Thursday, March 25, 2010

Those Who Might Have Been But Never Were

Every now and then I 'click through' to one of those links on a web page and end up in some never-never-land of weird-dom. In this instance it was on the Radioman's Kansas City website, which, judging by its contents, is basically politically 'left', as you can probably notice from the sample screen content on your right. (Yeah, pun intended.)

Well, actually, I know it doesn't look 'left', does it; what with having an anti-abortion T-shirt displayed there, draped over the shapely bosom of an attractive young woman—who is either a model or a Christian or both. Certainly, she ain't no Obama fan; I can tell you that for nothing.

I was confused, too. I mean, what was an ad like that doing on a left-wing and implicitly pro-abortionist website? Until I read the parenthetical caption underneath, which fit in perfectly with the basic crudity and tastelessness that characterizes not only the layout of this website—designer's worst nightmare!—but much of its content as well. Loudmouthed juvies; probably all male.

Anyway, the sheer contrast piqued me, and I clicked the picture link and, after some more clicking—because not even the links were quite right, and why should they be?—I ended up on a site that does T-shirts with a gazillion of imprints, among which there are many variants on the "I survived Roe vs Wade" theme, e.g....

...and so on. There are T-shirts on men/boys as well, but I chose females. So sue me. Anyway, it looks like a thriving industry.

I'd like to ask dear readers to pause at this point, take a deep breath and get over their knee-jerk reaction to the whole issue tackled here. Said reactions may be personal, political, philosophical or religious. I don't really care one whit. Just get over them and try to do some thinking instead.

First of all, there's an interesting statistic here. It may or may not be exact—in any case it'll be 90- million-and-counting—, but the order of magnitude is probably correct. So, in a parallel universe, where RvW had come out the opposite way, there would have been an extra 90 million—probably unwanted, unloved, economically challenged, insufficiently schooled, [insert other undesirable attributes here]—people in the world that aren't in ours. That's a good thing, right? 90 million—that like three times the current population of Australia!—that aren't clogging up our economic and social security systems, adding to crime and drug use and all that stuff. They really wouldn't have liked to have been alive anyway, because of the low quality-of-life they would have ended up having. Many would probably have died young. Maybe there were even a lot of potential terrorists in there, because we all know that terrorists are bred by economic disadvantage. Intelligent people don't get involved in terrorism. Right?

Also, just to put those anti-abortionist religioids right, let's remember that, since we're talking parallel universes here, there are many many more people that aren't around because of contraceptive measures taken at the time people got together to have some serious fun. As Roger Zelazny once put it in one of his novels (I paraphrase slightly): Ready, willing and able to help propagate the species, but not right now.

So, looking at our and that parallel universe in question—or a multitude of them—we can see that sure we're better off in the one where a bunch of Christians, Rightwingers, Anti-intellectuals and Rednecks wear I survived Roe vs Wade T-shirts.

It's a pity though that we can't—just for curiosity's sake—have a peek into those alternate universes to see what they look like. Because, of course, while there might have been terrorists in the 90+ million, there also could have been the odd genius who rose above his or her miserable fate of being born and ended up making the world a truly better place. But again, that goes for the alternate universes unrealized because of contraception as well. It's just as things are. We make choices and thereby limit the universe we live in to...well, the universe we live in.

Having, at least I hope so, represented the pro-abortionist viewpoint up to now, I would now like to switch sides. This is because I happen to be very ambivalent about the issue. My reason tells me that one side makes sense. My heart tells me something else.

Let's consider why someone—usually someone young—might choose to wear such a T-shirt. I can think of three main reasons:
  • Brainwashing.
  • Religion.
  • Conviction motivated by other promptings.
I know, I know! What's the difference between being brainwashed and being religious? Well, a great deal actually, because the two are not necessarily related. You can be brainwashed into believing anything at all! Religion has no special place here. Like you could be brainwashed, as many people are these days, into believing in what the Brights try to make you believe. Q.E.D.

It occurs to me though that, despite the potential 'brainwashing' aspects of the first two of the threesome of reason-types above, that actually need not negate the general point I'd like to make about what might be going on in the mind of someone who actually wears such a declarative T-shirt. Like what is such a wearer actually likely to 'understand' about their own understanding and grasp of what these five words mean?

Well, what does it mean? Expanding the pithy five words we end up with a declaration that, in essence—and stripping out the religious, philosophical or political—says something like:

My mother could have legally aborted me.
She chose not to.
Therefore I am alive today.
(Subtext: And I'm glad I am.)

This in a non-judgmental way of expanding this, and when you see it like that, doesn't it sound just a tad different to the way it sounded to you it when your knees were jerking and twitching?


Alex said...

As an off-topic aside, my first reaction to 'I survived ...' wasn't that it was conservative anyway. More like, the straw-man conservative fears that every foetus would be brutally murdered did not come to pass; look, I survived the slaughter.

In either case, a woman who really doesn't want her baby is probably going to find some way to abort it. In the absence of being legally able to, the foetus' non-survival might have implied the mother's non-survival also, which is something else to be glad about.

Till said...

Good point, but there is the factor of the process being so readily available and socially acceptable that even those who otherwise might have chosen against abortion go for it anyway. What troubles me is the apparent ease with which it's done—and it is done with far too much ease, as the number of recorded legal abortions attest.

Your last paragraph seems to imply, in a roundabout way, that maybe abortion should be illegal. At least that's the way it reads to me. A point of view I really hadn't considered at all. It has definite, though rather nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw-ish, merit!

Alex said...

No, it would take a pretty skewed morality to believe that. I see it can be read as, if she is going to kill the foetus she deserves to die as well; but I meant the opposite, that sterilising the process (in the practical and metaphorical senses) means the mother's life is safe, which I think a good thing.

I agree that superfluous abortion is not a good thing, and here's a good example ... A 17 year old girl I know just gave birth to a baby she was going to abort, only she 'never got around to it'. It's kind of like she saw it as the emergency contraceptive pill.
I still think legal abortion is the best option out of an unfortunate set of alternatives (legal, illegal, unwanted offspring) though the point about what they could have become is a good one too.

Till said...

Yeah, I thought it might not have meant what it read like initially, but now I actually get it!

As for the baby of the 17-year old: lucky kid. Way I see it, it's better to have had a chance at life and what it could bring—even though one might have chosen to suicide because it sucked!—than never to have lived at all.