Feminazis and Baby Snatchers: Ross Douthat—Pull Up a Chair
Hope you don’t mind the choice of furniture, it simply goes with the rest of the decor. Ross, I can call you “Ross”, right? I’ve been meaning to discuss your columns with you for awhile, and on the basis of the last two, I think there really might be no time like the present.
Now, it’s been a few days, but about the “liberal eugenics” piece—I’m not really going to belabor the many points of weaseling this column represents, because it’s unfair to weasels. Indicating that the strain of eugenic thought prevalent in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s of the past century was particularly a liberal concern was a bit of omission (both side did it—sounds familiar?), and indicating it died out due to the revelations over the sickness of the extent of the practices of the Nazis is surely an entry for the Godwin Awards, if there is a such a thing (it might actually make more sense that pseudo-science dies out because it is pseudo-science but then again, even after WWII, there were people sterilized in the US, so no, not even died out—just not continued as a part of the necessarily liberal tradition)—but that’s all sort of obvious. It even makes sense to point out as even you were aware in your typically off-hand way in the column that there is a certain difference between reproductive decisions enforced by the state versus the freedom to make reproductive choices exercised by individuals, but even that is a weak point to argue with you, as you often seem unaware that the bilaterally-symmetrical humanoids surrounding uteruses are actually thinking people.
No, Ross, I just want to point out that part of the data-set you used to construct your argument that modern choice proponents are following in the eugenic tradition, the claim that in 90% of cases—a positive result for Down syndrome testing results in abortion, was actually recently claimed by Bristol Palin on her blog, and which, to her credit, she apologized for once she was aware that the conclusion was erroneous. While it is true that a still-robust 70% of fetuses who test positive for DS are aborted, the reality is that the decision to even prenatally test often indicates a bias, with those opting to test for it being more likely to abort. One reason for this is because its widely understood that women past the age of 30 are more likely to conceive a baby with Down syndrome. That would be because although the test for it is genetic in nature, it is not genetic per se, in that Down syndrome is not heritable except in very few circumstances—it’s a chromosomal abnormality. It’s complicated. But what shouldn’t be ignored is that parents make the decisions they do in many respects based on their own resources—and in some cases, the desire not to have a child dependent upon them who will always need a parent—when they can not always ensure they will be there to take care of that child.
That said, your more recent piece regarding the Regnerus study take a bit much for granted that the conclusions drawn are to be trusted and support your general outlook: that marriage is for the sake of children and that gays are just going to fuck it up. I hope you’ll allow me that paraphrase: I tend to prefer my bigotry blunt. I would say Will Saletan and Jonathan Chait do pretty much all the serious business of pointing out how the methodology is poor and don’t really support that result, which is great, because I’m just not up to all of it—but you know:
Regnerus’s study is a reminder of why marriage has traditionally been regarded as something other than just a celebration of love and a signifier of civic equality, and why the rationale for the institution has involved a child’s rights to his or her biological parents as well as in two lovers’ rights to one another.
Honestly, what about the kids who have one or more deceased parents, or incarcerated parents, or unfit parents, or any of the various reason why, historically, kids have not been raised by the chromosome-donors who conceived them? What about all the kids conceived outside of marriage, who may not have known their fathers (who were married to other ladies)? Kids have a right to be raised, loved, fed, educated, kept safe—and meemaws and peepaws, aunties and uncles, older siblings, adoptive parent(s) and sometimes multigenerational combinations of family members have provided that role for children throughout history. This whole one man-one woman thing seems persnickety. It’s the how they they are raised, not who is doing it, that strikes me as the point.
That’s two columns in a row, not just any two deliberately found, that are actually insulting; insulting to parents and insulting to people who care about intellectual honesty. One implies that the pro-choice point of view has a kinship with the Nazis, the other seems to imply that somehow, gay people are depriving children of the two-heterosexual-parent nuclear family they might have otherwise had (when no, they wouldn’t). Now, Ross, despite your wizard-in-training neckbeard and incipient jowls, you’re still a young man, Is this really how it needs to be? Or will we find you tending still less to intellectual rigor and more to intellectual rigor mortis with each successive column, until you’re eyeing up a berth at The Daily Caller or whatever?
Eh, its not that I care, mind you. It’s just tiring having you taken seriously until the eventual final columnar prat-fall—indeed, some columnists write utter dross their entire career and no one ever notices.