I took a class in college focused on writing argumentative and persuasive papers. We would each pick a position to defend, and try to convince our audience that we were right. No topic was out of bounds except one: abortion. The instructor believed that any discussion of abortion would inevitably devolve into a shouting match. He was probably right. On the topic of abortion tempers run hot, gloves come off, and even if we manage to pull our punches it doesn’t matter: all of our punches are below the belt.
As it should be.
In this paper, I’m not going to defend one side or the other. I do believe–no, I know–one side is wrong and the other right. A second to look over my handful of other articles, and dollars to donuts you’ll work out which one I support with no trouble. I will, at some point, write a paper defending my position. But this is not that paper.
In this paper I wish to defend the dirty infighting common to both sides of this debate.
“What?” you ask. “Aren’t you called the Logic Monkey? Don’t you live by reason? Why would you defend the awful propaganda and browbeating that typifies the abortion debate?”
Because abortion matters.
If you can have a reasonable debate about abortion, kudos to you. If you want to talk things through like sensible adults, applying reason to data, then I will be all too happy to oblige you. This is how sides should be chosen. How beliefs should be found in this case as well as any other.
But once you’ve made your choice, you have chosen a side in a battle. A battle of great importance.
Those who defend abortion do so because (they say) women would be oppressed, enslaved, and abused in a world without abortion. Those who oppose abortion call it murder.
If these are, indeed, the options, then there must be war. We may love our enemies. Respect them as humans. Have them over for pizza. Go with them to the movies. But we must never, not once, not for any reason, give any ground or refuse any weapon. Slavery is horrific. Slaughter of the innocents moreso.
Once you’ve picked a side, know this: your foes are humans, many or most of them are convinced they are fighting a great evil. Respect that and love them for it. But you, yourself know their belief to be false, even demonic. It should be opposed. It should be hated. If this topic doesn’t make you angry, if you aren’t seeing red, then you are, in this respect, less than human.
It is of utmost importance to remain rational in a debate. But in a debate over life and death, slavery and freedom, that rationality should be hard. Passion for life and freedom should burn in your spirit. Better to be less than reasonable than to have no soul!
Of course, better still to manage both passion and reason. I hope that when, in the future, I present thoughtful arguments in defense of my position, my honored foes would at least try to step into my shoes and to test their own beliefs.
But let’s have no nonsense decrying the spinal reflexes and the brutal propaganda of this fight. America didn’t rise in defense of the Jews in World War II until they saw pictures of the concentration camps. Neither will she rise in defense of women or of children unless we engage the heart as well as the mind. So let us sit down, have an awkward chat over a cup of coffee, and do our best to reason with each other; but then let us take up our signs and slogans and head back to the front. And may the good guys, whoever they are, win and win soon.
So much is at stake.