Glenn K. Beaton is a writer and columnist living in Colorado. He has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, RealClearPolitics, Powerline, Instapundit, American Thinker and numerous other print, radio and television outlets.
First Lady Jill Biden asked to be called “Doctor” after her husband was elected president. She’s not actually a doctor. She’s also not nearly as smart as one and so she thought the title made her look like she was, at least to stupid people who don’t know better.
The justification for “Doctor” Jill’s request to be called a doctor was she has an EdD. That’s a doctoral degree in education. It’s a little like a PhD but much easier to obtain. No EdD in the entire universe could pass an introductory college chemistry or physics course.
I suppose I could ask to be called a “doctor” too, since my law degree is a J.D., a Juris Doctor, but my friends would laugh at that request, and rightly so.
“In the popular television series Stranger Things, the “upside down” describes a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world. (See Stranger Things, Netflix 2022). Recently, Florida has seemed like a First Amendment upside down. Normally, the First Amendment bars the state from burdening speech, while private actors may burden speech freely. But in Florida, the First Amendment apparently bars private actors from burdening speech, while the state may burden speech freely.”
–U.S. District Judge Mark Walker
So goes the opening paragraph of the ruling by the referenced judge enjoining the enforcement of a law recently passed by Florida’s elected representatives prohibiting employers from imposing political indoctrination on their employees.
I practiced before federal court judges including the Supreme Court Justices and respect almost all of them, including Democrat appointees. When I saw a news account quoting this language, I assumed it must be from a state court judge, not a federal court judge.
James Weatherly’s lyrics having been written half a century ago, one can only wonder what “the man” might think of today’s L.A.
It probably doesn’t matter. After all, it was over a century and a half ago that the town of Concord, Massachusetts, with its whopping population of about 2,200, had grown too much for another man, who sought his simpler place and time on the shores of Walden Pond.
Thoreau’s celebrated experiment was little more than a grand and somewhat phony gesture by a self-impressed social misfit with a Harvard education. Nevertheless, he used the occasion to fire off some trenchant commentary about a social and economic system in which “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Embraced by liberal academia, his book would sell like hotcakes in the 20th century.
But back to the song by Gladys Knight and the Pips — with its all-American roots in R&B, Doo-wop, Country, and one other musical genre to be touched upon shortly.
The theme is familiar. Indeed, it’s not a stretch to say that the very creation of America in the European mind was an effort to catch the midnight train to Georgia. Yes, many came in the pursuit of wealth, even empire, but the tired, huddled masses were dreaming more modestly of a plot of earth and the intangibles that came with it. In their most purely idyllic fantasies, they imagined themselves as De Crevecoeur’s “new man,” an innocent new Adam dissociated from the historic past, dwelling in a paradise regained.
Some, like Brigham Young, claimed to have reached this place. More sober minds have acknowledged that the “new” man brought the old history with him — indeed, his descendants are up to their necks in the continued making of that history, some of it more dreadful than ever — and that it’s become nigh unto impossible to find a nook or cranny of America’s geography in which “Georgia” can be found. The TV series “Yellowstone,” for example, depicts a montane pastoral idyll filled with men and women whose desperation is far from “quiet.”
Back to the song — not that we should necessarily find the wisdom of the ages in a piece of pop music.
The first thing to understand is that it’s not about “the man,” his defeat and retreat, nor is it about Georgia. Rather, its subject and protagonist is the woman whose voice we are hearing, and who also will be boarding that train — not because her life is quietly desperate, but because “I’d rather live in his world, than live without him in mine.” It’s the principal declaration of the song, and presumably it hasn’t come without some internal conflict.
Perhaps she hadn’t been reading Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, but surely their question, which was blowing in the zeitgeist, had entered her mind — Was she going to Georgia only to raise this guy’s barefoot children and braise collard greens on the cook stove? Not well played, girl.
But if she is still conflicted, you’re not hearing it in her voice, which is positive, forward-looking, uplifted. It’s almost like we’re listening to a piece of Gospel music, which in fact happens to be the other major formative influence on this song. (Listen to it HERE and tell me you can’t hear The Pips sounding an “Amen” after almost every musical phrase.) Now capitalize the two male pronouns — “I’d rather live in His world, than live without Him in mine” — and you’re listening to two thousand years’ worth of Christian saints. Convert these words to female pronouns, and you’re thinking like a medieval chivalric knight about the secret lady of his heart, knowing that, socially, he can never live in her world, but will remain committed to living for her world until the day of his death.
Pretty noble stuff. “He who would lose his life for my sake shall find it.” This woman’s happiness does not lie in Georgia, but rather in her commitment to another person who appears to offer her something more than material comfort in Madonna’s material world.
Fifty years later we find ourselves among ideologues often characterized as utopians — “Great Reset,” New World Order types who feel that, if only we can erase past history and present values, together with the kind of people and thinking that created them, blend Western religion into a more universal spirituality that honors the Earth and no longer subjects it to “dirty,” non-renewable sources of energy, and liberate ourselves from “gender” stereotypes and so on, then behold The New Georgia and truly new men and women!
I don’t think the Gladys Knight persona would be buying it. You want “Georgia”? Just get on the train. It’s nearly midnight, when one day comes to an end, and a new day begins.
“My body, my choice” is a favorite slogan of abortion advocates. It’s thin gruel.
To the extent this slogan is an analysis and not just a chant, it assumes the conclusion. It assumes that a fetus anywhere from hours old to nearly born is simply owned in a legal property sense by the mother in whom it resides.
But that’s the whole question, right? That question is not answered by just determining the location of the fetus. If it were, then a mother wrapping her arms around her baby or toddler or husband could make the same argument; “My body, my choice.” Or could leave a toddler outside the house overnight with the argument, “My house, my choice.”
In other areas of law, philosophy, religion and morality, we don’t subordinate the rights of living creatures to legal property interests. The left’s sudden libertarian argument that it can do whatever it wants with whatever it owns seems not to apply in such things as building codes that require carbon monoxide detectors in “my” house. Or laws against indecent exposure of “my” body. Or noise ordinances against “my” stereo. Or laws against me ending “my” life. Or laws requiring me to wear a seat belt in “my” car.
So, what about “My house, my body, my stereo, my life, my car . . . my choice”?
You may reply that in those examples, there’s a societal interest countervailing the individual interest. We don’t want people to have to see your naughty bits, or hear your noise, or breathe your car’s emissions. But what about the laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in my house? And what about the laws requiring me to wear a seat belt? And laws prohibiting me from ending my life? It’s hard to argue that society has a direct interest in those things.
Here’s another example. Suppose a person buys a dog. Unlike a soon-to-be-born baby, the dog is indisputably owned by its owner. The dog is legally the owner’s property.
Suppose further that the dog owner decides when the puppy is about eight months old that he doesn’t want a dog after all. It’s too much effort, too expensive, too constraining, too interfering with the owner’s dating life, and too limiting on the travel that’s necessary for the owner’s career.
Note that there’s an alternative for a dog owner who changes his mind. He can bring the dog to the animal shelter where another person can adopt it.
Should the owner be allowed instead to slice and dice the dog with a machete and vacuum up the pieces, as we do with a fetus in a dilatation and extraction abortion?
After all, my dog, my choice. And after all, a dog is not a human being, is it?
No, we don’t allow that, and we shouldn’t. The reason we don’t allow that is that we’re not barbarians. We don’t have public executions either.
So, the abortion-on-demand crowd is left with the position that dogs have more right to life than 8-month-old unborn babies. Really?
There’s ownership and there’s ownership. What you “own” is not determinative of what you’re allowed to do with it. Society has a legitimate interest in regulating activities that lessen us as a culture.
After that little rant, you might assume I’m an abortion abolitionist. I’m not. I see it as the most difficult political/social/moral/legal issue of our time. I firmly believe the Supreme Court was right in deciding in an exercise of judicial modesty that it’s not a decision for them but for the people. As one of those people, I would favor state legislation that bars abortion in most instances after 15 weeks, as they do in most of Europe and all of Mississippi, but not before.
In that, I think I’m balancing legitimate and even a few illegitimate interests of a mother against legitimate interests of society and legitimate interests of the living creature within her womb. I recognize that others may reach a different balance. That’s why this is a decision for the people, not the judges.
It’s complicated. Saying that a fertilized egg is a human being like you and me that is entitled to all the protections of one, and so “abortion is murder,” does no more to illuminate the discussion than saying “My body, my choice.” Let’s get beyond sloganeering.