If abortion poses a risk to women, then why are some people so offended when others point it out? Why do some even become angry, accusing those who highlight this connection of bullying and vilifying people? Is it really concern over bullying that drives such outrage? Or is the outrage just a front for the opposition to any negative press for abortion?
As some readers may know, Charlotte Dawson, a model and celebrity born in New Zealand but who lived in Australia, was recently found dead in her home in Sydney. Her tragic death was a suicide. Charlotte battled depression and had also endured a very public battle with internet bullies. People are awful beyond words sometimes.
In her autobiography, she revealed that in 1999 she had become pregnant to her (now ex) husband, and Olympic athlete. Not wanting a baby to get in the way of her husband’s Olympic aspirations, she had an abortion. According to her, this triggered her first encounter with depression.
Fast forward to the present day. Fred Nile of the Christian Democratic party in Australia posted a comment on Facebook that highlighted this connection that Charlotte had drawn. He referred to it as “the poignant story” that is “left unmentioned in many obituaries.” I can understand why it is not mentioned in obituaries, since obituaries are not really the place for analysis of what led to a person’s depression. But it’s a connection that, although evidently important to Charlotte, many stories about her battle with depression are leaving out altogether, instead focusing only on her struggles against those who bullied and taunted her online.
Facebook discussions on popular public pages are, of course, a bit of an ugly beast. Pretty much anyone can say anything, and moderating or guiding any discussion there is a bit like herding cats. But one person in particular took considerable umbrage at the fact that Mr Nile dared to make this comment in public. One Angela Williams wrote an open letter to him about it. OK, no big deal. People criticise public figures all the time. But because this person was offended by a comment on Facebook, a news website, followed by others, started running with the headline that Mr Nile’s comment had provoked “outrage” and “disgust.” This is a news story? Apparently it is. So I found and read the open letter, which you can read here.
Having read the letter, I conclude that it’s a sad indictment on many of our media outlets that such an outburst is even newsworthy. But given that this is precisely how shallow many of them are, and given that (apparently) even ill-thought-out tirades masquerading as genuine concern are newsworthy, hopefully my slightly more reserved and dignified open letter to one Angela Williams will be deemed worthy of being read by at least some people too:
I think you know this, but let me say right up front what is going on here: Your outrage is not real. You are not angry about Christians “bullying” Charlotte after she is dead. Indeed, to even momentarily pretend that your tirade was motivated by concern over bullying is an insult to those who care deeply about the awful consequences of bullying and who cope with its aftermath. In light of your own past that you publicly disclosed, you belittle the effects the abuse and bullying that you suffered by equating the concern of Mr Nile and others with such behaviour.
The truth about what is going on here is twofold, and it is tacitly acknowledged by you in your online display of anger. Firstly, you disagree with Mr Nile and with most Christians about the morality of abortion. You think that the push for legal restrictions of the killing of the unborn constitutes a “nefarious agenda to own and use the bodies of Australian women,” because you think this amounts to telling you what you can do with your body. It restricts your freedom, and is therefore an evil campaign. Mr Nile’s post was in support of a cause that you resent, and so you lashed out. This is a terrible oversimplification of the abortion issue.
What do you genuinely think that opponents of abortion have to gain by “controlling” your body? What’s in it for them?
Secondly, you were once part of a religious community, and you suffered abuse without receiving the assistance you needed. Of course this is a terrible thing and I can only imagine what it was like. Do not assume that people like Mr Nile would not sincerely wish that things had been different for you. I do not know you, but I am truly sorry that you endured physical abuse, especially if it was justified to you by those from whom you sought help. But that is, with respect, simply not relevant to whether or not abortion has the potential to seriously harm women. Unfortunately your suffering appears to be writing your story of anger against every concern that is dear to those whom you now hold in contempt. You suffered while you identified with conservative religious people, and so as part of crucifying your former religious self, conservative religious people, along with everything they believe in and stand for, are now the enemy that you must publicly burn, dissociating yourself from them with a vengeance. With respect, you are belittling the seriousness of what you suffered by using it as a nothing more than a cudgel, thinking that it somehow legitimises your anger at people who simply do not share your view on the value of the life of the unborn. As an aside, it was remarkably callous of you to refer in this context to Mr Nile’s late wife Elaine as “your ex-wife.” But I get it. Mr Nile opposes abortion and dares to mention something that appears to challenge your freedom, so he worthy of even the least respect from you, or so it appears. [EDIT: To your credit, after I had commented on it, you removed this comment. Thank you.] How ironic that, in the aftermath of the terrible effects of a public figure being viciously attacked online by her detractors, you should do a thing like this.
Angela, let us not pretend you are worried that the observation made by Mr Nile (actually, the observation was made by Charlotte Dawson) is factually mistaken. You don’t state that it is, and as you may be aware, there is credible evidence that what Charlotte said is true: There is a link between abortion and mental health, and as Mr Nile observes, it is a side of stories like this that is generally overlooked. You are welcome to read more about this yourself (this is a link to some of that research, published in the British Journal of Psychology). In brief:
Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion. The strongest subgroup estimates of increased risk occurred when abortion was compared with term pregnancy and when the outcomes pertained to substance use and suicidal behaviour.
Could it really be true that if a link like this exists, a link with potentially tragic consequences, you think that people should remain quiet about it? That the deaths of those affected should not prompt a public conversation about the harm done?
Should we overlook a potentially serious and long-term harm done to the mental health of women so that you can feel more in control of your body and free of the “nefarious” agenda of those who want to do something about it?
Charlotte Dawson claimed that her own experience of having her child aborted for the sake of her husband’s career triggered the onset of depression. Nobody forced her to say this. It was voluntarily disclosed, and evidently made a serious impact on her. It is, as Mr Nile observed, poignant. It is tragic at many levels. You might think that she was wrong about this, but you never say so. To suggest that for Mr Nile to highlight this connection amounts to perpetuating “bullying” is to trivialise Charlotte’s feelings about what she went through. This is the way that she saw things connected. It is remarkable to me that anyone would think that Mr Nile’s fairly mildly stated observation amounts to opportunism or irresponsibility. There are people with an on-going concern about bullying. They often speak out about it and draw attention to it. They do this because they think that bullying hurts people. They even have the audacity to “use” Charlotte’s tragic death as the opportunity to draw more attention to the issue of bullying, to tell more people about how harmful it is, and to call for action to see bullying reduced. Is this irresponsible? Is this an untimely or opportunistic attempt to get on their bullying hobby-horse – the hobby-horse of trying to control people who want the freedom to engage in bullying?
Nobody, I suspect, thinks that this is untimely or inappropriate. I certainly do not. This is because people in general, including you (and I), do not approve of bullying. It is hideous. It has the power to destroy people. You, however, have taken umbrage at Mr Nile for doing exactly the same thing, but instead of talking about the link between bullying and depression, he has highlighted Charlotte’s own claims about the connection between abortion and depression. He believes that abortion, in addition to taking the life of the unborn, has the potential to hurt, even destroy, women. And this is a bridge too far for you. It dares to take aim at something that you believe in the right to. But what if the research that indicates this connection – and indeed Charlotte’s own experience of precisely this connection – is correct? If this is the case, then the very real and serious harm that may be done here is only made more dangerous to women by what you and others are doing here: Publicly flaying anybody who dares to mention the connection.
The possibility that abortion hurts women is like a taboo among the advocates of abortion rights, but choosing to belittle those who raise the concern is no more noble or loving towards woman than it would be if you were to try to silence those who raise the concern of the very real and damaging effects of bullying on people’s mental health.
The reality is that the mental consequences for women who have an abortion are not the main reason why some people oppose it. They do not pretend otherwise.
Abortion is deemed by many – including me – to be wrong because it unjustly takes a human life. That is ultimately why abortion is wrong.
- Otago study links abortion with mental illness
- Is Abortion Healthcare?
- Talking (and talking, and talking) about mental health
- Coming out
- Public Lectures
82 thoughts on “Abortion and Depression: An open letter to the pretentiously angry”
Hello Glenn, this is quite brilliant:
“I can only imagine what it was like. Do not assume that people like Mr Nile would not sincerely wish that things had been different for you. I do not know you, but I am truly sorry that you, or anyone, endured physical abuse, especially if it was justified to you by those from whom you sought help. But that is, with respect, simply not relevant to whether or not abortion has the potential to seriously harm women. Unfortunately your suffering appears to be writing your story of anger against every concern that is dear to those whom you now hold in contempt. You suffered while you identified with conservative religious people, and so as part of crucifying your former religious self, conservative religious people, along with everything they believe in and stand for, are now the enemy that you must publicly burn, dissociating yourself from them with a vengeance. ”
I think that a good case can be made that militant atheists and secularists are former fundamentalists.
Once I understood that, I realized you cannot expect to have a rational conversation with them about faith, they are way too emotionally involved to think clearly about such topics.
The abuses they suffered in the past give them absolutely no right to bully nice and respectful believers.
While I am a progressive Christian, I believe (like Rachel Held Evans does) that abortion should never be celebrated and only considered when the health of the woman is threatened (and this might include mental health following a rape).
But many women get aborted due to reasons having to do with their personal comfort. This is clearly not a good reason for sacrificing a potential human being.
But such an objection cannot be grounded if you take the view that humans are insignificant products of a random process.
By the way, as an emergent dualist believing that the soul emerges from the brain, I don’t know when the embryo in the womb begins feeling something.
What is your own take on this?
Cheers from Europe.
Thank you for your reply, Glenn. I read it with interest and understand your position on this. I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with some feedback on my motivations.
As you are aware from reading my letter, much of my concern on this also came from those commenting on Mr Nile’s original post. Some of the assumptions and conclusions drawn by Nile’s supporters bemoaned the lack of media focus on Ms Dawson’s termination, arguing that equal time should be given to this as a source of her depression as the recent well documented online bullying she has endured over the last few years. Other commenters called her a ‘murderer’ and ‘sinner’ and implied that her depression was God punishing her for a choice that she made.
My very real rage came from the fact that Ms Dawson has spoken very publically and openly about the impact of this online bullying and now, just days after her death, the internet is again being used to defame her, that words she wrote are being taken out of context to strengthen and support Mr Nile’s very well-know stance on abortion.
The bottom line is that termination is legal in NSW. Online intimidation and harassment is not. Calling this woman, who now has no opportunity to defend herself, a ‘murderer’ and ‘sinner’ is not fair, respectful or founded in basic human decency. Nile’s decision to remove my comments (and those of many others who shared dissenting opinions), while leaving intact those that badmouthed and disparaged Ms Dawson shows a lack of awareness of the impact of such hurtful statements. The significant numbers of Christians who have spoken out on the post, expressing similar sentiments to my own, demonstrates how far Nile has strayed from the founding roots of his faith.
I also agree that this topic was not newsworthy, and when I first encountered the post yesterday morning I had no intent of taking it to the media. It was only after my comments questioning the timing of the post were removed that I realised I needed to speak to a broader platform on this topic. Nile is a politician and public figure and, as such, has a speaking position which obliges him to consider the impact of his words and actions. He cannot on one hand argue that mental illness can happen to anyone and then on the other say that depression is a logical outcome of choosing to have a termination. This is not saying ‘it can happen to anyone’ – this is saying ‘Charlotte Dawson brought this on herself’.
And yes, as you pointed out, I am a survivor of childhood abuse. Abuse that was acted out in churches and witnessed and approved by clergy (including Mr Nile). This one fact does not discount my opinions on what has occurred, it does not minimise the value of my words. I am one of these people you describe, a person with an ‘ongoing interest in bullying’. You do not live the way I have without being forced to acknowledge the many varying facets of bullying, the multitude of ways in which it can be enacted. My interest in bullying means that I do not just stand idly by and observe it, I do not stay silent when I see another’s pain and humiliation. I am a firm believer in the idea that what you pass by, you condone. I refuse to pass by bullying because too many people passed by what happened to me as a child.
As you have also seen, having read my blog, my mother (yes, the perpetrator of the aforementioned abuse), has taken this situation as an opportunity to publically own and confront the shameful behaviour that she inflicted on me. I don’t know if you have ever personally known either the victim or perpetrator of childhood abuse, but this is a massive step for both her and me. It means that we have reached a stage where we are both able to live with what happened. I have the space now to talk publically about what she did to me (removing the shame and allowing others to access my process of healing) and she has found a space where she can start to come to peace with what led to her actions in the first place (finding her own path to healing).
So yes, you have the right to label my anger ‘pretentious’ but I encourage you to consider just briefly what this might say about you and your stance on the topic. I have to assume from your screen name that you identify as a male and (based on the assumption that this is a genetic identity), I would question the validity of your speaking position on the topic of termination. Your gender identity leaves me wondering if you have ever been in a position where you have had to make the difficult decision to either bring a child into the world that you know you cannot support or to undergo a surgical procedure that will mark you with a stigma you will never escape. I’m also making a gross assumption that you have never been the target of serious abuse or bullying, the kind that has led to you questioning whether it might be easier to end your life rather than go on living with the pain.
I have a big mouth about bullying because I have lived with it in its worst forms. Why do you have a big mouth about abortion?
Thank you again for your response to my post and link back to my blog. Any publicity is good publicity and I appreciate this opportunity to engage with you on the topic. I’ve already had 2 click throughs from your site and I hope that your readers enjoy the different perspectives on life, power and autonomy that I think about in my blog.
I think it’s unfair to “question the validity of your [his] speaking position on the topic of termination” just because he is male and doesn’t carry a child for 9 months. Our society has done a great disservice to men by excluding them from , or insisting they have no say in, the conversation about abortion. Every child aborted had a father. If that father would have wanted to raise the child given the chance, he too is a victim because he was robbed of an opportunity to raise his child.
I find it very interesting that your answer to the correlation between abortions and depression is to take an anti-abortion stance, instead of perhaps ensuring that sufficient counselling is provided and after care to monitor the mental health of the patient. Denying a woman the right to choose is a backwards approach to a serious issue and claiming the “potential life” of the unborn child is paramount is unrealistic and frankly suggests that the woman has no ability (or should not be allowed) to make this decision. Not to mention ignoring the potential psychological impact on the child of a mother who is unable to care for them and never wanted them in the first place. Furthermore, I find it highly ironic that anti-abortion is a predominately Christian stance, when if does not state anywhere in the bible that the unborn child is a living being – in fact it states the opposite. Numerous times the bible states that we are not “alive” until we draw breath – Genesis 2:7 “he was not a living being until after taking his first breath” and Exodus 21:22 it states that “if a man causes a woman to have a miscarriage, he shall be fined; however, if the woman dies then he will be put to death.” It should be apparent from this that the aborted fetus is not considered a living human being since the resulting punishment for the abortion is nothing more than a fine; it is not classified by the bible as a capital offense. Lastly, I would like to point out that there are already safeguards in place to protect the mental health of women undergoing abortions. I know this from experience as I terminated a pregnancy a few years ago and had to undergo a psychological assessment before they would allow me to go through with the procedure. I was assessed for any signs of duress or misgivings that could lead to depression and was provided with the option for counselling after the procedure. I have no misgivings about my decision, in fact if I had gone through with the pregnancy I would be forced to continue my association with the father, a man who physically assaulted me. I am thankful every day that I did not go through with it and I do not feel guilt about the “potential life” those of your ilk would suggest I “murdered”.
Yes Pamela, perhaps it was unfair for me to make a generalising statement about Glenn’s post. However I feel that he opened the space for this by making generalising statements about my post, including: ‘Your outrage is not real. You are not angry about Christians “bullying” Charlotte after she is dead. Indeed, to even momentarily pretend that your tirade was motivated by concern over bullying is an insult to those who care deeply about the awful consequences of bullying and who cope with its aftermath.’
If it is fair for Glenn to generalise about my world and motivations then it is equally fair for me to do the same.
I also thank you for your civil reply, Glenn. I very much like it when people from opposite angles on topics can converse courteously and respectfully.
I’d like to think that most readers realise that the ability to form a reasonable view on whether or not an action is just or unjust does not depend on whether or not one has ever been in a position to perform the action. The line of argument that suggests that only women can pass moral judgement on abortion is just a case of the ad hominem fallacy. Imagine if I said that only white, southern men should have an opinion on slavery, because they are the slave owners.
If abortion, as a rule, is unjust homicide, then whether I am a man or a woman makes no difference to that fact. True, a woman who is facing a very stressful situation will be affected by that stress and the various difficulties she immediately faces. It may well be that such factors make it more difficult, rather than easier, to assess whether or not abortion is ethically defensible. Careful judgements about what the right thing to do in a difficult situation is most likely a judgement that we would make when we are not in that situation.
And Ash: Notice that I didn’t say that the mental harm of abortion is what makes it wrong. As I said, those who, like me, oppose abortion, usually do so because they believe it to be unjust homicide. This blog post was not an argument that abortion is wrong.
But as for Angela’s last question to me on why I have a big mouth about abortion – well, I don’t talk about it often, but it’s true, I think it’s important. And I think it’s important because if I’m right, then abortion kills the most vulnerable people in the world, very often in the name of convenience. But even if that were not the reason, it is unjustifiable homicide. I cannot imagine myself saying: “It’s unjustifiable homicide, but I don’t really care about it much.”
I find your response to be somewhat contradictory. How can you claim that “this blog post was not an argument that abortion is wrong” and then in the next sentence claim that your motivation for talking about abortion is because you consider it to be “unjustifiable homicide”. I refer again to the bible where it clearly states that the flesh is merely a vessel until it takes it’s first breath (another example Job 33:4, “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”). I would be interested to hear exactly WHY you believe abortion to be “unjustifiable homicide” for (assuming that you are Christian) your own scriptures disagree with your opinion.
It’s simple, Ash: In fact I do think that abortion is wrong, but this blog post is not an argument that abortion is wrong.
You’ve quoted a Bible verse. Would you be willing to offer any reasons for believing that it means what you say it does? Thanks.
*Edit: please replace “clearly states” with “suggests”.
Certainly, I refer again to Genesis 2:7 “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being”. Through critical analysis it can be deduced that there is a correlation in many bible verses (some of which I have shared with you already) between “breath” and being a “living being” and none that suggest that an unborn baby is a life with what could be perceived as a soul. I understand that you believe that abortion is wrong (indeed you have stated this many times) however you have not provided any reasoning behind this belief. I am merely asking you to enlighten me as to why you so strongly hold this belief. It is my opinion that open discourse is essential in understanding complex issues such as this and I would like to point out the hypocrisy of accusing Angela of being “pretentiously angry” if you are not willing to rationally debate the issue.
OK, Ash. As this thread isn’t about what the Bible teaches, I’ll offer just this one reply to your comment, and then we can perhaps have this discussion in more depth if the subject does come up at the blog, OK? otherwise we’d end up with an eternal back and forth about biblical interpretation, when this blog post clearly has nothing to do with that.
What you’re calling “critical analysis” is anything but. You’re attributing a view to the Jewish people that they simply couldn’t have held. The degree of literalism that you are employing requires us to think that the Old Testament writers really, literally thought that God exhaled and inhaled breath – which is simply incredible. This is what scholars call “anthropomorphic” language. That means that writers are taking language that would ordinarily apply to humans, and they are applying it to God in a way that isn’t literally correct, but which conveys some truth nonetheless.
So to rely on biblical passages that talk about the breath of God giving human beings life as though they meant that a thing isn’t alive until God literally exhales breath into its nose or mouth is seriously to miss the point. The point is that our life comes from God, however that might literally play out in terms of physiology.
Thanks for raising the biblical question, and perhaps some other time if I decide to write about it, we can discuss it further.
You might “like to” point out the hypocrisy of me saying that the anger of the original letter was pretentious unless I am willing to also offer a case for why abortion is wrong, but alas, there’s no hypocrisy involved. The truth is that what I had to say in the letter did not stand or fall on whether or not abortion is wrong. Although (as I think is obvious) the point of this open letter is not that abortion is wrong (even though I think it is), if you do want to hear some of what I have said about why abortion is wrong, I did a podcast on it a while back in Episode 29 of the podcast. But again, that was not the issue in this blog post.
A couple of features in your open letter really stand out Glenn, as capturing the whole of what is going on in Angela’s open letter, and those who make the criticisms that she makes.
That is so absolutely sad, but so very, very true of so many people, and I can see it so clearly in Angela’s angry words. Actually, Glenn, this observation reminds me of something else you’ve said. I had to search a bit, but I found it here: http://www.rightreason.org/2013/on-an-idiosyncratic-faith/
I know, the context is different, but still, this blog post reminded me of the other one.
The second thing which, together with this first point, really summed things up, is this:
And that’s it, isn’t it? If abortion might harm a woman’s mental health, then the loving thing – the thing motivated by concern – is not to launch into an attack on those who point this out. It’s revealing, isn’t it, when in the name of a cause people will try to coerce others into not mentioning *that* fact. The inconvenient one. The anger here was never about loving or standing up for people. It was about hijacking real issues to shout down those who disagree with us.
One thing I noticed, Glenn, is that your comments about ms Dawson were only respectful. You never said an evil word about her at all. The same is true of Mr Nile. In fact the same is true of everyone who has raised this issue. By contrast, the absolute spite that I have seen in those who are shouting Mr Nile down for making this comment – that’s telling. Who are the ones motivated by love?
Thank you for answering my question. I’m going to keep this brief as I doubt either of us wishes to continue a theological debate which, lets face it, isn’t likely to go anywhere.
Therefore all I am going to address is your statement that “The degree of literalism that you are employing requires us to think that the Old Testament writers really, literally thought that God exhaled and inhaled breath – which is simply incredible”. While I acknowledge that one could argue the bible is rife with anthropotheism I disagree with your assumption that the writers of the Old Testament could not have believed that God literally drew breath. It is documented that the Audianists believed that man was literally made in Gods image. While they were declared heretics by the Roman for this belief I argue it does suggest the possibility that the writers of the Old Testament could have shared this belief. I also would like to point out the fact that even today certain groups adhere to a literal interpretation of the bible.
I will not press the issue further and I thank you again for your opinion.
I’ve been on pro-choice sites and read comments by women who do not regret their abortions, and never had any mental health issues. The aftermath of abortion is anecdotal and subjective. I believe that much of what happens to a woman mentally following an abortion is whether or not she really wanted one, or if she felt compelled to have one because of a partner, spouse, or family member. There are no pat answers to this dilemma.
“The aftermath of abortion is anecdotal and subjective. ”
Sheila, it is true that what you have just offered – personal accounts of people that you’ve learned about on websites – is anecdotal. That is the virtue of a robust scientific method, as used in the study that I refer to in this blog post. Did you take a look at it? It isn’t anecdotal at all. Here is the link again: http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/199/3/180
It’s also not clear what “pat answers” you’re talking about. Sometimes abortion can seriously harm a woman’s mental health. Is that a pat answer? In what way? It does happen to be supported by good evidence. Does that make it less pat?
(Of course, even if this were not well-supported by science, the point of this blog post is that the attack on Mr Nile still seems misguided.)
Let me preface this with the acknowledgement that I am a family friend of Angela’s, and have known her for several years. I can see you are big on interpreting others’ motivations, so let it not be said that I am carrying a hidden agenda. I am also very tired and quite angry at your parti pris reading of Angela, so please excuse any imperfect English you may find and I will try my best to respect your blog policy.
I think you know this, but let me say right up front what is going on here: Your outrage is not real. You are not upset about Angela’s motivations for writing the open letter. Indeed, to even momentarily pretend that your blog-post was motivated by concern over public lies & propaganda is an insult to those who care deeply about accountability of those who have a voice in the media. In light of your own admission that “this blog post is not an argument that abortion is wrong”, it is very clear what YOUR motivation was for this post.
The truth about what is going on here is twofold, and it is tacitly acknowledged by you in your complete disregard of anything Angela said in her response to you. Firstly, you disagree with Abortion and with most women about the morality of abortion. You think that the push for legal restrictions of the right for women to choose constitutes “kill[ing] the most vulnerable people in the world, very often in the name of convenience” because you think a fertilized egg amounts to a person. By calling out Angela’s motivations for writing an open letter as simply being pro-abortion/anti-christian propaganda, you hope to discredit any point she was making about the poor behaviour of Mr Nile, and his supporters commenting on his Facebook post. This is a terrible oversimplification of her letter.
Secondly, you seek to shut her up by speaking down to her and invalidating her very real moral outrage. Phrases like “Your outrage is not real.”, “ill-thought-out tirades masquerading as genuine concern “, “disingenuous displays of faux anger”, “my slightly more reserved and dignified open letter”, are just very eloquent ways of saying ‘You’re reaction to his post was incorrect and you need to stop posting your opinion’. As mentioned earlier I know Angela. She is actually an astonishingly bright and bubbly person who angers very little. She has strong opinions, and will voice them loudly (figuratively and literally) but I have rarely seen her as riled up as she was in this post. Though I’m almost certain you already knew this, her anger is quite genuine. Of course, it suits your aims to completely ignore that this was a genuine reaction, so you can point at her and say “look! those homicidal abortionist secularists will brew up any fake controversy to support their cause”. A rather pot-kettle-black moment really. “But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” I believe you are quite a fan of the speaker of those words.
You openly admit that your disapproval of abortion stems not from a concern for women’s mental health, but from a belief that a fertilized egg is a person. You probably won’t be the least bit surprised to know that Fred Nile shares similar beliefs. Yet both you and he are happy to use a link between abortion and an increased prevalence of depression as a justification for opposing a right to choice. Given this do you see how it undermines your statement that Angela is “trying to sound like a hero by rhetorically letting rip at the religious and the conservative”. You openly admit that things that are not really the primary concern of Mr Nile et al. is being used as ammunition by them, but then later ruminate that “Lies about why we are doing what we are doing do not become us…”. Again I think I might remind you that the bible comes down rather hard on hypocrites.
Is it so hard for you to imagine that people would find comments like “Abortion is murder”, “Murder then self murder”, “Who made her a victim?”, as insulting to the memory of someone that has recently and tragically taken their own life? Are you really so buried in your own ideology that you can’t see that as bullying because the message behind the insults agree with your point of view? Can you not see how someone having their opposing view pulled down whilst these comments were left up would be angry about it? I’m genuinely concerned if you can’t.
So that brings me to an even more important question for you: Do you want to correct me about anything I have said on your motivations? Angela wanted to correct you but you seem to have stuck to your guns that she is merely lying. If, after having her very real outrage pointed out to you, you still insist on accusing her of fraud, what other interpretation are readers of your blog left with but to think you have an agenda of discrediting and silencing her? That isn’t a rhetorical question, trying to backhandedly insult you, that’s a genuine request for clarification.
I’m sorry if you are offended by any of what I wrote here, but I was extremely offended by your accusations. I look forward to your elucidation of the purpose of this post. Remember “Lies about why we are doing what we are doing do not become us, and fake outrage is no substitute for serious criticism.”
Angela, I can only reiterate my dismay that those who simply take Charlotte at her word are again being accused by you of being bullies for doing so. Nobody is taking her out of context. She was quite candid about why she had an abortion and equally candid about the effect that she believed that it had on her. It is not a radical suggestion, nor is it bullying, to believe her and to draw attention to her self-disclosure in this way. We trivialise actual bullying when we call this bullying.
It is true that in Facebook comment threads people can be pretty nasty, but there is no mistaking the fact that you think Mr Nile is wrong in saying what he said, and this is what I have addressed here.
It is appalling to say that none of this should matter because the “bottom line” is that abortion is legal. The fact that something is legal has never, ever made it right, and whether or not something is legal has no bearing on what effects it has on people. Slavery was once legal for slave owners as well, but that does not mean that is was not detrimental to slaves. The horrific practices concerning “the stolen generation” in your own nation were legal too. No, you cannot argue that something is harmless just because it is legal.
But I thank you for your civil reply, Angela.
Hello Kit. Well done on the mimicry (it’s not the most original, but I bet it was fun)!
In the first place, yes, it’s absolutely true that part of what motivates me here is the fact that I am opposed to abortion. Although this blog post was, obviously, not an argument against abortion, I do think that abortion is generally wrong. Far from being “tacit,” I had intended to be explicit about this, so perhaps you’re reading me wrong there. Now in truth, I think my criticisms are correct regardless of whether or not abortion is wrong, but you’re quite right. It was the fact that Angela’s letter was really just an attack grounded in a disagreement about abortion that got my back up. As I take a different view on abortion and (I think) I saw her letter for what it really was, I spoke up.
I don’t know why you want to remind me that my main objection over abortion “stems not from a concern for women’s mental health.” This, I think, is obvious. Abortion is unjustifiable homicide, which is basically why it’s wrong. As I said earlier, it makes perfect sense for those who think that abortion is unjustifiable homicide to identify other areas of concern about abortion. It’s not clear why this should be deemed objectionable. Is it?
I’m not really sure why you’re treating this like a secret I was keeping, but there you go.
Your second claim is that “Secondly, you seek to shut her up by speaking down to her and invalidating her very real moral outrage.” Well, “seek to shut her up” is probably not how I would put it. But I hope it’s pretty clear that yes, I do want people to stop doing the sort of thing that Angela has done: To publicly attack a religious person who is easy to hate over something that is actually a fairly plausible concern (or at least, without trying to address the factuality of that concern) by making absurd comparisons between that concern and bullying, trying to smear them as being a bully, without simply being honest that you want them to shut up because they have a different view from you on abortion. Angela’s letter offered no factual criticism of the claims about abortion and mental health. And of course that would have been a legitimate type of argument to make. But just pretending that she’s standing up for the victims of bullying by attacking someone because of their pro-life views is not really the most honest type of reaction.
So although it may be fun, at a rhetorical level, to call somebody a “hyprocrite,” it does not really look as though your accusation sticks. I am sick of the rhetorical games that people play when shouting down opponents of abortion, banging on the (proverbial) table and making out that one is really, seriously, deeply concerned about “bullying” or something else that is alleged to be going on, when really the point is: Shut up conservative, people like you are just in the way of what I want to do – and I used to be one of you and now I’m opposed to you. Angela’s original letter was a case of just that, and I responded accordingly.
Just for clarity, Glenn, please tell me if you believe the following statements appropriate to be posted on a memorial for a woman who just died of suicide after a long bout of depression – publicly exacerbated by internet bullying – EVEN IF her depression was initially triggered by a termination:
“Abortion is murder”
“Murder then self murder”
“Who made her a victim?”
“The word ‘bully’ is used so loosely now a days [sic], it’s ridiculous […] the problem is people getting overly sensitive to just about anything. Any opinions are hate speech?…Get over it!”
If someone you cared about had died in this way and you saw these things written on her memorial would you frame it as fair comment or bullying?
Thanks Glen, I hope I haven’t wound you up too much.
To clarify my point over hypocrisy:
1. Fred Nile uses the tragic suicide of a celebrity to push his pro-life agenda (something he is very open about) under the guise of concern for women’s mental health (which is a valid concern but is something he’s never shown much interest in previously)
2. Angela Williams writes that a response to the post stating that it was inappropriate and insensitive to use a suicide to push a pro-life agenda, especially as it seems to imply the victim brought this on herself, and many comments on the post explicitly stated that she got what Charlotte deserved. Fred Nile’s team deletes Angela’s comments but leaves the offensive posts.
3. Angela expresses her disgust via an open letter. She makes clear not only her issue with Fred Nile’s encouragement and tacit endorsement of bullying, but also makes clear her pro-choice stance and her personal issues with Fred Nile, due to his poor handling of her being a victim of bullying and harassment. This letter is picked up by the media.
4. You write an open letter in response to Angela calling her a lier and a fraud. You claim she has no real outrage at bullying despite it being crystal clear that she does a real issue with it and had even explained where her issue stems from. You criticise her for using an issue to push her prochoice agenda. This is exactly what Fred Nile had just done. You ignore this fact.
You claim that she is trying to silence Mr Nile and that this is unjust. When pressed you admit you are looking to silence Angela.
This, my friend, is why I am claiming hypocrisy. Meanwhile you still seem uninterested in addressing the bullying in the original Facebook post.
If someone you cared about had died in this way and you saw these things written on her memorial would you frame it as fair comment or bullying?
Neither (in my opinion). It is ill conceived and inappropriate – but I don’t think it is bullying.
“Neither (in my opinion). It is ill conceived and inappropriate – but I don’t think it is bullying.”
If you saw it would you feel the need to say ‘not okay’?
Glenn? Would it be okay with you? Would you be comfortable to see these things written on a memorial as described above?
We’re talking about something on facebook, right?
Is bad behaviour okay if it happens on Facebook?
So many things to say.. please forgive me if this gets a bit disjointed.
Angela, defining bad behaviour can be a bit subjective. I also note the goal posts have now shifted from the false dichotomy of fair comment – bullying to defining bad behaviour. Your first comment asked us to categorize some sample comments into either column A (fair) or column B (bullying) when I think there are further options. And now it seems you are asking me to define what is acceptable comment on Facebook. I try to stay as far away from Facebook as I can, so I can only ask what their comment policy is? Do the comments you cited satisfy the policy?
Please don’t take this as me telling you what to do, but with all the stories of abuse that goes on between Facebook users, opening a memorial wall on a platform that open to abuse seems like a fairly flawed concept to me.
“opening a memorial wall on a platform that open to abuse seems like a fairly flawed concept to me” – exactly the reason I took afront in the first place. It was innappropriate to post this content in a place where abuse and nastiness is widespread.
I did not appreciate seeing these public links between Ms Dawson’s history and suicide being made in a public forum where Facebook nasties were welcomed and encouraged to make strong links between Charlotte’s two seperate actions. And I did not like that comments calling her horrible names were left to support the original post while comments asking for restraint and compassion were removed.
And when I see things I don’t like, I say something.
And the goal posts for this post (seemingly defaming, shaming and silencing me) are very different to the goal posts on my original post (questioning the value and validity of Facebook as a forum for memorials that linked the suicide with Fred Nile’s goal of shaming all women who choose to get terminations).
C’mon Glenn, I’ve got to go to work; okay or not okay to say those things on the Facebook post?
Angela, you can think what you want, but the unfortunate truth is that not everyone shares your values and obviously plenty of people think it is OK to leave the comments on Facebook that they do. I think that you and I would share a great deal of common ground over what people should say and what they should keep to themselves, but personally, I would not presume to tell people what the can and cannot say.
Lol Ciaron, I think I would take your words ‘I would not presume to tell people what the can and cannot say’ more seriously if you weren’t here defending a blog which seemed singularily focused on telling me that I am not allowed to say the things I chose to say.
If the commenters on the Facebook post have the right to state their opinions without me saying anything about it, then why is this blog post acceptable? Why am I to be silenced and these people (and this blog) allowed to speak?
Is the difference that my opinions were picked up be global media?
Lol Ciaron, I think I would take your words ‘I would not presume to tell people what the can and cannot say’ more seriously if you weren’t here defending a blog which seemed singularily focused on telling me that I am not allowed to say the things I chose to say.
Ok, if that’s what you’ve taken from this discussion, then I have failed totally in expressing myself. I have not made any statement seeking to limit what you can say. My only criticism of you was that you were presenting a false dichotomy in the comment that I answered.
If the commenters on the Facebook post have the right to state their opinions without me saying anything about it, then why is this blog post acceptable? Why am I to be silenced and these people (and this blog) allowed to speak?
Who’s saying you need to be silent? I certainly have not. You seem to be passionately attributing things to me that I have taken no position on.
And when I see things I don’t like, I say something.
I believe Glenn feels the same.
Just looking back over the conversation, I realized I haven’t answered this: If you saw it would you feel the need to say ‘not okay’?
Well, yeah. I don’t personally think it’s OK, but I wouldn’t be making the mistake of putting such a sensitive, emotionally charged thing on a platform where it will be abused.
Is the difference that my opinions were picked up be global media?
Never heard of you or your letter until I read this post. I just saw a question that needed an answer.
1. This blog (the one up the top there above all these comments) was telling me to stop expressing ‘fake anger’ at something I only cared about because of my views on abortion. It called me a fraud and stated that I was ‘using’ this topic to drive an anti-bullying agenda (in a very simlar way to how Nile used the tragedy to push his own agenda – but apparently this is fine for him, not for me). This feels a lot like an attempt to silence me. You are here supporting this stance, so yes, I may be misattributing things said by Glenn to you. Unfortunately by supporting Glenn’s attacks on me it does appear as if you are complicit in them.
2. The Facebook memorial post was posted by Fred Nile, a conservative Christian politician in Australia. And my response was regarding the innappropriateness of this post and comments on that post. I did not post a memorial on facebook.
3. I’m okay with you not having heard on me but a thorough read of the blog above would have clarified both points 1 & 2 for you.
4. C’mon Glenn, nothing to say on whether those comments are suitable? Inquring minds want to know.
Angela, I’m confused. You say I’m supporting Glenn’s stance. I have not. I have answered one of your questions and we have gone on a tangent from there. I have not made a comment on what Glenn has said because I have not read your letter. I was only interested in your question:If someone you cared about had died in this way and you saw these things written on her memorial would you frame it as fair comment or bullying? because as someone who was physically bullied in my school years and emotionally bullied in my early career, I felt that those examples were not bullying in my opinion. And since we now find ourselves back at the start of the circle, I wish you a good night, and don’t work too hard.
Regarding your point 1. above – I am surprised that you perceive “Glenn’s attacks” as an attempt to silence you. That seems a little overblown. I am hearing you loud and clear – on Glenn’s blog. Surely Glenn’s criticism of your letter is not an attempt to silence you but rather is a call to engage on this issue with something of substance rather than vitriol.
I echo the thoughts of Angela and Kit. How’s this for an open letter:
Dear Glen. You’re a cunt. Please die.
Phew! This has been quite the spectacle to watch. Glenn, I think pretty spot on with regards to whether Nile’s comments were actually bullying. They weren’t, and this is true regardless of the appropriateness of the remarks, which wasn’t an issue until Angela started asking if they was appropriate. After giving the offending Facebook post a few look overs, I’d say it highlights a life event, that by her own admission, contributed to the start of her depression. Was it implying she was a horrible woman? No. Was it shaming her for she did? No. He stated that her death was tragic and that may she rest in peace. After looking over Angela’s post, it seems to me, that her interpretation of Nile’s Facebook post of being anti-abortion was woven with her past experience with abuse in a religious community to create a more powerful narrative. Each thing on their own, abortion and abuse, are both highly emotive issues, and worth of address. But, with respect to Nile’s post, they are unrelated with Charlotte’s death, though the issue of abortion may have relevance towards her subsequent depression. Bringing this up in order to initiate a discussion is no more bullying than having a discussion on drinking and driving when a drunk driving accident takes a life.
“Was it shaming her for she did? No.”
Thanks for highlighting that, Alabaster. I realise there’s a bit of a trend of making people a pariah by accusing them of “shaming” women who do X. But I don’t think anyone can honestly say that this is what Nile has done. That is a despicably dishonest way of gaining cheap rhetorical points.
Glenn, on behalf of all the Western Australian woman who I may have impregnated (and let’s face it, that’s probably a big number): FUCK OFF.
Would you really want to put them through the hardship of trying getting child support payments out of ME? Not happening, your parasitic piece of shit.
Hi Matt and Annie. How lovely to meet you. Ordinarily such comments would simply be removed, but I’m in a sharing mood, so I thought I’d leave them there and let people know that I have just recently received some clicks through from atheistfoundation.org.au, in a thread where Angela shared a link to this blog post.
Thanks for visiting!
This was a good post Glenn. One thing I find very interesting about suicide and abortion is that if a person is known to have imminent self harm in mind then there are different mental health intervention groups throughout the country who can be called upon to stop such an event. The Police can be involved as well as other mental health providers to prevent one from being able to suicide themselves. If I am correct they have considerable legal powers to restrain someone of this frame of mind.
Yet, our society can, hypothetically allow this same person freedom to harm someone else when pregnant in a medical clinic. Now, no doubt some support can be given to help this person with their decision. But, who is going to rescue this person, this potential citizen from the imminent danger they face. There seems to be such an inconsistency within our society. Cheers Glenn.
Glenn, what made you such a sad, twisted little prick when it comes to women? Did your partner (assuming that somebody like you has one) lose a child?
PS. Please say that’s it. I hope it is.
Wow, to actually tell someone to die? And the comment from Matt…just wow, that can’t be real can it? Someone actually portrays them self as a parasite on women and then accuses another person of being a parasite and telling them to F* off? What kind of mind set does that stuff come from?
Oh, I’m so sorry Pamela. It was a typo.
I said “Not happening, your parasitic piece of shit.”
What I meant was: “Not happening, YOU parasitic piece of shit.”
Defend this all you like Pamela. He’s a piece of shit, forcing other people to live in accordance with his own narrow views.
Oh dear. Notice how the tone of the discussion has approached gutter level very quickly. Rather than engage with the blog post it’s now all about attacking Glenn personally.
Nice one Michelle, Annie (whatever your name is) and Matt from Perth. You do those with a similar stance on abortion a disservice.
I do hope those who are saying rude and crude things about Glenn realize that by engaging in ad homenims, you’re engaging in behaviors that are actually considered bullying (derogatory name calling, death wishes, willing personal misfortunes upon him and his family). One would think that those who agree with Angela’s position wouldn’t be saying things that make them look hypocritical.
Angela, I agree that it was not fair of Glenn to say “Your outrage is not real.” It’s true, he can’t really know that. But my mother always told me two wrongs don’t make a right. I do question your hard stance against bullying, though, considering you have now encouraged some on an atheist forum to come bully Glenn, and as an extension anyone who may agree with Glenn’s stance on abortion (even though this thread was supposed to not be about abortion itself). Or do you not consider it bullying to wish someone’s death, hoping someone has lost a child, or directing foul language or name calling at a person?
Matt, I wasn’t referring to some typo. I was referring to you admitting you have no problem getting multiple women pregnant and expecting them to have abortions rather than YOU having to pay child support or use a condom in the first place. THAT strikes me as parasitic.
FYI (even though this isn’t suppose to be about abortion) it’s not just Christians who are pro-life. There are atheist pro-lifers too and there are very good secular arguments against abortion…Google it.
Just for the record, I did remove one comment, a second one from Michelle.
Just for the record, as someone who agrees with Angela (which is why I’m here), I do not support people like Annie and Matt from Perth and their commentary.
Telling someone to “Please die” and calling someone a “parasitic piece of shit” doesn’t get anyone anywhere, and reinforces everyone’s hatred.
“I do question your hard stance against bullying, though, considering you have now encouraged some on an atheist forum to come bully Glenn, and as an extension anyone who may agree with Glenn’s stance on abortion (even though this thread was supposed to not be about abortion itself).”
Pamela, evidently we don’t see eye to eye on whether or not I have rightly diagnosed what was really going on with the open letter to which I replied.
But this is an interesting observation, and one worth making: In reply to the existence of Angela’s letter and discussion around it, some people posted vile comments on my blog. And in reply to Charlotte Dawson’s comments about the affect of her abortion on her mental health – and Mr Nile’s drawing attention to her comments, some people posted some potentially offensive comments at that Facebook page (I won’t call them “vile,” for they were really quite unlike some of the comments that have been posted here).
My rather radical suggestion is that I should not blame Angela for any comments posted here by other people, and she should not blame Mr Nile for the comments of other people. The problem is – if he is blamed simply for what he said, there’s really nothing to accuse him of. It was a very mild and respectful observation. (Here is where I explain the angry letter by noting that it was driven by opposition to Nile’s religious and moral point of view, rather than real concerns about bullying Charlotte – but we will just have to agree to disagree about that perhaps. 🙂 )
Glenn, you’re right, we should be fair and not blame someone for the posts of other people. If Angela says she doesn’t support those bullying comments, I will give her the benefit of the doubt. I did track back to that site though, and I’m not sure what she did expect them to say given the tone of many comments on it. But yes, I will allow grace and admit, I can’t know her motives, just as I said of you 🙂
Oh get off your high horses. Honestly, do you think that these comments directed against “Dr” Glenn Peoples are more harmful than the serious and maybe PERMANENT damage that his beliefs about abortion can have for women? Harden up, this is mild by comparison.
Stop treading on eggshells about being “respectful” and not wanting to inflame “hate.” Listen: “Dr” Glenn Peoples believes that a magic ghost gave babies souls when they were just a fertilised ovum, which gives him licence to effectively enslave people. Conveniently, female people. I’m with Professor Richard Dawkins on this one. Our reply should not be respect, but: “Mock them. Ridicule them! In public!”
So-called “respect” just enables this vile agenda.
I’ll make sure to put down a door mat and make everyone take off their shoes so the increased traffic doesn’t ruin your carpet.
“I hope I haven’t wound you up too much.”
No, although it’s interesting that you would think you have.
I wouldn’t bother reading too much into that. Your tone was distinctly derogatory towards me and I was concerned that the reason for your tone was that my original post had made you angry. I’m aware that this is your blog post, so, despite my anger, I was trying to show a little respect is all.
It’s also interesting that you call Nile’s comments a “guise” for his view on abortion, and yet you see it as inappropriate when I suggest the same thing in regard to Angela. I’m sure you don’t think that it’s alright for supporters of abortion but not for proponents.
You are correct, my treatment of these 2 situation differently has nothing to do with where the respective protagonists fall on the issue of abortion. It has everything to do with how genuine each was with their concern. Let me illustrate what I’m saying with a simple analogy:
If Angela was given the choice to give a massive funding boost to either the anti-bullying movement, or the pro-choice movement, she would have an enormously difficult time making that decision. I suspect she might end up going towards the anti-bullying movement but it would be a marginal call either way.
If Fred Nile was given the choice to give a massive funding boost to either help a women’s mental health clinic or a pro-life campaign, he would have no trouble at all making the decision. He is an outspoken critic of abortion and so quite understandably he would put the funding towards the issue that was close to his heart.
This is why I am willing to call Fred Nile’s Facebook post disingenuous and yet defend Angela’s open letter.
As for the issue of bullying in Fred Nile’s post – you’re right, his post was graciously stated, at least in terms of his tone. But tone is only part of the message. Let’s imagine someone you knew had a problem with alcohol and was in a bad drunk driving accident (God forbid – seeing as you think he’d have a say in the matter). Let’s say that from that day forth this person had a severe physical disability. He lives this way for many years. One day because of his disabilities he is unable to get out of the way of a tram. Tragically he dies. Then someone with well-known as a figurehead of the prohibition movement comes out and posts a very graciously worded post bemoaning the fact that so much of the media is ignoring alcoholism as the root cause of your friends disabilities. Can you not see how in that circumstance you might see the post as insensitive and offensive?
But, you might argue, insensitive and offensive does not automatically equate to bullying. And I would have to say “You might have a point there, theoretical-Glenn“. It’s a bit of an argument over semantics, because the post was pretty awful regardless of what you term it, but there’s definitely a case to say his words weren’t bullying.
Quite clearly his post was going to generate some comments that definitely would be categorized as bullying. Blind Freddy could see that coming and we had a perfectly well-sighted Fred behind the post. I would claim this was a clear case of inciting bullying, but I suspect theoretical-Glenn would argue that he had no way of knowing what was to come so shouldn’t be held responsible.
Then Blind Freddy’s predictions came true and the post was filled with supporters of Fred Nile making awful, hurtful comments. Comments that you yourself have said you’re not trying to defend. At this point I would argue that Mr Nile is being complicit in the bullying. But once again theoretical-Glenn might come back at me with arguments about the importance of free discourse in a public forum, which I would counter has limits but it’s an argument that isn’t completely without merits.
But then Fred Nile took it one step further. He went through and did moderate the comments. He went through and removed any dissenting voices from the comments section, whilst leaving plainly offensive remarks intact. At this point it is quite clearly an endorsement of the bullying. If you edit out everything you don’t like then what is left will be deemed to be what you find acceptable. It is flatly that simple.
Whilst I am rather pleased that my defense is not only welcome, but was worthy of earning a thanks from you, it would have been nice if your counter-argument had been a tiny bit more substantial than “I think you [sic] assessment of the situation is mistaken at ever [sic] level.”. If this is the total sum of your defense I rather strongly advice you to stay with your current field of philosophy, and banish any thoughts of getting into law. To say your self-defense could use a lesson or two in karate might be my greatest under-statement of the night.
So I’m now at a loss as to the purpose of this blog post. At one point you say “Well, “seek to shut her up” is probably not how I would put it. But I hope it’s pretty clear that yes, I do want people to stop doing the sort of thing that Angela has done” but a few sentences later you decry people with the message “Shut up conservative” and then much later still say “Although nobody has ever tried to silence you (contrary to your inexplicable remarks here – where did I ever say that you must not express beliefs on the subject?)”.
So attempting to discredit people to make them shut up is bad, but it was the primary purpose of your letter to stop people like Angela writing open letters, because you believe it was the hidden purpose of Angela’s letter to stop people writing, but you in no way want to her to think that you are trying to silence her on the issue?
I found this a tiny bit confusing so I read over your original letter once again. Once again it read suspiciously like you were trying to discredit her simply because you don’t like her opinions. Maybe you only want to silence her on this issue if she’s getting media exposure, but its fine on your blog?
Maybe you genuinely think she is being fake, in which case you probably should just reread her response explaining that she was being genuine. And mine backing her up. Unless you believe you know her motivations better than she does, because you’re a wise male philosopher?
Know that you’ve already defamed her character you could always just flat ask her?
And whilst you are reading you could reread your blog policy:
Lastly, and this is a biggie – no libel. Please do not make accusations against people (whether individual or corporate) that speak ill of them or lower their standing in the eyes of a reasonable person unless a) it can be substantiated as true, or b) it can be shown to be reasonably held. If a potentially libellous comment is made, I may seek…
“I think you [sic] assessment of the situation is mistaken at ever [sic] level.”. If this is the total sum of your defense…”
Kit, as you know, that sentence was not the sum total. After all, you even quoted other parts of my comment where I interacted with what you had to say. I think some disingenuity is seeping out here. I think maybe my dishonesty radar is a little better than you think it is. 🙂
“But, you might argue, insensitive and offensive does not automatically equate to bullying.”
Actually I wouldn’t even concede first base. It wasn’t inappropriate at all – and I maintain that people are only taking offense because he’s using any situation at all to draw attention to his opposition to abortion. People are “using” this tragedy to highlight the issue of bullying. Is that insensitive and offensive? Are people just wheeling out their hobby horse by doing that? No. So we wouldn’t even get to the point where I felt that I needed to make this argument. Kit, are you not willing to appreciate that if a person believes that abortion is wrong, and if a woman shares her own experience of abortion triggering depression, then it is permissible for them to highlight that fact – and in fact in a gracious manner as Mr Nile did? Are you really, sincerely unwilling and unable to grant this?
“but it was the primary purpose of your letter” Really? And precisely how many times did I suggest that people who disagree with me, Nile, or anyone, should “shut up”? This is flatly false. She doesn’t have to shut up – but I have said that she shouldn’t make dishonest arguments. Do you see a conflict there? There isn’t one. The principle that people should be honest does not mean that they should all shut up.
Regrettably, the more you say here, the more instances I see where it really doesn’t look like you’re being honest, but are instead serving hefty doses of rather disingenuous rhetoric of precisely the sort that I saw fit to comment on in the first place. I wish that were not the case, because you actually seemed to be someone who wanted to be reasonable at first.
PS, Oh please do try and make a case for libel. 🙂
Thank you Glenn and Alabaster for well thought out posts.
Angela … “He cannot on one hand argue that mental illness can happen to anyone and then on the other say that depression is a logical outcome of choosing to have a termination. This is not saying ‘it can happen to anyone’ – this is saying ‘Charlotte Dawson brought this on herself’. ” so why can’t he?
I am sorry to hear of your abuse, I have been through my own hell from abuse and it is what triggered my own battle with depression. However saying “depression is the logical outcome of having been abused” does not prevent the same person saying “depression can happen to anyone”. Your logic is flawed.
Depression CAN happen to anyone. However, depression nearly always has a trigger (or triggers). When I was studying neuroscience at university, my lecturer (probably the top in his field in Australia a decade ago) was studying the link between endogenous depression and triggers – and trying to work out if endogenous depression could be avoided if someone with the genes for depression was never “triggered”. Last I heard, nothing had been confirmed, but can you see where I am going with this?
Depression nearly always has a trigger – Fred Nile has merely pointed out ONE such trigger – a trigger that has been confirmed by science. Knowing one trigger (abortion) does not mean that other events (such as abuse, unemployment, death of a family member and many other difficult life events) also aren’t trigger. It just means there is one known trigger that can potentially be avoided.
Is it possible that most people with depression triggered by an abortion would eventually develop depression? maybe. But maybe not.
If we know a certain trigger for depression, why shouldn’t we do our hardest to avoid it?
And a person can be passionate about defending preborn children from being murdered AND care about the mother’s long term mental health. The two are not mutually exclusive. A person can fight for a cause for more than one reason. Just as religion is not the only reason many people are pro life. Google “secular pro life”. They have some excellent arguments for pro life from a 100% non religious view point.
There are many people like myself who oppose abortion for more than one reason – the first being like Glenn, we respect that all human life is God-given and not ours to end, the second being that science declares life begins at conception and human life is different from animal life (ie the secular pro life arguments) and the third being concern for the huge damage it does to the child’s family – to the mother (mentally AND physically), to the father (if the poor guy even knows), to the grandparents, the siblings and the extended family who have lost the life of someone close to them. You may want to look into the real effects of abortion. Abortion not only increases the risk of mental illness in the mother (and yes she is a mother, even if she kills her own child), but it is also linked to numerous health issues.
It is not disingenuous to have more than one motivation for believing in something. And if you want to question my motivations? For me, it was the first time I held a baby in my arms (I think it was my little sister), I knew I would fight with every fibre of my being to protect not only her, but every helpless defenceless baby. As soon as I was old enough to know what abortion was, I knew it was wrong and I would fight to protect all babies. And holding my own bubbas in my arms just made that urge even stronger – to protect all the babies who don’t have a loving mother to defend them from the moment their existence began.
Hi Kit – and everyone. My this place has been busy!
“I hope I haven’t wound you up too much.”
No, although it’s interesting that you would think you have. It’s also interesting that you call Nile’s comments a “guise” for his view on abortion – so you’re calling him a liar, it seems – and yet you see it as inappropriate when I suggest the same thing in regard to Angela. I’m sure you don’t think that it’s alright for supporters of abortion but not for proponents. because your concern over hypocrisy seems incompatible with that.
Secondly, as for the bullying in the original post by Nile, I am not about to dive into a defence of any of the many and varied people who add comments on a Facebook thread. Nile’s original post was graciously stated, and to compare it to bullying trivialises the seriousness of bullying.
So I think you assessment of the situation is mistaken at every level. However, I thank you for offering your defence of Angela’s comments, which is welcome.
In regard to comments like: “C’mon Glenn, I’ve got to go to work; okay or not okay to say those things on the Facebook post?” which was posted at 1:25pm my time. I don’t know what you do (although I heard somewhere that you’re a PhD student). I work full time, and 1:25pm is in the middle of the day, when I can’t always make use of the blog. As it happens, today I was away on business and arrived home this evening. So maybe repeatedly commenting during the day about the fact that I haven’t come back to my blog to answer you isn’t the best way to address or to elicit comments from me.
I have never defended language like “self-inflicted” right after a person’s death (your apparent desire to re-portray my criticisms nowithstanding). What I have commented on, however, is your open letter, which claimed that it is “pitiful” that anyone should, at this time, draw a connection between abortion and its potentially harmful effects, because they are opposed to abortion. Although nobody has ever tried to silence you (contrary to your inexplicable remarks here – where did I ever say that you must not express beliefs on the subject?), I think some of your remarks belie what is really going on, as I explain in this blog post. I continue to think that your open letter was disingenuous, although I hold out no hope at all of getting you so agree.
I mean no offense to you when I say this, but are you more popular than I realized? To have Angela herself grace you with her presence on your blog either means she’s out looking for people to argue with or you’ve got a much bigger presence online than I realized. (I mean, I like your blog, but I always figured it was a bit niche…)
“are you more popular than I realized?”
Almost certainly not! 🙂 I linked to Angela’s blog, and in her blog dashboard she would have seen that I had done so.
Ooooh! That’s something I didn’t know! Thanks for letting me know! 😀
For what it is worth, in the thread at atheistfoundation.org.au where Angela linked to this thread that you’re now reading, at least a couple of people there have indicated that they have now read this thread at Right Reason. In reaction to comments that I have made here, people over there are using words like “twat,” “c*nt,” people with my view are described as having “dementia.” Prior to Angela’s link, Nile is described as a “bastard” and a “wanker.”
Although Angela observed all of this, she said nothing about it. And yet, by virtue of the fact that Mr Nile did not remove comments that called abortion “murder” (for example), she deems him to be perpetuating bullying.
I also note that people in that thread have read this one and seen some of the remarks that their peers have made here: Wishing my death, calling me a “c*nt,” hoping that my wife and I have lost a child, calling me a “piece of sh*t,” and declaring that really I deserve worse than all this. And yet in spite of having read this, they all seem to approve of it, and feel that the only thing worthy of comment is how people who hold my view are a bunch of twats.
I believe that this – in addition to anything that I have already said – vindicates quite clearly my observation that Angela’s concern was not about the existence and severity of bullying. It was simply an excuse to bash somebody who holds a different view on abortion, and it now appears (and this is an additional point, not the same one) that she and her peers don’t have a problem with bullying at all, provided it is done for the “right” reasons.
My nose for motive might not be so bad after all.
Another recent tragedy: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2568586/Oxford-student-hanged-splitting-boyfriend.html
People like Angela, I am sorry to say, are on a campaign that hurts women. Personally, I think the very angry reaction that we see when people point to terrible facts like these (or to the scientific findings), is because it says to the women who promote abortion rights that their pursuit of “freedom” kills people, which is the equivalent of blasphemy. Selfishness kills. The faux-concern for the victims of bullies takes on a pretty dark, sinister dishonesty: Pretending to care about the victim, while promoting policies that create victims.
This story quoted above is a flat-out fabrication. Those events did not happen; no evidence exists anywhere to substantiate this fantasy and I was at no point even consulted about these lies.
When I was consulted, the evidence (as well as multiple eyewitnesses) demonstrated them to be completely fabricated. They are lies, based on no evidence whatsoever, distributed by this woman’s boyfriend Benjamin Fardell and her housemate Brooke Berndtson (two people I had never even heard of), who were eager to point the finger at a completely innocent person.
Coursier herself stalked, threatened and harassed me, for two and half years; prior to that, she had assaulted me and the police were called (a witness was present too). She had earlier been detained by the police for harassing my wife; and she later stalked my wife & son for months. She stalked me at my seminars where she turned up pretending not to know me, as witnessed by many others.
Finally, many people connected to her, including her boyfriend, her housemate, her academic department and the Thames Valley Police, were repeatedly warned about her behaviour and her past suicide attempts; but completely ignored these notifications; and then this was later covered up.
The story is a flat-out lie. I did none of those things.
Thank you for pointing this out, Jeffrey. I’m sorry you endured those accusations.
Thank you for your informative blog. I am astounded at some of the posters here but thank you for leaving their posts up – very informative. How ironic that Angela should call for compassion and understanding in her original open letter!
Keep up the good work.
I wonder do we often not bypass the most important question in these debates – “What is the unborn?”. If the unborn are not human persons then I don’t think it matters if women have abortions any more than if they choose to have cosmetic surgery. If the unborn are just “clumps of cells” then we should not be discouraging abortions. Instead, we should be seeking to remove the stigma surrounding abortions that might otherwise harm the woman.
However, if the unborn are human persons everything changes. The reasons that are often given for abortion seem to collapse under the value of this unborn child. While I think it is important to talk about the effects that abortion can have on women, it seems to me that this will always be ancillary to that all important question, “What is the unborn?”. Everything follows from that.
For more on this I would encourage people to watch this excellent debate between Nadine Strossen and Scott Klusendorf – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecqUpowyahQ. Both were eloquent and managed to engaged with each other in a very respectful manner. People like Matt from Perth , Michelle, Bev et al. would do well to learn from this type of discourse.
I happen to think that Scott Klusendorf has formulated one of the most accessible and robust cases against abortion on demand that I’ve encountered. Realising that his audience isn’t necessarily going to share the same religious conviction as he does (Christianity) he argues for the humanness and person-hood of the unborn from scientific and philosophical grounds. Although he will often make sure to talk explicitly about Jesus at some point and how Christianity grounds value for all human life and what it has to say about forgiveness.
You can watch a detailed course he gave at Biola on abortion here – http://lti-blog.blogspot.ie/2011/10/advanced-pro-life-apologetics-course.html. Note that he is not afraid to engage with the strongest arguments of the pro-abortion movement. Perhaps some on the same side who have posted here would return the favour. Sadly I haven’t seen evidence of it yet.
Well, glad I took a break when I did. Yes Glenn, you were correct, I did become a little pushy there. So I decided to take a step back and think about this from a few other angles.
What I realised is this:
You are not actually capable of hearing anything through your self satisfied screeches of ‘liar, liar’. It doesn’t matter how calm and rational I am, you respond exactly the same to quiet reason as vitriolic abuse. You are like an over fed parrot trapped by your own privilege and entitlement. Another petty white boy who thinks that your education and conservative leaning gives you the right to enforce your opinions (and petty nastiness) onto anyone that you can browbeat into listening. Talking to you is a waste of time. There is no room for discourse around this topic, you are too in love with the sound of your rabid self satisfaction to actually hear anything I say.
So you continue on thinking that my rage on this topic was fake and that I was taking advantage of poor little Nile to push my evil anti bullying agenda. That is okay. You have confirmed all of my worst impressions about the intransigence, aggressiveness and irrationality of conservative thinkers.
You have proven that no action is too inappropriate for a ‘man of faith’ to support as long as another god botherer tells him that is what he is supposed to think. Despite the many positive platitudes in your blog description, you are just another little ‘christian philosopher’ who can only think what you’re given permission to think. And that’s okay. You enjoy your pretentious little hole of judgement and hate and I’m going to get on with living my life and not caring what nasty little conservatives think about me.
PS. I had the good grace to edit my post when you pointed out the mistake. I have now written my correct name here many, many times, and you have never gone to change your mistake in your post. I suppose that is a more relevant reflection of our conflicting styles than anything we’ve said above. I care about and value constructive and formative feedback. You just want to call people nasty names, while waving your ‘Dr’ label and begging for donations. I’m more than comfortable in my corner. Enjoy.
I must need some more schoolin’ because I thought all the vitriol and anger and name calling etc. was coming from Angela’s cohorts.
Oh – I see it, the surname. Fixed now.
Angela, yes you corrected your comment about Mr Nile’s late wife (one that showed that you really lacked the background knowledge you were claiming) when I specifically mentioned it in your thread.
So why didn’t you just say here – “You got my last name wrong”? Or is that too hard for a trapped, over-fed, privileged conservative parrot like me to understand? Are you sure you couldn’t pack any more rhetoric into that? 🙂
As an illustration of just how little you were listening to begin with, you’re accusing me now of portraying you as pushing an anti-bullying agenda. Really. Even though I observed precisely the opposite, saying that you were not really fighting bullying, you were just fighting someone who disagreed with you about abortion. But let us not forget, I am “not actually capable of hearing anything through [my] self satisfied screeches.”
“You have confirmed all of my worst impressions about the intransigence, aggressiveness and irrationality of conservative thinkers.”
Oh gee Glenn, thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.
What I want to know from Angela is what qualifies one as a “conservative?” Is it anyone who doesn’t agree with one, some or any of her views? Is it any Christian or just Christians who read the Bible? And what the heck is a “god botherer?”
I’m on record here arguing for state welfare and I frequently write about how conservative evangelical theology gets it wrong, so “conservative” has to just mean that I don’t agree with Angela on abortion. But I wouldn’t read too much into it – it really was just a collection of rhetoric packed into a comment that otherwise said nothing.
That most certainly is a regrettable post, Angela.
As a member of the popularly hated group currently referred to as “conservative evangelical” I’ll try not to read anything into any of that. 😉
“So I decided to take a step back and think about this from a few other angles.”
Ignoring all the instances of ad hominem, all you’re doing is rationalizing why your actions are right and why Glenn has to be a bad person. You’re justifying your prejudice against Glenn by accusing him of being a educated, white male. I find it interesting you’re calling upon this narrative, since on your blog it states you’re writing a PhD regarding narratives and power.
I though you were mostly respectful at the beginning, but I’m disappointed to see that your interactions with Glenn and others on this blog have become more vindictive and personal. At this point, I think nothing more will come of this. I’m Hopeful you can come back at a later point and look a bit more objectively at this comments section. If and when you do, I hope you’re able to see that “pretty white boy” Glenn was not the one who was being rude.
If Glenn was a pro-life atheist, would this have played out any different?
Also, if someone thinks that abortion is murder…what does that have anything to do with being a Christian?
Why not attack Glenn’s point that “abortion is murder” instead of just criticizing someones religious affiliation?
Do atheists think that murder should be legal?
This conversation have been so illuminating, just absolutely fascinating. I gotta say that I have a lot of respect for how Glenn has engaged his ideological opponents, particularly when his guileless arguments are met with such juvenile vitriol. Bravo, Glenn. Angela and her friends could learn from your example; they would certainly be received better if they lost the pretentious anger. At the very least they could learn the lesson from Proverbs 17:27-28:
“The intelligent person restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a man of understanding. Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning when he seals his lips.”
I am a member of the AFA Forum moderation team, as you will probably have seen from the thread you linked and referenced here.
It seems that you (and other commenters) have attributed some pretty nasty and objectionable blog comments by “Annie Nonymouse”, “Michelle” and “Matt from Perth” to members of the AFA and /or Forum, apparently based on the “click through” from the link that Angela Williams posted in our thread.
In investigating the matter at our end, I’ve spoken to Forum members with similar Forum and/or real life names, to the “screen names” given on your blog comments.
I could reasonably do this in respect of two of those “screen names”. However, those Forum members categorically stated that they have never submitted a comment of any kind to your blog, including the ones under those screen names. Indeed, they are angry and upset about being implicated in them, in any way. The third “screen name” is one I’m unable to usefully do this for.
It is also relevant that anyone on the internet who accesses our discussion threads can “click through” an included linked article or URL, regardless of whether they are a registered forum user and/or logged on, or not. Any random “lurker” could have thus done so and placed those comments on your blog, while being completely unconnected with the AFA or Forum. We are currently looking at possible technical options to mitigate this in future.
You may have additional evidence that one or more of our registered users did post those comments, which might tend to support the implied claims in your blog to that effect. However, in the absence of any such evidence, my interim conclusion is that those comments and their originator(s) have “trolled” both the AFA Forum, and your blog.
Naturally, we’d be quite annoyed by that sort of misrepresentation if that were the case, as I anticipate that you would be. We’d certainly like to get to the bottom of the matter, with your help if you’re able and willing.
Please email me back via the address I submitted with this comment to discuss further.
For reference, I will be placing a note about this matter and a copy of this correspondence in our discussion thread, as I feel our members and users should be aware of it.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Logic please – AFA Forum
“It seems that you (and other commenters) have attributed some pretty nasty and objectionable blog comments by “Annie Nonymouse”, “Michelle” and “Matt from Perth” to members of the AFA and /or Forum”
Just to underscore this – I doubled-checked my comments just now and did not attribute the comments to members of the AFA and / or forum. Of course I’m not able to tell who made the comments or whether or not they are members at any website – only that I had been getting some traffic from people who arrived here via the AFA forum, which only shows that at roughly the time the comments appeared, some people who had read the AFA forum arrived at this thread. I’m not bothered by the comments, but I can understand why you might be, so I’ll drop you a line tonight.
EDIT: This thread is now, once more, about the issues raised in the blog post (or about nothing, should people no longer wish to discuss those issues, which is fine).
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