The Chris Rock quote that got so many conservatives so up in arms about abortion appears to be more pro-life than pro-choice, according to John Swansburg writing on Slate.
The controversy involves this line from Rock: “It’s beautiful that abortion is legal” and says that he likes to pick up women at abortion rallies. “‘Cause you know they’re [expletive].”
But that isolated sentiment is part of a larger theme in Rock’s routine, and, in reasonable context, constitutes a slap at the frivolity of “choice.”
“When a woman gets pregnant, it’s a choice between the woman"—here Rock pauses, a mischievous grin barely restrained—"and her girlfriends.” From there: “One girlfriend goes, ‘Child, you should have that baby—that man got some good hair…' And the other girlfriend says, ‘Child, why we even talking about this—ain’t we supposed to go to Cancun next week? Get rid of that baby!’ " And that, Rock says, “is how life is decided in America.”
That sounds more like Pat Buchanan than Patricia Ireland.
I stayed out of the Rock controversy when it was boiling because a) I could not care less what a comedian says in his routine, and b) I had a feeling some on the right needed to adopt my attitude mentioned in a) above. I’m glad I did. If I were a Chris Rock fan, I supposed I’d have known the complete bit, but I’m not.
It seems that Rock’s attitude is very reflective of many Americans. We are cautious about saying “you can’t” to anything, but we are suspicious about why you’d want to. When someone wants the “right” to have an abortion, we think of a child asking his parent, “what if I got a detention?” In Rock’s words we hear that the legality of abortion means little, but the willingness to commit leaves him cold and questioning. A swimming suit or a child. Moral equals?
Which brings us to the whole problem of semantics. Were I to tell you that hiking the north 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail were risky, you might think of delays, twisted ankles, and other inconveniences. But were I to say those same 100 miles were dangerous, you might picture cat amounts, landslides–perhaps that one in every 100 hikers is never seen nor heard from again.
The abortion industry commandeered the word “choice” a long time ago. A choice is between two options of relatively equal value. A decision, on the other hand, is weightier. It involves “choosing” between peril and safety, right and wrong, good and evil. At its moral best, an abortion might be murder. We don’t know. But whether or not to risk another’s death cannot be a choice. It must be a very carefully weighed decision. The abortionist knows that treating abortion as a moral decision and not a choice of mere convenience among moral equivalents will make abortion economically unfeasible. While law may permit the act, there would be little financial incentive to make the procedure one’s specialty.
To those one the right who oppose abortion and feel lost in the political or court system, you may want to champion Chris Rock’s attitude: it’s not a choice, it’s moral decision that may or may not equal murder.