” comedian is hilarious and gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves.

Truly the jesters are the only ones who can tell the truth, point out the obvious, and mock the stalwarts and get away with it.  One unspoken value of America is our comedy. We’ve got all varieties and a whole lot of it isn’t funny, but it takes all kinds. Laughing together, at ourselves is one link to our shared humanity. Thanks to the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, SNL, and lots of others for bringing us together for a giggle. Long live the jesters!

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Who Controls Birth Control?

RawStory brings us this great example on NBC’s Meet the Press of a conversation where framing noticeably switches course several times. Who do you think “won” the framing battle here? It is a great piece of video because it is such a dramatic demonstration of how evoking frames makes you empathetic to the framers mindset. Start watching around 1:00. You’ll hear conservative pundit David Brooks, accuse the Obama administration of infringing on religious freedom because he is demanding that insurance providers – religious or not – must cover birth control.  Brooks says that Obama is forcing a religious organization to go against a tenet. Maddow steps in and makes the case that because that religious organization decided to provide insurance, it must follow the same guidelines as other insurers, guidelines that follow a democratically supported position. Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist, counters with indignance; citing the message to Catholic hospitals and universities is “you can’t live you beliefs”. Continue reading

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Authenticity matters

In communications, authenticity matters. A lot. Our authenticity meters are what make lawyers and car salesmen consistently despised over the years – and Congress currently. We all hate being lied to with a straight face – we don’t even like being fibbed to. We respect those that tell us the truth because it shows that they respect us. Mitt Romney has an authenticity issue, so does Newt Gingrich when he does events like this one (which I will deconstruct the value manipulations attempted there in the future), Obama too. They all are disingenuous in different ways – Romney has the problem of looking and acting like a spokesmodel – a little too polished for an Average American’s comfort – and then completing the role by saying whatever he thinks the customers want. Newt seems to say what he means but in his election bid, is fully involved in the posturing and manipulations of crowds and media to suit his cause – he can only “open up” when it seems it would serve his polling and/or the Republican establishment. Obama seems to speak from the heart and brain but when it comes to following through on his rhetoric, his resolve dissolves. His “compromises” undermine the principles he established verbally. The end result? Not many of us can agree that any of those three politicians are genuinely authentic and are as good as their word; when you match up their deeds with their speech, the integrity gap becomes apparent.

Rick Santorum had authenticity going for him. I really do believe that he is a man of faith that lives by his beliefs, I believe he is a family man and doing something he feels called to do, but his slip about black people getting welfare showed some of his underlying perceptions – possibly racist leanings. All of these attributes still fit into a character that some Americans really admire and want (sadly even the potentially racist part). However, when Santorum was confronted about the racist part, his authenticity fell apart.  He commented, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”  Quickly thereafter he back pedaled on the concept, saying that he indeed didn’t want African-Americans to be dependent on government – up to this point he might be guilty of not being pc but he is still authentic. His next move is what cracks that characteristic – he makes a planned statement, saying that he studied the footage of the rhetoric in question and decided that he did not say the word “black”. This is totally disingenuous and anyone who watches the footage can see that,  Santorum would have gained more respect if he simply stood his ground and apologized by his lack of sensitivity and his implication that black people are the main food stamp recipients in this country; they’re not. The Kaiser Family Foundation puts black recipients at a total of 22% of medicaid benefits. Continue reading

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