Thursday, February 25, 2010

The privilege of abstract philosophizing

Many many moons ago, before I'd even met him in person, I gave Wonder's fiance a public smackdown over an article on abortion in Nicaragua. See he's a dude. And a dude who grew up in conservative Christianity. He was a bit knee jerk, rhetoric spewing back then.

I am glad to say he's come a long fricken way since then.

But back to Nicaragua, where abortion is illegal, full stop. No exceptions. But not only is abortion illegal, providing medical treatment to a woman with cancer who is pregnant is also illegal, because it might hurt teh baybeeeeeeeeeeeee.

This is what happens when people with privilege make abstract calls about what is right and wrong, privilege in this case meaning it's not a problem you'll ever have to deal with cause either 1) you're a dude, and dudes are never required to offer themselves up as human life support machines or 2) you're a woman with enough money/power that if you had to choose between life and death, you could go to another country where doctors would still treat you.

We talk about things (sometimes even I) that are a matter of life and death to those without privilege as if they are no more important than what we had for dinner last night. I've seen this happen so fucking many times with people talking not just about abortion, but poverty. They off-handedly declare that the poor should have to be drug tested before getting food stamps, without bothering to consider that as one more way we make poor people guilty of the crime of being poor (the only other people who are required by the state to get drug tested are - go figure- criminals). We do the same thing when tallking about obesity and changing laws so that money for food assistance to poor families can only be spent on what non-poor people think are virtuous foods.

We do that when we establish stupid laws like Don't Ask Don't Tell. We don't think of the consequences to real, live, human beings in our quest for "fairness" or "balance" or "objectivity".

The privilege of abstract philosophizing is what makes abortion restrictions, it is an attempt to smooth over the ruffled ideas of one group at the expense of the lives and welfare of another. It is half-assed human rights. It can only be done by people who are never in jeopardy of becoming one of the many who their policies will harm.

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