Julie with a B

Sunday, July 24, 2005
Answers for Rhod
Over on Daisy Cutter's site Rhod and I were discussing things in "comments". The discussion had devolved into one of general questions and answers. The comments are under DC's post from Thursday, July 21, but don't have any actual relevance to his post.

There were a couple questions before these, but the answers for each are pages long and I decided to respond to them another time. His questions are direct quotes from the comments.

Rhod said:
I find that liberals/leftists (whichever you are) are more significant for what they leave out than what they say. Asking for elaboration never seems to work, but I'd like to ask you at least three questions. Feel free not to answer.

1) Abortion. As an aside, "abortion on demand" is not a mysterious expression, it's just been traded in for other euphemisms. You can ask any friendly NARAL, Planned Parenthood, or maybe even a Girl Scout leader what it means.

What I said was, “I don’t know anyone in the pro-choice movement who believes in “abortion on demand”. Really, I don’t.” I still don’t.

Rhod says:
But, what is the problem with the states deciding the issue? You hint that there are some problems, as well as claiming that abortion should be legal because it happens anyway. I've never understood that...but the final question is: What is the problem with community standards, and their expression in Federalism? Some states might not accept abortion. So what?

I don’t have a problem with the states deciding the issue. My thoughts were about those across state line problems. Women will still go where abortions are available if they are desperate. Abstention and birth control are still the best preventatives of abortion.

I have no problem with community standards. What is OK in Texas may not be agreeable to Californians.

Rhod says:
2) Small "u" utilitarianism. I didn't have Jeremy Bentham and Utilitarianism in mind. I said, essentially, that leftist thinking was contaminated by utilitarianism, not, as you said, that governments already engage in it. Unregulated capitalism is also utilitarian, and that's not government.

The only “utilitarianism” I know of is that suggested by Bentham, Mill, and others. “the doctrine that the actions of governments should be judged simply by the extent to which they promoted the “greatest happiness of the greatest number.”

Rhod said:
Do you see any utilitarianism in, say, affirmative action, or ideas about multiculturalism, or deconstructionism, or gay marriage, or even abortion? According to Stephen Levitt, years of abortion have resulted in a reduced crime rate. That's a utilitarian argument for abortion, isn't it?

As defined, if I agreed with an exclusive policy of utilitarianism, then the items above would not occur. I am still unclear on the definition of the word with which you are trying to define this discussion. So I’ll just talk a moment about the items you list above.

Affirmative action: There are some parts of society who do not value the abilities of others who are different in some way, gender, skin color, age, etc. It reduces competition if only certain people are acceptable applicants. I don’t think that affirmative action creates social change. However, it does help some segments of society get training or experience where they might not have had an opportunity. Affirmative action was useful to open some doors, but then became less so from backlash. It was time to change it. We have women who are Police Chiefs because of affirmative action. However, in general, society’s biases will continue until it is unprofitable to do so. Nursing is an example. Originally nurses were always women. There was a bias against men – it was a “woman’s job”. Now that women have more opportunities themselves, there is more of an opportunity for men in nursing and it is much more acceptable for a man to be a nurse now. They got there because they were needed.

Multiculturalism: The United States is a melting pot of people from many different countries and cultures. My own ancestors (one of whom, Thomas Bloom, arrived on the second voyage of the Mayflower) came from England, France, Scotland, and Germany. I enjoy this and look for the family traditions that have come from all of those places, we seem to have picked up a little of everything. But when they first arrived they carried on the traditions of the countries from which they came. Gradually they borrowed recipes from each other, they inter-married and in the process married those of other religions. It is a process that only needs time and the friendliness of others.
My caveat: I think there is danger in allowing large masses of immigration from troubled countries. The trick is to allow time and space for assimilation and acculturation.

Deconstructionism – I don’t think in the analytical terms of deconstructionism beyond the occasional dinner table discussion. So for myself, I can’t really comment.

Rhod said:
3) Christianity. Why is Christianity pacifist?

That’s a reply that is pages in itself. I can write it up, but not now.

Rhod said:
Other questions, but if you have the time, I'd like to know more about what you believe.

These answers are what I believe. I am not saying they are the answers for “the Left” or answers for anyone else except myself. They are not immutable, they can change. Twenty years ago I thought that affirmative action would really change society. It didn’t. It did however change the opinions of some people. And those people helped change the opinions of others. I don’t think the law changed society, I think hard working and dedicated people changed society.

All are welcome to comment, please do so respectfully.


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