Friday, February 8, 2013

Personal Opps

One thing that I have noticed is particularly prevalent when it comes to the abortion debate is the abundance of people who "don't approve of" abortion, or who "personally oppose" it, yet who at the same time do not want to "impose" that belief on everybody.

It is not really clear what this means, and one gets the feeling that it is a supreme bit of political theater, an abortion-related cake-having-and-eating maneuver that's used in order to avoid answering real questions. Nobody ever really elucidates on what it means to be "personally opposed" to abortion, and I suspect that it is basically a nonsense term that, I think, is used largely from muscle memory.

How, exactly, can you be "personally opposed" to something, yet still willing to tolerate its legality? I do not know. When people say they are opposed to abortion, I think what they mean is, "I would never want [or, alternately, want my wife] to get an abortion." But it still doesn't make sense to say that this means you're "opposed" to abortion. I myself would never buy a disgusting Cow Tail, nor would I buy a Sheltie, but I would never say that I am "personally opposed" to either of those things. It would be silly and pointless to say such a thing. I don't like those things, so I don't buy them---but I am not "opposed" to them.

On the other hand, I am opposed to things like rape, and murder, and theft. Personally opposed, you might say. And so I wish for them to be illegal for everyone. I don't say, "Well, I would never want to steal someone's car, but I would hate to impose that belief on someone else." That would be bullshit. I love to impose anti-theft statutes on other people---it keeps my stuff safe.

As far as abortion goes, I believe it should be legal, and with markedly limited restrictions (I have a tenuous soft spot for parental notification laws). That is not to mean that I think abortion is a good thing, or that I "celebrate" it like a bunch of those sickos out there. In fact, I think abortion is, concretely and objectively, a terrible thing. But I also think that killing someone in self-defense is objectively a terrible thing, yet I would never make armed self-defense legal because of those sentiments. I also think heroin is a bad thing to be addicted to, but I do not want to outlaw heroin use.

Wait---because I think abortion and these other examples are terrible, does this mean I'm "personally opposed" to them (while still wanting them to be legal)? No. Again, "personal opposition" is a vague, evasive term that carries no real meaning. Believing something is bad, and being opposed to it, are two different things. People need to speak more clearly and forcefully about their beliefs and oppositions instead of trying to do a balancing act that ends up circumnavigating the issue in favor of silly feel-good rhetoric.

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