Hangmen and Abortionists

HangmenThumbGlenn Fairman
“Those who are kind to the cruel in the end will be cruel to the kind.” — The Talmud  •  I don’t suppose I will ever understand the logic that Progressives utilize in striking moral equivalence between the death penalty and selective abortion. Time and time again, I have encountered some acolyte of the Left who firmly believed he had uncovered my philosophical nakedness: pointing out my supposed inconsistency between affirming death for convicted murderers and my advocacy for innocent nascent human life. I suppose the Progressive worldview, in their own contextual reflection, would hold that human life is the highest possible good and that any actions by an authority to abbreviate it, for whatever reasons, are inherently immoral. By the same token, can they not see in themselves that same moral inconsistency when the termination of unborn human life is on the line?

The Progressive take on abortion is akin to the chattel slave relationship between master and slave. In this situational instance, the life of the unborn child is not paramount. In fact, the value of the helpless infant is utterly dependant on the whim of the mother. It is her ultimate moral prerogative that renders value to her charge. Therefore, she can either choose to carry it lovingly to term, or as late as the ninth month expel it like an ignominious kidney stone into a metal sink. To highlight the arbitrary rationality of holding nascent life hostage to the mother’s sole appraisal of value, one need only meditate on the knowledge that in some jurisdictions, her decision to terminate that life mere weeks before it passes into the sunshine carries no legal repercussions. However, her same arbitrary act of “termination” immediately following a healthy live birth renders her a monster and a criminal. In this peculiar theatre of the absurd, a child’s being–who is fully formed behind its mother’s veil of flesh, is a legal hostage contingent on the capriciousness of a choice. Sadly, that choice, whether informed through utility or mood, does not matter in the final accounting.

It is glaringly apparent that I and my liberal foil generally will hold positions of diametrical opposition. It is as if we are from different worlds: He feels I am inhuman for terminating monsters who have been deemed beyond society’s pale and I am scandalized by the wholesale slaughter of millions of precious lives of inestimable value. Perhaps it is our understanding of justice that has opened the rift between the ways we view our disparate worlds.

In The Republic, Plato’s 2400 year old dialogue on the nature of justice, Socrates and his interlocutors, after many pages, reach a working definition that justice is “that each man gets what he deserves.” This pivotal notion of “just desert” as justice ripples throughout Western Civilization and colors how we view merit, value, and how we apprehend the texture of the Good Life. Justice tells us that cold blooded murder is a frightful act which no commensurate penalty can duly rectify. While the gradations of manslaughter or even crimes of passion may warrant confinement as punishment, it is the killing of the innocent through the intention of malice or premeditated gain that justice deems deserving of this ultimate forfeiture. [pullquote]…the paradox of exacting a murderer’s life has the reciprocal effect of affirming the sanctity of life. This severe justice reveals to us that there are diamond-hard consequences for the pre-meditated and malicious shedding of blood.[/pullquote]

Similarly, in the Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible, revelatory justice receives its resounding authority through the Divine Command: “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. “ Given the sundry aggravating and mitigating circumstances surrounding murder and mayhem, even modern men have given assent to the idea that in select cases, the manslayer’s life must be deemed forfeit as the just recompense for taking a life or lives. Whether murder was instigated through dark passion, calculation, or by cavalier intent, both Reason and Revelation buttress one another in affirming capital punishment.

Viewed through the intellectual legacy of Athens and Jerusalem which forms our Classical heritage, the paradox of exacting a murderer’s life has the reciprocal effect of affirming the sanctity of life. This severe justice reveals to us that there are diamond-hard consequences for the pre-meditated and malicious shedding of blood. Moreover, it asserts that a society that holds this harsh knowledge in its heart of hearts effectively proclaims to the world that it, above all else, esteems human life as paramount– and is willing to go to the wall to avow that claim.

By contrast, in societies that have relented to the spirit of this age, which collectively view the death penalty as an arcane barbarism of tribal justice, the cheapness of life becomes nowhere more apparent than in our penitentiaries. In this microcosm of liberal consequences, a contorted diminished justice works its tortured logic. Since one cannot be sentenced to more than one life term and many jurisdictions have outlawed capital punishment, the taking of singular or multiple lives behind bars bares no appreciable penalty. So often, correctional officers and other prisoners must bear the brunt of unintended outcomes wrought by misplaced liberal compassion.

As a result of such injustice, the absolute value of human life therein dissolves—releasing that selfsame stench which infects the entirety of civil society on down the line. When capital punishment is abolished by sentimental moral fiat, the weight accorded human existence diminishes. Consequently, how common it is to find first and second degree murderers walking free in a relatively brief span of years and these same murderers serially re-offending. Clearly, considering such a state of affairs, can anyone categorically proclaim that a civilized society that eschews the death penalty and winks at selective abortion ultimately cherishes life in absolute terms?

As to my Progressive colleague, I would like to be able to strip him of the preconceptions of his jaundiced compassion and show him that he has, through the noxious prism of our age, inverted justice in the interest of ideology and contaminated the value of life in flesh and blood terms. If a true compassion and affirmation of life are the marks we aim for, then in the interest of a substantive justice, heinous murderers should surrender their lives to uphold the incalculable dignity of human worth. Many worry that in condemning a person to death, we use them as an object lesson to others and therefore use death as an instrumentality of fear. In truth, we need not proceed down that road. Heinous murder merits death—period. That such justice is socially instructive is really beside the point here. [pullquote]…can anyone categorically proclaim that a civilized society that eschews the death penalty and winks at selective abortion ultimately cherishes life in absolute terms?[/pullquote]

As for the helpless infant residing in the body of its mother, we are adjured by our Creator, who knows the very number of hairs upon our heads, to protect the innocent and to sustain the miracle that he has woven together in love. Rather than asserting our superiority through the cavalier exercise of power to destroy the innocent, we should consider the miracle of life; and as valuing creatures conform ourselves as to be worthy of life’s blessing that we take for granted. Such a gift was not intended for us to look upon with derision.

As a child, I was taught that it was a noble act to subdue the wicked and to uphold the plight of the innocent. Somehow, in our fiddling outside the boundaries of reason, we have reversed the moral polarities. Consequently, we now wickedly implore for the guilty just as we have grown deaf to the cause of our most helpless and benign. In moving away from Right Reason and the Moral Law that governs the universe, we are reaping the terrifying backlash of unaided human moral autonomy. Can our immoral actions any longer be explained away by feigning moral/intellectual ignorance? Has not our foolish exercise of radical freedom, unhinged from a purposeful mercy and substantive justice, led our civilization inexorably down the path to alienation, desolation and madness?
Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (1486 views)

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15 Responses to Hangmen and Abortionists

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    My own expression on justice, which I draw from Robert Graves in his Claudius books, is: “As the scoundrel did, so let him by done by. And that’s just.” Anything less than that punishment is mercy. Hence my personal abuse of liberals who prate of civility and yet are the most vicious, uncivil hate-mongers anywhere.
    Liberals in fact have no genuine concern for individual human life, but they maintain a concern for those who support them. When your supporters tend to be “gypsies, tramps, and thieves” (as in one parody I came across 40 years ago), you naturally favor easier punishment for the guilty (and the effect that has on the innocent is irrelevant, particularly if you make it a principle never to consider the consequences of your policies).
    So it’s no surprise to see liberals support abortion and euthanasia, and were eager to see Terri Schiavo put to death even without establishing beforehand that she was actually brain-dead. (Ever since, I’ve distrusted the medical profession, because so many are so willing to kill their charges instead of curing them. I consider the movie Coma to be NO LONGER fictional.)
    In 2004, Wesley Clark (whom I call the Weasel) actually said that an unborn child is human if the mother wants him/her. And if she keeps changing her mind based on the circumstances? Then the human/non-human status could change at any moment. And THOSE are the people who mock conservatives as anti-science.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      I, Claudius… quite possible the most singularly perfect novel of its genre ever hatched from the mind of man……

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Okay, I hear all this talk of “I, Claudius.” I’ve seen the series. Are you guys saying that the books are that good?

      • Glenn Fairman says:

        There are two books: “I, Claudius” and “Claudius the God.” The first is far superior to the last, but both are well worth your attention. The BBC series is phenomenal also and has many stellar actors. Robert Graves set the bar with the first one…….

      • Timothy Lane says:

        To be precise, the line on justice I quote comes from the second book, and was (at least in Graves) a favorite quote by Claudius in judging cases. The first book includes a poem (“The Succession of the Hairy Men”) that provides the framework for the books. I was going to print it in full (as best I can remember it; I’m not sure where my copies of the books have gotten to), but I tried twice and got wiped out be some minor slip-up, and I’m not going to try a third time. Just consider that I can pretty much repeat the poem from memory as an indication of its quality.

      • Kung Fu Zu says:

        Both books are good. Graves was a classicist who translated both Latin and Greek writings. A brilliant man, he was really fascinated with the poetic impulse throughout history.

        His book “The White Goddess” goes over this subject in detail. He also wrote “King Jesus” a novel about Jesus’ life.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Okay. I’ll make you all a deal. I’ll put “I, Claudius” on my reading list and you all have to at least watch one episode of “Cadfael.” I assume most of you are Derek Jacobi fans. 🙂

          • Kung Fu Zu says:

            I’ve heard of it, but never had the opportunity to view it. Which channel shows it?

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              It used to run on PBS. I don’t know who, if anyone, is showing it on TV anymore. I’ll have to do a review of it just for the fun of it. Some of the plots are a bit convoluted and sometimes don’t seem to make sense.

              But, overall, the charm of Derek Jacobi’s “Cadfael” character (the Sherlock Holmes monk) is overwhelming. He’s just fun to watch work, as they say.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I suppose that was on Mystery! way back when. I don’t recall seeing it, though I’ve seen many things in the past there. I have read a number of the books, as well as others by Ellis Peters (who also wrote as Edith Pargeter). In particular, I note that her The Bloody Field (about the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1406) has a very different take on Hotspur and Prince Henry (later Henry V) from Shakespeare.

          • Rosalys says:

            Five months later, you probably won’t even see this. (I only discovered this website about six weeks ago!)

            Because I liked the TV “Cadfael”, I read the books also. The books are worth reading even if you’ve already seen the dramatizations.

            As to the main topic of this article, our government is doing everything except that which it has been ordained to do. Increasingly it punishes those who do nothing morally wrong and refuses to punish those who do wrong. It will not protect the innocent and the vulnerable, but instead, like the bully it has become picks on the weak. “We” call good evil and evil good – somewhere I read that we must beware of such times. Is it any wonder our western civilization is in the state it is in?

            • Timothy Lane says:

              One concept I’ve seen mentioned as describing the US is something like “authoritarian anarchy” (or maybe the reverse; it’s been a while since I saw it). The idea is that the US is increasingly unfree, but meanwhile fails to do some basic government functions, such as maintaining civic order (“to insure domestic Tranquility”).

  2. Kung Fu Zu says:

    Wesley Clark. The poster boy for political generals. Getting to the top by having few principles and willing to put that philosophy into practice.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Life is a non-stop party.


    Life is about something more.

    What we believe in the deepest part of our beings decides how we view issues such as abortion. The reason that so much nonsense erupts from the Left and “Progressives” is partly because human beings are the best rationalizers on the planet. We can delude ourselves, and others, of just about anything.

    There’s a book out there that I think Mr. Kung or Timothy mentioned once, and I forget the title. It’s about the apparent fact that much of the reasoning capabilities of human beings are put to rationalizing beliefs that are already held (for whatever reason or reasons they are held). Reason can be used to actually decide an issue, with the facts laid bare to tell their own story. Or we can pretend to reason (rationalize) and, through cleverness and selectivity, spin any story we want, either to bamboozle others or ourselves.

    This is the story of abortion. And the story of abortion advocacy is an inherent story of dishonesty. Whether it’s the animal, the pagan, or even the demonic that is erupting in the dishonest rationalizations from the Left/”Progressives,” the story of abortion advocacy does not ring true. If they cared so much about people and life, they wouldn’t be so callous regarding the unborn. As many have noted, the Left/”Progressives” put more value on an eagle’s egg than on an unborn child.

    But if you understand that the Left is inherently a “Party on Garth” philosophy — infused with juvenilism, nihilism, and narcissism — then you can understand that abortion advocates are merely rationalizing their behavior, covering for their baser motives. But the real motivation underneath is “Party on Garth.” And God forbid that unborn children get in the way of that.

    There are, of course, others who are simply the go-along-to-get-along types and would sell out anything and anybody to be a part of the crowd. Or they just mindlessly absorb someone else’s slogans and regurgitate them in place of thinking. But this has always been so. There have always been people who lose themselves in the crowd and/or haven’t the courage to think through an issue for themselves.

    But being a mindless part of the crowd is not a trait we particularly worship in America. I believe Timothy would see this as one more result of the collectivist mindset of the Left.

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