Right.Um … how about we just check in with Katie J. M. Baker of Jezebel?
Want a squishy toy fetus with your corn dog? If you’re visiting the North Dakota State Fair, you’re in luck! Last weekend, local anti-choice advocates slipped soft fetal models into kids’ candy bags without parental permission during the fair’s gigantic parade. “I don’t know exactly where I stand on abortion,” one mother told Jezebel, “but I believe in my rights as a parent.”The North Dakota State Fair boasts a bevy of attractions, including performances by Tim McGraw and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. But Minot Right to Life spent the weekend giving away creepy little fetuses to kids without asking parents’ permission first. “It was really disturbing watching children run around with them,” one recalled. A federal judge recently temporarily blocked enforcement of the state’s highly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban; perhaps appealing to elementary schoolers’ interests is the group’s Plan B?The Precious One” fetal models are manufactured by Heritage House, a “pro-life supply store,” for $1.50 a pop — cheaper if you buy in bulk. “Its beautiful detail, softness and weight can really move hearts and change minds!” the website promises. A customer service representative told Jezebel that the models are most often given to pregnant women at “pregnancy centers” and kids at school presentations. The customer reviews on the site (it’s like Yelp for fetus-lovers instead of foodies) further imply that the doll-like figures are great for kids. “Children especially like to hold them,” one satisfied customer wrote. “No other item that we hand out has the amazing effect that these fetal models have — instant attachment to the unborn!” said another. “So many times, we hear, ‘Awwwww! That’s adorable!’ Or we just see a girl’s tears begin to form and fall.”
Point number one: You know how we hear conservatives complain, from time to time, about how we need to just let children be children, and thus never teach them that gay people or birth control exist? So … er … yeah. This doesn’t fall under that rubric?Point number two:
Devyn Nelson, Executive Director of North Dakota Right to Life, said he hadn’t been contacted by organizers and claimed that the booth ran out of “Precious Ones” because there was such a high demand for the mini fetuses. “Kids like them, but adults like them too,” he said. “They have nothing to do with abortion. You don’t have to bring abortion up at all.”
Uh-huh. Right. Makes perfect sense.Just sayin’.Baker notes one parent, Amber Mendez, who seems to wrap up both points succinctly:
“My kids can read,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to explain to five and six-year olds what abortion is at a family event. I doubt these people would be allowed to hand out condoms to little kids. But it’s okay to talk to them about abortion without my permission?”
Alana Abramson of ABC News report that Minot Right to Life’s stunt also annoyed some anti-abortion advocates, as well:
But Rob Port, the editor of the conservative blog “Say Anything”—who told ABC News he is anti-abortion—attended the fair, and his 5-year-old daughter was among the children handed a toy fetus. He immediately threw it in the trash can, where it joined “a lot” of other fetus toys “littering the garbage bins,” he wrote on his blog.“My daughter wasn’t sure what it was; she handed it to me with a weird look on her face,” he told ABC News. “I think a lot of people just thought it was weird.”“She’s five,” he explained. “She doesn’t even know how babies are made.”Port said this was the wrong way of spreading the anti-abortion message. He wrote a blog, “Dear Pro-Lifers: Can You Stop Being a Bunch of Weirdos?” on July 21: “Whatever group is out there trying to promote the pro-life message by handing out squish alien babies, stop. You’re doing more harm than good.”
Dina Butcher, apparently a self-described pro-life Republican, wrote to the Grand Forks Herald:
To what lows will the extremist opponents of a woman’s right to make health decisions go?Judging by the shaped plastic “fetuses” that they threw to children watching the parade at the North Dakota State Fair, they have definitely reached an all-time low in bad taste ........ I only wish that more of the lawmakers who’d voted for North Dakota’s new gaggle of unconstitutional bills had been marching in the parade so they could have been pelted by those obscene objects of bad taste. Again: Yuck!
And, yet, after all this, my mind returns to Mr. Nelson of North Dakota Right to Life: “They have nothing to do with abortion. You don’t have to bring abortion up at all.”In the first place, it’s an anti-abortion publicity stunt; how can the things “have nothing to do with abortion”?To the second, even sympathizers to the cause are wondering what the hell Minot Right to Life was thinking.And for a third, just how stupid, Mr. Nelson, do you think people are?No, really. I couldn’t write this kind of joke. And yet, out of all of this what I just can’t let go of is this bizarre presumption these days that one can say anything he wants, regardless of the obvious, flaming, forty mile-high letters spelling out the opposite, and, what, expect to be taken seriously?It’s just one of those weird things, another tile in an ever-resolving mosaic of unknown dimensions. At some point, Sigmund Freud enters the picture; something about the slow return of the repressed. Or, as Norman O. Brown explained:
It is a Freudian theorem that each individual neurosis is not static but dynamic. It is a historical process with its own internal logic. Because of the basically unsatisfactory nature of the neurotic compromise, tension between the repressed and repressing factors persists and produces a constant series of new symptom-formations. And the series of symptom-formations is not a shapeless series of mere changes; it exhibits a regressive pattern, which Freud calls the slow return of the repressed, “It is a law of neurotic diseases that these obsessive acts serve the impulse more and more and come nearer and nearer the original and forbidden act.” The doctrine of the universal neurosis of mankind, if we take it seriously, therefore compels us to entertain the hypothesis that the pattern of history exhibits a dialectic not hitherto recognized by historians, the dialectic of neurosis.
Start looking for the little contradictions. They’re thematic.No, really. Read through the news article again. And keep in mind the dialectic of neurosis and slow return of the repressed.These are human traits not reserved to some narrow range of the psychological spectrum, such as conservative. Yet, at the same time, it’s true that the flip-side, bizarro, mirror-negative-tesseract, post-pomo, ante-neocubist self-caricature conservatives are fashioning is shot through with an unnatural upwelling apparent neurotic rupture. Thematically, it touches everything from
homophobic bigoted ego-dystonic homosexual preachers falling from grace to voter registration panic to media conspiracy theories, and, yes, we see a couple twisted versions here, both in the crass nature of the stunt itself, and Mr. Nelson’s idiotic, craven, excremental lie.The simplistic version is simply that we tend to fear in others what we actually fear of ourselves. Again, this is a human trait; there is nothing unusual about the fact of its occurrence. But American conservatives, more and more, are suffering neurotic breaches and ruptures. We can theorize all we want about the stress of losing a series of political wars, the increasing desperation of broken lines on multiple fronts, a paralyzing fear of the unknown in the face of privileges lost, and the fact that they’re all just uptight, self-obsessed treasure hunters reduced to half-witted claimjumping, but in the end, there might be little we can do to help; there is a strong possibility that they are no longer capable of telling us where it hurts.