Saturday, 24 October 2009

The We Approve This Message Podcast

First episode is up. Four meaty topics, one meaty cocktail and a disclaimer - enjoy!
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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Danders and hackles at the ready. It's abortion this week.

We haven't been posting messages to WATM with anything like the correct level of assiduity. It is difficult to be motivated, though, when one hears that a reader, @smithsky1979 (for it is she), sighs with pre-emptive exhaustion when she sees a message pop up in her RSS. To 'hell' with you, Smith. But for the rest of you, we have news.

Since m'colleague and I have mastered the written word so successfully, it is time to conquer new heights. Onwards to the WATM Podcast. More news will be coming forthwith, but let me assure you that jingles are currently being composed and topics considered for inclusion. I think politics might feature heavily along with foreign affairs, transport issues, cocktails chat (that's just me) and assorted self-righteous geekery, natch.

But today, for your delectation, we must grasp a nettle which has been tempting us for a while: abortion.

Hark, I can hear danders and hackles being raised the land over.

Plenty has been written about the rights and wrongs of abortion, but that is not our task today. Anyway, matters of absolute and relative morality will be considered in a separate message (part 2 of 2) currently being prepared by m'colleague. Instead we want to consider why certain positions on abortion seem to be coterminous with politics and religious positions. There is no obvious reason that should be the case.

Without much fear of contradiction I can say that the western Right are opposed to abortion rights while those of the left are in their favour. This is more stark in the United States than it is in the UK and Europe, but the generalisation does hold.

Why should this be the case? A decision about the morality of abortion is a matter of science, reason, and personal judgement. No reference to one's belief in the role of the state is needed, for instance, nor one's ideas about the organisation of capital and labour, which are the ideas which really govern the Left-Right divide.

In fact, if we were to refer to those ideas, then the Right's traditional desire to reduce the power of the state in favour of personal freedom would seem to suggest they would be in favour of abortion rights.

Perhaps we can explain this problem as a matter of faith. In the US, at least, those on the Right are more likely to hold Christian beliefs of the variety which abhor abortion for apparently biblical reasons. (That the WATM duo think that taking a position based on such a text is ludicrous is neither here nor there as far as our current discussion goes.) This doesn't follow in the UK, though, where the biggest Christian denomination is the Church of England (and associated clingers-on). As far as I can tell the C of E believes less and less with every passing year, with the exception of Sharia Law which recently became part of the Archbishop of Canterbury's preaching. And the Church is certainly not full of fire-and-brimstone anti-abortionists.

Those on the Left also have to explain the sometimes feverish pro-abortion attitudes some take, and the desire by some (I've seen it) to demonise comrades who take a different view.

All of which is to say that it should be completely in order for all positions on abortion to be 'allowed' within the various political factions and groupings.

Those of us who believe in science and evidence for deciding the nature of things, rather than relying on revealed truth, should look at the scientific evidence, ask ourselves about personal freedom, consider whether we think abortion sufficiently egregious to attempt to stop those who differ in their position from following through on their beliefs and be happy to defend our position. We should not allow abortion evangelicals, or actual evangelicals, to cloud our judgement.

I bet Sadie of the Tavern is fired up by this one, eh Smith?