Well, There's Fanaticism, and Then There's Fanaticism

A friend of mine just posted on Facebook that the fanatics who make up ISIS are really not that different than the fanatics in the US would take away the "reproductive rights of women."

But fanaticism comes in many forms. Consider this one: there are fanatics who think that the "reproductive rights of women" always and everywhere trump the "right-to-have-a-life-at-all rights" of unborn children. The work of those fanatics results in about one million deaths per year in the United States, a lot more people than ISIS will kill this year, and the means of killing are often far more gruesome than mere beheadings.

But, of course, when a fanatic is surrounded entirely by other fanatics who think exactly the same way, their fanaticism comes to seem perfectly normal to them, in fact, moderate, and the way any sane person would consider the matter.

Oh, and it is easy to name the fanaticism involved: fanatical individualism.


17 comments:

  1. Kind of the same thing with every issue, I suppose. You're Catholic, correct? I am, but I haven't really hung out with pro-life people that much, so I'm more accustomed to my pro-choice views. I think it's stupid to call pro-lifers "fanatics" as your friend because the pro-life position is understandable. Chopping the heads off of people? Not so much. A comparison to ISIS could maybe only apply to abortion clinic bombers and even then the comparison is tenuous. It would seem to me that freaking out about some imaginary bogeymen is fanatical in and of itself.

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  2. (This is Keshav Srinivasan commenting, AKA MathMan.)

    Gene, two things:

    1. Suppose for sake of argument that the fetus was not at all alive for say, the first two trimesters of pregnancy. If that were the the state of affairs, then do you think it would be wrong to call those who want to outlaw abortion at all stages of pregnancy "fanatics"?

    2. Are you familiar with the violinist thought experiment used by pro-choicers? Basically, it goes as follows: suppose there there a famous violinist who was dying in a coma, and the only way to solve him was to run a tube from your kidney to his kidney for 9 months. And suppose while you you're sleeping, the violinist's fans attached the violinist's body to your body with the tube. Now if you pull out the tube, he'll die immediately. What should you do?

    Pro-choices think it would be fanatical for the violinist's fans to force you to keep the tube for 9 months. And they think it would be just as fanatical to force a woman to put up with pregnancy for 9 months. Is that a self-evidently absurd thing to believe?

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    1. Let's double down on the absurdity and say that you only risk having your kidneys connected if you have attended one of the violinist's concerts. Everyone knows in advance that attending his concert exposes you to this risk, yet most people still choose to do it because they enjoy his music so much.

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    2. Good Matt: and let us further posit that having your kidneys connected to the violinist's is a *natural* consequence of attending such concerts, and further, that is the very reason violin concerts came into being.

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    3. Or better yet, perhaps: no, this one is too good. It must be a blog post.

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  3. 1) I suppose that if it were not alive no one would be concerned about it at all. Who objects to people having kidney stones removed?

    2) Yes: it is one of the most absurd analogies I have ever encountered. Look, these people want to f*(k with no consequences, and so they stretch for absurd analogies like this to justify it. This is actually more evidence *against* their case!

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  4. "I suppose that if it were not alive no one would be concerned about it at all." OK, but what if it wasn't alive but some people irrationally believed it was? Many pro-choicers believe that the fetus is not alive (or perhaps not until a certain stage of pregnancy). So don't you see that from their perspective, the people who want to outlaw abortions are just as fanatical as a group of people who wanted to outlaw kidney stone removal because they irrationally believed that kidney stones were alive?

    "Yes: it is one of the most absurd analogies I have ever encountered." I happen to be pro-life, so I disagree with the violinist argument, but what's absurd about it? Is it because the woman consented to the act which caused the pregnancy? Then would it be fair to call people fanatical if they want to outlaw abortion even when the woman didn't consent to the act?

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    1. Are there really people who believe fetuses are not alive?! They ought to consult a biology book.

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    2. As for the violinist... just wait.

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    3. "Are there really people who believe fetuses are not alive?! They ought to consult a biology book." Gene, are you really not aware that this is a controversial question? Haven't you heard Republican politicians say things like "I believe that life begins at conception", precisely because there are others who believe that life begins later?

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    4. Oh, and here's an interesting blog post by Peter Smith arguing that even most pro-lifers don't really believe in the "life begins at conception" rhetoric: logicmatters.net/2011/09/abortion-again/

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    5. Many pro-choicers believe that the fetus is not alive (or perhaps not until a certain stage of pregnancy). So don't you see that from their perspective, the people who want to outlaw abortions are just as fanatical as a group of people who wanted to outlaw kidney stone removal because they irrationally believed that kidney stones were alive?

      Most anarcho-capitalists believe taxation is slavery and from their perspective it would certainly appear that way. But their worldview is a wacky one. To compare people who believe abortion should be illegal to Islamic fundamentalists setting up a theocracy is completely Looney Tunes.

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    6. Well, there certainly is some confusion here, but maybe it is because I misunderstood your claim. Nobody but nobody doubts that fetuses are alive in the same way cells are alive. The debate is at what point a (always had been living since conception) fetus becomes a HUMAN life, worthy of moral concern. To illustrate: everybody knows fat cells are alive. But I don't know of anyone who considers liposuction murder!

      By the way, I have assumed based on Indian names being in reverse-order of Anglo names and the fact that my friend's "first" name was Srinivas, that Srinivasan is your "first" (given) name. Is that correct?

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    7. I have always assumed that since MathMan was born and raised here that Keshav was his first name (this I realizes displays ignorance of Indian names). But he has solved our problem. He is "id".
      Ego is up for grabs but I dibs superego.

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    8. I have heard feminists in the past assert the fetus is more like a tumor. Nonsense but I have heard it. Id is confused; the claim life starts at conception is the claim human life does, the denial is likewise a denial that the life is a human being yet. People are using shortforms.

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  5. "Well, there certainly is some confusion here, but maybe it is because I misunderstood your claim. Nobody but nobody doubts that fetuses are alive in the same way cells are alive. The debate is at what point a (always had been living since conception) fetus becomes a HUMAN life, worthy of moral concern." OK, sorry for the confusion. I meant to say, suppose for sake of argument that the fetus was not a human life until after the first two trimesters. Then would it be all right to call people who want to outlaw abortion at all stages of pregnancy fanatics?

    And no, my first name is Keshav, not Srinivasan. Indian given names occur first, just like Western given names. I think only East Asian names have the order reversed. The thing is, Indians don't have standardized last names, because the notion of last names was introduced by the British. So people adopted last names in a haphazard fashion; some people adopting their father's name as their last name, other people chose their village or caste, etc.

    So in my case, my last name is Srinivasan because that's my grandpa's first name.

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    1. I explained in the other thread, but: I had a bunch of Telegu friends. Telegu names ARE reverse order of Anglo names, and I mistakenly thought this went for all of India.

      Sicilians often seem to offer their names in reverse order from Anglo names: "Montalbano Salvo sono."

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