Sunday, March 3, 2013

Youth Defence and the Young Chauvinists of the Future

I long for a nemesis. They prove inspiring, motivating, and are often a rich source of material. I put out a call some time ago and ickle tayto volunteered but the lack of significant areas of disagreement meant her well-meaning intentions proved counterproductive.

Hoping to find that special someone I flossed, applied finest cologne, ironed a shirt and visited Youth Defence's blog. There I found Tadhg. By Youth Defence standards he's a prolific writer, having provided the internet with over a dozen posts. Like any good nemesis would, he seems to be operating under a pseudonym:

Tim is a fine name; I'm unsure why he chose to switch to Tadhg and when I seek out a nemesis I prefer them to employ a sobriquet more along the lines of Dr Doom. No matter. It seems redundant to critique a member of Youth Defence / The Life Institute / the Pro Life Alliance / Coir / prolifeinfo.ie / Truth TV for using different names, and whether or not Tim or Tadhg is a real person is immaterial to my criticism of his latest blog post.

Entitled What if you were the one being chosen?, it starts with the story of Ryan. His pregnant partner Hannah plays a minor supporting role. It's a tragic tale of a man denied his right to make reproductive choices for his girlfriend and focuses on Ryan trying to call Hannah, Ryan going to Hannah's house, Ryan talking to Hannah's parents, Ryan calling Hannah's friends and Ryan driving to several abortion clinics. Hannah, as mere womb support unit, is not given voice in this piece. The injustice of Ryan not having control over Hannah's womb is laid bare for all to see.


Continuing the theme of women not having dominion over their reproductive organs we read the story of Laura. She conceives and her boyfriend of two months does not want her to continue the pregnancy. Her parents also decide against and Laura is forced to have an abortion. Here Tim or Tadhg fundamentally misunderstands the pro choice position. I believe women should have autonomy over their own bodies. He and those who would force abortions on others share the belief that women's bodies should be under the ultimate control of society. They differ only in choosing forced birth or forced abortion. His criticism is of his own world view, not mine.

A second failing is its relevance to the Irish abortion debate. Our current laws do not affect this scenario in any measurable degree. Access to abortion is only a problem for the young, the poor, and those who would not wish to be shamed by their own nation into crossing borders; our laws merely require that Laura's parents pay for a Ryanair ticket while robbing their daughter of her reproductive choices. It's farcical to suggest that Youth Defence's efforts to prevent legal clarity for doctors dealing with life threatening conditions could affect this scenario one iota. I'm left uncertain that Tim or Tadhg is against women having a choice in pregnancy. He writes as if he's never entertained the notion that they may wish one.

Making a rather awkward segue back to the subject of his title, he closes with the question "Would you like it if your mother or father had wanted you to be aborted? Would you like it if your grandfather and grandmother had wanted you to be aborted?"

I quite enjoy existing. It affords me many pleasures that alternatives do not. But let us examine other scenarios - would I like it if, some 33 years ago, my parents had been too tired from their days' labour to combine sperm and egg? Either scenario would inhibit my existence, yet I stand against any legal obligation on them to produce offspring. The sperm cell to whom I owe half my DNA likely swam alongside 375 million brothers and sisters. Would I like it if, some 33 years ago, another had won the race? I would also not exist yet cannot imagine a legal solution that would guarantee my coming to be. Tadhg or Tim cannot argue with coherence that his question applies uniquely to abortion. If anything it supports forced sex for all couples of fertile age and presupposes the loss of billions of potential people each second.

Tim, Tadhg, I'm afraid it just isn't working out. We had a fun time of course, but you're just not what I'm looking for in a nemesis. To be clear, it's not me, it's you. I wish you well. If I may offer a final piece of advice: it's best not to use stock images that also feature in articles on erectile dysfunction, ejaculation disorders and inhibited sexual desire. Hypotheses on the procedure used to choose said images may be unkind.

12 comments:

Kevin Donoghue said...

Only 375 million? I prefer Aldous Huxley's round billion, from back in the day when a 'billion' was 10^12:

A million million spermatozoa,
All of them alive:
Out of their cataclysm but one poor Noah
Dare hope to survive.
And among that billion minus one
Might have chanced to be
Shakespeare, another Newton, a new Donne -
But the One was Me.

Galactor said...

Indeed, arguing from the position of past what-ifs is a non-starter. What happened, happened, and what we do and don't do is affecting the outcome of the universe.

williamquill.com said...

Had contraception been more freely available in the 1980s, I would not be here to type this. Does not mean I'm against contraception.

bakingbeardy said...

Interestingly, the name of the link has now been changed on the YD blog...

Roger Parrow said...

Our 17 year old Irish born son is named Eoin Tadhg. Someone in the states looked it up and apparently according to some website Tadhg is the Irish equivalent of Tim. This may tie into your theory that YD are primarily an Irish front for a US organisation.

elsidodotcom said...

Tadhg or Tim? I think you will find its because Tadhg looks kind of Irish. And maybe it is.

It's interesting to note that the anti abortion "mega troll" - ABM who is a bit of a star on Broadsheet.ie throws in a few quotes as gaeilge - if you suggest he is an American.

considertheteacosy said...

It would take an American to think that throwing in the odd bit of Irish makes you look like you're from here, alright ;)

considertheteacosy said...

It would take an American to think that throwing in the odd bit of Irish makes you look like you're from here, alright ;)

hargaden said...

This is a weird post Geoff. Again, I don't know what point is being made here, except that you don't like that people are pro-life.

You yourself list yourself on Twitter as Geoff Ó Laoidhléis. As a presumably fluent Irish speaker you should know that Tim is the English version of Tadhg. There is no grand conspiracy.

There are in fact excellent reasons why someone would choose to sometimes be Tim and sometimes Tadhg, sometimes Kevin and sometimes Caoimhín, sometimes Mr. Lillis and sometimes Mr. Geoff Ó Laoidhléis.

I know this for a fact because I know Tim. I have spoken to him in the past about pro-life issues. Within the pro-life domain, we definitely occupy different territories but I can vouch for his sincerity and honesty.

He could have vouched for it himself had you used your investigative prowess to actually track him down.

clawless said...

Why was tadg or Tim at the symposium on maternal health? Is he a doctor?

elsidodotcom said...

@ considertheteacosy - I think it's the same comment(s) on "copypasta". I'm no good at Irish so never really checked.

Clearly, if a chap is trolling for the Almighty - he has to be prepared for any eventuality.

Geoff said...

This is a weird post Geoff. Again, I don't know what point is being made here...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for reading. Sad to think I might have expressed myself so poorly. In this post I hoped to examine Tim's arguments and see if they bear weight.

His first fictional anecdote speaks of the tragedy of a man not being the ultimate arbiter of his pregnant partner's abortion decision. I find this an unconvincing argument.

His second argument speaks of a woman forced to have an abortion. This betrays at best a fundamental misunderstanding of the pro choice position and cannot be considered a coherent argument against it.

Finally, he argues that pro choice people would not like it had we been aborted. But I point out that this argument is equally vocal against contraception, those who choose to remain continent till marriage, and those who choose to never have sex. We do not legislate against these choices.

... except that you don't like that people are pro-life.

Given that I recommend your blog on the subject, give guest posts to
those of differing views (I've offered The Chip Monk and you slots - the offer stands if interested) and offer my services to those against changing our restrictive abortion laws that feels a little unfair.

You yourself list yourself on Twitter as Geoff Ó Laoidhléis. As a presumably fluent Irish speaker you should know that Tim is the English version of Tadhg. There is no grand conspiracy...
He could have vouched for
[his sincerity and honesty] himself had you used your investigative prowess to actually track him down.

The vast majority of your comment is a complaint that I make note of his use of a pseudonym, an entirely accurate statement, relevant given Youth Defence's many avatars, and not one on which I hang an argument.


And for the record I did try to track him down - I pulled all Tim and Tadhg followers of Youth Defence and checked them out, used Google image search (oddly, no hits for the apparently popular head shave for Youth Defence fundraiser.) and a few other methods. No joy, but I have commented on his blog. No response.