Overweening Generalist

Saturday, March 23, 2013

North Dakota's In The Stupidest State Race Now

Those of us who follow the awesome powers of idiotic backwardness in Unistat have long marveled at the doings of powerful wingnuts in places like Arizona, West Virginia, and especially those two perennial powerhouses of devolution, Mississippi and Alabama. But there's a new contender in town: North Dakota.

Right wingers in both houses of gummint there have passed a fertilized-egg-is-a-human-being bill. The Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple  hasn't said which way he swings here, but it looks like the good people of North Dakota will vote on whether a zygote is a person in November, 2014. And since I'm betting the voters will not be drawing so much on their knowledge of reproductive biology as what someone told them the Bible said, my heart goes out to the entirety of North Dakota's distaff side (minus those stalwart women who assert they should not have primary rights over what goes on in their own bodies, and that the State knows better).

I tar an entire Unistat state with the term "stupid" but of course I'm not applying this to those who agree with me: that women should have the right to choose as under the Roe decision. So please don't take this personally, North Dakotans who are progressive...all seven of you.

Oh, but let's not use such icky terms as "fertilize" and "egg" and "zygote": the North Dakotans like "personhood." It just feels right.

Doctors in North Dakota are already threatening to leave the state if the bill passes, and I can understand their trepidation: the bill - even though it violates Roe v. Wade - would make a doctor who accidentally damages an embryo or does IVF (in vitro fertilization) a murderer. Not to mention it outlaws abortion, of course.

[Prof. George Carlin on "pro-lifers": If you're a fetus you're fine, but once you're born, you're fucked: they don't give a shit about your life as a walking-around human trying to find love, shelter, clothing, food, a job, etc. Q: So what are these "pro-lifers" really about? A: controlling women. Women should function "as a brood mare for the State."]

Now: even voters in Mississippi have rejected a similar bill. Colorado voters have rejected bills like this three times. And, even though I'd say to my fellow bloggers: start your satirical engines! and begin to make fun of North Dakota!, there are signs that the extreme far, far Right is going to lose this one. For one: Republican pro-lifers in ND think this is too extreme, and will join pro-choicers in activist movements against it. One pro-lifer in ND remarked that they don't even have a mandatory seatbelt law yet, but they want to declare a zygote a human? It was too much, even for her.

Roe allows states to decide about abortions after the 22nd-24th week (roughly 154-168 days into known pregnancy). The second trimester ends at around 180 days. There's one (ONE) (1) place in the state to obtain an abortion, or even if you're having complications with your pregnancy that could kill you: the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, which wouldn't have much of a function if the bill passes, would it?

Many forms of birth control would be outlawed by this bill too, but what really sets me to wondering: how would these amateur theologists know when a sperm successfully ensconced itself in the egg? I think if they're really serious about zygotic personhood they need to train hundreds of thousands of microbiologists/amateur gynecologists, who can enter a dwelling without a warrant, at any time, when they suspect two people have been fucking "in there." They can also be given full State power to order to woman to strip, spread her legs, pee on a stick, and (I don't know, bite on a bullet or something?) endure some scraping or ultrasound or whatever is necessary in order to determine whether a sperm had made that treacherous, against-all-odds journey towards the Mighty Ovum, and...crashed through, blastocyst immanent. (These same Far Right wingers no doubt would also agree that "The government should get off our backs.")

I mean, put your Xtian Ideals on the line here. If you're serious about a zygote being a person, like 'Lil Wayne or Donald Trump or your mother's best friend's second cousin or Queen Noor of Jordan or Aunt Ethel, you need to do this. Don't go this far only to shut down the Red River Baby Killing Clinic; go all the way with your "convictions!"; how could a Good Christian expect anything less?

A spokesman for Personhood USA applauds the good folk of North Dakota, and hopes the bill passes. He says it's a "human rights" issue. (Did the OG make up "Personhood USA"? Gosh, I dunno...Google or Bing it?)

                              A sperm that's made it to the outside of the Ovum, image
                              electron microscope by David Phillips of Visuals Unlimited.
                              Can't you see the person here? (Or will it "be" one in 20
                              minutes from the time this pic was taken?)

Sundry Notes: No Need to Read This Crap
1.) The very idea of zygotic personhood seems a recent concept. Even Aristotle and medieval  Catholicism thought there wasn't a "person" in there until 40 days after fertilization (which explains why the Far Right in ND has been referring to St. Thomas Aquinas as "that socialist progressive"), or, because you can never tell if any of your "boys" successfully swam to the Big Prize: that night after Dad bought mom some flowers and took here out to dinner, and later, after something that passes for "passion," Dad slumped off Mom, slid over, and lit up a Kool. THAT may have been the time to start the possible personhood clock.

How did Arry and the medieval Schoolmen arrive at the nice round number of 40? There are all sorts of obscure reasonings and legitimations if you delve (Which I do not recommend at this time; not with the latest news about the Consumer Price Index. Get out and enjoy life!), but the short answer: they pulled it out of their asses. Domine adiuva me: aye. They did.

2.) The great comedian Bill Hicks once pondered the 18th century idea of preformationism and noted the corollary: that when he was masturbating and ejaculated all over his stomach and/or chest, he was, in effect, "wiping out an entire village." Akin to the My Lai Massacre. Or Newtown, CT. (Actually, a LOT of sperm get spent in one garden-variety ejaculation, so it's more like Pol Pot's "killing fields," but who's counting? Anyway, an interesting idea. Kinda makes ya think, eh? Don't answer that.)

3.) Some comedian or comedians in the late 1970s or early 80s joked about the Moral Majority's stand on abortion (they seem like liberals compared to what we have now, in pockets, all over Unistat) and, using the classic "slippery slope" avenue, wondered how far this can go: "These Moral Majoritarians are so radical that they say life begins at conception! What's next? Life begins at 'Let me slip into something a little more comfortable'?" Aye...(Bang! Zoom!)

4.) Laurence Sterne, the greatest digressionist in all of what Ezra Pound called "licherchoor," in his novel The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman (1759-1767), wants to tell us about his life, but he needs to begin at the beginning and he takes half of the book up before he's finally born. Sterne plays on the 18th century idea of preformationism, in which he's a little homunculi (a very very tiny version of his grow-up self, inside a sperm). Gawd! What a funny book! Joyce liked it too. Here, on topic: skip down and check out the paragraph beginning with, "The Homunculus, Sir, in however low and ludicrous a light he may appear..."


PQ said...

There is an EXCELLENT interview with both RAW and his wife Arlen Riley Wilson on YouTube in which they get into the abortion/"personhood" issue with great angles and insights.

It's a long interview, starting here:

tony smyth said...

Nice post as usual Michael. Amusing. I feel sorry for people who live in the States these days, though some of my favourite artists are from Unistat. Luckily I can enjoy them from a distance : )

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

This is political theater, as it's unlikely to affect actual policy. Let's hope the show closes early, after bad reviews.

michael said...

@PQ: Thanks for adding that link to RAW and Arlen.

@Tony: I think you are indeed lucky to not be here, now. Thanks for the good vibe.

@Tom: I thought it was theater too, but what constituency is being served here? I follow this stuff as a barometer of what they think they MIGHT get away with. The odd thing about N.Dakota: they long ago decided on a State bank, and it was not harmed by the 2008 collapse. I liked their State bank idea; maybe it's a "conservative" idea that I think is smart. (Or just part of a decentralization idea that I like?) A lot of their insulation from the toxicity of Wall St. had to do with economic aspects unique to N. Dakota, but since around 2009 I've wondered how workable the idea would be in the other 49.