emberleo: A circular knotwork phoenix (phoenix)
[personal profile] emberleo
I have heard an argument that goes something like this:

"Stop complaining that women are under attack just because a bunch of clinics are being shut down in Texas. The women in Texas still have CHOICES to get their care elsewhere, or even out of state. I have been through hell and have made lots of excruciatingly hard CHOICES, you have nothing to complain about!"

There are SO many problems with the argument above, and especially in this context, that it actually woke my brain up 2 hours early this morning because I couldn't just let it go, so y'all get me ranting on (hopefully artfully) for many paragraphs just to shut my damned brain up about it. Lucky you!

Although I've seen it offered as a trolling tactic, and boy howdy does it work as one, I've also seen variations on this theme offered quite sincerely over the years. "My pain is worse than your pain, therefore [you have nothing to complain about] [your pain doesn't actually exist] [I can not be considered part of any problems causing your pain] [it's fair for you to be in pain and no solution is needed] and you should shut up!"

Welcome to Misery Poker my friends. Some folks call it the Oppression Olympics when it's in the context of politics, and it's one of the bigger problems that need to be addressed by acceptance of intersectionality, but that's another show.

The biggest problem is that the arguments "I've been treated poorly, therefore you have nothing to complain about" (which is a variation on the Appeal to Worse Problems fallacy) and "I've been treated poorly, therefore it's ok to treat other people poorly" (which carries at least one of several possible fallacies depending on which of several implied assumptions are in play), are both just flat out WRONG.

No, it's NOT ok. It's not ok that you've been treated poorly. It's not ok just because you've been treated poorly that other people are also treated poorly. IT IS NOT OK TO TREAT PEOPLE POORLY! And it's perfectly reasonable to protest when you are being treated poorly. And it is essential to protest when you see other people being treated poorly, but that's another show.

Regardless, whether you've been treated poorly yourself, more poorly than others, or quite well actually, it's not ok to silence people who are protesting poor treatment of themselves or others. Somebody having shot you does not mean it's ok for somebody to throw rocks at me. The fact that you've had to suck it up thus far does not mean that everyone should have to suck it up. That's a Naturalistic Fallacy, a false assertion that because this is how things ARE, this is how things SHOULD be. What it means is that something is broken and needs fixing - possibly several things.

To be clear, I'm NOT discounting any pain other people are experiencing. Nobody should have had to suck it when confronted with devastating choices and no good options. When this is an argument being made, it's probably because somebody is coping with the pile of crap they're under by telling themselves that injustice isn't also on the pile, because confronting systemic injustice on top of everything else is just too fucking much to deal with. Frankly, that's one of the reasons civil rights and systemic justice are such a slow process for the people fighting - because being under the pile is SO heavy and costs SO many spoons that they often have to stop fighting and just deal with cleaning up immediate messes for a long time.

I get the need for a way to cope, and if that's how you cope, that's fine - for you. I can understand it being painful to listen to people complain that rocks are being thrown when you're trying to patch a gunshot wound, and it's totally not cool for people to treat you more poorly for having a gunshot wound just because it's unrelated to the rock-throwing they're trying to dodge.

But their complaining about rocks isn't a comment on the value of your gunshot wound, and while it's fair to say "please, I can't deal with this, don't complain about it in my space. I need to keep my spoons for coping with my gunshot wound", the solution there is for you and the protests to not share space. If you're the one who came to the protest, it's your problem, not theirs, that you have a gunshot wound that is more immediate and dire than any given rock-throwing wound they're dealing with. Using your gunshot wound as a counter argument is just a trolling derail in that context. It's NEVER actually okay to say "you have no right to complain about people throwing rocks, because I have a gunshot wound."

Now a few notes about the problems in this context:

The clinics being de-funded (and thus almost certainly shut down) in Texas supply a hell of a lot more healthcare than just abortions and most of that healthcare is provided to extremely low-income families who have no where else to go for healthcare. The clinics are being de-funded because a handful of people, who have more control than the majority of the population they're ostensibly representing, who disagree with them and have made it abundantly clear that it's not okay with them, have decided that there's an ideological problem with one of the dozens of services these clinics provide. Never mind that the service in question is already a non-government-funded service, no, they provide the service at all, so poor people they serve should no longer have any of the healthcare provided by those clinics. What. The everloving. Fuck.

I know that's not quite the argument being made - in this case. The argument being made is much more complicated, in fact, but mostly for the sake of political maneuvers than anything else.

Those clinics supply far more birth control than abortions. Birth control prevents a whole pile of abortions. Birth control mechanisms are also used to treat a number of other problems, I might add, so rendering them illegal or strategically unavailable is also a huge problem, but that's another show.

It's flat out oppression to tell a portion of the population "You can not have what you need, not because it's not possible to make it available, but because we've decided not to make it available despite it being well within our capacity to provide it." and it's significantly worse to cancel the availability of needed goods and services when they're being safely and effectively provided already.

If birth control is not available, people will have unsafe sex anyway (or worse), which just puts STDs and Pregnancy back on the rise. If safe and effective abortions aren't available, women will have unsafe and/or ineffective abortions. According to the World Health Organization an estimated 80,000 accidental deaths each year result from deliberate, illegal, unsupervised pregnancy terminations, and 1 in 4 women who go through an unsafe pregnancy termination will have significant medical complications that may affect her for the rest of her life.

Every alternative to abortion for unconsenting pregnancy comes with a huge pile of ethical and financial problems all their own, and regardless of which of several bad choices a woman chooses, all women giving birth against their will do so after spending 9ish months with their body hijacked by a person they don't know, and didn't invite (no, having sex is not innately inviting pregnancy, any more than saying hello and smiling is inviting sexual assault). Unwanted pregnancy is essentially an STD for which we have a cure, but some people are refusing that cure to people-who-aren't-them on ideological grounds that are not supported by the Constitution, and which they have no right to inflict on us. No amount of support for one life actually obligates a non-consenting person to turn their body into a walking life-support machine for someone else.

I could go on for pages about this, but other people have already done so in far better detail than I ever could, so I'll stop there. The real point of this particular rant was all up in the first section: The fact that one person's life has been very hard does not excuse other people's lives being made unnecessarily harder, it does not render their arguments invalid, and it definitely doesn't make silencing their protests appropriate.

Whew! Now maybe my brain can shut up for a while!

-E-

(no subject)

Date: 2013-07-18 12:46 am (UTC)
brushwolf: Icon created by ScaperDeage on DeviantArt (Default)
From: [personal profile] brushwolf
At the time it was going on it really bothered me that people seemed to forget the class and race issues. Heck, I believe it might qualify as being an age issue too.

I think in this case it may be because the person who was able to take a heroic action to try and stop Texas' Republicans was a well-off blond woman and liberals can be blinded by their own income (as opposed to conservatives, who are almost always blinded by their own income). Reacting to any health concern requires methods of payment, time to work with the treatment, and physically getting to the location where treatment takes place. I am horrified that the least dinged by this whole thing are well off white women who merely face a huge amount of needless costly inconvenience and a dismissive assault on their personhood, and everyone else is worse off.

I don't even think competitive suffering is an even valid here. Why would someone want to cut a social service - isn't that what the government's there for, to protect the citizenry? To save money, to avoid the mere possibility of taxing those with higher incomes. That seems to be the only thing the Republicans are about, because they always want to have money to chuck at the prison system or the war on drugs or harshing illegals (and whoever happens to be legally here sometimes as well). To that end we are all in their sights if we make under 80K/year regardless of our skin color or heritage or even exact income. Given how they've claimed the moral high ground of conspicuous religiousity it's tempting to label all Republicans as Christians, so heck, I will; didn't their god have something to say about rich people screwing over the poor?

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