Sunday, August 2, 2015

One More On The Planned Parenthood Scandal

     It’s gratifying to note that the scandal ignited over Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal organs has developed “legs” to confound and frustrate PP’s supporters. Some of those supporters have given vent to highly intemperate “refutations” less indicative of conviction than of...something else. But what else?

     I’m not the only one to notice. The comments on the article linked above include this one:


     That video reeks of panic. She's trying to cover it with anger, but you can see through that, to the panic. They're taking heavy incoming fire, they've taken a hit below the waterline, and they know it.

     I love the smell of panic in the morning. which another commenter replied:

     ...And beneath the panic is likely profound guilt. The more loudly and belligerently pro-abortion a woman is, the more convinced I am she's trying to drown out her own haunted conscience.

     Either or both the first and second commenters might be right. However, there are several possible fuels for such fury.

     One that comes to mind immediately is remorse about poor life choices. Many women have come to regret decisions made early in life, for example prioritizing career and social life over marriage and children, that they cannot unmake. There is a correlation, albeit not a strong or conclusive one, between early abortion and subsequent inability to carry a child to term. Also, a woman who has passed her prime childbearing years without marrying and having kids has reduced her options for marriage, as most men are still drawn more strongly to younger and more fertile women than to their older and less fertile sisters. One common response to such recrimination against one’s younger self is to externalize it by redirecting it into anger at those who would dare to question such choices. The external enemy can be punished, whereas one’s younger self is lost are the possibilities she eschewed.

     Second, we have a wound to one’s moral self-esteem. This is extremely important on the Left, whose allegiants have been taught to regard themselves as morally superior to us on the Right. (Cf. Thomas Sowell’s “assumption of differential rectitude.”) When one is contradicted on a topic where one’s moral self-assessment is bound up with one’s position, righteous anger is a natural response...which, of course, is not to say that the furious one is somehow vindicated by her fury.

     Third, as the first commenter suggested might be true of Rebecca Watson, is strategic political posturing. Many who react with fury toward opponents of abortion are doing so not out of sincere emotion but from a strategic vision. They know how central abortion on demand is to the overall worldview and agenda of the Left. Should that tenet of their ethos be invalidated, much of the rest will crumble with it.

     Fourth, as the second commenter noted, is the possibility of moral self-doubt. Many women (and not a few men) harbor considerable guilt over having indulged in abortion. They’ve never been completely convinced of the acceptability of the act. They work hard to suppress such guilt, and cannot stand to have it surface. Once again, externalizing the guilt as rage against those who dare to disagree helps to keep it from consuming oneself.

     All of these motivations come into play in any public airing of the atrocities attendant upon a regime of abortion on demand at any stage of gestation.

     It being a Sunday morning, and my mood therefore being more contemplative than at most other times, it’s incumbent upon me to suggest that some of our raging opponents, while their fury doesn’t validate the positions they espouse, are nevertheless fitting subjects for a dollop of compassion.

     I speak from a Catholic perspective, of course, but beyond and beneath that, I speak as a veteran of several poor life choices and the attendant regrets. To repent of one’s erroneous ways and sincerely resolve to reform is far more likely, and far easier, when one is not drenched with external condemnation or derision. The hyper-polarization of contemporary political discourse, of which the fusillades over abortion are a major component, has surely retarded many souls from admitting to their faults, repenting of them, and leaving them behind for better attitudes and practices.

     Among the reasons this would be wise is the old saying that a drop of honey will attract more flies than a gallon of gall. But more than that, it is not given to us to judge the souls of others. We may condemn behaviors; we are forbidden to condemn men. There’s only one Judge competent for that.

     It can be hard, especially when practiced toward those who snarl and snap at us: yet another deplorable aspect of the flying-lead political wars of our time. But it can also be both constructive and supremely gratifying. Verbum sat sapienti.

     May God bless and keep you all. (Betcha didn’t see that coming, eh?)

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