Cocking A Snook Too!

Independent, Irreverent Unschoolers – or at least one – Take On the Universe

Well, at Least We Don’t Live in Australia: Thoughts on Abortion April 21, 2009

prochoice21

I woke up to the sound of a vibrating cell phone.

Since it only vibrated once, it was almost undoubtedly Calvin texting me. I figured this morning’s text would be something about the day-to-day operation of the Venn diagram that is our lives, pertaining to our plant or trip to the beach, but it was the other kind of Calvin text: the Kind that Keeps Me Angry/Amused About the World Around Me.

He’s a very good news source, and he knows exactly which stories will make me scream/laugh. Today was a screaming day.

A 19 yr old Australian is facing 14 years in prison for “organizing her own miscarriage,the text read. [Abortion is] legal there, just illegal to seek.

That makes no sense, I texted back.

Correct, he agreed.

So if someone jumps out of an alleyway and gives you one against your will, it’s OK, but if you make an appointment, it’s not?

Sort of. The law is 100 years old and doesn’t even make complete sense by today’s legal standards. “Seek your own” is the key phrase, but it isn’t defined.

According to Wikipedia, the law in Australia is pretty similar to the state ours was in pre-Roe – cases turn on a state-by-state basis. Abortion is the law of the land, there, in the sense that an abortion performed based upon the health risks of the mother is always legal, but each state has the right to define what that means.

Therefore, the young woman in question, who facilitated her abortion with the much vilified “abortion pill,” is in violation of the law because she based her decision to abort not on health concerns, but on the fact that she’s nineteen years old, for god’s sake. The pill, misoprostol, is essentially banned in Australia, and was smuggled in from the Ukraine.

Luckily, much of Australia seems to be with her, although most of the news stories I can find make the old mistake of saying “pro-abortion activists” are rallying. This is a label that rubs more and more on me these days, creating an emotional and political blister the size of Kansas. No one is “pro-abortion.” No one likes the idea of it. Nobody has one with relish. What I am – and what most people in the pro-choice movement are – is a person who wants control over my own life.

This story hits home with me for several reasons, not least because this girl is my age. If I were to require an abortion at this point in my life and someone were to get in my way? Oh, there would be carnage, and damn the consequences. Conservatives try to obfuscate the issue by whining about life. What about my life? I am a fully developed person, a citizen of these United States, and I have certain unalienable rights to this vessel which is my own personal body. Sure, a fetus has the potential to become a life. I am a life already.

There were several moments in Barack Obama’s campaign that made me want to vote for him twice. One of those moments was during the Saddleback forum, hosted by the Devil. The Devil asked Obama about abortion (although he did not challenge him to a fiddlin’ contest, which is a shame), and Obama responded thus:

“I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members.”

Thank god that we are not in Australia, and that this man is our president. But does anyone remember that, for a while there, we were alarmingly close to this?:

Sarah Palin and her child named after a tree or something

Sarah Palin and her child named after a tree or something

Q: Your stand on abortion?

A: I’m pro-life. I’ll do all I can to see every baby is created with a future and potential. The legislature should do all it can to protect human life.

Source: Q&A with Newsmax.com’s Mike Coppock Aug 29, 2008

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a nuance gap between two candidates.

I think it comes down to this: the pro-choice concept is difficult for some people to latch on to because it involves the complex task of making your own decision with no guidance from anyone else.

Think about it. Atheists make religious fundamentalists uncomfortable because we manage to operate by a moral code which we ourselves developed, free of biblical intervention. Religious fundamentalists are people who cling to the chains that bind them, who genuinely don’t know how to operate without a set of rules handed down from on high. Why wouldn’t these people want abortion legislation?

I think women who are anti-choice are that way because they are as horrified by abortion as, well, anyone. And they are even more horrified by this thought:  what kind of monster am I if I decide to have an abortion? If abortion is illegal, well, congrats, you don’t have to struggle with your better angels at all. Decision has been made for you, and you have an excuse not to think about unpleasant things.

I am an inverse fundamentalist christian. I want everyone to step into the light, to see the beautiful future they can have if only they believe in it. But that future is not accessible through hate and fear. It is accessible through freedom, it is visible in the first steps taken away from dogma and puppet-strings, toward the terrifying brilliance of a world you can create yourself.

 

I Have a Dream September 20, 2007

Filed under: College Stuff,Connections,Edumucation,Funnies,Gullibility,Religion — Meredith @ 3:53 pm

There are a lot of tables in the Student Union of my community college, especially at the beginning of a new year. To the left of the door is a gentleman in fatigues, attempting to recruit me to the Army; to the right of the door is a lady in fatigues, trying to recruit me to the National Guard; by the back door is a woman in a crisp suit attempting to recruit me to the Bank of America. I have learned that it is best not to make eye contact with any of these people, lest they lavish you with gifts of free key chains, pencils, and checking accounts, all while asking you penetrating questions along the lines of, “Would you like to take a test to determine your eligibility to join our bank/army?”, (oddly, everyone seems to pass) and “Would you like our bank/army to pay for your college education? All we’d need is your soul!”

But never, in all my days, have I seen Mormons recruiting in the Student Union. Nor do I recall ever seeing a Mormon sitting still, usually they are best described in verbs: riding their bicycles, hassling me in the parking lot, etc.

But today, there they were.

I recall writing the other day that I try to know as much about the world’s religions as possible. In fact, to quote myself:

 “…..my lack of any definitive religion makes it possible for me to see all religions without the filter of dogma. I take my irreligiousness not as a free ride to ignore the faith of those around me; on the contrary, I try to know as much about their doctrines and cultures as possible. I think that’s just being responsible.”

So, with that in mind, seeing the two sweet little blue-eyed-well-scrubbed Mormon girls sitting there, I decided to jump in headfirst.
I really got very excited (“Yes! Mormons!”), hung up on my mom, who I was talking to at the time, with what must have sounded like, to her, the phrase “gottagonowiseemormonsbye.”

As far as entertainment value and interesting belief systems go, I’m actually a huge fan of Mormons as they are portrayed on the HBO series Big Love, but I’m smart enough to know that this image probably isn’t very accurate. So, with some time to kill and some handy Mormons right there, I thought, why not ask?

I think I surprised them with my direct approach.

“So, would y’all like to tell me about Mormonism?”

They looked flustered for a second, as if thinking, wait, isn’t that our question? But they recovered well, and asked me what I wanted to know.

“Well, I just don’t know very much about it, and I was hoping you could tell me a bit.”

I did not mention that I was an atheist. (more…)

 

Don’t Know Much About History. Or Spelling. Or Judaism. September 18, 2007

There was a time – I remember it well – when one could rely upon English and journalism majors to be reasonably literate.

Not so, evidently, these days, I concluded as I read my local university newspaper a few mornings ago. I read this because the one issuing from my community college is dreck (their worst transgression to date: “all the characters kept there clothes on…..”) and the regular grownup paper depresses me. (These people are purportedly college graduates. What’s their excuse?)

Scanning the police briefs (“Smoking male busted in dorm”, “No evidence, no underage drinking charge”, “Man threatens violence over broken cell phone”, etc.), obligatory two articles about professors receiving honors, obligatory article about drinking, seven to ten articles about college sports, and a “My View” column so convoluted that looking at it made my eyes hurt, I stumbled upon this little gem which I reproduce now exactly as it appeared:

Pirates of the Caribbean at world’s end – As the great Billy Joel once sang, “Captain Jack will get you high tonight.” Even though that was more about heroine than pirates….

If you noticed an error, you’re exactly right – there wasn’t a colon between the phrase ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘At World’s End’, which, as discriminating movie viewers, we all know should always separate a franchise and a subtitle, as in ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ or ‘Superman XXVII: The Quest for a Viable Script’.

But of course, I jest.

If you spotted the real error in that sentence, you do NOT get a cookie, because you should have gleaned the difference between, say, Joan of Arc (heroine) and a highly addictive opiate (heroin) simply from being alive.

You would think, too, that the average adult citizen would still be aware of the basic concept of Judaism, even if that understanding were blended with bigotry. You would be wrong.

Today was creation myth day in my humanities class, and the teacher – who happens to be Jewish, and in my estimation doing an excellent job of maintaining objectivity and intellectualism – compared the Judeo-Christian creation myth with the myths of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Hinduism. The Rig Veda, in this last category, is truly poetically beautiful:

“Then even nothingness was not nor existence,

there was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.

What covered it?

In whose keeping? Was there then cosmic water in the depths unfathomed?

Then there was neither death nor immortality

nor was there the torch of night and day.”

Anyway, the teacher mentioned in passing, the Old Testament. “Well, it’s the Old Testament to the Christians,” he amended, “but to the Hebrews, it’s just the Jewish Bible.” This guy in front of me raised his hand, and said, “So Jews reject the New Testament?” (more…)

 

Ruminations on Olive Oil March 25, 2007

Standing in line at a fancy grocery store, I spotted a display (among many).

EXTRA EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL! It proclaimed.

Excuse me? I thought. Extra extra? Isn’t that a little unnecessary?

That is to say, I never really understood the concept of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to begin with. Is it made from olives that aren’t allowed to touch other olives? Are they modestly shielded from life’s elements by tarps?

And Extra Extra Virgin Olives – what on earth does that entail?

Or does the “virgin” refer to the oil itself? Has it never been mixed with another oil, commingling and developing new, brassy flavors? I certainly hope not, one takes for granted when one buys olive oil that it is, in fact, olive oil, and not some other hybrid. But then it seems that they shouldn’t have to bellow about its virginity so explicitly.

Having all these thoughts in the line at the store, I suddenly reached a breaking point. I wanted to tap the older woman in front of me on the shoulder and ask her my question, maybe she’d know the answer. But no, that wasn’t enough. I wanted to stand up in a shopping cart, I wanted to address the store at large, I wanted to shout it to the heavens: “Isn’t just being a virgin enough for you people anymore?”

It’s not just olive oil – women, too, now, are expected to come with a label that reads Extra Extra Virgin.

Much of society appears to have decided – rather abruptly, if you ask me – that it is not enough to wait for a person, time, and place that connote “right” and “safe” before you have sex for the first time. To make the whole process more efficient and less painful, the decision-making process has been streamlined – good news! You’re no longer required to make those pesky decisions; we’ve done it for you.

Person: Husband/Wife.

Place: Hotel Room.

Time: Honeymoon.

I could say a lot of things about the abstinence program. I could say that repression, sexual or otherwise, isn’t healthy. (See this movie to learn how it leads to broken families, insanity, and arguably the Great Depression.)

I could say that it makes people ashamed of what’s perfectly natural, and thus leads to self-loathing.

But I think I’m going to focus mainly on how creepy it is. (more…)