“We’re all really worried about you” an old friend recently told me in a message. What had happened? Had I contracted a nasty disease? No. Had I developed mental health issues and become depressed? Not as far as I’m aware. Had I suddenly expressed a desire to give up everything and run off to Rio with some woman of easy virtue I’d met in Ipswich or somewhere? Definitely not.
What had happened was that since I’d become a father and returned to the Church I had started to try and live and witness to my faith in a more solid way. I had started to openly express the view on social media that abortion was wrong. For simply asking for arguments on Facebook to support the view that abortion was wrong, for an A Level revision guide I was writing, I was told by one old friend they were going to ‘stage an intervention’ (presumably akin to the drug addict ones where they gather round and confront you with your addiction) on me. Another person (not someone I’ve ever liked to be honest) called me a nasty bigot and said that my revision guide was probably shit. Others (Australians so we’ll cut them some slack) started commenting about the sex abuse scandal in the Church and essentially said I had no right to an opinion on such matters as I had never been pregnant. “Don’t like it, don’t do it” she said, like that was an argument. A lot of people got very inflamed.
Which is odd. If you have no right to an opinion about something unless you’ve actually undergone it, then most people have no right to an opinion on anything. Or perhaps they meant it in the soft sense that you are not allowed to have an opinion on something unless you can potentially experience it. Now it seems fair that I am very ill-qualified to talk about the experience of racism against black people in England. I would hesitate to pay much attention to something I said on that. But I could still extrapolate from that to make a general moral point about racism. Equally, I am never going to actually experience having a baby within me which I don’t want, but it is absurd to think that because of this I cannot discuss the morality of abortion. In fact, I would have even more claim than this anyway, as I someday may have contributed 50% of the genetic make up of the being whose life is in question.
I’m actually still smiling at the absurdity of “don’t like it, don’t do it” as an argument for anything other than not going on a scary rollercoaster, or eating a particularly hot chilli. It amply illustrates the emotivism which underlies most of what passes for moral discussion now. Either there are some things which we believe it is possible to say ‘you should do this’ or ‘you shouldn’t do this’, or we just cannot talk about what ‘should’ happen at all, in which case, my Australian friend needs to quit telling me I shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion on abortion.
So if you say “we’re all really worried about you”, what you should really say is “we’re sorry you appear to have gone backward and rejected the only sane position on this issue - there is nothing to discuss until you fall back into line with our view - and until then I will express my arrogance and disdain for your bigotry as concern for you”. That would be much more honest.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad