Speaking of redemption for the irredeemable…


Remember Kevin Williamson, the pundit who tweeted that women who get abortions should be executed by hanging, and lost a job at The Atlantic over it? I’m not sure what should be done with such horrible people, but not being hired as an opinion writer ought to be the least of it. But guess what the Washington Post has done? They’ve given him an opportunity to write on their opinion pages! A one-time thing, I hope, because I’d rather just see him vanish.

But no. Now he gets a prominent space to rehash his ugly views. I’m going to go find a puppy to kick so I can get space where I can write more about puppy-kicking.

Shockingly, the first thing Williamson does is…denial.

So what would it mean as a practical legal matter to outlaw abortion? That is a question I have been asked frequently since being fired by the Atlantic over a four-year-old, six-word tweet and accompanying podcast in which I was alleged to have voiced an extremist view on the matter of criminalizing abortion — that it should be punished by hanging.

That isn’t my view at all.

What is this “alleged” BS? There was the tweet, which he has since deleted, closing his whole Twitter account. But then also, he was
repeatedly asked if he was joking or serious
, he calmly affirmed that he was.

When Johnson pressed Williamson about whether he was serious, the National Review writer responded: Yes, I believe that the law should treat abortion like any other homicide.

He was asked about it in a podcast, and he strongly affirmed it.

And someone challenged me on my views on abortion, saying, ‘If you really thought it was a crime you would support things like life in prison, no parole, for treating it as a homicide.’ And I do support that, in fact, as I wrote, what I had in mind was hanging, Williamson said.

My broader point here is, of course, that I am a — as you know I’m kind of squishy on capital punishment in general — but that I’m absolutely willing to see abortion treated like a regular homicide under the criminal code, sure.

He even expanded on his point to say that the doctors and nurses who assisted in an abortion should also be executed! So what’s with the weasely “alleged” nonsense now?

He is lying and pretending he didn’t say it. Further, he’s now piously declaiming that he just wants moderate laws regulating abortion, just like France’s.

France, like many European countries, takes a stricter line on abortion than does the United States: Abortion on demand is permitted only through the 12th week of pregnancy. After that, abortion is severely restricted, permitted only to prevent grave damage to the mother’s health, or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities. France is not a neo-medieval right-wing dystopia.

The law in France imposes penalties on those who perform illegal abortions, ranging from forfeiture of medical licenses for doctors to fines and, in some cases, incarceration (for providers, not for the woman obtaining the abortion) ranging from six months to 10 years. Those sanctions seem reasonable to me. Why not start there and see how it works?

Start there…that’s his key point. He sees this as the point of a wedge, leading to, he dreams, full criminalization of abortion. And look: making it illegal for unqualified people to rummage around in women’s uteruses is a good idea, and I suspect is already consider criminal under existing laws about doing physical harm to people, but that’s not what he wants. He wants to arrest and punish certified doctors, nurses, and women who want an abortion. I don’t think France does that.

But these are just Williamson’s unoriginal excuses. This argument, that they just want to be like Europe, has been around for quite a while, and is an outright lie. Katha Politt has specifically addressed this stupid anti-choice talking point.

Here’s what’s really different about Western Europe: in France, you can get an abortion at any public hospital and it’s paid for by the government. In Germany, you can get one at a hospital or a doctor’s office, and health plans will pay for it for low-income women. In Sweden, abortion is free through eighteen weeks. Moreover, unlike the time limits passed in Texas and some other states, or floating around in Congress, the European limits have exceptions, variously for physical or mental health, fetal anomaly or rape. Contrast that with what anti-choicers want for the United States, where Paul Ryan memorably described a health exception to a proposed late-term abortion ban as “a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it.” If a French or German or Swedish 12-year-old, or a traumatized rape victim, or a woman carrying a fetus with Tay-Sachs disease shows up after the deadline, I bet a way can often be found to quietly take care of them. If not, Britain or the Netherlands, where second trimester abortion is legal, are possibilities. (In 2011, more than 4,000 Irish women traveled to Britain for abortions.)

Here are some other differences: in Western Europe, teens get realistic sex education, not abstinence-only propaganda. Girls and women have much better access to birth control and emergency contraception, which are usually paid for by the government. In countries that require mandatory counseling, it is empathetic and nondirective: nothing like our burgeoning network of Christian “crisis pregnancy centers” and state laws requiring women to endure transvaginal ultrasounds, hear fetal heartbeats and look at sonograms. European doctors are not forced to read scripts that falsely warn women that abortion will give them breast cancer and drive them to suicide, and tell them that an embryo the size of a pea is “a unique living human being.” In countries that have waiting periods, distances are smaller, and just to repeat, abortion is widely available and integrated with the normal health system, not shunted off to clinics in a few
cities and college towns. You do not have to travel eight hours four times to get the counseling and fulfill the waiting period—or sleep in your car or the bus station till the time is up.

And just because you’ve read this far: there are no screaming fanatics thrusting gory photos at you as you make your way to your abortion. No one takes down your license plate in the parking lot and calls you—or your parents—later with hateful messages. Doctors who perform abortions do not wear bulletproof vests, nor are they ostracized by their communities and shunned by other doctors. The whole climate of fear that makes many doctors reluctant to perform abortions and makes some women postpone going to the clinic does not exist.

OK, Kevin Williamson, I do want something like that. But that is not what you want: you want gibbets installed in every town with those wanton women who didn’t want a baby hanging from them.

No one is fooled. Except, apparently, the editors at the Washington Post who were happy to let a vicious troll lie openly on their pages.

Comments

  1. says

    the editors at the Washington Post who were happy to let a vicious troll lie openly on their pages.

    What a disappointment, to say the least. Europeans don’t have fucking fanatics like Janet Porter and her “heartbeat” bill, either. Recently, Jim Bakker was busy sucking up to Porter, and is using cancer to help push the regressive oppression of women.

  2. Dunc says

    Europeans don’t have fucking fanatics like Janet Porter and her “heartbeat” bill, either.

    We do, but they’re mostly regarded as a lunatic fringe.

  3. Jeremy Shaffer says

    I’m not sure what should be done with such horrible people, but not being hired as an opinion writer ought to be the least of it. But guess what the Washington Post has done? They’ve given him an opportunity to write on their opinion pages!

    Well, we have to hear out the opinions of right-wing proponents who seem to have no end of opportunities to make their opinions known. Otherwise, how will we have ample evidence that we are told isn’t actually evidence of what they later deny believing is what they truly believe because it was merely a one-time, off-the-cuff statement that was made so many times over various media?

    My broader point here is, of course, that I am a — as you know I’m kind of squishy on capital punishment in general…

    No doubt Willamson is “squishy” about capital punishment, but only in regard to carrying it out himself. I suspect he’s not so “squishy” when it comes other people getting their hands bloody in fulfilling his base desires to see innocent people twisting in the wind.

    Further, he’s now piously declaiming that he just wants moderate laws regulating abortion, just like France’s.

    I wonder if there are some difference between France’s healthcare systems- or in general- in comparison to the United States’ which Willamson is eliding here that might be applicable? What’s that you say Katha Politt?

    There are?

    Willismson is being a disingenuous shit-lick? Well, who could have ever suspected a right-wing pundit could be such?

  4. says

    Dunc:

    We do, but they’re mostly regarded as a lunatic fringe.

    Which is where they belong, but unfortunately that’s not the case here. With the regime being stuffed full of fanatical christians, Porter has a great deal of backup for her evil bill.

  5. dontlikeusernames says

    How very Hedbergian of him.

    “I allegedly did X. I did X, but I also allegedly did X.”

    (with apologies to Mitch Hedberg.)

  6. anthrosciguy says

    BTW, from Wikipedia, this re French abortion laws:

    Abortion in France is legal on demand up to 12 weeks after conception (14 weeks after the last menstrual period).[1] Abortions at later stages of pregnancy are allowed if two physicians certify that the abortion will be done to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; a risk to the life of the pregnant woman; or that the child will suffer from a particularly severe illness recognized as incurable.

    The two doctors signing off exemption doesn’t sound like that high a bar, although in some areas of the USA it could certainly be. Too few doctors in too large an area, plus zealotry.

    At any rate, it’s rather obvious that neither Williamson or other anti-abortion zealots would accept anything remotely like France’s laws regarding abortion, much less the national government paying for any.

  7. Matthew Herron says

    A page from the Trump playbook: I never said that thing you’ve got video/audio/screenshots of me saying. If I did say it, everybody knows I didn’t mean it. If I meant it, it’s just what everyone else is thinking and hasn’t got the guts to say.

  8. says

    What about the poor men who have their lives ruined (and by ruined I mean being paid to write for national outlets) by having their words accurately quoted?

    But, since it was mentioned, let me tell you about abortion access in Germany: It sucks and yes, it is one of the least modern laws in the west.
    For one, abortion is illegal, with the exception of rape, health of the pregnant personr and “psychosocial indication”, i.e. severe malformations or suicidal tendencies of the pregnant person. FULL STOP
    In all other cases I can get an abortion that is not prosecuted and for which I will not be punished if I
    -go to mandatory counselling
    -then wait three days
    -usually pay for the fun myself
    We’re currently fighting to have a law removed that punishes doctors for merely statin g on their websites that they carry out abortions because that is “advertisement”. The counselling centres are the only ones allowed to tell you where you can get an abortion and they don’t necessarily have all the information.
    Seriously, my great grandma got sentenced to penitentiary for protesting that shit under the Kaiser and I’m sick and tired of still having to do so.
    Having said that, there are some differences:
    We get sex ed.
    Under 25 contraception is free. Over 25 we don’t pay half as much as you do.
    People who need abortions for their own health or because of malformations get compassionate care and are not regularly targeted by ridiculous 20 weeks bills and shit.

  9. Usernames! 🦑 says

    FTFA:

    “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide.[“] When asked for a specific punishment, he [Williamson] offered hanging.

    With that in mind, I would offer that any incident of male† ejaculation should be treated biblically, specifically according to Genesis 38:

    38:9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

    38:10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.

    Good enough for YHWH, good enough for you! Every sperm is sacred!

    † Since the bible doesn’t mention female ejaculation, it obviously doesn’t exist.

  10. rietpluim says

    the law should treat abortion like any other homicide
    The word other implies that abortion already is treated like homicide (which is true to some degree, even in more liberal countries) but I’d like to rephrase it as:
    “the law should treat abortion like any other medical service”

  11. gijoel says

    “I was harassed and abused by the internet for my views on eating babies’ writes baby eating witch.

  12. blf says

    One of the worse — possibly the worse — abortion laws is in Northern Ireland, which, whilst part of the UK, is allowed to have its own abortion law. Abortions are illegal, except to save the mother’s life. Performing an abortion for any other reason is illegal; Medics who perform such abortions can be sent to prison, and sometimes are. Until recently, the NHS in other parts of the UK (England, Wales, Scotland) did not offer free abortions to N.Irish women. Whilst now they do, travel expenses to get an abortion are still the responsibly of the woman. The UN has declared “the situation in Northern Ireland constitutes violence against women that may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

    In the Republic of Ireland, the situation is slightly better, with, e.g., the risk of the mother’s suicide also being legal grounds for an abortion. Significantly, in about a month’s time (25 May) the Irish will be voting on a referendum to repeal article 8, removing Ireland’s constitutional bar to abortion. The Irish government has said that if the referendum passes, it will introduce legislation to allow abortion up to 12 weeks.

  13. blf says

    me@14, Apologies, clicked the wrong button: One of the worse — possibly the worse — abortion laws is in Northern Ireland… → One of the worse — possibly the worse — abortion laws in Europe is in Northern Ireland…

  14. Hairhead, Still Learning at 59 says

    Canada, right now, is wavering on going the right-wing Trumpish route, in both federal and provincial politics. But one thing, ONE THING that no politician can touch is our lack of ANY LAWS AT ALL GOVERNING ABORTION. Abortion is solely between the woman and her doctor, and has been so for over 20 years now. And precisely NONE of the results predicted by the pro-lifers has happened. I can’t be proud of my country in all things — we have many sins, both present and historical, on our collective conscience — but not this one.

  15. anchor says

    I’ve cancelled my subscription and any further emailed ‘The Post Most’ notices from them.

    They can take their “Democracy Dies in Darkness” epigram and shove it before jumping off the nearest pier.

  16. raven says

    Remember Kevin Williamson, the pundit who tweeted that women who get abortions should be executed by hanging, and lost a job…

    Kevin Williamson is simply a mass murderer wannabe. A monster.
    No different from Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or anyone else that has killed millions of people.
    Except they did and he hasn’t had the opportunity to do so.

    What is the probability that Kevin Williamson is a serial killer, child rapist, serial sexual harrasser, domestic violence perpetrator, or something else horrible. Pretty high.
    It’s common for these pious holier than thou type monsters to be massive hypocrites about something.

  17. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    ….but practicing medicine without a license is already illegal, and malpractice is already grounds for loss of licensure…

    Like, how does he expect this argument to fly? Are there people who don’t know that?

  18. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    My broader point here is, of course, that I am a — as you know I’m kind of squishy on capital punishment in general…

    Also, I’m pretty sure this piece of shit is the opposite of “squishy” when contemplating people being hanged.

  19. Dass Istnumberwang says

    Had to do a double-take there to make sure you didn’t write “Washington Times” and I just read it wrong. What the hell, WaPo?!

  20. raven says

    Notably absent in Kevin Williamson’s fantasy hell on earth is any punishment for the other half of every pregnancy; aborted, miscarried, or carried to birth.
    The sperm donors. The males. The men.
    He puts the entire burden, responsibility, and penalty for a terminated pregnancy on the women.

    Not all pregnancy is purely a voluntary act on the woman’s part.
    (In fact, 50% of all pregnancies in the USA are unplanned.)
    Carelessness by the men, various forms of coercion, and sometimes force are factors in many pregnancies. A common fallacy among some fundie xians is that marital rape can’t exist due to male rights.

    It clearly never occurred to Kevin Williamson that many of his hanged victims could and should be…men.
    Given how much of a monster this guy is, one of those hanged men might well be…Kevin Williamson.

  21. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    raven: for misogynist right-wing scum that’s a feature, not a bug.

  22. chris61 says

    @22 raven

    He puts the entire burden, responsibility, and penalty for a terminated pregnancy on the women.

    If the choice is entirely up to the woman then doesn’t it naturally follow that so is the responsibility?

  23. Saad says

    chris61, #24

    Read raven’s entire post.

    The point is that if the termination of pregnancy is a horrible thing, then there are plenty of cases in which the men who got the woman pregnant are responsible for that horrible thing too.

  24. chris61 says

    @25 Saad

    The point is that if the termination of pregnancy is a horrible thing, then there are plenty of cases in which the men who got the woman pregnant are responsible for that horrible thing too.

    Thanks, I got that but I disagree. The men who got the women pregnant are certainly at least in part responsible for the pregnancy and are also responsible for supporting any offspring that result from said pregnancy. But since they have no choice in the decision on whether to terminate the pregnancy, they can’t be held responsible for that.

    In any case I can’t quite decide whether Kevin Williamson really believes what he says or whether he’s just slyly trying to promote pro-choice. The point he seems to be making is that if you really believe that abortion is murder then you should be prepared to treat it under the law like any other premeditated murder. Yet even many of the most repressive anti-abortion laws passed in the US in the past few years don’t go that far. Many of them propose penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions but they also go out of their way to explicitly state that women getting those abortions can’t be charged under those laws. So maybe what Williamson is trying to say is that if you don’t believe that abortion should be treated like any other premeditated murder, maybe you should rethink your belief that abortion is murder at all. Maybe there are valid and moral reasons for supporting access to abortion even if you do believe that it is killing a human being and even if you believe that you would never want one for yourself.

  25. chris61 says

    @27 Giliell

    Man: I think we should hang women who have abortions
    Chris61: I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s pro women.

    Actually what I wrote was that I couldn’t decide if he was secretly pro-choice. But even assuming he’s not (as you obviously do) – imagine how pissed he’s likely to be if people start running around writing that he is.

  26. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    chris61,
    If you read his Post column that PZ linked to, you’ll see that his ultimate goal is to outlaw all abortion. Most definitely not pro-choice, secretly or otherwise.

  27. Saad says

    For a woman, chris61 sure seems to almost always argue on the misogynistic side.

    The men who got the women pregnant are certainly at least in part responsible for the pregnancy and are also responsible for supporting any offspring that result from said pregnancy. But since they have no choice in the decision on whether to terminate the pregnancy, they can’t be held responsible for that.

    You’re contradicting yourself. Why are they responsible for supporting any offspring resulting from the pregnancy? They have no choice in the decision of whether the woman gives birth or terminates.

  28. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Chris61: “But since they have no choice in the decision on whether to terminate the pregnancy, they can’t be held responsible for that.”

    Hmm, let’s see. I decide to leave a large rock teetering on a steep hillside, but since I have no choice on whether someone decides to drive along the road when the rock falls, I’m not responsible for any damage they suffer.

    I decide to leave a loaded gun on a school playground, but since I have no choice about the actions of whoever finds it, I’m not responsible.

    This is fun. However, I think a court would disagree–just as said court would disagree if abortion were criminalized. Oh, wait. The people writing the laws criminalizing abortion would be men? Never mind.

  29. raven says

    This is fun. However, I think a court would disagree–just as said court would disagree if abortion were criminalized. Oh, wait. The people writing the laws criminalizing abortion would be men? Never mind.

    1. Actually, the courts rule often that men have some responsibility for a pregnancy and its outcome.
    Ever hear of court ordered child support?
    Happens all the time.

    2. They also rule often about pregnancies that occur due to male carelessness, various forms of coercion, and various types of force. And assign some responsibility to the male. Being raped is considered a legal reason for an abortion, if a pregnancy occurs, in most jurisdictions, just about everywhere.

    In my area, a 20’s guy got a teenage girl drunk at a party, had sex with her, and she got pregnant. He had done this twice before with teenage girls, got them drunk, had sex with them, and they got pregnant.
    After the third time, the court said, enough is enough.
    He is now in prison and will be for a long time.

    If you are male and think you will never have any responsibility assigned to you for a pregnancy, you will soon end up on the wrong side of the law.

  30. chris61 says

    @30 Saad

    You’re contradicting yourself. Why are they responsible for supporting any offspring resulting from the pregnancy? They have no choice in the decision of whether the woman gives birth or terminates.

    Good point. Why are they responsible for a decision that they had no choice over?

  31. Saad says

    With you 100%. All those possessed men having sex against their choice and getting women pregnant can’t possibly be responsible.

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