Saturday, August 1, 2009


It's been a long gap between blogs, and once again I feel I must explain this to the mass crowd of 2 followers I have. This just might be the common theme of all my starting off explaining why I don't blog more often.

I guess I haven't really had anything interesting to write about. Summer was as good as it can be without a job. I was allowed more Cubs games and rounds of golf per month than any other summer in recent history. My Netflix queue has a daily visit just to make sure that when I receive the movies that are en route, I already have my next 50 lined up. This week, 'Freaks & Geeks' comes in, which I've never seen, so I'm pretty excited about that. Yes, things like that excite me. Whatever you may think, you're sitting there reading my blog. Enough said.

One of my new unemployed summer activities is utilizing the instant feature on Netflix that allows you to watch a growing library of films streaming to your computer. It's not easy to sit through an entire movie simply watching on your 19" computer or 15" laptop, as I learned fairly quickly. What I did find was that I was able to multi-task on my laptop with documentaries. They have a very good selection in Netflix's instant section and I've been quickly working my way through them. Documentaries present their messages more vocally than a fiction feature film would, so I found that I could post resumes, compose emails, play games, or, hell, even blog while having one playing docked to the side of the screen. Whether or not I have one playing now will be an interesting point of wonder for you right now.

The other day, I came across a documentary that was made by director Tony Kaye. I had seen some work that he has done, most notoriously 'American History X'. Besides that, I have seen some interview work somewhere on the vast collection of internet videos, and had read about a doc that he was working on for the better part of 17 years. The subject of that film? Abortion. There it is. You see how it took me about 3.5 paragraphs to get to the subject? That particular subject just does that to me, and to a lot of people for that matter. It takes us time to work into it. Almost as we are still deciding our position as we go along. Not long ago, I had a discussion with a friend on what my position was on abortion, and I claimed to not know where I stood, but after talking it out, my position was very clear, and now, at least I know.

The film was 'Lake of Fire', and, like this excellent film, I will not reveal which side of the argument my opinion falls with. Probably for the best anyhow, as just this subject in general is a powder keg for debate and judgment. People often complain that documentaries are too one-sided...usually the view of the filmmaker. I have never minded this. I can form my own opinions based on what information I collect, and no amount of careful editing or bias can ultimately sway that fact. With this film, I can say that they make convincing arguments for either side and I wasn't sure which side Tony Kaye favored. That's to his credit.

The film shows two actual abortions that I can recall. The first is one that is shown mid-procedure, and the ensuing aftermath of the doctor running the aborted material under water and fingering through the remains to ensure that he removed the entire fetus. The second one happens at the end of the film, when we get a bit more. Not more in terms of the actual procedure, but we follow the patient as she walks into the hospital, through the waiting room, through the wrenching discussion of her medical history, and then through the abortion procedure. We learn why she is there, how many times she's been there before and some of the emotions involved. Both of these would give plenty of fuel to the fire of pro-life. Though, they also have some frightening people on their side.

There is a scene with another filmmaker outside of an abortion clinic demonstration interviewing some of the pro-life activists. The camera turns on Paul Hill, who explains very plainly that all abortionists should be executed. With no reservation he goes further to say that any blasphemer should also be executed. He was then ask to clarify what a blasphemer actually was. His response? "Anyone who uses 'God damn it' should be executed." Apparently I have been bound for death since the age of 12. In 1994, Hill used a shotgun at close range and murdered Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard. In 2003, he became the first person in the United States to be executed for killing an abortion provider. He was also a supporter of the death penalty.

Some doctors and pro-choice activists have pointed out that before the Roe v. Wade decision, the highest death rate among young women was the side-effects of illegal abortions. Not heart disease, cancer, murder, or accidents. Whether that is propaganda or not I am not sure. Basically, if they were made illegal, the number of abortions would remain about the same it is now, only fatalities would increase. Speaking of the of the Supreme Court decision, Norma McCorvey, who was "Jane Roe" in the case, was once a proponent of choice, but after a pro-life organization moved into the property right next to her, she started spending time there and was converted. She is now one of the loudest voices for the people who once condemned and provided death threats to her. One wonders if she converted to finally get peace in her life, as she attempted suicide and could barely leave her house due to the scrutiny she was under from the pro-life movement's more militant members. I speculate that, but don't judge her for her choice good or bad, because it was hers and I cannot pretend to know for certain her thought process.

The most reasonable argument I have heard to date for life comes from Nat Hentoff, a writer for the Village Voice who describes himself as "a member of the Proud and Ancient Order of Stiff-Necked Jewish Atheists". By that, his point of view doesn't originate in religion. His argument is that the process of egg-sperm union forms a human and cannot be interrupted. Not dogmatic law. No fire and brimstone. Just his own logical conclusion. It's probably also safe to say "God damn it" in his presence without fear of execution. Being a civil liberties advocate and opponent to censorship, he might encourage it, actually.

Another article along the same lines is that called 'The Seamless Garment' by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Which basically says that if you oppose abortion, then you should have the same opposition for the death penalty or other methods of taking life. A good quote to sum it: "A consistent ethic does not say everyone in the Church must do all things, but it does say that as individuals and groups pursue one issue, whether it is opposing abortion or capital punishment, the way we oppose one threat should be related to support for a systemic vision of life."

That makes me wonder if Paul Hill or any of the other religious zealots who have killed abortion providers thought of the irony and futility of their actions as they were carrying them out. I also found it almost laughable that Paul Hill's organization, Army of God, death penalty advocates, mind you, were outside of his prison protesting his execution. Paul and the more extreme members felt that he was doing God's work by eliminating someone who willingly took life. Apparently he was not subject to the same judgment.

Abortion was a behemoth issue in last years election. In many cases, the issue even outweighed that of economic, health, or global polices. When McCain's platform came under fire, they seemed to make a push for the issue of pro-life, and speaking to the viral nature of the subject, almost made an impact, disregarding other issues. Some of even Obama's supporters admitted that his opposition to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and the Born Alive Infant Protection Act were a tad extreme, but I liked that both politicians stuck to their respective guns and didn't pander to leverage votes. It declares that with abortion, there is hardly a middle-ground.

Most of my life has been spared this debate. There have been very few conversations where it has come into focus. This is possibly why I chose to write in length about it now. I have been cautious not to blatantly reveal my position, but going back over what I have already wrote, I think I did regardless.

A rabbi was once asked to settle a dispute between a married couple. First he hears the wife's point of view. "You're right" he tells her. Then he hears the husband's point of view. "You're right" he tells him. Hearing this, one of his students protests: "Rabbi, they both can't be right." "You're right" he says.

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