Saturday, September 24, 2005

"The Birthmark"

I'm reading this story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which is a dark tale of man's dissatisfaction with the "imperfections" of Nature. Looking for it online, I found a page that references how Leon Kass, who'd been named to head the president's committee on bioethics, recommended "The Birthmark" to the committee.

The writer of this page works himself into a near-hysterical frenzy over how soon, thanks to birth control, etc., there will be a handful of young people supporting hoards of elderly, there will be competition among men for the declining number of women in places like China, etc. Of course, this is the fault of all non-right thinking people, people like Aylmer of "The Birthmark," which story really has little relationship to birth control, managing populations, or anything like that, but is focused on a more Frankensteinish horror. (It's quite a stretch to apply this story's moral to what this writer is trying to get it to fit.)

Then he says something about leftists and libertarians "chattering" about women's rights. "Chattering." What a fashionable, in way to belittle your opposition without having to actually address their issues—use a word that implies they are mindless little twitterers. Of course, I could say this writer drools his way through his argument. But I'll stick to "near-hysterical." It has its ironies with reference to his argument.

I can't help but think the only way to address the issues is to take them seriously. This habit of avoiding the issues by demeaning the opposition ain't it.

1 comment:

  1. You probably won't see this comment, since your post is from months ago, but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading it. I happened upon it by accident.