Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And she's still at it

I don't have another long ass post in me, but I can't ignore this.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a person!:

I don't think this works, for a number of reasons. Mr Coates is intermingling a scientific definition of humanity with the social definition--what I called "personhood". They happen to be contiguous in America right now, but that's by no means a universal cultural constant. Our Victorian ancestors were perfectly capable of recognizing that Africans met the basic scientific requirements to be counted in the human being--whites and blacks could interbreed and produce viable offspring. That's one of the reasons that I'd dispute that either slavery or Jim Crow were overthrown by science--it would be nice if this were so (I think), but the debate wasn't fundamentally scientific. It was a debate over what entities are included in the social definition of "person".
Megan? Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901. Further, slavery was fully abolished in England before Victoria took the throne. You quite literally have no idea what you're talking about here. You might as well describe string theory.
Western society has been expanding its definition of personhood for centuries--an ancient Roman wouldn't understand the notion that everyone who happened to find himself inside Roman territory should be entitled to the rights of a Roman citizen. Indeed, most non-Christian societies would have been puzzled at the notion that infants were people with a right not to be killed even if their family found them inconvenient. Nor would Tamerlane easily comprehend the notion that the citizens of the cities he sacked had a basic human right not to be raped and/or dismembered. For that matter, I doubt the African slavers who captured and sold most of the people who were sent to America as slaves thought that they were doing anything wrong; my understanding is that they were taking captives from other tribes and nations, who probably fell outside their mental definition of what constituted a person.
Ancient citizenship? What the fuck do you know about ancient citizenship, Megan, and what does it have to do with anything, at all? It wasn't about personhood. At all. Neither is raping and pillaging a city a denial of the personhood of its residents. If anything, it's a fucking direct assault on their personhood. Ancient Greeks and Romans knew their slaves were people because, unlike American slaveowners, they faced the at least hypothetical possibility of being enslaved themselves, one day. Read some Roman comedy, Megan, and tell me they didn't know slaves were people.
N Megan? Calling African slavers too stupid to understand their tribal enemies were people too is racist in a way that I can only commend you for; you've made slavers momentarily sympathetic. Wow.
As an aside, we do need to credit religion for much of this. The Church has certainly committed its share of religious atrocities, but it was also, as I understand it, the main force eliminating practices like infanticide, "honor guards" and even human sacrifice in Western Europe.
It's not relevant that churches in the south supported slavery. Support for slavery would have existed without the church. Opposition to it wouldn't have, without the churches that preached their conscience and gave the movement a ready-made base for organization. Or such is my understanding of the history.
Fuck you, Megan, you're lying. You don't believe that, it's too stupid even for you. You just can't admit YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG. Empirically so. You really need to work on figuring out how to cover that evangelical ass kissing requirement David Bradley just dropped on you more effectively. Even your commenters are having trouble swallowing this. Glossing over the Inquisition and religious wars in Europe and the campaign of genocide in the Americas is just... lazy.
Back to personhood. In at least one place we've contracted that definition. We used to think fetuses were persons, but over the last forty or fifty years, we've decided that they aren't. That's not because the science has changed; the relevant facts were all known in 1960. Rather, various cultural changes have made fetal personhood much harder to sustain socially than it was fifty years ago, so we rescinded it.
"We used to think fetuses were persons, but over the last forty or fifty years, we've decided that they aren't."
My best guess is this is an attempted reference to Roe v Wade, only Megan is too stupid to even know when that fairly important decision was issued. Nevermind it wasn't about the rights of a fetus but the rights of a WOMAN, what the fuck is she talking about? How can she describe herself as pro-choice and agree with such obvious anti-abortion propaganda? And Megan, you might note that the changes you're misrepresenting more accurately coincide with the development of the pill, if you weren't a piece of shit.
I think that in both cases we've got it right, and moreover I don't think that even most pro-lifers actually believe in the full personhood of the fetus, because if they did they'd be for capital punishment for women who have abortions, and against exceptions for rape and incest.
Silly Megan, they are. They just understand they can't admit it in public until they've further changed the terms of the debate. Just like you can't come out of the conservative closet until you've finished passive aggressively revenging yourself on all those liberals who show how full of shit you are.
while I'm pretty settled on my opinions of black personhood, I'm less sanguine about my notions of fetal (non) personhood, and frankly puzzled by the pro-choicers who not only believe that their definition is right, but that it has been arrived at by some super-scientific process that could only be disputed by a woman-hating religious nut who has blinded himself to the obvious rational answer. There are two obvious bright lines: conception (or implantation), and birth.
Yah hear that, black folk? Megan is ok with calling you people. You can relax now.
And Megan? Please, take a class on human biology. Conception and implantation are vastly different things, though, like you, most anti-abortion folk can't recognize the distinction, and neither mean that, save for an abortion, the woman is having a baby. There's all sorts of stuff that can happen along the way, from miscarriages to worse. Legal personhood has never been, in the US, anything but a person who has exited their mother's uterus in a living state. Changing that WOULD lead to charging women who have abortions with crimes, and if you're unsure whether you're ok with that, you are not pro-choice. That's an obvious bright line, Megan.
But most pro-choicers do not. The label "pro-choice" tolerates a very wide degree of disagreement about when personhood begins, from the end of the first trimester all the way to birth. If it's so obvious that pro-lifers must be willfully blind, how come we can't agree?
Because you aren't pro-choice, you're a selfish asshole.


clever pseudonym said...

"while I'm pretty settled on my opinions of black personhood..."

She's pretty settled? Does that mean she's got doubts? Besided, "black personhood" is not a matter of opinion. It is FUCKING FACT. Black people are...people. There's no disputing that.

What a moron.

mtraven said...

I tried to post this as a comment on Ms MM's blog but it seems I've been banned, so naturally I turn here.

We used to think fetuses were persons, but over the last forty or fifty years, we've decided that they aren't.
And the evidence for this is? Who is "we"? Do you have even a small clue about what you are talking about? Apparently not. Why are you paid to spout uninformed, simplistic nonsense? Wish I knew.

So, you can get nonsense from The Atlantic, or you can get a pretty good survey of the history of fetal personhood with about 2 minutes of Googling. While abortion rights were severely restricted in the period from 1900-1960, there is not the slightest evidence, as far as I know, that this was based on an increased regard for fetal personhood.

And, why look, here is an article from The Atlantic, back when it had some standards, on the history of abortion by Katha Pollitt

spencer said...

Does that mean she's got doubts?

No, what it means is that she's a shitty writer who was trying to be funny. Trust me, I've seen this before.

And mtraven, research would cut into her appletini time. So it's out.

skeptic said...

Methinks her comments are disabled like Ross Asshat's, no?

bulbul said...


right on. To elaborate your first link, not even Thomas Aquinas (on whose works Catholic theology is based, after all) believed that fetus had a soul, i.e. was a person. I believe it was Umberto Eco who pointed this out and included the references to Summa Theologiae.

M. Bouffant said...

At least some states give a certain "personhood" to fetuses. I know here in Calif., if you hurt a pregnant woman & kill the fetus, or kill her & the fetus dies resultingly, you can be tried for the murder of the fetus as well as the mother. Not sure what the cut-off point is as far as fetal age. Also not sure if this was or wasn't an attempt to create some sort of anti-Roe v. Wade precedent, as I've no idea when it became law.