Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Silence of Kevin Williamson

Effie Deans, by John Everett Miilais. Lillie Langtry is said to have been the model. Via RubyLane.

Anti-abortion freak Kevin D. Williamson continued today to be silenced (in Lemieux's conception) by the thought hegemony of the international cultural Marxist left. This morning he was silenced in a full-length column in the Washington Post, "The Punishment I Favor for Abortion", in which he suggests that he's finally going to tell us whether or not he thinks women who have abortions should be executed by hanging, as would have happened to poor Effie Deans in the Edinburgh Tolbooth Prison in Walter Scott's The Heart of Midlothian (1818), if her brave sister Jeanie hadn't walked clear from Dumfriesshire to London to beg the queen for her life (though Effie was charged not with abortion, which wasn't covered by criminal law in Scotland in the 1720s or anywhere else, but with killing her newborn, and indeed turned out to be innocent of that as well, somewhat to her own surprise).

Which was a question of some suspense, for Williamson followers (see Roy), because he's been teasing us for a while now, not saying anything about it in the piece Wall Street Journal published when he was being silenced over there last Friday, refusing to tell Ed Kilgore of New York Magazine unless New York agreed to publish his essay on the subject, which he explained to us this week when he was silenced at The Weekly Standard:

What you will not read about at New York magazine is the fact that I offered them a full account of my views on the subject, in the form of an essay on exactly how I think we should go about dealing with the legal prohibition of abortion. (In the interest of making this easier for New York magazine, I offered this at no charge, something I almost never do. “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money,” as Dr. Johnson observed.)
He was totally going to tell them, and for free, too, in a state of temporary blockheadedness, but they declined to promise they'd print any more of it than the money graf, so he decided not to show it to them. National Review writers have no idea what the real world is like, where you have to let an editor look at something before they agree to publish it. And then he didn't tell the Weekly Standard either, come to think of it, not that they necessarily asked.

So I'll tell you, I was pretty psyched when I saw Williamson's headline for his silenced appearance in the Post—at last, I said to myself,  he'll reveal his position!—and kind of disappointed, to tell you the truth, to find that he's still not doing it:
I differ from most pro-lifers in that I am willing to extend criminal sanctions to women who procure abortions and to those who enable abortions, assuming they are mentally competent adults ordinarily answerable for their actions. But this thought experiment has us writing one part of an imaginary statute without seeing the rest of the law. Only real-world experience will show what is effective, and our preference should be for the least-invasive effective settlement.
Oh, he's willing to punish them in some way if somebody wants him to, but somebody else has to try it out first so he can find out whether it's effective or not, and it looks like he wants a bunch of these experiments, so he can pick the least invasive one (as far as I'm concerned hanging is a pretty damn invasive procedure, but then again so is life without parole, which is presumably what Kevin would go with given his occasional opposition to capital punishment), and I'm sorry to say it looks to me like Kevin hasn't in fact thought about it at all.

He's nothing but a troll, in other words, which is a good enough reason for not giving him a job at The Atlantic or firing him from it in its own right. Not to mention what a strangled-ass crappy writer he is, hanging all his paragraphs by the neck until they're dead and then patting himself on the back because he's so litter-airy.

The only thing he appears to be interested in doing in the column is recommending French abortion law to our attention:
France, like many European countries, takes a stricter line on abortion than does the United States: Abortion on demand is permitted only through the 12th week of pregnancy. After that, abortion is severely restricted, permitted only to prevent grave damage to the mother’s health, or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities. France is not a neo-medieval right-wing dystopia.
The law in France imposes penalties on those who perform illegal abortions, ranging from forfeiture of medical licenses for doctors to fines and, in some cases, incarceration (for providers, not for the woman obtaining the abortion) ranging from six months to 10 years. Those sanctions seem reasonable to me. Why not start there and see how it works?
Which is a slightly problematic description on a few counts. It's true that an interruption volontaire de grossesse, voluntary interruption of pregnancy for any reason whatever or none, is restricted to the first trimester, and the conditions for allowing an interruption médicale sound pretty strict, but given that 93% of Down's syndrome fetuses in France are aborted, the interpretation of the law may be a little looser than it sounds.

It's also France, of course, so that any abortion procedure that it permitted is fully paid for by government-provided health insurance. Contraception is available to all, for free and without qualifications, and there's something of an emphasis on getting abortion done early by making it as easy in those first 12 weeks as possible. The law clearly doesn't punish women who have abortions in any way and I can't find any suggestion that any medical personnel have ever been punished for it either, in spite of or because of the laws; moreover in recent years permission to perform the procedure has been extended to midwives, and the "period of reflection" a woman used to have to undergo first has been eliminated, and in 2016, per Broadly,
In France, lawmakers attempt to counter the spread of misinformation by passing a bill banning anti-abortion websites that contain lies. The bill, passed by French senators earlier this week, extended a 1993 ordinance criminalizing "interference" with abortion access by means of spreading "false information."
While the 1993 law was originally designed to prevent anti-abortion activists from blockading the entrances to abortion clinics, the new legislation reflects the fact that the battle between anti-abortion activists and the pro-choice movement is now waged online, too. Under the new law, spreading online lies with the intention of intimidating women seeking abortions can be punished by up to two years imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros (around $31,700).
And under French law a fetus is not a person, though it has some protections as a "personne en devenir"

(It's also the case that the limitation to the first trimester can be a hardship for those with lower incomes who must travel to Spain or the Netherlands, and pay fees, sometimes hefty, for the procedure, as I read in this article from Marie-Claire, but it seems on the whole that people manage pretty well; the number of avortements clandestins has become so negligible in France that the government stopped publishing statistics in 2003.)

So it's not Williamson's approach, and he says as much; the French approach is "not ideal", meaning, I guess, that he'd prefer a "neo-medieval right-wing dystopia":
The French model does not represent an ideal final settlement. It would, in fact, leave untouched the vast majority of abortions, about 90 percent of which happen during the first trimester. It would, however, represent a welcome advance — one that would establish a post-Roe v. Wade legal framework for incremental reform.
Which sounds a little inattentive; he forgot to get rid of Roe (which guarantees the right into the second trimester) first. As well as instituting the socialized medicine that's an intrinsic part of the French approach.

In short, there's not one single thing in the whole column that's in any sense serious. The piece is constructed to give the impression that Williamson has something to say, without his actually bothering to think of anything. He's just the noisiest silenced person you've ever heard.

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