Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Putting the Pro in Pro-Life

It has been obvious for quite sometime that the term "pro-life" has a very restricted meaning within the circles of those who declare themselves as such. That is, pro-life is simply the euphemistic corollary of anti-abortion. It can mean nothing else, can have no larger general prescription, because it has been warmly adopted by some of the same people who also enthusiastically support the death penalty. Clearly, labelling oneself "pro-life" while embracing execution is, at the very least, morally conflicted. One of the advantages of being of a "pro-life" mindset, however, is that those who so adopt it are not wont to self-doubt or such fuzzy-headed notions as moral conflict. Theirs is an absolute belief, founded upon a deep and untroubled religiosity that scarcely permits such quibbling.

When Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court was being trumpeted by the Bush administration and pleasantly welcomed by a host of "family values" crusaders such Dobson, Gary Bauer and the Christian Coalition, the overarching policy concern was the then potential jurist's views of Roe v. Wade. It was all a distraction, of course, as many of Alito's recent rulings have amply demonstrated. Alito was chosen by, well, who knows who actually chose him, but he was given the nod more for his pro-business, pro-police state positions than for any concerns of the abortion lobby. It was mere happy convenience that Alito also appeared to be "pro-life" and his advocacy for over-turning Roe v. Wade incrementally was certainly seen by the Christian Right as reason enough to endorse Alito's nomination.

Actually, though, it is not a happy convenience that contemporary Republicans are pro-big business, pro-police state (at least when they are the police) and "pro-life." It is, in fact, entirely their strategy to be this way. Rarely today can one find a Republican who does not feel that the state has business in meddling with people private lives. God forbid, though, that the state should meddle in the affairs of big business, no matter how egregious their behaviour within the public realm. Republicans only see as necessary a response to corporate scandals because it is demanded politically. They would much rather prefer the "market" mete out justice and, as many had claimed at the time, actually viewed the Enron melt-down as a grand example of the glorious market righting itself. Nonetheless, prying into citizens' private lives is concurrently seen by conservatives as a absolute requirement within the realm of their Christian nation.

Which brings us back to Supreme Court Justice Alito and the "pro-life" veneer. Alito cast the decisive vote of yet another 5-4 decision in affirming a bizarre Kansas law that requires juries to weigh evidence in death penalty cases and favour the death penalty despite the existence of possible circumstantial mitigation. Justice Souter called the Kansas law "morally absurd" and further derided the majority decision:
The court's holding that the Constitution tolerates this moral irrationality defies decades of precedent aimed at eliminating freakish capital sentencing in the United States.
It is certainly not surprising that Alito would rule this way; his previous record as a jurist contained enough evidence that he would rule completely in compliance with the anti-abortion, pro-death penalty strictures of the contemporary social conservative agenda, which often not only embraces "freakish capital sentencing," but roundly applauds it. This would be the same conservative agenda that also celebrates itself as "pro-life."

But let's not mistake such decisions as the raison d'etre of Alito et al. being on the Supreme Court. Decisions such as this are merely grist for the rabid crowd of yowlers who demand fealty to the cause of moral values. For it is really the professional class that the group of conservatives on the bench are there to serve. It is in this vein that the majority of their decisions is expected to prevail, while occassionally tossing out the odd crumb of moral righteousness just to keep the dogs at bay. It is a professional operation of the highest order.


Blogger Kel said...

Great point about the pro-lifers being pro-death when it comes to convicted felons.

And I've never understood their embrace of "family values".

Terrible things happen within some families, incest, child abuse to name but two.

Once again we have a phrase supposedly to spell out values that is essentially meaningless.

12:15 PM  

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