Pro-Choice Rhetoric as Power Play

The Texas heartbeat law, about which I previously wrote, is polarizing—go figure. That’s neither surprising nor particularly interesting in and of itself. What is, to me, much more interesting is the type of rhetoric which has proliferated in response to the existence of an enforced abortion ban in one of the states. Much pro-choice language has opted for verbal power plays in place of reasoned argument, using rhetorical moves to suppress dialogue and ostracize, even dehumanize, those who disagree.

Pro-Choice Rhetoric as Power Play

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

The Texas Heartbeat Law: An Overview

US Supreme Court building Dobbs Roe

On September 1, a new heartbeat law (SR 8) went into effect in Texas. If you’ve read our information on heartbeat bills before, you may have assumed that Texas passed a similar law and it was immediately enjoined like all the others. No, the Texas law went into effect. Right now, in the state of Texas, abortion facilities are declining to schedule abortion appointments past six weeks LMP.

In Texas, the vast majority of abortions are now illegal, in spite of Roe and Casey. In fact, in response to an emergency appeal, the Supreme Court declined, in a 5-4 “shadow docket” decision, to prevent the law from going into effect. That decision makes no judgment on the constitutionality of the law; it’s certainly “unconstitutional” in that it violates the precedents of the Court’s prior abortion cases, whether or not Roe and Casey should themselves be considered unconstitutional.

So, how did this happen?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Comment Sections: Becoming What You Hate

Dumpster fire at construction site
Photo credit: Suzanne Hamilton – flickr.com
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

One deeply unfortunate requirement for publishing useful online content is staying informed of current events. I generally despise the modern news media—not even primarily for its ideological slant, but because the constant churn of the “news cycle” and the need for more negative fuel is partially responsible for making those who watch it become worse people.

Fittingly, one of the places this is most evident is in the comment sections of online publications, particularly those which address politics. If news media itself attracts shrill demagogues, the comment section is home to screeching sycophants. If the publication in question has any ideological inclination, commenters largely consist of the most vitriolic elements of that base and provocateurs from the opposition.

My days as a keyboard warrior are behind me. I generally consider comment-section arguments in general to be nearly worthless, and this is most true of comment sections on news publications. Although I haven’t commented in ages, I still read comments too often, either to look for people to agree with my thoughts (a rare occurrence) or because I dislike myself and apparently desire needless emotional harm (much more frequent).

In this case, I delved into the comment section of an article for research. I’m cynical by nature, and believe comment sections are cesspools, but I was surprised by just how awful the comments I discovered proved to be. This was the worst comment section I’d seen, but I have no reason to believe it is particularly atypical or that it doesn’t represent our partisan furor accurately.

I’m going to respond to several screenshots from the article in question, and along the way I hope to provide some tips for those who want to engage with others on the internet. Again, it’s bad and uncensored, so consider this your warning before you proceed.

On Being Wrong

Wrong Way sign

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

I don’t like to be wrong.

I suppose no one likes to be wrong, but I have a particular revulsion to it. (I’m sure there’s some deep-seated reason for that which my wife, the mental health counselor, could explain, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.) As much as it’s in my power, I try to avoid being incorrect about anything.

Yes, I’m lots of fun at parties.

Of course, one could fairly wonder how my intolerance for being wrong squares with open-mindedness, which is held in very high esteem at ERI. The answer is this: I think most people conceive of open-mindedness in a way that doesn’t recognize the importance of holding strong convictions in the first place.