Tuesday, March 22, 2005

missed the target

Okay, Jake, who might eventually kill me for making our conversations public like this, got back to me, in part to comment on my speed, but also to tell me that I didn't really get his question.

He said . . .

Anyway, I'm rethinking my question because, though correct (Jake will make both a fine manager and father someday. His affirmation skills are quite adept.), your answer didn't address a tougher question. That is, "SHOULD the religious groups package these things together?" or, more pointedly, "should those who advocate a "culture of life" face the fact that these two issues are linked? I find it odd that Death Penalty supporters who are pro-life haven't imploded and that death penalty opponents who are pro choice haven't exploded. I mean, there has got to be some cognitive dissonance there! The justifications, as I hear them, are, from the first group "criminals are alive and deserving of death while fetuses are alive and not deserving of death," while the second group says "criminals are alive and shouldn't be killed while fetuses aren't alive and therefore cannot be killed." I think both groups need to do some self examination.

Based on my experience with Roman Catholics (I went to Catholic high school and participated in a Catholic peace and justice group -- although I am Jewish), I think that they are the most consistent -- anti-death penalty and anti-abortion. So, they don't fit into either group that Jake presents. I do, however, and so I guess I should try to figure out why the hell that is.

Why am I opposed to the death penalty?

1) I think that the criminal justice system in the United States is unjust and that socioeconomic status and race play too significant a role in determining guilt and innocence and punishment to allow for something as extreme as allowing the state to claim that they know the "truth" and have the right to kill someone for their crimes.

2) There have been too many stories of innocence proven years after the fact.

3) As a sappy liberal, I believe that society contributes to the creation of criminals and so we should not be given license to sweep our "failures" into the trash, but should do what we can to remedy our errors.

4) I do not believe in an eye for an eye or tit for tat or whatever you want to call it. I think that the best way to exist in this world is to live according to principles of love, forgiveness and generosity and to believe that those who do not share these values will live a life that is less fulfilling and rewarding than your own.

5) It is wrong. According to my G-d and to my heart (the same thing in my book). Wrong.

Okay, so how does all that jive with my pro-choice views? To begin with, I am not entirely in sync with Jake's statement that "criminals are alive and shouldn't be killed while fetuses aren't alive and therefore cannot be killed."

I'd like to say that it is as neat and clean for me as that. I do believe that fetuses are alive and, most importantly, they are an embodiment of potential. So, yes, we are killing them. (Sorry, I think that.) So, I'm fu*ked, aren't I?

Let me try to pathetically rationalize.

1) Race and socioeconomics. If abortion is made illegal, it will continue nevertheless, but safe abortions will be more readily available to those who are privileged. More poor women will be forced to have children that they do not want and are not in the position to raise or will have unsafe procedures that put their lives at risk. The chasms between the classes will deepen. For those of you who would argue that low income women can put their unwanted children up for adoption, I want to ask them a) who will cover their prenatal care so that these babies are born with the tools to flourish and b) how will they support themselves during the later period of the pregnancy? These are not women with maternity leave policies.

2) Gender. In addition to race and socioeconomics, the mere fact that only women can get pregnant makes it a problem to force women to birth babies that they do not want when men are able to walk away from the situation and take on limited moral and financial responsibility or none at all.

Society needs to address these disparities (obviously, they can't make men have babies, but they can initiate policies that hold them accountable) before I can begin to change my mind.

Weak. Weak. I think I'm going to explode, Jake.

No comments: