Holy Hallelujah, Batman: shit just got real.
That faint whine that's been evolving into an ear-splitting hysteria these last few days? That's the right wing screechosphere finding out about Emily Letts' abortion video. Ms. Letts filmed her abortion and published the video in part as an effort to remove the stigma and fear surrounding the procedure, as an educational effort.
The predictable outrage ensued. LifeNews had multiple articles on Letts' decision. Lila Rose of LiveAction responded with characteristic hyperbole and flair for drama. Even renowned logician Glenn Beck weighed in. But the best, absolute best*, of the frantic ravings from the right belongs to Matt Walsh. Now, readers of my blog might remember him for his failed attempt at taking on the bodily autonomy argument. Walsh is your typical feminism-is-evil (and useless -- see, anything feminism did, Christianity did better. Even though most of the misogyny feminism has taken on in the western world stemmed directly from Christianity, and was largely supported by the Christian establishment), women-don't-value-money-as-much-as-men (so the pay gap is a myth!), white-men-are-victims (so stop bullying them!) Christian conservative. As such, his ramblings are rarely worth addressing. Every once in awhile, however, he manages to put up something worth noticing. Like his take on Emily Letts' abortion. Let's start with his opening paragraphs.
It’s time for all of us to understand that we are at war, and lives are at stake.
The enemy — the self-worshipping death cult known as modern liberalism — has become increasingly vile, violent, and deceitful, and so we must become increasingly bold, fearless, and aggressive in our response.War. Enemy. Death cult. Vile. Violent. Deceitful. Fearless. Aggressive. For a guy worried about the scary badness and troubling naughtiness of modern liberalism, that's a lot of intense rhetoric, right out of the gate. I mean, what set him off was a young woman daring to openly speak about having a legal medical procedure; and he responds with a rant that, in its first two sentences, involves war, death cults, aggressiveness, vileness, etc. -- and he's supposedly worried about the alleged 'violence' of those he opposes?
That's just the lead-in, though. It gets better. (And by better, I mean worse. Much.) He spends some time suggesting that "dear Emily" is a "psychopath", but his smug postulations come back around to the Great Truths in time. He informs his readers that
All abortion advocacy is extremism. It is impossible to be moderately in favor of abortion, just as it is impossible to be moderately opposed to it. Seeking a middle ground on abortion is like searching for a middle ground on slavery or genocide. It doesn’t exist, and those who wish to find it will inevitably end up in favor, and those in favor of murderous atrocities are always extremely in favor of murderous atrocities. Your acceptance — however moderate – of a deep and depraved evil, will color your soul in blackness, and send you barreling into a darkness that will utterly distort your moral compass, leading you to bow at the altar of the Culture of Death, where abortion is the highest sacrament.And no, my fellow Dark Souls, this isn't outrageous satire, meant to ridicule or diminish pro-lifers. This person and his purple patches fully appear to be the real deal. Interestingly enough, he moves from depraved evil, highest sacraments and altars of death to lunch trays in the very next statement:
Your conscience is not a lunch tray, with all of the different components separated into their own compartments.A jarring juxtaposition of Sauron-like evil with school cafeteria monotony; but I digress. At any rate, while the facts completely contradict Walsh's assertion that people can not be moderate supporters of abortion rights, well, Matt doesn't let facts get in his way. It simply cannot be done, even though people do it all the time, because Matt says so. Anyone who disagrees is a "liar".
Walsh doesn't simply contradict reality, however. He lies through omission. For example, he notes that
Gawker lament[s] the fact that Emily is receiving lots of hate mail, because you totally would never expect angry feedback when you go through the effort to nationally publicize your decision to terminate your child.What he doesn't tell you -- what's mentioned in the very article to which he links -- is that the "angry feedback" and "hate mail" includes death threats. Matt is a master at downplaying the actual nature of a situation when it doesn't suit him, and this is no exception. After a quick mention that she "totally" received "angry feedback" and "hate mail", without ever alluding to the seriousness of this "feedback", he further downplays it by comparing it to him "whining" that people wouldn't approve of his drowning puppies (in a fictional scenario). So death threats are just "feedback", and people should stop "whining" when self-proclaimed supporters of life respond to a woman's medical decision in perfect pro-life form: by threatening to end her life. (And we're the folks with "distort[ed] moral compass[es]".)
Walsh further distorts the truth when he strongly implies that abortion is an unsafe procedure. He produces a list of potential side effects:
Heavy or persistent bleeding
Infection or sepsis
Damage to the cervix
Damage to the uterine lining
Perforation of the uterus
Damage to other organs
Matt rigorously ignores the obvious -- that there are potential side effects to just about every medical procedure. It's worth noting, by way of contrast, that the potential side effects of a tonsillectomy are hardly more reassuring, and include
Potential reactions to anesthetics
- HeadacheAs with abortion side effects, most of those are very rare. But, oh my god, we should, like, totally ban tonsillectomies, because they're not 100% safe, so therefore they're hideously dangerous!
- Muscle soreness
Swelling (which in turn can cause breathing problems, particularly during the first few hours after the procedure)
Bleeding during surgery (which may require additional treatment and a longer hospital stay)
Bleeding during healing (which may require emergency surgery, and is riskier than scheduled surgery)
Of course, the best part of all of this (take a guess if Matt so much as alluded to it...) is that abortion is not only one of the safest medical procedures around, it is far safer and far less likely to end a woman's life than an uninterrupted pregnancy, with 1 in 2,400 American women dying from pregnancy related causes -- as opposed to 1 in 11,000 women in late term abortions, and 1 in 1 MILLION women in early abortions.
That's right. Matt, along with the requisite medical gore fetishizing and late term fetus shots, posts the images of two young women (one of whom he refers to as having been "murder[ed]" by Planned Parenthood) who tragically died during abortions. He even slaps a quote, absurdly stripped of context, from Ms. Letts, that abortion was "right for" her, "And no one else", on the pictures of the dead women . (The quote referred to Ms. Letts' decision to have an abortion, and it being her choice to make; but, again, Matt seems to think that the need for honesty is superseded by the need to wage "aggressive" and righteous "war" against the
Allow me to reiterate: any medical procedure carries risks. People have died in the dentist's chair, on the operating table, and in the hospital parking lot (see: my grandfather). Every one of those deaths is tragic and utterly regrettable. But that does not change the fact that abortion is an incredibly safe procedure, and even its most dangerous phase (late term) is significantly safer than pregnancy. Matt's crocodile tears here are incredibly transparent, as the thing he's lambasting is actually considerably safer than forced pregnancy (which would carry all the usual pregnancy-related risks, in addition to the added factors like unsafe attempts to end unwanted pregnancies...).
But perhaps the most cynical and disturbing feature of his entire hyperbolic meltdown is the inclusion of Charlotte Dawson in his list of and-no-one-else's. According to Matt, Dawson, "racked with guilt after having an abortion, hanged herself". While it is true that she had an abortion, and that -- over a decade later -- she hanged herself, her ex's tell-all interview and another online Twitter battle with trolls (Ms. Dawson had attempted suicide in 2012 after a similar entanglement), both occurring at that time, are at least as likely candidates for "contributing factor". But the really chilling part of all of this is there is only one crowd who routinely belittles women, shames them, showers them with guilt for choosing to terminate a pregnancy. This would be the crowd that thinks death threats are appropriate "feedback" for exercising the legal right to obtain reproductive care of your choice; that filming your abortion is the equivalent of producing a "snuff film"; that to dispel myths about abortion is the mark of a "psychopath"; that to support a woman's right to chose is to be "vile", "violent" (unlike, apparently, sending death threats), and "murderous". (Sound familiar, Matt? Those are all your words). It's the crowd that stands to gain the most from convincing women that they're evil, vile, murderers if they choose abortion, the crowd that exploits the death of every woman driven to suicide, shame or sadness over an abortion. It's the pro-life crowd. It's the pro-life crowd that, when the inevitable outcome of shaming, badgering and harassing women for making their own reproductive choices is realized, sheds its crocodile tears. It's the Matt Walsh's of the world who, in one breath screech "depraved death cult, murderesses!!" and in the next weeps, "Look what abortion does to these women!"
And that level of duplicity, of brazen deception, is really the most disturbing of all. It's one thing to spew unabashed hatred toward anyone who thinks a woman has a right to decide when and if she'll be pregnant; it's another to pretend that you actually give a damn about the women you just poured your rage-filled heart into blasting. It's like Matt forgets that we can read his whole post, that we can remember that half a page ago he was ranting about blackened souls and murderous cults of death performing the high sacrament of abortion, right before pretending to grieve the loss of those "murderers". Or maybe he's just hoping that, if the sanctimonious moralizing fails to reach his readers, if the overt misrepresentation is spotted, if the tired emotional appeals are too overblown, then maybe, just maybe, the last ditch gore attack will have the hoped-for impact.
At any rate, I have to give Walsh credit -- his is the most absurd, the most duplicitous, the most bizarre hodgepodge of anger and pseudo-concern I've seen in a long time. And that's no small feat, as the right's righteous indignation (and all the crazies that brings along with it) was on full display for this one.
* Of those that I've seen, at least. If I've missed anyone even more, ahem, noteworthy than Mr. Walsh, feel free to nominate them in the comments.