Robert Davi Speaks the Truth

Veteran character actor Robert Davi (of Licensed to Kill, Die Hard, and The Goonies among others) shares his heartbreak in a quiet, powerful video in response to New York’s barbaric new abortion law:

Money quote: “You really think you can rip a baby from its mother’s womb at nine months and it’s ok?”

This is the kind of statement that should be coming from every Catholic, Christian, and civilized human being in public life in the country. But until that happens, we should be grateful for what we get.

I’ve always appreciated seeing Mr. Davi show up in films, and I’ll appreciate it all the more after this.

Thoughts on the Pro-Life Movement

Every year, about half-a-million people descend upon Washington DC, and many more march in other cities, to call for the end of abortion. It is probably the most noble and most important social movement in the country right now: one of the few that is both appropriate to the moment, possessed of a clear and achievable goal, and which deals with a vitally important issue.

It is thus with a heavy heart that I say they are never going to succeed. At least, not if things stay they way they are. Pro-lifers, as they are called, are up against something far more vast and complex and powerful than most of us seem to understand.

Put it this way; say the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade tomorrow. That would be a very good thing, as far as it went, and most likely abortion would then become illegal or mostly illegal in at least some states. But the problem is, it wouldn’t last. Sooner or later the balance of the polls would shift, new justices would take the place of the old, and another case would come before a restructured court, or new laws would be introduced, and the slaughter would begin all over again.

This is because abortion is only a symptom. A terrible symptom, but a symptom nonetheless. It derives from a much larger cultural and social movement, and what is key, it is necessary to that movement.

The movement is not, as it is sometimes described, the devaluation of human life as such. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that once Hiroshima happened, Roe was inevitable. With respect to the great man, that is nonsense, whatever you think of the bombings. An act of war, justified or not, is clearly in a different category from a peacetime law.

The fact is that abortion does not primarily stem from a devaluation of life; it stems from the overvaluation of sex and, more fundamentally, of self-will. The devaluation of life is a parallel consequence of this.

In other words, the real problem is neither abortion itself, nor a culture that doesn’t value life, but what is called the Sexual Revolution: the radical movement to overthrow moral and legal restrictions on sexual indulgence in favor of an ideology of self-will.

The origins, philosophical and historical, of that movement are too complicated to go into here. The point is that this is the true enemy, and as long as it remains in place, abortion will as well.

The sexual revolution is based upon the idea that the only relevant rules in sexual matters are consent and (possibly) fidelity. It proposes that each person should be able to decide for his or herself the way in which he will be sexually active and the meaning that sexuality will have. This is the doctrine of self-will, which was explicitly expressed by Justice Kennedy in his ruling on Planned Parenthood v. Casey: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

The great flaw in this view is that nature itself imposes certain meanings upon human life which are not amenable to individual definitions. In particular, when it comes to sexual activity, it imposes the fact of reproduction, regardless of any consent or desire on the part of the participants (there are other ‘imposed facts’ as well, but this is the most blatant). Therefore, in order for these new ideas of sexuality to stand up even for the briefest of considerations some means is required to prevent intercourse from resulting in a child.

Hence contraception and abortion: the twin props without which the sexual revolution cannot stand (no-fault divorce is the third, but that is for another time). Contraception obviously is necessary in order to render the likelihood of pregnancy as low as possible, artificially creating circumstances where the new ideology is at least superficially plausible (I will leave off, for now, the wisdom of a worldview dependent for its credibility upon the existence and accessibility of a particular human technology).

Abortion too is necessary because it allows us to say that we are in control of our bodies: that we dictate the meaning and content of our behavior. It isn’t just that we prevent the consequences of our actions, we actively subvert them once they occur.

Ultimately, the sexual revolution is about claiming this authority to dictate the meaning of our actions, which means controlling the consequences. Abortion is necessary to this, all the more so because the Sexual Revolution coincided with the movement to bring more women into the workforce. You obviously cannot have both an active sex life and a flourishing career if you do not have a way to prevent and to end pregnancies before a child is born. Since we moderns find the idea of choosing one or the other to be abhorrent, we accept infanticide.

This is why pro-abortionists are so passionate about this issue, and why they will defend and even celebrate abortion to the end: because a large segment of our culture is dependent upon the ideas of the Sexual Revolution. Whole industries rely upon it, and even those that don’t go that far often find it extremely profitable.

That alone would make it punishingly hard to dislodge, but there is something else; something that, even in our culture, people value more than profit: self-respect. A huge number of people have staked their images of themselves and their friends as good people upon the ideas of the Sexual Revolution. It allows them to justify actions that otherwise would be seen to be wrong, and which most of them would never have done if they weren’t assured from all corners that it was acceptable. The maintaining of the ideology of the Sexual Revolution is necessary for many, many people to continue to think well of themselves. And abortion is necessary to maintain that ideology.

In other words, ending abortion doesn’t just mean enacting new laws or convincing a majority of the population of the humanity of an unborn child: it will involve convincing a large portion of the population that the moral standards by which they, their friends, and their parents have been living are simply wrong, with all the implications that come with it. That is in addition to overturning assumptions upon which much of our commerce and most of our culture now rests.

That is what we are up against. We’re struggling and fighting against an entrenched fortress when really it’s only guarding the pass to a whole Empire with forces beyond reckoning waiting for us.

When Imperial Japan was gearing up for war with the United States, some of the military brass warned their comrades what such a war would mean: it wouldn’t be a matter of taking Hawaii and California, they would have to somehow find a way to strike at the industrial and agricultural heartland and march into Washington. The pro-life cause is, of course the very reverse of that of Imperial Japan, yet the example applies to us as well. The fight we are engaging in is not to enact one law, or end one practice. We may wish that were all, but the nature of our enemy forbids it. This war must be a war of total conquest or of total defeat, and our enemy is very strong indeed.

I don’t bring this up to discourage those in the pro-life movement, but I do think we should be clear on our goals. It cannot be just to end abortion, or same-sex marriage, or any of the other obvious manifestations of the sexual revolution: that would be a temporary solution at best. The whole ideology has to be ripped up, root and branch, which will involve something akin to conversion and repentance on a national scale, along with a near-total rebuilding of our culture.

With that in mind, shall we begin?


New Federalist Article

…With a title that doesn’t really match the point. I didn’t want so much to make a simple ‘abortion kills more people than guns’ argument, but to point out how fundamentally different the two positions – pro-life and pro-gun control – really are.

Oh, well: go check it out for yourself 


Of course the most obvious distinction is in the subject matter: one favors limiting or ending gun owners, the other limiting or ending abortion. Let’s consider the two subjects, for here the crux of the matter rests.

Gun rights deal with a person’s right to own a particular tool for a particular purpose. Put briefly, a gun is a weapon; weapons are used in fighting. People want to own guns so if they ever need to fight to defend themselves, their families, or their rights, they can do so effectively. There are obvious and legitimate reasons why they would want this, ranging from violent attackers to civil unrest.

But, although they have legitimate uses, guns by nature are open to abuse. They allow a person with evil intent to inflict more damage than he would otherwise. Gun-control advocates argue the potential for abuse is greater than the legitimate need for private firearms, at least with regards to certain weapons. In other words, gun control advocates wish to limit access to guns in order to limit their potential for abuse.

Abortion rights deal with a person’s right to do or have done a particular procedure. This procedure, by definition, destroys a human life: specifically the human life the people in question created by having intercourse, whether consensually or violently. They desire this because, to one degree or another, the life to be destroyed is unwanted or inconvenient and was not intended to be created.


Although the reasons for wishing to destroy this life may be understandable, abortion still destroys an innocent human life. Moreover, in most cases that innocent human life was created by other people voluntarily engaging in an act they knew could lead to this outcome. Pro-life advocates argue that deliberately killing an innocent human being simply cannot be justified, save in cases of direst need such as when the life of the mother is at stake.

In other words, pro-life advocates wish to forbid a particular action that, by definition, destroys a human life.

Note the difference: one involves a right of possession, the other of action. To own a gun says nothing of how it is used, and there are clearly legitimate reasons someone would want to own one. To perform an abortion, on the other hand, means to kill a human life, and the only question involved is whether such an act can be justified. Gun-control advocates argue that the undeniable potential for abuse outweighs the undeniable goods derived from gun ownership, while pro-life advocates argue that abortion itself is an unjustifiable action.

On the Root Cause of Abortion

You know, I don’t usually talk about abortion. Not that I don’t think it’s a vital issue, but, well, it isn’t ‘my’ issue. That is, there are so many other voices speaking more forcefully on it that it seems to me that my rhetorical talents (such as they are) are better applied in other topics that seem to me under represented.

But I’m going to say something about abortion today. I’m not going to argue about how and why it’s wrong because, again, other people have done that better and, really, what does it say about the world we live in that “killing babies is wrong” is a major point of contention?

Rather, I’m going to talk about what certain people in the ‘pro-life’ movement call the “root causes.” But, the root causes aren’t what we’re told they are. They aren’t poverty and they aren’t welfare, and they certainly have nothing to do with capital punishment or any of that ‘culture of death’ stuff.

If you want to destroy the root causes of abortion, you have to destroy the sexual revolution, because there is no other. Our insane ideas about sex are at the root of abortion. Oh, yes; poverty can and does pressure individual women into seeking abortion out of fear or desperation. That has always been so. But we’re not talking about individuals; we’re talking about society, and obviously the establishment of infanticide as a sacred social institution which a large part of the country will fight tooth and nail to preserve and expand has nothing to do with poverty. Political parties, rich celebrities, and intellectual elites do not march in the streets to cheering crowds in order to defend an impoverished mother’s act of desperation Abortion as we know it is not the result of poverty; it is the logical outcome of our ideas of sex.

We have established a culture – a civilization, really – in which one of the key unalienable rights of mankind (indeed, perhaps the most important) is the right to use sexuality as one sees fit. That is, if you want to have children, you can, but if you don’t want to have children, there is no reason you should just because you want to enjoy the reproductive act. What it means and what it does is entirely up to you; it can be simple recreation, a part of a committed relationship, an expression of love between individuals of the same sex, or what have you. You decide what sex means to you; this is held to be the sacred and inviolable right of ‘sexual expression.’

Problem is, all this is completely insane.

When the First Amendment gave the right to free speech, all it had to do was restrain the authority of the government; if a man wants to say something unpopular, then all that is required is that no one stop him. The Bill of Rights declares that the government, at least, will not do so. That is pretty much the definition of a ‘right:’ something that you have the power to do, but may be prevented from doing by law. To have the right to bear arms, for instance, means that, if you choose to buy a gun, the law will not stop you; there being such things as guns, which are often sold and which a man of ordinary capabilities can possess and carry.

But our ‘right’ to sexual expression is not like that. Here we’re declaring that a biological system ought to be whatever the individual declares it to be. We’re trying to impose human law on nature, to force her by fiat to obey our wishes. It’s rather like if we made hurricanes illegal and then, like Xerxes, attempted to chastise the sea when they came anyway, or if we granted people the ‘right’ to fly and then sued the Empire State Building when they failed to fly off the observation deck.

Because no matter what the law says, sex does not change to suit our wishes. It’s a part of nature, and nature’s law trumps ours. So, you can say “Oh, it’s just a little fun between grown-ups and I’m not trying to have a child,” but, guess what? You just made another human life, because that’s what sex does and has done for about half-a-billion years, and your personal desires don’t change that.

At that point our two choices are either to recognize that sex is what it is no matter what we say (requiring us to tear down the whole structure of the sexual revolution and impose social and legal norms to recognize this fact), or we can work out some kind of loophole that allows us to keep up the pretense of a right to sexual expression. Since this right is very convenient for a lot of people, individuals usually and society always goes with the latter. Hence, abortion, contraception, and the rest of that sordid architecture.

A right to sexual expression can only exist it is if there is a way to get rid of children once conceived. If we can pretend that unborn life ‘doesn’t count,’ then we can continue to prop up the flimsy premise we’ve built our current culture upon.

As long as society as a whole accepts the premise of that ‘right,’ abortion will remain legal (and there are also a lot of other Very Bad consequences, but that’s too much to get into right now). The only way that we can destroy abortion as an institution is by destroying the sexual revolution and all its attendant ideas. That is what the pro-life movement should be directed towards.