October 26, 2012

Texas Choses Life


Let me prevail upon your patience, gentle reader, by revisiting the can of worms I opened in yesterday's post, The Sanctity of Life. That post explored the notion that we preach sanctity of life but behave quite differently in actual practice. I believe that is hypocrisy of the worst sort.

I was prepared to let it go at that, but then I read about a court decision in Texas that upheld a ruling allowing the state to bar funding to Planned Parenthood as part of a program that provides low-income women with family planning exams, related health screenings and contraception. Here is Governor Rick Perry's reaction to the news:
"Today's ruling affirms yet again that in Texas the Women's Health Program has no obligation to fund Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform or promote abortion. In Texas we choose life, and we will immediately begin defunding all abortion affiliates to honor and uphold that choice." (Emphasis added.)
In Texas we choose life. Really? Let's look at some numbers on executions compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center. The table below shows the top ten states:

EXECUTIONS BY STATE
STATE
TOTAL EXECUTIONS
EXECUTIONS IN 2012 EXECUTIONS IN 2011 EXECUTIONS IN 2010
TEXAS
488 11 13 17
VIRGINIA
109 1 3
OKLAHOMA
100 4 2 3
FLORIDA 73 2 2 1
MISSOURI
68 1
ALABAMA 55 6 5
GEORGIA 52 4 2
OHIO 48 2 5 8
NORTH CAROLINA
43
SOUTH CAROLINA 43 1

Governor Perry thinks it is okay to ban funding for Planned Parenthood because "in Texas we choose life." This is the same guy who said, "If you don't support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol - don't come to Texas." Call me crazy, but I don't believe you can justify a state-sponsored holy war on abortion by claiming that life is sacred while at the same time leading the league in executions.  Either life is sacred or it isn't. You can't claim that it is and then pick and choose those for whom life is sacred and those for whom life is optional. That's what I mean by hypocrisy.

This is not about the legitimacy of the death penalty or abortion. This is about hypocrisy. Certainly, I am no more consistent or inconsistent on these issues than anyone else is. I favor the death penalty in certain cases. I wish there was never a need to have an abortion. I also recognize that everyone else has their own views on these issues.

Personally, I have seen no evidence that life is sacred. God invented death, so what does that tell you? Anyone who has been in or even near a war will tell you that the other guy's life gets very cheap when it's your ass that's on the line. Ask yourself this. In a long-term emergency, how many days or weeks would go by before some of us were out in the street with pitch forks and axes, ready to kill or be killed over a scrap of bread or a bottle of water?

Like many things, my anger over the sanctity of life issue goes back to Vietnam. That war was a war fought against Communism. Remember all those dominoes that would fall if we didn't stop Communism in Vietnam? But Vietnam, like so many other wars, had a religious underpinning to it as well. It wasn't just communism. It was godless communism that was the archenemy. "Kill a Commie for Christ" may have started out as a joke, but it reflected a mindset prevalent at the time among the Christian right, the same people who preached the sanctity of life for the unborn.

So, yeah, don't talk to me about how life is sacred. I know better. Life is cheap when we want it to be. I try to make it as sacred as I can, and I believe most other folks do as well. I certainly don't claim some divine mandate from heaven that gives me the power and the right to anoint some lives as sacred and others as expendable. I leave that to the self-appointed spiritual guardians of the world. Maybe we should add arrogance to the list alongside hypocrisy.

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