I went to the pro-choice rally in April of 2004. The sponsors were shooting for a million people, and they got darned near it. It is sad, enlightening, frightening, and funny how the words, “pro-choice,” have been co-opted by a single cause.
I’ve been wondering how many people they would get if everyone who had a “pro-choice” position on something showed up.
I accept that being an American means that there are going to be a whole lot of people thinking, saying, and doing things I find patently offensive, or at least aesthetically unpleasant. But if they are causing me no tangible harm, I don’t care, and neither should my government. I have faith that God or karma will work things out justly in the end.
I support one’s right, for example, to join or indoctrinate one’s children into any cult one chooses, from the Catholic Church to Koresh’s wackos, as long as it is consensual adults (and parents) making the final decisions. The maximum I want my government involved in that kind of thing is a public warning that either choice may be harmful to your children, in one form or another.
What if everyone who is “pro-choice” on their religious beliefs showed up in the square?
What if everyone who supports “choice” on the things they put into their bodies showed up? If 1% of those evil dope-smoking Americans turned out, that’s a whole new 100,000, easy! And goodness, if the drinkers came, it would be chaos!
And how about those NRA guys? This is one of those groups with whom I fundamentally disagree, though on principle I would never deny anyone a right to own a gun, legally, either. What if those folks who were rabidly pro-choice about gun ownership showed up?
And what about those who feel they need the freedom to tune their radio dial, or throw their TV’s out the window for all the trash on it? I’m not a huge Howard Stern fan, nor am I a huge Rush Limbaugh fan, but I’m all about letting people listen to, watch, and patronize the sponsors of those they want to. I’m for freedom of choice on viewing and listening, sometimes known as “entertainment,” options. I’m for freedom of “turning the channel.”
I watched the Janet Jackson Super Bowl, including the halftime show, and simply wasn’t paying enough attention to see the Big Moment. I was watching, but I didn’t “see.” (And I have to confess to being a fan of Janet Jackson’s breasts.) I must’ve been thinking about needing a gallon of milk, or how lame I’ve always thought musical halftime shows were, ever since I was a kid, so I missed that now notorious second of our lives. A friend of mine called me up, and said, “(His wife) wanted to know if you (me) saw Janet Jackson’s breast just now.” And I said, no, despite my brand new HDTV signal, I saw no such thing. And I was watching!
The next day she left me a voice mail, telling me I was losing my touch.
What if all the people who thought they could handle their media’s input to their lives on their own, without the government’s “help,” showed up at the rally in honor of being pro-choice?
And how about if all the people who thought they should have a choice to read those infamous 28 blacked-out pages of that White House 9-11 report, on the grounds that our government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people” showed up? I’ll bet that’s a lot of people, even if they are just political junkies.
There are smaller “pro-choice” groups, too, but you rarely hear about them. The State of Oregon twice passed “right to die” legislation, perhaps the most basic choice of them all, our Federal Government tried to deny it, and yet I doubt many of them will show up for the “pro-choice” rally in Washington. Is it only me this strikes as odd? (Of course, this would be a very long trip for the Oregonians.)
A lot of people think it’s OK to whack (whack, not hurt) their kids if they cross some line of behavior. What if all the people who wanted the intensely personal choice in disciplining their children showed up?
Yes, “pro-choice,” by being associated with a single cause, has been mutated culturally, and this cultural shift has diluted both the political and the true meaning of the words. If you give me 15 minutes, I’ll guarantee you I can find a strongly held position of personal “choice” in 90% of all Americans. But if I asked them simply if they were pro-choice, barely a majority would say yes.
We have become a nation that considers it a ritualistic pastime to take others’ choices away. We call it our two-party political process, and we fund it with hundreds of millions of dollars. We are increasingly unable to separate the public from the personal; we have largely lost the libertarian streak that gave birth to this nation, this proud nation born out of respect for the sanctity of the individual. I am old enough not to be too frightened, but young enough to be very saddened.
Me, I’m pro-choice about everything. I call it, “freedom.”