Saturday, August 27, 2005

ProChoice Absolutists Targeting Tim Ryan

How far this will go, no one knows, but the liberal blogosphere is buzzing with nastygrams directed at Representative and potential Senate candidate Tim Ryan.

The Background

Ohio Watch has links to the discussions about Tim Ryan's membership in Democrats for Life. The hook for the discussion is the recent relevation that a large cohort of girls at Canton Timken High School are pregnant. Unlike Jeff Seeman who accurately uses it to cast aspersions on abstenence-only sex education (though he hyperbolically declares it a end to the debate), a poster named Parker goes after Ryan for the mess "in his back yard."

The Argument

Ryan belongs to Democrats for Life
Democrats for life generally vote with pro-life Republicans
Many pro-life Republicans are against widely available contraception and believe in abstinence-only sex education
Abstinence-only sex ed is responsible for Timken
QED

If you don't see a hiccup between the second and third steps of the argument, you may wandered into the wrong blog by mistake. In fact Democrats for Life's platform favors real steps to reduce abortion by supporting women financially and making contraception available. They also favor abstinence-plus over abstinence-only. Pinning Timken on Ryan is fundamentally dishonest.

The Tone

Parker, the leader of all this, speaks in the strident tones of an abortion rights absolutist. Any disagreement and you are a mouth-breathing, wife-clubbing Neanderthal. Tim Ryan is not simply someone to be disagreed with, he is an evil oppressor of women. On virtual paper it looks something like this:

Responsible Poster: Is it really fair to pin all this on Ryan? He's simply voting his conscience.

Parker: SCREECH SCREECH SCREECH MY UTERUS SCHREECH SCREECH SCREECH LIVES OF WOMEN AND GIRLS SCREECH SCREECH

Responsible Poster 2: Well I agree with Ryan on a lot of things. On balance he seems like a good choice.

Parker: SCREECH SCREECH CAN'T UNDERSTAND BECAUSE YOU'RE A MAN SCREECH SCREECH BOOT OFF OF WOMEN'S NECKS SCREECH SCREECH

Jeff Seeman: It's not Ryan's fault. Canton isn't in his district. Blame Ralph Regula.

Parker: SCREECH SCREE-

OK I'll give her that one. Pretty lame on Jeff's part.

I've had my say over on MyDD. Mostly I'm posting this as a hook for decrying the toxic effect abortion dogma has on Democratic politics. A discussion with that tone is guaranteed to turn off anyone not in the 25% of Americans who believe in unrestricted abortion on demand.

3 comments:

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The Ticked Off Ohioan said...

You were doing well until the "abortion on demand" rhetoric. There is no such thing as "abortion on demand;" current law, ie Roe and Casey, prohibit "abortion on demand." Please stop using radical right wing rhetoric and playing into the fears of "conscientious" people.

Pho said...

T.O.O.:

First, I'm glad you only think the last line was problematic. I was in a state when I wrote the post. Looking at it this morning I kinda thought I drove it into the wall somewhere in the "Tone" section.

Second, I understand your point about not using rightwing buzzwords. My point, though, is that absolutism is tantamount to endorsing the right's frame. Pro-choice absolutists hedge their language when the issue comes up, but groups like NARAL seem to be against any restriction, even third trimester or post-viability restrictions. Parker's rhetoric was consistent with such a position. Whether or not it's accurate, I think most moderates on the issue (i.e. most of the country) would assume Parker's position is against any and all restrictions and be turned off.

Third, your statement of current law is a little off. Roe, Casey, et al. permit "reasonable" restrictions post-viability, but do not require them. (To require restrictions, the Court would have to find that a fetus is a person with Constitutional rights AND that abortion is state action. Try as the right might, they are at least four Thomas clones away from such a decision.)

It is true that, to my knowledge, every state has enacted some form of post-viability or third trimester restrictions. But again, the post was against both embracing absolutism and embracing the tone and rhetoric of absolutists.