New on Live Action – Gee, I Wonder Why Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicers Don’t Get Along Better

My latest Live Action post:
In one breath, Forbes contributor Chitra Sundaram bemoans how “no real discussion occurs online or offline” when it comes to abortion policy. In the next, she unwittingly betrays her own culpability in the sad state of our national dialogue with a tirade about pro-lifers’ alleged heartlessness:

The silent masses, much as Margaret Sanger, a pioneer in Women’s reproductive rights and one of the founders of Planned Parenthood found during her travails,  remain ignored.  They live and die on the fringes of society, in pockets of dire poverty and inner city tenements, even in an ultra-rich country like ours.  Yet they might as well not exist as far as politicians, and commentators are concerned.  If poor women get pregnant, it must be because they are sluts.  And the fact that they can’t afford to have a child simply means that they shouldn’t have sex!  And the possibility that they might be living in overtly or covertly abusive situations matters little to the ideological pundit.  Finally, if the unwanted child is to be forced upon a woman or family, the State of Arizona, facing similar budget deficits to other states has cut into the very programs that might help ease the financial strain on such families.

Much could be said about how pro-choice states actually don’t do better than pro-life ones in reducing abortion rates or preventing unintended pregnancy, or which social programs actually help the needy and which ones simply waste money and foster dependence on government. Here, though, let’s focus on the author’s visceral aversion to frank discussion about sexual responsibility.
Hyperbolic “slut” descriptor aside, the underlying point – that poor women (other than rape victims) get pregnant because they knowingly chose to do something that potentially results in pregnancy – is self-evidently true, as is the commonsense advice that not having sex is the only foolproof way to avoid pregnancy.
Read the rest at Live Action.
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Hillsdale’s Wenzel vs. Schlueter on Conservatism: My 2 Cents

Whenever two Hillsdale College professors get into an argument, everybody wins. At the Public Discourse, economics professor Nikolai Wenzel makes the case that “conservatism is misguided, arbitrary, inconsistent, and ultimately inimical to liberty and human flourishing; in response, philosophy professor Nathan Schlueter argues that Wenzel mischaracterizes conservatism and misunderstands its conception of liberty.

I didn’t have much interaction with Dr. Schlueter during my time at Hillsdale, but by all accounts he’s a marvelous professor. I did take Dr. Wenzel’s introductory course on Political Economy, and can personally attest that it was equal parts informative and intellectually challenging. Were I to undertake the difficult task of ranking Hillsdale’s professors, Dr. Wenzel would unquestionably make my top five.

I say this to make clear that the libertarian-conservative debate couldn’t ask for more formidable combatants, and there is precious little I could possibly add to the philosophical side of the exchange. However, in defending conservative philosophy, Dr. Schlueter’s response didn’t cover my main objection to Dr. Wenzel’s argument: whether his characterization of conservatism matches what we see in practice.

His chief objection seems to be that, rather than being truly committed to liberty, conservatism is all too comfortable with the “enlightened few” using government to impose “private preferences” on the individual. But Dr. Wenzel doesn’t elaborate on how that translates to anti-liberty policies. I’d like to explore just how illiberal conservatism’s non-libertarian causes actually are.

Abortion—It never ceases to amaze me that libertarians and pro-lifers quarrel as much as they do. The rationale for legally protecting unborn life is exactly the same as the rationale for protecting adult life: that life is one of the individual rights that justice demands government protect. Both groups have the exact same conception of liberty; it is a separate question—are the unborn people?—which leads conservatives to look at the evidence and conclude that fetuses deserve to be grouped with the individuals government already protects. Libertarians should either concede that abortion is a liberty issue and join forces with us, or explain why the unborn don’t have the same individual rights as everyone else.

Marriage—As Jennifer Roback Morse argues, civil marriage is “society’s institutional structure for protecting these legitimate rights and interests of children.” Through incentives and obligations, it binds couples together to give their offspring a stable home with a mother and a father. The rationale for limiting this union to man-woman couples is that men and women bring unique sets of characteristics to parenthood, and children need both sets for an ideal upbringing.  Further, there’s nothing coercive about it—obligations are only placed on those who voluntarily agree to them by marrying, and no gay Americans are denied their rights to form relationships, live together, have sex, hold marriage ceremonies, consider themselves married, share property, visit one another in hospitals, make medical decisions for one another, or receive domestic partner benefits from employers who wish to offer them. Current law could easily be revised to extend the incidents of marriage (hospital visitation, bereavement leave, etc.) to gay couples without redefining marriage.

Religion—In controversies over religion in public, conservatives are almost exclusively on defense, warding off legal assaults on benign religious expression in public schools and benign religious monuments on public property. They are pushing against coercion, not trying to impose it. Granted, conservatives also take pains to remind people of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, but they do so out of Washington’s belief that liberty cannot survive without the “indispensable support” of religion. Further, this doesn’t translate into coercive policies, either; merely affirmation of America’s religious roots through symbolism, ceremony, and discussion.

Drugs—While some conservatives may base their opposition to drug legalization in health concerns or antipathy for drug culture, the more overriding rationale is that drugs warp one’s mind and dull one’s senses to the point where he becomes a threat to the rights of others. If government is essentially the collective exercise of the individual right to self-defense, then people are well within their rights to protect themselves from drug-related crimes and accidents via drug prohibition. It’s worth remembering that John Locke himself believed man’s power over his own body was not absolute, that liberty didn’t cover the right to enslave or destroy one’s self:
[…] a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases […] though man in that state have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself […]
Other—Dr. Schlueter’s reply notes that there are individual-harm components to pornography and prostitution, as well. Here, though, let’s ask a different question: how many conservatives—even devout social conservatives—rank these among their chief concerns? How many are really politically active because of porn or prostitution? To judge conservatism based on a few conservatives’ fixation on these issues is just as silly as judging libertarianism based on a few libertarians’ fixation on copyright laws.

Surely there are some conservatives out there to whom Dr. Wenzel’s critique applies, but are they really numerous enough to warrant the attention he’s given them? There’s no conservative push to turn the reins of government and society over to an “enlightened few” dispensing virtue edicts.

By and large, conservatives are every bit as live-and-let-live as libertarians, their understanding of the cutoff between private preference and public concern every bit as healthy. In standing for life, marriage, and traditional culture, conservatives can be trusted to leave liberty every bit as secure—indeed, even more so—than they found it.

New at Live Action – Hypocrisy Alert: Pro-Abortion Sexist Lectures Pro-Life Men on How to Treat Women

My latest Live Action post:
As a male pro-life activist, I’ve run into my share of sexism and condescension over the years, as abortion defenders have claimed I shouldn’t have a say on the issue because I’ll never have to worry about getting pregnant.  They’ve insinuated that I’m somehow trying to control or oppress women. Though pure sophistry, it’s something any guy who wants to save babies should expect to deal with – a lot.
On Monday, at the Huffington Post, Laura Trice fumed that she’s sick of men having the nerve to express their opinion on public policy questions related to abortion and birth control. She wants us to “rewind 2-3 months before most abortions happen and look in the mirror.” She wants men to take the following actions, which she claims would lead to a 90% decrease in abortion rates within 3 months, if widely practiced:

7. Make a personal commitment today to stop looking at pornography, stop engaging prostitutes and stop visiting strip clubs.
6. Make a personal commitment today to stand against sexual violence, rape and incest.
5. If you are Christian and have strong views, read this Susan B. Anthony essay and make a commitment today to be a better type of Christian husband.
4. Make a personal commitment today not to pressure a woman for sex of any kind when she says, “No,” “I don’t feel well” or “I’m tired.”
3. Make a personal commitment today to know a woman for at least 6 months to one year before having intercourse with her.
2. Make a personal commitment today not to take advantage of any woman who has been drinking or is impaired.
1. Make a personal commitment today to stop smooth-talking and lying to women to “get in.”

(Note: these are just the individual steps; see the original column for elaboration.)
Taken on its own, that’s perfectly smart, moral advice. So how can it possibly be controversial? Because of the implication in Trice’s conclusion…
Read the rest at Live Action.

New at Live Action – New York Times Pushes Fake Centrists Obsessed with the GOP’s "War on Women"

My latest Live Action post:

Over the weekend, Susan Saulny had a report in the New York Times on “centrist women” who are turning against the Republican Party, and I must say, I’m a little disappointed. Not that the article’s a hatchet job, mind you—that’s what I’ve come to expect from the Times. No, I’m disappointed that it’s such a shoddy attempt; I’ve come to expect much more effort and creativity from America’s premiere propagandists.

From a “randomly generated list of voters,” Saulny interviews a handful of self-described moderate or Republican women who claim that the birth control debate currently raging in the media has destroyed whatever intention they have of voting for the GOP candidate in November:

  • Mary Russell, retired teacher, “evangelical Christian and ‘old school’ Republican who supported Mitt Romney “just two weeks ago” but is now considering Barack Obama: “We all agreed that this seemed like a throwback to 40 years ago. I didn’t realize I had a strong viewpoint on this until these conversations. If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business.”
  • Fran Kelly, retired public school worker who voted for John McCain in 2008: “Everybody is so busy telling us how we should act in the bedroom, they’re letting the country fall through the cracks. They’re nothing but hatemongers trying to control everyone, saying, ‘Live as I live.’ If Republicans would stop all this ridiculous talk about contraception, I’d consider voting in November.”

Read the rest at Live Action.

"We can lie to women all day long about the excitement of the hook-up culture, but it’s far better to tell women the truth, even though the word ‘slut’ stings."

That’s the conclusion of Cassy Fiano at PJ Media, who in two paragraphs, does more good for teen girls than all the “comprehensive” sex-ed programs in the country put together:
The worst part of the obsession with sluthood? The harm to women. For starters, one in five women currently have herpes. Rates of chlamydia among women have also skyrocketed, with almost three times as many women infected as men. HPV, a disease which can cause cancer, is so prevalent now that at least half of all sexually active adults have been diagnosed with it at some point. According to the CDC, of the 12,000 women who get cervical cancer each year, almost all of them are HPV-related. The effects are even worse on younger girls. Sixty-three percent of teens who have sex wish they didn’t. The Heritage Foundation did a study and found that 8,000 teenagers are infected with an STD daily.
As a woman, how is it better to close our eyes and bleat “empowerment!” about women being sluts? It’s harmful, degrading, and even the feminists advocating for sluthood admit to feeling used, cheap, and worthless. It may seem harsher to call someone a slut, but far better for us to stop glorifying sluthood as if it’s some kind of acceptable lifestyle than to praise women for it. What’s the better choice in the long run for women? To lie to them about the greatness of being a whore, or to be honest and call sluts what they are? Believe it or not, slut-shaming serves a purpose.
Read the rest of it, including some valuable background on feminists’ open promotion of sluthood (their word), here.

New at Live Action – The True Moral of the Sandra Fluke Saga

My latest Live Action post:

Judging by the explosive reaction to last week’s post about 30-year-old Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke’s congressional testimony on contraceptive coverage, it seems lots of people want to talk about the story. Fortunately, there’s more to discuss.

First, we have some investigative work by Mytheos Holt at the Blaze, who found a Washington Post story which suggests Fluke not only knew Georgetown didn’t cover birth control for students, but decided to enroll there specifically so she could make it a cause célèbre :

Fluke came to Georgetown University interested in contraceptive coverage: She researched the Jesuit college’s health plans for students before enrolling, and found that birth control was not included. “I decided I was absolutely not willing to compromise the quality of my education in exchange for my health care,” says Fluke, who has spent the past three years lobbying the administration to change its policy on the issue. The issue got the university president’s office last spring, where Georgetown declined to change its policy.

In other words, Sandra Fluke is no mild-mannered student blindsided by prudish administrators, but a radical who always intended to transform Georgetown’s values through any means necessary.

Read the rest at Live Action.

New at Live Action – Nancy Pelosi Wants to Force Georgetown Law to Subsidize Sandra Fluke’s Promiscuity

My latest Live Action post:

Pro-abortion, anti-liberty zealot Rep. Nancy Pelosi has inadvertently done the pro-life cause a favor. On Monday the House Minority Leader held a congressional hearing on the cost of birth control, and the testimony of her witness, Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, put the narcissism and disingenuousness of her cause on full display.

Without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. Forty percent of female students at Georgetown Law report struggling financially as a result of this policy. One told us of how embarrassed and powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter, learning for the first time that contraception wasn’t covered, and had to walk away because she couldn’t afford it. Students like her have no choice but to go without contraception.

Craig Bannister at CNSNews.com did the math and found that “At a dollar a condom if she shops at CVS pharmacy’s website, that $3,000 would buy her 3,000 condoms – or, 1,000 a year.” Divide 1,000 by 365, and it seems Ms. Fluke wants us to believe Georgetown girls are “having sex 2.74 times a day, every day, for three straight years.” Considering that my friends and I (male and female alike) managed to survive four years of college without having any sex, I don’t think the Georgetown kids cutting down a little is too much to ask.

Read the rest at Live Action.