[The following essay first appeared at the Palace of Reason on July 19, 2004. It’s also included in my volume The Death Cults: The Drive for Human Extinction. Given what I’ve been reading, and its implications for the perversion of federal law to “protect” the “right” to abortion even in the third trimester of pregnancy, it seems appropriate to repost it at this time. — FWP]
Convictions about right and wrong have never been uniform across all men, even within a single nation. Today, however, the very nature of right and wrong as absolutes not subject to one’s opinion is under challenge from a vocal community that flies the flag of “moral relativism” and demands “tolerance” of those with deviant moral convictions. The many ironies of this situation begin with that community’s perfect willingness to condemn anyone who differs with them.
The genuflection to “tolerance” by the overwhelmingly greater part of the American people is so reflexive that we can hardly bring ourselves to reply to such lunacy.
Lunacy it surely is. For if there is no absolute right and no absolute wrong, then there is no basis for permitting some actions and forbidding others. There’s no basis for evaluating uses of force, deeming some to be unjustified aggressions and others to be legitimate defenses of person or property. The goddess of Justice must flee, her scales clattering as she runs, before the charging beasts of Chaos.
We will never know, definitively for all cases, the exact path of the border between right and wrong, for we are but men, and men are imperfect. But we have an obligation to study the matter with full concentration and the best of our powers. Especially, we are obliged to oppose those who would throw the subject into the fire. When justice dies, Man dies as well.
Yesterday’s New York Times Sunday Magazine carried the story of a young woman named Amy Richards and her decision to “selectively reduce” her pregnancy. She’d decided she wanted a child, you see, but when the sonogram showed three heartbeats, it all became too much for her. Here’s how she reacted:
Having felt physically fine up to this point, I got on the subway afterward, and all of a sudden, I felt ill. I didn’t want to eat anything. What I was going through seemed like a very unnatural experience. On the subway, Peter asked, ”Shouldn’t we consider having triplets?” And I had this adverse reaction: ”This is why they say it’s the woman’s choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That’s easy for you to say, but I’d have to give up my life.” Not only would I have to be on bed rest at 20 weeks, I wouldn’t be able to fly after 15. I was already at eight weeks. When I found out about the triplets, I felt like: It’s not the back of a pickup at 16, but now I’m going to have to move to Staten Island. I’ll never leave my house because I’ll have to care for these children. I’ll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don’t think that deep down I was ever considering it.
So she had a “specialist” — a specialist in what, you ask? Me, too — inject potassium chloride, the potion used to execute condemned murderers, into two of the babies in her womb. He shot a little death into a cauldron pulsing with human life — life whose conception was actively courted — to “free” Miss Richards from her excessive burden. Where there were three beating hearts, there remained only one. Simple; quick; efficient. Miss Richards’s future as a Manhattanite was secure once more.
This is not a woman who was raped, or whose diaphragm slipped, or who was blindsided by a drink laced with Rohypnol. This is a woman who set out to get pregnant. She just wound up more pregnant than she expected to be. The thought of a future on Staten Island, “shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise,” was simply too much for her. What’s a little death shot straight into one’s womb, to compare with a horror like that?
Here’s all the mark the experience has left on her:
I had a boy, and everything is fine. But thinking about becoming pregnant again is terrifying. Am I going to have quintuplets? I would do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don’t know.
Well, at least that Staten Island future was averted. That was the important thing, wasn’t it?
But there’s another player in this drama, quite apart from the two children who died by Miss Richards’s verdict: the child she bore to term.
During the 2000 presidential campaign, Al Gore was posed a hypothetical question by Meet The Press interviewer Tim Russert: A woman on Death Row is determined to be pregnant. Would you support a law that required her execution to be deferred until her baby was born? All that Gore could come up with was that he would “need to know the circumstances” and “the woman’s right to choose should prevail.” He couldn’t deal with the conflict between liberal endorsement of an unrestricted right to abortion and liberal opposition to capital punishment, when it was posed that starkly.
Liberals routinely oppose the death penalty even for the most heinous of crimes. Palace readers will recall that during Campaign 2000, the NAACP and the Gore campaign both tried to make capital of Governor George W. Bush’s opposition to a hate-crimes law for the state of Texas. The NAACP sponsored an ad that tried to indict Dubya for the death of James W. Byrd, a black man killed in a horrible fashion, on that basis.
Yet, during Bush’s first pre-election debate with Gore, when he mentioned that the killers had been sentenced to death — implicitly asking whether, as Ann Coulter put it, they must also be found guilty of “hate” and forced into anger-management seminars — there was a resentful silence from the Left. They couldn’t oppose that application of the death penalty without making themselves look worse than they’d painted Governor Bush.
But there was more to come. It was later publicized that only two of the three killers had been sentenced to death. The Gore campaign and its handmaidens in the Old Media tried to turn this into a weapon against Bush, but once again, failed to resolve the contradiction between its own stance against capital punishment and the implied insistence that, for the murderers of James Byrd, life without parole was not enough.
And here we have the tableau faced, not by Amy Richards, but by her child who survived to term.
Imagine being strapped to a gurney, along with two others, and wheeled into a death chamber. Imagine having the executioner decide in your presence that only two of you should die, and roll dice to determine which of you will live. Imagine being the “winner,” and watching as two other lives are extinguished before your eyes.
What’s that you say? The cases aren’t at all parallel? How true. Juries are composed of twelve persons, not one. They don’t generate their verdicts randomly. A womb is far smaller than a death chamber, and the creatures in it are always entirely innocent.
Someone will surely tell Amy Richards’s son of the circumstances of his birth. It’s inevitable, now that the tale is public knowledge. How he’ll live with the awareness that, by his mother’s sole decree, a little death was injected into the warm and sheltered place where he lay helpless, that by sheer chance it took the lives of his two siblings while sparing him, is inconceivable.
Yet it is the opinion of many that even to question the morality of such a deed is “intolerant,” the most vicious of all offenses against the popular sentiment.
O ye generation of vipers!
[PS: Today, Amy Richards’ surviving baby would be eighteen years old. Do you think his mother has told him about her condemnation and execution of his two brothers? — FWP]