Saturday, 21 April 2012

Abortion Icons, Tweet Crime & Herding

Last night I committed tweet crime, became briefly a bĂȘte noir for a small chattering class & went to bed happy.

There are few reasons to watch anything on RTE, the home grown output is invariable appalling, the journalism unreliable & the imported dramas widely available elsewhere. There is even less reason to watch RTE's Late Late Show where the near talent-free Ryan Tubridy seems engaged in an a futile exercise to re-capture the show's glory days under the young Gay Byrne.


This is not 1970 & Tubridy is is trapped both by his inability to see beyond the groupthink of Socially Acceptable Ideas & the fact that other media have the issues well aired long before he gets to them. In Tubridy's case it appears that very airing is necessary for him to soak up what he should talk about from the Irish Times & a small group of its Dublin readers. He is a poor purveyor of second hand liberal consensus.

Last night the show featured an extended interview with three women who during the week had been touted on the front page by the Irish Times for talking about their abortions. It is important to note that lots of women in Ireland have talked about their abortions in the last year but did not make the front page of the Irish Times because they were not talking the way the Irish Times editors wanted them to talk about abortion. Those women & their stories can be found here http://www.womenhurt.ie.

The women the paper (& Tubridy by that second hand osmotic process that makes him such a whimpering bore) featured believed their abortions were a positive move & that Irish State was much remiss in not providing for abortion here. The reasons for the abortions were that in all three cases the women had been given the horrible news after a scan that the babies they carried suffered terrible deformities.

In all cases this meant the child, even if carried to term would die soon after birth.

There was an absolute acceptance of the false claim that such deaths would be agonising for the child: it was a if modern medicine was devoid of effective analgesia. Not once, given the women's stated desire to avoid a painful death for their children was there reference to the real horror of death by burning saline or by surgical dismemberment. Abortion was presumed to be be painless but natural death in a modern hospital surrounded by caring professionals with the best modern medicine could offer, presumed to be an agony.

One of the women, who wept during the interview had her labour induced at thirty weeks. No question was asked as to the alternative to what must have been a nasty ordeal.

The near meaningless phrase "incompatable with life" was used over and over again as a mantra of justification. That any human will die is a poor excuse to hasten their end let alone inflict on them the death babies suffer under saline or D & C.

Tubridy had no intention of  questioning the women on the issues, their word was taken as truth even when,as in the case of the allegations that babies would be left to die in agony, they were patently peddling porkies. There were other areas where the truth was at least bent to fit the narrative of children living lives not fit to be lived. The accuracy of the claim that child suffering from trisomy 13 could only live five minutes, a dubious statement however short the brief lives of children born with that condition that kills 80% in the first year (Trisomy 13 information)  or that more fundamentally that brevity of life was a argument for abortion, was ignored entirely. This was, behind all the emotion, a piece of unashamedly campaigning television. Tubridy no more wanted to come to the truth than he wanted some woman in the audience to interrupt the propaganda with a story of regretting her abortion.


Only a stone hearted sociopath would be unable to sympathise with with a couple told that their child is too deformed to live, that the end result of the pregnancy will be a tiny child whose very minutes are numbered. If told that this information means the couple have decided to have the child killed (the real meaning of pregnancy termination) no matter what our beliefs we could still sympathise for their pain loss & suffering & the extremity that drove them to such action. When the experience is used to to justify baby killing on a wider scale & the story is accompanied by lies about babies dying in agony after birth that sympathy is much harder to maintain & we need to put our sympathy where it really belongs, with those who are & will be killed. 

There was no medical reason for the women interviewed to have abortions: there are never medical reasons for abortion. The children they clearly loved did not need or benefit from the killings & would have had better, kinder deaths born in an Irish Hospital. Elevating the women involved to the status of secular saints, pretending that they have been wronged by a state that will not legalise abortion is an effort to make abortion as Socially Acceptable Idea. Having lost every argument, with the tide of public opinion  turning in strongholds like Britain, abortion advocates have hit on the tactic of not arguing but creating icons.

Little psychological insight is needed to see why why the women involved in last nights interview seek to justify their decision & to normalise abortion by seeking to change the law. By doing so they have entered the political arena & no tears or sentimentality can or should protect them from questioning. They are not icons but campaigners.

In the promotion of Socially Acceptable Ideas the social media are essential. There is a tendency to regard Twitter as the real world or even a subset of real opinion when it is neither of those It is, on many issues, merely a reinforcing tool of groupthink divided into armed, hostile camps. SAI proponents must police its tiny landmass in the hope of occupying the wider reality later.

Last night Twitter lit up with pro-choice advocates praising the women's courage, describing them as heroines & warning that the could not, must not be judged. There only proper response to such outrageous censorious propaganda is outrage: tweet crime. I tweeted that the women were murderesses, not heroines. It was neither polite nor  politic nor was it intended to be.

The policing action leaped in to action with commendable speed & thoroughness. Much of the tweets in reply were merely childish obscenities strung together, vulgar abuse, name calling,  & recommendations about my mothers pregnancy. None of it was original or interesting but I re-tweeted the more startlingly extreme pieces. Almost all of such abuse from the self styled policers of ideas follows a simple pattern of faux out rage masquerading as concern, the stock-in-trade of the left's politicians. The pattern of name calling, even the names called have an invariable sameness. Bigot is always a starter followed by the de rigeur charges of utter stupidity but as the faux outrage works it self-up streams of obscenity are used. This abuse is intended to distress, it is a slap on the face so that we remember not to cross the boundaries set by the Thought Police again. In my case it is wholly useless, even counter-productive as a policing action.

In Gene Wolfe's "Citadel of The Autarch" Severian of the Guild of Torturers is given a graphic account of the horrors in store for him by his enemy, Agia. His reaction to her threats is one of honest boredom, he had spent most of his life assisting at tortures much worse. He advises her to get professional torturing assistance. I went to St Kieran's College when it was less an educational establishment than a poorly run borstal. I've been bullied by professional bullies with an intensity & application that left me immune to such terror tactics. That personal immunity was hard won in the prefabs of 3A but few were privileged with that particular rite of passage.

The tactic of mass insult, may be seen as a kind of digital biological reaction with some tweeters, unable because of their position on a moral high ground to participate directly, re-tweeting the offending text to their followers to increase the the hive activity.The tide of abuse, triggered as if by pheromones, is magnificently effective as a censoring device since few can come unshaken from a page of insults designed to hurt.

In the past two days I have seen a a wonderful, deeply thoughtful, intellectual gay friend reduced to self doubt by a bout of such vile abuse that included the stupidity & Nazi charge from an academic economist (in this particular economists case it is academic whether he is an economist given the level of inaccuracy he has shown on the subject) for my friend's uttering of secular blasphemy by opposing Same Sex Marriage. On the same subject of SSM an intelligent, gentle Catholic blogger friend almost gave up using the 'net after threats of a disturbingly sexual nature involving cement left her paralysed by disgust & fear.

The social media are thus used to herd thought & its expression into forms acceptable to the hive. That is why very poor & even vicious ideas now go unchallenged. Without the rite of passage of St Kieran's 3A too many flinch, doubt themselves, or give up. Many more internalise the bullying & become effective self censorers.

We have a choice whether we are now tame lemmings being herded over a cliff by ignorant activists or a people concerned about our lives & our country. The cost of even making some arguments may be a bath in vileness we would rather not experience but the cost of losing the culture war is death.

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