THE FIRST 100 DAYS
by Aaron Olsen
Things are changing at the White House. All the “w” keys have been replaced in the keyboards, the graffiti has been cleaned off the walls, and I am sure the Oval Office floors got a good scrubbing. Bush has also ordered that no more X-rated films be shown as in-flight movies on Air Force One. That’s right. Clinton’s choice of in-flight movies were a little more anatomically explicit than your typical Delta Airlines flight. When Clinton ran off with all the china from Air Force One, I am sure that he just forgot to pick up his movies. (I have a hunch that he has plenty of back up tapes). I guess nothing about Clinton should surprise me. Meanwhile, the criticism of Bush seems a bit hollow.
On energy policy, Bush has been heavily criticized for wanting to increase the energy supply. Nobody wants more oil mining. Or nuclear power. Or hydroelectric power. Or more coal power plants. Or higher prices. So now California is getting ready for more rolling black-outs this summer. Californians will have no lights, no Nintendo, no television … I’m warning you this will lead to a population explosion.
On foreign policy, things have been pretty calm. The U.S. soldiers are back safe from China, but the Chinese caught a windfall by keeping the plane. Finally they can get our secrets without having to make a campaign donation to the DNC.
On the issue of taxes, the Democrats have stopped talking about a “risky” tax cut scheme and now claim to have always been in favor of a tax cut. Lieberman wants to give everyone 300 bucks. Lieberman? Soon Gephardt will threaten to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t cut the pork out of the budget.
The abortion debate is somewhat contorted. Pro-life advocates are labeled as crazy extremists, or “religious zealots,” yet the pro-choice group is afraid of having the issue removed from the super-democratic quasi-legislature that is the Supreme Court. Yep, better make sure that this decision is made by a group of nine rather than the masses. I guess the masses might also be a bunch of crazy right-wing baby-loving extremist religious zealots.
Pro-lifers are also accused of being inconsistent if they oppose abortions, but don’t support every well-intentioned government program. I agree that if you are pro-life, you should also help families that have babies despite difficult circumstances. (Kudos to the Society of Law Life and Religion for organizing Culture Shock III to do just that). But most people recognize that you cannot solve every problem with another government program. I wish you could. Limited resources also prevent funding every worthwhile charity.
Of course pro-choice advocates are not inconsistent when they strain to find penumbras of rights to establish the “right” to abortion on demand. Yet, they become strict constructionists when it comes to drawing the line to determine who is a person. Suddenly the Constitution should be strictly construed to make sure that we don’t include the unborn in the circle of humanity. Gee, I can’t think of any other instance in our nation’s history when people turned to a strict definition of the Constitution to keep those inalienable rights away from others.
Bush is criticized for withholding funding to international “family” clinics that support abortion. I love the liberals’ response to this. When they list all the calamities that will happen if these clinics shut their doors, they never mention that there will be less abortions. Instead they talk about how there will be more cases of AIDS and other STDs. But why can’t family planning clinics still plan for families without advocating abortion? Can’t you still give out condoms without performing abortions?
Elderly, Education, etc. …
Despite Republican control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, Social Security has not been eliminated, schools have not been shut down, and the world has not come to a screeching halt as promised by the alarmist Democrat election ads. In fact, it seems that Bush has some innovative ideals on how to improve education – even though he apparently speaks English as a second language.
Oh wait, that was the last guy. You know, the one that all the liberal feminist groups supported. The way liberal feminists stood by their man was truly inspiring. Clearly they are concerned about all women when prominent liberal feminists such as Gloria Steinem applauded the way Clinton handled the Kathleen Willey incident. Steinem explained that Clinton did just what women wanted because when Willey told Clinton to stop, he did. Somehow I think that not all women agree with Steinem’s “one free grope” rule.
SMILE IF YOU WILL, BUT DON’T HIDE YOUR TEETH
by Matt Wood
As careful readers of the Boston Herald would have undoubtedly noticed weeks ago, students at Harvard Law School just can’t stop smiling. Or, to be more precise, they can’t stop telling their classmates: a) to smile, and b) what to smile about.
And it wasn’t just a minor organ like the Herald that decided to spill some ink over the anti-abortion cum free-speech brouhaha here at dear old HLS. Even the RECORD, indisputably the most authoritative journalistic voice when it comes to reporting – or even causing – controversies on this campus, devoted a column or two to the topic of the “Smile!” propaganda war that’s been waged over the course of the past semester or two.
While there was a lot of coverage, locally and VERY locally, about the school’s alleged attempt to chill anti-choice speech, chiefly by calling the initiator of this campaign into the principal’s office, I don’t know that there’s been a lot of commentary on what’s happened since the events of last month. (But then again, I don’t read the Herald very much.) Many of you may be wondering if Harvard Law School, that bastion of evil liberalism and lock-step political correctness, is still threatening poor Matt Evans ’01 with dire consequences should he continue his scotch tape and thumbtack-driven crusade.
Now I don’t have this from the horse’s mouth, but I think that the answer is no. The “marketplace of ideas” approach, which we law students hear so much about in class, has won the day, if the signs I’ve seen on bulletin boards and lockers all over school are any indication. The “Smile! Your mom chose life” flyers are still visible – to say nothing of plentiful – and have precipitated a more or less well-coordinated counter-attack from several pro-choice individuals and organizations on campus.
It’s pretty obvious to me that this is a better response to the situation than anything we’d heard about last month. Either the administration’s officially shutting down an “inappropriate” conversation, or other students’ literally ripping down messages they found to be upsetting or offensive, would have been far less satisfactory. Such approaches smack of ignorance and censorship, and are, I would argue, far less effective responses than a persuasive counter-argument. Both camps in this battle have taken to postering with gusto and even to scribbling rather intelligent little questions on the other side’s flyers.It should be pretty obvious to all of you that I’m on the pro-choice side of this bulletin board debate. They don’t put “the liberal” up above my column for nothing. I’ve known Matt Evans since those heady days of 1L year, when we sat side-by-side in Civil Procedure (at least on the days when we both attended class) and tried to figure out just what this personal jurisdiction stuff was all about anyway. Although I’ve absolutely no reason to doubt the sincerity of Matt’s beliefs and convictions, and I’m glad that he and other right-to-life types at the school have gotten a chance to have their say, I can’t help but fundamentally disagree with most of their conclusions.
Believe it or not, even I am not foolish enough to launch into a defense of the pro-choice position here and now, with only the remaining balance of my thousand-word or so column at my disposal should I even be articulate enough to make the case at all. What I really wanted to talk about this week were the posters from the other side that I found to be the most striking. “Smile!” might be catchy and memorable, but “slavery” was the word that really caught my eye when it was used on several of the anti-abortion posters.
Comparing current attitudes about abortion to antebellum attitudes about slavery seems to me to be a fairly brilliant rhetorical stroke. I know for a fact that neither Matt Evans nor anyone else here at Harvard Law School was the first person to think of this analogy. I also know that lots of people would find the comparison to be inapposite and inadequate, to say nothing of flawed and misguided. Yet, even if you disagree vehemently with the analogy, you can’t deny the rhetorical power – based on shock value and cognitive dissonance alone, if nothing else – of making the comparison in the first place.
I don’t really have any complaint about the pro-life movement’s use of this comparison. I personally think of it as tasteless, and feel that it does a disservice in explicating both the horrors of slavery and the physical, emotional and social difficulties faced by mothers who choose not to carry a pregnancy to full term. Yet, the argument is an interesting one and does raise some questions that pro-choice advocates have to address. While the slavery comparison does little, in my mind, to reclaim any progressive ground for what is essentially a conservative viewpoint, I would hardly feel comfortable denying pro-lifers the right to conceive of themselves as modern-day abolitionists.
What does bother me about this comparison, from an argumentation standpoint, is that it is one more example of the current vogue in conservative circles for co-opting liberal tactics and terminology. After so many years of decrying the “outmoded” ideas of the left, why is it so fashionable all of a sudden for Republicans to proclaim their compassion, their belief in diversity and their desire to protect the environment? Maybe it’s just the nature of politics; you call the other candidate a liar and then proceed to do anything you can to woo the voters who would’ve voted for her. There was a guy named Clinton who seemed to be pretty good at that.
I suppose I’m just a little bit frightened, however, when – in almost Orwellian fashion – “Equal Protection” becomes an equal opportunity program for the advancement of white people. Or when a student group that calls itself the “Alliance of Independent Feminists” sends its members out to read articles on the importance of courtship as a tool for women to turn male lust into love.
Effective rhetoric is well and good, but let’s at least try to be honest. Whether it’s 1850, 1984 or 2001, slavery is not freedom.