The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

“Pro-Life” Myth No. 2: “Choice” is a dirty word January 18, 2009

Are you outraged? Are you inflamed with the fires of righteous anger? Are you duly vexed?

What do you mean, you’re not?

No, I’m not talking about the inauguration or either of the pastors speaking at it (the gay one or the one that hates gays – hi, Rick!). I’m talking about the doughnuts. The abortion doughnuts. The deep-fried wonders that are, even as we speak, terminating the pregnancies of any and all pregnant women they see with their glazed little eyes, and the organization that is enabling them to do so – Krispy Kreme [shudder]. Makes me sick (So much more than that Campbell’s Soup ad did a couple of weeks ago).

You don’t believe me? Hear it from my Supreme Overlord, Judie Brown:

Washington, DC (15 January 2009) – The following is a statement from American Life League president, Judie Brown. “The next time you stare down a conveyor belt of slow-moving, hot, sugary glazed donuts at your local Krispy Kreme you just might be supporting President-elect Barack Obama’s radical support for abortion on demand – including his sweeping promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as soon as he steps in the Oval Office, Jan. 20.

So, there you go. And if you still don’t believe me – read it for yourself.

The doughnut giant released the following statement yesterday:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American’s sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies — just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet “free” can be.

Naturally, you understand my outrage. Krispy Kreme is giving out their main product, doughnuts, on Inauguration Day, like there should be some kind of celebration or something that day. Something about commemorating a historic event. Anyway, because Krispy Kreme has, at last count, 27 varieties of doughnuts, they have decided that it makes sense to allow customers to take the flavor of doughnut that they wish. The company is allowing their customers to (for lack of a better word), “choose” what kind of doughnut they want to eat. So, they have used this to justify using the word “choice” in their press release. Twice! In one sentence! It’s obscene. As Judie says:

Just an unfortunate choice of words? For the sake of our Wednesday morning doughnut runs, we hope so.  The unfortunate reality of a post Roe v. Wade America is that “choice” is synonymous with abortion access and celebration of ‘freedom of choice’ is a tacit endorsement of abortion rights on demand.

[…]

Celebrating his inauguration with “Freedom of Choice” doughnuts – only two days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to decriminalize abortion – is not only extremely tacky, it’s disrespectful and insensitive and makes a mockery of a national tragedy.

A misconstrued concept of “choice” has killed over 50 million preborn children since Jan. 22, 1973. Does Krispy Kreme really want their free doughnuts to celebrate this “freedom.””

As of Thursday morning, Communications Director Brian Little could not be reached for comment. We challenge Krispy Kreme doughnuts to reaffirm their commitment to true freedom – to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and to separate themselves and their doughnuts from our great American shame.

Well put.

It’s interesting how one word has become so politicized and overladen with different groups’ issues about sex, religion, and women’s rights. I also saw this in a “Daily Show” segment from a couple months before the election; correspondent Samantha Bee went to the Republican National Convention and asked attendees what they thought of the media treatment of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. Not surprisingly, all of the respondents (that we see) said it was none of anybody’s business, that people shouldn’t be paying attention to or criticizing somebody else’s reproductive and familial decision, and that people should just leave decision-making to the woman and family involved. The kicker? Not one of them seems to be able to invoke the word “choice” when speaking about someone’s right to make her own reproductive decisions without fear of reprisal. Some “choice” quotes:

  • Samantha [trying to get the interviewees to say the word “choice”]: We have a lot of options, and you have to select one…there’s a word I’m looking for, what is it…
  • Woman: Adoption is one, umm…

  • Woman: Freedom of choice? That’s different than being pro-choice.
  • Woman: That is a personal…that’s very personal, and I don’t think she should be attacked for that
  • Woman: Politics should stay out of people’s business
  • Younger woman: I’m sure the family will be able to make the best decision for them.
    Samantha [nodding]: But they’ll have the freedom to make that decision.
    Younger woman: [Loooong silence] Well, yes, but I don’t think that the…I don’t think that the decision…I think it should be…not…I think that…I think the family decision would be, uh, as how…yes, okay.
    Samantha: So, she’s able to make the choice that she doesn’t really think other people should be able to have, right? Does that make sense?

I can’t seem to embed the video, but go here to see it, and here for a partial transcript.

Eventually, only a couple people were able to suck it up and justify Bristol Palin’s decision by saying that she should have the ability to choose to have a baby. But all of the interviewees agreed with that idea. I say it’s not surprising, both because people were trying to defend their VP candidate by any means necessary but more cogently – because that’s what everybody wants. Nobody wants to be criticized for, harassed about, or prevented from choosing whether or not to have a child, just as nobody wants to be ostracized for choosing whether or not to be an organ donor, or whether or not to work outside of the home. The difference between those who are politically “pro-life” and pro-choice is that only the latter extend their personal desire for privacy and compassion to others (with some exceptions, of course; even pro-choice people can be misogynistic douchemonkeys).

In my opinion, there are two overlapping groups of people who identify as (politically) “pro-life”: those in the know, and those who aren’t. Those who aren’t are most of your run-of-the-mill pro-lifers, maybe not protesting outside Planned Parenthood but fully supportive of those who are; firm proponents of abstinence-only sex education; motivated by fear, ignorance, impressionability, and – surprisingly – genuine empathy. Only it’s for embryos, who they have been brainwashed into thinking are every bit as much of a person as that cute little girl you used to babysit. Empathy for the mothers? Why, these are the women who want to kill little Suzie! Would you help a murderer? WOULD YOU? If you don’t vote for these extra abortion restrictions, you are handing MILLIONS of murderesses the gun to go off and slaughter little children by the uterus-ful. How could you ever live with yourself? To these people pro-choice = pro-abortion = DEAD BABIES. So it’s no wonder that they hesitate to use the word “choice”, even though the ability to make a decision doesn’t necessarily connote mass murder. I really hesitate to use the term “sheeple”, as it brings to mind somebody raising money for the now-defunct Ron Paul blimp, but it seems to fit rather well.

As for the wingnuts holding the strings, Amanda at Pandagon puts it well:  choice is “the demonic assault on male supremacy by witches/feminists”. Any pro-life leader worth his or her salt is every bit against all forms of contraception – hormonal, barrier, emergency – as they are against any and all types of abortion – medical, therapeutic, surgical, late-term, “partial-birth” (basically any way a woman would have of controlling her childbearing, save abstinence, which they’re firmly against within the context of marriage). They are also vehemently anti-premarital sex, and would no doubt be anti-sex altogether if humanity could come up with a better way of reproducing that didn’t involve even more sacrificing of embryos. The problem is that almost no one adheres to these rules – sheeple pro-lifers included. By age 44, 95% of Americans have had premarital sex, and 98% of American women use some form of contraception during their lives. (Oh, and yes – pro-life people have abortions too, though probably in lower numbers than those who identify as pro-choice). It’s probable that the small minorities not partaking in these “sinful” behaviors identify as more pro-life, but still – that’s a huge number of people who are talking the talk but not walking the walk, so to speak. I would wager a mixture of selfishness, fear, ignorance, confusion, sanctimoniousness, insecurity, sexism, and just plain assholishness causes this perplexing behavior (with different amounts of each making up an individual sheeperson, of course).

At first glance, how can you tell a difference between a true, hardcore misogynist pro-lifer, and the poor man’s Huckabee? It’s simple. Confront them. All of the people in the Daily Show clip were, in my opinion, sheeple pro-lifers, because they were confused and uncomfortable when put on the spot and asked to explain their hypocrisy; they had never been asked to think about the implications of their beliefs or try to identify with someone else’s point of view. Given the right set of circumstances, a couple people looked as if they might even be open to the idea that pro-choicers don’t eat babies for midnight snacks. A real Pro-Life Giant, though, would have been completely prepared for the verbal assault, as they have thought through everything and are fully aware of what their views entail. A Real Pro-Lifer would, in my opinion, have answered thusly:

RPL: We applaud Bristol Palin’s decision to both continue with her pregnancy and to raise the child on her own rather than give it up for adoption. Though adoption is a much holier choice than is killing an innocent child, we are grateful that Bristol has decided to take full responsibility for her actions and hope that she learns maturity and restraint as she grows into a lovely young woman and mother. Anybody criticizing her decision is a hypocrite on the surface, as the godless liberal claims to care about “choice”, but is actually perfectly consistent, as we know that the term “choice” really refers to the liberal dream of killing unwanted and defenseless babies, and engendering the breakup of The American Family. Your desire to twist Bristol’s selfless and holy decision into a talking point for your abortionist meetings, or to try and trick me into saying that any woman who selfishly decides to kill her children as a matter of convenience is morally upright, is both morally reprehensible and exactly what I would suspect of a female reporter. Shouldn’t you be taking care of your children at home, or have you already aborted all of them?

See?  Big difference.

I seem to have missed my original point, which was that “choice” is not a dirty word. It means exactly what it sounds like. It doesn’t mean that a woman should have the ability to terminate a pregnancy OR the right to carry that baby to term – it means BOTH, and more (including, FWIW, your right to pick a tasty flavor of doughnut on Tuesday). Here’s hoping that people start to wake up and realize that the fact that “choice” is such a loaded word doesn’t indicate that it’s evil – choice is something EVERYBODY wants, and it means the same thing it always did. Any false dichotomy between “choice” and “what is right” was set up by those working to actively eliminate choice for a group (this applies to matters other than reproductive rights, of course). If the group you support suddenly starts losing their shit over Krispy Kreme having a doughnut promotion, that may be a sign that you’re on the wrong side. If the group you support is based on the idea that only people who conform to an arbitrary set of standards and/or are you, deserve to have actual freedom of choice, that is a sign that you’re on the wrong side.

Think about it.

ETA: I seem to have inadvertently published this rabidly pro-choice screed on the morn of Bush’s last accomplishment in office: National Sanctity of Human Life Day – The ultimate irony from a president who showed such disdain for both the quality of life and its actual main attraction of not being death, in the U.S. and abroad. I hereby deliver a hearty “fuck you” to dear Bushie, and fervently hope that the Oval Office door hits his ass on the way out. On both cheeks.

Update: Sigh. Krispy Kreme caved to wingnut pressure  and changed the language of their promotion, along with releasing a statement (h/t Pharyngula). They could have easily released a statement but kept the wording, or just ignored them completely, as the earlier quote in the article describes them as doing. Realistically, I can see why they did give in, as they really weren’t making any kind of political or social statement with their promotion. But still. Every bone thrown to the fundies just reinforces the legitimacy of their cause, particularly when truly ridiculous matters such as these are conceded. In the great scheme of things, KrispyGate is but a speck on the pages recounting the war for reproductive rights. But if you can’t even take a stand about fucking donuts that weren’t at all connected to the “hotbed” issue of whether to not compulsory pregnancy should be enforced, what will become of us when the real chips start flying?

“Pro-Life” Myth Series:

1. You can just give it up for adoption! Problem solved!

2. “Choice” is a dirty word

3.  Pro-Choicers hate babies

3.5. Pro-Choicers hate babies, so they should…have more of them?

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