Friday, November 18, 2005

Kinsley on abortion. What about the rest?

I generally like what Michael Kinsley has to say. He's smart, erudite and funny. His commentary in today's Post, though not funny, highlights those qualities. He points out a rarely-discussed issue in the mainstream media, namely that there is no debate over abortion, merely a bunch of shouting. That's all well and good, but by that standard where in our society is there a debate anymore?

I'm busy shouting on this blog, right-wingers are busy shouting on their blogs, Congress is basically locked up in a shouting match, and our President regularly issues disjointed quasi-oracular statements on whatever topic du jour his disinformation campaigners think will motivate his base. He's not shouting I admit, but they've pumped him so full of pep-pills, anti-depressants and the occasional rufie that he probably can't muster the strength to shout anymore. Regardless, my point is, none of this constitutes debate.

So what does Kinsley want us to do? We don't debate abortion because 1) we don't know how to debate anymore, and 2) the hacks (as he rightly points out) like to manipulate hte polity through emotional issues. Which came first? Likely the 2nd. Question is, how do we return ourselves to a position wherein we can begin seeking grounds on which to debate. Let me suggest one method: compromise. (Yes, I said it again). The mouth-breating proto-fascist Christian stormtroopers probably won't agree, but I suspect that most of the rest of us might be able to find some shared ground. Perhaps it's the value of a woman's life, perhaps it's the links between poverty and teen pregnancy. I don't know. The point is, if we can find some shared values, we can then debate how those values inform the legal and political decisions that shape our national abortion policy. Until we do that, though, all the moaning in the world about the lack of debate isn't going to solve anything.