Friday, November 30, 2007

Faith, Hope, Charity meet Abortion, Sterilization, Telethons

One doesn't like to make too big a deal of these sorts of things, but they can't be ignored altogether either.

Last week we were told about Toni Vernelli, whose devotion to animals and the environment is such that, at the ripe age of 27, she had herself sterilized. (Not before she had an abortion though--and it's notable that the thought of what might have happened if she hadn't still makes her "shudder with horror.") She rationalizes her position thus: "Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet."

And today we learn of a Chilean prostitute, Maria Carolina, who "has auctioned 27 hours of sex to raise money for the country's largest charity during an annual fund-raising campaign." (It is not indicated how many abortions she has had, or, indeed, how much disease will need to be treated (and at what cost) as a consequence of those 27 hours.) She rationalizes her actions thus: "There are people who are going to be donating money that's a lot more questionable than mine."

As usual, I'll ask you to overlook the obvious problems here. (Like: how a childless animal-worshipper reckons that child-bearing (given that it leads inevitably to child-rearing) is in any sense selfish; or where a woman--whose professional responsibilities likely top-out at doing it from behind--is getting this scandalous information that, apparently, serious criminals are donating bucket-loads of their misbegotten cash to a charity for goddamn disabled children.) To the extent that these women's actions aren't typical, there's no point in going after the particular manifestations of their convictions.

Rather, I should prefer to focus on this:

I don't deny that there has always been a fringe element in society convinced of the righteousness of leaping head-first into the absurd. Hell, I'll even admit that--until the last century anyway--these descents were most often carried out by expressly religious fanatics. But what is so unsettling about the examples of these two women is that their absurdity, far from residing at the societal fringes, finds itself uncannily closely aligned with the mainstream. Where things like self-mortification and orgies were once the provenance of secret societies (or, at the very least, were kept extremely secret), they now find themselves openly serving such popular missions as the reduction of carbon footprints, and providing for children's charity telethons.

It's all very scary stuff, for the usual wing-nut conservative reasons, i.e. the more these sorts of behaviour are considered to be normal (that is, insofar as they are not commonly recognized as abnormal), the less acceptable becomes any insistence that having children or, say, performing intimate acts within a context of intimacy, are actually goods in themselves.

... I'm pretty much convinced that we've already reached the point where the will to live has become a crazy, right-wing thing. Never thought I'd be saying the same thing of the will to love, though. I thought the LGBTs had that one sewn up.