Thursday, March 31, 2016

Trump on Abortion

Note: I’m aware that Trump has since retracted his recent statement that women who have illegal abortions should be punished. Which just goes to show his own willingness to be a political chameleon at times. Is Trump genuinely pro-life? Beats me. I probably wouldn’t put very much money on it. But I would certainly rather vote for him over someone who was decidedly pro-choice. In any case, these are my thoughts on what he initially said.

If Trump’s initial comments about illegal abortions being punishable were somehow contrary to the pro-life position, then I’m not sure I understand the pro-life position.

Of course, I’ve never felt like Republicans were very strong on the issue of abortion anyway. Making exceptions in the cases of rape or incest doesn’t make even a little bit of sense. Republicans make those exceptions for political reasons. They don’t want to lose too much approval. And that’s shameful. Trump’s problem is that sometimes he’s willing to say something that traditional Republicans have always been too scared to say.

And of course, the anti-Trump crowd has come up with a way to spin this against him. “See, he doesn’t even understand the pro-life position!” When in all reality, it might be that he was simply willing (at least in that moment) to be more consistent than the people for whom “pro-life” was always just a political category.

I don’t think Trump was trying to advocate some sort of retroactive punishment for any living person who has ever had an abortion in the past. That would obviously not be feasible. The question here is about the policies of a nation in which abortion is illegal.

So imagine for a minute that we live in that kind of nation – not the kind of nation where abortion doctors can dupe women into thinking that there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing, but the kind of nation where abortion is illegal and everybody knows it. Who should be punished for abortion in that kind of nation? Am I being unreasonable to say that the answer should be anyone who was directly involved? That would include the doctor who performed it, the woman who gave consent, and any husband or boyfriend who might have helped the whole thing along. This is the basic legal concept of being an accessory to a crime.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Salutational Questions

Some people like to criticize the custom of greeting each other with a question like “How are you?” when in all reality, we’re not expecting (or desiring) a detailed answer. At least not at the moment. Instead, we expect our greeting to be met with a standard response: something like “Good, and yourself?” And I often hear people insinuate that this customary way of greeting each other just goes to show our society’s lack of honesty and transparency. But I think that’s overblown. This is just a simple greeting.

Consider the word “hello.” What does it mean? Basically nothing. It’s just a greeting. It’s a word that we say in order to politely acknowledge someone’s presence. It doesn’t have to mean anything more than that. And I think the greeting “How are you?” could be placed in the same category.

Suppose I say “How are you?” to a friend and he responds with “Hey! Good to see you.” He technically hasn’t answered my “question,” but that doesn’t matter. We’ve exchanged polite greetings, and that’s all that needed to be done. This doesn’t illustrate a lack of honesty or transparency on the part of either person. If we can have rhetorical questions, then I don’t see why we can’t have salutational questions. Neither are genuine requests for information.

That said, sometimes I’ll say “How are you?” expecting nothing but the usual reply, only to hear the person tell me that he’s honestly not doing well. And this takes me off guard, but in a good way. It speaks volumes.