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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Peter Hitchens and the Glory of Outrage

My thanks to the person who turned my attention to this glorious takedown of a pro-abortion opponent by Peter Hitchens on the Unbelievable show some time ago. Just watch it, and enjoy.

What is so great about this video is that Hitchens is unabashedly, unapologetically outraged about the evil of killing unborn children.

He calls them "babies" over and over again, eschewing even the mild compromise of referring artificially to "the unborn" as so many (very good) pro-life apologists do. (After all, you don't refer to your one-year-old as "the born.")

He laughs outright at Adam Rutherford's pro-murder sophistry. He says things like, "This is concentration camp language." "First you dehumanize, and then you kill." (Satirically) "They're not persons, they're Jews!" And refers to the pro-abortion position as "piffle." He is aware all the time that he is talking to an advocate for murder and does not allow himself to fret over whether his "tone" is "seasoned with grace," or whatever the current tone police catchphrase might be.

We have become desensitized. We have all become desensitized. We have become so desensitized that it's considered high-toned pro-life rhetoric to talk loftily about how students should study with the infanticidal Peter Singer because his views are so interesting and how we shouldn't demonize him or his views because that would be contrary to the open exchange of ideas. So in other words, there are no lines at which we are in favor of stigmatizing anybody in academe, no matter how heinous his ideas. At least in theory. I'd like to think that the people who say such things just aren't thinking with fully clarity and really would draw lines somewhere, but one never knows for sure.

Peter Hitchens is having none of that effete gentility, and it's extremely bracing. It's true that he doesn't have his ideas fully correct--he waffles a bit on legislative compromise (but that may be considering only a tactical compromise, not a statement about what should be illegal), and he admits to being ambivalent about in vitro fertilization. Never mind that for now. The man is on fire. He knows what he knows, and he says outright that he would be morally wrong if he didn't say what he knows.

We need more people with this passion about this issue.

Comments (10)

"insentient, unwanted, unborn"

"First you dehumanize, then you kill."

I like Peter Hitchens. He's the sort of guy who, even if you disagree with him, you can respect from whence he comes. You can do business with him. (I found his brother to be insufferable, and I'd even go so far to call his brother an intellectual fraud, at least in the religion department.) I disagree with PH's views on the drug war, but even then it is respectful disagreement. He calls 'em as he sees 'em.

As I get older and older, my tolerance or ability to explain or rationalize away evil (including my own) gets less and less. The grey area that lets one stay "in the middle" and try to give good faith credit to both sides is shrinking. Evil seems more evil now, good seems more good. We're forced to choose sides, and St John's words about light in darkness, as strikingly binary as they are, seem more and more true. Something is consistent with God's nature (which is good) or it is not (which is evil). So while it seems I do as much sin as I did in the past, I'm angrier with myself and more disgusted by it (which somehow doesn't help prevent me a la Romans 7 from sinning again). All attempted rationalizations that I give myself fall woefully short.

This diminishing tolerance for euphemism is ever more so pronounced with abortion. Not sure 100% what the legal solution is, but the wrongness of the act (and the fact that one is terminating a human life) is something of which I'm metaphysically certain. The use of euphemistic language by those who do not consider abortion to be a grave moral wrong betrays their conscience, and it is also part of the modern superstition that if you change the labels and names you give to something, then the something's essence changes to match the labels and names you have given it.

By the way, I have noticed that growing up, even those who denied any evil with abortion were still somewhat ashamed of that activity, and it wasn't something of which one was exactly proud. But now, not sure if it is just me or if it is universal, what I see is a celebration of abortion, but using the euphemistic language of "choice". If one is so proud of abortion, why does one need euphemisms? Why not just flat out say something like "Bringing this human into the world and having to be a parent would crimp my style and I am doing no wrong by terminating this life." At least that would be intellectually honest. (I think Billie Jean King said something like this about her tennis career, so at least she gets props for brutal honesty.)

(It is a fallen world for sure. While I wouldn't use it in a debate, the depravity and evil that I've seen exponentiate in my lifetime confirms the essential truth of the Christian worldview more and more to me, and it makes what "the world" has to offer seem like such a joke in the spirit of Anne Bradstreet's poem "The Vanity of All Worldly Things".)

Well, there are no utter solutions, as Hitchens says. People are going to murder born children as well, even though it's illegal. But a legal regime with any claim to justice needs to make it illegal to murder children. I can say myself with great confidence that the illegality of abortion, where it exists, saves lives, just as (enforced) just law deters and punishes many other evil and violent acts. I believe that I myself would not be here if I'd been conceived post-Roe. Yet here I am!

Could some of the reluctance of pro-lifers to speak forcefully against abortion as baby murder be, in part, concerns that the baby murder advocates will be further incentivized to turn the tables and stigmatize pro life views? In particular, to further equate pro life with pro rape. That is a sentiment I saw recently in the Kavanuagh debacle, and one I expect will become even more prominent if there is a case that could overturn or heavily restrict Roe.

DR84, I really don't think so. For two reasons that I will offer. First, because the pro-abortion crowd already don't have any incentive to restrain from stigmatizing pro-life people, and using pejorative epithets when possible. In fact, they do use them quite regularly. It's not like they have another gear they can ratchet up the pressure with. Secondly, (at least with your specific example) trying to equate "pro-life" with "pro-rape" is not all that easy a sell, they have been trying for a LONG time and it falls pretty flat. All a pro-lifer has to do is point to his strong record demanding very severe punishments for rape, up to and including death.

Of course, the college campus vitriolic environment with feminists might create a new pathway there, what with their calling anything and everything "rape" if it has ANY effect on women that they don't like. Bad grades in physics class? That's Rape! They would probably equate support for adoption services for those who don't want to abort the child conceived in rape as "another rape" somehow or other. On that yardstick, though, being against abortion IS being pro-rape, but at that point "rape" loses all its meaning and their mouth-sounds are mere clanging of cymbals. Or symbols! Eventually even their own side will tune them out.

Of course, the college campus vitriolic environment with feminists might create a new pathway there, what with their calling anything and everything "rape" if it has ANY effect on women that they don't like. Bad grades in physics class? That's Rape! They would probably equate support for adoption services for those who don't want to abort the child conceived in rape as "another rape" somehow or other. On that yardstick, though, being against abortion IS being pro-rape, but at that point "rape" loses all its meaning and their mouth-sounds are mere clanging of cymbals. Or symbols! Eventually even their own side will tune them out.

I saw rhetoric like this during my youthful days as an academic at a "Catholic" university (where, somehow, I, as the arch-protestant, was more Catholic than the atheist/Marxist/secularist priests/faculty).

My political solution is to let the states decide (though I'd hope the states would each individually decide that it is a grave moral act and the termination of a human being who had committed no crime).

Well, there are no utter solutions, as Hitchens says. People are going to murder born children as well, even though it's illegal. But a legal regime with any claim to justice needs to make it illegal to murder children. I can say myself with great confidence that the illegality of abortion, where it exists, saves lives, just as (enforced) just law deters and punishes many other evil and violent acts. I believe that I myself would not be here if I'd been conceived post-Roe. Yet here I am!

And fellow cranky argumentative Christians are glad. :-)

I doubt that pro-lifers are backing off on the outrage because of fear of ratcheting up on the part of pro-aborts. I think pro-lifers back off on the rhetoric because of things like this:

1) They've been taught to talk about very early abortions, as if most abortions were occurring at an embryonic stage (which is untrue, as an empirical matter) at which the child does not "look like a baby," so they get all shy about calling it "baby killing." The pro-aborts, meanwhile, play a blatant bait and switch in which they bully pro-lifers by telling them they are "being inaccurate" for referring to a "fertilized egg" as a baby and then turn around and, like Hitchens's interlocutor in the debate, blandly advocate dismembering 17-week-old, thumb-sucking, unborn children. I have never, ever, ever met a pro-abort who started talking about "newly conceived embryos" who was, as a practical matter, willing to *limit* the legality of abortion to, say, the first seven weeks post-conception. Ever.

Not that such early abortions would not be metaphysically murder, either, but the point is that pro-lifers are allowing themselves to be bullied by the "it doesn't look like a baby" baloney by people who know danged good-and-sure that they want to have it legal to kill babies, babies, babies, by anybody's purely visual measure, even if that *were* the measure. So the pro-lifers back off.

2) Abortion has been legal for so long that pro-lifers are simply desensitized. This is especially common among academics. When all of your colleagues think it's obvious that abortion should be legal and will get all shocked and think you're a nut-case if you refer to it as baby murder, you don't refer to it as baby murder.

3) Philosophers, in particular, and those who make a ministry out of debating the issue, are sensitive about anything that can be viewed as question-begging. So they invent terminology or acquiesce in terminology and in a bloodless discussion of the topic that actually hands a large rhetorical advantage to the other side. As mentioned in the main post, the usual rhetorical compromise has been to refer to the baby at risk of being torn apart by forceps as "the unborn." I'm not trying to demonize people who do that. Virtually every pro-life debater in the English-speaking world does so, and these are passionate, pro-life people. They are trying to find a turn of phrase that isn't immediately derided as emotional baiting of the opponent but also is not depersonalizing like "fetus." So they've settled on "the unborn" at least in their public debates and discussions with the pro-aborts they are trying to reach. I will, however, say that there is a place, and an important place, for Hitchens's unabashed outrage and referring to abortion as baby-killing.

I can't find this clip on YouTube, but someone took a phone video of their TV screen when Ben Shapiro was on FOX News the other night and posted it to Twitter. Very refreshing. There's quite a buzz about it because this is apparently very gung-ho language even for FOX News, which is sad. But if this is the new face of FOX, all the better.

https://twitter.com/LoveEmus/status/1049110078123642881

"I can't find this clip on YouTube"

Here you go:

https://youtu.be/poB8aIXI0Yo

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