Dec. 6th, 2009

tim: protest sign: "Down With This Sort of Thing" (politics)
Well, I got to help subdue a random loud and obnoxious pro-forced-pregnancy heckler at a reading by Judith Arcana that I accidentally stumbled into. Sort of, anyway.

You see, Arcana was one of the members of JANE, a group that helped women get abortions before they were legal in the US. Her reading had not much to do with this fact; it was about the relationship between political rhetoric and poetry, and why you ought to bother to write *well* if you're writing to persuade. But naturally some of her writing touched on her work in this group, and Mr. Pro-Forced-Pregnancy in the audience managed to derail the whole Q&A session, starting with asking whether Arcana was "glorifying" the abortion work she'd done; going on to talking about why women have the gift to be able to create life and therefore they're obligated to give birth; and, when a woman in the audience said, basically, that she had just taken emergency contraception and was going to have an abortion if that didn't work, and that she wanted to remind him that he wasn't just talking about an abstraction but about real people's lives, he ended up (after the Q&A session more or less got shut down early because it was impossible for anyone to start a discussion on anything else) trying to persuade her not to have an abortion.

So she, and a couple of other women, were doing a pretty good job schooling him. But when he got to the old chestnut, "and how do you know who your [embryo] is going to be, why, it could end up being someone who'll make a difference in the world and you'd never know," I got up, and said, "you know, I think this woman might be able to make a difference in the world herself if she can go on carrying out her life plans without having to drop them to raise a kid she doesn't want."

The guy had no response to this.

Which didn't mean he actually stopped talking, but it was still a moral victory.

On the one hand, let it be said that in Portland, Oregon, on a freezing night in December of 2009, strangers didn't hesitate to engage each other about political questions of great concern, and thus, democracy still lives on. On the other hand, in 2009, women's civil rights just should not be a matter for democratic debate. So, you know, I don't know. And even though it wasn't even what I had planned to hear this evening, I wanted to hear more of what Arcana had to say, and it was a shame that someone who has insights to share that I haven't heard before got effectively shut down by a white guy with an entitlement complex parroting simplistic received moralism that I have heard before, all because some people believe that freedom of speech means you get to make people listen to you regardless of who was actually invited to give the lecture.

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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