The Right Wing’s Meaning of “life”
Posted on April 26, 2016
Right wing thinking is especially obtuse about metaphor, in several different ways.
Consider the “right to life,” a wonderful slogan which comes from the most important line in our most important founding document, the Declaration of Independence. In right wing hands the “right to life” does NOT have the literal meanings you would expect: they are OPPOSED to establishing ANY of the quite literally live-giving rights most Democrats supported in majority of the last century, such as:
–a right to adequate health care
–a right to unpolluted air and water
–a right to an adequate and healthy diet
–a right to adequate and safe shelter
–a right to safe working conditions
–a right not to be executed by the state.
Instead they have in mind a metaphor concealing something that is the direct opposite of a right, namely a law criminalizing abortion.
Sometimes I think we should take their metaphor literally and give them what they say they want. That is, we could pass a law giving any fetus the legal to sue in court to prevent its own abortion, with the sole requirement being that the fetus must sign an affidavit that this lawsuit was brought out of its own free will and without any undue influence from any party. If the fetus was unable to sign then a witnessed oral or sign-languaged assent would suffice. Pushing far beyond all previous notions of rights, if the fetus was unable to use speech or sign, we could allow for the future possibility that valid and scientifically verified fNMR evidence might conceivably be produced showing that the fetus had understood an oral explanation of the concepts of abortion and of assent and will and had indicated its repulsion at the idea of abortion and its attraction to the idea of preventing abortion, despite being aware that that prevention was contrary to the will of the mother.
But what cannot make any literal sense is assigning the notion of a “right” to a fetus that is unable to freely choose to exercise, or not exercise, that right.
And yet some of these same right-wingers insist on reading the Bible literally. Go figure.