Monday, January 7, 2013

"The Free Exchange"



"The Free Exchange"
With the whirlwind that is my life, I have not been keeping up with “The Free Exchange” as I should have been. To make up for it, though, I plan to address all of the comment left on the blog until I have answered each and every one. At that point, then I will continue with regular articles.

Conservatism’s strength emanates from its penchant for robust debate. “The Free Exchange” is a series of articles aimed at highlighting and broadening the debate at Black and Red. When you comment on essays you read at this site, I will respond to you via this blog series. If you wish to send an email for consideration in an upcoming “Free Exchange” article, please email me at blkandred@gmail.com and write “The Free Exchange” and the title of the article you are commenting on in the subject heading. Hopefully, the free exchange of ideas will prove beneficial to readers and participants. Thank you for reading and thank you so much for commenting.

-J. Hunter


Yukio’s comments are in yellow. BJ’s are in orange. Anonymous’ are in blue, Sheldon’s are purple and mine are in green.

Yukio Ngaby:
Hard to say what happened. It's so close, I just can't get rid of a nagging feeling that there's more to this. I can't find what that "more" was, what that little push was.

Maybe we'll know more tomorrow. And remember to look at the popular vote count. That's a good indication on what the next two years are going to be like. And I don't think it's going to be pretty.

Thank you for commenting Yukio. As I’ve written since the election, I don’t know what happened in November. I’ve heard so many rationales offered for what went wrong that I don’t know what to believe—none of them seem to make any sense to me.

The one thing that appears to be undeniable is that liberalism is on the rise in America. This was the one reality that I feared in 2008 with the Democratic electoral power grab. The Supreme Court is already more liberal with the addition of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. I expect another vacancy in the next 4 years that could result in a very liberal replacement. Obamacare is here to stay—a reform that further perverts the American character by telling folks that they are no longer responsible for their individual health insurance costs. Spending is out of control in Washington, with no sign of cessation.

It feels like everything is wrong in this country—and the feeling is widespread. Polls show that Americans are much more pessimistic about the country, now, than they have been in quite some time.[1] Furthermore, Republicans (74-24) believe that the country’s best years have come and gone.[2]

The nation is awash in pessimism and I understand that. I just don’t understand why we elected the pessimistic choice in November.

Sheldon:
It has been a long time, and for that, I apologize. However, I knew that after Tuesday night's results I would find the needed salve here with your blog. It is often hard to know exactly what the electorate as a whole wants especially when we are left with a situation as gridlocked as the one with which we are now stuck. I know that the so-called moderates that tend to be the prize of the day for either party tend to be less ideological than people with principled disagreements on either side, so I would like to hope that especially after four more years of lackluster leadership and economic performance, 2016 (and perhaps the midterms in 2014) will be a time ripe for the taking...That being said however, with the ever-increasing percentage of people reliant on the government to solve their ills, I do worry about what will happen when that number eclipses 50%. I fear that it is possible that there may be no going back to the days of self-reliance. Alas, we will have to see, but it is always nice to know that there are those like yourself who share my beliefs. Thanks for letting me vent as well as for your wonderful blog!
Thank you for venting here, Sheldon. I’m glad to know you’re still fighting out there. I wish I could offer something more optimistic, but I haven’t anything like that to offer. We share the same fears. The election ended months ago, but I still feel hurt and worried and confused.
I used to believe that America was rugged and that it rewarded and revered hard work and self reliance. Now, she seems weary—unable to fight wars, to balance her books, or learn from her mistakes. The Fiscal Cliff “compromise” taught us that the government will hold the entire nation hostage just to take a swipe at successful people, regardless of whether doing so would solve any portion of the economic woes facing the country.
I guess, Sheldon, that the one bit of good news is that if we continue to support ourselves and our families, we will always be better off than those who give up and go the easy route. We will be happier. Our lives will have more meaning. Even more, we will be able to do more for ourselves and for our families than can the government.
All this will remain true until, as you mentioned, the scale tips to where 50% of the country is on the dole, and wants to take more from the other half.
God forbid.

BJ:
I'm grateful for your honest and heartfelt writing. I have been in a similar place. I simply don't understand what happened. However for whatever reason, I feel more energized and enthusiastic than ever. I have been slowly and painfully writing an essay on what exactly happened. Obviously I don't pretend to know all. But this process has been enlightening. I'll send it to you whenever I finish it. Until then, it's good to rest and recharge. We're going to need you more than ever during these difficult times.

BJ, you must know that you have been absolutely instrumental in keeping me in the game. Every time I think about closing this site and fading into the masses—watching baseball and turning my attentions to my immediate personal goals—I think about the many talks we’ve had where you have convinced me not to go that route.
Sometimes, it’s just useful to have someone with whom to mourn and emote. I know that I’ll feel better, but I don’t regret feeling dejected for all this time—too many things are going wrong to feel any other way.

One thing that gives me hope is comparing this election defeat to the one in 1964 against Lyndon Johnson. The Republican Party and conservatism survived after that abysmal cycle, and that was nothing like what we just came through in November. In other words, as bad as it feels, we’re not a dead movement, we’re just down and out right now. That perspective is the only thing sustaining me these days.

As for your findings on what happened in November, I look forward to reading your thoughts.

BJ:
Amen. Well said and welcome back. I agree that the real issues are mental health (& growing government to accomodate that) and gun owners securing their guns. We need greater penalties for people who don't do this and stricter trainings/laws on this before people can buy guns. Well said.

Thank you, BJ!
You’re right—a focus on assisting people with mental health issues, and finding ways to serve those among us who need mental health services is a helpful addition to this conversation.

In my view, beyond that, events like this seem to elicit a laundry list of pet peeves that are offered under the umbrella of stopping tragedies like this from occurring again. This is not a criticism, I do it too, but it is exactly what the society needs to avoid. It’s related to the “Do-Something” disease that urges officials to do something—whether it is useful or not—to deliver us from bad situations.

What you and I both know is that humanity is fallen. We do horrible things to each other and we preoccupy ourselves with ways to do even worse. No government policy can change that without being equally cruel (we can all be chained to stakes and left in seclusion).

There is room for conversations about how firearms are to be secured, about the responsibility to report stolen weapons, about the rules of private firearms sales and other aspects of an individual right to firearms ownership. What I fear, though, is intervention in an aspect of our freedom that is gratuitous, or worse, infringing. These interventions are always meant to be helpful and they always appear right after a tragedy.

My answer is understandably unsatisfying: we mourn the loss of innocent life. We abhor the perpetrator. We examine what happened, look for patterns and look into our own tradition, heritage and values for answers—all the while accepting that the best course forward is to simply shake our heads and sit on our hands. Anything more can be harmful.

As always, I look forward to your further thoughts.

Anonymous:
come on! - you really think this documentary is a good argument to be pro- life, if anything I would have wished she could have had services available to her, lets face it no one with a heart feels good about having an abortion, but she wasn't healthy enough to give any quality of life for a child, and if you paid attention, the documentary does not suggest that she is neccessarily uneducated, but actually suggests her family has some money- "we are not asking my mother for money Boo Boo" or something like that I believe was what she said, and then she ended up almost going to go have one of those horrible partial birth abortions in New York because services were not made available to her to terminate the pregnancy -earlier on - had she gone through with that it sounds like something that would fuck her up and traumatize her more than she already was AND then they recessitate the poor baby to a life that sounds horrible- and I personnaly think her and boo boo were addicted to drugs with or without each other i wouldnt blame him for her addiction or her for his addiction- i stumbled across this site cuz i was actually hoping maybe they both got their shit together and the kid ws alive and well somewhere cuz although i may not be a radical prolifer I just try to use common sense, harm reduction and look at the individual situaition, -but I digress, as I was saying I stumled across this site looking for info on what happened to these people after the documentary and could immediately tell I had stumbled onto some sort of prolife conservative website that was taking this documentary and using it out of context to further their own positions with politics. I would also like to say that I am not a fan of abortion but more see it sometimes as the lesser of two evils no one ever thinks that getting an abortion is a cool thing to do unless they are sick in the head- I also thought it was about time someone came forward about going through all the shit that Brenda went through in the documentary -i mean came out in the open and didnt try to hide it under the rug so to speak- i think she really did a service bringing a lot of societal issues to the surface, I just thought I would add that I do not think she sounds unneducated or stupid - she sounds down and out - and i really felt bad for boo boo too when i watched him looking all over the place for her- but dont assume because you make an ass out of you and me-
i also believe that the soul leaves the body of the fetus and moves to a new body in a new womb one that is ready to incarnate for whatever bigger reason the universe may have i dont have all the answers
good night

Thank you for commenting Anonymous.
You’ve provided a lot for me to talk about so I will do my best to address each of the issues you raised.

First, “High on Crack Street” is not a pro-life movie, per se. The only point I wanted to make about the film is that I was struck by how the logic of the pro-life argument is so visceral that it could grasp and motivate even someone who spent much of her life destroying her brain and her human spirit. Furthermore, I would like to completely disagree with you that only the heartless feel good about abortions. I’ve had professors and met people who argue that an abortion should be a complete nonevent. They even argue that the only reason people feel bad about aborting a child is societal pressure that should not exist. I would not call them heartless, but they’re missing a different vital part of their body, located atop the central nervous system.

Second, Brenda is doubtlessly uneducated. However, I think that her lacking further emphasizes how pro-choice proponents must tie themselves into knots to teach people how to unlearn what comes naturally to her and to each of us. Nor am I convinced that she comes from money. She lives in Lowell, which is a forgotten industrial town. Assuming, as you did, that because she could ask her mother for abortion money, that she comes from money, makes no sense to me. Abortions are surprisingly cheap. Moreover, she may have been reticent to ask her mother for money because she didn’t want to deal with any more shame. There are many reasons why that line may have been spoken. Surmising that it reveals that she comes from money is nonsensical.

Third, I disagree that this documentary illustrates a need for more access to first or second trimester abortions. I am against abortion in nearly all instances: rape, incest and when the mother’s life is at risk are the general exceptions. That one will be born into a bad circumstance is not justification to kill him—even if one believes, arbitrarily as you do, that the fetus’ soul will effortlessly enter into some other body. The implication of the view you’ve promoted makes all murder victimless and tragic deaths less tragic. I don’t buy it.

Finally, though we disagree (rather, because we disagree), I’m glad that you’ve found this site. I hope you return and continue to engage with me and with the other readers who frequent Black and Red. I’m glad that you could tell immediately that you stumbled across a conservative pro-life website.

Article Sources:

[1] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/01/2013-poll-finds-americans-weary-and-wary/1802885/
[2] http://www.gallup.com/poll/159596/americans-unsure-best-times-past.aspx

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