No, No, No: ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Isn’t Socialist, Okay?

Published: Dec. 28, 2018
At: The Federalist

There seems to be a blooming holiday tradition in certain circles to attack “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This year we have Michael Graham in the Boston Herald taking up the ill-considered assault on Frank Capra’s masterpiece.

Graham argues both that “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a bad film on a technical level and that its message is bad. His reason for saying it’s a bad film hinges on a claim that the plot makes no sense (“makes about as much sense as Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez explaining the defense budget” are Graham’s exact words) because Clarence didn’t simply tell George where his missing $8,000 went.

That’s his entire critique of the film from a technical perspective. The idea that the missing money is merely a catalyst for deeper matters amply established throughout the film, and that these issues of regret, self-loathing, and blindness might be considered more important to an angel sent from God, apparently didn’t occur to Graham. As we shall see, this is part and parcel of his whole perspective.

Having dismissed “It’s a Wonderful Life” on a technical level with a single ill-informed paragraph, he proceeds to tackle the film’s message. Graham’s position is that George’s life is “pretty awful” because he endures a lot of suffering, is unable to go to college or even on his honeymoon, and “his kids wear second-hand clothes and get sick from the cold…because George can’t afford nice things for his family.” Graham then claims the film’s vindication of George’s life “fails” because “his life still stinks. He’s not, in fact, rich or even financially secure…and on top of that, Potter gets to keep the eight grand!”

Thus, apparently, Graham’s definition of a good life is one in which we are “rich, or even financially secure,” able to do what we like, able to avoid suffering as much as possible, and perhaps one in which evil people are punished as well. He then rather absurdly goes on to claim that “It’s a Wonderful Life” represents socialist, New Deal-style economics, and that it was intended for “the workers at a Soviet collective circa 1949,” with the message “who cares that you have no shoes? Back to the factory for Mother Russia.”

Ironically, Graham’s view of the good life as defined primarily by material security and wellbeing is far closer to a socialist perspective than anything in the film. The foundational idea of Marxism is that the world is purely material, and therefore creating material security and equality for the most people is the highest good.

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What Makes ‘Die Hard’ A Christmas Movie

Published: Dec. 17, 2018
At: The Federalist

The 1988 action classic “Die Hard,“ starring Bruce Willis and the late Alan Rickman, has become standard holiday season viewing in the 30 years since its release, but the debate remains: Is it really a “Christmas movie,” or just a movie that happens to be set at Christmas?

Of course, that question ultimately doesn’t matter much. It’s only a matter of genre, which has really no bearing on either our enjoyment or understanding of a film. That said, as far as there can be an objective qualification for “Christmas movie,” I’d say “Die Hard” meets the requirements.

What Counts As a Christmas Movie?

Since the question hinges on there being a difference between a Christmas movie proper and a movie set around Christmas, it seems that a Christmas movie proper is a film that has some thematic element of Christmas as a central part of its story, while also linking this theme with the Christmas holiday itself. For instance, generosity and kindness are Christmas themes, but a film is not a Christmas movie for featuring them, only if they are linked with the Christmas season (otherwise something like “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” would be considered a Christmas movie).

So a Christmas movie is a movie specifically about Christmas and the related ideas of love, generosity, family, and so on. “Miracle on 34th Street” is a Christmas movie, not only because it is set during Christmas and features Santa Claus, but because it is all about putting innocence, generosity, and kindness ahead of modern cynicism and consumerism.

It would be going too far to say that “Die Hard” has the same moral premise as “Miracle on 34th Street,” but it wouldn’t be wholly inaccurate either, because “Die Hard” is all about the clash between love and materialism.

The Allure of Greed

The film, as most of us well know, follows New York cop John McClane as he flies out to Los Angeles to visit his family for Christmas. He is separated from his wife, Holly, who moved to LA to take a lucrative job with the Nakatomi Corporation. Soon after he meets her at the company Christmas party, the building is taken over by terrorists led by the intimidating Hans Gruber, who are looking to rob the high-tech vault of half a billion dollars.

One of the perennial temptations of the Christmas season is losing sight of the actual meaning of the holiday and becoming too preoccupied by the materialistic desire for gain (Black Friday gives us yearly examples of this sort of thing in action). The celebration of Christmas, and even visits with family and friends, turn into rote, mechanical exchanges, in which we simply go through the motions, without considering any deeper purpose to the holiday. “Die Hard,” in its own way, is all about this phenomenon, about losing sight of what is truly important amid the commercial, the material, and the automated.

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What We’ve Learned From 30 Years Of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’

Published: Nov. 26, 2018
At: The Federalist

Thirty years ago a quirky little show had its rough debut on a Minneapolis local TV channel called KTMA. The premise was simple: a man watches some of the worst films ever made and supplies humorous commentary, accompanied by his two robot companions, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo.

It took a couple seasons to work out the formula, but once they did Joel Hodgson, Jim Mallon, Trace Beaulieu, and the rest of the “Best Brains” crew had a genre-defining show on their hands. From 1988 to 1999, across 11 seasons (including the embryonic and now hard-to-find KTMA episodes), the cast of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” reviewed nearly 200 films, while the cast and crew slowly changed.

Hodgson stepped down as host midway through season five to pursue other projects, replaced by head writer Mike Nelson. Beaulieu, the original voice of Crow T. Robot, left at the end of season seven and was replaced by writer Bill Corbett. After seven seasons with Comedy Central, the show moved to the Sci-Fi Channel, while a feature film was released in theaters in April 1996. But the basic premise of a man and two robots riffing on terrible or cheesy films remained the same all the way up to the end.

Now, three decades after its debut, MST3k, as it’s affectionately known, has legions of fans around the world, has spawned innumerable imitators and successors (most notably a revival series on Netflix and the web-series “Rifftrax” featuring the latter-day cast of the show) and its legacy is showing no sign of slowing down. So, what makes this show continue to attract people 30 years later?

Carefully Timed, Smart Jokes

Part of it is, of course, simply the humor; a group of very talented, very funny people reacting to some of the strangest and poorest films ever made. The Best Brains developed a distinct style of comedy, blending encyclopedic knowledge of cultural and entertainment subjects with clever wordplay and precision timing. They generally didn’t simply override the film, but carefully matched the gags to the events on screen, so what was said and what was happening came together to form the complete joke.

As the letters the cast used to read at the end of each episode demonstrated, the show made many, many people happy, and gave countless viewers a smile when they needed it most. That alone is worthy of commendation. But the show probably wouldn’t have found the audience it has if it weren’t for another factor: the jokes are not just funny, they’re often extremely smart, playing on cultural reference points that most of the audience won’t even get, but those who do will laugh twice as hard.

This doesn’t just appeal to the viewers. It also serves as a kind of cultural time capsule. Part of the MST3k “formula” was the writers’ vast knowledge of cultural and entertainment subjects. Since each episode was so long—about 90 minutes—each probably averaged well more than 100 individual jokes. These ranged over nearly every subject imaginable, from history and religion to politics and pop culture.

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Why The Original ‘Halloween’ Movie’s Horror Is Ageless

Published: Oct. 25, 2018
At: The Federalist

After four decades of sequels, imitations, parodies, and remakes, it can be a little surprising to return to the original “Halloween” and find what a unique film it truly is.

The story is of course familiar. Six-year-old Michael Myers suddenly stabs his sister to death on Halloween and is committed to an insane asylum for life. Exactly 15 years later, he escapes and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, where he targets shy teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her two friends, Annie and Linda. Meanwhile, his therapist, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), who alone knows what Myers truly is, tries to hunt him down and stop him.

Watching “Halloween” and knowing what came after is an interesting experience. The film was copied so much that it essentially spawned an entire subgenre of blood-soaked films wherein masked serial killers stalked and murdered promiscuous teenagers in ever more lurid ways.

But “Halloween” is a very different animal from its imitators, or even its own sequels. Its power does not lie in its gore or body count — in fact, it’s almost entirely bloodless — but in its ideas and implications. What became tired and ridiculous tropes — the killer who seemingly can’t be killed, who always wears a mask, who preys on teenagers, etc. — are here carefully considered writing choices with a clear purpose: as clues pointing to the true nature of the thing that was Myers.

Here I am regarding this film as an isolated work, without consideration of any of the sequels, and especially without considering the “revelation” in the second film regarding Myers’ relationship with Strode (John Carpenter claims this development was the result of trying to fight writer’s block with daily six-packs of beer, which I have no trouble believing). “Halloween” was never meant to have a sequel, and it is best enjoyed as such.

To understand this film, it is necessary to understand its monster. The thing in “Halloween” is usually referred to as Michael Myers, the name of the young boy in the opening. However, that’s not how Nick Castle is credited. He’s listed as playing “The Shape.” What is a shape? It is form without matter. A circle has the same nature, whether rendered in wood, ink, smoke, or mathematical notation. Thus, the Shape in “Halloween” is some form or reality that can materialize in many different ways, but always with the same nature.

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Why I Remain Catholic In Spite Of The Church’s Latest Scandal

Published: Oct. 1, 2018
At: The Federalist

Korey Maas presented a thoughtful article in The Federalist regarding Catholics who remain with the church despite the latest abuse scandals. He did not so much argue against their decision as express dissatisfaction with the reasons prominent Catholics have given publicly.

In the wake of the latest scandal, which now involve even the holy father himself, many prominent Catholics have come out declaring that their reasoning for remaining Catholic is that it is all about Jesus. Maas understandably responds by asking, If that’s your whole reason, then isn’t that also true of Protestant denominations and the Anglican and Orthodox churches?

I don’t particularly like getting into inter-denominational debates with Protestants, mostly because I think all Christians today face much bigger problems than each other. However, as the question has been raised, I feel it my duty to answer it, and I will answer both his direct challenge – Do you believe Protestants have Christ? – and the question of why I will never jump the Bark of Peter.

In the first place, Maas is perfectly correct, as far as it goes, when he says, “If the Christian faith is ultimately and essentially about trust in Jesus Christ and him alone, and if one attends church to hear the word of God in scripture, why not choose to hear that word and have that trust cultivated in a less compromised environment?” (Although judging from that he apparently is unaware of the immense sex abuse problem in Protestant churches, which I do not bring up to deflect from the Catholic problem, but in response to his description of Protestant denominations as a “less compromised environment.”)

More importantly, he misses the rather crucial fact that, for Catholics, one does not primarily attend church to hear the word of God in scripture, but to adore and receive the Eucharist. The sacraments and apostolic succession essentially derail his argument entirely, at least as regards the Protestant denominations. (It is more complicated regarding the Orthodox, Anglican, and similar churches. However, it would take too long to adequately delve into them here.)

He is also gravely mistaken if he thinks “Christ alone saves” is in any way complicated by Catholic doctrines regarding the Blessed Virgin or the Papacy, as if they had any independent glory or worth outside of Christ. The absolute sovereignty of Christ and the necessity of his saving act are at the very heart of Catholic doctrine. Everything else, from Mary and the saints to the church hierarchy, is derived from and directed to that end.

But now I will answer his question directly. The Protestant asks: “Do you believe Protestants have Christ?” The Roman answers: “Not as we do.”

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Why Our Day Is Far More Religious Than The Middle Ages Was

Published: Sep. 20, 2018
At: The Federalist

The Middle Ages are often described as “the Age of Faith.” But surely, if any age deserves that epithet, it is ours.

True, the Middle Ages were the age of Christianity, but hardly the age of faith. If we take faith in the common, though oversimplified sense of blind belief in that which is not seen or understood, then the Middle Ages, with their worshipful admiration of Aristotle, fine definitions, and extremely precise use of language, and monasteries full of busy monks copying and commenting on scholarly texts, are the reverse of the age of faith.

An educated man in the Middle Ages might have believed in many things that we today would question, but he could tell us exactly why he believed them and cite both past scholarship and empirical observations in support of his ideas. An educated man of the postmodern age can only repeat what he’s been told must be true and assume you are in some manner a bad person if you question it.

For instance, take the famous case of Galileo. The contemporary man just knows, because he’s been told, that Galileo proved the Earth goes around the Sun and was persecuted for daring to disprove religious dogma. How he’s supposed to have done this, what arguments he and his opponents employed, why the Earth was believed to be the center of the solar system in the first place, and so on would hardly ever even occur to the contemporary man. For him, it’s simply a matter that Galileo was right, his opponents were wrong.

The educated man of the Middle Ages or Renaissance, by contrast, could tell you exactly why the Earth must be the center of the solar system based on empirical observations and sound reasoning. He could cite the arguments for and, what is more important, the arguments against his own position.

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‘The Incredibles 2’ Is A Story About Triumphing Over Adversity Rather Than Blaming It For Your Failure

Published: Jun. 25, 2018
At: The Federalist

The first “Incredibles” was simultaneously one of the best family films and one of the best superhero films of all time. It is perhaps too much to expect that a sequel 14 years later could recapture the magic. It does not, but it still manages to be a worthy sequel and a solid film.

The movie picks up right where the original left off: with the Parr family fighting the Underminer. The battle goes sideways, which destroys the public goodwill the family earned defeating Syndrome in the first film. As a result, the Parrs find themselves out of work, living in a motel, and without legal protection for any future superheroics.

As Bob and Helen try to decide what to do next for their family, they receive a tempting offer: a pair of billionaire siblings, Winston and Evelyn Deavor, want to hire Elastigirl to become the new public face of superheroes to gin up public support for re-legalization. This requires Helen to leave Bob in charge of the household for a few days while she does covert heroics, reversing the dynamic of the first film. Meanwhile, a mysterious new villain called “the Screenslaver” challenges the heroes.

The first “Incredibles” movie’s themes and story were as perfectly fitted as the heroes’ skintight costumes. It’s different in the sequel. Many character developments and plot threads lack satisfactory conclusions, and Mr. Incredible is particularly ill served by the story.

Yet this new film still has Brad Bird behind it, meaning it’s not just smartly written and entertaining, but also tackles some interesting ideas, especially for today. From what superficially appears to be a standard SJW storyline of female empowerment and male incompetence, the film diverges into a much more interesting, universal, and realistic set of conclusions.

Describing these will require spoilers, so I recommend you see the film before reading further. Quite apart from the characters and ideas, it’s worth the price of admission for the intensely creative superhero action scenes alone (my favorites being a backyard brawl between baby Jack-Jack and a thieving raccoon and a one-on-one fight between Violet and a new Super named Voyd).

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Ten Years Later, ‘WALL-E’ Has Only Become More Insightful

Published: Jun. 27, 2018
At: The Federalist

My parents’ house stands near both a small wooded park and an elementary school. One day, my father was sitting on the porch when he saw several kids walking home from school, their eyes glued to their smartphones. As they crossed the street, he called to them to look up. They then saw that a small family of deer were also crossing the street not 20 feet away from them.

This anecdote recalls a strange and wonderful little film that came out ten years ago today. The kids’ movie featured very little dialogue (almost none in the first half) and bracketed the story with songs and clips from a 40-year-old musical that is best remembered as a notorious flop. There was nothing quite like it at the time, and has been nothing quite like it since.

The film, of course, was “WALL-E,” and no one but Pixar at the height of its creative powers could have made it. Like its protagonist, WALL-E is a quirky little machine that says little, feels much, and coasts on innocence and wonder to achieve more than would seem possible. So much did this little film impress audiences and critics that there was talk of nominating it for Best Picture. Most of the films that did receive the nomination that year justly disappeared down the memory hole, while “WALL-E” remains as vibrant and striking as ever.

Indeed, in some ways “WALL-E” is even more relevant today than when it came out. The image of the world it presents, of listless humans with their faces perpetually glued to their screens, who expect to have everything provided for them and don’t use half of what they’ve been given as they lament their boredom, has only grown more recognizable in the intervening decade, as has the suffocating sterility of a world of arbitrary rules intended to guard everyone against any form of discomfort.

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Our Lady of Perpetual Grievance

Published: Mar. 17, 2018
At: Serpent’s Den

So, some friends linked to this article the other day and I had some thoughts. Fair warning, if you liked this article, you probably won’t like my response, because quite frankly, this article was repulsive.

On Facebook yesterday, a number of Catholic friends were sharing around an image of Mary the Mother of Jesus, modeled after the famous Polish icon, Our Lady of Czestochowa. While the art style may not be to everyone’s taste, what I liked about the image was that Mary is presented as strong, cool – possibly staring down an opponent, certainly keeping her thoughts to herself, while holding her baby close. All we see of the face of baby Jesus is that he is looking up at his mother and protector. It’s an expression I wish I could emulate, any time I feel I need to take a stand to protect my family. And insofar as I have a devotion to Mary as Mother, there is reassurance in knowing that she might be facing down my enemies, too.

Starts out reasonable enough: nothing to speak of in the first paragraph.

Mary of Nazareth bore her child into uncertain political and economic circumstances, a poor young woman in a marginalized group oppressed by Imperial powers. That she had to travel long miles while pregnant to register for Augustus’ census is a reminder of the cruelty and heartlessness of such imperial regimes, the disdain for the poor, for mothers and children. The indifference to families unless they are “good Roman families” such as Augustus liked to praise.

Okay, this is where things start to move in a bad direction. I do not like the sight of the scare quotes around “good Roman Families,” or the accusation of indifference of ‘other kind of families.’ This is insinuation, so responding to it would necessarily involve interpretation (which is why I don’t like insinuation tactics: people can always claim you’re reading too much into it, or that they didn’t mean what you thought they meant). I have ideas of what she meant, based on the rest of the essay and based on my knowledge of my own society, but since she doesn’t actually come out and say it, I’ll let it pass lest I get bogged down in fighting suppositions. Trust me, there are plenty of more solid targets to come.

All I will say is that we’re definitely getting a bad vibe so far.

She bore her child in a stable, and shortly after had to flee as a refugee from state-sanctioned violence, into a foreign land. She may have saved her child, but what about all the other babies who were killed? This might be one of the things Mary pondered in her heart: why the others couldn’t have been saved. Why she was singled out. What would it feel like, returning to Nazareth and raising a child among women whose sons of the same age had been slaughtered?

Small issue: the slaughter of the innocents took place in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. I would also point out that Egypt was not exactly a foreign land, being part of the same Empire and with a large Jewish population of its own, but that’s a quibble. In any case, I really wish she wouldn’t try to impose modern political categories onto the Roman Empire.

It makes sense to portray Mary, at this point in her young life, as angry or defensive. If Jesus could fly into a rage and kick over tables because of economic injustice, why shouldn’t his mother be able to rage against the injustice of a violent regime? Maybe it was a family trait.

The crime that enraged Our Lord to the point of violence was not economic injustice but sacrilege: He was angry that the sellers were using the Temple as a marketplace. He’s very clear on that point: “‘Take these things hence, and make not the house of my Father a house of traffic.’ And his disciples remembered, that it was written: The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up.” (John 2:16-17). Your re-interpretation is another troubling tonal sign.

I’m all in favor of an angry Mary, if done well and reverently. One of my favorite pieces of religious art is M. Bouguereau’s Pieta, which shows a tearful Mary clutching the dead Christ to her chest while staring accusingly at the viewer.


But the commentary on this image, mostly from males of a more conservative background, was hugely negative. She doesn’t look meek was the most common response. Or, she doesn’t look humble, she doesn’t look loving. Even: her neckline is immodest. Or, worst of all, she looks like a whore.

I couldn’t find the image in question (the link she provided no longer worked and a subsequent search was unsuccessful), so I can’t tell how appropriate this criticism is. For our purposes, though, it doesn’t really matter. People like what they like, and it may be that people thought the image was inappropriate. Since it’s the internet I’m sure some people probably overreacted or were crass about it, but you’ll excuse me if I don’t absolutely take your word for it, as you’ve already shown a degree of prejudice and will be showing much more before we’re done.

Forget about the fact that in the history of art we often see Mary with her breast completely bare, nursing Jesus. Or even squirting milk into the mouth of a male saint. Yes, that’s right. St. Bernard of Clairvaux had a vision in which Mary appeared, lactating, and squirted milk from her breast into his mouth: thus, the story goes, he acquired his great eloquence. Okay, Bernard.

Here’s the problem, though; the images of Mary nurturing Christ and the Saints from her breasts come from a very different cultural context: one that had a different view of sexuality and the body. The same image coming out of our culture might have connotations that it would not coming out of just about any previous culture.

Again, the image that prompted this essay may be a perfectly acceptable and reverent image of Our Lady, or it may not, or it may be one that people may disagree over. But one’s reaction to a modern image will necessarily be different from one’s reaction to a historical image simply because it is using a different cultural language. It is the responsibility of the artist to understand and work with that (e.g. a swastika would have vastly different connotations in an image made in modern Europe than it would in one made in medieval India).

Forget about the fact that we have images of Jesus in which he is more like a judgmental Apollo than gentle Messiah. Why is it acceptable to portray different facets of Jesus, but not of Mary? If Mary is indeed supposed to be “queen of heaven” and the “woman clothed with the sun” who strikes at the serpent, we should see her fierce side, too. She herself sang the revolutionary Magnificat, rejoicing in the casting down of the mighty from their thrones.

There is also a problem with this: though, as I say, I’m up for an angry Madonna, there are certain conceptual issues with it. Mary’s role in salvation history is not that of judge. She bears Christ to the world, which by its very nature implies a gentler, kindlier mission. There simply is no basis for comparing her with Christ in the final judgment. Though again, Our Lady of Victory as a stern queen, or bearing the sword, or other powerful images are fairly common depictions of her in religious art, ones I’ve never heard anyone not-Protestant complain of.





The description of the Magnificat as ‘revolutionary’ is highly unfortunate, turning what is a religious exultation into a political one. That, frankly, seems to be a major problem with the essay as a whole.

The men who object to Mary’s representation as other than the meek, pink-and-white maiden of countless kitschy holy cards seem to be objecting not out of an adherence to Biblical accuracy or artistic tradition. They’re objecting because this is not “their” Mary, the Mary they are willing to venerate. Theirs is an idealized image of the feminine, not even a real woman anymore, but an airy Platonic ideal. Pure, meek, humble.

And you plunge right down the straw man slope: you are first setting up a false dichotomy, that either you like this particular image or all you want is “the meek, pink-and-white maiden of kitschy holy cards.” Somehow, I doubt all the men who objected to this image also had the same objections to Our Lady of Victory presiding over Lepanto, or to the aforementioned Pieta, or to the stern, Queenly images of Mary from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Then you start ascribing them motives, which you have no rational basis to do (why do you need to deduce anything beyond the reasons they cited?) and which seem to correspond more to your own personal prejudices than to anything you could reasonably deduce from what you’ve described: that men are only willing to venerate an “idealized, meek, and humble” Mary who presents an airy, idealized image of the feminine (by the way, what’s with women objecting to idealized femininity?).

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Why Banning Abortion Will Save Millions More Lives Than Banning Guns

Published: Mar. 26, 2018
At: The Federalist

Over the weekend there was a massive march in Washington and other cities to demand new laws, ostensibly on behalf of innocent lives being endangered. That sounds like another giant protest march that takes place once a year in Washington, except this one is being reported coast-to-coast, buoyed by celebrity endorsements, and hailed as the dawn of a revolution, rather than being studiously ignored or downplayed.

It should be obvious that I’m speaking of the March for Our Lives and the March for Life, two ostensibly similar marches advocating ostensibly similar views. Yet comparing the two positions reveals illuminating fundamental differences.

Ownership Versus Action

Of course the most obvious distinction is in the subject matter: one favors limiting or ending gun owners, the other limiting or ending abortion. Let’s consider the two subjects, for here the crux of the matter rests.

Gun rights deal with a person’s right to own a particular tool for a particular purpose. Put briefly, a gun is a weapon; weapons are used in fighting. People want to own guns so if they ever need to fight to defend themselves, their families, or their rights, they can do so effectively. There are obvious and legitimate reasons why they would want this, ranging from violent attackers to civil unrest.

But, although they have legitimate uses, guns by nature are open to abuse. They allow a person with evil intent to inflict more damage than he would otherwise. Gun-control advocates argue the potential for abuse is greater than the legitimate need for private firearms, at least with regards to certain weapons. In other words, gun control advocates wish to limit access to guns in order to limit their potential for abuse.

Abortion rights deal with a person’s right to do or have done a particular procedure. This procedure, by definition, destroys a human life: specifically the human life the people in question created by having intercourse, whether consensually or violently. They desire this because, to one degree or another, the life to be destroyed is unwanted or inconvenient and was not intended to be created.

Although the reasons for wishing to destroy this life may be understandable, abortion still destroys an innocent human life. Moreover, in most cases that innocent human life was created by other people voluntarily engaging in an act they knew could lead to this outcome. Pro-life advocates argue that deliberately killing an innocent human being simply cannot be justified, save in cases of direst need such as when the life of the mother is at stake.

In other words, pro-life advocates wish to forbid a particular action that, by definition, destroys a human life.

Note the difference: one involves a right of possession, the other of action. To own a gun says nothing of how it is used, and there are clearly legitimate reasons someone would want to own one. To perform an abortion, on the other hand, means to kill a human life, and the only question involved is whether such an act can be justified. Gun-control advocates argue that the undeniable potential for abuse outweighs the undeniable goods derived from gun ownership, while pro-life advocates argue that abortion itself is an unjustifiable action.

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