January 27, 2013
The Virtue of the Fake ClinicBy Keith Riler
On my regular daily commute I drive by a free pregnancy clinic that does not perform abortions. It exists to care for mothers and their babies, and was located as an alternative to a nearby Planned Parenthood facility which has since moved.
The other morning as I passed the clinic for the umpteenth time, I was surprised to see a lone protestor holding a crudely designed sign that said, "Fake Clinic." Without thinking I honked an angry horn (the long blast, not the perky double tap).
Oxford defines the word "clinic" as:
a place or hospital department where outpatients are given medical treatment or advice, especially of a specialist nature.
Similarly, Merriam-Webster defines clinic as:
a facility (as of a hospital) for diagnosis and treatment of outpatients.
The free pregnancy clinic offers counseling, testing, ultrasounds, adoption and pregnancy information, clothing, support and housing referrals. With a fair degree of confidence, we know why the protestor deemed the clinic fake -- it does not wedge abortion into the otherwise mutually aligned care of mother and child.
Both definitions specifically mention the treatment of patients. Since the free clinic treats both patients, mother and baby, it is no imposter. The free pregnancy clinic is a clinic.
Relativism undergirds liberalism but it's not much of a foundation. Because relativism is a house built on shifting sand, we get liberalism's attack on objective meaning, on truth. This is nothing new. Pilate cynically asked, "What is truth?" Now Hillary asks, "What difference at this point does it make?" So we get confusion and fictions -- abortion as "healthcare," the coupling of "gay" and "marriage" or "gay" and "parent," and now "fake clinic."
But the relativist is always a study in contradiction. With her "fake," the protestor appeals to the meaning of real words; yet simultaneously denatures and debases the word "clinic." To make a normative statement is to appeal to an objective standard, but to appeal to an objective standard is to violate the relativist creed of "It Depends" (incidentally, an absolute statement). Because in taking a position, relativists always saw off the limb on which they stand, they must resort to totalitarian tendencies buttressed merely by their assurances of good intentions and knowing better.
These are not just the ramblings of an objectivist begging that words keep their meanings. Whereas the occasional relativist is intellectually sloppy, the serial relativist is dangerous. Truth must yield to her will, to her definition of healthcare, of marriage and of clinic. These are illegitimate and capricious uses of power. Consider that abortion is the quintessential power play, with the relative sizes of the parties as its terminal rationale.
So before writing off this words-mean-something rant, know that protestor and sign are part of a real world effort to hunt down truth wherever it is uttered. There is no room for an I'm ok-you're ok neutrality here.
If we reject the truth of words, we preclude the possibility of virtue. And if the possibility of virtue is foreclosed, the city of man disintegrates. Only after the frog is boiled will relativists note that things have gone horribly wrong; so charity compels us to sound the alarm now.
The cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. (And the revolted relativist rails, "Who's to say what and who is virtuous?") Without truth, we can neither identify nor correct imprudence, injustice, cowardice and intemperance. We see the problem in repeated bad liberal acts that lack any apparent interest in correction. For instance:
• Imprudence. The refusal to view a sonogram before aborting a child could be the cruelest lack of curiosity and most negligent failure of diligence. Passing a 2,700 page bill without reading it is rash too. And consider that liberalism and unintended consequences are now synonymous. These unintended consequences may be avoided with the slightest prudence: Obamacare's unintended consequence of increased insurance costs was predicted and has now occurred; the crowding out effect of increased federal spending is well understood and black unemployment is terrible; legislation requiring increased auto mileage resulted in lighter cars and increased traffic deaths, specifically 7,700 deaths per gained mile per gallon; increased welfare payments to single mothers with more children resulted in an increase in out-of-wedlock births; Idaho has a decimated elk population due to the introduction of "federal wolves;" and Illinois' new income taxes resulted in surrounding states' courting Illinois businesses and a contraction of the Illinois tax base. And on and on.
• Injustice. The Newtown massacre prompted a concern for innocents, so consider the children: Since Roe v. Wade, with pro-choice sentiment and right-to-privacy logic, we have killed 56 million children (3,820/day); and major liberal constituencies regularly fight tooth and nail against the rights of parents to place their children in charter schools, for a better future. Even the French, French homosexuals no less, understand rights of children trump rights to children.
• Cowardice. Fortitude is a leadership trait that requires foregoing egocentric self-defense, doing tough things openly and accepting personal risk: Instead the unofficial liberal motto and camouflage is, "Never let a good crisis go to waste;" a meek terror of clearly enunciated goals is also on display in the Senate where a budget hasn't been seen in years; and this is one of the least open administrations in history, using unofficial email accounts to conduct the people's business in the dark.
• Intemperence/Immodesty/Infidelity. The struggle with addiction and the vice of intemperance is serious, but some are keen on making it easy to succumb to that temptation: Recently, drug-legalization efforts were implemented in two states; President Obama now indicates an unwillingness to enforce federal drug laws; the Obama campaign specifically targeted stoners with pothead stereotypes; liberals oppose ensuring welfare recipients are drug free; and liberal economic policies reward sloth. On a related note, an embrace of chastity would decimate the liberal platform. Consider: Bill Clinton; Anthony Weiner; and the Obama campaign's urging that women vote like their "lady parts" depended on it and the likening of voting for the President to losing one's virginity in an out-of-wedlock event. Did I mention Bill Clinton?
Liberal virtue may be an oxymoron. A virtuous person would be chastened and proceed more humbly. But the point is not to paint liberals as vain, rash, cruel, cowardly, promiscuous substance abusers. The point is that liberals have rejected virtue as a standard, have rejected standards in general; and the consequences are awful. We are perilously close to rejecting goodness society-wide. The frog is in the pot and the water is hot, yet media-distracted low information voters haven't noticed.
We should re-establish virtue as a goal by using the word often and correctly, without weak, uncharitable, or prudish embarrassment. If we care more about people than we do about viewpoints, we should promote virtue because its lack is a societal and personal disaster. With virtue comes happiness.
Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Philo, Clement, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas understood the importance of virtue to society. A virtuous society is one in which man flourishes. An imprudent, unjust, intemperate, and cowardly society will crumble, and man with it.
On a personal level, we now know unbridled autonomy leads to selfishness; bringing an insatiable appetite for novelty; from which comes vice, narcissism and in all likelihood substance abuse; rapidly followed by meaninglessness, nothingness, unhappiness, and a lost soul. The Aurora and Newtown shooters can credibly be located somewhere on this sad and vicious continuum.
We should be thankful to the protestor and her sign, because she highlighted all that is at stake with relativism and its rejection of words, truth and virtue. That "Fake Clinic" is virtuous in its prudent sharing of facts and resources for a crucial life decision, just in its treatment of a defenseless human being, courageous in its embrace of the responsibility that follows sexual intercourse and sober in its treatment of the most joyful event in a woman's life (which event may only happen once).
FOLLOW US ON