This very thought occured to me. A tweet by Bill McKibben:
feeling more sympathetic to GOP: if how babies get made is hard for you, i guess climate science really might be too tough to follow
And let’s remember that Rep. Akin is on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Gulp.
So, here’s how these things go. Let’s keep a good deal of There But For The Grace Of God Go I about this …
- Rep. Akin believes Life Begins At Conception — that every zygote, every embryo, every fetus is a full human being, possessing moral status, and any abortion is murder.
- And then he’s made to answer a question about whether the case of rape might allow for abortion.
- But a zygote as a product of rape is every bit as innocent as that created in the confines of marriage! So that can’t be allowed.
- Akin understands on some level, however, that there must be consideration for a rape victim who did not wish to become a mother. (Internal conflict is brewing: Cognitive dissonance!)
- Through the magic of rationalization, Akin decides that such pregnancies can’t really exist! Conflict resolved! Whew!
Obviously most of us don’t go as far as Akin. Most of us feel at some level that even though we were all zygotes and embryos once, a woman’s wishes ought to be given at least some weight, at least some of the time. Is a zygote a human being? Most of us would say, Not really. Is a viable fetus of 28 weeks a human being? Most of us would say Mostly or Definitely. But in much of this range stands It-Is-And-It-Isn’t.
But some of us do not see, do not want, do not believe in the legitimacy of ambiguity. And in order to keep that one thing constant (that a fertilized egg in whatever stage of development is fully vested with humanity, as it were), everything else must turn around it. Like light around a black hole, science itself must bend. Ethics must bend: Regard for women, their freedoms, and their bodies, must bend.
I keep thinking of Yeats, in the poem so tritely over-quoted: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” It is, I think, merely a normative description: That to be ethical and good means to consider consequences; to be full of doubt, fear and trembling. Rationalization such as Akin’s takes one horn of a dilemma and pretends the other doesn’t exist.
And sadly, our media’s attention span (140 character limit) allows for nothing else. The sound bite culture in fact wildly encourages such rationalization and elision — until someone like Akin rather ingenuously tries to talk it through publicly, and puts it in such naked and grotesque fashion.