Friday, December 16, 2005

Jonah Goldberg shows the flip side of the problem. Other conservatives, and I susepect Goldberg himself, don't like the death penalty all that much, but like death penalty opponents even less.

I'm beginning to re-think the problem, though, and I'm not sure I agree anymore that the solution is for advocates for life to clean up their act. Sure, it might not help that some advocates display intellectual inconsistencies or advocate for life as part of a package that includes less attractive issues.

Reading Goldberg's column, though, it seems that he's desperately trying to avoid what he knows is the truth. Kind of like pro-choice people who say that it shouldn't be George W. Bush's choice what happens to a baby. I think these commentators see the truth, recognize that accepting it will be accepting a cross they may not want to carry, and then grasp at straws to find an excuse not to do so.

So long as the pro-life movement is made up of humans, it's going to have some elements that are a tad unsavory. And even if we were all perfect, there would be aspects of it that are unappealing. A cross is a cross, and we can't pretend otherwise. Opposing the death penalty means advocating on behalgf of vicious murderers, and telling some families of murder victims that they can't have what they want. Opposing abortion means saying that some babies might be born into some pretty crummy circumstances at considerable sacrifice.

So I'm not sure making the pro-life movement more appealing is the answer. In fact, as Goldberg observes, it can backfire. Tookie Williams was a murderer, and pretending otherwise doesn't change things.

What we have is a culture that is allergic to sacrifice. People value their aesthetic impressions of movements more than they value their correctness. Changing that is going to take a lot of work over a lot of years. I don't think that pretending that a death row inmate is innocent or a redeemed saint is going to do it, any more then pretending that every aborted baby would have lived a trouble-free life.
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