THURSDAY: Must I be my sibling's keeper?


The posture of tribal war:  It's a famous question from the Old Testament:

Am I my brother's keeper?

That particular story didn't end well; the story starred Cain and Abel. Today, we ask a set of related questions. Some of those questions are these:

Am I even my brother's brother? Am I my sister's sister?

Am I my sibling's sibling? My fellow citizen's fellow citizen? Am I my fellow citizen's neighbor, associate, friend? 

More generally, am I required to respect such Others as may be found within my native land? Must I respect those in The Others' tribe, or am I free to loathe them?

The spreading debate about Roe v. Wade is the perfect test of these questions. And remember:

At this site, it's all anthropology now! Experts have told us, for the past several years, that the center isn't going to hold. According to those leading experts, it's all over but the explaining, with a whole lot of shouting thrown in.

The abortion debate offers us a perfect display of instinctive tribal messaging. It offers us a front-row look at budding tribal war. 

The two tribes don't even agree on what is at stake in this debate. To our own blue tribe, what is at stake is the autonomy of a woman's body. To the red tribe, something different is at stake—the life of an "unborn child."

Building out from that distinction, the two tribes speak different languages about this societal question. If I am my sibling's keeper, am I required to respect the fact that my siblings may see the world in a way that I do not?

Our blue tribe tends to eschew this idea. Here's Roxanne Gay, understandably upset, in today's New York Times:

GAY (5/5/22): I do not know where this retraction of civil rights will end, but I do know it will go down as a milestone in a decades-long conservative campaign to force a country of 330 million people to abide by a bigoted set of ideologies. 

Like all human tribes, our tribe tends to turn to name-calling at times of deep tribal dispute. Similarly, here is the initial comment to a recent, informative post by Kevin Drum:

COMMENTER: It's amazing how all maps of this sort, showing states by population % aligning Republican values, is also a map of the shittiest places in the country by pretty much every metric.

To the commenter, it's amazing but true. The places where The Others live are "the shittiest places in the country by pretty much every metric." It turns out that way every time!

We said that Gay is understandably upset. You can read her column to see why we say that. 

That said, her analysis of the current situation runs like this:

GAY: [W]e should defend abortion access not only in cases of sexual violence. All those who want an abortion should be able to avail themselves of that medical procedure. Their reasons are no one’s business. 

That's perfectly true, according to Us. But, according to The Others, a person's ability to avail herself of that procedure is also the business of an "unborn child." 

Gay doesn't bother addressing this point. She proceeds on our own tribe's language track, as The Others routinely do with theirs.

We lost a lot of time today; we'll be losing even more time tomorrow. But am I required to respect the fact of perceptual difference among my millions of siblings? 

Am I required to respect the fact that Others may not see things the same way I do? In a word, am I The Other's keeper?

Experts say we aren't wired that way. We're wired to align ourselves a tribe and to demonize The Others.

Tomorrow, we hope to find the time to discuss Caitlin Flanagan's Atlantic essay from December 2019. In her essay, Flanagan presented the strongest element of the "pro-choice" view, along with the strongest element of the "pro-life" view.  Her headlines offered this:

Why we need to face the best arguments from the other side

Flanagan said that a genuine discussion must acknowledge each of those rival perceptions. But am I really The Other's keeper? In the end, by all that's good and holy, must a moral giant like me really acknowledge the bigoted views of disordered cretins like Them?

Experts say we aren't wired for that. These experts seem to be right.


  1. "Must I respect those in The Others' tribe, or am I free to loathe them?"

    You are free to feel any way you want about anything, dear Bob. However, we suspect that liberal hatred towards normal ordinary folks may not be healthy. Negatively affects their blood pressure.

    "Flanagan said that a genuine discussion must acknowledge each of those rival perceptions. "

    Meh. What 'discussion'? First trimester abortion on demand is acceptable to most, but if some communities feel different, who are we to force them?

    Live and let live, dear Bob.

    1. No one is forcing anyone to have an abortion
      at any stage. And it should be said to a useless,
      drooling slab of unfocused pimple flesh like you,
      everyday you make a case for abortion at the
      latest possible stage. Hopefully there is a pill you
      can take.


    2. Force them? You understand that it's some communities -- rather, a minority of some communities -- that want to force women to abide by their religious dictums than an embryo is a person. No one is forcing anyone to get an abortion.
      Having said that, does constitution protect people from a forced abortion? Here's something to ponder.

    3. "No one is forcing anyone to get an abortion."

      Jeez. No one is forcing anyone to rape, murder, steal, or snort coke either.

      You know, we talk about braindead liberals all the time, but every time we see just how braindead they are we're amazed.

      "a minority of some communities"

      Jeez. If it's a minority, then, presumably, abortion-restricting laws won't pass.

      "...that want to force women to abide by their religious dictums..."

      Who are these 'wimmin' you speak of? Even Ketanji Brown Jackson -- the unmatched genius! -- doesn't know who they are. Besides, if we are not mistaken, it's mostly wimmin (whoever they are) who are against abortions.

      And yes, people do want other people to comply with their perception of right and wrong. Just like you -- and all other braindead dembots -- do.

    4. Well written, Mao. The comments you refuted illustrate Bob's point. IMO it's not easy to debate abortion. It depends on when a fetus becomes a human being, and there's no scientific way to answer that question.

      So, we use dumb arguments. Yes, some abortion opponents are following religious doctrine. So what? Laws against murder and perjury also follow religious doctrine. That doesn't make such laws wrong.

    5. "Well written, Mao."

      You're kidding! There is certainly a scientific way to determine when a fetus becomes a human being. But more than that, the body itself decides whenever it miscarries or produces a stillbirth. This is a practical question, not one of logic or religion.

      In our country, there is no established religion. That means that laws enacted by a community in the USA are not religious at all. Not in language, not in intent, and not in substance. It is forbidden by our constitution. You do not get to co-opt them to support your religious claims about abortion or anything else.

    6. Conservatives/Republicans supported abortion rights (they were the ones that decided the Roe case) all the way up until it was politically expedient not to. A key feature to right wingers is that integrity is a value they pointedly do not let interfere with their march towards fascism.

      6:07's "refutations" are, sorry to be this frank, so dumb it is highly likely that commenter is suffering from some kind of mental disability.

      It is illegal to abort a baby after a certain number of weeks, when there is sentience and viability. Over 90% of abortions are done at the zygote/embryo stage - a non sentient clump of cells. 7:01 the issue is not nearly as difficult as Somerby and current right wingers portray.

    7. @7:22 A fetus becomes a human being when our society says it's a human being. Yes, one can more or less determine when a fetus will survive outside the womb, but is that the definition of human being? Only if we say it is. Is a person who can live only on a respirator a human being? Again, that's our choice.

      We're a democracy, so our laws are set by people elected by a majority. If the majority position on an issue is based on religious beliefs, well, religious people still have the right to vote. In a democracy, we can vote our beliefs without addressing where they came from.

    8. Almost there, David.
      Take the leap, and try to understand how Republicans suppressing the votes of the marginalized effects democracy.

    9. Mao doesn’t call Liberals “totalitarians” for nothing. He calls them “totalitarians” because every Right-wing accusation is really a confession

    10. Christ David, you really are a bozo. If you think that's a great response, perhaps YOU could explain who is
      being forced to have an abortion. Oh, and if you want to explain Mao's sub mental response about rape and murder, etc, love to hear you take a crack at that

  2. Bob's response to the reestablishment of Abortion as
    a crime: Micheal Kinsley thought the ruling was poorly
    and we don't respect hard right hard liners enough. The
    women in crisis? Not something he would ever consern
    himself with.

    1. yeah pretty much this.

      Somerby thinks that to be our brother's keeper we merely have to avoid trash talking them. Our tribe does a lot for The Others, we protect their rights, try to provide them with their material needs, that is how you look after your brother, not by being careful about not trash talking them.

      Somerby has no moral compass, he is a lost soul.

    2. Ideally the ruling should have nothing to do with women in crisis. It should be about what the Constitution says about abortion and when human life begins, which is nothing. A policy may be wrongheaded without being unconstitutional.

      I'm strongly pro-choice, but Alito's decision appears legally persuasive to me.

    3. if you want to go down the unenumerated road, you will be lost quickly.

      "appears legally persuasive to me" most conservatives are not even bothering with this nonsense as few arguments have been as dumbly and poorly stated as Alito's.

    4. The ruling allows a number of laws to take effect that are harmful to women in crisis. The court knows that. You cannot be strongly pro-choice and take this brief seriously. This is why people here consider your comments to be made in bad faith. Alito is a Dominionist. He should have nothing to say about how women live their lives. Neither should you.

    5. @7:15 could you explain which of Alito's arguments you believe are dumb and why they're dumb?

      Yes, @7:27, I'm pro-choice, but I also believe in legal and rhetorical integrity. If you read the decision, you will learn that other social liberals, who are a lot more knowledgeable than I, are pro-choice but believe that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided.

    6. So you think forced birth is ok because rhetorical integrity is more important than women’s health.

    7. David, marriage, like abortion, is not mentioned at all in the Constitution. How would Alito rule if a state banned all marriage? What if a state banned unmarried cohabitation? Where does Alito’s “reasoning” stop?

    8. "I also believe in legal and rhetorical integrity"
      Says the guy who supported the biggest treasonous lying sack of shit corrupt conman who ever disgraced the WH in our country's history.
      Yeah, you're a real example of integrity.

    9. David supports Trump, because Trump cares about the same two things David cares about.

    10. @7:45 - as a self-anointed expert in jurisprudence, you should know that Casey limited Roe.

      As for your defense of Alito's legal and rhetorical integrity, here's a real legal scholar's comment:
      "Alito’s draft heavily references English legal precedent, including that of famed jurist Sir Matthew Hale who, it should be noted, had at least two women executed for witchcraft and wrote a treatise supporting marital rape."

      BTW: you still think global warming is still just a statistical outlier?

    11. Addendum to 10:01 comment: that's Emily Bell of the Columbia Journalism Review.

  3. It is too exhausting to be constantly addressing the same old mistaken points over and over. This is a matter of values and not logic. Conservatives never address the tragic circumstances requiring abortion, such as a woman having cancer and needing chemo to preserve her own life, a fetus with a fatal and painful disease that it will die from in early childhood, a girl who has been raped who will have to give up her education and future life prospects without an abortion. No one has an abortion without having a good reason but conservatives make up unfeeling examples of sexual promiscuity that are a cruel joke to the women in real-life reproductive quandaries. And conservatives never show concern for children living in poverty or other harsh circumstances after they are born, making a mockery out of their pro-life slogan and professed caring for children. Instead we hear blame-the-poor rationalizations.

    I am sick and tired of Somerby telling us we must address their concerns when they never, ever, address any of ours. And now there is no discussion. There is a manipulation of our democracy to force a decision that only a minority in our nation support, shoving this down our throats as if it were legitimately decided when it is not. Merrick Garland should be sitting on the court and Kavanaugh should never have been nominated, much less appointed. If it can be shown that Gorsuch lied during his hearing, he doesn't belong there either. Alito has shown a lack of ethics by refusing to recuse himself when he had conflicts, and Clarence Thomas is not only unqualified but has his own ethical conflicts. But Somerby thinks we are supposed to take this decision seriously.

    The lack of effort in today's essay is obvious. I don't blame Somerby for being ill, but his boilerplate about anthropology and all is doom is getting very old. It would be better if he skipped these essays than to write something as half-assed as today's offering.

    Today's conservatives only respect strength of the sort that Trump displays, in other words, lying and cheating and corruption. We don't deal in that on the left, so no amount of meeting conservatives part-way will do any good for anyone, except to give them the impression they can cheat with more impunity. It is time for Somerby's charade to stop. I am fed up with him and I suspect that many others feel the same way about the trash he writes here.

  4. Somerby admonishes liberals to consider both sides in the abortion debate, but not conservatives. That is bad enough, and it isn’t media criticism.

    What he seems to fail to realize is that, for Republicans, the debate is over. Abortion will be outlawed. They are unwilling to compromise or discuss the issue. Women’s health and life choices are suddenly going to get worse.

    What does Somerby think Roe v Wade was? It was a compromise, allowing abortion up to a point. But that was never enough for conservatives.

    The time for Somerby to wade into the discussion was 25 years ago.

    1. mh -- Republicans are mostly not outlawing abortion. they're substantially restricting it and making it difficult. I don't agree with these policies. However, in seeking the kind of amity that Bob preaches, it's important to avoid exaggerating our differences.

    2. Get real, David. “ Louisiana lawmakers have advanced a bill that would abolish abortion in the state, grant constitutional rights to "all unborn children from the moment of fertilization" and classify abortion as a homicide crime.”—from Reuters today.

      There is nothing at this point stopping abortion from simply being outlawed. Alito will be fine with it.

    3. No. David.
      We need to completely exaggerate our differences.
      We need to make abortion mandatory. That way we can reach bipartisan bliss by ignoring the extremes on both sides, and allow each woman to decide for themselves.

    4. mh - "Advancing" a bill (whatever that means) is not enacting it. A lot of stupid bills are introduced with no hope of passage, just to please a constituent. E.g., I recall a bill introduced in California around 1974 to license fortune tellers. Presumably only the genuine ones would get a license. ;)

      Alito, as a Justice, should be fine with any state's abortion bill. He believes doesn't have the power to get involved, and I agree.

    5. Licensing fortune tellers would allow administrators to count them and monitor their activities and keep track of cosumer complaints. It would give bilked people some recourse and those without a license could be arrested or put out of business.

      Your preoccupation with genuineness (authenticity) is noted.

    6. David, “ Last year, the [Texas] Legislature passed a so-called “trigger law” that would go into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, making performing abortion a felony.” You can quit arguing how it is simply being “restricted.” Just quit.

    7. From Time magazine: “ The Guttmacher Institute, a research firm that tracks abortion policy and supports reproductive rights, has estimated that 27 states are likely to ban abortion once Roe is gone. These include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.”

      please quit being willfully ignorant.

    8. Far be it for me to criticize the Guttmacher Institute, since my wife and I have donated a great deal of money to that organization and continue to do so. Furthermore, I have positive feelings toward the name "Guttmacher", because we relied on Dr. Alan Guttmacher's book during her first pregnancy.

      However, I think you and I may be arguing over semantics. When Center for Reproductive Rights talks about 25 states likely "banning" abortion, I don't think they mean a complete ban. Even the horrendous Texas law allows abortions for 6 weeks into pregnancy if I recall correctly.

    9. You don’t THINK? Why don’t you take the trouble to educate yourself? Or is that too liberal a thing to do? Here is my home state: “Republican officials in Arkansas roundly condemned the leak of the draft opinion while praising the potential end of legal abortion in the state, with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge vowing that as soon as the high court officially overturns Roe v. Wade she will certify a "trigger law" passed in 2019 that would immediately outlaw all abortions in the state except to save the life of the mother.”(
      Can you read???? Please quit being stupid.

    10. If the people of Arkansas want to outlaw all abortions in the state, they should do it, despite the opposition of dear mh. And if (or when) they don't, they will pass a different law. Meanwhile, dear mh should perform her abortions elsewhere.

      And that's all there is to it.

      You know, dear mh, iwrc, in Ireland abortions were totally banned until only a couple years ago. And yet it was, arguably, one of the greatest countries in the world. And still is, of course.

    11. All this talk about citizens voting for how they want to live reminds me that Republicans are actively suppressing the votes of minorities all over the country.
      Which is odd, for people who spend so much time pretending they aren't really bigots.

    12. Yes, this very same SC, who say to let the states decide, are the ones gutting the Voting Rights bill and supporting states passing voter suppression laws and extreme partisan gerrymandering. Funny how that works. Heads they win, tails we lose.

    13. Why do you think Ireland finally changed their abortion laws, jackass?

    14. We're pretty sure the Irish much prefer to have dembots like yourself aborted. And who can blame them?

    15. "And who can blame them?"
      People who think women are second-class citizens. In other words, Right-wingers.

    16. Who are these 'wimmin' you speak of, dear dembot?

      Even Ketanji Brown Jackson -- the unmatched genius, who is a million times smarter than you -- doesn't know what they are.

  5. "“Former President Donald Trump asked Mark Esper, his defense secretary, about the possibility of launching missiles into Mexico to ‘destroy the drug labs’ and wipe out the cartels, maintaining that the United States’ involvement in a strike against its southern neighbor could be kept secret, Mr. Esper recounts in his upcoming memoir,” the New York Times reports."

  6. I'm so relieved that Bob has caught up on his beauty sleep.

    Delighted that you're back, Bob. I missed you!

    1. Somerby had a medical procedure. That isn’t beauty sleep.

    2. The “Right-wing Grievance of the Day” website had some technical issues. Apparently, it is now fixed.

  7. Rationalist,
    Feel free to scratch “activist judges” off your list of things you got suckered into thinking Republican voters care about.

  8. A majority of white women supported Trump twice and vote Republican. Ladies, you got what you voted for.

    1. Get real, White women will always have access to abortions.

      Everything Republicans do is only to serve their undying need for dominance, and those that are marginalized, people of color for example, are an easy target for their fascist sensibilities.

  9. تعتبر جراحة دعامة العضو الذكري هي الحل الأفضل و الأوسع انتشاراً علي المستوي العالمي لعلاج الضعف الجنسي أو العجز الجنسي الذي لا يستجيب للعلاج الدوائي. حيث ان عملية تركيب دعامة االعضو الذكري بدأت منذ أكثر من أربعين عاماً وتعطي نسبة نجاح عالية.
    ويتم اللجوء الي عملية الدعامة للانتصاب لأنها حل ناجح و واسع الانتشار لحالات ضعف الانتصاب الشديد عند عدم وجود خيارات أخري لأدوية علاج الضعف الجنسي .
    يتم اتخاذ قرار جراحة دعامة العضو الذكري في حالات الانتصاب شديد الضعف أو الانتصاب المنعدم أو الانتصاب سريع الزوال، مع عدم الاستجابة لكافة أدوية الانتصاب بما فيها الهرمونات و الفياجرا وما شابهها، رغم ضبط السكر و دهون الدم و عدم التدخين.
    جراحة دعامة القضيب تستغرق حوالي الثلاثين دقيقة. وتؤدي الجراحة إلي الحصول علي انتصاب تام في أو وقت و لأي مدة.
    كيف يتم زراعة دعامة العضو الذكري ؟
    تتم العملية من خلال فتح صغير في العضو الذكري، ثم فتح داخلي في اسطوانتي الانتصاب الداخليتين، ثم إزاحة الأنسجة الطبيعية جانباً مع الحفاظ عليها، ثم زرع الدعامة محاذية للنسيج الكهفي الطبيعي، ثم غلق الاسطوانتين و الجلد بطبقاته. يستغرق الأمر حوالي النصف ساعة و يتم الخروج من المستشفي في نفس اليوم .
    تكلفة عملية دعامة الانتصاب في مصر
    يعتبر سعر الدعامة المرنة في مصر للعضو الذكري من اجل علاج حالات ضعف الانتصاب ليست مرتفعة، حيث يتراوح متوسط سعر دعامة الذكر المرنة يبدأ من 60 ألف جنيه مصري الي 85 ألف جنيه مصري.
    سعر الدعامة الهيدروليكية من القطعتين يتراوح سعرها مابين 130 ألف جنيه الي 200 الف جنيه مصري .
    أما الدعامة الهيدروليكيه التي تتكون من الثلاث قطع يتراوح السعر ما بين 220 ألف جنيه مصري الي 250 ألف جنية مصري.
    وتختلف تكلفة عملية الدعامة للانتصاب
    حسب نوعها ومكان تركيبها.