BirthorNot.com: Anti-Choice Trolling Fail


This article is crossposted with permission from Blog of the Moderate Left

So let’s say that I was a part of a couple, and one of us was pregnant.1 And let’s say we were ambivalent about having a child for one reason or another. Let’s say we were, as a couple, mulling over aborting the pregnancy.

What would happen then? Well, for most people, what would happen is that we’d discuss it, weigh our options, maybe talk to a trusted friend, and then, the person who was actually pregnant would make a final decision about whether to go forward with the pregnancy, or whether to have an abortion.

But what if we didn’t want that responsibility to fall on us? Well, we could ask the state to dictate to us whether or not we could have our child. But thanks to Roe v. Wade, that’s  a non-starter. Stupid state, not dictating to us what we should do.

So what else could we do? Well, we could turn to the internet for the answer! Yes, the internet, which we all know is filled with deeply thoughtful and reasonable people who would help us with our decision in a caring and wise fashion. What say we put up a website with a poll, asking whether we should have a baby or not? We’ll put the deadline as the last possible day that abortion is legal in our state, and then we’ll probably do what the kind, intelligent folks at 4chan tell us to do.

If this last line of thinking seems utterly disconnected from reality, you’re the couple behind birthornot.com, a website that is purportedly about letting the internet vote on whether Pete and Alisha Arnold of Apple Valley, Minnesota should have a child or an abortion.

Now, I say purportedly for a reason, but I don’t even have to get to that point for you to immediately say what I said when I read this: there is a better chance that I am the next Mr. Scarlett Johansson than that this website is on the up-and-up. It rings immediately false. What the exact motivation for the falseness is not immediately evident — it could be they’re looking for 15 minutes of internet fame, or that they think this is the path to a reality show. But Gawker’s writeup starts to get to the nub of it:

Pete, who described himself as a Libertarian, framed the couple’s majority-rule abortion as kind of an extreme civics lesson that he hoped would bring the abortion debate home. “Voting is such an important part of who we are as a people,” Pete said. “Here’s a chance where people can be heard about whether they are pro-choice or whether they are pro-life, and it makes a difference in the real world.”

We pointed out an obvious flaw with his logic: The vast majority of people who are pro-choice aren’t pro-abortion, so it wouldn’t figure that they would automatically vote for the abortion option. The only people who would probably vote for the abortion are trolls who want to piss off pro-lifers. (In fact the anarchic message board 4chan has already hijacked the poll a couple times, tilting it to the “abortion” side.) Pete countered that during elections, “people do silly stuff all the time, and their votes get counted anyway.”

As Gawker so aptly points out, this whole poll is just…wrong. It seems to betray a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is to be pro-choice. I’m not hoping every pregnant woman out there rushes down to Planned Parenthood to abort. And I wouldn’t tell anyone else what they should do when considering an abortion — not even a spouse or a child — because I don’t even own a uterus, and I certainly don’t have even the slightest bit of claim over anyone else’s.

But it’s this misunderstanding of the pro-choice position that gives the game away. Anyone who’s truly pro-choice would understand why putting a woman’s right to choose up for a vote is wrong. And so we’re left to wonder if the Arnolds aren’t the rabidly pro-choice libertarians that Pete says they are.

Of course, we don’t need to wonder very much. Tracy Clark-Flory espies some useful data on Pete Arnold:

Clearly, this screams “pro-life” Internet prank. The couple insisted to Gawker that they are for real, but their Web trail might suggest otherwise: Pete once posted his super-pro-G.W. thoughts on CNN, and Alisha is a fan of Glenn Beck on Facebook.

Okay…sure, lots of pro-choicers are big Glenn Beck fans. And they loves them some Dubya. And most of them have Facebook profile pictures wearing shirts that talk about them “clinging to their god and their guns.”

Ah, but it gets better. You see, Pierre “Pete” Arnold III also used to be a “researcher, contributor, and part time producer for the Race to the Right radio show in St Cloud.” He blogged at Always Right, Usually Correct, which had a hard anti-choice bent. He used the aliases “The Pete” and “Zeeboid” — indeed, the latter is both a domain he owns and the userid for his gmail account — but it’s not that hard to track down. He operates (or used to operate) a site called “The Church of Global Warming.”

Yes, you say, but it’s still possible that the Arnolds are that rarest of creatures, the radical conservative pro-choicer.2

To which I say…remember that I told you Pete likes the name “Zeeboid?” And that he uses it as his gmail handle? Well, what do we have here — it’s an edit in the dKosopedia for “Pro-choice.” An edit on July 16, 2006, by user “Zeeboid.”

Behold, Pete Arnold’s early days of trolling

The term “pro-choice” is used by men and women who support a woman’s right to kill an unborn child.

The term means that a woman has the right to determine whether or not she will be pregnant by killing a baby that has already been conceived.

Also Refered to as Pro Abortion

And…we’re done here. Pete Arnold is an anti-choice troll. He’s upped his game from vandalizing wikis, but it’s just a question of degree, not goal. He and his wife have put together a web stunt to prove either that pro-choicers are callous, bloodthirsty maniacs (which would lead them what Amanda Marcotte predicts is the obvious “change of heart”), or that pro-choicers, faced with the choice to actually “kill a baby that has already been conceived,” will choose not to, because it’s a child, not a choice.

But Pete and Alisha Arnold failed in their trolling, simply because they fundamentally misunderstood the pro-choice view. It’s not surprising; being anti-choice means that you want to decide for others what they must do when faced with the decision to have a child. It’s only natural for them to assume that pro-choicers must want to force women to have abortions against their will. After all, to an anti-choicer, “against their will” is how women should do pretty much everything; it’s just a question of who’s making the decisions for them.

1Probably not me.
2That is to say, the rare radical conservative public pro-choicer. Plenty of radical righties are pro-choice when their own uteruses are involved.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with Jeff Fecke please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • plume-assassine

    Wow, that’s pretty disgusting. Why would they think that the choice to have a child or not should be up to ANYONE else but the woman? It’s none of my business what she wants to do. As you said, any pro-choicer would know that putting up her available options for popular vote is wrong. Essentially, that would be letting someone else decide for her, assuming that a nameless public ["they"] know more about her life, her body, or her wants/desires than she ever could. And that is not pro-choice! “Pro-abortion” is the same thing as “anti-choice,” just at the other end of the spectrum. They need to educate themselves on the real pro-choice position, instead of pretending that their strawman blog is real.

  • crowepps

    But Pete and Alisha Arnold failed in their trolling, simply because they fundamentally misunderstood the pro-choice view.

    Pete and Alisha also totally and completely missed out on the basis of ‘morality’ which is considering your options, making your own decisions as to what is and is not moral and then TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for those decisions instead of trying to wash ones hands and disavow the decision because “the internet poll made us do it”.

     

    Anyone who lets an internet poll ‘decide’ their moral choices in any area whatsoever needs a quick course in being a grown-up.

  • beenthere72

    How completely disturbing.   I took one look at that poll and thought ‘what the hell?   who does that!?!?’   Crazy people!   I feel sorry for their future child.

  • waterjoe

    From a pro-choice view, abortion does not destroy a human life.  Why then, should it be any different than choosing whether to get a new hairstyle, whether I should buy a Prius or Camry, or whether I should get a mac or pc? 

    In today’s society, people use the social media to “get input” on a variety of subjects we use to think of more personal.  Why is it that abortion should be treated differently?

  • squirrely-girl

    From a pro-choice view, abortion does not destroy a human life.  Why then, should it be any different than choosing whether to get a new hairstyle, whether I should buy a Prius or Camry, or whether I should get a mac or pc? 

    What is it with the extreme forced dichotomies? Just because a pro-choice individual may not equate abortion with killing doesn’t mean it is now, by default, a cavalier decision. I would expect it to rank as high in importance as any other medical decision, for which seeking “input” from random people on the Internet is just… well… ignorant. 

  • crowepps

    I don’t have a whole lot of concern about the idea of using social media to “get input” on the pros and cons of having an abortion, although the opinions of anonymous internet amateurs doesn’t have a lot of value, but a couple who commit to letting other people MAKE that decision for them on the basis of an internet poll are not getting input but instead evading their own personal responsibility to make their own life decisions.

     

    This is likely just a publicity stunt by a ProLife couple looking for 15 minutes of fame,  but in my opinion, people shouldn’t BE parents if they’re not committed to raising children, don’t grasp how important it is to the children to know that they were wanted, and aren’t mature enough to put the children’s needs first.  There sure doesn’t seem to be much connection in their minds between ‘pregnancy;yes or no’ and an actual live CHILD showing up and needing real actual PARENTS instead of a couple who have created an indelible record that so far as they are concerned the child’s continued existence didn’t matter to them enough to deserve more consideration than a flip of the coin.

  • beenthere72

    If the couple opened up the questioning only after explaining why the pregnancy puts them in any sort of predicament, or there were legitimate reasons to question whether they should bring a baby into the world or not, then it would not be as disturbing as they’re approaching it.    As far as I can tell, they’ve done nothing of the sort and the fact that she’s had miscarriages from what appear to be planned pregnancies, then it makes absolutely NO sense that they would even entertain the idea of abortion.   It’s all a fraud.  

     

    It would be equally disturbing to me if a woman started a poll asking if she should get pregnant or not with no explanation of her situation.  

     

    Pregnancy, whether you want to be or not, is not like buying a puppy.   Or buying a car.  Or getting a haircut.    And it’s up to nobody but the woman with the uterus-thing-there, that gets to decide whether that baby-to-be-thing-there gets to take it over or not.

  • colleen

    Pregnancy, whether you want to be or not, is not like buying a puppy.   Or buying a car.  Or getting a haircut.

    I didn’t understand WaterJoe’s post this way. I believe that his statement is based on a set of religiouis right stereotypes intended to demean and degrade women who don’t believe as he believes or live in a manner the American Taliban approves of.

    WaterJoe is saying that because we’re shallow and our priorities are  evil (as evinced by the fact that we don’t believe as he does) that deciding whether or not to gestate a child is something we attach as much importance to as deciding on a new hairstyle. This is a common stereotype misogynists use to justify their deepseated hatred of and contempt towards women. I’m sure this sort of demeaning and abusive way of relating is effective in silencing his mother wife and any daughters he may have fathered. WaterJoe fails to realise that the people he is addressing have to give a flying fuck what he thinks and I, for one, do not. Not at all.

  • beenthere72

    Definitely ditto on the flying fuck part.   

     

     

  • arekushieru

    Exactly, SG.  For myself, I would equate it to seeking input on whether or not to remove the life support from a relative who has no brain function.  Who, in their right minds, would do that?  That’s just passing the buck, imho. 

  • princess-rot

    This reeked of anti-choice propaganda when I first heard of it. The idea that a woman’s body is public property and gestation should be subject to a third-party “vote” (whether that is the government, her family if she doesn’t want them involved, or anonymous strangers) is a distinctly anti-choice idea. It is a gross misappropriation of what it means to be pro-choice. The Arnolds are irresponsible, and frankly, quite stupid. They both deserved to be outed as frauds for their tacky grab at internet fame. Let this die a quiet death, and hope that the Arnold’s eventual son or daughter never discovers the truth. Can you imagine finding out that you were brought into the world as a political prop? Yikes.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Just an aside on the story. Apparently Alisha Arnold’s employer wasn’t too thrilled about her and her husband’s website because she was fired from her job.

     

    Story link

    http://kstp.com/news/stories/S1851233.shtml?cat=1

     

  • rebellious-grrl

    This reeked of anti-choice propaganda when I first heard of it.

    That’s what I thought too.

  • beenthere72

    If she didn’t consider that she could lose her job over this, she really is stupid.    Because of my job, I have to put a disclaimer on my Facebook.   I know there is zero tolerance for saying anything that might make my company look bad or be controversial.     Working in a tech field (or not, these days), she should also know that any potential employer is going to Google her.   She should just ‘out’ her little prolife game now if she doesn’t want to make any more trouble for herself and her family.   

  • ack

    Apparently there are Google ads on their page, which also means they are getting paid for this.

     

     

  • beenthere72

    It appears that the majority of their voters do not want them to reproduce after all (or I suspect: not falling for their bullshit game).   And they’re threatening to “make all the voting public” because they suspect ‘voter fraud’.    WTF is that?   If you voted for them to have an abortion they will make your IP address public?

  • ack

    VOTER FRAUD???? What does that even mean? Are they actually implying they were taking this seriously?

     

    This whole thing is horrifying. I’ve refused to go to their page, but I’d like to create a separate “vote” about whether the hospital should call CPS after the birth. My guess is a landslide in support… at least investigate these yahoos to see what kind of home environment the kid will be in. To not even consider the amount of personal emotional torment and bullying they’re setting this kid up for demonstrates a lack of consideration for emotional health.

  • beenthere72

    Interestingly, she made a post today that states she’s in fact pro-choice.   It almost sounds convincing.