On the Frontlines: A Counselor Addresses a Gauntlet of Lies


This article originally appeared in On the Issues magazine and is reprinted here with permission.

Several older women stood on the sidewalk a few feet from the entrance to Choices Women’s Medical Center in Queens, New York. They aggressively approached every woman who walked towards the door, literally getting in their faces with rosaries and anti-abortion literature in hand.

“Don’t kill your baby,” they implored, planting themselves between the woman and the clinic entrance. “We can help you.”

I had come to Choices to interview head counselor Sophia McCoy, and the first thing I asked was what she thought about the protestors.

“I walk in past them every day. I can’t be up in arms about them all the time or I couldn’t do my job. But they really upset some of the women.”

McCoy has headed up counseling services at Choices for five years, training other counselors and, herself, talking to dozens of women each day who come to the clinic for abortions, both first and second trimester. “I discuss the abortion procedure with them,” she said, “and make sure they are sure and feel secure about their decision.”

“By the time a woman arrives at Choices,” McCoy said, “she has already thought a lot about her pregnancy and what to do next. A woman’s decision depends a lot on how well she knows her partner, relations with her family, what’s going on in her life…her age, her school, work, health. Most have tried to talk to a close friend or relative. Making that first phone call to the clinic for an appointment can be very scary. And then they get here and run into the protestors.

“Most women are very firm in their decision. They are generally confident about what they want to do with their lives and often have good support for their decision to have an abortion. It’s not easy for protestors to approach these women. I’ve seen women say, ‘get away from me,’ and walk right up to the door. But I’ve also seen women go back and forth, inside to the waiting room and outside to the protestors, sometimes for an hour. These women are generally more ambivalent to begin with, and the protestors have an easier time talking to them. Some are affected by the offers of free baby showers and financial help for diapers. But this often doesn’t last long. The protestors also tell a lot of lies.”

In fact, much of McCoy’s job is to educate women, something that she accomplishes by bringing to bear both her medical training and her own personal experience. She is on the front lines, addressing a gauntlet of lies and a vacuum of accurate information daily.

After a woman comes into the clinic and registers at the front desk, she has a sonogram and blood work. Then she sees a counselor. “If a woman expresses doubts,” McCoy said, “I try to explore her feelings with her, what the pros and cons are of having the procedure, based on who she is, and help her resolve any questions. If she feels sad, I tell her it’s okay to be sad, but the main thing is for her to be sure that this is the right thing for her to do at this time. And it has to be her decision, her choice. It’s only after I’m confident this is the case that she has the procedure.”

“The protestors tell women that we don’t care about them. They say that ambulances come and take women away once or twice a day here, that women have to have hysterectomies after an abortion, that we throw away ‘the baby’ (that’s what they call it) in the garbage afterwards. All of these are just lies. And many women don’t know how their own body functions or about the reproductive process.

“I talk to the women about all this. When a patient comes in and she’s upset, I explain to her the importance of being able to come here and what women went through before abortion was legal. I tell them, ‘Today, abortion is very safe, but it wasn’t always that way.’

“Women are not aware of the history of abortion, that women had to be driven long distances to find a doctor who would do one. Or women would get an illegal and unsafe procedure. I tell them this is why we have to fight to keep abortion legal and a woman’s right.”

The Impact of a Photo – And a Teenager’s Death

When she was about 11 or 12 growing up in Queens, McCoy heard her mother and grandmother talking at home about how difficult it had been to get an abortion before it was legal. She read about it in the pioneering women’s health care book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, and saw a photo that she could never forget. It was of a woman lying on a motel room floor who had died from an illegal abortion (now known to be a picture of Gerri Santoro.) After high school when McCoy was an accounting student, she heard about a fellow student who had tried to use a bottle to terminate her pregnancy.

“The topic just kept coming up,” McCoy recalled. “You know how you hear a lot of stories growing up, and some things jump out at you and eventually it all takes shape. Well, these stories stayed with me, and I knew I needed to be part of not letting this happen again.”

“I discovered that accounting really wasn’t for me; I wanted to work with people more. I studied forensic psychology for three years, but then I saw an advertisement for a school for medical and dental assistants and I thought, ‘maybe that’s for me.’ By that time, I was a single mother with three young children. As part of my medical assistant training, I did an internship at Choices specifically to learn about second trimester abortions. And then it happened that I needed a second trimester procedure myself. Shortly afterwards, I applied for a medical assistant job at Choices and was asked to become a counselor because I had worked in every area of the clinic and knew the procedure so well, including through my own personal experience. During my interview, the social worker showed me the exact same photo that had made such an impression on me earlier…I knew this was where I needed to be.”

Another thing that had a big impact on McCoy was the story of 17-year-old Becky Bell, who died from an illegal abortion in 1988 in Indiana, a state that required minors to get parental notification or a judge’s waiver. But word on the street was that the judge was anti-choice and hardly ever said yes. Becky couldn’t bear to “disappoint” her parents, so, it turned out, she got an illegal abortion. A few days later she ended up in a hospital where she died of a massive infection caused by whatever was done to her.

“I have three children, including a 17-year-old daughter,” McCoy said, “and when we first talked about sex, all I could think about was Becky Bell. Young people get the wrong information on the streets or from boyfriends – so I knew what I had to do…even if it meant getting her birth control at a young age. I want my daughter alive and healthy.”

“A parent’s views on sex may differ from her child’s, but I am so happy there is a place like Choices where my children can go if they need to. Teenagers, like Becky Bell, can become desperate to avoid hearing those words, ‘You disappoint me.'”

In fact, McCoy encourages her daughter’s friends to come over to her home to talk, and this has developed into a regular weekly session about what’s going on in their lives, their thoughts and feelings, including about sex, contraception and other reproductive health matters.

Getting Patients to Open Up

“I have to keep asking the patients, ‘how do you feel?'”

“What gets to me most in counseling at the clinic,” McCoy said, “is the lack of self-esteem the women have. I try to get the woman to focus back on herself, her own life, and what she wants.”

This isn’t easy. “Often,” McCoy continued, “a woman will talk about how everyone else feels about the pregnancy but herself. It’s never about them, and I have to keep asking, ‘how do you feel about becoming a mother, what do you want?’ I worry most about the 15-16-17-year olds. They have such low self-esteem, and they think that having a baby would make them more of a person… They also think that a baby would give them the love they often don’t feel from anyone or anywhere else.”

I have to keep asking, ‘how do you feel about becoming a mother?’

“It gets to me sometimes,” McCoy said. “Some women think that having the baby would make their boyfriends stay with them, even though they really don’t want to have a child right now. Their need for someone else’s approval takes over everything else. It comes from an empty space that needs to be filled; until you look in the mirror and like the person you see in it, you’re always going to be seeking approval from someone else. They’ve got to learn to stand up for what’s right for them, and sometimes that means simply saying ‘no’.”

She sees this lack of self-esteem among her daughter’s friends, as well. “The message they get from music videos and TV is it’s okay to run around naked and have sex with multiple partners, that this is the way to get attention, to get love.” McCoy cited one young woman who got her tongue pierced. “I asked her why, and she said she did it because men liked that when women gave them oral sex. Now, I could see it if she said she liked the way it looked or the way it felt,” McCoy continued, “but this was to please a man, not herself!”

“Sex is sometimes not really consensual, with girls just going along with it because their boyfriends want it. This is really just another form of abuse,” she said. “Adult women find themselves in this situation so how could teens be different?”

McCoy said her experience at the clinic as well as with her daughter’s friends shows “there’s a great need for programs in schools and other places where teens can come and talk about these things. When you give them a chance to say what’s on their minds, they really open up, and in a group, they encourage each other to talk. They can see that what they’re thinking and going through is similar to what’s happening to others.”

Until that time comes, Sophia McCoy will be on the frontlines, offering her experience, wisdom and reality-based information to help women make informed decisions that are truly right for them.

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  • kate-ranieri

    Self esteem and approval issues are played every day in Allentown PA where antichoicers, like loose dogs on the prowl, sniff out the weak and vulnerable. They fill them with lies and half truths and, as you mentioned, promises of baby showers, free health care during the pregnancy and free clothes. What they don’t offer is compassion for women that comes from really understanding the complexities of the young woman’s life. All they see is a pregnant female who might win them the prize of another ‘save’ to add to their list.

  • kater7

    That’s exactly what they call it too, a “save” – just read a blog like Jill Stanek’s. One guy, instead of giving directions to a clinic for a woman who wanted an abortion, instead directed her to a CPC. He “saved” her and her “baby.” Never mind what she wanted or whether she really understood what was going on or where they were going. I think they mentioned that she spoke broken English, so it’s possible she didn’t understand.

  • paul-bradford

    I just visited the Choices website and learned that it is a for-profit women’s health center.  Abortion services are advertised on the home page of the ‘site!  Doesn’t it just gall you that the anti-choicers are so paranoid that they’re not willing to trust the good folks at Choices to give accurate and unbiased information?

     

    The problem, simply put, is that everyone who makes it their business to counsel women with problematic pregnancies has an axe to grind.  We need the government to open up centers with social workers and women’s health specialists where the counsellors are accountable to the public at large.  This is the way to guarantee transparency and to make sure that women get accurate, unbiased and complete information.  The women in our society deserve nothing less.

     

    Write to your state legislator.

  • crowepps

    We need the government to open up centers with social workers and women’s health specialists where the counsellors are accountable to the public at large. This is the way to guarantee transparency and to make sure that women get accurate, unbiased and complete information.

    And yet that can’t possibly work, can it, since the law in most states is that public health agency social workers and women’s health specialists paid for with government funds are NOT allowed to give accurate, unbiased and complete information about abortion but instead forbidden to speak of it or tasked to discourage it and instead encourage completion of the pregnancy and adoption. And of course those public health agency social workers and women’s health specialists have been granted a ‘freedom of conscience’ right to dish out inaccurate, biased and incomplete information in order to get an outcome in line with their ‘morality’/personal religion.

     

    As a matter of fact, the newest fad in ProLife laws is to forbid PRIVATE women’s health specialists from giving accurate, unbiased and complete information and instead require them to read verbatim a script of lies and misinformation written by politicians and designed to ‘scare the girl out of the clinic’ even when they know the information is incorrect and to violate THEIR ‘freedom of conscience’ by requiring them to lie to patients.

     

    I agree with you that “The women in our society deserve nothing less” than “accurate, unbiased and complete information” but neither the “public at large” nor the government is qualified to supply that information since both seem to be totally unfamiliar with the same.

  • mechashiva

    “For Profit” just means that it is a private clinic. It’s no more sinister than any other private medical clinic that specializes in a particular area of medicine.

     

    I worked at a private abortion clinic for two years. I can tell you that the employees don’t care what women choose, they care why they choose. It isn’t like we get paid on commission, you know. And I’ll tell you something else, when you have a crowded waiting room full of unhappy people, you’re perfectly happy to send ambivalent women home or to another department. Fewer patients. Shorter day. Pick your kids up on time. Get dinner started at a decent hour. Those are the priorities of an overworked, underpaid medical assistant, not increasing profits for the company.

     

    Never confuse counselors with upper management people (or the company’s owners or shareholders) who do not interact with patients. There are definitely issues with for-profit medicine, but they are not unique to (or made extraordinary by) abortion clinics.

  • kate-ranieri

    MechaShiva, thanks for making the point about for profit organizations and the impact on choice. From my observations, the antichoicers are obsessed with the issue of profits and greed. They talk to clients about how much money the doctors and directors make. They lie about motives saying “they care about profits, they don’t care about you.” They write about money in their scandalous pamphlets. What they don’t write about is the money they take for protesting from deep pockets in the antichoice movement or the frivolous lawsuits they file against municipalities and clinics across the nation. I’d argue that we need to reconcile reality. Doctors, nurse and counselors who work in the abortion clinics are no different than doctors, nurses or counselors who work in orthopedic, cardiology or dental clinics. They ALL work for a living. It’s the antichoicers on the street who get paid to protest or who file frivolous lawsuits who are the greedy ones, taking money from others.

  • crowepps

    It’s the antichoicers on the street who get paid to protest or who file frivolous lawsuits who are the greedy ones, taking money from others.

    While I’m aware that the leaders of the anti-choice organizations make a nice fat living from donations, and that donations are also used to fund transportation and living expenses for what I can only call ‘professional protestors’ who travel around the country, and certainly of the frivolous lawsuits filed by anti-choice organizations as a way of blackmailing local governments and law enforcement into providing exemption from the laws of civility, I have not heard anything about the average obsessive waving their sign and shouting through a megaphone outside clinics being paid to protest.  I thought they were just your garden variety power-freaks getting off on their ability to form a mob and harass strange women.

     

    Do you have a link to any factual information about this?

  • kate-ranieri

    Much of the evidence that I have is tied up in litigation so, no, I cannot provide any public information at this time about what I know. Additionally, I did not intend to imply that protesters bragged about being paid. In fact, they don’t talk about their personal funding. They’re concerned with clinic staff funds. I apologize if I spoke out of turn or if there was a misunderstanding. 

  • mechashiva

    Here’s what I have heard:

     

    Most of the protesters outside our clinics are affiliated with a CPC (or multiple CPCs). Some are volunteers, but a good number are staff of such organizations. CPCs get federal funding and lots of private donations, some of them are meant for specific campaigns the CPCs run, including “sidewalk counseling.” So, the staff are effectively paid to protest.

     

    Think of Crisis Pregnancy Centers as political offices. The fake clinic is a front on multiple levels, since they don’t actually offer medical services AND the outreach to pregnant women is not the primary focus. They exist as a funnel for money and a meeting place for anti-abortion activists to plan and carryout campaigns.

  • kate-ranieri

    Again, MechaShiva, thank you for your insights. I’m making feeble attempts at responding at a time when I’m not fully mindful. You’re so right about CPCs but there are also individuals with deep pockets who are unscrupulous in their efforts to undermine.

     

  • jodi-jacobson

    My kids’ pediatric practice

    my dentist

    my kids’ dentist

    my dermatologist

    my periodontist

    my internist

    my OB-GYN practice

    my opthamologist

    the place I buy prescription glasses

    my orthopedic sports doctor

    my acupuncturist

    the hospital that did my knee surgery last year

    the hospital (different one) to which I and my daughter were admitted on two different occasions for different urgent medical problems

    a third hospital i once visited because of a slip and fall that led to a gash in my head.

    the night-time urgent care unit to which i have taken my children for ear and throat infections during the past ten years more times than i can count.

    the pharmacy at which i get our family’s prescriptions

     

    my point? Many of us see “for-profit” doctors and clinic all the time.

     

    I have yet to be in a situation–including during the time i had an abortion– where i was pressured into doing anything.  I am routinely offered by medical professionals I see an analysis or diagnosis, if one is necessary, of any relevant conditions and a set of options from which to choose about my care.  I make my own decisions.  Often these involve possible risks and consequences, as did for example knee surgery, and the periodontal surgery i had on my lower jaw to correct a problem some years back.

     

    Are there physicians in the above categories who push for unnecessary tests or are unethical?  yes, there are a few bad apples in every profession.  We all know that.  But they are the exception, not the norm.

     

    So please explain to me why it is that reproductive health clinics and/or abortion providers are singled out, Paul, by your need to have them government funded (which, for the reasons spelled out here they can not be anyway) to “protect” women?

     

    Why is it so difficult to understand that like all the different kinds of medical professionals outlined above, doctors and other medical professionals providing abortion services are guided by a deep set of ethics and a desire to serve their patients according to best practices and according to the code of conduct laid out by the medical establishment?  

     

  • prochoiceferret

    my point? Many of us see “for-profit” doctors and clinic all the time.

    Hey, go easy on Paul. Perhaps he used to be Paul Bradford, Pro-Life Communist for (Paul Bradford’s) Choice, and is confused and bewildered by how capitalism works. So naturally, he presents a solution that is structured the only way he knows how.

     

    After all, when all you have is a hammer and sickle, every problem looks like a Five-Year Plan.

  • crowepps

    I don’t think you spoke out of turn, it was just new information to me and I was interested in hearing more about it!

  • crowepps

    I would certainly hope that the Federal grant monies received by CPCs are restricted from being used to pay staff as protestors, particularly when their protests violate the FACE Act.

     

    It’s kind of ironic that Federal grants have turned CPCs, which USED to be organized and supported by volunteer efforts, into the ‘anti-abortion industry’ with paid staff making a living by protesting that medical staff shouldn’t ‘make a living off abortion’. It would sure be interesting to take a look at their financial records, as they keep insisting they should be free to do with clinics.

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    This issue is a perfect example of why you folks on the abortion rights side ought to stop demonizing moderate Pro-Lifers like Paul Bradford and ought to stop pooh-poohing common ground efforts to bring folks on the Choice side and the Life side together.

     

    I am convinced — more convinced, apparently, than many of my sisters and brothers in the movement to protect fetal rights — that the unborn are best protected by open disclosure.  The more women understand the truth, the less likely they will be to want to destroy their children.  

     

    The accusations on this thread about misinformation being spread by Pro-Lifers are concerning to me.  To give you an example, there was mention made of promises to financially support distressed mothers that, according to this article, didn’t pan out.  Stories like that certainly don’t help the very young.  A government agency could disseminate information to pregnant women about REPUTABLE organizations that are willing to help and screen out those who make empty promises.  An effort to get to the bottom of things will result in benefits for the unborn and benefits for their mothers.  Obviously, I’m in favor of having the government monitor organizations that make promises to pregnant women.  You should be too.

     

    That’s an example of a ‘common ground’ solution.

  • paul-bradford

    PCF,

     

    You really ought to swap notes with colleen.  She’s convinced I’m a right wing religious reactionary and you’re convinced I’m a Communist.  Could it possibly be that the truth is somewhere between those extremes?

  • paul-bradford

    my point? Many of us see “for-profit” doctors and clinic all the time.


    Jodi,

     

    Of course we all see ‘for profit’ medical professionals!  I myself work for a ‘for profit’ health care provider.  I’m not begrudging anyone their profit.  It’s not profit I object to — it’s abortion.

     

    Please think this over and suggest to me any other commonly performed medical procedure that millions of people in our society are convinced is unethical.  Most of us on the Pro-Life side go far beyond thinking that abortion is ‘unethical’.  We think it’s downright evil!

     

    My point — and I’d like you to consider this seriously — is that people who are in the business of providing abortion (even if their profit margin is within ethical limits) are in no position to present to their clients with a cogent argument that the procedure itself is unethical.

     

    Your dentist isn’t going to tell you that getting a crown is immoral.  Your dermatologist isn’t going to warn you of the evils of skin ointments.  Your optometrist isn’t going to tell you that it’s a sin to wear contacts.  That doesn’t matter, though, because no sane person is concerned about the ethics of those practices.  

     

    When a woman visits a health clinic that provides abortions she’s not going to have a chance to talk to a thoughtful, well informed, courteous and compassionate individual who takes the rights of the unborn seriously.  Such a person wouldn’t work in a clinic like that.  So, the clinic is inherently biased.

     

    On the other hand, such a person may be willing to take a position as a social worker and provide accurate information to pregnant women who need to learn about their options.  And pregnant women deserve accurate information — they shouldn’t have to go to an abortion clinic to get it.

     

     

  • crowepps

    This issue is a perfect example of why you folks on the abortion rights side ought to stop demonizing moderate Pro-Lifers like Paul Bradford

    Nobody here is ‘demonizing’ you, Paul – you’re neither that important nor that powerful.  We just disagree with you.  Get over yourself.

    A government agency could disseminate information to pregnant women about REPUTABLE organizations that are willing to help and screen out those who make empty promises.

    But of course the government agency wouldn’t be allowed to refer those pregnant women to any organization that provides abortion, right?  Because the only way ProLife activists would accept the government being involved would be if the government agency information was restricted and didn’t give out ALL of the ‘truth’.

     

    Ran across something that you might find interesting even though the subject he was discussing was actually homosexuality:  [Bolding added]

    “One thing we need to do is to translate our private creedal and ideological languages into more accessible idioms. Traditionalist Christians opposed to full rights for LGBT individuals have every right to express their views. But if they want to be heard, they need to translate private terms like Jesus, God’s word, salvation, sin, and hell into language that describes the human experience behind those terms that could resonate with the increasing numbers of people for whom religious language does not mean anything. Calling an act a sin, declaring that someone is going to hell, or claiming something is from God is not making an argument, as it is precisely the content and definition (the reality) of what constitutes sin, hell, and God’s word that is in question. After all, believers or not, we all know that something designated as a sin in one generation, say interracial marriage, can become permitted in another, and that something “God says” is legitimate in one generation, say slavery, can become a sin in another. Ironically, in some respects, this makes God a wash in our cultural conflicts. If traditionalists want to be heard, they need to get at the experience and explain why they so strongly feel that something is a sin rather than just arguing that it is a sin.

     

    Similarly, if secularists want to be heard more clearly, they need to translate principles like justice, fairness, and equality into the human experience behind them. Calling for a need for justice and equality is not making an argument because in cultural conflict, it is precisely the content of these principles that is being contested, and we all know that something seen as just, fair, and equal in one generation can come to be seen as unjust, unfair, and unequal in another. Getting at the personal experience, explaining why one is so angry and hurt by what one is labeling unjust and unequal, is the only way advocates for social change can be heard and evoke the empathy necessary to widen consciousness.”

     

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-irwin-kula/homosexuality-redux-can-w_b_578137.html

     

  • crowepps

    When a woman visits a Catholic hospital for maternity care she’s not going to have a chance to talk to a thoughtful, well informed, courteous and compassionate individual who takes her right to avoid pregnancy or even to survive pregnancy seriously. So the Catholic hospital is inherently biased against women.

  • prochoiceferret

    You really ought to swap notes with colleen.  She’s convinced I’m a right wing religious reactionary and you’re convinced I’m a Communist.  Could it possibly be that the truth is somewhere between those extremes?

    Paul Bradford is a Commie pinko fundie fascist Bible-thumper?

     

    (Hey, I’m sure Paul Bradford wouldn’t be the first…)

  • jodi-jacobson

    is informed by your religious doctrine.

     

    And we’ve done this dance before.  I do not share your religious doctrine and do not wish for my health or those of others to be governed by it when they do not wish to be, nor do I wish for my reproductive choices nor those of others to be governed by Catholic ideology if they do not wish to be.  I do not think Catholic ideology has any place in public health practice, nor that of any other religion for that matter, except as freely chosen by the individual in question.

     

    And in deed, if not in answers to pollsters, Catholic women agree, because a third of women obtaining abortions in 2008 were Catholic, a share higher than that of Catholics in the population at large.

    You state:

    My point — and I’d like you to consider this seriously — is that people who are in the business of providing abortion (even if their profit margin is within ethical limits) are in no position to present to their clients with a cogent argument that the procedure itself is unethical.

    I simply completely reject the entire premise of this statement.  Because for one thing I do not believe abortion is per se unethical and I believe that the vast majority of women also agree, in deed if not in words. Therefore there is no conflict for the provider of this or any other medical or public health intervention who is following best practice.

    I believe an abortion can be an ethical choice and a moral choice.  I believe women are well-equipped to make those choices for themselves and that they are moral and ethical agents.  I believe they are smart enough to know what is best for themselves and their current or future families, or for the children they don’t feel equipped to bear.

     

    And yes, I think there are more than enough instances of unethical practices in medicine outside of reproductive health care.

     

     

    The issue is one of you not understanding the separation between your church and my state of well-being and choice, so to speak, or that of millions of women (and for that matter the men who support them) throughout the world.

     

    What is unethical is to be a proponent of forced gestation, forced pregnancy, forced childbirth, and needless death of women who could otherwise live but for the strictures of the institutional Catholic Church and other fundamentalist religious bodies–be they Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Islamic or other forms of fundamentalist–intervening in their health and lives.

     

     

  • crowepps

    Whether or not Paul is right-wing, a religious reactionary or a commie is of course totally irrelevant to the soundness of his opinion on this or any other issue, so I don’t really care what ‘the truth’ is about him.

     

    In my opinion, his opinion is not ‘reality-based’ but instead emotional and ego-centric.

     

    In addition, the communication style in which he tends to post is ineffective in changing my and others minds, because first he assumes that if we LIKED him we’d agree with his opinion, which is just silly, and his meme consistently is that if I and the other posters here would make an effort to improve our CHARACTERS then I and they would agree with his opinion. He seems to be totally incapable of grasping the offensiveness of that argument.

  • crowepps

    The assumption that one can only be ‘ethical’ if one conforms with the ‘Catholism of Paul’ is offensive. The attitude is summed up beautifully in this snark on the Kazan nomination at Daily Kos:

    They have failed to act in their capacity – as defined by you – of being your personal agents in Washington, and instead acting as if they have minds of their own, and have to represent other people as well. It’s almost as if they believe they’re human beings in a society of other human beings, trying to do a job with many interlocking and occasionally interfering responsibilities. Where do they get such crazy ideas?

     …

    Government would work better if everyone else just did what you told them. Not a dictatorship, of course – that would be like if someone other than you were in charge. But a healthy representative democracy, where you personally choose who goes to Washington, and closely monitor and direct their every word and movement minute-by-minute lest they start making decisions autonomously like a human being entrusted with responsibilities.

     …

    This President clearly has a bias against You. He has an anti-You agenda, because he is either You or against You. He has completely failed to fulfill the campaign promises You think he should have made instead of the ones he actually did. I really feel for Your suffering, the way people keep shoving it in your face that they exist and are not just meat puppets of your imagination.

     

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/5/12/865581/-The-Problem-With-Elena-Kagan-Is-That-Shes-Not-You

  • jrm83

    While I do not know the exact numbers, there are many people who feel that the practice of circumcising male infants is unethical.  I fully expect to be told that these are not comparable because circumcision doesn’t involve “taking a life.”  However, circumcisions are generally performed for cultural or religious reasons, rather than medical and are also performed on individuals who are not capable of giving consent, so there are definitely legitimate ethical objections to allowing these procedures to continue to be performed.  Additionally, the doctors who perform circumcisions are compensated for the procedures.  Does this mean that doctors who perform circumcisions aren’t to be trusted because they are doing so “for profit”?

  • colleen

    Paul,

    She’s convinced I’m a right wing religious reactionary

    You know Paul, you can be as passive-aggressive and avoidant and nasty as you like, but you were wrong and you are still wrong.. You did in fact disparage and dismiss the Unitarian Universalist church as a “cult”. You do, in fact, regularly disparage other people’s religious and spiritual beliefs in this forum.
    It’s astonishes me that you are apparently unable to even admit you’ve been wrong about a little thing or muster up the common decency to apologise for accusing me of lying when clearly I had not. Even a little thing like that, a lesson good parents teach their 5 year olds and you cannot summon up the bit of grace to admit your error.

    And you want to lecture us about our SPIRITUAL lives? Please.

  • crowepps

    And of course it’s obvious that parents talking to staff in the office of a doctor who does circumcisions for profit aren’t “going to have a chance to talk to a thoughtful, well informed, courteous and compassionate individual who takes the rights of the infant boy seriously… because such a person wouldn’t work in a clinic like that.”

     

    I bet you could say the same thing about ANY doctor who treats children for any condition whatsoever — the fact that they treat the child OBVIOUSLY means that they don’t take the ‘rights of the children’ seriously, because if they really, truly understood the rights of the children and took them seriously, they wouldn’t ever do anything painful, and they would  wait to give them medical care until they were old enough to understand what was at stake and ask for it themselves.  Of course, a lot of them would probably DIE, but that’s just the necessary price that has to be paid in order to uphold JUSTICE!

  • emma

    Of course we all see ‘for profit’ medical professionals! I myself work for a ‘for profit’ health care provider. I’m not begrudging anyone their profit. It’s not profit I object to

    Oh right, so you believe that only people who can afford to pay are deserving of your help? That the right to profit from other people’s misery outweighs the right to health? I guess you think poor people should just crawl away and die.

    Most of us on the Pro-Life side go far beyond thinking that abortion is ‘unethical’. We think it’s downright evil!

    What’s evil is encouraging 9- and 10-year-old rape victims to risk their lives trying to continue pregnancies that are more likely to kill them than be completed successfully. You just don’t want to admit that I’m right because then you’d have to give up your cherished belief that your church is a force for good in the world. All the stuff about our being ‘afraid to admit the truth’ is just you projecting your own reality onto us.

  • ack

    Paul:

    Did you miss the part of the “Choices” webpage where they talked about the prenatal care they provide?

  • wendy-banks

    Paul Bradford is a Commie pinko fundie fascist Bible-thumper?

    *giggle* Shades of Archie Bunker talking to his Son-in-law Mike…

  • colleen

    When a woman visits a health clinic that provides abortions she’s not going to have a chance to talk to a thoughtful, well informed, courteous and compassionate individual who takes the rights of the unborn seriously.

    See, “thoughtful, well informed, courteous and compassionate individuals” don’t force pregnant 10 year olds to carry pregnancies to term because the child might survive. Indeed “thoughtful, well informed, courteous and compassionate individuals” don’t endorse and enable such behavior. Indeed individuals who do such things are no better than men who impregnate 10 year olds.

  • crowepps

    According to a story in today’s news, a 3-month old is worth about 80 ounces of beer.

    CHICOPEE, Mass. – Authorities say a Massachusetts man offered to give his 3-month-old daughter to a maintenance man outside a gas station convenience store in exchange for a pair of 40-ounce beers.

    Chicopee police say 24-year-old Matthew Brace of Northampton made the offer on Monday. The maintenance man called police, who found Brace hiding with the girl behind a trash container.

    State child welfare officials took the baby into custody.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100518/ap_on_re_us/us_baby_for_beer;_ylt=Aunuqyz.wFZXkICr9NfbLARvzwcF;_ylu=X3oDMTJtcWY5MDcwBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwNTE4L3VzX2JhYnlfZm9yX2JlZXIEcG9zAzExBHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDbWFzc21hbmFjY3Vz

     

  • paul-bradford

    The issue is one of you not understanding the separation between your church and my state of well-being and choice

     

    Jodi,

     

    Cultivating an ability, and a willingness, to understand your point of view in this vital concern is a high priority for me.  One does not have to delve too deeply into the history of the Catholic Church before one discovers how much harm we have caused over the years when we’ve attempted to implement disrespectful (sometimes lethally disrespectful!) methods to “help”, “encourage” or otherwise facilitate non-believers to accept our religious practices and beliefs.  If I were you, I would want to protect myself and the people I loved from such methods.  In fact, I’m NOT you — I’m me, and I want to protect myself and the people I love from such methods!

     

    If I understand you correctly, you’re not only concerned about the MANNER these beliefs are propagated, you’re concerned about the beliefs themselves.  I’ve had a chance to read a lot of what you write, and I get the idea that you believe that the very notion that the unborn have a right to live is detrimental to the health, lives and well-being of women — all women, including Catholic women.

     

    You say, “I believe an abortion can be an ethical choice and a moral choice.”  You seem to be saying that many of the women who’ve had abortions are concerned about others, respect life and attempt to adhere to a moral code.  I wonder if you agree with me that in order for an ethical person to procure an abortion she would have to be of the opinion that the unborn do NOT have the same human right to life that born people have.  I say that because I assume that you and I and most everyone agrees that people have a right to life.  Our disagreement isn’t over whether people have a right to life, or whether people have an obligation to respect the lives of others, our disagreement is over who is included in the category of ‘people’.

     

    I’ve long known that the rate of abortions among Catholic women is higher than the rate among non-Catholics.  Of course, the idea of respecting life isn’t uniquely Catholic nor is it unique to those who believe in religion.

  • jodi-jacobson

    We disagree strongly who is included in the category of people. 

    You are also correct in saying:

    I wonder if you agree with me that in order for an ethical person to procure an abortion she would have to be of the opinion that the unborn do NOT have the same human right to life that born people have.

    We have had this conversation before and you here with many others.  I do not accord a zygote equivalency with a person.  I do not believe that a fetus life outweighs the rights to health and life of a living, breathing woman.

     

    I believe–with numerous caveats–that viability is a considered and good standard for the balance between social responsibilty and individual rights and needs.  I believe that the vast majority of women (and in many cases their partners) who individually or jointly choose abortion are making ethical and moral decisions about how best to build, protect, nurture, provide for, and ensure the health and wellbeing of their current or future families.

     

    And if there are–as there always will be–cases in which, if I knew all the details, thoughts, sentiments, weights, and so forth that went into a decision and I found I personally might have done something different or I disagreed with that particular person’s decision, it still does not matter.

     

    I just don’t know how to say it any more simply and I don’t think there is much more to fathom here.  You believe a fertiltized egg to have the same rights as a living breathing woman.  I do not.  I respect and defend your right to your beliefs.  I do not wish to have them imposed on me, and I know that imposing them on women writ large will lead to widespread suffering and death among women, and for their families.

     

    Jodi

  • crowepps

    I wonder if you agree with me that in order for an ethical person to procure an abortion she would have to be of the opinion that the unborn do NOT have the same human right to life that born people have.

    No, I do not agree she would have to be of that opinion. That is your unique and personal mania, your ‘Great Idea’, and you give it such undue importance that you assume women who have abortions must consider it. Most women probably do not frame the question in that way at all.

    I say that because I assume that you and I and most everyone agrees that people have a right to life.

    People do not have a right to life at the expense of OTHER people’s lives.

    Our disagreement isn’t over whether people have a right to life, or whether people have an obligation to respect the lives of others, our disagreement is over who is included in the category of ‘people’.

    No, it is not. Classifying the ZBEF just for the sake of this discussion classified as ‘people’, it is then necessary to BALANCE the rights of the TWO people involved and decide whether the presence of the ZBEF means the woman loses most of HER inherent rights because the ZBEF has special and unique rights whereby they’re entitled to kill or enslave another person.

    Of course, the idea of respecting life isn’t uniquely Catholic nor is it unique to those who believe in religion.

    That’s very true – what seems to be uniquely Catholic /Christian fundamentalist is the idea that the most important things in a medical emergency are for the attending medical personnel to avoid ‘sin’ (even though their neglect kills the pregnant woman ALONG WITH the doomed fetus) and that the medical personnel are justified in imposing martyrdom on the pregnant woman in the belief that she SHOULD choose to die rather than ‘sin’.

  • colleen

    I get the idea that you believe that the very notion that the unborn have a right to live is detrimental to the health, lives and well-being of women — all women, including Catholic women..

    You and your church demonstrate the validity of this fact constantly. Just last week you were arguing that a pregnant 10 year old should be forced to try to carry a pregnancy to term if a ‘pro-life’ Doctor decided that she had a greater than 50% chance of survival. Are you claiming that this sort of ‘respect’ for life isn’t dangerous to all women and girls? And isn’t demeaning and degrading? Seriously?

  • paul-bradford

    See, “thoughtful, well informed, courteous and compassionate individuals” don’t force pregnant 10 year olds to carry pregnancies to term because the child might survive.

     

    colleen,

     

    Was there a discussion somewhere about ‘forcing’ a ten year old to carry a pregnancy to term?  I guess I missed it.  I participated in a thread where it was understood that ten year olds ought not be making major medical decisions on their own behalf and we were considering what a responsible adult, making a decision on the child’s behalf, would decide to do in the tragic circumstance of a pregnancy caused by rape.

     

    I had a ten year old girl not too long ago and I couldn’t ‘force’ her to do anything — but I, along with her mother, had to make medical decisions that related to her well being.  Happily for her, my daughter was never confronted with any sort of situation that might be described as traumatic.  I do, however, have some thoughts about what I would do, and what I should do, if I had a child in my care who was traumatized and another child in my care who was at risk for her/his life.  When the well being of children is at stake, an adult must be extremely careful to do the right thing — so it’s probably a good idea for adults like you and me to speculate about hypothetical situations, just in case a difficult situation should come up in real life.

  • ahunt

    So you’ve no issues with gambling with the life of a ten year old rape victim.

  • colleen

    I participated in a thread where it was understood that ten year olds ought not be making major medical decisions on their own behalf and we were considering what a responsible adult, making a decision on the child’s behalf, would decide to do in the tragic circumstance of a pregnancy caused by rape.

    You participated in a discussion where you were fully aware that the 10 year old child had been separated from her mother’s care and was being forced to carry a pregnancy to term by adults who believe that even pregnant children should be forced to sacrifice themselves.

    When the well being of children is at stake, an adult must be extremely careful to do the right thing

    Two things. First, the notion that a 4 month fetus is a ‘child’ is a religious belief and, as we have all made clear to you many, many times, it is not one that we share.I’ve always called you on this habit you have of disrespecting the beliefs of others while trying to manipulate us into acceptance of your dogma. We just aren’t that stupid. a zygote is not a ‘child’, a 4 month old fetus is not a ‘child’.
    However, the 10 year old IS a child and the notion that she ‘might’ survive a pregnancy does not mean that your beliefs about her duty and role in all this and your church’s dogma and treatment of her aren’t intrinsically demeaning and denigrating to her person and the person of all females they are also dangerous for her and dangerous to everyone born with a uterus. The notion that you regard the argument, “but she might survive” as a reasonable and defensible statement demonstrates how out of touch and twisted your views and the views of the Catholic church are.

    for adults like you and me to speculate about hypothetical situations, just in case a difficult situation should come up in real life.

    I’m not engaging in this to ‘speculate’. You were mocking the many times established established evidence that your views and Catholic doctrine are dangerous to the welfare of women, all women. I was explaining one of many ways that they are. I wasn’t ‘speculating’. You and your church consistently and value a potential life over the life or person of anyone born female.

  • emma

    So, I guess if your daughter had been a pregnant rape victim at the age of ten, you would have let her die. According to you, the morally correct course of action would, for all intents and purposes, have been to help murder your daughter.

     

    Nice.

  • julie-watkins

    Back in the original thread, which is here:]

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2010/04/21/roundup-antichoicers-forced-pregnancies-child-rape-victims

    Paul wrote:

    If both lives are saved in this instance, what would you say to the baby when s/he is grown up?  Would you admit that you were willing to toss her/his life away?

    I objected to the the “tossing away” characterization of our motives, for what I believe were good reasons. The 5th time I asked, the wording was this:

    Julie wrote:

    Do you still insist on the “tossing away” phrase in response to our concern for the pregnant preteen’s health and probable risk of permanent injury & high risk of death?

    To reinterate, “tossing away [a fetus or "unborn child"]” is something you should use (if you have to use it) to someone like me who had an early abortion when I discovered I was pregnant and didn’t want to be a parent, nor did I want to expend the biological resources of attempting to bring a pregnancy to term. I would disagree, of course, that “tossing away” is an accruate description of my husband and I deciding I shouldn’t give a gift — but I can understand why you would have that opinion.

    .

    A pregnant 10 year old is another case entirely. Even if she might “survive” I’m scared of what “survival” might mean, and I’m angry at doctors who think it’s appropriate to take the risk. If (probably) the pregancy goes wrong and a late abortion is done (would they wait until there’s no fetal heartbeat to be sure there won’t be a miracle?) see here:

    http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/98/10/1774

    quoting from the abstract:

    Catholic-owned hospital ethics committees denied approval of uterine evacuation while fetal heart tones were still present, forcing physicians to delay care or transport miscarrying patients to non–Catholic-owned facilities.

     

    That was the context of why I and others were wanting doctors to perform an abortion as soon as possible, because almost all 10 year old girls would be badly damaged and have high risk of death if attempting to complete a pregnancy. “Tossing away” is a manipulative and slanderous accusation for you to use to describe our concern for the girl’s health/life and I’m asking you to either defend yourself or withdraw the accusation. Please. Will I need to ask a 7th time?

    .

    PS: My answer to your above insulting question (which you didn’t comment on) was:

    Julie wrote:

    I would say: “The cost to give you life was almost too high. You’re mother’s doctors took an unethical decision to risk tossing your mother’s life and health away on the 5% [or less, this is a generous guess] risk that there would be a miracle and we have this good outcome. Would you make that choice for your daughter?”

     

  • paul-bradford

    You know Paul, you can be as passive-aggressive and avoidant and nasty as you like, but you were wrong and you are still wrong.. You did in fact disparage and dismiss the Unitarian Universalist church as a “cult”.

     

    colleen,

     

    I claim that you are 100% misinformed.  I never have said anything disparaging about Unitarians.  It isn’t in my nature to think of UU’s as a cult.

     

    You do, in fact, regularly disparage other people’s religious and spiritual beliefs in this forum.

     

    You are completely wrong in this. The only “beliefs” I disparage are that death doesn’t matter or that one class of people is superior to another. These beliefs are not at the core of any legitimate religion but are regularly manifest when spiritual truths are misunderstood.

     

    Just for the record, I’m well aware of the fact that some Catholics misunderstand the teachings of our own religion and arrive at the wrong conclusion that (since the afterlife is more important than this life) death doesn’t matter.  I’m also well aware of the fact that many Catholics divide the world into the ‘saved’ and the ‘unsaved’ and discriminate against people on that basis.  When Catholics hold these beliefs I refute them with all the strength I can muster.

     

     

    It’s astonishes me that you are apparently unable to even admit you’ve been wrong about a little thing or muster up the common decency to apologise for accusing me of lying when clearly I had not.

     

    colleen, I DON’T accuse you of lying. I believe that you’re totally convinced that what you say is true — but you’re wrong, and your misunderstanding, or misremembering, or misattribution causes you to misunderstand me. When this confusion gets cleared up you and I will understand each other better than we do now.

  • julie-watkins

    it’s one of several matches. If you search “paul bradford” “you called her religion a cult” it’s one match. You should have followed the link someone posted a few days ago, and you’d have less to withdraw.

    Because of, Not In Spite of, My Faith,

    By Nancy Northup, Center for Reproductive Rights

    October 14, 2008

    your quote was:

    This conviction of yours, which Unitarians as well as some non-Unitarians share, isn’t just some nutty idea that a few people in your cult have cooked up

    Yes, it’s over a year ago. But — true to form — you didn’t respond where you got challenged on your calling Unitarians a “cult”. You have a long habbit of refusing to own up when you make a mistake.

    .

    You owe a belated apology to Nancy, as well as to Colleen.

  • paul-bradford

    People do not have a right to life at the expense of OTHER people’s lives.

     

    crowepps,

     

    At the core of what I believe is the conviction that all of us have a right to live and that all of us live at the expense of OTHER people’s lives.  If we don’t live for the well-being of others we’re just wasting our lives.

     

    If all of us understood that all of us live to benefit others, there would be far fewer abortions.

     

    the most important things in a medical emergency are for the attending medical personnel to avoid ‘sin’

     

    My position is that Catholics are generally too worked up about the matter of avoiding ‘material cooperation with evil’ and with avoiding sin in general.  If you’re responding to a pregnancy emergency you ought to be focused on protecting the lives of the two people involved in the pregnancy.  Considerations about your own entrance into heaven or hell are unsuitably selfish and are, at best, a distraction.

     

    … unique rights whereby they’re entitled to kill or enslave another person.

     

    This is the part where I start to whine about being misunderstood. Have you forgotten the part where I’ve said (about sixteen gazillion times) that women have to make their own pregnancy decisions? How is there ‘slavery’ in that?

     

    It’s pointless to talk about ‘forcing’ women to carry pregnancies to term.  The way it is, and the way it should be, is that a woman is going to do what she’s going to do.  Many people believe that the unborn don’t have the same right to life that the born have.  I regularly challenge that belief.  If more people believed that a fetus has as much right to live as anybody else, fewer women would choose to abort.

     

    We all, both men and women, have the right to decide for ourselves whether we want to have a child (or another child).  We all can, and should, do what needs to be done to exercise our choice.  We all ought to support each other in the capacity to exercise choice.  

     

    The salient fact is this: once a child has been conceived the time for making choices has ended, and the time for respecting the rights of others has begun.  There are people who regularly contribute to this ‘site who also contribute to the false notion that people (specifically women) still retain the choice of whether or not to have a child after they actually have a child. I regularly challenge that notion.

     

    It is neither necessary, nor particularly desirable, for us all to share the same religious beliefs.  We can, and should, respect the fact that there are different ways to articulate the same truths.  At the same time, though, there are beliefs we actually have to share.  It is impossible to endure a situation of pluralism with regard to whether a fetus must be respected as a human being, or whether s/he can be treated as medical waste.  When we believe different things on that count it isn’t possible for us to walk away from each other and ‘agree to disagree’.  A society has to be clear about who is, and who isn’t a member.

  • paul-bradford

    …in the face of your lack of reading comprehension.

     

    This is the quote:

     

     

    Your conviction is not simply a “religious” belief that you know better than to “impose” upon others who do not share your views on spirituality. I’m sure you don’t say to yourself, “I would speak out against the attempt to restrict access to abortion but for the fact that I don’t want my Unitarian values to be inflicted upon people against their will.” This conviction of yours, which Unitarians as well as some non-Unitarians share, isn’t just some nutty idea that a few people in your cult have cooked up and the rest of us simply endure because of the First Amendment Blah Blah Blah. Your conviction is an essential element in your sense of justice, and you (like every sane, responsible, compassionate person) want to infuse your sense of justice into the fabric of our society. To work for justice is to become more human, to quell one’s sense of justice is to become less human. I’m glad that you’re willing to do what it takes to become more human.

     

    This conviction ISN’T some nutty idea that a few people in your cult have cooked up. “ISN’T” means NOT.  As in, “NOT a cult”.

     

    How you could read that quote and detect anything other than my admiration for the work Unitarians have done for centuries to promote social justice positively floors me!

  • heather-corinna

    If all of us understood that all of us live to benefit others, there would be far fewer abortions.

     

    Oh, really?  What about all of the existing mothers who have chosen and choose to terminate because they strongly feel that terminating their pregnancy is what most benefits them, their families and the child they might have if they chose to remain pregnant?  What about all of us who chose to terminate pregnancies, mothers or not, who did so because we felt it WAS in the best interest of others?  I hear from women in this position all the time, as does anyone who talks to women choosing to terminate pregnancies, or making any choice with a pregnancy.

     

    Are we figments of all of our own imaginations?  Or, do you somehow know better than we do, or anyone does, for that matter, what benefits others in every situation? or is it that when we say we ARE thinking about what best benefits everyone, and deciding in a given situation that abortion is what that is, that you don’t believe us?

     

    Honestly, Paul, of all the many things you say (or avoid) here I find insulting, offensive, patronizing and just clueless when it comes to women’s lives and our relaities — including some realities you yourself will never experience because you simpyl cannot — that one might just make my top ten list.

     

    This, however, may come in a close second:

    We all, both men and women, have the right to decide for ourselves whether we want to have a child (or another child).

    Umm, no, all people don’t always have that right.  It’d sure be great if everyone did, but, everyone doesn’t. On a lot of levels.  Unless by this you mean that we all get to decide what we want, but that some people can want something and pursue or have that, while for others they can want something but it’s just tough titties for them, because they can’t have or be given what they want. But if that’s what you mean, I’m not sure what purpose this particular comment was intended to serve.

    If more people believed that a fetus has as much right to live as anybody else, fewer women would choose to abort.

    I continually feel like there’s something really central and core you continually don’t understand, miss or deny about the fact that this kind of separation is in a lot of ways, an impossibility for pregnant women.  If and when we are pregnant, we can’t ever fully separate ourselves from what is growing in our bodies in the way you seem to think — and perhaps this is just because, again, this is not an experience you have yourself had.  Women making choices about pregnancy rarely can avoid making them for BOTH themselves and a fetus in any situation, and again, when you sit with many women in their decision-making process about this and truly listen to them, this is very self-evident if it was not already.

  • heather-corinna

    This is how you are going to respond to this at this point? Even knowing how many writers and editors read and post here?  For real?

     

    Grammatically, in this placement, “isn’t” very directly refers to the nutty idea, not the cult. “Your cult” names UU as a cult in this sentence and its context. If you meant to say this was not a nutty idea AND make clear UU wasn’t a cult, or avoid implying it was, then the proper structure would be something like, “This isn’t a nutty idea thought up by some cult,” (which implies UU isn’t one) or “This conviction isn’t a nutty idea a few people in UU have cooked up,” skipping any reference to cults at all, since as far as I can see, the word wasn’t even used until you brought it into the conversation.

     

    For example, were I to say, “This isn’t a very good soup made by one of your cooks,” I would NOT being saying someone’s cooks didn’t make it. In fact I’d be saying expressly that, but that the soup they made wasn’t very good. 

     

    If you truly didn’t mean to say this and don’t think this, it’s your sentence structure that sucked, not the reading comprehension of all who read it exactly as structured. I also only am posting with silly grammar nitpicks because I find you taking this route and suggesting those asking you to take responsibility for someting you wrote are subliterate insipid.

     

    I also find it bizarre that if this was merely poor structure on your part, and you did not intend it to say what it does, it took you this long to address this with so many people asking you about it. People make structural errors all the time and we all know that. It’s no big whoop. When that’s all something is, why not just step up and say that’s what it was from the onset rather than endlessly avoiding questions about it and cultivating needless conflict?

  • colleen

    I absolutely shudder in the face of your lack of reading comprehension.

    seriously?
    Grow the fuck up Paul and learn to take responsibility for what you say.

  • crowepps

    This conviction of yours, which Unitarians as well as some non-Unitarians share, isn’t just some nutty idea that a few people in your cult have cooked up and the rest of us simply endure

     

    This conviction ISN’T some nutty idea that a few people in your cult have cooked up. “ISN’T” means NOT.  As in, “NOT a cult”.

    Your original sentence structure doesn’t convey the meaning you assert.  An alternative sentence conveying what you now claim that you were attempting to assert would be:

     

    “This conviction isn’t some nutty idea thought up by a few people in a cult but instead shared by Unitarians and non-Unitarians…”

     

    If may be that your use of the words ‘your cult’ was merely inartful and awkward and gave the wrong impression.  Your refusal to recognize that inartfulness when it was brought to your attention, apologize immediately for the phrasing and clarify what you now say you really meant is inexplicable unless you aren’t capable of restraining your arrogance long enough to admit you made a mistake.

     

    In other words, it is not the use of the two words in of themselves that people cannot let go off, it is the fact that you STILL are trying to shift ‘blame’ to all of the readers here for ‘misunderstanding’ you when the problem was, and is, YOUR CHOICE OF WORDS.

  • crowepps

    At the core of what I believe is the conviction that all of us have a right to live and that all of us live at the expense of OTHER people’s lives. If we don’t live for the well-being of others we’re just wasting our lives.

    You certainly have a right to practice all the self-abnegation you feel called to yourself. REQUIRING that women practice self-abnegation to the point of death, whether through force of law or force of argument, is promoting suffering and martyrdom for women alone in service to a male entitlement to use women up as a cost of reproducing.  You say repeatedly that ‘all lives have equal value’ and then contradict yourself by ‘switching the focus of attention’ to the fetus exclusively EVEN WHEN IT IS DOOMED and playing dice with the life of the woman by arguing ‘maybe’ she has a chance to survive the pregnancy.

    There are people who regularly contribute to this ‘site who also contribute to the false notion that people (specifically women) still retain the choice of whether or not to have a child after they actually have a child. I regularly challenge that notion.

    Since I, and others here, utterly reject the notion that a single cell is a ‘child’, this is not persuasive. The zygote is only a recipe for, to stretch the euphemism to ludicrousness, a ‘pre-teenager’, ‘pre-senior citizen’ or ‘pre-corpse’. Its statistically lousy chances of implanting and eventually reaching birth and your consistent minimization of the enormous contribution that the woman has to make from her own body as supply dump and biological support system is one of the reasons WHY it lacks persuasiveness.

    It is neither necessary, nor particularly desirable, for us all to share the same religious beliefs.

    Or any religious beliefs at all, for that matter.  Particularly ones that allow men to congratulate themselves on how wonderful their religion is for ‘giving strength’ to  women who are required to heroically endure totally unnecessary and preventable suffering.

    At the same time, though, there are beliefs we actually have to share.

    No, we don’t.  There are BEHAVIORS which we all have to share, in order for to society to work, but all of us are absolutely free to have the most fantastic, bizarre and totally wrong-headed beliefs imaginable because that does not impinge upon or negate the contrary beliefs of others one iota.

     

    The problem is, you have focused the promotion of your beliefs in the area of what women should feel about pregnancy when I, and most other women who have actually BEEN pregnant, understand that since you have not and never will have that experience, you quite simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

     

    It makes as little sense for you to decide what every woman’s ‘beliefs’ should be regarding reproduction as it does for you to assert that your religion or philosophical beliefs qualify you to decide what women who have survived rape ‘should believe’.

    It is impossible to endure a situation of pluralism with regard to whether a fetus must be respected as a human being

    And yet, barring a few murderous and obsessive fanatics made hysterical by their inability to control women’s reproduction, society has ‘endured pluralism’  on this issue for 37 years.

  • colleen

    At least five different people have asked you about this very post. Heather kindly provided you with the precise post where you did indeed call the UU a “cult”. Indeed someone called you on it even back then.

    colleen, I DON’T accuse you of lying.

    Seeing as the religious right has no idea what a lie is anymore let me put it this way, you have accused me of bearing false witness in many different ways despite the fact that Heather kindly provided a link to the exact post in which you unequivocally and beyond the shadow of a doubt called the UU a “cult”. Now, rather than admit any error you apparently accuse everyone who has commented on the post in which you called the UU a “cult”(which would be at least 5 people) of poor reading comprehension.

    I think we understand you quite well, Paul.

  • paul-bradford

    your use of the words ‘your cult’ was merely inartful and awkward and gave the wrong impression. Your refusal to recognize that inartfulness when it was brought to your attention, apologize immediately for the phrasing and clarify what you now say you really meant is inexplicable unless you aren’t capable of restraining your arrogance long enough to admit you made a mistake.

     

    crowepps,

     

    This interchange has been, beyond a doubt, the most painful one I’ve had at this ‘site.  I mean this from the bottom of my heart.  It never dawned on me that ANYONE could have read my post of Oct ’08 and thought I was calling the Unitarians a cult.  When the post was brought to my attention I literally thought people were kidding.

     

    Obviously I made a mistake, and I didn’t realize the mistake until the surprising (to me) realization that people misunderstood my meaning.  You understand — as I EXPECTED you would understand — that what I meant was conveyed in the edited sentence you proposed: “This conviction isn’t some nutty idea thought up by a few people in a cult but instead shared by Unitarians and non-Unitarians…”

     

    colleen wants me to apologize and admit that I regularly disparage people in other religions.  This really puts us at an impasse.  I know I bear no ill will to Unitarians, or Buddhists, or Jews, or Protestants, or Quakers, or Hindus.  There are far fewer reasons to criticize these religions than there are to criticize Catholics.  If I apologize and say, “Yes colleen, you’re right.  I’m a religious bigot who believes that Catholics are better than non-Catholics”  I’d be lying.  This isn’t what I believe.  What’s more, the point I keep driving home is that discrimination is wrong.  It’s wrong to discriminate between the born and the unborn, it’s also wrong to discriminate between women and men, and it’s ALSO wrong to discriminate between people of different religions.

     

    Non-discrimination between people of different religions is VERY, VERY important to me.

     

    You claim that I’m being arrogant if I refuse to admit that I disparage Unitarians and Buddhists.  The fact of the matter is that the members of these religions are generally FAR better than Catholics on the ultimate social justice concern which is opposition to war and to violence in general.  Why would I disparage them?  The truth is that I wish more Catholics would emulate them.


  • paul-bradford

    I also find it bizarre that if this was merely poor structure on your part, and you did not intend it to say what it does, it took you this long to address this with so many people asking you about it. People make structural errors all the time and we all know that. It’s no big whoop. When that’s all something is, why not just step up and say that’s what it was from the onset rather than endlessly avoiding questions about it and cultivating needless conflict?


    Heather,

     

    colleen had been goading me for weeks about calling the Unitarians a cult and I kept challenging her to find a quote of mine where I made such a claim and she never did.  Then, at 7:27pm on 5/19 Julie found the quote and showed it to me.  I was completely caught off guard.  I was blown away.  I wrote back in a fury on 8:21pm.  You’ve got to understand, I was really, really hurt.  Calling the Unitarians a cult was the last thing I intended to do.

     

    Fact is, I’ve long had a big chip on my shoulder over the fact that people here keep calling into question Catholics’ right to bring the abortion issue to the table.  You keep saying, “This is a religious issue and it has no place in public debate.  You should respect the wall of separation between church and state.”  In other words, “You Catholics are nothing but a cult and your ideas can be disregarded.  We don’t have to pay attention when you advocate for social justice concerns.”

     

    But in doing that you show a double standard.  You admire Unitarians (and other religions) when they bring social justice issues to the table.  That’s OK for them.  Nobody claims they’re a cult.  Just the Catholics.  We’re supposed to stay quiet.

  • crowepps

    Talk about being misunderstood. You say that:

    You claim that I’m being arrogant if I refuse to admit that I disparage Unitarians and Buddhists.

    But what I actually said was:

    Your refusal to recognize that inartfulness when it was brought to your attention, apologize immediately for the phrasing and clarify what you now say you really meant is inexplicable

    I said that you should APOLOGIZE FOR THE PHRASING AND CLARIFY after people questioned your original post. I did NOT say you refused to admit disparaging Unitarians.

     

    I almost gave you a pass on the ‘thought people were just kidding’ defense until I realized that you STILL don’t get it.

     

    When a poster makes a clumsily worded statement which does not express the meaning correctly and other people ask what is really meant, instead of blowing them off, reasonable persons clarify.

    You understand — as I EXPECTED you would understand — that what I meant was conveyed in the edited sentence you proposed

    And yet I only understood your meaning AFTER you attempted to clarify it. When you first posted this, I took it exactly the same way everybody else did because that was how YOU had phrased it – “Unitarians…your cult” – not ‘a cult’ but “Unitarians…your cult”.

     

    Reasonable persons don’t say ‘you guys are too stupid/biased/hostile to WANT to understand what I really meant’. We read what posters SAY and respond. If it doesn’t express what they actually wanted to get across, at the point where they realize it has been misunderstood, it’s up to THEM to rephrase and clarify. I have done that many times on this site. Apologies for careless and hurtful phrasing also do a lot to maintain civility.

  • crowepps

    I wrote back in a fury on 8:21pm. You’ve got to understand, I was really, really hurt.

    You were ‘really, really hurt’ when someone proved you said exactly what everybody here has been saying all along that you said? Why were you ‘really, really hurt’? Because you realized that you were WRONG? That your very own words posted right there proved there was a reasonable BASIS for their questions? Because you realized you might have to (but did not) apologize?

     

    Your reaction to feeling ‘really, really hurt’ is fury?

    Fact is, I’ve long had a big chip on my shoulder over the fact that people here keep calling into question Catholics’ right to bring the abortion issue to the table. You keep saying, “This is a religious issue and it has no place in public debate. You should respect the wall of separation between church and state.”

    We’ve long noticed the big chip on your shoulder.

     

    I have no problem whatsoever with Catholics bringing their opinions to the table on this or any other issue. The problem I have is with Catholics arguing that ‘the Catholic opinion ought to be law BECAUSE it’s religious’.

     

    Feel free to try to explain the rightness of your religious belief in secular terms of justice or fairness or equality or whatever (like the Unitarians do) and accept that other people may argue right back that they disagree. Arguing that the belief/opinion should never be criticized BECAUSE it is religious and at the same time insisting it should enshrined in secular law and apply to everyone who is not Catholic just isn’t going to work.

     

    Freedom of religion is NOT freedom from criticism.

     

    You can argue that something is right, or just, or fair, but in America it simply does NOT work to argue that people should do it because God told you so or because it’s ‘traditional’ in your Church.

     

    The history of the Catholic Church supports the notion that giving the Church ‘absolute power’ over people would lead as it has in the past to ‘absolute corruption’ (persecutions, torture, immolations, property confiscations, pogroms, forced conversions, children kidnapped, crusades, throwing whole peoples out of countries for having the wrong religion, enslaving indigenous persons).

     

    That may be totally unfair, the present day Church might indeed be different, but you can’t argue simultaneously that ‘the Church never changes’ AND ‘the Church would never repeat those errors’. If the Church heirarchy hasn’t changed its opinions, the Church heirarchy can justify acting in exactly the same way, and women die, as women are dying now.

     

    “The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.”

     

    Honor the religious freedom rights of ordinary Catholics?  Absolutely.

    Trust the Catholic heirarchy?  Never.

    Base secular laws on their medieval theology?  Ridiculous. 

  • colleen

    colleen wants me to apologize and admit that I regularly disparage people in other religions.

    To clarify: I believe you owe me an apology for accusing me of “making up crap” about you when I had not. I wanted you to acknowledge that you have consistently disparaged other people’s beliefs and mentioned two instances out of several. Instead, rather than acknowledge and take responsibility for what you have said here, you appear to be claiming that I’m responsible for your tantrum and that everyone else has failed to understand your meaning in this one incident because of a collective lack of reading comprehension so deficient it “makes you shudder”.

    I notice that, when confronted with facts you find difficult or unpleasant, you make up stories in which you are always a blameless and innocent victim and everyone else is wrong.

  • colleen

    How you could read that quote and detect anything other than my admiration for the work Unitarians have done for centuries to promote social justice positively floors me!

    The Unitarian Universalist church was established in 1961.

    We read it that way because that is what the sentence says.

  • paul-bradford

    You were ‘really, really hurt’ when someone proved you said exactly what everybody here has been saying all along that you said?

     

    crowepps,

     

    I know when I’m beat.  If everyone got the impression that I called the Unitarians a cult and no one got the impression that I was using the term ‘cult’ in an ironic way, then I did, in fact, call the Unitarians a cult and I’m sorry about any offense I inflicted upon Unitarians.

     

    I also deeply regret writing that ‘reading comprehension’ post.  It makes me particularly sad if Julie felt I was insulting her intelligence.  That was not my intention.

     

    If I’d thought about it more deeply I’d have realized my issue wasn’t with comprehension.  It was with fair-mindedness.  colleen takes the position that I’m a misogynist and a religious bigot.  My position is that if someone takes a charitable attitude to the things I say s/he will realize that my only intention is to root out discrimination against the unborn.  If colleen is right then there is absolutely no reason to ever listen to what I have to say.  My entire argument is predicated upon the assumption that discrimination is wrong.  Of course, if it can be shown that I discriminate based on sex or religion then I’m a pathetic hypocrite.  Why would anyone listen to what a bigot and a hypocrite says about discrimination.  Just shut him up!

     

    I feel as if I’ve been falsely accused and it is very, very painful for me to be falsely accused.

     

    Back in October ’08, Nancy Northup wrote about the way her religious faith fueled her desire to advocate for social justice.  Northup is a Unitarian.  When the issue has nothing to do with the unborn I am a strong supporter of Unitarian efforts to promote social justice.  The Unitarians have an excellent record of respecting life and of upholding human rights.  They are also particularly vocal in their opposition to violence and they appreciate the need for the society to come to the aid of the underprivileged.  Disparaging Unitarians or Unitarianism is the last thing I’d ever want to do!

     

    I wanted to complain about a double standard.  Unitarians are applauded here when they work for social justice but when Catholics do the same thing we’re treated as a bunch of misfits who have no right to impose our religion on the rest of the world.  I wanted to highlight that double standard by pointing out that that, as her justice convictions weren’t treated as nutty ideas cooked up by a cult, we Catholics should not be treated as if our justice convictions had no place in the public debate.

     

    This is what I wrote: “This conviction of yours, which Unitarians as well as some non-Unitarians share, isn’t just some nutty idea that a few people in your cult have cooked up and the rest of us simply endure because of the First Amendment Blah Blah Blah.”  I get it.  Some people misunderstood me.  I wish I’d been clearer.  I certainly complain enough about being misunderstood — maybe the problem is with my ability to communicate.

     

    The last thing I intended to do in that post was to accuse the Unitarians of being a cult.  In fact, I was doing the opposite.  Cults are routinely disrespected.  I used the word to contrast with the fact that Unitarian ideals are respected, and not treated as if they were cultish.

     

    Did I accuse the Unitarians of being a cult?  I’m more than willing to believe that people suspected me of thinking the Unitarians were a cult.  Nine days after I posted a person called ‘Ding’ responded with something I didn’t see at the time but only noticed when colleen claimed that I was “called out” for the cult accusation.  Ding said, “I guess that wasn’t irony when you called her religion a cult.”  At least Ding CONSIDERED the possibility that I was being ironic.  I don’t know why everyone settled on the explanation that I intended to insult Nancy Northup and the rest of the Unitarians but that was not my intention at all.

     

    You say that it’s been conclusively proven that I said what everyone here said I said.  Fine.  I called the Unitarians a cult.  I didn’t intend to call them a cult.  I never would have imagined myself calling them a cult.  When I was presented with what I wrote it didn’t give ME the impression that I was calling them a cult — but everyone else got that idea and I am very, very, very sorry about that.  I was wrong — but I wasn’t intentionally wrong.  I’m sickened by the idea that I would say something disparaging about the Unitarians.


    Your advice is, “Think on these things”.  Man!  Have I ever been thinking on these things!!  I continue to hope that I will be able to engage in respectful and productive dialogue with people on this ‘site.  I continue to be frustrated by my own poor communication skills and by all the emotion I experience when I feel that I’m being ganged up on.

     

    You said, “The problem I have is with Catholics arguing that ‘the Catholic opinion ought to be law BECAUSE it’s religious’.”  Obviously, this is what you think I have been doing.  Man!  Am I wrong!!!  Laws should not be based on religion.  A plaque with the Ten Commandments has no place on government property.  A Christmas Creche should not be placed in the town square.  I’ve really been burned by this episode, so I’m not going to deny your accusation that I’ve been arguing that laws ought to conform to Catholic teaching because the Catholics teach it.  You can show me where I said this stuff and I will again feel crappy because I’m sure I’ll feel as if I’ve been misunderstood again.

     

    You say, “Feel free to try to explain the rightness of your religious belief in secular terms of justice or fairness or equality or whatever (like the Unitarians do) and accept that other people may argue right back that they disagree.”  As unbelievable as this might seem to you this is precisely what I’ve always tried to do.  You’ll find posts of mine to disprove this, but I’ve operated under the delusion that I don’t quote the Bible or the Catechism or talk about God or Jesus or the afterlife.  I find appeals to such to be singularly unconvincing.  I tell myself to present arguments that can be addressed in secular terms.  I tell myself that I’m writing about justice, and fairness, and equality, and non-discrimination.  Obviously this isn’t what I do because you have the opposite opinion of me.

     

    You say, “You can argue that something is right, or just, or fair, but in America it simply does NOT work to argue that people should do it because God told you so or because it’s ‘traditional’ in your Church.”  Feel free to show me posts where I’ve done this.  I’m not going to say you can’t.  I’m just going to tell you ahead of time that when I review those posts I’m going to feel the same sinking feeling I had three days ago when I read the ‘cult’ post.  I am, without a doubt, my own worst enemy.  If I had the capacity to present a simple idea in a simple way I would tell you that it is NEVER sufficient to claim that God told you to do something.  I am convinced that if God REALLY wants you to do something, She’ll give you reasons to do whatever it is that will make sense to people whether they believe in God or not.

     

    You say, “That may be totally unfair, the present day Church might indeed be different, but you can’t argue simultaneously that ‘the Church never changes’ AND ‘the Church would never repeat those errors’. ”  No doubt you’ll cite numerous sources where I claim that the Church never changes.  This, sadly, flies in the face of MY OWN BELIEF which is that sin and error are an intrinsic part of the human condition and one must always look at ones own failings and the failings of others with an attitude of compassion and hope.  The Church tries, the Church fails, the Church calls upon the mercy of God, the Church learns to do better next time.  That’s my belief, anyway — but you will show me where I’ve claimed that the Church never changes.

     

    If I’d been wise, I would have reacted differently when colleen first brought up the accusation that I’d called the Unitarians a cult.  I would, had I been wise, have said that I don’t believe the Unitarians are a cult, and that I would never intentionally leave someone with the impression that I thought the Unitarians were a cult; but, given the fact that my communication style leaves a lot to be desired, I may well have said something that would have given someone that idea.  Of course, had I been really wise I wouldn’t have gotten so upset at colleen’s main argument which is that I regularly disparage other religions.  Showing respect to other people is very, very important to me.  Showing respect to those who are different from me — such as those who worship in a different way than I do — is very important to me.  It really upsets me to think that I’m leaving people with the impression that I regularly disparage other religions.

     

  • paul-bradford

    Whether or not Paul is right-wing, a religious reactionary or a commie is of course totally irrelevant to the soundness of his opinion on this or any other issue, so I don’t really care what ‘the truth’ is about him.

     

    crowepps,

     

    My life would be a hell of a lot easier if you and the rest of the posters on this ‘site actually took this attitude.

     

    Let’s talk about the soundness of my opinion.  First of all, let’s investigate what my opinion actually is.  My opening comment on this thread is that we’re in a bad situation because 1) Pro-Life folks claim that the Pro-Choice people who work at clinics that provide abortions can’t be trusted to give objective information to women with crisis pregnancies and 2) As is described in this article, Pro-Choice folks claim that Pro-Lifers working as sidewalk counsellors and so forth are giving bad information and false promises to these same women.  I issued my opinion.  My opinion was that it made no sense to sift through everyone’s claims and counter-claims and that the government ought to provide social workers and health advisors who would provide accurate information to pregnant women.

     

    That was my opinion.  Is it a sound opinion?  I think so, and I would be glad to debate the folks on this ‘site who take the opinion that there’s no reason for the government to get involved because Pro-Choice counsellors at clinics are already doing a perfect job of providing accurate information to women.  I’m ready for the debate.  Let’s see if my opinion is sound.

     

    So what do we get instead?  An extended fight over the question of whether I regularly disparage people in other religions.  That’s certainly not the kind of thing you’d expect from people who “don’t really care what ‘the truth’ is about Paul”.

     

    The ‘truth’ about Paul is important to a lot of people here because the only ‘truth’ that they’re willing to consider is that I’m a small-minded, woman hating, religious bigot who has no right to express his opinions — because he’s such a bad character that he’s incapable of putting together a sound opinion.  No need to investigate his opinions, we already know they’re bad. 

     

    If people actually cared about developing reasonable retorts to my opinion they’d spend less time making accusations about my character.

  • paul-bradford

    To clarify: I believe you owe me an apology for accusing me of “making up crap” about you when I had not.

     

    colleen,

     

    You didn’t make anything up.  I actually did post something that a reasonable person might take as me disparaging Unitarians and calling them a cult.  The problem was with my misleading and ambiguous writing and it was compounded by my outlandish assumption that I’m immune from writing in a misleading or ambiguous manner.  I don’t actually think the Unitarians are a cult.  I didn’t realize that I had inadvertently hurt Unitarians by writing a post in which I carelessly neglected to consider the possibility that I had made a poor choice of words.

     

    colleen, I was absolutely wrong to accuse you of making crap up.  You made a completely reasonable interpretation of my writing and I can well see that you were left with the impression that I believe the Unitarians are a cult.  If I ever have cause, in the future, to offer criticism of the Unitarians I hope I will do better than simply to call them names.

     

    I wanted you to acknowledge that you have consistently disparaged other people’s beliefs and mentioned two instances out of several.

     

    If you have come to this belief about me, I can only assume that I have done something to merit your opinion.  I am, at very least, guilty of not considering whether or not people of another belief might feel offended by my manner of expressing myself.  When I responded, some months ago, to a post of Heather’s by characterizing what she had written as “horse shit” I was thoughtless and cruel.  I leapt to an inaccurate assumption about what she was saying and I never gave her an opportunity to find a way to get past my unwillingness to understand her.

     

    I unfairly thought that Heather was excusing abortion based on the idea that the souls of aborted fetuses are reincarnated and that they are not harmed in any way by the abortion.  In my angry post, I pointed out that this logic would also justify ending the lives of born people since they, too, would be reincarnated and their earlier deaths wouldn’t harm them. Heather explained to me that I had misunderstood her meaning and insisted in very strong words that she is someone who is deeply sensitive to the reality and meaning of death.  I never acknowledged to her that it must have been exceedingly painful to her to be accused of an attitude that is almost diametrically opposed to the attitude she actually maintains.

     

    Instead, rather than acknowledge and take responsibility for what you have said here, you appear to be claiming that I’m responsible for your tantrum and that everyone else has failed to understand your meaning in this one incident because of a collective lack of reading comprehension so deficient it “makes you shudder”.

     

    You’re not responsible for my tantrums. I’m responsible for my tantrums. I tend to go into a tantrum when someone takes offense at something I say because I’m completely blind to my tendency to say something offensive. I would do well to get into the habit of realizing that it is more than possible that I’ve expressed myself poorly and to apologize for the offense that was taken. I arrogantly and stupidly assume that were I to assert that I didn’t mean what the other person heard the other person will refuse to believe me and insist that I meant to be hurtful so I don’t bother offering an explanation. Instead I lash out at the injustice of being blamed for doing something I never intended to do.

     

    I can be very hurtful when I lash out.  On this particular occasion I accused other people of being stupid when, in actual fact, I was the one who had been stupid.  A person with good reading comprehension has a mind flexible enough to spot ambiguous expressions.  I was the one who demonstrated poor reading comprehension because I never even considered a meaning that was easily obvious to everyone else.

     

    It’s bad enough that I was stupid, but when my stupidity was pointed out I refused to acknowledge it and stubbornly insisted that the problem was with other people.  I shudder now, not because other people are being stupid but because I have demonstrated a stupidity that is only eclipsed by my arrogance.

     

    I notice that, when confronted with facts you find difficult or unpleasant, you make up stories in which you are always a blameless and innocent victim and everyone else is wrong.

     

    colleen, I couldn’t possibly agree with you more!

  • paul-bradford

    The Unitarian Universalist church was established in 1961.

    We read it that way because that is what the sentence says.


    The Unitarian Universalist Church was indeed established in 1961.  Before that, there was a Universalist Church which established itself in the US in 1793.  There was also a Unitarian Church that was started around 1550.  Both the Unitarians and the Universalists have been active participants in virtually all of the social justice movements that have taken place in the United States.

     

    I get myself into trouble, colleen, when I’m not careful with my words but I get into even more trouble when I don’t show proper respect for my reader’s perspective.  When I wrote the sentence, I pretended to myself that if I wrote “the work Unitarians have done for centuries” rather than the incorrect “the work that UU’s have done for centuries” I was being sufficiently careful with my expression.  If someone called me on it I was prepared to defend myself.  In other words, I was laying a trap.  That’s one of many ‘tricks’ I use to feel ‘one-up’ on the people I’m conversing with.

     

    You have really gotten through to me, colleen.  I see that it isn’t enough to write a sentence that makes sense to me.  It isn’t fair, and it certainly isn’t respectful.  I have to consider how other people will receive it.  I knew that the Unitarian/Universalist merger had taken place in my lifetime.  I knew it because I’ve had lots of close UU friends and I’m interested in religion in general.  I have been particularly interested in UU’s because they can always be counted on to be supportive of anti-war activities.

     

    Naturally, you had no way of knowing that I was being legalistic and picky when I used the word ‘Unitarian’.  For all you knew, I was completely ignorant of the history of the UU’s (and too lazy to google them).  I can’t expect you to realize that I was making a nice distinction between the words (nor should I expect you to realize that I’m using an early 19th Century definition for the word ‘nice’).  I should have said, “my admiration for the work that UU’s have done since 1961 and for the work that both Unitarians and Universalists were doing for centuries before that.”  What’s particularly damning is the fact that it actually occurred to me that a reasonably careful reader might very well think I was using the terms ‘Unitarian’ and ‘Unitarian/Universalist’ in the same sense and might be puzzled by the ‘for centuries’ reference.

     

    Part of the arrogance that you have alerted me to is my habit of insisting that people learn every tiny detail that I happen to know and to leave them in a state of ignorance and misunderstanding when they don’t.  I do this a lot — but I’m resolved to be more careful in the future.

  • paul-bradford

    If all of us understood that all of us live to benefit others, there would be far fewer abortions. 

     

     

     

    Oh, really? What about all of the existing mothers who have chosen and choose to terminate because they strongly feel that terminating their pregnancy is what most benefits them, their families and the child they might have if they chose to remain pregnant? What about all of us who chose to terminate pregnancies, mothers or not, who did so because we felt it WAS in the best interest of others? I hear from women in this position all the time, as does anyone who talks to women choosing to terminate pregnancies, or making any choice with a pregnancy.

     

    Here’s a perfect example, Heather, of me writing a sentence I know damn well will be misunderstood when I’m perfectly capable of expressing myself in a clear way.

     

    I certainly know better than to ascribe the blame for our high abortion rate to the 1% of our population that is pregnant.  I also knew that a reasonable person might read my “If all of us understood that all of us live to benefit others, there would be far fewer abortions.” sentence to mean that pregnant women aren’t sufficiently caring of the unborn.  My point — and I expect people to really dig for it — is that if the 99% of us who AREN’T pregnant didn’t take the attitude that we bear no responsibility for the well-being of the unborn, the 1% of us who ARE pregnant would have more and better choices than they have now — thus, fewer abortions.

     

    The ‘culture of life’ that Catholics and other Pro-Lifers talk about isn’t merely a culture where pregnant women are more respectful of life — it’s a culture where everyone is cognizant of the fact that the people around them depend on them for their very lives.  In a culture of life, we all make sacrifices for the betterment of others.

     

    Pro-Lifers often complain that pregnant women don’t sacrifice enough for the well-being of their unborn.  That’s the least of our troubles!  Society itself doesn’t sacrifice enough for the well-being of pregnant women — or of women in general.  The “me first”, “I’ve got mine, to hell with you” attitude that is pervasive in our society is at the core of our disrespect for life.  The trouble isn’t that pregnant women think this way.  The trouble is that EVERYBODY thinks this way.

     

    By the way, I’m sorry I expressed myself in the way I did because it obviously caused you pain to think I was attacking the sincerity and goodness of pregnant women.  Clearly, I could have taken steps to prevent such pain but I didn’t.  I’ve got a lot of reforming to do — that’s just one example.

  • crowepps

    I was laying a trap. That’s one of many ‘tricks’ I use to feel ‘one-up’ on the people I’m conversing with

    You might want to consider seriously just how it feels to be a person trying to have a productive, respectful conversation with you when your part of the conversation is not focused on understanding but instead on using ‘tricks’ to manipulate the conversation so that you can ‘trap’ the other person in a way that enables you to feel superior.

     

    Speaking entirely for myself, it makes me personally feel rather like I did in the past when after having a normal telephone conversation with an acquaintance I later found out that the guy on the other end of the line was using the interaction as an aid to his fantasies while he jacked off.

  • paul-bradford

    Speaking entirely for myself, it makes me personally feel rather like I did in the past when after having a normal telephone conversation with an acquaintance I later found out that the guy on the other end of the line was using the interaction as an aid to his fantasies while he jacked off.

     

    crowepps,

     

    I ‘m sure you noticed that you were responding to a post I’d directed to colleen.  I wonder if you realize that, had I been writing to you, I would have felt no need to place the petty and aggressive aspects of my personality under a high-magnification microscope and to ‘come clean’ with every speck of imperfection in my character.  You are perfectly comfortable accepting both good and bad in me.  This gives you an opportunity to view me with relatively few distortions.  It isn’t that way between colleen and me.  She has no tolerance whatsoever for anything good about me.  In order to engage her, I have to highlight the negative.  To do anything else is to threaten her belief that there can be nothing good whatsoever about a Pro-Life Catholic Male.  Communication between us breaks down completely when I threaten her world view.

     

    Rest assured that when I communicate with you I am well aware of your generosity and curiosity.  I’m also aware of the fact that you are completely comfortable with a certain amount of give-and-take.  Your efforts to have a productive, respectful conversation with me are met, on my side, with an equally earnest desire for that productive, respectful conversation.  I’ve been very satisfied with the way I’ve communicated with you.  I’m particularly gratified by the generosity and reasonableness you offered me during the whole ‘cult’ flap.  You were willing to accept the possibility that I’d chosen my words poorly and weren’t interested in ‘proving’ that I regularly disparage people of other religions.  You seem entirely uninterested in the business of judging me.

     

    It isn’t that way at all between colleen and me.  With her I have to start from the place we’re at — which is her complete distrust of me.  To approach her, I’ve got to walk “with my hands up”.  In the long run, I hope to have productive, respectful conversations with colleen — but it would be ludicrous for me to think I could reach her with the same techniques I use to reach you.

  • crowepps

    The techniques of honest, respectful communication do not change one iota because you are talking to a different participant. To say that you are courteous to me in return to my courtesy to you but then are petty and aggressive in your posts to Colleen is to say that the tone of your posting style is controlled by the other participant.

     

    If you really, truly want to communicate and have an impact on the other posters here, you need to maintain your OWN posting style no matter who you’re talking to and not fool yourself by protesting that ‘Colleen makes me do it’. Colleen cannot and does not make you do anything, including lose your temper, choose to feel hurt, or type something you’ll later regret and hit the ‘save’ button.

     

    Like many other posters, I read the entire comments thread, so pettiness, aggressiveness, disrespect and judgmentalism in your or anyone else’s posts to any of the posters are seen by all.

     

    I find some of the people who post here excessively irritating, however if that goads me into writing a post that is discourteous, and I will readily admit that it has, there is never anyone to blame for my lack of self-control except myself.

  • paul-bradford

    Like many other posters, I read the entire comments thread, so pettiness, aggressiveness, disrespect and judgmentalism in your or anyone else’s posts to any of the posters are seen by all.

     

    crowepps,

     

    Let me admit to you, and thank you, that you and others have pointed out things that come across in my posts that had previously been unnoticed by me.  I don’t set out to be petty, aggressive, judgmental or disrespectful — any more than I set out to disparage people of other religions.  You may not notice any effect from this effort, but I actually do try very hard to listen to the comments others on this ‘site make in response to the things I post.

     

    I happen to have a very high opinion of myself.  I have a high opinion for what I do, what I write and what motivates me.  People whose opinion of me is somewhat more realistic, are able to easily spot things that I put out in my posts that I never in the world would intend to convey.

     

    When I spoke about the combative, provocative and flippant aspects of the communication that exist between colleen and myself I wasn’t intending to excuse my behavior.  I’m quite certain she made the comment about the UU’s forming in 1961 in an effort to discredit the comment I had made earlier about my having a high regard for the social justice work that Unitarians had been doing “for centuries”.  I happen to know that the Unitarians were one of the first religious groups in America to be entirely ‘on board’ with the concept of religious freedom and I also know that they were out in front (right behind the Quakers) in the struggle for abolition.  My “for centuries” comment was neither disingenuous nor ill-informed — but I responded to colleen as if she had called me a hypocrite and an ignoramus because I feel strongly that that is exactly what she intended to do.

     

    I actually have a sincere desire to show appreciation for people of other religions and for people of no religion who work hard for social justice.  I am personally convinced that a commitment to social justice, peace and non-violence are more important than a belief in the existence of God, faith in Jesus, familiarity with the Bible, a hope in the afterlife or attendance in church when it comes to developing healthy spirituality.  crowepps, I’m sincere in what I just said but I have the reputation here of being a small-minded Catholic bigot and colleen leads the charge in creating that impression.

     

    You’re right.  I’m responsible for what I say and do — not colleen.  That doesn’t alter the fact that, to be honest about my own behavior and reactions, I have to admit that colleen engages my ‘baser self’ more than you do.  I’m working on it — but I’m far, far from perfect.

  • ahunt

    I have to admit that colleen engages my ‘baser self”

     

    Heh…and if it makes you feel any better, Paul…you have a similar effect on me.

     

    I’m working on it…

     


  • crowepps

    The problem with having a high opinion of oneself is that it gets in the way of communication, as when you are “quite sure” that when someone posts a truthful fact that they are attempting to discredit you, or when your response is based on using your incredible psychic powers to divine Colleen’s intention to call you a hypocrite and an ignoramus.

     

    Perhaps that is true, perhaps if you had ASKED her she would have admitted that was precisely what she meant to do, or perhaps she might have replied that she resented having a Catholic give her a history lesson on her own religion, but when you ASSUME those things underlie her statements and respond angrily as though they were equally obvious to everyone, without taking the trouble to ask her to clarify, that leaves you looking both arrogant and insecure.

     

    If you really truly are interesting in developing a “healthy spirituality” I highly recommend the salutary effect of practicing a little more humility.  It is much easier to write respectful, polite posts if you abandon the idea that the point of these threads is to recruit the other posters to join you in your own (exclusively correct and morally pure) opinions and abandon their own (ill-informed, immoral and self-serving) opinions.

     

    Most of us are here to discuss a controversy that has many different aspects, about each of which we have a wide range of opinions, and ‘I’m a nicer person and morally better than you so I’m right and you’re wrong and ignorant/spiritually inferior as well’ does indeed make you sound like a bigot.

  • paul-bradford

    I’m working on it…

     

    ahunt,

     

    I certainly have noticed that I kind of drive you squirrelly!  Your effect on me, however, is generally pretty calming.  You have a good ability to concentrate on the ideas I present without spending a lot of time speculating about what sort of character flaws have provoked me to develop those ideas.