By now, after reading Part I, it’s possible some of you are shaking your heads, thinking, “Of course the author of this article is a 20-something sexually active heterosexual female. Why else would she be Pro-Choice, if not to serve her own self-interest? She probably feels some pathetic sisterly bond with another woman scorned, and this whole polemic is just an emotionally-charged vendetta because someone dared to question her freedom to be a whore!”
(Although, if you’re an ordinary internet troll, you probably wouldn’t have worded it that well.)
To be fair, I can see why someone would think that; and he or she would be free to think that, because by the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution, it’s not illegal to be a dick.
At this point, however, I will be discussing the philosophical basis rather than the Constitutional basis for Conservatism. I’m sure I will thoroughly enrage both Conservative-haters and the Pro-Life establishment alike, and I look forward to doing just that.
For now, let’s refer back to the controversy surrounding Ms. Lahren. In addition to her own (former?) colleagues, Lahren has been met with a barrage of opposition ever since she announced she was Pro-Choice. Some of these detractors – or haters, you could say – do make some well thought-out points.
One, whose argument I thought was (for the most part) succinct and well-spoken, is Brittany Hughes, in a Media Research Center series called Reality Check.
Here is a transcript of her statement, abridged for time-efficiency:
“It is impossible to be both Conservative and Pro-Choice. The two are incompatible, and here’s why … First, there’s a historical precedent for what does and does not constitute a Conservative … and these standards do not change based on your truth [or] what is convenient for your career … Conservatives disagree on many fine points, but the inherent right to life is not negotiable. In fact, it makes up the foundation for all other conservative principles. If a person’s life has no value at their earliest and most vulnerable moment, who cares how much you tax them later, or whether they have religious freedom, or the right to bear arms? If the basic right to life is not protected by society and by law, then no other Conservative value matters, and it’s in no way hypocritical for Conservatives to believe this. In fact, it lies up perfectly with how we view the role of government. We don’t advocate for zero government – that would make us anarchists. Instead, we believe in a limited government … one that does have certain obligations. Among these is the duty to protect our unalienable right, the right to life … So, Ms. Lahren, you’re entitled to your opinion, and it may make you many things, but it does not make you conservative, and you cannot claim to speak for an ideology which you clearly don’t agree with, and perhaps don’t even understand.”
(© 2017, Media Research Center, for informational purposes only.)
I must admit, after hearing the above statement, I was impressed with Ms. Hughes clear delivery and candor. It even caused me, momentarily, to question my own political identity. I wondered whether I could still call myself a Conservative, knowing that I am undoubtedly Pro-Choice.
Still, instead of changing my Facebook label from Conservative to Libertarian right then and there, I stopped and considered on what authority Ms. Hughes based her opinions. Her words seemed to imply that she, like Glenn Beck, was referring to the legal writings of Justice James Wilson. Of course, I believe I’ve already invalidated Wilson’s claims in the previous article, but he does not represent the entire Conservative ideology. The Conservative school of thought was not founded by Wilson, nor by any authors of the Constitution.
Instead, it began in 18th Century England, prior to the American Revolution. Its founding principles transpired from the writings of two political philosophers, John Stuart Mill and Edmund Burke. The latter is widely considered to be the “father of modern Conservatism.”
(Yeah, I condone “the patriarchy”. Deal with it.)
Although Ms. Hughes made no direct mention of J.S. Mill, one of Lahren’s other opponents did. That would be one Conservative Tribune columnist Ben Marquis, in an article titled, most flamboyantly, “Glenn Beck Unleashes After Tomi Lahren Betrays Him, Conservatives Everywhere.” It is, predictably, a seething tabloid-style condemnation of Ms. Lahren, at the conclusion of which he writes:
“It is worth noting that, for someone who claimed to hold Libertarian views, Lahren is seemingly unfamiliar with one of the political ideology’s key tenets regarding limited government, that being John Stuart Mill’s ‘harm principle’, which essentially states that governments retain the right to exercise power over an individual’s liberty for the sake of preventing harm to others.”
(© 2017, Liftable Media, Inc., for informational use only.)
Wait, “essentially states”? Do you even lift, bro? And by lift, I mean, literally lift an actual book with pages off a shelf and sit down and read the words of John Stuart Mill? If you had, maybe you would have actually mentioned On Liberty, the book by J.S. Mill in which the harm principle is actually found! I did, and I made some striking realizations from Mill’s own words.
Some of my personal favorite quotes from On Liberty include:
“The acts of an individual may be hurtful to others, or wanting in due consideration for their welfare, without going to the length of violating their constituted rights. The offender may then be punished by opinion, though not by law […] As soon as any part of one’s conduct affects prejudicially the interests of others, society has jurisdiction over it, and the question of whether the general welfare will or will not be promoted by interfering with it, becomes open to discussion. But there is no rom for entertaining any such question when a person’s conduct affects the interests of no persons besides himself […] In all such cases, there should be perfect freedom, legal and social, to do the action and stand the consequences.”
(J.S. Mill, On Liberty, Ch. IV, p. 3)
Here, I’ve modified the pronouns simply because the issue in question is mostly relevant to women:
“But neither one person, nor any number of persons, is warranted in saying to another human creature of ripe years, that he [or she] shall not do with [her] life for [her] benefit, what [she] chooses to do with it.”
(Ch. IV, p. 4)
Here, I’ve added the bracketed terms to apply the principle to a specific situation:
“If [she] deteriorates [her] own body or mental faculties [i.e., by remaining pregnant against her will], [she] not only brings evil upon all who depended on [her] … but disqualifies [her]self for rendering the services which [she] owes to [her] fellow creatures generally [i.e., society]; perhaps becomes a burden on their affection or benevolence [i.e., becomes dependent on public welfare].”
(Ch. IV, p. 8)
Lastly, this one is probably the most compelling point against the Pro-Life establishment:
“No such person [should] ever feel that others have a right to control him in his concerns, such as they have to prevent him from injuring them in theirs; and it easily comes to be considered a mark of spirit and courage to fly in the face of … and do with ostentation the exact opposite of … the fanatical moral intolerance of the Puritans.”
(Ch. IV, p. 11)
So wait, one of the original Conservatives denounced religious fanatics? Interesting.
Finally, here is the harm principle as it actually appears in the text; which Mr. Marquis, whether out of laziness or pure stupidity, neglected to properly cite:
“… [T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.”
(Ch. I, p. 9)
Now, I would assume the Pro-Life establishment interprets the text as follows:
“… [T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any [female] member of a civilized community, against [her] will, is to prevent harm to [the unborn]. [The woman’s] own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.”
I doubt the Pro-Life side considered, however, that Mill’s words could just as easily be read like this:
“… [T]he only purpose for which power can be exercised over any [unborn] member of a civilized community, against [its] will, is to prevent harm to [the mother]. The [unborn’s] own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.”
Given that paradigm shift, a Pro-Life adherent might say, “Well, if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, we could make an exception and abort the unborn child, if doing so is necessary to save the mother’s life,” but not every situation is going to be that absolute.
Furthermore, Mill says “harm,” but does not specify death. Harm can also take many non-lethal forms. Since “harm” is such a broad term, I’m going to suggest (and correct me if I’m wrong) that it could encompass any and all of the following:
Severe pain, mental trauma, physical incapacitation, permanent injury, permanent disfigurement, and permanent psychological damage.
That being said, is it possible that through the course of an entire pregnancy, even if the child is healthy by medical standards, that the mother may experience any if not all of the above symptoms?
Again, not a rhetorical question. It isn’t just possible; it’s almost absolutely certain.
On the other hand, especially if you’re a Pro-Life mother reading this, your reaction might be something to the effect of:
“You bitter, frigid bitch! How could you write that? If only you knew what a privilege and a joy motherhood is, you’d realize it’s worth the pain!”
And I hear you.
True, there are many brave women who endure the pain and discomfort of pregnancy and delivery, sometimes without painkillers, for the sake of bringing new life into this world, and it is a noble endeavor. There are many strong women who wear stretch marks and surgical scars as badges of honor, and I admire them. I admit, it takes a better woman than I am to go through with that.
Yet, in most of these cases, these mothers consent to their pregnancies. They voluntarily undergo the physical and mental pain. To force a woman into nine months of pregnancy against her will, though, is more than harm; it’s borderline torture.
(Personally, I’d rather watch uninterrupted reruns of The View for nine months straight, and that’s really saying something.)
On the torture point, though, I am going to refer back to the Constitution on that. Specifically, the Eighth Amendment, which states:
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
(U.S. Const., Amendment XIII)
In other words, the government cannot inflict cruel and unusual punishment onto its citizens in response to their actions. If the government forces a woman into what would be a nine-month ‘pregnancy sentence,’ the government would in fact be inflicting cruel and unusual punishment, and that is unconstitutional.
So maybe, just maybe, Ms. Lahren knows what she’s talking about when she says she’s a Constitutionalist? I’d be willing to back her on that.
Ultimately, the key issue is consent. Although most relevant to women in this context, it applies to all members of a free society. In this scenario, if a woman does not consent to the harm caused by the unborn, she should be allowed to have the unborn fetus removed from her body as permitted by law.
There may someday be technology that allows an early-term fetus to exist and develop independently of a woman’s body, and that would be a victory for the Pro-Life movement. Until then, if a woman does not consent to having a fetus exist inside of her, the existence of the fetus is not her concern.
Otherwise, the government would be condemning a woman, without conviction of a crime or due legal process, to cruel and unusual punishment. That is not Constitutional, and that is definitely not limited government.
I will even go so far as to say that if you’re a Conservative, you are more than welcome to make the personal decision to be Pro-Life according to your own beliefs; but you cannot impose those beliefs on another legally autonomous adult and still call yourself a Conservative.
All self-proclaimed Conservatives opposed, you may hate me now. You have my consent.
Finally, you can’t have a discussion on the true meaning of Conservatism without referring back to one individual – that would be Edmund Burke, my second-favorite Irishman after only Bram Stoker, without whom the Conservative ideology would not exist.
In Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, published in 1770, he writes:
(with bracketed terms added to provide context)
“The people have indeed been told, that [the government’s] power of discretionary disqualification is vested in the hands that [the people] may trust, and who will be sure not to abuse it to their prejudice. Until I find something in this argument [for excessive government intervention] differing from that on which every mode of despotism has been defended, I shall not be inclined to pay it any great compliment. The people are satisfied to trust themselves with the exercise of their own privileges, and do not desire this kind [kind said in sarcasm] intervention of the House of Commons [or any government] to free them from [their] burden … [The people] ought not to trust [the government] with a power over their franchises: because the constitution [referring to the laws of any nation, because the U.S. Constitution did not yet exist] which placed two other coordinate powers to control it [referring here to the House of Commons and House of Lords in British Parliament, and can equally be applied to the House and Senate of the U.S. Congress], reposed no such confidence in that body.”
In simpler terms, Burke had created a new brand of government – limited government – which had never before existed in Europe’s monarchial history. His words are the embodiment of the earliest Conservative idea, which he effectively makes known to his contemporaries (and I paraphrase): “The government think they know what’s best for you. They don’t. Fuck that. We as people are more than capable of deciding for ourselves what’s best for us.”
Now, nearly 250 years later, that same conviction holds true. It extends to our opinions, our property, our money, our businesses, our careers, our families, our lifestyle choices, and most definitely our own bodies. This, not the Pro-Life movement, is the purest essence of Conservatism.
It may be mere speculation, but I highly doubt Edmund Burke or John Stuart Mill, in this present day, would approve of a government that forces motherhood on a woman against her will.
So, Pro-Life establishment, I wouldn’t be so quick to condemn and ostracize Ms. Tomi Lahren.
Quite frankly, she makes the rest of you look like idiots.