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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Matt Dubay and Eminent Domain

A few months back, the conservative world was in an uproar because the Supreme Court ruled that the state has the right to take any property it wants if that land can be used to generate more revenue for the state. Matt Dubay’s lawsuit, in which he attempts to avoid paying child support on the grounds that he didn’t want a child, has an interesting resonance with that ruling.

According to CNN, “the president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, acknowledged that disputes over unintended pregnancies can be complex and bitter. ‘None of these are easy questions,’ said Gandy, a former prosecutor. ‘But most courts say it's not about what he did or didn't do or what she did or didn't do. It's about the rights of the child.’ ”

Confusion from the Leaders

Indeed? What child would that be, Ms. Gandy? According to the National Organization of Women, the decision to have sex is not a decision to have a child. There is no child at the moment of conception. There is no child, really, until birth. How can Matt Dubay be responsible for a child he didn’t create?

According to the most modern, cutting-edge definitions of sexual responsibility, pregnancy and personhood, Mr. Dubay most emphatically did not create a child nor had he anything to do with the creation of a child.

Abortion supporters insist the act of sex does not create responsibility towards a future child. If it did, no one could support abortion. Legal abortion is grounded in the idea that something which does not yet have its own existence does not yet have any rights. Thus, abortion supporters take great pains to explain why the tissue mass in the womb is not really a child.

  • It doesn’t have a heartbeat (except it does by the 22nd day after conception).
  • It doesn’t have brainwaves (except it does by the 42nd day).
  • It can’t feel pain (except it can by the 7th week, in fact, between 20 and 30 weeks gestation, the tissue mass is more susceptible to pain than a born child).

So, to parrot the pro-choice position, how can Matt Dubay have responsibilities towards a tissue mass? Towards something smaller than your thumb? Smaller than a grain of rice? How can he have responsibilities towards a fertilized egg that doesn’t even exist until hours after he has withdrawn from the woman, withdrawn from the bedroom, gotten dressed and gone home to wash his car? Conception happens hours, sometimes days, after having sex.

Even so, life does not begin at conception, remember? One hundred years ago, fifty years ago, even a decade ago, pregnancy began at conception. Today, it begins at implantation. Today, women aren’t pregnant with children, they are pregnant with undifferentiated tissue masses, tissue masses that are nearly as marvelous a source of stem cells as menstrual blood.

Stem cells and abortion. That’s why we changed the definition of when life and pregnancy began, remember? So we could tear apart those little tissue masses and steal, ahem, borrow, excuse me, use their stem cells. What? Oh, sorry. I meant use the stem cells.

Confusion in the Logic

So, we ask again, Ms. Gandy, how can Matt Dubay have any responsibility towards a child he didn’t create? A child is created through the act of gestation, but what has that got to do with a man? Men don’t have wombs. Men don’t gestate. Remember?

This is why we can create embryos for experimentation – as long as we don’t implant them in the womb, as long as these embryos don’t gestate, it’s moral to tear them apart. Gestation is the key, remember? Not conception, not fertilization – gestation. Without gestation, it’s just potential human life. With gestation, it might become real human life.

But men don’t gestate.

Now, why would Ms. Gandy, who has vociferously supported the aforesaid line of reasoning, suddenly come to the conclusion that the act of sex creates responsibility towards a future child?

For years, we have been taught that Americans don’t understand science, and Ms. Gandy is demonstrating that ignorance in spades. Sex does not create children. Gestation does. Only women gestate. Thus, only women create children. Thus, only women have responsibilities towards children.

According to the logic of neo-science and legal abortion, men aren’t responsible for the existence of children. At all. Nada, zip, zero, nothing, goose egg, empty set.

Those are just the facts of modern biology, successfully redefined by the pro-abortion lobby and Nobel-hungry biologists. It’s just the nature of the thing, Ms. Gandy – not our fault. You insisted on the definitions. We fought against those new definitions. We lost. You won. Congratulations.

Confusion in the Ranks

Everyone who attacks Matt Dubay assumes that Mr. Dubay is somehow responsible for the existence of a child. Even abortion supporters are making this argument. But the whole concept is negated by the new science definitions, which tells us no child exists at the moment of ejaculation, nor at the moment of conception, nor even at the time of implantation, but only some later time. It is likewise negated by the new law, which tells us the woman has no responsibility toward whatever possible child might eventually exist.

So, those who argue against Matt Dubay’s claim are either (1) logically inconsistent or (2) liars out to defraud one-half of the population. And here is where the new learning concerning eminent domain ties in.

Tying It All Together

The idea that the joint act of sex creates a joint responsibility, and that this responsibility is created towards a specific person as yet unconceived and without existence, this is an old idea, an idea so old it no longer applies in this brave, new country. The courts have specifically repudiated the idea in the case of a woman who has begotten a tissue mass.

So, if the court rules against Matt Dubay, it will embrace the curious position that a child has the right to receive money from a man who had nothing to do with her existence, but does not have the right to receive life from the woman who created her.

This is perfectly in accord with the recent eminent domain decision. It doesn’t matter who owns what. What matters is this: can the state legally increase its revenues by taking property from one person and giving it to someone else? According to the Supreme Court, yes, it can. So, the state has every right to take money from any man in order to give that money to any woman with child, and thus keep both the woman and the child off state aid.

So, Matt Dubay will lose not because he had anything to do with creating a child. According to all the most advanced thinkers (which wouldn’t be us neanderthals in the pro-life movement, by the way), he had nothing to do with the creation of the child. No, Matt Dubay will lose because his wallet is subject to eminent domain.

Monday, March 13, 2006


The Associated Press is taking great pains to support Dan Brown in his defense against the copyright infringement lawsuit leveled against him by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, two of the three authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

The very well-named Jill Lawless, the AP reporter who brings us the story, tells us the suit is for copyright infringement, but doesn’t tell us why this is important. She reports on Brown’s testimony in part by saying the “courtroom [was] packed with journalists, religious skeptics and fans” – a phrase her editor somehow failed to strike for its inordinate redundancy.

For a court reporter, Lawless seems remarkably unfamiliar with the legal issues involved. For instance, she takes pains to note that Holy Blood, Holy Grail claims to be “nonfiction” while also telling us “Random House lawyers argue the ideas in dispute are so general they are not protected by copyright.” Indeed, she takes the time to directly quote Brown’s primary defense, “‘I'd never heard of it until I'd seen it mentioned in some of our other research books,’ he said…
Brown's court appearance also revealed a complex and wide-ranging research process undertaken with wife Blythe Brown, whose interest in ‘the sacred feminine,’ Brown said, led to one of The Da Vinci Code’s key themes.’”

Now, let’s take the Lawless article on the law apart piece by piece.

Baigent and Leigh claim their book is non-fiction. But they do not sue Brown for plagiarism; they sue him for copyright infringement. How can this be?

While fiction is subject to copyright law, facts are not. If I wrote a novel based on the James Bond character created by Ian Fleming, for instance, I would be violating Ian Fleming’s copyright, and his estate could sue me for copyright infringement. Fiction is copyright-protected. However, if I wrote a story about the life of William Jefferson Clinton, ex-President Clinton could not sue me for copyright infringement. I might get sued for libel (the written version of slander) if I mis-stated the facts, but that is about it. He cannot copyright the facts concerning his own life.

Now, let’s say you took existing information or discovered new factual evidence and provided a totally novel interpretation of the facts of his life, thereby completely explaining why Slick Willy has women problems and feels our pain. You wrote an outstanding article or book concerning this idea, but it failed to gain wide circulation. I saw your theory and based my biography of Clinton on your interpretation without giving you any credit. Have I violated your copyright?

Not at all. I am a plagiarist, but I haven’t violated your copyright because you have no copyright on facts either. All you’ve done is come up with a new theory that covers the facts – and I stole it without accreditation. But I don’t need to accredit you. After all, I could have looked at the facts myself and independently arrived at the same conclusion through simple logical analysis, and you would have a hard time proving otherwise.

In any case, while I may be dead guilty of plagiarism, and you may well be able to prove it, the most you can do is (justifiably) ruin my sterling reputation by proving I’m a plagiarist. You can’t recover monetary damages from me for plagiarism because plagiarism is only a crime when I’m stealing fictional material or lifting direct and lengthy quotes from your factual material without in any way acknowledging that you wrote it.

Plagiarism is not a crime if I’m stealing facts. It may not be wise, but it isn’t a crime. That’s why journalists get fired for plagiarism, but they rarely get sued for it, while novelists and playwrights sue for plagiarism but only as the basis for proving copyright infringement. Inventions can be copyrighted. Facts cannot be copyrighted.

Baigent and Leigh aren’t suing for plagiarism. They are suing for copyright infringement. They do not allege that Brown lifted whole passages of their book verbatim. Instead, they are suing on the basis that Brown stole their "jigsaw puzzle," the fictional facts upon which he built a fictional plot.

Random House, the publisher of both novels, implicitly acknowledges this. Note, Random House doesn’t argue that the suit should be thrown out because Baigent and Leigh are meticulous researchers who had not an ounce of fiction in their work, thus copyright law doesn’t apply. Instead, Random House argues that the ideas are so generally in use they cannot be copyrighted.

If copyright existed during the life of the Brothers Grimm, a similar defense would have been used. "Your Honor, while it is true that the Brothers Grimm used the character of the stepmother who is secretly a wicked witch in many of their tales, the idea is so general to works of this type that the plaintiff who is suing our esteemed authors cannot be said to have originated the idea.” It’s fiction, Judge, but it’s fiction that is so common everyone has used it.

And, lest anyone read the one-sentence summary of the Random House defense and begin to suspect, the reporter-ette then goes on to re-emphasize that Brown, Baigent and Leigh engaged in research, dammit! After all, Brown’s wife, a learned art historian, is so professional that she couldn’t get any of the art history right. Indeed, she couldn’t even get Leonardo’s name right (no art historian calls him ‘da Vinci’, since that refers to the geographical region he comes from, it is not properly part of his name). Indeed, Brown’s historical and theological research was so complex and time-consuming that essentially every aspect of it was wrong by the time it got into his novel.

Random House, Baigent, Leigh, and Brown are all interested in conducting and concluding this copyright infringement lawsuit without anyone realizing that the very fact of the lawsuit demonstrates the whole thing is an advertising setup for the May 19, 2006 movie release. Brown’s novel is three years old. It couldn’t get on Drudge or CNN without it. Reporters, aka religious skeptics and therefore Dan Brown fans, undoubtedly know this. However, they also know what sells papers, so they aren’t going to give us the facts either.

In short, the Brown-Baigent-Leigh lawsuit is like a Stalinist show trial, but the only thing that gets murdered in this one is the truth.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Worker Bees

The National Center for Men have finally gone and done it. For over a decade, they have been looking for a test case to overthrow the child support laws in every one of the 50 states. Now they think they have found it.

A man who was deceived by his girlfriend conceived a blob of tissue/fetus/child (depending on your point of view) and is now being compelled to pay child support. He’s arguing compulsory child support violates the equal protection clause. Years ago, when I argued on Usenet against abortion, I would bring forward a similar contrarian position in order to shock my pro-abortion opponents.

Pro-life: "Is the choice to have sex a choice to have a child?"
Pro-abort: "No"
Pro-life: "No child exists at conception, right?"
Pro-abort: "Of course not."
Pro-life:"When would you say that a child clearly exists?"
Pro-abort: [the answer here doesn't matter. Agree to use whatever time limit they choose].
Pro-life: "A woman may have an abortion for whatever reason she chooses, correct?"
Pro-abort: "Of course."
Pro-life: "Men and women have equal rights?"
Pro-abort: "As long as abortion is legal, yes."
Pro-life: "Alright. Who creates children?"
Pro-abort: "What do you mean?"
Pro-life: "Well, since we know there is no child at conception, the child must be created at some point X, well after conception. Now, the man only has sex. He's not there after conception (indeed, conception may take place hours after the sexual act). It is only at point X that a child exists. Therefore, the woman alone creates the child through the act of gestation. Legal abortion asserts a new thing: sex doesn't create children, gestation creates children. Sex merely creates a fertilized egg, a tissue mass.

Men don't get pregnant. Men don't create children. Men simply provide sperm. They provide one-half of a set of blueprints. The woman provides not only the other half, but the building site, the construction materials, she oversees the project, and she can destroy the whole thing anytime she wants. The man has got nothing to do with it. The existence of a child is not his responsibility - he has no choice, he's done nothing to create responsibility except have sex, and we already know that the decision to have sex is not a decision to have children, nor does it create a child.

So, the idea of compelling child support from the man is really a carry-over from the patriarchy, when men were thought to share responsibility for the existence of a child. Now that legal abortion has liberated us from those archaic ideas, we should throw away the last remnants of the old oppression.

If the woman wants to have a child, fine. Why should the man pay to support her lifestyle, her choice? If she can have an abortion for whatever reason she wants, then she is having a child for whatever reason she wants. In neither case does it have anything to do with the man.

Genetics has nothing to do with the problem. Is the man's twin brother equally responsible for his child? Are you legally responsible for supporting your parents? No, to both. It is equally nonsense to say that the act of impregnation creates responsibility - if the woman has no responsibility towards a child who isn't there, how much less does the man? Indeed, according to the law, an anonymous sperm donor can never be held for child support, even if he desires to be considered the child's father. What's the difference between an anonymous sperm donor and one who's name you happen to know? The second just has a slightly more personal form of delivery. In both cases, the child exists only because the woman decides to allow it to exist. You might argue that the child wouldn't exist without him, but neither would a Ford pickup truck exist without raw materials from US Steel. Yet we don't hold US Steel responsible for the existence of the pickup truck - we hold responsible the one who built it.

Or consider a woman who has identical twin boys. One grows up to be a carpenter, the other grows up to be an in vitro fertilization (IVF) specialist. The carpenter gets married, and he and his wife decide to have a child by IVF. The carpenter asks his brother to do
the honors, and his brother readily agrees. The carpenter donates his sperm, the doctor extracts an egg from the wife, fertilizes it with sperm, and implants it in the wife's womb.

Who is the father?

After all, the doctor used sperm genetically indistinguishable from his own and impregnated the carpenter's wife. Doesn't that make him the father? Is he responsible for child support? If not, then why is the carpenter?

If you really believe that men don't have a right to a voice simply because they don't get pregnant, then you darn well ought to support the demolition of existing child support laws. After all, as you say, this child-creation business has nothing to do with men.

The National Center for Men is using precisely this logic to attempt to weaken and destroy existing child support law. The group is adamantly pro-choice. They point out that women have the right to force men to support a child even though the choice to create the child is clearly not their legal responsibility. In fact, a woman can rape a man, conceive a child, carry it to term, and then force the victim of the rape to pay child support. This is true even if the rape victim is a minor - a child himself. Such a boy pays for the crimes of another with his life's earnings. This last is not legal fiction - it has actually happened. A 12 year-old boy was statutorally raped, yet the court found he had a duty to support the child his rapist bore. (STATE of Kansas, ex rel., Colleen HERMESMANN, Appellee, v. Shane SEYER, a minor, and Dan and Mary Seyer, his parents, Appellants. No. 67,978. Supreme Court of Kansas. March 5, 1993).

Examining the Popular Reaction
Now, Mona Charen and other conservative commentators are trembling with rage over this argument. They think it will somehow shock the feminists. It won't. Today's commentators will soon discover what I discovered over a decade ago. The National Center for Men is finally doing what NOW and NARAL have been in favor of for years.

Karen DeCrow, former president of NOW, argues vociferously that men should not pay child support. She is not alone; a great many “feminists” agree that compulsory child support should be abolished.

We know that impoverished households are disproportionately led by single mothers. Clearly, the removal of child support laws would increase the child poverty problem. But that’s ok. Every time another mother drops below the poverty line, the feminists have another stick to beat stay-at-home moms with.

Pro-abortion feminists (there's a contradiction in terms) aren’t interested in helping women, rather, they are interested in re-making all women into their own image. They are interested in justifying their own life's work. Every woman should be like them, every woman should become a sterile corporate worker bee. Human beings are a glut on the planet, and anything which reduces the human population is good. Removing subsidies for child production - and that's what compulsory child support is, in their view - is a good thing.

Personal responsibility for children is precisely what they have opposed for years. If children must be raised, then do it in a commune, a kibbutz, a village, so that no one gets too attached. We don't want anyone enjoying children. They might have more.