Saturday, October 4, 2008

Black Bears on the Way to Work

I drive over a couple of mountains to get to work. And with one in particular I'm driving through the middle of a strip mine with I get to the top. That particular mountain is called Gary 14 (which is also the name of the mine). The road throguh the middle of it connects Horsepen, Va., with Skygusty, WV.

I topped 14 Thursday morning and started down the other side. I saw two bear cubs in a twisty part of the road. One had made it across, the other stopped on the downhill side. I stopped. The downhill cub raised up and looked into my passenger window. I was thinking about where my camera was and then I saw mom about 20 yards on up the hill. And I decided that I was in a good spot to get run over by a coal truck, so I went on without a picture...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Abortion and The Jill Stanek Lie

I suspect that few people would disagree with me if I said that abortion was the most emotional issue in American politics...

I'm a Democrat. I disagree with my party on abortion. I don't really think there is a constitutional right to the choice of abortion. Oh, sure, I understand Roe v. Wade, and that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that there is a constitutional right to an abortion. But the Supreme Court has changed its mind before. On the other hand, I disagree with the Republican position that abortion is always (each and every time) just plain wrong because, well, the Bible says so. I own a Bible. I have some training in how to read it (and interpret it). I even like it. And it just doesn't say that - at least not as clearly as the Christian Right in America would have us believe.

You'll notice I used "Christian" there as an adjective, not a noun. I know that most of the people who believe in James Dobson have stopped reading by now. (They probably stopped reading at "I'm a Democrat.") In America, a group of political conservatives have tried very hard to take over Christianity (or at least the Church) and milk it for political ends. Let's face it: Republicans generally worship money. The blend of the Republican Party and the Religious Right reminds me very much of the Pharisees in the New Testament - politically conservative, very religious, and preoccupied with money.

Jill Stanek has a video. She lies in it. It's quite a moving video - which is to say that the people using her make good videos. You can find it on YouTube (I won't post it here). It's about Barack Obama and his time in the Illinois state legislature and, well, abortion. A colleague that I respect a lot sent me a link to it in an email. The video is five and a half minutes long. The last full minute is of a baby supposedly dying. The sensationalism is incredible.

I've called Stanek a liar. I'm sure she experienced something horrific. I'm sure her emotions are being used by others. But her video talks about a proposed law in Illinois, and here's her lie: "At the end of the day, his (Obama's) opposition (to this proposed bill) was responsible for living babies being left out to die." The problem is that the proposed law duplicate one already on the books. The law Stanek is talking about would have made something illegal that was already illegal.

I watched the video. And I replied to my colleague. Here's my reply...

Dramatic. You'd almost think they really left that baby there to die in the video...

Here's the Obama response,

The Republican who sponsored the bill Jill Stanek is talking about in the Illinois state legislature has said in the Chicago Tribune that Jill Stanek's statements in the video are misleading. In his own words, "None of those who voted against SB-1082 favored infanticide." He also points out that the bill later passed with minor rewording - something Jill Stanek's (video leaves out). She also leaves out the fact that a law that covered the issue was already on the books in Illinois. Funny how people can stretch the truth to make it look like God is on their side...,0,3918744.story

Abortion is a horrible thing. I worked for a year as a counselor for an anti-abortion group, Birthright, in Augusta, Ga., in college. I don't mind saying in Democratic Party meetings (which I attend) that we need fewer abortions, that abortions need to be harder to get, and that there needs to be more obvious alternatives supported by state and local government. I don't know that I think abortion should ALWAYS be prohibited. But I'd be quite happy to make abortion far less convenient.

While I think that abortion is a horrible thing, I think there are a lot of horrible things out there. The James Dobsons of the world want me to think that abortion is a crystal clear Biblical issue. And yet the word isn't in the Bible. Abortion was around. Historical records document it in about Egypt in 1550 BC. Hippocrates (died 370 BC) discussed abortion and forbad general practice doctors form being involved in it (or in any other form of surgery).

Exodus 21:22-23 is an interesting passage. If two men fight and they injure a woman in the process and she loses her baby, they owe a fine. For centuries that's been the interpretation of that passage by Christian scholars and in the Jewish lit. The passages in the Bible that get used to support the idea of humanity beginning at conception are all poetic. I have enough Bible training to know that using them as the foundation of a theological position is bad exegesis. In most of the Old Testament, humanity begins with breath or blood, not conception.

I don't mind saying that abortion is a horrible thing. But the effort of the political right to put it in a religious context and make absolute statements about it is an assault on the general public's right to read God's Word for themselves. Like many issues in the Bible, there's no definitive statement. The ministers of politics who want to say that there is such a definitive statement - they're selling something...

And Jill Stanek appears to be a liar who makes good videos.

Abortion is a horrible thing. If we hadn't turned it into a religious litmus test, the church might be more interested in poverty (which is DEFINITELY a Biblical issue)...