Dumb Pro-Choice Thread Callout February 27, 2006 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Speaking as a pro-choice person, this thread has to be the dumbest collection of arguments in favor of abortion rights that I've read anywhere in a long time, currently topped off with an attempt to draw an analogy between aborting fetuses and shredding paper. Am I missing a giant troll tag here, or is MeFi really getting as stupid as it appears?
posted by Armitage Shanks to MetaFilter-Related at 8:57 AM (55 comments total)

you expected a smart collection of arguments about abortion? ... it's all been said before, hasn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:02 AM on February 27, 2006


"is MeFi really getting as stupid as it appears?"

Getting?
posted by mischief at 9:05 AM on February 27, 2006


I've seen worse threads on abortion here, and it's probably worth noting that the paper shredding comment was posted by someone called DevilsAdvocate.
posted by jack_mo at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2006


MetaFilter: As stupid as it appears.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2006


Speaking of trolling, asking if Metafilter is getting "as stupid as it appears" because five or six people had an argument you didn't like is a bit foul, no?
posted by ori at 9:15 AM on February 27, 2006


Any talk about abortion and circumcision is going to tend this way. Too many people are defending a position they didn't reason themselves into so of course you can't reason them out. You can troll these people on both sides without even trying.
posted by Mitheral at 9:18 AM on February 27, 2006


This thread was stillborn.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:21 AM on February 27, 2006


I know it was still born, but I wish it wasn't.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2006


I DON'T LIKE IT WHEN PEOPLE DISAGREE WITH ME
posted by cellphone at 9:24 AM on February 27, 2006


Because of today's modern computer technology, what with all the spell checkers and whatnot, I'm actually more stupid than I appear to be.
posted by Otis at 9:25 AM on February 27, 2006


"Objects in the mirror..."
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:27 AM on February 27, 2006


Speaking of trolling, asking if Metafilter is getting "as stupid as it appears" because five or six people had an argument you didn't like is a bit foul, no?

Fair enough, my apologies for the unhelpful hyperbole.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:30 AM on February 27, 2006


Every time dios or ParisParamus is called out on MeTa, a bunch of people lament the fact that so few conservatives participate on the blue. So I jumped into an abortion thread once and tried to articulate why I was pro-life; and for my trouble I was called a misogynist, a Christian radical, and an advocate of slavery and rape.

"Christian radical" was particularly funny since I never said anything about believing in God. To answer your question, I think MetaFilter has always been exactly this stupid.
posted by cribcage at 9:31 AM on February 27, 2006


Cribcage=Jesus.
posted by bardic at 9:36 AM on February 27, 2006


See?
posted by cribcage at 9:39 AM on February 27, 2006


So, if people believe Metafilter is stupid, why do you read and post to it?
posted by edgeways at 9:44 AM on February 27, 2006


Low self esteem. Posting on MetaFilter is like rolling drunks.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:48 AM on February 27, 2006


You know, I've tried that, as I heard it was a good way to make money. But I rolled one drunk about three and a half blocks and he didn't cough up a penny.

Seemed to enjoy it, really.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:59 AM on February 27, 2006


MeFi is getting stupider. In fact, it's so stupid that some of its members mistake an illustration that a particular argument against abortion fails ("we shouldn't abort fetuses on the chance that they might be human") by showing that a similar argument can be made against shredding paper, for "an analogy between aborting fetuses and shredding paper."

The analogy is not between aborting fetuses and shredding paper; it is between the argument "we should not abort fetuses because they might be human" and the argument "we should not shred paper because it might be human." And yes, apparently some MeFites are too stupid to understand that distinction.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:03 AM on February 27, 2006


Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2006


I thought DevilsAdvocate's post did a good job of what it was trying to do - poke holes in the "let's play it safe, what if you're wrong and it is human" arguement.
posted by raedyn at 10:06 AM on February 27, 2006


You know how you can be listening to the radio and a really awful song is playing that sounds like a terrible parody of a band you like and you're thinking Christ this is rubbish and then the DJ comes on and says it's the new single from that band you like and it makes you wonder whether they were always crap or they just got worse when you didn't notice? Yeah, it's like that.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:08 AM on February 27, 2006


So Soylent Green is... paper?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2006


You are all educated stupid.
posted by jenovus at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2006


I don't know about stupid, but I was disappointed to learn about the very low libidos of 15 year old girls.
posted by OmieWise at 10:35 AM on February 27, 2006


Disappointed is the wrong word...surprised would be better.
posted by OmieWise at 10:35 AM on February 27, 2006


Oh, I think that we know what you meant.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:47 AM on February 27, 2006


Metafilter: None of us is as dumb as all of us.

apologies to Despair.com
posted by blue_beetle at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2006


P.S. I am actually your parole officer. I think you should come in so we can chat, Omie.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2006


bardic writes "Cribcage=Jesus"

Metafilter: We experienced the Second Coming.
posted by Mitheral at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2006


Um, I'm, uh, busy.
posted by OmieWise at 11:02 AM on February 27, 2006


PUT DOWN THE LOLI AND GET YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM
posted by jenovus at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2006


Abortion and circumcision... your all missing the point. The title was all (almost, what's with the "Y"?) lowercase and waaaaay too long. What's really important.
posted by cedar at 11:10 AM on February 27, 2006


Female announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.

Male announcer: The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a white zone.

Female announcer: No, the white zone is for loading. Now, there is no stopping in a RED zone.

Male announcer: The red zone has always been for loading.

Female announcer: Don't you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for unloading.

Male announcer: Look Betty, don't start up with your white zone shit again. There's just no stopping in a white zone.

Female announcer: Oh really, Vernon? Why pretend, we both know perfectly well what this is about. You want me to have an abortion.

Male announcer: It's really the only sensible thing to do, if its done safely. Therapeutically there's no danger involved.
posted by brain_drain at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2006


Remind me of the purpose of this post?
posted by raedyn at 12:09 PM on February 27, 2006


I thought the "paper is just as likely to be human as a fetus" argument was so brilliantly persuasive that it needed a chance to be repeated here.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:26 PM on February 27, 2006


I'm with the Regressive Party; Against Abortion. For Killing Babies. Where do I fit in this argument, and would anyone like some campaign literature?
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 12:28 PM on February 27, 2006


DevilsAdvocate,
It was wrong to insult you by calling you stupid, but the analogy is a very bad one, for the reason Armitage Shanks notes. Your analogy works on the assumption that a fetus and anything else are equally likely to be human, and you use this to show that it's wrong to therefore err on the side of caution. But the problem with the analogy is that shredded paper and a fetus are not equally likely to be human. Whether you agree with it or not, a reasonable argument can be made for the humanity of a fetus. The same cannot be said for paper or anything else. So trying to illustrate that error of the "caution" pro-abortion in this manner is wrong.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:24 PM on February 27, 2006


I read metafilter to feel beter about myself.

Seeing people who come across as know-it-alls in the blue ask the dumbest of questions in the green gives me great joy
posted by Mick at 2:39 PM on February 27, 2006


I've seen worse threads on abortion here, and it's probably worth noting that the paper shredding comment was posted by someone called DevilsAdvocate.

eponysterical?
posted by arcticwoman at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2006


But the problem with the analogy is that shredded paper and a fetus are not equally likely to be human.

As with the original comment I was responding to, you are assuming that there is some objective answer to the question of whether a fetus is human or not. That there is some ultimate reality--either a fetus is human and deserving of the legal protection of life that we provide to most other humans, or else it is not human and thus permissible for the mother to abort--we just don't know which is the case yet.

I see "human" as a category more along the lines of (to make a different analogy) "planet." There are nine objects orbiting the sun, in our solar system, which are traditionally called planets. There are a number of other objects orbiting the sun (for example, comets and asteroids) which are not planets. The distinction between planets and non-planets, until recently seemed clear, despite the fact that there was no specific criteria of "planetness" to be applied to future discoveries. We can try to infer criteria based on the traditional labels, but there's more than one set of criteria which are consistent with those, which do not always give the same answer for whether something new is a planet or not. So when we find something like 2003 UB313, it raises questions of just what those criteria should be. Some say that the cutoff for being a planet should be size alone, in which case 2003 UB313 would have to be a planet, being larger than Pluto (or else Pluto would have to cease to be considered a planet); others suggest that other factors be taken into account, or that we stick purely with the traditional nine planets, in which case it would not be a planet. But no one mistakes the debate about what we should consider a planet for some fundamental debate about whether 2003 UB313 possesses some fundamental, objective, currently-unknown planet-nature or not. Cases can be made, to be sure, that 2003 UB313 ought or ought not be considered a planet, based on whether that's a useful designation, but no one says "it might be a planet, so we must consider it a planet until and unless we learn otherwise" or vice versa.

So it is with "human." Arguments can be made, certainly, that it is beneficial to society to consider fetuses either human or not human, and treat them accordingly. Certainly, there is a stronger case to be made for considering fetuses to be human than there is for considering pieces of paper to be human. But any claims that a fetus either is or is not objectively human, regardless of what people believe or decide--or even claims that one or the other must be objectively true, or statements that implicitly assume that (such as statements about how "likely" it is that a fetus is human) only muddy the waters.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:50 PM on February 27, 2006


Heh. I get the argument, but you have to realize it would never convince anyone of anything, right? So why make it?
posted by delmoi at 3:07 PM on February 27, 2006


I can think of at least a dozen reasons why someone might make an argument, other than trying to convince someone else of their point.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:20 PM on February 27, 2006


> no one says "it might be a planet, so we must consider it a planet until and unless we learn otherwise" or vice versa.

I totally agree with your argument. What I can't see is how it doesn't apply equally well to non-fetuses like thee and me. I would rather my own humanity not be, uh, arguable. Wouldn't you?

I would rather mine, at least, be assumed and inarguable and not a matter of degree. In return, I'm going to assume the humanity of others, even the most borderline and "arguable" cases, for my own safety's sake. It sets a very scary precedent to do otherwise. If there are some individuals of the species H. sapiens that might just as well be pieces of paper as human beings, I get the nervous feeling that, given the right sort of argument, I could suddenly become a piece of paper also. Or, y'know, lampshade.
posted by jfuller at 4:24 PM on February 27, 2006


DA: you left out "consider it human and consider abortion justifiable homocide".
posted by mischief at 4:46 PM on February 27, 2006


I guess that covers Schiavo, eh?
posted by mischief at 4:47 PM on February 27, 2006


"I guess that covers Schiavo, eh?"

Which planet was she?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:39 PM on February 27, 2006


The unpopulated one.
posted by mischief at 5:48 PM on February 27, 2006


I get the argument, but you have to realize it would never convince anyone of anything, right? So why make it?

He's secretly planning to destroy Pluto and wanted to warn his henchmen first.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:03 PM on February 27, 2006


Okay. I understand the paper/aborted fetus analogy, but what about the rock and scissors, smart guy?

Shred that!
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:45 PM on February 27, 2006


I would rather mine, at least, be assumed and inarguable and not a matter of degree.

you get to decide that for yourself.

just like a pregnant woman does.

the same thing which makes you human, your cognizant relationship to your body, is what makes carrying to term a woman's choice. your humanity is inherent in you, not in someone else's recognition of it. you, your body, your thoughts, are the loci of your humanness. not someone else defending your lack of resemblance to paper.

devilsadvocate, even through his reduction to the absurd, makes a much better argument than anybody arguing for his stupidity.

this thread is as stupid as it appears.

devilsadvocate has made it abundantly clear that he was not providing an analogy but making an absurdist argument about an absurd argument. that should end it.

not to mention that no analogy ever holds up as literal. you are supposed to recognize the relationships in an analogy. not the things themselves. which is what makes it so hard for people who would objectify a fetus into something it is not, or objectify a woman into something she is not. there is a relationship between fetus and a future human being. there is a relationship between a woman and her fetus. objectivists claim this is "relativism" rather than a relationship.

the problem ironically is one of a relativism itself which flattens everything to into an objectified sameness rather than distinguishing objects: fetus = human (noun) being rather than human (adjective) fetus; fetus = woman to be regulated (thing) rather than woman carrying fetus (relationship). the only relation is equivalence on that warped planet objective. no two sides of an equation can be too unbalanced for the objectivist. equations are the objective. whatever violence is necessary, whether through law or picket or bombs or whatever, the objectivist will say the equation is balanced. the sad relativism of objectivists is to equate everything through false analogy. because the fetus is not like paper to shred, and because fetus is like the future human being, then the fetus is the future human being and is a present human being?

no. this analogy argument to be mocked through absurd reductions which highlight the false analogy carried through metaphor carried to equivalence: little fingers and toes of fetus are to little fingers and toes of baby as fetus is to baby, therefore fetus is baby. little kick of fetus is to little kick of baby as fetus is to baby, therefore fetus is baby. mommy feeling for fetus is to mommy feeling for baby as fetus to baby, therefore fetus is baby. corporal substance of fetus is to future corporal substance of baby as fetus is to future baby, therefore fetus is baby in present. third reich practice for forced abortion is to contemporary allowance for voluntary abortion as third reich is to contemporary allowance, therefore contemporary allowance is hitler hitler hitler. (now are we done with it? please close this shitfuck of a thread.)

we only have two sides to the story for "moderate interpretation" when we accept as valid an objectivist's inability to distinguish between the relative and a relation, which are not equivalent. the general and the specific. idealized baby factories and flesh and blood women. it is the ability to make such distinctions, to not level everything into sameness, to say these are only analogous, which make us act with humanity. if you think comparing fetuses to paper, if that were even being done, is the intention of saying they are the same, then wake the fuck up, human. stop equating yourself with a slug.

there is no moderate position here except to be only moderately humane in allowing other people to distinguish their own bodies for themselves. every time we say, "but what about the fetus' choice?," we have reached inside someone else's body and expressed an inability to distinguish what is human in place of the abilities of the human into which we reach to decide what part of them is human for themselves. ugh. we have shredded someone's humanity every time we debate making that decision for them.

what did you hope for by this call-out? to have devilsadvocate's comments removed?

just stupid. and this is why the debate continues. stupid, weak-minded fucking call outs to nowhere moderating our humanity. your call out isn't worth the paper it isn't printed on.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:08 PM on February 27, 2006


every time we say, "but what about the fetus' choice?," we have reached inside someone else's body and expressed an inability to distinguish what is human in place of the abilities of the human into which we reach to decide what part of them is human for themselves. ugh. we have shredded someone's humanity every time we debate making that decision for them.
Which is what the state of SD is doing, too, but with law--they're making even zygotes entitled to due process, and legally considering them human beings from fertilization on.
posted by amberglow at 7:42 PM on February 27, 2006


It's Raining Florence Henderson: So Soylent Green is... paper?

Flagged as excellent. Made my day!
posted by antifuse at 3:59 AM on February 28, 2006


I totally agree with your argument. What I can't see is how it doesn't apply equally well to non-fetuses like thee and me. I would rather my own humanity not be, uh, arguable. Wouldn't you?

Yes, I would. If you figure out a way to do that short of orbiting mind-control lasers, let me know. Me or you just saying "I am human and the matter is not open for discussion or re-definition" does not, in fact, prevent anyone else from discussing whether you or I are or are not human. If a large enough number of people decide we're not human, shouting "but I am!" isn't going to change things.

DA: you left out "consider it human and consider abortion justifiable homocide".

No, I didn't. I wrote, "either a fetus is human and deserving of the legal protection of life that we provide to most other humans..." I chose my words very carefully there. The legal protection of life we provide to most other humans is not absolute.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:33 AM on February 28, 2006


The legal protection of life we provide to most other humans is not absolute. - DevilsAdvocate

Yeah. Maybe abortion can be thought of as self-defence? (Just throwing that out there. I'm not saying I would agree or disagree with that opinion)
posted by raedyn at 9:13 AM on February 28, 2006


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