The first item was about abortion, of course, and it was a letter to the editor. The wrtier was affronted that the 'abortion debate' had risen up again. She made the point, very sensible given her premises, that we were not having a debate about reintroducing slavery, or taking the vote away from women, or counting aborigines in the census, or any of that stuff. Abortion for her was a fundamental human right. You don't have debates about fundamental human rights. Progress is progress.
However, we have a broad national consensus that women and coloured folks are not subhuman, thank God. We don't have a broad national consensus that young folks are not subhuman, may He rain fire from heaven upon the infidel.
But, from her premises, the writer was perfectly correct. If a foetus was an integral part of a woman's body, it would be her fundamental human right to do with as she pleased. If the world was flat, then refusing to build a fence around the edge would be a reckless invitation to public liability suits. Those are perfectly valid opinions for a Tupinamba tribesman to hold. But you can't claim to believe there is something called progress and base your morality on pre-Copernican science.
On the opposite page was another piece on abortion, which focused on the idea that women who have abortions do not suffer any serious physical or psychological after-effects, and that the claim by the anti-choice lobby that they did was a wicked tactical feint. A common debating point seems to be that anti-choice people only care about foetuses, and not about women. If that is so, why are so many of us of the female persuasion? We do care. I think that is a great term of the author's, anti-choice. I like it. I am going to appropriate it and claim it. I am anti-choice and proud. Civilisation is a process of limiting the choices that we consider valid. We don't have the choice, as citizens of a Western democracy, to strap explosives to our bodies and blow ourselves up in pizza restaurants. Our laws do not permit that sort of thing. Our ethics do not permit that sort of thing. We have denied ourselves that choice. That is not a valid decision for anyone to make in our culture. Marco does not have the choice to get rid of union representatives by knocking them on the head and dumping in the river, like his counterpart in Guatemala. We have denied Marco that choice- highly inconvenient as it might be, both for him and for our balance of payments- through legal sanctions and the moral oppprobrium of the community. We do not have the choice to drive at 130 kph in a 110 kph zone. We do not have the choice to drive in the bus lane on Parramatta road. We do not have the choice to sacrifice kittens to Tlaloc in fiery backyard holocausts. We are ****ing civilised.
I, personally, have never made any choices whatsoever. I have blindly followed the ineluctable dictates of my conscience.
I sense that I am beginning to drift ever so slightly into hyperbole. My finely tuned sense of hyperbole has picked up some faint emanations, based on the fact that I seem to recall Hitler said almost the same thing as I just did in Mein Kampf. Perhaps a little humility is in order. I should say I have blindly followed the ineluctable dictates of my conscience, or else I have dithered about waiting for something to happen.
Oddly enough, I also detected a few faint glimmers of hyperbole from Phillip Adams' article, down the bottom of the page on the right. He quotes Colin Powell to the effect that the Neo-Con faction in the Bush Administration are "****ing crazies", and goes on to list some of the things he thinks they will do. I doubt that they really will do any of those things, but they were fun to read.
For instance, Mr. Adams thinks that they will give a nod and a wink to the Israelis to take out the Iranian nuclear research facilities at Bushehr. I wish they would, but I suspect that Bush is realistic enough to be very very quiet and just hope it happens, like me. Can you imagine the 1991 Gulf War, if the 1981 raid on Osirak hadn't happened? It was probably the best thing the Jewish state has ever done for the world.
Mr. Adams also suggests that the Bush Administration will 'encourage the most irresponsible elements in Taiwan'. They won't do that either. If they really were Napoleonic evangelists of the Republic they would, and future generations- after they built civilisation back up from the smoking rubble- would thank them for it. Because the most irresponsible elements in Taiwan are not the pro-Independence forces. They are the rusted-on Kuomintang diehards who damn right believe in One China, just like Douglas Macarthur, only it is their China, and those renegade provinces on the mainland had better get their house in order and get with the reunification program. An administration that was really bent on Armageddon, as Mr. Adams thinks, or on spreading democracy, as I kinda wish, would say: 'What the hell do we care what you think, you unrepresentative swill? We're recognising these little guys here, who elected their damn government. We don't care if you cut off our supply of consumer goods. We've gone naked before, and we can go naked again. We've got more bombs than you do, so just try and invade, you handpicked successors to the most murderous regime in human history...'
Uh oh, I think my hyperbole detecting senses are registering something again.
Must... write... novel. Must... stop... procrastinating.