by Roger Resler
The recurring maxim expressed by “Horton” the elephant in Dr. Seuss’s classic story Horton Hears a Who, goes like this: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” So certain is this truth to Horton, that he takes it as being self-evident. His actions throughout the story are admirably consistent with this assertion and the moral implications that accompany it.
While enjoying a bath in a river, Horton’s large ears pick up on a tiny voice emanating from a speck of dust as it flutters by. While Horton never sees the person producing the voice – since that person is too tiny to be seen by an elephant – he, nevertheless, realizes that there must be a person there since he can clearly hear the voice coming from the speck of dust. In fact, there is apparently an entire city – if not a planet – consisting of many “Who’s” living on that speck of dust.
Trouble enters the story when Horton’s animal friends reject the foolish notion that there could be any kind of life, much less a person, living on a speck of dust. They accordingly ridicule Horton for believing in such nonsense. Eventually, in an effort to relieve Horton of his delusions, it is decided that the dust speck should be boiled in oil. Knowing that this would mean a sudden and violent destruction of Who civilization (resisting the desire for a Roger Daltrey joke here), Horton does everything in his power to save the dust speck from such a terrible fate; because, “after all, a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
In the end, the Who’s concerted effort at noise-making generates enough decibels to register in the ears of Horton’s skeptical friends. Once they realize they had been wrong in their criticism, their mood changes dramatically and, once again, in accordance with the truth that “a person’s a person, no matter how small,” they cease their attempt to destroy the dust speck (which they now realize would be immoral) and everyone lives happily ever after – that is until pro-life advocates wanted to express the same truth to a skeptical world.
The irony is that the creator of Horton, the Who’s and Whoville itself, the late Theodore Geisel, apparently preferred to identify with the skeptics rather than those advancing the same truth his hero expresses when it comes to the controversy surrounding the morality of abortion. My introduction to this bizarre turn of events came a few days ago from someone who commented on the trailer for my book Compelling Interest. In both the book and the trailer, we quote this phrase of Dr. Seuss (or more precisely Horton) because we agree with it.
While commenting on the trailer, smitelystacey, asks if we are aware that Dr. Seuss, “never intended his quote to be used in this manner” and that, “he threatened to sue an anti-abortion group for using his quote [on their letterhead] before he died, and his widow has also spoken out against people hijacking his work to support their own agendas.”
I’m sorry but this is one of those things that just takes the cake. No, in fact, I was not aware of Dr. Seuss’s antipathy toward the pro-life agenda, nor would I ever have imagined such a thing. Admittedly, I’ve seen some strange things in my near half-century on this earth, but the irony of Dr. Seuss threatening to sue a pro-life group for using the phrase “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” when they agree with the premise, is certainly unexpected. Upon further investigation I learned that Dr. Seuss was apparently quite liberal and – it would appear – was either pro-choice on abortion or at least opposed to the pro-life agenda.
Of course threatening to sue and actually being able to sue are two different things. I’m reasonably confident that Dr. Seuss had no exclusive copyright on the phrase “A person’s a person, no matter how small” nor – more importantly – on the moral truth behind the phrase. Even if that had been the case, it’s still quite legal for anyone to quote the phrase provided they properly attribute it to Dr. Seuss. Even skeptics who don’t believe that “a person’s a person no matter how small” are free to quote the phrase. But the idea that Geisel would threaten to sue a pro-life group for using the phrase, and that his widow has “spoken out against people hijacking his work to support their own agendas” is jaw dropping in light of the moral implications behind Horton’s sudden awareness of the existence of microscopic human life.
If pro-life people wanted to misuse the quote or twist it to mean something different from the truth expressed by Horton, I could understand the Geisel’s righteous indignation. As it is, pro-lifers use the quote precisely because they agree with it! It would be like the police department threatening to sue security guards for suggesting their job also exists “To protect and to serve.”
There is abundantly more objective evidence supporting the fact that human life exists long before it can be registered by adult sensory perception than there is for the existence of barely audible Who’s living on a speck of dust. If the Geisel’s don’t/didn’t believe that human fetuses or embryos are persons, they are free to disbelieve, but such skepticism is perfectly analogous to the villains in the Horton story who also don’t believe human life could exist at a microscopic level. The truth expressed in the phrase: “A person’s a person no matter how small” remains valid in both cases. The irony is beyond palpable.
smitelystacey closes her remarks (I’m assuming a female gender here, my apologies if I’m mistaken) by suggesting that we should: “Keep your personal opinions away from women’s bodies, and don’t steal a dead man’s work in order to gain support for your erroneous life views,” – as though the assertion that: “A person’s a person, no matter how small” only represents my (erroneous!) “personal opinion” and only infringes on “women’s bodies” when it’s expressed by me and other pro-life proponents rather than by Horton the elephant in a children’s book. Apparently Horton knew how to use the phrase in a non-erroneous manner.
After the dust settles (pun intended, feel free to roll eyes) pro-lifers, like Horton, will continue to operate under the self-evident truth that a person’s a person, no matter how small and will consistently recognize the moral implications of that truth to human life at any stage of development regardless of Theodore Geisel’s political views or pre-mortem threats of imminent lawsuits.
Sorry, but there is no inconsistency and no fallacy. Unless you are talking about the fallacy you, yourself, are making. But, of course, Pro-Lifers never could see the planks in their own eyes. Even if a fetus was a person, abortion would STILL be legal. No PERSON can use another’s body against their will, not EVEN to save their life. What makes YOU think that automatically granting a fetus personhood will automatically grant it rights that no other PERSON has???? Another fallacy surrounding your argument is that the WHOS were NOT using someone else’ body. Hmmm…. The stupid, it BURNS.
Sorry I did not see your response until now. I wasn’t intentionally ignoring you. I’m glad you responded, even though the tone of your response leaves something to be desired. You wrote: “Even if a fetus was a person, abortion would STILL be legal.” Of course you’re right about that. But then again, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is morally acceptable. Slavery used to be legal. But that did not mean it was not a severe injustice imposed on a minority group of human beings. One of my hopes is that abortion, in most (but not all) cases once again becomes illegal precisely because it is a severe injustice imposed on a minority group of human beings. You may disagree that unborn humans are “a minority group of human beings” but at least grant that if I am right about that, then my moral reasoning is sound.
You also wrote:
There is more to this question than I can adequately answer in a simple blog post. This is essentially the argument David Boonin defends in his book “A Defense of Abortion” which I hope to respond to in detail in the future. Nevertheless, one key difference is that in the case of abortion, the mother and father are responsible for bringing the child into existence. They freely engaged in an action that they knew had a good possibility of bringing another needy human into existence. Moreover, the neediness of the human they brought into existence is natural and is true in 100% of humans at that stage of development, so there is nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary about it. Also, I seriously doubt that you would be willing to extend your logic to the months following birth. The newborn child makes similar demands on the mother (and father) that the fetus does. Are you willing to grant the parents the moral authority to kill their newborn (keep in mind that you’ve conceded the personhood of the fetus with your “even if” statement so the comparison to a newborn is a legitimate comparison) who requires constant care and nourishment when it goes against the will of the parents? I’m going to assume your answer would be no, but that you would likely protest that the key difference is that the fetus resides inside the body of the mother and is drawing nutrition from the mother against her will. Assuming that is your reply, the question will then turn on whether or not the mother granted tacit consent to the temporary and natural use of her body by engaging in an act that she knew could very likely result in the creation of a new human who would temporarily draw security and nutrition from her body. As I have suggested, the answer is yes, she did. Finally, another key difference is the fact that the child not only came into existence by the action of his or her parents, but the child is also related to them. We’re not talking about just any needy human, we’re talking about the woman’s own child to which she has widely recognized moral obligations.
I argue in my book Compelling Interest, that the whole mysterious notion of “personhood” is an ad hoc creation of those who wanted legalized abortion on demand. The inherent ambiguity of “personhood” was useful to the purveyors of “pro-choice” ideology. In other words, we would not be having a debate over whether or not a fetus is a “person” if the desire for abortion on demand had not preceeded the debate. Therefore the debate itself is highly suspect. It should not be a question of whether or not society “grants” a fetus “personhood” but whether or not human beings are intrinsically valuable by virtue of the fact that they are human. The U.S. Declaration of Independence proclaims that all humans are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” and that among those rights are the fundamental rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Life, then, is a fundamental right intrinsic to humans from the time they begin to exist.
Of course the Whos were not using someone else’s body, but the point of my blog post still remains. In fact, you seem to have conceded it with your “even if” statement: A person is indeed a person, no matter how small. In other words, size is not morally relevant. Whether or not humans have a right to use someone else’s body is a separate question that this particular blog post was not addressing. Since you raised the question, I addressed your argument.
“No PERSON can use another’s body against their will,”
Does the child’s body count?
Ooooo, a male, Roger….without a uterus. Nobody, and I mean nobody, makes decisions over my body except me…not the religious numbnuts, not the busybodies, not the bible-humping politicians that the religious nutjobs elect. My body is mine.
Hi Amalthea! Interesting that you chose to respond to the Dr. Seuss post. I’m not clear on how the point you are making relates to the topic of the post. Are you saying:
A. that it makes no difference to you whether an unborn human is a “person” (no matter how small) and since it makes no difference to you, you believe you are morally free to make any decision you wish about your body, even if that decision results in the death of a person.
B. that because you are convinced an unborn human is NOT a “person” (no matter how small), therefore it is morally acceptable for you to make any decision you wish about your body, since that decision will NOT result in the death of a person.
Could you clarify?
Hmmm. It’s been a month now since you answered Amalthea and asked for clarification. The crickets are deafening…
Well said, Sir, – I don’t believe you have to own a uterus in order to be qualified to state the facts about abortion. Well done.
Thanks for commenting. I suspected I wouldn’t hear back from either Carla or Amalthea. It’s easier to jump in with slogans and rhetoric than to thoughtfully defend a position. Challenging me (and other pro-life males) simply because we are not female is an easy way to claim victory without substance. As I point out in my book, the argument would have more force if it were shared unanimously among the gender they purport to speak for. As it is, there are at least as many pro-life females as there are pro-choice females. In fact, recent polls indicate that women like Carla and Amalthea are in the minority even among their own gender. All the best.
For every successful embryo that manages to implant in a uterine wall, it’s estimated that five to nine early embryos “miscarry”; half of these “lost” embryos are perfectly viable. Therefore, “spare” embryos are produced for almost every pregnancy (Michael Sandel; John Opitz; President’s Council on Bioethics).
The death of embryos is a natural part of the procreation process in a woman’s reproductive system. Ergo, the high rate, i.e., millions and millions, of natural embryo loss brings into question the strident views of the force-birthers, who believe that every human embryo deserves equal status with human beings walking this earth. This is how personhood bills come about–attempts to take away a pregnant woman’s human being status–and bestow it on an embryo. If so many embryos die in the natural course of sexual activity, why should embryos merit equal treatment with human children and adults? I don’t think embryos should; wingnuts like you do.
Your argument seems to be that because a large amount of humans die naturally, then it’s okay to kill other humans. It would be like saying, since a lot of people die in earthquakes, it’s okay to kill other people who live in earthquake zones. Not very reasonable. But then again, not many pro-choice arguments are.
Your comment about “attempts to take away a pregnant woman’s human being status-and bestow it on an embryo” is just silly. Do pro-choice proponents think through their own talking points or do they just come up with something totally off the wall and start repeating it; hoping it will stick?
No one is attempting to take away “a pregnant woman’s human being status.” That is simply nonsense. It would be equally absurd for you to argue that child abuse is acceptable since laws that prohibit child abuse are designed to take away a mother’s “human being status-and bestow it on” her baby. Utter nonsense.
Finally, your question: “why should embryos merit equal treatment with human children and adults?” It’s a loaded question. But I suspect you designed it that way on purpose. No one is asking for equal treatment. All we are asking is that you restrain from killing embryos and allow them to continue to live long enough to escape the womb with a reasonable chance of survival.
By the way, I noticed you completely ignored my previous question to you and changed the subject. Why is that?
It’s funny you write no one has control over your body. Except the government technically does consider it illegal after 20 weeks. Killing a baby is very wrong. It also leaves a lot of woman in depression. It’s very sad that having a baby in a woman’s belly is such a inconvenience to you; at least you were given the opportunity to make that decision.
Hi, just thought I’d pop in to share some stuff. Even though this post is fairly old, it seems like there have been some recent replies so I’ll go ahead and talk too. Just to clarify, I am pro-choice(and a woman), but I have little interest in debating it here. I’d actually like to talk about Dr. Seuss’s quote (suprise!). You talk about how ironic it is that Dr. Seuss’s real life opinions clashes with the views shown in Horton Hears a who, and that pro-life advocates are agreeing with the quote rather than bastardizing it. You probably realize it but, in my opinion, your whole article is exactly what Dr.Seuss and his wife meant when they talk about “twisting their words” and whatnot. First off, you assume the view that Horton Hears a Who is about abortion, with with just a minor amount of google-ing, you can find that it is not. Though I must admit in my 2 minute search of “Horton Hears a Who Historical Context” I didn’t exactly find much more than blog postings and wikis, the general consensus is that, in fact, Horton Hears a Who was written about Allies occupation in Japan during WW2. So, while its very easy to relate the book to abortion politics due to “small persons” and the motto, you have to realize that the book had no such meaning behind it. Already it doesn’t make it exactly the best thing for a pro-choice rally motto.
There’s also the whole section about how you guys are agreeing with him. Like I said before, the motto was intentionally a metaphor for a minority group having a voice, not literally a small person being as much as a person as a normal person (tall people are even more person! I kid) Yes I guess you could say that fetuses are a minority group, but unlike real minorities groups which are oppressed and denied a voice, fetuses simply do not have any way of communication. And you can’t speak for/represent an oppressed group, that’s simply taking their opinion and contributing it to someone else! Its like, Im going to have this white person represent a group of native americans, I could have a native american do it, but I just chose a white person instead because the white person can sympathize with native americans and that’s enough. I feel like I’ve gone on a tangent, so I’ll return to Dr.Seuss.
On the legal side, its true that Dr.Seuss can’t coin the exact motto “A persons a person, no matter how small.” The saying has probably been used somewhere sometime before Dr.Seuss or without knowledge of him. The thing is that in this day and age, the quote is regularly used in reference to Dr. Seuss’s book. Heck, I’ve seen pro-life posters depicting Horton saying the quote! Many pro-life advocates use the quote in reference to Dr. Seuss or use it expecting people to be reminded of Dr. Seuss, making a connection with the people they are trying to convince and thus, convincing them. In that sense, it should be perfectly legal for Dr.Seuss as well as his wife to try and discourage the use of the quote by pro-life advocates since, by using the quote they are referencing Seuss’s own intellectual work which he has full copyright over. I don’t know much about law, but I could see it perfectly possible for them to get compensation, as from their point of view, as pro-choice, its probably damaging to have their work become affiliated with pro-life movements.
For some reason, the Dr. Seuss post continues to generate comments.
In my opinion, if there is any twisting occurring it is coming from the pro-choice side.
Actually I never assumed that the Horton story is about abortion. I’m not sure where you got that idea. On the contrary, I sum up what the story is about in my post. It’s a children’s book that teaches a moral lesson. Namely that size is irrelevant when it comes to personhood and that persons – even tiny ones – should not be destroyed.
That is a stretch. You don’t find that anywhere in the story itself.
Hence, the irony!
If the subliminal point of the story is “a minority group having a voice” then, as you acknowledge, the motto still supports a pro-life position. The obvious point of the story is that size is irrelevant when it comes to personhood and that persons are worthy of life.
It should be obvious that lack of communication methods does not render a human worthy of death.
Dr. Seuss (who is no longer alive) and his wife are not free to sue, since, according to “fair use” anyone may quote a portion of a copyrighted work so long as they include proper citation. While the Geisels certainly are free to discourage the citation of Horton’s motto by pro-life groups, the problem they face is that doing so is hypocritical to the moral truth behind the motto. It would be exactly like Thomas Jefferson complaining that anti-slavery proponents are twisting his phrase “all men are created equal” when they cite it in the slavery debate.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell… pro-choice advocates want the world to believe that size in fact does matter when it comes to personhood. A fertilized egg is tiny, they point out, and is therefore not a person. And if a fertilized egg is not a person then neither is an embryo and neither is a fetus. And if a fetus is not a person then abortion for any reason is perfectly acceptable. This logic (which is seriously flawed to begin with) is obviously challenged by the simple notion Horton expresses, that: a person’s a person no matter how small. I believe that is why I am getting pro-choice responses to this post. It frustrates pro-choice proponents because it’s a simple truth that stands in opposition to a key tenant of pro-choice logic – indeed the very basis for Roe v. Wade.
Interestingly enough, I argue in my book that the whole concept of “personhood” having any significance in the abortion debate is a red herring intentionally developed by pro-choice proponents because it facilitates pro-choice logic. If “personhood” is to be the moral basis on which the abortion question turns, then pro-choice proponents get to decide when they believe a person begins to exist. If I believe a person begins to exist at conception, that is no matter to them since they believe personhood doesn’t begin until some (almost always unidentified) later point in human development. The arbitrary nature of “personhood” makes it a terrible standard for judging the value of human life. Nevertheless, “personhood” is indeed the standard that was egregiously applied in Roe v. Wade. The simple truth Horton expresses flies in the face of the cornerstone of pro-choice logic as expressed in Roe v. Wade. That, I believe, is what ruffles the feathers of pro-choice proponents.
So let me just begin with a big old NO. Did you read the book. I mean it isn’t very long, it won’t be that hard, I can even help you with the big words if you need it. The book IS not about fetus’s being people, as Dr. Seuss was not an idiot. What it is about is that every life is equal to another and he is trying to draw a parallel to Hiroshima. You know the place that was nuked and people don’t care enough because the people who were killed were apparently less than Americans. The dust speck has a fully formed civilization that has technology, literature and it’s own culture. Which I think we can both agree fetus’ do not.
what the book is about is racism and prejudice. Not any anti-scientific religious crap that pro-lifers spout. You take a quote completely out of context and you can make things sound pro choice too, it’s a neat trick, let me show you you said this ” it makes no difference to you whether an unborn human is a “person”” does this make sense in accordance to your real life views?
I didn’t think so.
I think it is sick that people would twist the words of a dead man to suit their political agenda, so now that that is out of the way and my disdain is clearly stated let me explain you a thing. in a more respectful manner.
Let’s just go with your premise, that a fetus is a person. Cool, I can get behind that for the sake of argument. Now let me give you a scenario
A women is in an accident, and she is brain dead, only her heart is still fully functional, all shiny and pumping it’s lovely. And in another hospital room there is a man with a fatal heart condition and a rare blood type that this woman just happens to share, what a lucky coincidence! But, she has never signed a organ donor card. She dies and so does he.
So this is a thing that happens. It is a fact, it isn’t rare. So because this woman refused (or maybe just didn’t think about filling the card) to give the little check to let a man use the organs that she wasn’t exactly going to use a true living man, maybe with a family, or a dog I don’t know, but his life is worth something no matter if he had connections or not.
A woman who is pregnant is actually using her organs, but she is supposed to share them with someone else for 9 MONTHS, no matter what. She is forced to put her life at risk for someone who doesn’t truly exist yet. So essentially a dead body deserves more respect than a woman.
I can’t get behind that.
Although – as you acknowledge – much of what you write is stated with a condescending and disrespectful tone, I will allow your post and respond to it. In the future, if you choose to continue the conversation, I would ask that you tone down the heated rhetoric. Since this is my blog, I will have the final say on what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Yes, of course I have read the book. That should be obvious since I not only quote the book, I also summarize the story. Did you read and comprehend my post?
And of course I never suggested it was. On the contrary, I explained in some detail what the book is about. Did you read my post?
With regard to your suggestion that the book is about every life being equal, I agree. Well stated. With regard to any allusion to Hiroshima, that is conjecture. We’re talking about a children’s book that does a great job communicating what the author obviously sees as a fundamental truth and it’s a truth I share. As you stated: “every life is equal to another.” I agree.
Wow. This comment is radically ill-informed. I can only suggest that you read and learn from history.
Of course, but this is a grossly illogical comparison, Laura. It would be like comparing you with a parcel of 500 acres. The acreage is capable of sustaining “a fully formed civilization that has technology, literature and it’s own culture” while you are not. We should not expect a fetus to be capable of something no other human being is capable of.
Racism and prejudice are terrible things and should be condemned but your notion that the book is alluding to either of these topics is irrelevant conjecture on your part. Again, I summarized what the book is actually about.
By all means, please quote any anti-scientific points I’ve made with regard to the abortion discussion. I’d like to see what you come up with.
Also, are you aware that many of the earliest pro-choice advocates were religious people? Did you know that several protestant denominations openly championed making abortion legal while it was still illegal? How is that not religion forcing itself into the political arena?
Did you know there are plenty of pro-choice Christians? Even pro-choice Catholics? The pro-choice movement is more than happy to promote their political views. Ever hear of Nancy Pelosi? John Kerry? Joe Biden? Heck, even Barack Obama at least claims to be religious. Why don’t you condemn their beliefs as being “anti-scientific religious crap”?
Is it maybe because religion is only crappy and unscientific to you when it conflicts with your own political ideas?
Laura, the problem you face here is that I am not taking anything out of context. Instead, I am citing the key quote directly in the context in which it was framed by Dr. Seuss. I unequivocally agree with the moral truth being expressed by Horton, while you cannot. I am in 100% agreement with the phrase: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Period. You, on the other hand, feel the need to qualify that moral truth because if you don’t it conflicts with your desire to be pro-choice. You (and other pro-choice proponents) find yourselves exceptionally annoyed in this particular situation precisely because you have no logical alternative but to qualify Horton’s assertion. You want to agree with Horton, but only up to a certain point. Only in the cases you deem are appropriate. This is not the problem of the pro-life community. It is completely a pro-choice problem because pro-choice ideology won’t allow you to simply agree with Horton. Instead you have to suggest that Horton only means what he’s saying in cases you approve of. But you won’t find support for that in the book.
It took me a while to figure out the point you are attempting to make here for the simple reason that you failed to actually make it, which then rendered the result quite confusing.
So let’s see what actually happened.
You were hoping to make the point that I am taking the Horton quote “A person’s a person, no matter how small” out of context. Here’s what you actually stated:
The obvious problem here is that the quote already sounds pro-life without being taken out of context.
So that’s a fallacy in your argument, right there, before you even begin to attempt to illustrate your point. Nevertheless, you still attempt to illustrate a fallacious point by stating:
In your attempt to illustrate the point you hoped you could make, you actually DO pull my words completely out of context. The context from which you pulled my words, was a question (!). I was asking Amalthea (another pro-choice poster like yourself, by the way) to clarify her “real life views”, not giving my own.
So you in fact DO take my words completely out of context, while I DO NOT take Horton’s words out of context at all. In fact, I go to great lengths to accurately explain the context. I am not twisting Horton’s words, at all, Laura. I am also not twisting Dr. Seuss’s words (since he’s the one who put the words in Horton’s mouth). I can’t help it if Dr. Seuss wrote a book that emphasizes a pro-life truth – a truth that champions the value of human life – even on a microscopic scale. I didn’t write the book, Laura, I just agree with it.
If you were to quote me correctly and in context, however, what I have stated is that the term “person” is intentionally ambiguous and is useful to pro-choice proponents because of its ambiguity. To illustrate that problem consider this: There are some philosophers who suggest that BORN babies are not persons and that infanticide (killing born babies) is morally acceptable on that basis. Do you agree with them?
Well sure, that would be sick if it were actually happening but I am not twisting words at all. The only ones doing any twisting of anything in this case are pro-choice proponents who wish Dr. Seuss would have qualified the truth he has Horton express throughout the book. But he didn’t. If you really think I’m twisting Horton’s words, please explain how. I am in 100% agreement with the truth Horton expresses in the book. Pro-choice proponents are the ones attempting to twist that truth because it doesn’t agree with their political agenda.
I appreciate the accurate observation that your tone up to this point has been disrespectful but part of the problem is that your “disdain” is completely misguided.
The problem with that is: that is not my premise. What you think my premise is and what it actually is are two different things.
If you respond to nothing else, I hope you will respond to this part of my post, because now you are finally getting to the heart of the issue. Let’s take this point by point.
First, we’re not just talking about “someone else,” Laura, we’re talking about her own unborn child. Now you may object to the term “child” because it conflicts with your pro-choice agenda, but the term “unborn child” is accurate. The fact is, the fetus that is growing inside the woman’s body is fully human (because humans can only reproduce other humans; they can’t reproduce anything else) and it is fully alive (because if it were not alive there would be no need for abortion to kill the fetus) and the fetus is biologically related to the mother. Those are facts.
Second, she doesn’t have to “share her organs” in some unnatural way. She simply provides nourishment and a safe environment (up to the point where she chooses abortion).
Finally, she has granted consent to the fetus to temporarily use her body by engaging in an activity that carries the risk of creating a needy human who will be dependent on her.
No she isn’t. Normal pregnancy is not life-threatening and in the extremely rare cases that are life-threatening, I and many other pro-life proponents agree that a woman should have the right to choose abortion in order to save her own life.
So here we finally arrive at the very crux of the issue. If you are correct in that assertion, then you win. In that case, you would be just like Horton’s friends who suggest that life can’t possibly exist on a speck of dust because life can’t exist on such a small scale! What a silly notion! Dust specks are too small for life to truly exist on them, Horton.
This is exactly what you are suggesting, Laura. You are suggesting that because unborn humans are so small, they don’t “truly exist yet.” (Your exact words). This is just like the scenario in the book. And I suspect that’s why this is so annoying to you and other pro-choice proponents. You see, the thing that really gets under the skin of pro-choice proponents is the fact that the whole “personhood” debate was deliberately created to facilitate pro-choice ideology, but when I and other pro-life proponents respond by merely citing Horton: “A person’s a person no matter how small,” it undercuts the tactic and the result is frustration.
But the truth is you are not correct, Laura. Fetuses do exist. That’s just an obvious fact. If they didn’t exist the woman wouldn’t be pregnant and there would be no need for abortion. You may want to believe that a fetus (that obviously does exist) is not yet a “person,” (whatever that means) but that is merely your own conjecture based entirely on your desire to be pro-choice – there’s nothing scientific about it.
Therefore, pro-choice proponents are the ones who are being anti-scientific when they suggest that personhood is the appropriate moral factor on which to allow or restrain the killing of humans and yet they can’t even agree on when it begins. That’s not our problem, that’s your problem. And it’s also your morality and you and other pro-choice proponents are the ones who are attempting to keep that morality (which is really immorality) forced on the rest of us and especially on unborn humans.
I can’t get behind that.
Great argument Roger. It pleases me greatly to see such an educated and well informed individual standing up for the rights of the unborn. Especially a man. Far too often have I been scorned and my opinion completely disregarded on the matter simply because I do not possess ovaries. In reality, that is a very stupid point. Never before in history were you expected to be either a victim or a perpetrator of an injustice in order to speak out against it. But like I said, great information and great blog. I hope to get a chance to read your book soon.
Carlos M. Zamora
Thank you for your comments. I appreciate it. In fact, you’ve given me inspiration for a new blog post! Stay tuned!
All the best,
As I’m reading your comments, I’m extremely bothered with the way you believe the story’s parallels to the US and Japan to be “conjecture”. Dr. Seuss was actually very well known for publishing war comics, and Horton, it was believed, was in part an apology to the racist Japanese propaganda he made for the US government.
Googling the simple phrase “dr. seuss japanese” could help you find this information.
Thanks for your comment. So I’m curious about something and I would invite your response. You say you’re “extremely bothered” with “the way [I] believe the story’s parallels to the US and Japan” are conjecture.
I used the word “conjecture” in reference to Laura’s statement that:
I was pointing out that Laura’s assertion that the Horton book is really “a parallel to Hiroshima” is simply conjecture on her part. Unless you can show that Dr. Seuss himself stated at some point that the Horton book is meant as an allusion to “Hiroshima” then you’re speculating that that was his intention. Sorry, but that’s the way speculation works.
If you can produce some actual evidence that the Horton book was an attempt by Dr. Seuss to apologize for the anti-Japanese propaganda he made during the war, then your theory would move beyond speculation. As it is, you yourself use the phrase “it was believed” which is a nice sounding phrase that does nothing to actually support the theory.
Be that as it may, it’s a minor point either way. It doesn’t make a difference one way or another to the larger point of my essay. Which is what makes me curious: Why would this be extremely bothering to you? And it seems it’s not just bothering you. Laura and ZA123 have also attempted to make the same point. But it seems to me that the point you’re all attempting to make is somewhat pointless.
For the sake of discussion, let’s assume you and Laura and ZA123 had cited hard evidence to support the claim that Dr. Seuss wrote the Horton book in an effort to apologize for his anti-Japanese cartoons. So what? Even if it were not conjecture, how would that change or affect the argument I made in my original essay? Would it in any way change the truth behind Horton’s phrase: “A person’s a person, no matter how small?” I don’t believe it would but feel free to enlighten me otherwise. In the meantime it’s unclear why three of you have attempted to make that argument as though it would somehow make a difference and it’s especially curious why my pointing to it as conjecture would make you “extremely bothered”?
With regard to your google suggestion I rarely follow up on home-work assignments. Especially when the assignment appears to be an attempt to deflect the argument down a rabbit trail.
So here’s what you can do. If you believe that the Horton story “was in part an apology to the racist Japanese propaganda he made for the US government” then cite the ONE BEST piece of evidence you think supports that notion and I will then investigate your claim in light of the evidence you present. If it turns out that you’re correct, great. Either way it’s still an irrelevant side issue that doesn’t effect the more important point I made in my essay.
On the other hand you do have me talking about it, so perhaps it has served the diversionary purpose for which it was likely intended.
All the best,
Apologies on getting back to you so late, it’s just that you are intolerable, and I only have so much patience! Now, unfortunately for you, there is plenty of evidence that suggests that Horton is indeed a metaphor for the US involvement with Japan, and seeing as it you find it too inconvenient to pull up very easy-to-find sources, I guess I will take it upon myself to educate you. The reason why I used the phrase, “it was believed”, is because, yes, Dr. Seuss never said this. However, the notion that Dr. Suess himself has to prove the allegories and intentions in his works that already should be very clear is ridiculous. Did Sallinger ever explicitly mention what the significance of Holden’s hat was ever about, or why Holden cared about those ducks so much? Did Fitzgerald ever need to point out the meaning of Gatsby’s green light or explain the pervasiveness of Dr. Eckleburg’s ad? Do author ever, in plain terms, feel the need to dissect the themes and ideas of their books? No, because it is the job of the reader to understand these things in context. Maybe you should take it from his life partner, and widow, Audrey Gisel, who “doesn’t like people to hijack Dr. Seuss characters or material to front their own points of view.”
Not only is the simple fact that the book is dedicated to Seuss’ Japanese friend a strong indicator of Seuss’ apology, but, seeing as you’re looking for citations, this can be verified by Richard Minear’s book “Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel” who concludes that Seuss used this book as an allegory for the American post-war occupation of Japan (Minear is a well-qualified history professor who was well-studied in the history of Japan and Hiroshima). Thomas Fensch also came to this conclusion in his biography, “The Man Who Was Dr. Seuss”. In fact, the very phrase “A person is a person, no matter how small” was Geisel’s reaction to his visit to Japan, where the importance of the individual was an new concept (this has been concluded in “Dr. Seuss Mr. Geisel: a biography”, written by Neil Morgan and Judith Giles Morgan). To reiterate, these are all accepted and credible biographies written on Seuss by people who have proven qualified to do the research.
Now, let’s go over why this isn’t simply just a “minor point” or an attempt to lead “the argument down a rabbit trail” (briefly, because you clearly are intent on twisting this story for your own agenda). You claim that Horton “teaches a moral lesson [which is n]amely that size is irrelevant when it comes to personhood and that persons – even tiny ones – should not be destroyed.”. Your entire (misconstrued) argument is based on how this book is about how “life can exist in such a microscopic level”, but this is not what the Whos are representing. Given that, again, this book is an allegory for the treatment of an oppressed group of people, (which again is something that has been widely accepted by those who analyze the book in context of Seuss’s life/career) it should be able to be concluded that size of the Whos are not to be taken literally – it is a metaphor.
Again, it is a metaphor.
Once more, it is a metaphor.
And one more time for the folks in the back, it is absolutely, symbolically a metaphor.
I’m going to assume you understand what a metaphor is (but if not, please feel free to use your preferred search engine) and I will carry on to point out that given these facts, the moral of the story is not what you have chosen to conclude, but simply about equality. You are saying you agree with Seuss’ premise, but you aren’t, because – as Seuss himself was tired of reiterating to the point where he was willing to sue – you are misinterpreting the intention of the quote.
You cannot keep saying this book is about one thing, when is so blatantly about something else, and, yes, you should absolutely stop from using to back your arguments.
Yes, I am indeed intolerable and probably won’t be changing any time soon. So you spend a decent amount of space arguing the point that the Horton book “is a metaphor.” Your entire case seems to rest on this (apparently crucial) point. It’s odd because when I look at the book, it really appears to be a children’s book. And yet you and the other pro-choice advocates who’ve responded to this thread insist that it is not a children’s book but instead is a metaphor and therefore any moral lesson that I (mistakenly) thought Horton was trying to promote is, instead, just me imposing my own (misogynistic, repressive, intolerant, etc. etc.) ideas onto poor unsuspecting Horton. Do I have the gist of your argument?
I think I’m being generous when I say it’s a stretch, Gabriela. The fact is, as I stated before, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re correct about the book being a metaphor. That argument is pointless. And one more time for the folks in the back, it is absolutely a pointless, irrelevant argument.
You suggest that I am clearly “intent on twisting this story for [my] own agenda.” This is where I strongly disagree with you and in fact I suggest it is precisely the opposite. I am clearly not twisting the story but am instead agreeing with the moral message that is clearly presented in the story. This is what makes this so frustrating for you and other pro-choice proponents. You wish it were true that I were the one doing the twisting, but each new attempted pro-choice defense makes it more obvious that the struggle here lies with those who would attempt to reconcile pro-choice logic with Horton’s maxim. You’re not arguing against me, Gabriela, you’re arguing against Horton.
You suggest that my “entire (misconstrued) argument is based on how this book is about how ‘life can exist in such a microscopic level’, but this is not what the Whos are representing.”
Really??? The who’s aren’t really tiny people? So then, what are they, Gabriela? Oh wait… you answered that, didn’t you:
So, children, The Who’s are not really a tiny civilization, instead they’re just a metaphor for a real group of large people who, according to Gabriela, were oppressed. And while you would think that the phrase: “A person’s a person no matter how small” might actually have something to do with size, we learn from Gabriela’s pro-choice wisdom, that the size of The Who’s is “not to be taken literally.” So, children, each time Horton says “A person’s a person no matter how small” what he really means is: “Large oppressed people are people no matter how oppressed they are.” Now that we understand the real meaning I’m sure every 4th grader who reads the book will, no doubt, understand that the Horton story was written in complete harmony with the pro-choice agenda.
All the best,
The pro-choice responses on this thread are fascinating. Quite honestly, it’s difficult to believe you actually believe what you’re saying – or at the very least that you truly can’t see the logical inconsistency within your arguments. It’s amazing to me the extremes to which pro-choice proponents are willing to go in an attempt to salvage their cherished ideology. But in this case the attempt is obviously failing.
There is clearly an inconsistency between Horton’s maxim: “A person’s a person no matter how small” and pro-choice ideology. The reason is quite simple. If a person’s a person no matter how small, then size can’t be a good reason to allow abortion – unless pro-choice proponents are fine with the idea of killing people of any size. It’s taken for granted in the Horton story that killing people is wrong. To gain nearly universal agreement on that assertion we could simply alter it slightly by asserting that killing innocent people is wrong. Pretty much everyone agrees with that. So there’s our common ground. We all agree that killing innocent people is wrong.
Now, if we apply Horton’s maxim, that a person’s a person, no matter how small, the pro-choice crowd is left with a conundrum. If a person’s a person no matter how small, then size is not an acceptable factor for allowing abortion. But size is indeed what many PC proponents appeal to. A fertilized egg or a human embryo is just so small, they argue. Horton’s maxim kills that argument and instead forces the (sincere) PC proponent to attempt to figure out exactly when personhood begins and then make a rational case defending their conclusion before society can morally allow abortion. But this totally defeats the intended purpose of the “personhood” debate.
Most PC proponents simply don’t want to go there. They don’t want a resolution to the debate. The whole point of designating the notion of “personhood” as the critical factor in legalized abortion is the useful ambiguity of the term. We can’t even agree on what exactly a “person” is, much less when one begins to exist. That’s the whole point. That’s what facilitates pro-choice ideology. The argument goes something like this: “You think a person begins to exist at conception? Fine. Don’t have an abortion. I don’t think a person begins to exist until later (exactly when, I don’t know, and Justice Blackmun says I don’t need to figure it out) so abortion is a morally acceptable choice for me.” Horton’s maxim kills that ideology because if it is true that a person’s a person no matter how small, then it does matter when each person really begins to exist and it doesn’t matter how small she is when she comes into existence.
So how have the PC proponents who have responded to this thread attempted to handle this conundrum? How have they attempted to deal with it? There seems to be a consistent theme among them: the Horton book is not what it appears to be.
That’s it! That’s their solution to the problem. Think about that for a moment. They’re not directly attempting to challenge the underlying truth of what Horton was suggesting – at least not that I can see at this point. They’re not suggesting that Horton was an idiot. Nope. It’s just: the book is not really about what you think it is. But have no fear, we (pro-choice proponents) know what it was really about, so, just take our word for it, you pro-life losers are out of bounds when you attempt to use Horton’s phrase in support of your cause.
That’s pretty much what’s going on here. That’s how desperate things are for the PC cause when it comes to confronting the simple and easily understood truth expressed in a children’s book (for Pete’s sake)! Out of the mouth of babes!
Here is what Gabriela writes:
How much clearer can it be stated? Gabriela obviously thinks she knows what the real moral of the story is, and, (surprise!) it’s not that “a person’s a person no matter how small”! The fact is it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the clear moral message behind the phrase “a person’s a person no matter how small.” It’s so simple, a caveman could get it and children of all ages get it. Even if there were some metaphorical intent on the part of Dr. Seuss as he wrote the story, the moral truth expressed by Horton is the same either way. Gabriela suggests that the moral of the story is simply “about equality” and she phrases it in such a way as to imply that only her interpretation of “equality” is the correct interpretation, since, obviously my interpretation supports the pro-life cause and that’s just not acceptable. Here’s the problem (for pro-choice proponents)… I agree, the book is about equality. It’s about the equality of human beings. It’s about the equality of persons, no matter how small they are. And it’s about the fact that it’s wrong to kill persons just because they are smaller than the rest of us. That is the straightforward, easily understood message of the book, whether or not there are underlying allusions to Hiroshima or apologies for anti-Japanese WW2 propaganda.
Nope. Sorry. Nice try. You’re selling but rational people are not buying. I am not misinterpreting anything. On the contrary, it is a stubborn, dogmatic adherence to pro-choice ideology that forces pro-choice proponents to attempt to twist something different out of what Horton is clearly expressing. I am directly quoting Horton’s words and asserting that he actually means exactly what he says. Pro-choice proponents are asserting that you know better! You know what he really meant even though he never actually said what you want to believe he meant.
I will close with Gabriela’s own words since they are more appropriately applied to the pro-choice defense as expressed on this thread: “You cannot keep saying this book is about one thing, when is so blatantly about something else.”
All the best,
I’m pro-choice, not because I support innocent babies being killed, but because people who are willing to abort their children for convenience’ sake make abysmal, incompetent and often cruel parents and their offspring are better off not having to live under their thumbs. That said, Roger’s arguments are only ones herein that exhibit logical thought.
Hi Mother Scones:
Thanks for your comments. Not surprisingly, with regard to your suggestion that mine are the only arguments herein (so far at least) that exhibit logical thought, I agree. I think the problem for those who would attempt to defend pro-choice ideology in this situation is that the phrase:
“A person’s a person no matter how small.”
IS a pro-life phrase and there’s no getting around it.
But with regard to the reason you expressed for being pro-choice, I have to say that it also doesn’t sound very rational to me. It’s probably pretty safe to assume you would never make the same assertion with respect to a baby that has already been born. Correct? In other words, I doubt that you would ever agree that a parent should be allowed to kill his or her born child because the parent is a lousy parent and the child shouldn’t have to grow up with a lousy parent. Right? So if that’s the case, then why would you express that same sentiment with respect to an unborn child? I can only conclude that you must believe there is some radical moral difference between a born child and an unborn child that makes killing the former wrong but not the latter. What is that radical moral difference?
All the best,
All humans have a right to speak about abortion because abortion affects all kinds of humans. Not just women. That’s a naive line of thinking. Also disregarding someone’s opinion because of their genitals is exactly what most abortion advocates and/or feminists are constantly saying should happen to women. Double standards galore.
Now that that’s out of the way…
Abortion really cones down to consent. More specifically, informed consent. What does that mean? Nine times out of ten the woman (and man) chose to have sex knowing pregnancy was a risk even with the most accurate form of birth control. The egg didn’t force itself to be fertilized and get the woman pregnant. Most people who are sexually active know that sex leads to pregnancy. That is the primary biological function of sex in all animals (pleasure derived from sex is there to entice and incite sexual activity therefore maximizing the species chances for continued existence. Just because we’re not in a primitive state doesn’t mean our primitive instincts and functions do not apply). So objectively looking at the situation, the only person who was put in these circumstances without their *informed consent* was the baby. Which means the only person there who has an over-ruling right to anyone else involved is the baby and their right to life.
Thank you Roger for your outstanding responses to the pro-choice arguments! I could use some of these responses when defending my own pro-life position. I found your link, amazingly, when searching for whether or not Dr Seuss was indeed pro-life, based on that quote. I think that if we knew back when Roe v Wade was passed what we do now, abortion would be a harder sell. Ultrasounds show amazing things now and we’re not so crazed about over population either. Here in Colorado a woman just had her baby cut out of her womb at 7 months and the woman responsible won’t be held for murder. Is abortion so important that there cannot even be justice in a case like this? Can’t put any chinks in that fetus vs baby argument or it all falls apart.
Thanks for your comments. Yes, the abortion issue – in particular, the pro-choice notion that the beginning of human life is an unanswerable, subjective question – raises all kinds of ethical dilemmas and logical inconsistencies. The Dr. Seuss discussion on this thread is a perfect example.
All the best,
As a human being, you have the right to so many choices. You can chose which side of the road to walk on. You can decide what to say and what pet to adopt and which house to buy and where to go and what to do and what to eat. You can decide where to go on holiday and who to make friends with and who to love. These rights are the everyday sense of human choice. If they were taken from you, you’d cry foul play and protest for them back. You latch onto these rights. However, in the midst of excersizing the right to freedom of speech you degrade a womans bodily rights? I’m sorry but it doesn’t work like that. Choosing to have an abortion is as much of a right as any of the above listed. Can you even grasp some perspective for a mere second with the degradation you wrote? He was Dr. Seuss. How could he have not respected and cared for children? He was the one that taught them that there is ‘no one youer than you’. He’s the man that reminded them that they have a brain in their heads and feet in their shoes and they can steer themselves in any direction they choose. You’re speaking of the same man that taught children to be themselves because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Have some respect for a man who brightened millions of childhoods.
Thank you for your comments. I may reply in greater detail at some point but for now I just have a simple question for you. In fact I would also address this to any pro-choice proponent who is courageous enough to answer. It’s a very simple question requiring only a yes or no answer. Ready? Here it is: Do you agree with Dr. Seuss when he repeatedly has Horton say: “A person’s a person, no matter how small”?
All the best,
You are contradicting yourself. ‘A person is a person no matter how small’. But what about the person who is being degarded and humiliated and ridiculed? What about the person who is being forced to go through 9 months of pure mental, physical, finacial, social and moral exhaustion. What about the person who could have been raped or abused or molested or seriously ill or mentally incapable? In the process of defending the fetus, you’ve forgotten about the mother. You cannot preach that a ‘person is a person, no matter how small’ but forget to consider the other person in the equation. It REALLY doesn’t work like that.
No I’m not. But if you think so, then point out the contradiction. You also failed to give a simple yes or no answer. Let’s try again. It’s a VERY simple question requiring only a yes or no answer: Do you agree with Dr. Seuss when he repeatedly has Horton say: “A person’s a person, no matter how small”?
For the time being, I’m going to take the following comment of yours as an affirmative (yes) answer. You wrote:
This seems to imply that you do in fact agree with Dr. Seuss that “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” But I don’t like to presume something simply because one party in the discussion (you) is not being forthcoming and clearly stating what she (I assume you are female, my apologies if I am mistaken) believes. So, could you confirm that what you wrote and what I quoted above in fact does mean that you agree with Dr. Seuss that: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Please provide a simple yes or no answer. Thanks.
Assuming (based on what you stated above) that your answer is “yes” then I have some follow-up questions: Since you and I and Dr. Seuss agree that “A person’s a person no matter how small;” how small, in your opinion, are the smallest persons? Or, if that question is too difficult, can you provide any description, photo or illustration of an example of what you believe are the smallest of persons – or even just the smallest person you are aware of? Or, if that question is too difficult, how small were you when you began to exist?
These are not meant to be rhetorical questions. I would really appreciate it if you could attempt to give a sincere answer to each of them. Thanks.
Disclaimer: With regard to the rest of your post, which is obviously meant to move the discussion away from the point of the Horton book and the point of my blog essay, I will respond, but I want to make it clear that I’m doing so as a courtesy to you. It’s quite obvious that your line of questions are intended to steer the conversation in a different direction. If you are willing to fully engage in the main point of this thread, the book and my original essay, I will respond to your diversions (at least so long as I deem them reasonable. And yes, I get to decide what is and isn’t reasonable. I’ve had many previous discussions with pc proponents and I am fully aware of just how unreasonable the conversation can become).
So let’s take your comments point by point:
I have no idea what you’re talking about. No one is being degraded, humiliated and ridiculed. Please explain.
The challenges of pregnancy are certainly real, and I agree that “exhausting” is a fair adjective to use in describing how a pregnant mother can sometimes (or even often) feel. That said, however, your description is simply over the top. I’m married with two children. I agree that there were times in my wife’s two pregnancies that she was tired, physically and emotionally. But there were also times when she was not tired. And throughout the entire pregnancy she was joyful and excited about the life growing inside her body.
I realize, of course, that my wife’s pregnancies were desired, while you are referring to unwanted pregnancies. And yes, that makes a difference. But it is simply over the top to characterize pregnancy – even unwanted pregnancy – as “9 months of pure mental, physical, financial, social and moral exhaustion.” It can certainly be stressful and exhausting at times, but you make it sound as though it is 9 solid months of uninterrupted torture and that’s just over the top.
Nevertheless, even accepting your over the top characterization does not lead to the conclusion you wish to draw. Why not? Think about it rationally. Would you apply the same argument to a baby who has already been born? Would you agree that parents should have the right to kill their nine month old baby who has made their lives nothing but 9 months of pure mental, physical, financial, social and moral exhaustion? I doubt it, but if so then at least your philosophy would remain consistent. If not, then your physical and mental exhaustion argument fails even though you attempted to present it in unrealistically forceful terms.
Ah yes! When all else fails, appeal to the extremely rare exceptions! I concede, the rape argument is the best argument pc proponents have in their arsenal. It’s often effective and, as a consequence, they are constantly falling back on it. In large part, the argument is not logically sound, but it certainly wins on an emotional level.
Rape (and the hypothetical situations you lumped in with it) presents an extremely complex moral dilemma, mainly because the victim of rape did not willingly participate in the act that caused the unwanted pregnancy. This is indeed a key moral factor and it should not be overlooked or underestimated.
In his book, A Defense of Abortion, David Boonin makes a compelling case for legal abortion in cases of rape based on Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous violinist scenario (Boonin makes this his centerpiece argument to justify all – or at least many – abortion choices, but I do not agree that the argument succeeds on any level outside of the rape context). In my opinion, it is the only rational argument pc proponents have that actually has moral force.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, it still lacks sufficient moral force to then draw the conclusion that the unborn baby (who is also a victim) should be killed because the father committed a terrible act. It is also not at all clear that abortion provides a legitimate “solution” to the problem of pregnancies resulting from rape. In other words, pc proponents present abortion as though it magically solves the problem, when in fact it will likely compound the trauma.
Abortion may end the pregnancy, but it can’t undo the rape and it certainly has the potential to greatly compound the trauma since there was nothing the pregnant woman could have done to avoid the rape, but it is she who then decides to have an abortion.
I haven’t forgotten about the mother at all. I have merely suggested that her “rights” should not be so forceful as to allow her to hire someone to kill her offspring.
Finally, I find it interesting that you characterize what I am doing as “preaching” that “a person is a person no matter how small.” In the first, place, I’m not doing anything like preaching. If there is anything like “preaching” occurring here, it’s coming from Dr. Seuss who repeatedly has Horton “preach” that: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” This is the same Dr. Seuss that you commended (and I agree by the way) for teaching children that “there is ‘no one youer than you’.”
It would be nice if you could at least acknowledge that the moral lesson expressed by Horton the elephant comes from Dr. Seuss rather than me. I’m just agreeing with it.
All the best,
How DARE YOU COMPARE EVERY PREGNANT WOMAN TO YOUR MARRIED WIFE. HOW DARE YOU. You are a disgusting excuse for a human being to say that. ‘Ah yes but my wife was pregnant twice she had a wonderful time so all abortions should be illegal’. How can you class every woman in the nation like that? I know people who lived through physica trauma than you can only dream of. My friends boyfriend left her because she ‘cheated on him’ when she was raped and fell pregnant to her rapist. Her parents kicked her out for ‘being a slut’ and she was living on the streets. She tried to get an abortion but was ridiculed and humiliated outside the clinic. She was filmed for ‘evidence why sluts don’t deserve abortions’. Her only OTHER option? She commited suicide. I miss her everyday and if she hadn’t of been humiliated outside that clinic she would still be here.
I allowed this latest post by you but I’m only going to warn you once. I will not continue to tolerate this level of disrespect. As I noted earlier, I have had many conversations with pc proponents and I am fully aware of how low the insults can get. If you are interested in having a productive and civil conversation, then your posts will be allowed. If you’re only interested in insulting the other side there are other places online where you can do that.
Also, once again you have completely failed to answer my simple question. I will try only one more time. If you do not provide a simple yes or no answer to my reasonable question, I will not allow any more posts from you. The question is:
Do you agree with Dr. Seuss when he repeatedly has Horton say: “A person’s a person, no matter how small”?
Again, if you wish to engage in a productive conversation, please answer the question. If you don’t, your future posts will not be allowed.
The answer is: I obviously did not do what you are suggesting I did. Did you read my post? Did you miss the part where I said this: “I realize, of course, that my wife’s pregnancies were desired, while you are referring to unwanted pregnancies. And yes, that makes a difference.”
Your statement above is a complete mischaracterization of what I said. I realize this topic can be emotional. I realize it’s very personal for you. But those are not good reasons for you to completely twist my words and then attempt to argue against your own false characterization as though it actually represents my position.
Okay… I’d like you take a deep breath and pause for a minute because what I’m about to write may upset you at first. It’s not intended to, but seeing how you have reacted so far, it probably will. Please make sure you understand what I’m going to say before you respond.
If what you wrote above is true, then, of course, a terrible injustice was done to your friend and I’m sorry for your loss. On the other hand, I don’t know you from Adam and I have no idea whether any of what you wrote is true or whether it’s only partially true. I simply have no idea, and frankly, even if it is true it’s still a diversion from the topic of this thread, Dr. Seuss’s book and my original blog post.
Having said that, let me ask you a question. We agree that the situation you described about your friend was an injustice. We agree that your friend should never have been raped and that that was a terrible injustice for her to endure. Then for her boyfriend to compound the problem by accusing her of cheating on him is a second injustice that never should have happened. Being kicked out by her parents was still another injustice that she should not have been forced to go through and finally, being ridiculed and humiliated outside an abortion clinic was yet another injustice. (This last one, by the way, is what really makes me doubt your story. Most pro-life people are compassionate people – in fact all the ones I know are – and they would never ridicule or humiliate a mother who is going inside an abortion clinic. Rather they would attempt to reach out to her and help her, offering support if she chooses to keep her baby). So what you have described is unquestionably a series of unbelievable injustices all being piled on to one individual – your friend – who, as a result of all this committed suicide.
Here’s my question. Let’s say your friend had decided not have an abortion but that she had gone to a crisis pregnancy center and they had given her the support she needed to give birth to her baby. But then after the birth she still had to face all of the humiliation, ridicule and injustice that you indicate she received during the pregnancy. Would that give her the right to kill her baby?
You may want to roll your eyes. You may want to insult me. I don’t know. You may think it’s not a fair or legitimate question, but it is. And I ask it to illustrate a point. If the factors you describe above – ie. terrible injustice – constitute the KEY MORAL FACTORS on which society should permit the killing of other innocent human beings, then those same moral factors should justify the killing in all situations (or you should at least be able to logically explain why there should be exceptions). If, on the other hand, those moral factors you listed – ie. terrible injustice – are not sufficient to permit the killing of born human beings, then it follows that they should also not be sufficient to permit the killing of unborn human beings.
If the difference that you choose to fall back on is that there is a radical moral difference between a fetus and a baby, THEN you have a completely different question and you’re then admitting that the moral factors you just described – ie. terrible injustice – are not relevant to the real moral issue – ie. a radical moral difference between a fetus and a baby. The topic of this thread and my blog post deals with the latter question and especially as it has been used to justify abortion, specifically in the “personhood” standard applied in Roe v. Wade.
Hi Roger, I’ll start by saying that I am pro life and I have read your article and arguments with a great amount of admiration for the way you’ve been logically and fairly defending the stance that a person is a person no matter how small. I will admit that this comment did disappoint me however.
I think there is quite a lack in compassion for the scenario Bellka presented as it is, in my opinion, a realistic one whether her specific experience is true or not. There are many women who face poverty, shame and rejection as a result of unwanted pregnancies (due to consensual and nonconsensual intercourse) and to try and argue this point by calling someone a liar seems to me insensitive and a waste of time. This is a heartbreaking story that requires sympathy and understanding from pro-lifers. Any other reaction points to an insecurity in our beliefs.
My second problem with your response is that you think an aggressive and cruel pro-life group is unrealistic. I can very well imagine, because of the emotionally charged nature of the abortion argument, that there are people who would seek to ridicule and harass someone considering abortion. I’ve seen people go so far as calling these women murderers. Although I believe they seek to end human life, I also believe that a woman going to an abortion clinic is misinformed and requires the kind of support you describe as being common in pro-life people. She doesnt need more people causing her shame that she already undoubtedly feels. I think abortion in many cases leaves behind two victims. One whose life was ended and another who is now susceptible to emotional trauma.
I do agree with the points you make, but I think your comment doesn’t reflect the logical and respectful tone you usually write with.
Thank-you though for the excellent arguments you present.
Thank you, I appreciate that.
In the end, we may just have to agree to disagree on this. I’m happy to accept criticism when my comments deserve it, but in this case I don’t think they do – or at least, if they do, I’m just not seeing it. It might help for you to specifically quote something I said that you think I shouldn’t have said and then suggest what I should have stated.
You suggest that the scenario Bellka related is “realistic” whether her specific experience is true or not. I disagree – at least if by realistic you mean common or representative of the norm. On the other hand, if by realistic, you mean a possible occurrence, then yes, I agree, it is possible that her story is true. Given the context in which she presented it, however, I have strong and very reasonable doubts.
I also believe it is a mistake to conclude that all pro-life people should respond in a pre-determined way in a situation like this whether the story presented by someone who is defending a pro-choice position is true or not. To me, the truth makes a big difference. You wrote:
Of course it’s a heartbreaking story. Whether it’s true or not, it was intentionally presented in an effort to garner sympathy while the author understands that the facts cannot be independently verified. But the truth matters.
Consider the same scenario in reverse. If I were to go on a pro-choice blog and, while the posters there were discussing how pro-life people only want to take away women’s rights, I interject with an attempt to divert the discussion into something more favorable to the pro-life cause, that alone would receive objections. But those objections would be compounded if the method I used to divert the discussion was a personal story that could not be verified. The reaction would become increasingly negative if the story I presented seemed to key off of negative stereotypes associated with the pro-choice position.
Of course it’s possible, for example, that my friend was mocked with obscenities and vulgarities, threatened and even physically assaulted by pro-choice people while merely praying in front of an abortion clinic. Some pro-choice people have indeed behaved badly. But do you think it would be fair for us to condemn the pro-choice people on that pro-choice blog for reacting with skepticism to a story that keys off of negative pro-choice stereotypes and is simultaneously unverifiable? Just take my word for it, this happened, and if you’re skeptical it proves you’re as hard-hearted as the people who assaulted my friend. How well do you think that would be received? Do you think that would be a reasonable way for us to attempt to defend the pro-life cause in a pro-choice environment?
This is the sentence in your comments that I most object to. It is simply a mischaracterization to suggest that I called Bellka a liar. I never did that, nor would I do so until I had evidence to back up the accusation. But, of course, she knows I don’t because it’s impossible to obtain such evidence. That’s the whole point. Bellka’s intention was not to accurately present a story that could be independently verified while also supporting her cause. Her intent was clearly to divert the subject with something that would garner sympathy for the pro-choice cause. The truth matters. But Bellka understands full well that we can’t verify the story she presents as truth.
You point out that there are: “many women who face poverty, shame and rejection as a result of unwanted pregnancies (due to consensual and nonconsensual intercourse).” Of course that is true. But that’s not how Bellka presented her story. She did not present her story in general terms that could be rationally discussed and debated. She presented it as specific but unverifiable fact.
Again, if by “unrealistic” you mean “not possible” then, I agree with you that it would be naive of me to think so. There are some (an extremely small minority of) pro-life people who do and/or have behaved badly, just like there are some pro-choice people who do and/or have behaved badly. But if by “unrealistic” you mean “unrepresentative of the pro-life movement” then I disagree. There are radicals who behave badly in any large movement. What we can all agree on is that the behavior ascribed to the pro-life people in Bellka’s scenario is not only counter-productive, it’s also reprehensible. But that’s so obvious it goes without saying. Again, that was point of her story, whether it’s true or not.
In general, I agree with this. The sad reality, however, is that while the generalization holds true, some women are not “misinformed” and yet are still vehemently pro-choice.
I am only human and pretty much always fall well short of perfection. I’m not sure how I could – or perhaps I should say should – have handled Bellka’s comments any differently. Her intent was clearly diversion from the topic at hand, her support was unverifiable and the alleged pro-life behavior is not representative of the pro-life movement. Quite logical. Although, admittedly, logic doesn’t always harmonize well with the emotions we’re feeling while considering it.
And thanks for your input!
I am not allowing your most recent post. I warned you that future posts from you will not be allowed if you fail to answer my simple question. I also clearly informed you that I will not tolerate the level of disrespect you are currently displaying and I noted that you are attempting to divert the discussion away from the topic of this thread, Dr. Seuss’s book and my original blog post. Your most recent post (which has been blocked) did all of the above.
The responses by pro-choice proponents on this thread are illuminating. The fascinating thing is that the moral truth that has prompted the emotional response comes from a children’s book. None of the pro-choice proponents who have responded here have actually confronted the main question – which is whether or not they agree that a person’s a person, no matter how small. Instead, they have attempted to divert the discussion in a different direction.
Carla suggests that:
So even if a fetus is a “person” it doesn’t make a difference to Carla since, in her opinion, a person cannot use another person’s body against their will. This line of argumentation can, of course, be challenged but that’s not the point here. The point is that Dr. Seuss has caused Horton to repeatedly express the notion that “a person’s a person no matter how small” and Carla doesn’t challenge that assertion. Instead, she attempts to change the subject.
Next, Amalthea does the same thing:
The implication is that a woman’s personal decisions over her body trump everything else. This may sound reasonable but it obviously cannot always be true. A pregnant woman who drinks alcohol is held morally responsible when her baby is born with fetal alcohol syndrome. A woman does not have the right to ingest illegal drugs into her body. So the idea that a woman has complete freedom, morally and legally, to do anything she wants with her body is simply fallacious. Beyond that, it’s also a diversion from the the topic which is whether or not pro-choice proponents agree with Dr. Seuss when he has Horton repeatedly suggest that a person’s a person, no matter how small.
Amalthea then tries a different approach:
I answered this line of reasoning in my second response to Amalthea, but once again it’s clear that Amalthea did not respond to the Dr. Seuss quote and instead attempted to divert the subject.
Enter ZA123 who actually comes close to substantively grappling with the content of the Horton quote when she wrote:
Of course she’s right that it’s easy to “relate the book to abortion politics due to ‘small persons’ and the motto” because, as I’ve already suggested, the motto is inherently pro-life and I don’t think there’s any getting around that. Be that as it may, she suggests that because the book was not written with abortion politics in mind, it is therefore out of bounds for pro-life people to attempt to use the quote in support of pro-life philosophy. Of course I disagree on the grounds that I and other pro-life proponents fully agree with the quote and we’re not pulling it out of context or twisting it in any way. Quite the opposite, it is pro-choice philosophy that cannot be content to simply agree with the quote. Instead pro-choice proponents must place unnecessary restrictions and qualifications on Horton’s simple assertion. In light of this, to suggest that pro-life people can’t use the quote when we fully agree with it is disingenuous and hypocritical.
ZA123 goes on to suggest that:
So while she came close to actually dealing with the moral truth behind the phrase “a person’s a person, no matter how small” she ultimately falls back into the tactic of diverting the subject to something else – ie. that the book is really a metaphor “about Allies occupation in Japan during WW2.”
Next we have Laura who writes:
Here again is the same tactic: you can’t use the quote because (pro-choice proponents have declared that) the book is about racism and prejudice, not abortion. Again, there is no attempt to actually deal with the moral truth expressed by Horton that “a person’s a person, no matter how small” just: you can’t use the quote because we don’t like it when you use the quote.
Then we have Gabriela who writes:
While Gabriela may be extremely bothered, her annoyance does nothing to address the moral question of whether or not she agrees with Dr. Seuss when he has Horton repeatedly suggest that a person’s a person no matter how small.
Gabriela then makes another attempt:
Again, same tactic: (pro-choice proponents have declared that) the book is an allegory and the size of the Who’s is not to be taken literally. Since Gabriela hasn’t responded again, it’s unclear whether she is suggesting that she ultimately does not agree with Horton when he suggests that “a person’s a person, no matter how small” or whether she just can’t stand the fact that pro-lifers use the quote. I doubt that she will ever respond again since I will challenge either alternative.
If she doesn’t agree with Horton, then her disagreement will be an admission that it is pro-choice proponents who necessarily twist and restrict Horton’s quote. On the other hand, if she agrees with Horton but doesn’t want pro-life proponents to use the quote she’ll be challenged to justify why she can agree with and use the quote while we pro-lifers can’t. And she’ll need to come up with a better reason than simply suggesting the book cannot be taken at face value (since by that point she would have already agreed with the quote at face value).
Next comes Mother Scones who writes:
Mother Scones was polite but, as I pointed out, her moral reasoning doesn’t work after birth so why should it work before birth? This too is a diversion that avoids the moral truth expressed by Horton that: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
And finally, we arrive at Bellka. The conversation with Bellka is a classic example of street-level pro-choice debate tactics. After a few conversations like this at other websites, the repeated tactics become obvious. The game plan goes something like this: avoid the real issue, change the subject and/or latch on to anything you can twist in order to fain moral indignation and then smear those who hold an opposing point of view. It’s classic ad hominem, destroy the messenger. When the tactic plays out on a pro-choice website, other pro-choice proponents join in the diversion, smearing and intimidation. Here, the tactic doesn’t work because I have the ability to stop it. Predictably, Bellka’s final comments to me (which I blocked) amounted to insults and vulgarity. She too avoided the issue and attempted to divert the subject.
So I will simply ask: Is there any pro-choice proponent out there who can honestly answer this simple question: Do you agree with Dr. Seuss when he repeatedly has Horton suggest that a person’s a person, no matter how small?
I’m sorry but taking a late mans words and stapling it to a cause that he didn’t agree with is sad. You are overcomplicating this whole thing. You didn’t know him personally – as you previously mentioned in another comment- so why are you defying him? He made it very clear and simple. Dr Suess was pro-choice, therefore he was pro-abortion. Who are you to question that? Who are you to twist his words and use his hard work for something he spited and didn’t believe in? I really think it’s quite funny that you keep relating back to poor old Dr Suess when someone tries to shift the conversation onto just abortion; “Oh! But a person’s a person no matter how small! He said so himself”. Wether or not that’s true is irrelevant but you really need to consider that there are some with opposing beliefs to yours. That is just the way the world works and taking a late, highly-respected mans words (without having known him personally) and attaching that to a belief that he obviously didn’t support is not only disrespectful to him but also to his friends and family and widow and the great legacy he left behind,
Thanks for your comments. You wrote:
Okay so there’s a number of false allegations here. In the first place, when I first quoted Horton’s repeated motto (in my book), I had no idea whether Dr. Seuss was pro-choice or pro-life or somewhere in the middle or had no opinion on the matter. In fact it never crossed my mind. I used the quote simply because I agree with it. Period.
In the second place, I am not over-complicating anything. Quite the opposite! It is obviously the the pro-choice proponents who are over-complicating Horton’s motto. Do you agree with Horton or not? It’s a simple question. Yes or no?
In the third place, I am not defying Dr. Seuss. On the contrary, I am agreeing with the maxim he repeatedly has Horton express as though it were a universal truth. The only ones defying Dr. Seuss are those who wish to place restrictions on Horton’s repeated motto.
Finally, if Dr. Seuss was “pro-abortion” as you suggest, fine. I’m not questioning that. I’m just suggesting that pro-choice/abortion philosophy is incompatible with the universal truth Dr. Seuss repeatedly has Horton express. If you disagree, fine. Explain how the two concepts can co-exist without contradicting one another.
And who are you to suggest I’m doing something that I’m not doing? Show me where I twisted Dr. Seuss’s words.
Nonsense. THE topic of my post was about the quote. It is pro-choice proponents who keep wanting to shift the topic away from that because they know it’s a losing argument.
No it is isn’t. That is precisely the question. Do you or do you not agree with Dr. Seuss when he repeatedly has Horton state that “A person’s a person no matter how small?”
Yes or no?
It’s a simple question.
I certainly understand that there are people who disagree and, as can clearly be seen on this blog, I am more than willing to discuss our differences as long as those with opposing points of view are willing to be civil and respectful. What you need to understand is that it does not further your cause to mischaracterize the position of your opponent (me).
I am suggesting that the personhood debate that pro-choice proponents have hung their philosophy on is ambiguous by design and therefore should not be the standard by which society determines the value of human life. I am also suggesting that the ambiguity of the personhood standard is exposed by a simple truth expressed in a children’s book. It’s ironic – although irrelevant to the truth expressed by Horton – that the author (apparently) turns out to have been pro-choice.
You (wrongly) suggest that I don’t consider that there are those who disagree with me. Of course I consider that. It’s quite obvious. We should begin by focusing on what we can agree on. Do you agree with Dr. Seuss when he repeatedly has Horton state that “A person’s a person no matter how small?” Yes or no?
If I were twisting Horton’s words to mean something other than what Horton was expressing, then I would agree with you. But I’m not. I use the quote precisely because I agree with it, exactly as stated with no restrictions or qualifications. It is you and other pro-choice proponents who are disrespecting the truth expressed in the quote because you can’t simply agree with it without qualifying it. Can you?
Of course, you are free to disagree with that, but if so, then defend your disagreement. Tell me whether or not you agree with Horton and then show me exactly how you think I am twisting his words. Like Horton, I’m all ears.
Dr Suess sued for a reason. That reason was that the quote was used in an anti-abortion campaign. I’m hoping we can both agree on that. Not only was it a copyright breech but Dr Suess’ widow confirmed that he did not agree with anti-abortion beliefs. That is a confirmed, solid piece of fact. He was pro-abortion. You are twisting his words. He believed that a person is a person; not matter how small…but who else would complicate that but anti-abortionists? Do you ever stop and think that he had a reason to sue? Imagine if you dedicated decades of your life to something. Imagine if you worked so hard through so many years- only to have someone take your hard work and have it associated with something you don’t agree with. What if someone took your work and tacked it onto something completely irrelevant to your work? What if I took a section of your book and used it for something you don’t agree with? It’s simple Roger; it’s not fair. He didn’t agree with it. When he said; a person is a person, no matter how small, he meant human beings. Not embryos. Never did he mention a collection of cells. Never did he intend that to refer a sperm and egg that doesn’t even form a human. So why do you still use that quote in question of abortion?
So let’s discuss what you wrote:
No, we can’t agree on that because you’re wrong. Dr Seuss did not sue. He may have threatened to sue, but he never actually did. I believe that if he had tried to sue he would have lost. In the first place, no one owns the truth behind the phrase “A person’s a person no matter how small” and that truth can be expressed by anyone at any time for any reason. In order to win such a lawsuit he would have had to show that the phrase: “A person’s a person no matter how small” is exclusively his intellectual property and I doubt he could have done that since it’s not like he specifically copyrighted the phrase, (as, for example, McDonalds can claim the phrase “I’m Lovin’ it” as their intellectual property) and that the pro-life group’s usage was an intentional usage of that specific intellectual property without his permission. But working against that would be the fair-use doctrine which says that anyone can cite the intellectual property of another as long as they give proper credit. So in short, he would have had a very difficult time trying to sue a pro-life group over the use of the phrase and he likely knew that he could not win such a suit. But the bottom line is that he never sued and the pro-life group removed the phrase from their letterhead and that’s where it ended.
No. It wasn’t a copyright breach. Again, Dr Seuss never copyrighted the phrase: “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Period. No copyright, no copyright breach.
Yes. That much is correct but it has no legal relevance.
Perhaps, but you may be reading too much into it. To say he was “pro-abortion” is a pretty strong assertion and it may be that his widow would disagree with that characterization. But, yes, it certainly does appear that he at least was hostile to the pro-life cause.
No I’m not. Please explain how you think I’m twisting his words. I think you are twisting his words – unless you can agree with Horton without any restrictions, and later in your post you do impose restrictions, so you are the one twisting his words.
No. Again, he did not sue and anti-abortionists are not complicating it, you are. But you said something interesting. In reference to Dr. Seuss, you said: “He believed that a person is a person; not matter how small…” Bingo! Dr. Seuss believed that a person is a person no matter how small. I agree. Do you agree? Yes or no?
It’s not fair? In the first place, “legal” and “fair” are two different things and the latter is far more subjective. In the second place, people quote things all the time they don’t agree with. But here’s the larger problem, Arabella, the phrase that Dr. Seuss wrote and repeatedly has Horton express IS A PRO-LIFE phrase. I can’t help it, it just is. I didn’t write the book, I just agree with it. Now, of course, I can see the dilemma this would create for Dr. Seuss, because obviously he did not think he was writing something that would naturally support a cause he disagrees with. But the fact remains that IT DOES. It’s not my fault it does. It’s not the pro-life movement’s fault. The fault lies in the inherent hypocrisy of promoting the universal truth that a person’s a person no matter how small on the one hand, and then later realizing that that same universal truth conflicts with your own pro-choice agenda.
As far as using material from my book for a cause I disagree with, of course that would not make me happy, but the difference is that the only way you could do that is to actually twist my words. The pro-life movement is not twisting Horton’s words. That’s the problem you (pro-choice proponents) face and it’s not going away.
Okay so now we’re getting somewhere. Now you’re attempting to explain what Dr. Seuss really meant. So there’s a lot going on here. First, let’s talk about what you meant when you said: “he meant human beings. Not embryos.” So let’s grant this for the sake of discussion even though you’re attempting to get inside Dr. Seuss’s head and speak for “what he meant.” Let’s say you’re correct about that. So when would he believe a “human being” begins to exist? When do you believe a “human being” begins to exist? Obviously human embryos are human. They can’t be anything else. Humans can only reproduce other humans. So you obviously think there is some radical difference between a “human being” and a human embryo. What is that radical difference?
Next, you point out that: “When he said; a person is a person, no matter how small, he meant human beings. Not embryos. Never did he mention a collection of cells.” It should also be noted that he also never listed the restrictions you are now attempting to impose. Not once did he have Horton say: A person’s a person no matter how small, except for those persons who are still embryos. He never has Horton suggest that a person’s a person no matter how small, except for the smallest human zygotes. Not once do I see anything like that in the book.
So this is where you start imposing your qualifications on what Horton actually said. You can’t just agree with what Horton says like I do. Instead, you have to restrict it. You have to impose a qualification on it. You’re saying even though Horton clearly and repeatedly says, “A person’s a person no matter how small” (we pro-choice proponents in our great wisdom have decided that) what he really meant was that “a born person’s a person no matter how small.”
So is that what you’re saying? Is birth the key moral dividing line for you? Or is it possible that a person’s a person prior to being born? How small are the smallest persons, in your opinion?
It’s pretty clear that pro-choice proponents are the ones who are twisting Horton’s words by putting restrictions on them. Restrictions that are only imposed because the phrase as repeatedly written conflicts with their political agenda.
At the end of the day, the disgust for abortions is a contradictory approach. What if you broke a bone doing something you shouldn’t? We’ll get you a cast and anything else you need. What if you were speeding and were injured in a car accident? An emergency operation as soon as possible. Smoke tobacco for your entire life and suffer from cancer? Sure. You can have inherently expensive treatments on the off-chance of survival. Have sex and get pregnant but not physically, emotionally or finacially ready to be a parent? YOU GOT YOURSELF INTO THIS MESS A PERSONS A PERSON NO MATTER HOW SMALL DON’T YOU DARE EXPECT US TO HELP. Do you understand how meaningless the ‘a person’s a person no matter how small’ argument is? Why don’t you answer your own question; if a person is a person no matter how small, what about the pregnant woman? At the end of the day, if you don’t like abortions… Don’t get one. Rendering a human right as illegal just because it makes you uncomfortable is ludicrous.
The things you list – breaking a bone doing something you shouldn’t, etc. – illustrate the value of human life. What you’re saying is even if a person does something bad, we as a society still value that person’s life enough to try to save them or make their life comfortable even though they may have gotten themselves into a mess. That shows that human lives are valuable.
The response you list in capital letters to a woman who has become pregnant but is not ready for parenthood is clearly not an appropriate response. People who are genuinely pro-life would not respond the way you suggest they would. Crisis pregnancy centers run by caring pro-life people and financially supported by pro-life people exist to help women who find themselves in just such situations.
But even if that were not the case; even if all pro-life people were as bad as you make them sound, that would still not make Horton’s motto meaningless. That would not be grounds for inserting an “except” into the phrase as, for example: “A person’s a person no matter how small, except when pro-life people behave badly.”
Her life is as valuable as the child she carries. She should be cared for, ideally by her parents or boyfriend or husband. If that is not possible, there are pro-life organizations who are willing to offer care and support. There’s no disagreement that unwanted pregnancy is a problem. The pro-life solution to that problem is to care for both the mother and her unborn child. The pro-choice response is to kill the child in order to relieve the mother. That’s what’s ludicrous.
By the way, I know you’re Bellka. I’m going to allow your posts as “Arabella” as long as you keep your comments respectful.
That’s not fair. You don’t honestly, truly value a womans life if you force her to go through with something that she doesn’t want to. To question the right to her body is not value of life. To exhaust her physically, mentally, finacially, morally and socially is not a value of life. Why should she have to turn to a clinic? Because you say so and abortion makes you uncomfortable? Because you favour a cluster of cells over a fully grown woman who may not be mentally or physically capable of pregnancy? Abortion can help control over-population. It can save a woman a lifetime of emotional and mental problems. It severely decreases the chance of medical complications stemming from illegal abortion. Banning abortion does the exact opposite for each of those situations. I’m not Bellka. I’m her friend. She’s hurt by what you said about her friend. Very much so.
It’s not a question of me (or the pro-life movement) forcing anyone to do things they don’t want to do. You would agree – I assume – that mothers and fathers of born children have an obligation to care for, nourish and hopefully love their children whether they want to or not, correct?
Your argument, as you state it, is based on the (unsubstantiated) assumption that your view on human development (which, ironically, is based on ignorance) is the correct view. Despite the prevalence of pro-choice propaganda that attempts to define itself as tolerant, open-minded and inclusive, there is a deep-seated arrogance and intolerance built into this type of mentality.
Case in point, you wrote:
This is the key point. Here’s the thing, Arabella: If you’re correct that an unborn human is really nothing more than “a cluster of cells” then, of course, you win. If you are correct about that, then pro-choice ideology is valid while pro-life philosophy would impose unnecessary burdens on women who are already dealing with the heavy burdens of unwanted pregnancy.
The problem is you’re not correct about that. In fact you’re not even close to being correct. But you don’t want to hear that. In fact, based on our conversation so far, it’s clear that you don’t even want to grapple with the question. I’ve asked you several times whether or not you agree with Dr. Seuss and Horton and you don’t answer and instead change the subject.
Are you interested in getting to the truth – whatever that may be – or are you just looking to defend pro-choice ideology no matter what? You need to be mature enough to look at reality as it actually is, not as Planned Parenthood defines it for you. Based on what you’ve stated so far, I don’t think you’re willing to do that.
If you’re open to getting to the truth, please answer this simple question: When did you begin to exist?
And you had the nerve to block my friend for defending herself. A few comments ago you told her that there was practically no chance that her friend was shamed outside of an abortion clinic. Because- and I quote- “This last one, by the way, is what really makes me doubt your story. Most pro-life people are compassionate people – in fact all the ones I know are – and they would never ridicule or humiliate a mother who is going inside an abortion clinic”. Yet here you are; calling me uneducated and ignorant. That is exactly what my friend was talking about. THAT EXACTLY. Why do you have to be so rude? You really don’t have any remorse for other humans. That is all that is evident here. You’ve relentlessly insulted everyone on this forum and it’s horrible.
No I didn’t. I blocked her/you for being rude, insulting, disrespectful, using profanity (which I blocked) and ignoring my questions and warnings.
No. That is a complete mischaracterization. I said that I doubted your story and I still do. In fact your most recent posts have shown that my doubts are warranted. That is not to say that there is no truth to your story. I don’t know you. I don’t know how much of what you stated is true and how much is exaggerated. That is just a fact.
No, I never called you uneducated and ignorant. I don’t know you, so I do not know your level of education, nor would I find that terribly important or relevant. With regard to the comment I made that included the words “based on ignorance,” read carefully and you’ll see that I was not referring to you. I was instead referring to the pro-choice philosophy you are attempting to defend – which is indeed based on ignorance: ie. “we don’t know when human life begins and people disagree about it, therefore abortion should be legal.” This is extremely poor reasoning and it can survive only so long as it perpetuates the notion of widespread ignorance about the beginning of human life (when in fact, we do know when human life begins and can even repeatedly observe it). What is becoming evident Arabella/Bellka is that you may not be mature enough to comprehend what I’m actually writing which then leads you to react negatively to things I haven’t actually stated.
Please at least attempt to answer this question: When did you begin to exist?
It’s clear from your most recent posts, including the last one which I am not allowing, that you (like Bellka, oddly enough) only want to disrupt the conversation here. Obviously you didn’t read my last response to you since you are still claiming I called you ignorant when I already explained that I did not and it’s clear to anyone who reads my post that I did not.
(It should be noted that the reverse is not true since you/Bellka have insulted me personally several times now. Sadly, I have found this to be typical of the tactics used by pro-choice proponents in online discussions. You dish out personal attacks and then claim that you are being attacked personally when you’re not. I’ve made it clear that I’m challenging your pro-choice ideology, not you, but you ignore that and pretend you’re the victim. It’s a juvenile, diversionary tactic resorted to when the topic is not favorable to pro-choice ideology and I simply won’t allow it to play out here). You will not be allowed to post any additional comments until you stay on topic and answer the following question:
When did you begin to exist?
If you want to have a meaningful conversation, answer the question and the discussion can continue.
So far Arabella has failed to answer my simple question:
When did you begin to exist?
It would be a pleasant surprise if I’m wrong but I predict she won’t attempt to answer. Consider the potential thought processes involved:
– I know I exist now because I’m responding to a pro-life loser’s blog
– I know there was a time that I did not exist (despite Sarah Weddington’s suggestion that we should view life as existing on a continuum)
– If I exist now but did not exist at some earlier point in time, then there must have been a time when I actually began to exist… so when was that point?
– If I answer “I don’t know” that will be an admission that Roger is right about my position being based on ignorance, so I can’t answer “I don’t know”
– If I can’t answer “I don’t know” that must mean I do know the answer
– So why don’t I?
The problem is that Arabella cannot appeal to ignorance and cannot simply objectively examine what science has observed about the beginning of human life to come up with a rational and definitive answer. She knows the answer will conflict in one way or another with her desire to be pro-choice.
In addition to the dilemma she’s brought on herself by overreacting to the words “based on ignorance” she’s also eliminated any appeal to ignorance by definitively stating that what is killed by abortion is just “a cluster of cells.” If she considers the consequences of that assertion she realizes she’s effectively eliminated the ignorance defense appealed to by Justice Blackmun in Roe v. Wade.
From a purely logical standpoint, Justice Blackmun’s reasoning was no better than Arabella’s since it basically said: People disagree about when human life begins, so we men in black declare it’s okay to kill living human fetuses because a group of women want abortion to be legal. While Blackmun’s declaration made no logical sense, it certainly made political sense. Arabella, however, has now removed Blackmun’s appeal to ignorance by asserting as fact that the fetus killed by abortion is just “a cluster of cells.”
I often wonder if pro-choice proponents are naturally born masters of understatement or whether it’s a skill they actively develop to perfection. Describing the unborn human who is about to be killed by abortion as merely “a cluster of cells” is something like calling a modern aircraft carrier a collection of nuts and bolts.
Arabella states as fact what Justice Blackmun only hinted at and in doing so has eliminated “I don’t know” as a possible answer to my question. So, her possible thought processes continue…
– Since I’ve already suggested that a fetus that is about to be killed by abortion is just a cluster of cells, that must mean that I had not begun to exist at the time most abortions are performed. And if that’s the case, then it would have been morally acceptable for my mother to have killed me through abortion – because I wouldn’t have existed yet – but that doesn’t seem right because the living body she would have hired an abortionist to kill would have been the same living body I’m existing in now just in a much smaller and less developed state.
– What to do?
– Ignore the question.
Sometimes, we make a point we don’t intend to.
Dr. Seuss, however unintentionally, made a very powerful point. To say, “Well, he didn’t intend to!” (which seems to be the entire argument against there being a pro-life message in Horton Hears a Who) is merely an excuse to hide from the repercussions of a message rather than actually deal with the issues it raises.
Let’s flip it around. Let’s say that a beloved author (or theologian, or a politician, or an actor) gave a speech or created a work unrelated to the abortion issue, and in the process, inadvertently crafted a compelling argument *for* abortion. Would the same people decrying the usage of Horton Hears a Who as a pro-life argument remain consistent and say, “Hmm, it wasn’t the intended message, so we should ignore it, lest we disrespect the person.”
Of course not. Nor would I even expect them to discard a compelling argument merely because it was unintended by the originator! Only the people with something to lose in the discussion would deny the overall point by asserting that a work can be no more than the intent of the author. The thought that the beloved Dr. Seuss’s philosophy may have been more far-reaching in application than his intent is an uncomfortable one for pro-choice Seuss fans.
I’m not sure what to say to the Geisels. Dr. Seuss made a wonderful argument against abortion. We can’t ignore it just because he didn’t intend it. It’s already out there.
Excellent points Chuck! Thanks for responding. If a pro-life writer had written a book with a repeated catch-phrase that unintentionally supported the pro-choice cause, they would be proclaiming it from the mountain tops. The thing is, I can’t envision how that could happen. At least not without being twisted out of context. That, of course, is what pc proponents wish we were attempting to do with Horton, but it’s simply not the case. We pro-life proponents are the ones who are using the quote in context with no qualifications and in the spirit in which it was written. We accept and agree with the phrase exactly as it was written and for exactly the same reason. And that reason, as Laura wrote earlier on this thread, is that: “every life is equal to another.”
Look at that! There’s another example of a pro-choice person making a statement that unintentionally supports the pro-life cause! And how did that happen? It happened when Laura attempted to sum up what the Horton book is about! And she’s right! She summed it up well: Every life is equal to another. That’s the pro-life message in a nutshell. If Laura takes the time to stop and think about it, she might realize she’s pro-life.
Another problem for the pro-choice crowd is that the phrase: “A person’s a person, no matter how small” has universal appeal because it’s a universal truth. That’s the very basis for the Horton book. It’s a given that a person’s a person, no matter how small. Who can argue with it? How could anyone rationally attempt to qualify that statement? A person’s a person no matter how small…. except…. ?
No. There’s no exceptions, but pro-choice proponents need there to be. They need the phrase to be modified to something like: “A person’s a person no matter how small, except below a certain intentionally undefined threshold. And it’s intentionally undefined because if pro-choice proponents defined it, it would not only reveal the fact that they can’t agree among themselves (because not all of them would agree just like they don’t now), but, they’d also then be forced to defend a specific definite point in which they claim a person does not exist as a person. They know that’s a losing argument and that’s why you don’t see any pc proponents attempting to do that.
Interestingly enough, abortion was illegal in the United States when Horton Hears a Who was published (1954) and the vast majority of the country believed that was a good thing. I suspect Dr. Seuss himself may even have fallen into that category at the time.
Speaking about Dr. Seuss unintentionally writing a book with a pro-life message, re-watching the Horton video reveals that the parallels don’t stop with the small person motto. Interestingly enough, the skeptics (those who don’t believe Horton when he tells them he’s actually talking to a person on the dust spec) are all female. Quite ironic! In the Horton video it’s the females who are skeptical of Horton’s alleged conversations with tiny persons and – lending further irony – they are the ones who seem to be deeply threatened by it. After all, even if Horton believes he’s conversing with tiny people who don’t really exist, what harm does that do to them?
After convincing themselves that Horton is delusional – after all, how could life possibly exist on such a small scale – they enlist the services of three males, the Wickersham brothers, who are tasked with “properly disposing of” the dust spec in order to save their children from Horton’s attempted “brainwashing” with “gobble-de-gook.” Their accusations suggest that Horton is trying to “stir up discontent,” “seize the reigns of government,” and “kill free enterprise.” (Reminiscent of today’s pc rhetoric?) They steal the dust spec and leave Horton with the admonition that “there’ll be no more talking to Who’s who are not.”
What an eerie parallel to a group of women led by Sarah Weddington enlisting the services of seven male Supreme Court justices who would do their bidding by twisting the Constitution in order to facilitate their desire to “dispose of” unwanted pregnancies.
At the end of the Horton story the Who’s are admonished by Horton to “make themselves heard” to the skeptics who want to destroy them. Unfortunately unborn babies have no means of making themselves heard, but they can and do make themselves known by moving in their mother’s womb. Science and technology have also helped in recent years with ultra-sound images that clearly show the developing child quite active in the womb.
The video ends with the song: “Be Kind to Your Small Person Friends” and Horton is paraded as a hero. Unfortunately in the real world of 2015 those of us who attempt to demonstrate the humanity and extol the value of our small unborn friends are, like Horton (until the happy ending), often labelled “stupid,” “religious nutjobs,” “busybodies,” and “wingnuts” – all terms used by pro-choice proponents on this very thread.
Horton Hears a Who is apparently more metaphorical and prophetic than even Dr. Seuss realized.
I came across your blog post a while back while looking for info on the Dr. Suess controversy while in discussion with pro-abortion choice advocates in a group I follow. Thank you for a very well written, witty, and cogent response to those who clearly want to make Horton say something other than what he says. I enjoyed your blog post so much I recently purchased your book and am enjoying reading your break down of the Roe v. Wade case. You take what could be a very cumbersome case and make it very readable and enjoyable. I also have enjoyed reading your responses to comments from pro-abortion choice advocates on this blog post.
Anyway I just wanted to drop a line and say great work, and thank you! Pro-life people always trying to keep it real! 🙂
Thanks Duane! Appreciate the kind words! Yeah the whole PC response to the Horton/Seuss dichotomy is fascinating.
Roger, feel free to gestate every pregnancy that takes place in your body. Don’t have a uterus? Then the decision whether to gestate is up to the person who is actually pregnant. See how that works?
Hello again, Amalthea! Nice of you to rejoin the conversation.
No, actually, I don’t see how that works because the logic is flawed. But before I explain why, it should be noted that this is the third time you’ve popped in on this discussion without dealing with the topic at hand and instead have attempted to steer the conversation in a different direction. The typical reason people do that is because they realize they’re on the losing side of an argument and hope to redirect attention to something else they think will work better. That’s obviously what you’re attempting to do.
In your first attempt, you suggested that nobody makes decisions over your body except you. In response, I asked a specific question to get you to clarify your position and you ignored the question.
In your next attempt, you shifted to the argument that millions of embryos fail to implant naturally. I explained why that argument doesn’t work and you never responded. Now you’re back to the “my body is mine” approach, even though it didn’t work the first time.
So before I respond to that, it should be noted that in all three of your posts, you’ve completely ignored THE topic of this thread, which is the idea expressed by Horton that: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Your silence on the real issue combined with your attempts to divert the topic to something else demonstrate that you don’t have a real answer that can be rationally defended. Am I wrong about that? Prove it by answering this question:
When did you, Amalthea, begin to exist?
Do you have the courage to attempt to answer that question? Until you do, it is clear that you’re not interested in a real, genuine dialogue, in which we both come to better understand each other’s position on a controversial issue; but instead, you just hope to make points for the pro-choice cause any way you possibly can and all the better if you can attack pro-life proponents in the process.
As I mentioned, the issue you’re trying to avoid is the question of the value of human life and the question of when human life begins. You would rather avoid those questions and focus on what you want: namely the moral freedom to choose abortion. (I suggest you want the moral freedom to choose abortion because you already have the legal freedom to do so). In order to support your desire you suggest that: “the decision whether to gestate is up to the person who is actually pregnant.”
Here’s why that doesn’t work. Suppose I am the owner of an old, deteriorating building in downtown Detroit and I want to destroy the building and put up a multi-million dollar apartment complex. I contact a demolition crew and make arrangements for them to blow-up the building next week. In the meantime, some of my employees tell me they’ve heard rumors from the church-goers across the street that a homeless woman has taken up residence inside my deteriorating building, despite the numerous “No Trespassing” signs I’ve plastered all over the building.
What do I do? No problem! Using your logic, I simply reason that: This is MY building. NOBODY makes decisions over my building except me! I’ve fulfilled my moral obligation by posting “No Trespassing” signs so anyone living there is unwelcome. Besides, how do I know if a homeless woman is really living there anyway? It’s just rumors, after all, and people disagree about rumors. They probably just think a homeless woman is living there! But I doubt it because, after all, they’re just a bunch of religious numbnuts anyway. It’s probably just a squirrel or something.
Resting comfortably on this logic I give the go-ahead to the demolition crew to destroy the building.
The problem with your logic, Amalthea – as the analogy clearly illustrates – is that you’re attempting to avoid the REAL moral question by focusing on a different but far less morally significant issue. Of course, if there’s really no living human who is losing her life in the process, then your argument has force. But you haven’t even come close to proving that. On the contrary, just like in the analogy, you’d rather avoid the question!
I think we can agree on this much: Even though I alone am the sole owner of the building, I am still morally obligated NOT to destroy it until I am SURE beyond any reasonable doubt that there are no living humans inside.
UNTIL YOU (because you’re the one who wants the moral freedom to choose abortion) can demonstrate that what you want (the moral freedom to choose abortion) does NOT result in the death of a living human, your “body is mine” argument doesn’t work. The only way to make it work is to deal with the very issue you’re trying to avoid.
I think this post is kind of old and probably nobody has commented for over a year, but I really wanted to respond to your point of view Roger (and to some not so polite comments). I am actually pro-life, but I’m aware that the abortion debate is really complex. I live in a country where it is absolutely illegal to abort, and sometimes young girls and women who have spontaneous abortions are unfairly sent to jail. Also, rapists have shorter prison time than women who abort (even if they were raped). I’ve read several comments with the “no uterus, no opinion” argument, but where this people live it’s actually legal (they mention abortion clinics). I have grown in a society where the teenagers accused of abortion (even if it was spontaneous) are called sluts, provocative, and other really ugly words in Spanish.
I am not “pro-choice” because then many people might say “oh, but I just didn’t want a kid right now” or similar stuff, and abort. And that is taking away life that isn’t yours. I even read a comment that implied that a fetus was a parasite! How can someone dare to say that!
I think that there must be a balance, and that laws (in this case anti abortion laws) must protect people, not harm them.
Thanks for your comments. Yes, the abortion debate can be complex because it raises deep moral questions, many of which seem to be unique due to the fact that one human being is developing inside the body of another.
You write that abortion is illegal in the country you live in and that:
I’m not sure which country you’re referring to, but clearly the situation you describe is unjust. No pro-life advocate wants women to go to jail for having a spontaneous abortion and I doubt that that was the intention of the legislators who enacted your country’s anti-abortion laws. It’s a little like sending someone to jail for getting sick. Laws are typically enacted to control or prohibit voluntary actions rather than involuntary actions. Cases are often dismissed or sentences reduced when it is established that the illegal activity was the result of an involuntary action. One of the more exotic defenses – that has actually worked in a court of law – is sleepwalking.
Along the same lines, most pro-life proponents in the United States are not in favor of punishing women for having an abortion – even if abortion were again to become illegal. Of course, the idea behind any law is that there must be some sort of punishment for breaking the law, however, there are other means of punishment besides sending someone to jail. Most pro-life advocates have compassion for women who are desperate enough to have an abortion. We recognize that most abortions are not the result of a casual decision on the mother’s part – although some may be. But the notion of sending a woman to jail for having an abortion just doesn’t seem right to most people and that includes most pro-life people. Instead, most of us can agree – I think – that the force of the law should come down on the people who perform illegal abortions.
You also mention that you live in a society:
I’m sorry to hear that. Again, this is clearly something that should not happen. To me, what this demonstrates is not that anti-abortion laws are flawed, but rather that people in general are capable of very bad behavior regardless of the law. Do you think the attitude of these people would change if abortion suddenly became legal? I doubt it. In other words, I doubt if the law is responsible for some people’s bad behavior. But even if it could be established that there is a direct correlation between anti-abortion laws in your country and people who call women who abort ugly names, is that a good reason to liberalize the law? Or is the more important question still whether or not abortion kills a living human being?
Think of it this way: If it could be established that laws against child abuse cause some people to call child abusers bad names, would that be a good reason to get rid of the laws against child abuse? How about if we include people who are unjustly accused of child abuse? Should we get rid of laws against child abuse because some people are unjustly accused of child abuse? The answer, of course, is obvious. No. We agree that there should be a law against child abuse regardless of whether it causes some people to call child abusers bad names because child abuse is a severe injustice to the victim. Similarly, when considering abortion, the more important question is whether abortion is a severe injustice to the victim – the unborn child. I am convinced that it is.
You clearly understand that when you inform us that you are not pro-choice because:
You’ve hit the nail on the head there. Induced abortion is taking away the life of another human being. This is why it is a severe injustice and that is precisely why there should be laws against it. We have laws against child abuse because child abuse is a severe injustice to the victim. We wouldn’t get rid of child abuse laws even if they unintentionally caused some people to call child abusers bad names. And we wouldn’t get rid of child abuse laws even if they unintentionally resulted in some people going to jail when, in reality, the child merely slipped and fell. We would say that the person who went to jail in that case was also treated unfairly, but it wouldn’t make the injustice that the law was intended to prevent magically disappear if we decided to get rid of laws against it.
Either abortion is an injustice to the child in the womb, or it isn’t. There’s no middle ground. And it doesn’t cease to be an injustice if laws against it unintentionally cause people to commit further injustices. Because removing anti-abortion laws doesn’t remove the injustice of induced abortion whether or not it removes any additional related or unrelated injustices, real or perceived, the question comes down to: which injustice is worse? And again, the answer to that question hinges on whether or not induced abortion takes the life of a living human being. I am convinced that it does.
You close with this sentence:
What changes would you propose to make that a reality?
Again, thanks for your comments.
Hello again. Since you wrote a couple of really meaningful paragraphs, I’m going to make clear some things I didn’t mention before. I live in El Salvador, Central America. Under the anti abortion law here, women found guilty are processed with the charge of murder and they get 8 to 10 years in jail.
One of the problems here with law is impunity and legalism. Many people who commit awful crimes get away with it, and many people who commit a crime like a poor starving man who steals a loaf of bread, get into jail. It happens with the anti abortion laws too. Many women who have economic resources have illegal (but safe) abortions inside the country and are not imprisoned. Poor women who go to clandestine abortion clinics might die. Or the case I mentioned before, spontaneous abortions are taken as voluntary ones. I have even heard of women whose children are born but die within hours, and the doctors at national hospitals ask them (not nicely), if they deliberately did anything during pregnancy to kill the baby. But this doesn’t happen at private hospitals. This is why it is a social and legal problem in El Salvador. And I agree with you in something you mentioned: laws are not flawed, but the people who apply them are.
About the fact that women who abort are called “ugly names”, (trust me, in Spanish there are too many ugly names) it wouldn’t be minimized if abortion is legalized. You are totally right. It is more about the sexist society. Even women who are raped are questioned: “why do you wear short skirts/too much cleavage?”, “why do you go out so late?”, etc. Men who say these things actually mean “doing those things gives men the right to rape you”, or “you were asking for it”. And when women protest about it (sometimes in peaceful marches or violent riots, such as a recent one in Argentina), these same men call them “feminazis” (feminist=nazi), which is even more offensive.
Getting back to the abortion topic, this is extremely controversial in El Salvador. Debating about it is setting a boling pot full of hate and ignorance to the maximum temperature. It involves too many problems: an awful healthcare system, the social problem of classes, an unfair legal system, the sexist society, the terrible foster system, etc.
However, there are some things everyone can do that make a difference. Everyone, men and women alike, should stop using sexist phrases and the ugly words, because all these “micromachismos” fuel the disrespect against women that is followed by sexual violence. This also includes teaching kids about gender equality, because the new generations will build a better society.
Legislators should punish rapists severely, instead of automatically sending women who aborted to prison (not knowing if it was voluntary or not). Finally, we should all respect each other. We all have different points of view. If you tell me you are pro life and I say “you son of a… nobody needs your opinion, you are a man, etc….” or if you tell me you are pro choice and I say “murderer, women who do that are **…, etc”, I am just spreading hate. We also should respect the unborn’s life as much as his/her mother’s life and integrity. In the case of my country, I include improving the healthcare system.
Sorry, I forgot to say that I really liked your post. I knew about Dr. Seuss because of the movies about his books, but I didn’t know about this whole Horton accidentally pro life quote. It’s funny how it turned out. I don’t get why some people get so angry at this. Anyways, it is a brilliant quote for pro life advocates.
Pro-birth. Pro-life implies you give a hoot what happens afterwards.
Pro-live-birth. Your suggestion raises the question of whether you care what happens to the human in the womb before birth.
Hi, Your original post is over 3 years old now. I have read about half of this thread into only about 2014 before giving up. I appreciate your respectful defence, and logical argument. I just finished watching the 1970 cartoon version of Horton Hears a Who, and heard the phrase ‘A person’s…. small’ and immediately associated it with the plight of the unborn. I googled. I found that, of course, pro-lifers have already thought to use the phrase. I find your patient responses to your critics here admirable. Take care.
Thank you, Jeremy! I appreciate the kind words. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that none of the pro-choice commenters here have disagreed that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
All the best & Merry Christmas!
This is ridiculously flawed. The story was Geisel’s allegory on American treatment of the Japanese during Hiroshima and post war. Your arguement is so lacking as all you can conclude with each example is ‘we’re only accepting this quote for its truth value do what’s the problem?’
What’s ridiculously flawed is ignoring the clear moral message of a repeated Maxim in a children’s book because it conflicts with current pro-choice ideology.
Prove me wrong by answering the following question:
When do persons begin to exist?
A web search brought me here. After reading “Horton hears a who” – to a child i might add. The message did come across to me as pro life – especially considering Horton’s friends were so insistent that the flower he was holding was not life and this became the subject of constant conflict throughout the story. Which is basically the conflict i’m familiar with as a pro life advocate.
After reading your article i wanted to say i was surprised how Dr Seuss reacted to inadvertently validating an already established pro life mantra and tried to stop the term being used. Also i notice the irony that the comment section seems to mirror the story also, In that you are defending a persons a person no matter how small when so many disagree.
All the best.
Thanks for your comments. That’s an interesting observation! You’re right, Horton and I share the same message and we’re defending the same concept against skeptics who disagree. The problem (for them) is that it’s really hard to argue against the notion that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” How could pro-choice proponents formulate a rational challenge to that notion? A person’s a person except when they’re smaller than… ?
When they start to think about how to challenge it, they are then forced to consider what it is that makes a person a person and honestly grapple with the question of when persons begin to exist. But they don’t want to find an answer to that question because it threatens the very foundation of pro-choice ideology. Either instinctively or intellectually they come to realize that it is not in their best interest to honestly deal with the question. If it turns out that a definite answer exists, that would then negate the whole concept of being “pro-choice.” Women would no longer get to “choose” whether abortion is morally right for them or not because there would be a definite answer one way or the other. As I pointed out to Belka, pro-choice ideology is built on ignorance. It’s very existence depends on not being able to determine when a “person” begins to exist. Horton’s philosophy is a direct challenge to that.
Given that, I agree, it is surprising to learn that Dr. Seuss was hostile to the pro-life agenda, especially in light of how clearly pro-life the phrase “a person’s a person, no matter how small” is. I don’t know how anyone can derive pro-choice ideology out of that phrase. In fact it’s so pro-life that pro-choice proponents generally avoid a direct challenge in favor of steering around it by suggesting that, despite all indications, the message of the book is really a deep allegory about an injustice of World War II. I guarantee you no child who reads the Horton book comes to the conclusion that it has anything to do with World War II or Hiroshima (unless he or she was coached to so conclude). Let’s just state the obvious: Dr. Seuss wrote children’s books and the Horton book is a classic children’s book with a moral message about the value of human life that any child can easily grasp. If there’s some underlying allegorical message hidden between the lines, it is precisely that: hidden. On the contrary, any child who reads the book understands what Horton means when he says “a person’s a person, no matter how small” and because that is so, Horton’s efforts to save the tiny persons from destruction not only make sense but are rightly viewed as heroic.
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I appreciate your well reasoned and respectful engagement of other commenters.
I believe a great many people jumping in here with ‘but it’s actually just an allegory for WWII’ need to read their Tolkien, particularly his introduction to the Fellowship of the Ring. Allegory has a very restrictive meaning and a one to one ratio of most, if not all the elements of the story. If it is an allegory, then who (or what) does Horton represent, who/what do the Kangeroos represent, the Wickersham Brothers, Vlad Vlad-i-koff, the Mayor, Jo-Jo, the Jungle of Nool, the Beezelnut Stew, the great racket making to make themselves heard etc. If it is an allegory, it isn’t a very good one because it’s not so obvious what it represents from the text itself (unlike, perhaps Swiftian satire and parodies of politicians in Gulliver’s Travels.) One would have to read in any WWII connections, rather than draw out from the words on the page: eisegete rather than exegete.
Whereas, Horton Hears a Who as a children’s story is not allegorical but applicable. There are themes of universal truths in a great many of his works (Sola Solew is a great one) and these are applicable to a great many situations: WWII, pro-life, the oppressed and the down-trodden, etc. And it’s the applicability that pro-lifers are latching onto and rightly so.
Seuss may very well have been inspired by WWII to write what he wrote. Very likely, but an influence of a work does not at all restrict the meaning of the work. I don’t go so far as the Death of the Author in interpreting literature, but I think there can be a wide disceprency between what one intended to write and what actually appeared on the page: intention vs execution. (This is most easily seen in movies that are so poorly executed that they are unintentionally funny- what a story creator intends, may not be what results.) The same applies to Horton. Dr Seuss most likely never foresaw that by tapping into a universal truth that “a person is a person, no matter how small” would have such a wide applicability to things he personally disagreed with, such as the pro-life movement. Nonetheless, because he tapped into a universal truth, he stumbled upon something bigger than what he intended. But that’s the nature of applicability. allegory is the “purposed domination of the author”, while applicability “resides in the freedom of the reader”.
Thanks for your comments! Very well put! I agree with everything you stated. It’s interesting to me that this post has generated – and continues to generate – responses from both sides of the abortion controversy.
You suggest that Dr. Seuss “stumbled upon something bigger than what he intended” when he had Horton express the universal truth that “a person’s a person no matter how small.” I couldn’t agree more. And that’s a problem for modern pro-choice proponents as evidenced by the weak and evasive reasoning by those of them who’ve commented on this thread. No doubt it never occurred to Theodore Geisel at the time he repeatedly put pro-life words in Horton’s mouth that those same words would so dramatically work against his own liberal views in the future. Abortion, after all, was quite illegal in every state at the time Dr. Seuss wrote the Horton book. Moreover, there was no widespread controversy over abortion at the time. It was widely thought of as a moral evil. Times have changed but the universal truth expressed by Horton remains. Hence the problem.
In his book “A Defense of Abortion” David Boonin goes to incredible, hair-splitting lengths in an attempt to explain why he believes a person is not a person when he or she is extremely small. This, of course, is my simplified description of what is actually a very complex, and (although I strongly disagree with him) I must say, very well thought-out argument made by Boonin. Like me, Boonin rejects the personhood standard entirely – and he does so for the same reason I do: its inherent ambiguity. For Boonin (and myself) personhood is not the proper standard on which the abortion controversy should turn. Instead he spends a significant amount of time explaining why he believes it’s morally acceptable to kill unborn humans (at least up to a certain but unspecified point) regardless of whether or not they are considered “persons”. This allows him to avoid Horton’s universal truth. But the vast majority of pro-choice proponents have not and do not wish to engage the discussion on such a level. It’s much easier to stick with elementary tried and true pro-choice mantras like those expressed on this thread, than to actually attempt to make a rational case against the universal truth that “a person’s a person no matter how small.”
Until someone of the caliber of Boonin responds to this thread, we will likely continue to see weak and evasive responses from the pro-choice proponents who choose to respond.
You’ve clearly and eloquently demonstrated why the “allegory” tactic doesn’t work when considering the Horton book in light of the abortion controversy. But if that argument is rejected, then what do they have to fall back on?
If you’re pro-choice and you wish to genuinely engage the question of personhood as it pertains to the abortion debate, I believe, like Boonin, you’ll eventually come to realize that the whole notion of hinging the morality of abortion on the concept of “personhood” is faulty if not downright disingenuous. But the ambiguity of “personhood” is precisely what Roe v. Wade – and for that matter the entire pro-choice movement – is built on. And intentionally so.
For the average, unsophisticated pro-choice proponent who simply desires a safe, legal means of eliminating unwanted pregnancies, the personhood standard established by Roe v. Wade must be defended. In simple terms, what that means is that truth is relative: each woman must have the freedom to decide for herself when “persons” come to exist. And to effectively do this she must disregard the universal truth Dr. Seuss stumbled onto in the 1950’s.
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I can only assume you don’t understand the implications of what you’re saying.
If you wrote a book saying, “my body is my body, not your choice” or some specific line that’s easily recognizable, do you REALLY think you could not sue, if your opposing nemesis skewed it to mean they were right and you were wrong?
“A person’s a person, no matter how small” does not apply to a clump of cells, or even a half formed conglomeration of a fetus. This is not a PERSON. and it’s certainly not your business what others do. Blows my mind every time you people think it’s your business in any way.
Go save the unwanted kids with no one to love them. Once you save them, THEN vouch for more kids on an overcrowded planet.
Hi Heather. Thanks for your comments.
“I can only assume you don’t understand the implications of what you’re saying.
If you wrote a book saying, “my body is my body, not your choice” or some specific line that’s easily recognizable, do you REALLY think you could not sue, if your opposing nemesis skewed it to mean they were right and you were wrong?”
Correct. I could not sue. What you have described is a simple disagreement. It doesn’t matter whether the line in question is “easily recognizable” or not. People disagree over things all the time. People also mischaracterize, trivialize, downplay, ridicule, skew, etc. opposing arguments all the time. In fact several pro-choice proponents have done that to my arguments on this very thread. While I am free to complain about it or argue back, the mere fact that they have skewed my arguments doesn’t give me the right to sue them. I can’t sue people merely because they disagree with me and I can’t even sue people who skew or otherwise mischaracterize my arguments. That is simply freedom of speech.
But in this case, your analogy is even more flawed because the only ones actually doing any skewing in this conversation are pro-choice proponents. As I’ve pointed out several times I am not skewing Horton’s phrase; pro-choice proponents are. Here is a simple way we can test for who is telling the truth about this…
This is Horton’s phrase: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
I whole-heartedly, unequivocally, 100% agree with that phrase exactly as stated by Horton with no restrictions or qualifications. Can you say the same thing? Yes or no? Your subsequent arguments suggest you can’t.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small” does not apply to a clump of cells, or even a half formed conglomeration of a fetus. This is not a PERSON. and it’s certainly not your business what others do. Blows my mind every time you people think it’s your business in any way.
You are now venturing into what could be a productive discussion. Let’s see where it leads.
First, you suggest that, “‘A person’s a person, no matter how small’ does not apply to a clump of cells.” So there’s the first restriction you’re arbitrarily imposing on Horton’s logic simply because you want to be pro-choice on abortion. Horton says: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” He expresses this assertion as though it were a universal truth. You respond with a restriction on Horton’s universal truth: Sorry, Horton, that doesn’t apply to small humans. Yet, I assume you must agree that at SOME point, Horton’s logic DOES begin to apply. So please educate Horton and me. According to pro-choice reasoning, at what specific point in the development of humans does Horton’s logic begin to apply, and why?
This is not a PERSON. and it’s certainly not your business what others do. Blows my mind every time you people think it’s your business in any way.
For the sake of discussion, let’s indulge your suggestion that a fetus is not a person. My followup questions to that are: When did you become a person? And what morally significant characteristics did you acquire at the onset of your personhood that you previously lacked? These aren’t meant to be rhetorical questions. Please do your best to answer them. Thanks!
I argue in my book that the debate over “personhood” is illegitimate. It was introduced by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade because it facilitates pro-choice logic which is what the court wanted to adopt. Your argument here is a clear example of that facilitation in action. If the discussion centers on whether or not a fetus is a “person” or a “person in the whole sense” then pro-choice logic can morally proceed as follows: “You think a fetus is a person? Fine, don’t have an abortion. But don’t try to impose that belief on pregnant women who are seeking abortions.” Centering the argument around “personhood” or lack thereof, is effective for pro-choice logic because the term “person” is inherently ambiguous and that ambiguity is useful if you want to be pro-choice.
But semantic games don’t change reality. The fact that you passionately assert that a fetus is not a person, does not change reality. The reality is human life begins at conception. Period. There is no ambiguity about that, it is an established biological fact. When a living human becomes a “person” as defined and arbitrarily qualified by pro-choice proponents is completely morally irrelevant. All that is morally relevant is whether it is ever acceptable to kill a living human and, if so, under what circumstances is it morally acceptable.
“This is not a PERSON. and it’s certainly not your business what others do. Blows my mind every time you people think it’s your business in any way.
Go save the unwanted kids with no one to love them. Once you save them, THEN vouch for more kids on an overcrowded planet.”
Your suggestion that it’s none of our (pro-life proponents) business “what others do” is not only fallacious, it’s also insensitive and callous. It is an example of the type of argument that pre-supposes itself to be correct and then condemns those who disagree without ever establishing it’s own correctness. It would be like a 19th century slave owner making the following argument: “It’s none of your business what I do with my slaves. There are plenty of needy white people you can defend before you condemn me for exercising my legal right to own slaves.”
The fact that it was legal did not make slavery morally acceptable. The fact that the slave owner could justify his actions by pretending that black humans were not persons in the whole sense did not change reality. Slavery was a huge injustice perpetrated on humans who did nothing to deserve it. In short, slavery was a moral evil.
In a similar fashion, abortion is a huge injustice perpetrated on the most vulnerable humans who have done nothing to deserve it. And in most cases, it is a moral evil. Passionately asserting that fetuses are not persons does nothing to change that reality.
Wow, this thread is incredible. Thank you for your insightful defense of the dignity and rights of the unborn and discussion of Horton Hears a Who.
Have you ever watched the musical based on Horton Hears a Who, Gertrude McFuzz, and Horton Hatches the Egg, Seussical? The themes of each of these Dr Seuss books mixed together celebrate the “a person’s a person” theme beautifully! I have a performing arts blog and I’m thinking about writing an article similar to yours but about the musical as a whole. Would it be okay if I reference your post? (I’ll certainly link back to this post!)
Yes, feel free to reference this blog. No I haven’t ever seen the musical you mentioned but it sounds interesting.
I’m European, so the abortion debate has been settled here for quite a long time. It’s mostly conservative and religious folk in the US, or highly religious other nations, which seem to find this a difficult issue, and tend to appeal to emotion (Aww babies!). For me, the abortion age limits imposed in the UK are a sane, fair, balanced approach. And they have the added benefit of actually lowering the rate of abortions. The latter fact is crucial – allowing abortion and funding stuff like Planned Parenthood and Sex Education dramatically lowers abortion rates – but conservative folk seem so averse to “talking about sex” and funding social services, that they end up shooting themselves in the foot and sabotaging their own aims. Defunding abortion doesn’t lessen abortion. Funding it, reduces it.
Beyond this, I find the conservative position on “personhood” incoherent and lacking nuance. The idea that one has the moral right to introduce a being into a world of suffering against its will, also seems philosophically incoherent and/or immoral.
Thanks for your comments. So the abortion debate has been settled in Europe? Intriguing! Since it’s not a “difficult issue” for you, perhaps you can clear some things up by answering a few questions?
You mention the abortion age limits in the UK as a fair, sane, balanced approach. Could you elaborate a bit? Age limits for who? You also suggest that “allowing abortion and funding stuff like Planned Parenthood and Sex Education (which we do in the U.S., by the way) dramatically lowers abortion rates.” You further suggest that “Defunding abortion doesn’t lessen abortion. Funding it, reduces it.” Really? Forgive me for being skeptical but I find that difficult to believe. Funding abortion (i.e. Planned Parenthood) reduces abortion? Really? Seems counterintuitive on its face. For the sake of discussion, assuming you are correct, it would seem that at some point you would get diminishing returns, no? I mean if you just keep throwing more money at Planned Parenthood and each time you do, the result is to reduce the number of abortions, at some point you’d reach zero and Planned Parenthood could stop performing abortions altogether, correct? We’ve been funding Planned Parenthood for decades now. Why are they still performing abortions? When will we reach zero?
But the more important point you raise, in my opinion, is your notion that the “conservative position on ‘personhood’ is incoherent and lacking nuance.” So let’s start at the beginning; in your opinion, what exactly is the “conservative position on personhood” and how does it differ from your coherent and nuanced position on personhood? If you answer only one of my questions, I hope it’s this one.
You might not be aware that in the U.S. the entity that has linked the morality of abortion with the concept of “personhood” is the United States Supreme Court. Specifically, the 9-2 majority in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. It was not religious people or conservatives who did that, it was the liberals on the Supreme Court. They did so precisely because the very concept of “personhood” itself is ambiguous and that ambiguity was useful to them. I’m not sure I would go so far as to say the concept itself is “incoherent” but the majority’s logic – which pivoted on the notion of “personhood” certainly was. So I would love to hear your coherent and nuanced position on personhood, as someone who believes the abortion debate has been settled. Or is it simply that you – like me – reject the idea of “personhood” as having any moral relevance to the abortion debate? If so, then we’re on the same page in that regard, however, you would still need to present a coherent argument for allowing abortion based on some other standard. In that case, I would ask you simply, in your opinion, at what point in your development did you begin to exist?
I also find your concluding sentence to be rather remarkable. You suggest that it is immoral (for someone) to “introduce a being into a world of suffering against its will.” Your premise includes a large amount of speculation. First, exactly what type of “being” is being introduced in your proposition? Do you concede that your term “being” actually means “human being” or would you dispute that? Second, you characterize the world into which this “being” is being introduced as one of “suffering.” Granted, suffering is generally a part of each human existence at some points along the journey, but joy, happiness and fulfillment are also typical elements of any human life. How can you know in advance who’s life is going to be filled with suffering to such an extent that you get to decide that merely existing would be “against their will”? Seems rather presumptive on your part, doesn’t it? There have been many lives lived with a significant amount of suffering who, nevertheless, were grateful for the experience of living.
Anyway, thanks for your comments, and I hope you’ll respond and continue the discussion. – Roger