Burning Rage and Ebony Spleenwort

Scalzi wrote a brilliant post about Republicans talking about rape yesterday. It’s scary hard stuff and you shouldn’t read it if you don’t want to, but it’s very good.

I tell you true, though, the things that make me most furious in the comments (and there are many, many things to get furious about, you can find a half-dozen without even trying) is not the people who disagree with me ideologically. (They make me plenty angry, but nothing new about that) or the young dumb ones with the stars in their eyes going “but it’s so HEROIC!” because when you’re that young and dumb, your head is generally so far up your ass you can lick the underside of your esophagus, and lord knows, I was no exception at that age.

No, the ones that infuriate me most are the ones who break in and say, with the breathless air of one is who is Delivering A Game Changer, “You know, if you just really thought about it, you’d realize that fetuses are people/fetuses aren’t people/pro-life people aren’t evil/pro-choice people aren’t evil/etc etc.”

And then they sit back and seriously, truly expect you to give them a cookie for being just so awesome.

And this is where I really want to scream and grab people by the throat.

If I just really thought about it?

Sweet god, since the age of eight, when I learned what an abortion was, when have I ever been allowed NOT to think about it?

When is anyone in the possession of a uterus allowed to go ten minutes in this fucking life without having an opinion shoved down their throat about what they ought to be allowed to do with said uterus? When has my reproductive life not been something that other people feel allowed to have opinions about? When, since getting in spitting distance of puberty, has my body not been Fern-motherfucking-Gully?*

Arguments about abortion are of no interest to me, and we will not thrash out the ethics in the comments here. (I really will go after this with an iron fist.) But for god’s sake, whatever side you’re on, do not say “But if you REALLY think about X…”

We have thought. We have been forced to think. We have been forced to think about it a whole goddamn lot.

At best you sound like a stoner going “Did you ever really think that maybe the colors I see aren’t the same as the colors you see?” and at worst….well.


And then I was angry and went and planted a very nice fern called Ebony Spleenwort which we all, regardless of our political opinions, will probably agree has a seriously awesome name.

So there’s that.


*Somebody make sense of this analogy, I’m just pissed and right now it’s all loggers up in my ovaries and somebody thinking I need a man to lead the revolution. Or, err, something. Possibly near Figi.

11 thoughts on “Burning Rage and Ebony Spleenwort

  1. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    I have long thought that both sides of the Abortion debate should be made to stand in a corner (NOT the same corner) until they can speak civilly to each-other.

    No, I’m not going to say which side I’m on. Let’s Just. Not. Go. There.

    True Believers are really deranged. I used to hang out on a newsgroup (remember those) called alt.smokers (I smoke cigars) and one of the trolls actually asserted that I don’t like the taste of cigars, I just think I do.

    Needless to say, he couldn’t explain the difference.

  2. larksilver says:

    The human ability to delude itself in the name of Being Right is a truly frightening thing.

    I’m with you on this, though: MY body. MY opinion. But people are actually willing to kill other people over what *I* do with my uterus. Or not. augh.

  3. Tom West says:

    The thing that bugs me is not when people say “I believe life begins at X [for whatever reason] therefore I support policy Y on abortion”. That’s fine. It’s when factual untruths get spouted. I’d rather you built your policies on non-falsifiable personal beliefs than factual untruths

  4. Beth Matthews says:

    I thought that post was wonderful in a horrible, visceral, necessary pain kind of way. I read about halfway through the comments and became so physically ill and ragey I had to go sit in a corner by myself for five minutes.

    Abortion is in the same boat as Gay Rights for me, like, “And this is your business HOW? You get to legislate how I and others live my life WHY?”

  5. The Gecko says:

    I’ve got opinions on the whole rights/abortion thing! I suspect they probably agree with most of yours, but you know what they say about having opinions on the internet! Neither the time nor place.

    What amazes me is that these guys have managed to avoid being physically removed from office by angry mobs with flaming torches, flaming pitchforks, and/or any other fire-based tools of the trade for your average angry mob.

    (there seriously needs to be some kind of political accountability when offices that ostensibly exist to represent the public are no longer doing so)

  6. RhianimatorLGP says:

    The whole angry mob meme seriously needs updating. I mean, who protests anything these days with farm implements and torches?

    But Ebony spleenwort? That’s thought provoking. Is it shaped like a spleen? Is it the color of a spleen? Is it good for diseases of the spleen in some way? Really curious here.

  7. Owlor says:

    I have to say one thing tough, and that goes to some of the comments I see, not the blog post itself.

    Whenever people talk about “both sides” when an issue like this comes up, I want to SCREAM. Because it’s very rare that two sides are actually mirror images of each other (or indeed, that there’s only two sides of a conflict at all). And in order to place yourself in the middle in such a lazy way like that, you need to give one or both (or all five) sides the shaft in some way.

    (Really, its perfectly fine to think both side is wrong to some degree, but explain where they are wrong and to what degree, it shouldn’t be that hard.

    And if what you think they are both doing wrong is that they both have the audacity to argue about something imporant instead of pretending like the issue doesn’t exist, then I’m gonna have to scream once again…)

    Just to take a general example, a large number of organized people with the money, will and political power to take away your civil rights is NOT equal in any meaningful way to a couple of angry people shouting about it online just because both of them happens to annoy you while you’re surfing.

    The reason it annoys me is because this kind of thing is intended to come across as fair-minded, but it’s actually very self-serving. Like in the scenario above, someone complaining about how “both sides” are annoying because they don’t personally care about the issue are being QUITE self-absorbed. I actually have more respect for those who are on the other side of me but have the courage of their convictions than I have for cowards who try to pull off crap like I’m describing here.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you truly don’t care about an issue, don’t argue about it, noone is (or rather, should be) forcing you.

    But if you feel compelled to say your piece, there are no shortcuts, you NEED to have a good argument to jump into the fray with, because we can look trough simple rethorical tricks like that.

  8. Dana Cash says:

    These comments might just convert me into a comment-reader again, just through morbid curiosity mixed with a healthy dose of “gee, I’d never thought of that before” (sarcasm dripping from my keyboard). I must applaud Owlor for pointing out that most of us, while attempting to be neutral, to not declare for one side or another end up supporting one side or another of polarized issues. Should they be polarized? Should there really only be two clear-cut black-and-white sides? Is there no room for gray area or fences any longer? I don’t feel qualified to ban a certain amount of this detachment, but I agree that most of the time using the phrase “no matter which side of the issue you’re on” is camoflauge for “even if you disagree with me, the person supremely right and never ever ever ever ever ever (insert several more ever’s) wrong!”
    Concerning the issue in question, which involves supporting abortion or not supporting it, the gray area would, in my opinion, be so thin and ethereal that it really is more like a mirage. That would leave the two polarized positions: “for” or “against” (the thin whispy gray is for those who are “for, but with these provisos” and “against, but with these exceptions”, and as I mentioned, these positions are not so much gray in their reality as in the perception of those holding them)
    Having just said that, I’m obviously not claiming any gray area and I don’t THINK people should. In fact, the more I THINK about it, the more I am convinced that a person should do their best to be clear about their values, clear and unafraid to meet opposition, because that will provide them the means to strengthen their position. If they don’t want to argue about it online, if they prefer to leave the debating alone because they’re sick and tired of the silliness, I can understand and completely sympathize. In fact, when the heart is that sick and that tired, the internet is probably the worst place to air one’s opinions. Just sayin’.

  9. Elliott says:

    I got through the article okay, but some of the comments made me want to vomit. I’m an incurable devil’s advocate, but there is a time for having a fun intellectual debate, and there is a time for acknowledging that it isn’t just fun and it isn’t just intellectual—and if it’s just fun and just intellectual for you, then maybe you don’t have anything to add to this conversation.

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