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Nov 07 2010

Priorities, Priorities

After the last elections, it may be time to get accustomed to a new old morality, a mythological good old days to return to, when god was in the schools, the gummint was small and kept out of the way except for what we did in our bedrooms, minorities and women knew their place, and all was right with the world.

It’s all quite simple, really: blame the victims. In all things. That way they have earned their miseries, and we (part of the trick is convincing each outgroup to band together as “we” in opposition to other outgroups) can feel justified in denying basic human rights to our fellow human beings. The narrative must always go “when you blame society, you are letting criminals off the hook!” Even when we could have prevented the crime by having a job, an education, a future for the eventual criminal. Preventing a crime does not give the satisfaction that punishing a criminal does. Preventing a crime reminds us that it is in our power to influence one another, and that is one frightening step away from… being responsible for one another. Can’t have that. When we blame a criminal, we are quite intentionally letting the rest of us off the hook.

Dammit, I got off narrative. Like I was saying, the clock has been turned back. It’s time to embrace the new old world view. So, for our third installment of Cuttlefish Pledge Week, a story and a modest proposal.

Jennifer, Jennifer, got herself pregnant,
The poor, irresponsible slut.
See, boys will be boys, so it’s up to the girls
To be moral, and keep their legs shut.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, couldn’t be bothered;
She led her young Billy astray.
They met, after classes, at Jennifer’s house,
And now there’s a kid on the way.

Jennifer, Jennifer, wants an abortion—
She says she’s too young for a baby—
But the law of the land says abortion is murder;
The answer is no, and not maybe.
See, murder is murder; we cannot condone
The destruction of innocent life.
And Billy, of course, is an innocent, too,
And he’s much, much too young for a wife.

So Jennifer, Jennifer, finds herself caught
In the view of a watchful Big Brother,
And Country and Church have a task on their hands—
How to keep the babe safe from its mother.
If murder is murder, for fetus or child,
Then surely assault is assault;
A fetus is damaged by drinking or smoking,
And all of it, Jennifer’s fault.

If Jennifer, Jennifer, falls down the stairs
Then the baby inside could be harmed;
And since that poor child is a ward of the state
It is right we should all be alarmed!
So Jennifer, Jennifer, needs to be safe
For the sake of the babe in her womb;
To keep the poor innocent safe from all harm,
Let’s keep Jennifer locked in her room.

But Jennifer, Jennifer, isn’t the first
Nor the last to be pregnant, you see.
The task that’s before us—protecting our children—
Is crucial, I think you’ll agree.
With the passing to law of my modest proposal,
I honestly think we’ll prevail.
It’s simple: Each woman who finds herself pregnant
Must spend the next nine months in jail.

Jennifer, Jennifer, shielded from harm
In a cell with a toilet and cot
With a closed-circuit camera, an unblinking eye,
For the safety of Jennifer’s tot.
When at last you deliver your new baby boy
We’ll whisk you right out through the door;
We care about kids while they’re inside your womb—
Once they’re out, we don’t care any more.

And Jennifer, Jennifer, can’t find her Billy—
Besides, he’s too young for a wife—
She weighs her alternatives, looks down each road…
And reluctantly takes her own life.

And the church says a prayer for the baby unborn
And a heartfelt and tearful farewell.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, so says the church,
Will be heading directly to hell.

Maybe if we cut funding for prenatal care, we can save enough money to pay for those jail cells and closed-circuit cameras…

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Vanitas

    …and so it shall come to pass.

  2. 2
    SQB

    Reminded me of The Offspring:Jennifer lost the war todayYou'll find her burned and rapedThrough it allShe must have wonderedWhat have I doneBut nobody really cares todayThe world's a busy placeGuess she must have really sinnedI guess we're all just soldiersShe was only six years oldLeft to die by strangersHer family waitsAnd if we're all just soldiersIs it so wrong to be afraid

  3. 3
    Monado

    Scary and sad. Thanks for the poem. There's info about the bad old days here: Confessions of an abortion doctor." I'd guess it looks back to the 1930s. The doctor reports an estimate by doctors that there were five abortions per live birth.

  4. 4
    alison

    Such a sad prospect (& a wonderful poem) – to someone outside the US the way your political system is heading is both scary and bemusing…

  5. 5
    Zuska

    Time to dig out that old copy of "The Handmaid's Tale" for a re-read to see what our future is going to be like.

  6. 6
    Aratina Cage

    Something about this one really moved me. Maybe you just keep getting better!

  7. 7
    Anonymous

    Cuttlefish, you earn your reputation for being psychic. Your poem gave me shivers down my spine.Many years ago, my daughter, who has the same name as the girl in your poem, got into a bad crowd in her teens and went off the rails (drinking, smoking, illegal drugs) despite everything we could say or do to try to help her. Then she got pregnant at seventeen in a country where abortion is illegal. Fortunately, my daughter turned to us for help; knowing that I had made an open offer years before to help any of her friends if they got into trouble, she reasoned that I would no doubt extend that to her. I have always loved her dearly and gladly helped her turn her life around. It was her decision to keep the pregnancy, and to give up all the harmful stuff. The guy who supplied the sperm was a violent waster of a young man who threatened her with further violence throughout her pregnancy and afterwards, despite all of us (his family and mine) trying our best to help him. He even spent the day my grandson was born getting drunk in the pub. In the following two years he got at least two other girls pregnant and abandoned them, too.A few weeks after her son was born, my daughter met a lovely man and has been very happy with him ever since. She now has a second son. Second spooky coincidence? He has the same name as the young man in your poem. O.oI don't think I shall be showing her the poem, if you don't mind, brilliant though it is. :-/ It is very perceptive and shows what can happen when we fail to love and support the children that have already been brought into this world.As to the abortion rate before it was openly legal; my mother used to tell me that D&C for 'menstrual regulation' was a common operation carried out by respectable doctors in normal hospitals with no stigma attached. Pregnancy tests were expensive, time consuming and unreliable, so a sympathetic family doctor, faced with a woman who presented with all the symptoms of early pregnancy but was evidently unprepared/reluctant to continue it, would usually diagnose 'menstrual irregularity' and refer her for surgery. Women would tell each other which doctors in which practice did such diagnoses.I haven't heard of any woman of my generation or younger undergoing such an operation. Why should they? The only difference nowadays is that the euphemisms are no longer used.

  8. 8
    Cuttlefish

    Oh, my dear anonymous…I'll trust your judgment not to share this with your daughter; your judgment has, after all, shown its worth many times over. Please, though, give your grandsons a hug for me (you don't have to tell them it's from me, though). Your story brings a tear to my eye. It is easy to write without a picture of a real person, even (especially) when the issues affect very real people every day. It is not easy to be the good parent you were and are. My hat is off to you. Thank you so much for sharing.

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