March of the Idiots (III)


The last two weeks have taken their toll on me. I’ve been slammed with work, it’s been egregiously hot outside, and I haven’t been able to take my medication because of some miscommunications with a doctor’s office.

One of the side effects of going off the med is mood alteration, usually tending towards a slight depression. Nothing major, mind you, but the days end up ranging from meh to sad face.

Fortunately, the internets are always rife with enough intellectual vacuity to instantly lift my spirits. I was recently made aware of a particularly amusing anecdote supplied by a television personality who decided to infinitely raise her level of credibility by rendering a previous opinion while wearing tampon earrings.

I am wearing tampon earrings- your argument is invalid!

What follows was probably as asinine as it was predictable. The expression ‘low-hanging fruit’ immediately comes to mind, and her argument could probably be employed as definitional of the phrase, although the fruit hangs so low in this case that one is tempted to actually say it’s probably better classified as a carrot.

If you’re still with me after that rather tortured analogy, you will no doubt be enraptured by the fisking to follow.

(Original comments are in bold)

When a pregnancy is wanted, by the mother, the father and even the country, it is easy to think of the bump as a baby.

I’m not sure if the tampons formed some sort of dampening field around her brain which hasn’t yet dissipated, but starting off with a semantic shift does not bode well for what might follow.

True, someone might prefer to only refer to a young human being who exists outside of the womb as a ‘baby,’ but there is nothing genetically different between a ‘bump’ and a ‘baby’ since it is the same entity. To use the term ‘baby’ in reference to a young human being of a certain age (and, more importantly for this point- outside of the womb) is thus more an exercise in aesthetics than in science. The pedigree of referring to the nascent life in the womb as a child is long; we even used to refer to it as ‘being with child.’

Semantics aside, given that the identity of the ‘bump’ and the ‘baby’ are one and the same, it is obviously quite easy to ‘think’ of the bump as a baby because that bump is actually a baby.

But not every pregnancy is a fairy tale. There are other stories. An ultrasound reveals severe birth defects. A child is raped, and becomes pregnant. Another baby would jeopardize a mother’s ability to feed her living children…

I’m not sure why anyone would imagine that a pregnancy is a fairy tale, or what exactly that sort of sentimentalistic nonsense is meant to convey, but even in the case of the other stories mentioned here, whether one has a subjectively good or bad experience with the pregnancy does not alter the fact that that bump is still a baby. These stories- tragic though they may be- do not obviate the biological reality that this pregnancy involves a distinct human being.

Thinking it is or isn’t has no bearing on that, and this sort of mystical approach to a biological question is somewhat curious.

But in a more delightful manner, our commentator cannot even keep her semantic shift straight. Earlier it is only those who want the pregnancy that think the bump is a baby, but here she is caught in her own equivocations and stumbles into the truth- that bump is ‘another baby’ which could jeopardize such and such.

…a woman decides she does not want a child at all.

Wait a minute, I thought it was only when a pregnancy was wanted that it was easy to think of that bump as a baby! Now we have a situation where it is not only a bump, and not only a baby, but actually another child. (See above and the linguistic pedigree that our commentator, despite her best efforts, fails to escape.) And that child- who is admittedly identified with that bump- is not wanted, and so should be… well, let’s move on.

These are different pregnancies,

One can only wonder if that dampening field is still in place… How, exactly, are these different pregnancies? Sure, the subjective experience will be different, but no amount of thinking (or not thinking) will turn that bump into a baby or visa-versa. The subjective experience- different though it may (and will) be, doesn’t make the nascent life any less a distinct and unique human life, and descending into mysticism cannot alter that. It’s not as if one pregnancy involves one type of entity and the other involves another sort.

they’re reminders that an unwanted pregnancy can be biologically the same as a wanted one,

I am generally reticent to use internet speak in my posts, but


Can be biologically the same? So the subjective experience of having less than ideal situations can still create the same biological conditions qua pregnancy as one which is a fairy tale?

Wow, good to know. Biology as mysticism is beautiful thing.

but the experience can be entirely different. Eggs are fertilized; embryos implant; cells divide and multiply; fetusus grow. But when does life begin?

I would go even further and state that not only can the experience be different, but necessarily will. Every human being is a distinct individual and has a unique existential approach to reality. Obviously everyone’s experience can and will be different.

But our commentator plunges headfirst back into the dampening field, for the next few statements are simply incoherent. She mentions the process of that bump coming into being, including the dividing and multiplying of cells. She then goes even further and describes the fetus as ‘growing.’ But then she appears to lose all sense of composure and asks with a delicious obliviousness: ‘But when does life begin.’

Um, yeah, growing is something that things that are alive do. They have also been known to have their cells divide and multiply as part of that growth. From the moment of conception there are alive things going on. That would seem to be biologically uncontroversial. But instead of sticking to biology, she descends into mysticism. Sure, something’s alive and as such is doing what life does, but really, when does life begin?

When indeed.

I submit the answer depends an awful lot on the feeling of the parents. A powerful feeling – but not science.

So, life that is happening (you know, the cells dividing and multiplying and the fetus growing) is really only life depending on the feeling of the parents. It’s hard to not agree with her here- this isn’t science.

I’m actually a bit confused on what kind of point she is trying to make here. A transcript alone would lead one to believe that the answer to this question depends on the feeling of the parents rather than what science might have to say. But the video gives a completely different impression, or at least one could interpret it differently, in that she is speaking more to the reality that this is how many people answer that question, but that such an answer isn’t actually science, which is quite accurate.

However, if the more charitable interpretation is the correct one, her follow up statement in regards to the recent legislation in Texas becomes incoherent:

The problem is that many of our policymakers want to base sweeping laws on those feelings.

If the laws shouldn’t be based on feelings, and if this is a ‘problem,’ then our commentator’s lack of affection for the policies in question doesn’t make any sense, unless we are simply back to aesthetic judgments. After all, if we are going for what science can tell us, then that bump is indeed a baby, regardless of the powerful feelings. So if it is a problem to base policy on feelings, is it therefore better to base it on science? And if so, what is the problem here? If science can answer the question of when life begins (which it can), and if we presume to protect and value human life (which she tacitly does in her discussions of difficult pregnancies and the the supposed distinction between a bump and a baby), then policy based on science would seem to favor viewing the bump as a baby, since that’s what it actually is.

However, if the answer to the question of when life begins cannot be answered by science but rather by feelings, then we are once again back into the realm of mysticism and this final statement must be either incoherent babbling or some kind of contradictory misstatement. For if the answer to the question does arise from feelings, then it would seem to be contradictory to say that those feelings cannot inform policy decisions.

I am hard pressed to decide which.

I suppose there is a third way, which gets back my theory of the aesthetic mysticism. These powerful feelings determine when life begins, but since not every pregnancy is the same (as we have been told), then legislation or policies which concern an ultimately aesthetic judgment have no place in our system of jurisprudence. True, these feelings aren’t science, but these feelings are what tell us when life begins, and since this will be different for everyone whether they are in a fairy tale or in a tragedy, we cannot call a bump a baby until they do, and legislating that bump as a baby at any specified period of development is, finally, the real problem.

I’ve always wondered why ostensibly intelligent people who are generally inclined to advocate for scientific answers to scientific questions would choose to trade a rather simply answered question (when does life begin) for aesthetic mysticism.

But then again, I’ve never worn tampons on my ears.

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