Saturday, January 7, 2012

Personhood's appeal to emotion

I have never been really good at expressing myself. I blame my upbringing and the mind conditioning I was subjected to. At the very early age of 4 yrs. old, if memory serves, I was taught and would practice vigorously a brief presentation for a religious tract. This in itself was a very effective tool used by the ministry of the Jehovah's Witnesses and many other religions as well. I mean, seriously, if a little boy/girl around 4-5 years old came up to you and asked you, "Would you like to live forever on earth in peace and harmony with no fear of sickness or death?" how could you not listen to them and respond in any way, shape or form? Whether it was complete politeness or true heartfelt curiosity, the message was in fact delivered and it was in your mind stewing quietly and provoking some thought on the matter.

 However, one thing that I did manage to take away from all that was the ability to ask people (complete strangers even) some very thought provoking questions in a way that would make them think and, hopefully, start a conversation. I am, however, a little out of practice with going door-to-door and asking these questions, but I have it within myself to use if I should so need to. So exactly were am I going with this? Well, that's a question I had to actually ask myself. Literally, I had to stop typing and recollect my thoughts because I was thinking about one subject when I started and was thinking about 3 different ways I could go from here. (I blame Tweenky for that since, meeting her, she has encouraged me to be myself, express myself, think about the subject matter beyond its surface and read books on skepticism. I have been asking questions from a very young age, but never got answers that made any sense or was told, "'Cause I said so." Now I can find the answers myself and question without fear or disapproval - after all, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," right?)

Ok, so I can get back on track now. The main item I wanted to discuss was the "heartstrings effect". This is something I have been guilty of at a very young age but completely oblivious to it until recently. I have to admit it is a very effective method and it is widely use throughout our daily lives. Now it infuriates me when people use these tactics to mislead or misinform others. Prime example is when any pro-life ad or statement mentions something about "tearing a baby apart" or similar phrases. I mean, come on, really, that is in reference to a procedure used some 30 years ago. The idea and image it puts in your mind makes you have feelings of disgust, sympathy for the baby and outrage that this happens at all. So I ask you all, when you hear someone quoting such bullshit or see it in an article online, call them on it. Help show the rest of the crowd, that seem to act like mindless sheep, that the facts are greatly exaggerated and show them where they can find the truth of the matter. Please help by getting them to look up the information themselves and help educate everyone. There are so few of us out there right now calling them on their bullshit and we can only do so much, but with one person showing a few and a few showing a dozen the numbers grow exponentially and we become a better educated nation as we should be. This in turn will make it harder for them to pull this crap and make them actually own up to what they claim. Seriously though, I'm not immune either - if I'm ever guilty of spewing just flagrant bull, call me on it. I promise to be the bigger person and admit I was wrong, retract a statement and give credit to who ever called me on it. I know my shit stinks just like the next person but i'm not the one blaming the girl down the road for it.

Today, through the use of modern medicine the D&X procedure seems even more barbaric because now we have access to pills that can prevent implantation before sex and even after with "Plan B." So why continue to use this reference to a 30 year old procedure that they are fully aware of is no longer used, except in the rare occasion of a late term complication and there are no other options? It all about the heartstrings: if they can get you emotionally involved, you will be more willing to follow whatever course they have laid out for you. Even if that course leads you down a road that will strip women of their rights in all matters concerning their own bodies. But that's just it, we have so many other options today than we did back then. If the proposed "personhood" amendments are allowed to continue they will eventually reduce all these options drastically.

The recent upsurging push to bring "personhood" up for debate actually hasn't been a debate really at all. They have just skipped the debate and pushed for it to be voted on and even with a ballot initiative failure they now have people in positions to start pushing it in the legislature. Twice now personhood was defeated in 2008, 2010 in Colorado, even recently 2011 in Mississippi it failed by 58%.  In fact, there are several presidential candidates that have mentioned something in line with personhood, banning birth control, etc.

Really? Since when does the majority of the people not have a final say on a matter that affects them directly. This is just like a small child that ask mommy,  "Can I go outside?" "No, dear, it's too dangerous out there!" only to have the child to go ask daddy the same question hoping for a different answer. That is another issue for another blog post in the near future.

When it comes to these heartstrings attempts, I can see their usefulness. That doesn't mean I  condone using it when you're misleading someone to believe lies and half-truths. They are most effective when telling a story and the need for you to become emotionally involved helps you understand the feeling of the words. Take for example the following:

I was recently talking with a few friends about our work involving personhood and what lies we have exposed and such. When, out of the blue, a close friend who rarely gets involved with such things says "What the fuck, are you serious? The government wants to take away my wife and daughter's rights and force them them to continue to carrying the baby should they happen to get raped by some diseased infested, honky, wet-back, nigga?"

Needless to say, I was taken aback. Here is a self-proclaimed Christian, born and raised in the South, and has some hidden racism that I had never heard from him before. It did surprise me but he never expressed anything like that before until it became something that hit him emotionally. Then I thought about what he was saying without the racism involved. He was not only upset that his loved ones would be forced to carry a child of rape and in his mind the rapist could have been of any race but that they were diseased-infested as well.

The very idea that you could be forced to endure a pregnancy from rape is indeed appalling when there are options available. For him to convey that emotio,n he had to imagine the worst possible man and describe him to us. Whether they are diseased-infested, drug-addicted or one of those guys from "The Hills Have Eyes," it's a very emotional picture he painted in words. The difference is he was expressing his opinion as opposed to these pro-life ad or articles that are misleading people as they are describing a 30 year old procedure that is rarely used unless, as stated before, there is a late term complication and all other options have been exhausted.

So again, please call them on their bullshit - don't stand in it and let them mislead your friends and family.