Blog Posts

Where’s the outrage?

So, last week was fun on Twitter. Just one example of many:

I get the frustration; I really do. Black Lives Matter* activists have expressed the same frustration — how can people be so outraged over the death of an animal (however magnificent) but indifferent to the deaths of human beings?

First, there’s a reason we have that old saying that one death is a tragedy and a million is a statistic. It seems cold, but the fact is that we can personally relate to one death in a way that we just can’t with thousands. But I think there’s more going on than that. If deaths happen by the hundreds or thousands or millions as part of everyday life, then maybe everyday life is dependent on those deaths happening. So if they didn’t happen, maybe we’d have to make some real changes. It’s less threatening to say the deaths must be justified in some way.

In the case of abortion, there are some very sharp, personal reasons why people don’t get outraged over the deaths of human beings in the womb. If the death of a child in abortion is something to get outraged over, what will they do if an unintended pregnancy threatens to derail their education? What will they do if they can’t afford to have another kid and still pay the rent? What will they do if the father bails and they have to raise a child alone? What will they do if they get pregnant with an abusive partner and don’t want to be tied to him for life with a child? What will they do if they get raped? If the rapist threatens to sue for custody? Even in more favorable circumstances, what will they do if the birth of a child would drastically alter their life — which of course it will. “Your life will never be the same” are terrifying words!

Furthermore, since everything about American society has to be made to fit into our dismal partisan politics, people think that to be outraged would be to take the side of politicians who think birth control is for sluts, who talk about preserving life and protecting the vulnerable while at the same time voting for more deaths in war and less of a safety net. If your outrage lends support to people who are in many ways working against your interests, maybe you’ll try really hard not to feel it.

So if you’re asking where the outrage is, and you genuinely want to know the answer? Understand that plenty of people don’t think they can afford to be outraged.

*Speaking of Black Lives Matter, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t give a damn about police killings but makes sure to jump in to tell people they should really care about abortions of black babies instead — well, Josh Brahm will tell you in nice, rational words why this is a problem, but I’ll just tell you straight up that you’re being a jackass.