Monday, 17 December 2012

In postscript to my last post...

Some thought-provoking writing and responses here - NYR Blog - Our Moloch, by Garry Wills.

After a commenter drew parallels between those who seek gun regulation and those who seek freedom of choice for women on the abortion issue, accusing them of hypocrisy, another poster's response was so brilliant that I'd like to reproduce it here in full:

Interesting analogy you choose. Let's explore this further.

1) If given a choice between saving a refrigerator full of Petri dishes with frozen embryos or a 5-year-old, which would you choose? Remember -- if, as the anti-choicers say, life begins at conception, you cannot make any distinction between the two, so I hope you wouldn't let all the Petri babies die to save one other life that, by the very terms of the anti-choicers, is no more valuable than theirs.

2) Since pro-gun advocates always say that you cannot prevent anyone who really wants to get their hands on a weapon and therefore it is folly to regulate them, I presume we can apply this reasoning to the abortion debate (remember, abortion is still constitutionally protected under Roe v. Wade) and end the constant string of regulations that exist only to shame women, lie to them (i.e., bills that require telling women that they risk breast cancer or infertility through terminating pregnancies -- neither of which is true), etc. We definitely know that any woman who really wants to get an abortion will do it, so why make it illegal?

3) Since you say you respect life, may I assume you are working against the death penalty?"

On that note, I'd like to make a suggestion; while I know that in the US women are as free to buy and use guns as men are, and (I daresay) exercise that right, it seems to me that guns have historically been regarded as a typically male domain. Once, it was men that went to war and defended the homestead. Going out hunting (in the deerstalking, rather than the fox-hunting sense) still seems to be treated as a peculiarly male pastime (the rite of passage of a father taking his son hunting etc, or 'the guys' getting away for the weekend). And I can't help but feel part the defence for guns goes back to a sense of preserving an old-fashioned sense of masculinity - as though taking away a man's gun unmans him somehow. Do NRA members all imagine they're John Wayne?

Abortion and contraception, as we know, are treated as a women's issue, though they have huge ramifications for relationships and entire families. If these facts were reversed, I wonder what the political responses would be, particularly from the right. Would the American constitutional right to an abortion be so vehemently attacked if it was seen more as a men's issue, rather than a loose and over-generous freedom for all those slutty women? What if gun-toting had traditionally been more associated with women - would the right to bear arms be treated so reverentially?

Maybe I'm way off the mark with this but the thought's bothered me all day and the responses to this article brought it up again.

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