Wednesday, October 19, 2005


[Update: You think my version was snarky? Get a load of this one.
Mr. Morford says what I meant, with far better wit.
Thanks to Geochick for the heads-up.]

Those of you familiar with my position on reproductive rights can safely assume that I, in no
way, advocate legal limitations on whether or not to have kids, or in what number.

I appreciate the appeal of a large family, I really do. I conjures up any number of Rockwellian images of a large brood surrounding the Thanksgiving table, bathed in golden light, smiling children, proud parents, let the circle be unbroken and all that.

Yes, yes, very well and good. And, if you're lucky enough to be financially able to support a large family, then more power to you. It's your equipment, do what you like with it.

That said, what the fuck possesses a couple to have sixteen children?!? Yes, you read that right. Sixteen. Not 7, not 12, but SIXTEEN.

Johannah Faith Duggar was born at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and weighed 7 pounds, 6.5 ounces.

The baby's father, Jim Bob Duggar, a former state representative, said Wednesday that mother and child were doing well. Johannah's birth was especially exciting because it was the first time in eight years the family has had a girl, he said.

So, they wanted a girl so they just kept trying? No, no. Not quite that simple.

Jim Bob Duggar, 40, said he and Michelle, 39, want more children.

"We both just love children and we consider each a blessing from the Lord. I have asked Michelle if she wants more and she said yes, if the Lord wants to give us some she will accept them," he said in a telephone interview.

Um... That's not the Lord, sweetheart. It's biology. One of the wonderful things that sets humans apart from other animals is that we can control our reproduction! You know, like, we don't actually HAVE to have children just because our plumbing makes it possible.

And for that matter, if you're so dedicated to having a large family, how about ADOPTING? Do you have the slightest idea just how many kids there are in need of good homes? How overtaxed the foster care system is? How desperate social services are to find suitable, reliable care-givers?

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to be the asshole here and suggest that in an increasingly crowded world, sixteen kids is narcissism run amok. Selfishness turned flesh. And a dreadfully sad kind of vanity.


Geo_Chick said...

Lol, you want to hear insane...My dad's grama had 13 kids with her first husband and he died. She got some sucker to marry her and she had 11 more with him! 24 kids!?!?! We have quite the family reunions.

Lily said...

I too find it difficult to look at another whose shoes I do not walk in, without the urge to judge, but it helps me to recall my many flaws and be humbled by them. It helps me to remember that I am fallible and can contradict myself. I can want things that in your view hurt the world. I can make mistakes and life choices based on emotion or a spirituality that is alien to you. I can do things that even defy my own morality. And I can live an entire life without a full understanding of why perhaps. There are people that have ONE kid but beat them or neglect them. IN my view THAT crosses the line of what is acceptable. Having too many kids, too many square feet in a home, too many SUV's, too high cholesterol, etc. are all lifestyle choices that contribute to broader demise. But there are some more egregious than others. To me, crazymomma doesn't qualify.

I can predict your further retorts on excess, overpopulation, etc. and no doubt you will claw my eyes out but I return to the idea that I am not entirely sure what has the potential for more damage- the desire to have sixteen kids or the desire to judge 'choices'. The person who sefishly breeds beyond comprehensible proportions or the person who seeks to tear down choices that are not in line with their own. See its an admittedly tough call, at what point does society need to nudge people in a certain direction? And where do we draw the line? When do we have the right to crticize, anytime we want? When it affects other people adversely? Does she impact us adversely, in a category with warmongerers, polluters, molesters, abusers? DOES SHE HURT ANYONE IF SHE RAISES THEM INDEPENDENTLY? See when somebody makes a choice and they take responsibility- what the hell is it to me? She's not asking Cantankerous Bitch to change any diapers.
We look at a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette and say GOOD GOD LADY! Then we go through the drive through at McDonald's and someone else in another car says GOOD GOD LADY, what are you feeding your kid?
Then we see the kids without seat belts and shake our heads, and so on... I respect what you are saying about plumbing, but its moralizing all the same. You describe Rockwellian images and values that certainly do not reflect on MY desire for lots of kids. Narcissism doesn't quite sum it up either. I went through one medical ordeal after another to have kids including being told I could not have any. I certainly don't see my reasoning as a shallow desire for car,boat, kid. Perhaps if you knew the elusive real story of another, you would feel differently and perhaps THAT is the issue. Your religious or value system does not allow room for respecting hers. You sneer at it because the notion of god giving her 'blessings' is ridiculous TO YOU. . Well I hate that shit on the right AND the left. I hate when they judge me and I hate when we judge. You and I can each make a list of ten things we can judge about one another that reflect our personal views and values. Live and let live, babe. If you hurt people, I get in your face. Otherwise, all the power to you.
Why must we use limited information to support a harsh moral stance? I'd love to understand this because this is where you and I part ways at the gate very often!

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Sorry, but I don't accept your premise. I don't view my disagreement with this particular breeding option as "tearing down choices". I don't think that being on the left side of the aisle means that I abdicate my right to an opinion, and -- if you'll pardon an overgeneralization -- suggesting these things are analogous is one of the things I dislike the most in "liberal thinking". When did it become part of the Tenants of Liberalism that we refrain from saying "that's fucked up" when we think something is so? Perhaps this is one of those things that makes me cross the line from left to center, I don't know. Regardless, I can't stand the "left" perspective that says "under no circumstances must we judge another". That's just fundamentally silly in my book, a wanton waste of discriminatory skills and totally undermines the free, independent thinking that we exalt -- at least in theory. (That, by the way, was "discriminate" as in "to make clear distinctions between options")

Further, in the specific case of having kids, I was always taught that not letting our breeding go unfettered was part of what it means to be "sound custodians" of the planet. I mean, don't we cite overpopulation as one of the ills of the world? Well, that can't just apply to third world countries, and if it does, we wander into that loathed "elitism" liberals are regularly assailed for. Don't we constantly cry out for a reduction in consumption? Don't we lambaste western society for it's voracious appetite for resources? Well, to me, 16 kids wanders well into that greedy category to no particularly sound purpose, outside of say, a family farm.

And I don't care what the circumstance is -- any time someone insists that "god did it", I get a bit hot under the collar. While some may see it as some kind of divine reverence, I see it as passing the buck. WE choose the course of our lives. WE say yes or no, choose this road or that, WE bear the consequences of those decisions. Insisting that god played a role strikes me as something of a cop-out. In this particular case, had god been responsible for 16 instances of birth control failure, I'd be far more sympathetic to the argument. Too subjective for you? Oh well. We all draw lines, and will always upset apple carts in the process. Do we then refrain from drawing any lines at all, fearing that we'll offend someone's sensibilities? Is this the kind of world we live in now? Where we speak and act in constant trepidation of cramping someone's style? I have little sympathy for the shrinking violets of the world, no matter how noble their causes might be.

Freedom of thought and speech DOES include the right to criticize if we feel moved to do so. The thing that distinguishes left from right, liberal from conservative, is that the latter seems hell bent on LEGISLATING their criticisms. I advocate no such thing (and frankly, I'm a little puzzled why you respond as if I do). However, my lack of interest in enforcing my opinion by law does not also mean that I surrender my right to comment. You appear to be reading some kind of universal commandment into my rant when I did not intend it, nor do I think it can fairly be inferred. Had I said that this particular couple be penalized in some capacity for their decision, you'd have a case to make. As it is, you seem to be taking me to task for expressing an opinion you dislike, and when we do that, what then separates us from those on the right that condemn and seek to abolish everything outside their narrow world views?

Lew Scannon said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. It's not the number it's the placement of responsibility on God, not simple biology. Plus, imagine the SUbehemoth they most tote all these monkeys around in.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

A detail I hadn't considered, Lew. Here's hoping public transport is well developed in their town.

Lily said...

Well better people have big cars that need big cars perhaps than the durango driving manhattanites that live alone, have no rugged terrain, and have no reason for an 8 person vehicle other than, compensating for something. People on farms use tractors, forest rangers have been using four wheel drive- the issue was the rise in people buying them because Madison Avenue Gods told us to ...and so everyone hides their sedentary tv watching asses behind 'its a jeep thing'.
Oddly enough more people that drive these rugged big-ass trucks are, demographically speaking, the least likely to GO OUTSIDE let alone camp and drive up mountains. Its about as funny as George Costanza in his Timberland boots.

Lily said...

And by the way... forgot to mention that GOD wants you to have ten kids, CB... better get going. You might get smited. (smut? smitten?)

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Well, then god's going to be sorely disappointed. Perhaps I'll send him a quick note now: "It's good to want things. Love, the heathen."

Tom Strong said...

I think Bach had sixteen children. And Vermeer as well.

Of course, neither of them were expected to actually _raise_ their kids.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Well, right. Hell, I'd like some nanny-help and all I have is ONE!

Renee said...

What ever happened to a good ole blow job or anal sex?

If it's any consolation, I don't plan on having kids, so that fact balances the equation slightly.