Monday, February 20, 2012

Life at All Costs

Today my brother Joey and I were going to Farmington from MAC (jazz ensemble had to rehearse today, despite the holiday from classes). It's not the usual route home, but we had to stop by Ironton before going home, and passing through Farmington is the best way to get there. As we traveled South on 67, about a mile outside Farmington, I saw two billboards with pro-life messages on them, spaced no further apart than a tenth of a mile.

Prolife Across America is really overdoing it, I thought. I might have dismissed the posters if their proximity had not allowed me to recognize the similarities between the two. They both feature a smiling baby's face, well-lighted against a black backdrop, and the text on both address fatherhood; one has the words A father's joy hovering over the baby's head like a gold-font halo, and the other assumes the baby's expression, giving it the exclamation, "Daddy is my hero!"

I find it interesting that a pro-life group is targeting a male audience. Partially because I am a male audience. But for more reasons than that. Why do they feel they need more support from men? Do they already have the female demographic under their sway? Are men less likely to hold pro-life sentiments, and thereby need more persuasion? Or are men more likely to favor pro-life stances, and the dual-poster barrage is intended to rally the base of pro-lifers? I still can't grasp the odd, redundant placement of the two billboards.
pro-life billboards Pictures, Images and Photos
I've seen the exact same sign in Park Hills.
But seeing them so close together made me consider their arguments, and finally I realized the underlying correlation uniting the two signs, along with every pro-life poster ever! They appeal to emotion, attempting to discourage abortion by implying unwilling mothers would be killing a baby that could have been a doctor, or a lawyer, or a billboard model. I had a heart before I was born! one baby apparently proclaims. What happened to yours? is the implication. 

Some even go so far as to say that, because ethnic minorities are more prone to abortions, black (or Latino) children are in more danger inside their mother's womb than they are in impoverished homes on gang-ridden streets.
Assuming the figures are correct, 37% of 12% means less than 5% of Missouri's African Americans have abortions.*
And that's what bothers me about pro-life arguments. Emphasizing the stages of an embryo's development guilt-trip the population into thinking abortion is an act of murder. This is especially dangerous when aimed at ethnic minorities living in poverty where the last thing they need is to raise a child they can't properly support. Appealing to the fatherhood instinct in men works to empower patriarchal dominance and thereby taking control of a woman's body away from the woman. Not to mention references to God as the final authority on abortion manipulate a population's religious convictions to advance a political agenda (I'm not a big fan of that).

Even the name of the position--pro-life--implies that those opposed favor baby-slaughter while enabling its proponents to don an air of self-righteousness. 
In an abortion-free world, babies are in such abundance you can adopt them right out of a box!**
Southeastern Missouri probably isn't the buckle of the Bible Belt, but I'm sure it's only few holes away. I'm therefore accustomed to an abundance of anti-abortion arguments. What I'm not used to seeing is people challenging the flaws in pro-life logic. It's easy to oppose baby-killing, if you believe that's all abortion is. What takes some effort is asking yourself, Why would someone choose abortion? Should a woman have to raise a child during an unstable time in her life? Those who are pro-choice are not anti-life. No one is. Pronouncing yourself as pro-choice is more like saying,

"I am pro-life, but only when I am ready."

Why can't that be on a billboard?

*Computation aside, all those percentages are meaningless because the total population and the number of abortions is unknown; therefore, they have no frame of reference. Ahh, statistics!

**Too far?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Book of Meme

As an ardent Twitterer, I take great pleasure in the use of the hashtag. I like using the ones on the top trends, but every so often I like to devise my own in the hopes they will catch on and trend worldwide. 

But when you have 160 followers on a social network with more than 300 million users, this is asking quite a lot. Still, I have some hashtags in mind that I just know would trend if I had enough followers, or would at least generate a really good response. My most recent concoction is #TheBookOfMeme, in which the idea is to take a Bible verse and splice it with an Internet meme. I thought the results would be comic gold, but after two response-less tweets with the hashtag, I figured it was just best to stow it away and bring it back when (and if) I have more followers.

I also decided that, since I like this hashtag so much and didn't want the thought I put into it go to waste, I would share with you the tweets I would have tweeted had it been more popular. Enjoy!

In the beginning, God accidentally everything. #TheBookOfMeme

"If you are the Son of God," the devil said to Jesus, "Y U NO TURN THESE STONES TO BREAD?" #TheBookOfMeme

And then Peter said, "i think Jesus is a pretty cool guy. eh dies for you're sins and doesn't afraid of anything." #TheBookOfMeme

Life begins when babby is formed. #TheBookOfMeme

Then the Lord opened the donkey's mouth and she spoke to Balaam, thus becoming the first advice animal. #TheBookOfMeme

"so i herd u liek apple," the serpent said to Eve. #TheBookOfMeme

It may not be popular now, but I think it has a lot of potential. Maybe it's more for the Reddit community, though.

Where I Live

Blatantly ripping off my friend Emily who shares a Creative Nonfiction class with me, but I haven't posted anything in a while, so I say it's okay. We recently read an excerpt from Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck and were told to mimic the style. Emily posted her version of "Where I Live," so I felt it was only fair to share mine. No shame in that, right?

Where I Live

1. I live at my computer. It sits on my desk, which is situated so I can tilt my head up and look outside the only window in my bedroom. I tend to look from one window to the other, seeing an organic world outside one and an interconnected world inside the other. From my computer I do homework, talk to my friends, and learn what’s happening in the world. Occasionally, I eat meals there, and I’ve even been known to sleep with my head resting on the keyboard. When I do this, I usually wake up to find a sun shyly peeking over the mountain out one window and an unfinished essay (accompanied by a long chain of kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk, lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll,sssssssssssssssssssssssssss, or some other home row letter) inside the other.

2. I live on the Internet. My browser even saves my usual hangouts: Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Mineral Area College’s home page, and When I want to laugh, I read a webcomic. When I want to learn, I search Google. When I want to say something, I go to... well, that depends on what I want to say. If I want to say something mildly personal, or if I have a witty remark, I tell Twitter—a task I used to reserve for Facebook, which I now only go to if I want to say something that will get some likes. Twitter is practically an extension of my brain. I think in tweets now. Yesterday my friend Jenn was showing my the theater campus at SEMO, including the part of the scene shop’s ceiling where someone actually wrote the word gullible. Like that joke kids used to pull on each other in middle school. I reached for my cell phone to take a picture. “This will make an awesome tweet,” I told Jenn, and then thought to myself, “I’ll tweet it with the caption ‘You’ll never believe what someone wrote on the ceiling. My followers will love it.” Nobody replied to it, nobody re-tweeted it, and nobody favorited it. I go to Twitter to talk to others, to tell jokes. It’s like I told the joke to myself.

3. Good thing I also live at MAC, where I can actually talk to people, in person. Because of my active involvement in the college’s theater program, I have two choices: drive to MAC for classes, come back home, and drive back for play practices, or drive to MAC and stay there after classes are done and wait for rehearsals to start. It’s easier just to live there.

4. Having said that, I do live in my car, despite trying to spend as little gas money as possible. On any given day, I spend at least an hour in my car in transit (my house is half an hour away from everything). I listen to more music in my car than I do anywhere else. It’s got a decent radio, and when I got bored with the local stations I can plug in my iPod and listen to my own music library until I get bored of it and switch to the radio. I probably sing in my car more than I do anywhere else, too.

5. Well, maybe not. I live in my trailer (it’s separate from my actual house), which is where I keep my guitar and amplifier. The trailer is far enough away from the house that I can crank it up as loud as I want, and sing as loud (and/or terribly) as I want. The trailer is quiet. It’s not like Twitter and Facebook, where always has something to say, and it’s not like my car, where I have to turn up the volume to drown out the sound of wind roaring against my car at sixty miles per hour. Yes, the trailer is quiet. And I like it. It lets me think. I can fill it with my own noise, or just enjoy the lack thereof. It’s great for pacing back and forth and just... thinking. It’s the only place I live that’s quiet enough for that. And it’s a good place to sleep (which I’ve been known to do).