February 27, 2006

A Quick Thought on Life in South Dakota

To be honest, I've slipped to the moderate (most common) version of "well informed," so I know only the outline detail of South Dakota's proposed anti-abortion law. Two aspects I've picked up:

  1. The law is restrictive even by pro-life standards, making an exception only for mothers whose lives are threatened by the pregnancy. Addressed as a purely political matter, this strikes me as unnecessarily antagonistic and likely to scuttle any critical mass of national support.
  2. The law is intended to be stricken down under slamming gavels and then climb its way to the Supreme Court.

All in all, it seems like a risky strategy. If the law is ultimately ruled unconstitutional, it could fortify abortion's judicial precedent, which led my first reaction to be one of dismay.

But could it be, I then wondered, that the legislation's backers fully expect to be rebuffed, but are hoping to open a new door of legal thinking in the process? Say, for example, the Supreme Court argues that, in forbidding abortion even in cases of rape, the law leaves no option for women who've done nothing to choose pregnancy (other than remaining fertile). Mightn't this open another measure of abortion laws — a pro-life loophole akin to the "health of the mother" one that the other side exploits to ensure that teenage girls who might face emotional stress must be allowed to abort their babies? In my example, the new principle (new solely in law, of course) would be that licit sex represents a choice to risk pregnancy.

I tend to be too inclined to see routes toward positive outcomes. At the very least, though, it's fair to say that, were the South Dakota law less restrictive and stricken down nonetheless, the precedent fortification would likely be stronger.

Posted by Justin Katz at 9:30 PM | Comments (8)

Wondering Whether Sullivan Will Add Ramesh to His List

Way back in my pre-father-of-multiple-children, pre-homeowner, pre-Dust-in-the-Light days of February 2002, Andrew Sullivan had a running thread for great insults in history. He actually published one that I emailed him — my favorite quote on Emerson, by Herman Melville:

I could readily see in Emerson, notwithstanding his merit, a gaping flaw. It was the insinuation that had he lived in those days when the world was made, he might have offered some valuable suggestions.

I bring this admittedly superficial remembrance up because Ramesh Ponnuru has penned an insult that should clearly be added to the list:

I'm not totally sure whether Sullivan's habitual inability to present his opponents' views correctly is a result of malicious lying, indifference to the truth, incompetence in figuring out the truth, or some combination of these things. Readers need not know the answer to that question to conclude that he is untrustworthy.
Posted by Justin Katz at 8:13 PM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2006

Gasping Back to Humanity

I'm almost back to being human. For six months or so, I've gotten myself as close to being a machine as possible — sleep, eat, work. But tomorrow, I should wrap up a major weekend-only carpentry project, and at least my weekend work will be on my own house, which I'm rushing to prepare for a third child. Still work; somehow different.

So the surge is almost over, I hope. After too long treading idle water, I've fought sudden and persistent waves and am still afloat. Better able, if anything, to keep my head above the surface.

I've thought of you often — of speaking — thinking of things to say, but the acrid water of the endless workweek has kept me from calling out. You've heard the gasps, no doubt. For a long while they've been breaths scraped from the air for survival; perhaps soon they'll become recognizable as words. As communication.

Posted by Justin Katz at 8:46 PM | Comments (5)
Diary & Confession