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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Commenting on Comments

As I said previously, if controversy upsets you, I accept your resignation from this post with no ill feelings. My soapbox is safely in the corner keeping the peace. I'm just here sorting through the logic.

To follow-up on yesterday's post, I gather an obvious conclusion from the comments. I'm not sure this conclusion helps me figure out the logic behind when "the right to choose" is inalienable and when it is not. As "the right to choose" abortion was relatively untouched, it leads me to believe that either the topic is so charged, people prefer not to address it, or that a fetus and its fate are regarded as less consequential to humanity and the preservation of it than are plastic bags, light bulbs and super-sized soft drinks.

That subject aside, however, this is what I garnered:
 It is okay to usurp "the right to choose" when the people making the choices are seen as not making the right ones for themselves personally or for the environment. There seems to be a personal distancing of the self from those people who are making those bad choices that must be regulated. No one said, "I'm glad the government is taking action, because I am too weak to make the right choice." Likewise, the assumption was automatically made, for example, that people who buy 32 ounce sodas are drinking themselves into obesity rather than cutting costs by purchasing the extra large beverage and sharing it amongst a group.

So today, I'm rather perplexed again, because I'm wondering where we draw he line in the sand. If it's okay to decide other people aren't competent to make decisions about very basic things, what happens when someone claiming to know better than me decides that I am not competent to make a good choice and tells me that for my own good or the good of my fellow man I will no longer have a choice.

Let's consider the example of the flat iron. I use mine nearly every day. It makes me, in my opinion, more attractive by smoothing out my otherwise curly to kinky hair.

But the flat iron has its "dangers" for me and for the wider world. It gets very hot and can cause a ferocious burn that in some cases can lead to medical treatment. If dropped in a tub of water, it can cause electrocution. Small, unsupervised children have come to harm by its scorching metal plates. The cord can cause strangulation. It uses a great amount of energy to heat to these high temps and sustain them, and my excessive use of energy impacts the planet. Eventually, every flat iron dies, so I throw each away into a landfill and purchase yet another one.

Weighing the superficial benefit of beauty against the flat iron's inherent dangers, a rally-cry could go up to ban flat irons. That would hit pretty close to home for me. I would be the person judged to not be making wise decisions for myself. Would the government be justified in eliminating my "right to choose"?

I wager that when the suspension of choice hits close to home, we're more likely to move to the protection-of-personal-freedoms camp. Which may explain why we're skirting "the right to choose" life or death for a fetus, instead of directly responding.

Wherever people stand, whether on the side of personal freedoms or on the side of taking them away for the good of the individual and/or the collective population, they are passionate in their marriage to that stance. Of course, there are those among us who believe it is okay to extend "the right to choose" in some cases and withdraw it or never offer it in others. The gray areas have the least light shed in them.

"The right to choose" is a big, sticky-sided, dark spiral to say the least.


Inger said...

I am an American by choice and coming from another country where I don't think I ever heard of issues like the right to choose, the right to bear arms, or that the the right to anything equated freedom. So I'm not attached to the issue of right to choose itself. While it may seem that you cannot compare the plastic bags issue to the abortion issue, I'm not sure. Plastic bags choke up the oceans and there's life there, lots of life that also has a right to be. And if you have children... In the future, there will be no life at all on earth without oceans. So do we trust that people stop manufacturing plastic bags or does the government step in. So far, they haven't and we all use them. I recycle mine and use cloth bags too, but I get lazy like most people.

About the abortion issue. -- When I was young you couldn't have a legal abortion. But women got pregnant anyway. Women got raped and got pregnant; women's husbands insisted on sex even after six kids and wives got pregnant; there was no really good birth control available so young girls got pregnant. None of those women had the right to choose a legal abortion. None. But even in those days, women had the right to choose what they did with their own bodies. And what did they do? They had abortions, albeit not legal ones. So what happened frequently? Women got seriously injured and were unable to have any children in the future. Women died, they simply went home, to scared to tell and bled to death. That was their choice. They had the right to it.
It was a frightening time to be a young woman then and I would hate to see that time come back. You could say back to me, you shouldn't have sex then. Well, I didn't have sex for a long time for that very reason. And I do know for a fact that not having sex is not the answer here.

I don't think abortions are a great solution -- it is a horrible solution to a problem. But I do not want this country to return to the days of back alley abortions either, that's a much worse solution. I think a better one would be to, yes, government perhaps even, push for birth control paid for everyone who wants it and the day after pill available to anyone who wants it as well.

Phew, I didn't mean to be so long here, but I see you put a lot of time and effort thinking through this issue and I just wanted to give you my take on it.

Lucy Adams said...

Inger, I can tell you gave your comment a lot of thought and effort. Thank you for taking time to share your views on the topic. Being a U.S. Citizen by choice gives you a different perspective from those of us born here. We've never known anything different. Thanks for sharing.

Jeremy Bates said...

Yeah, politics are sure to divide your blog just as they have divided the United States.

Good luck with that.

shelly said...

If the American government contiues to stick thier hands into everything everyone will one day have a criminal record for stupid things like farting, burping,and picking thier noses in public because it offended on-lookers. Really, we should mind our own business and do our own thing as long as hurts no one else. If we hurt ourselves then we'll have the higher power to deal with after we exit this earth.

The way this country is will no longer be free. The choices to eat, shop, watch certain shows, where we work, what we write, think, or believe will all be taken away from us.

Our government needs to figure out how we're not going to become another Greece. How to pay back China and whoever else they've borrowed from, and how to employ the masses. They've got bigger planks in their eyes than any of us little peons.

Okay. I'm done with my rants.


Jo said...

You've certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons. I very much agree with Inger. It is difficult to decide whether governments should enact laws for our protection - but they already do don't they? Then they use law enforcement. So yelling 'right to choose" doesn't really apply anyway. Right to choose would include the right to go to any country you liked, the right to kill people if you wanted. Why isn't that 'your right' as well? What exactly do we mean by rights anyway. You Americans believe in the right to bear arms, in other countries (I'm a Canadian from Britain) we don't subscribe to such a right. Where do you start, where do you stop? Meanwhile, we are choking the oceans with plastic bags and filling the world with unwanted children.

Lexa Cain said...

There are tons of laws I don't agree with, but I go along with them. That's the price we pay for living in a society. I now live in Egypt. If it becomes radicalized, I may have to cover my hair and wear long robes. Will I like it? No. Will I do it? Yes. It's little different from school uniforms codes. Pretty much, rules suck. Very few of us get to do as we please. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and live in safety, for which I'm grateful.