Thursday, March 31, 2016

Punishment

Okay, I hold no brief whatsoever for Donald Trump. I think he's a despicable human being who would make a disastrous president. Not as bad a president as Ted Cruz, but then that almost goes without saying. (Or maybe not, given the number of people who seem to feel that Cruz is preferable!)

But let's give him some credit where it's due. Yes, of course Trump is pandering, and his position has changed more than once. But still. His short-lived "there has to be some kind of punishment" has the virtue of consistency.

Yes, of course, if abortion is murder and illegal, then the woman who gets one should be punished. No, she's not some helpless victim of evil abortion doctors, she's a conscious agent who made a choice. The position Trump's been chased back to is the same inconsistent one that says abortion is murder but it's okay if the father was a rapist. Trump's original (well, original to this kerfuffle) takes the premise and reasons to the conclusion - one which most people realize undermines the premise. Or should. Instead they usually just run away from the conclusion.

Now, the fact that most conservatives and/or pro-forced-birthers do in run away indicates to me that they don't really believe their own rhetoric. This isn't terribly surprising since in my lifetime (and probably in yours) American evangelicals had no problem with abortion. That position changed in the mid 1980s; there's a lot lurking behind that, and it has nothing to do with babies.

And it should go without saying that I don't agree with premise. Either of them. The standard "it's murder" or the one he said that begins with if it's illegal.

But just as I can say that, "yes, of course, if rock are sentient, then we shouldn't smelt ore or make statues" without believing that rocks actually are sentient, just so can I acknowledge that "if abortion is a crime, then women who get one should be punished" is the logical conclusion. (The thing about logic is that it doesn't care about truth.)

As a matter of policy, pretending that women don't have the brains or power to make their own decisions and so of course they shouldn't be punished works out to a better practical position ... right up till some dominionist like Cruz uses that to argue that women are chattel and can't make any decisions.

So I'm glad Trump got chased back, but we need to realize that - once again - what he says is in fact what others "are afraid to say". And in this case, what he said actually made sense.

Which is why it's the premise(s) that need to be examined, not the conclusion(s).

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4 Comments:

At 10:15 AM, March 31, 2016 Anonymous Mark P had this to say...

This is exactly what I was thinking. I also think that this little event shows that Donald Trump was just saying what he thought the conservative base wanted to hear without really paying attention to what they say. If you think conservatives are anti-abortion, the logical conclusion is, as you say, that women who get abortions should be punished. And thus Donald shows the danger of relying on himself for all of his expert advice.

 
At 3:32 PM, March 31, 2016 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Do you suppose a rabid supporter will react (perhaps violently?) against Trump's bending to PC?

 
At 1:54 AM, April 01, 2016 Anonymous Adrian Morgan had this to say...

Just responding to the title of the post and not the content, I sometimes wonder what patterns would emerge if someone were to investigate what different people regard as the prototypical example of a "punishment", and how context-dependent that is. Punishment, after all, can be anything from being laughed at to being whipped.

 
At 11:44 AM, April 02, 2016 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

Gail Collins had an excellent commentary on this yesterday, "Trump, Truth and Abortion," at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/opinion/trump-truth-and-abortion.html

Opening paragraph: "Maybe Donald Trump did everyone a favor with his famous jail-the-women comment. When he blurted out that “there has to be some form of punishment” for anyone who has an abortion, he blew the cover off the carefully constructed public face of the anti-choice movement."

The anti-abortion crowd is so condescending that it regards lady-parts as rendering a person too benighted to take be able to responsibility for making her own reproductive decisions.

 

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