Monday, May 2, 2011

Please respond to Hank Pellissier (and especially his followers) on his proposal to Ban "Baby-Making" (Births) in the U.S., "for the sake of the children"

Hank Pellissier
I've heard similar things from white folks in the U.S. But this guy is coming out with a book. Everything that follows was written by Hank Pellissier, except my comment below his post. You can link to his post and comment, if you think it's worth it, by clicking on the title below. Much of what he's written is so fucked up, it's a wonder anyone can come to these viewpoints. The appropriate conclusion is that one comes to viewpoints like this when one passes through some kinds of "education" with gross entitlements and privileges to be ignorant about the world while doing so--and since. This tells us a lot about how WHM supremacist the education systems in North America often are and why 'being educated' isn't at all the same thing as being intelligent, moral, good, or wise.
A White Het Supremacist Man with class-privilege demands that we...  [TRIGGER WARNING: what follows is profoundly misogynistic, classist, and racist.]

Ban Baby-Making Unless Parents Are Licensed

by Hank Pellissier
Ethical Technology

Posted: Apr 20, 2011

For the sake of the children, let’s control human breeding. No one should be permitted to reproduce until they pass a battery of tests.

Does that proposal enrage you? Go ahead, hate me. Call me vile names like “Neo-Nazi-Elitist-Baby-Killing-Totalitarian-Sicko.” Or simply “Eugenicist.” I don’t care. I know I’m right.

It’s blatantly clear that 15-year-old intoxicated half-wits can easily spawn, but should they? Hell no. Let’s control human breeding, please. Let’s keep babies away from buffoons, and let’s test fetuses meticulously to guarantee healthy infants. No one should be permitted to reproduce unless and until they pass a battery of tests.
[for the rest of his article, please go to the site linked to from the title]

What follows is a slightly revised version of what I posted to his discussion page.

Hank, that's a very classist, misogynist, and racist perspective. You should know only the most privileged people have the option to do such things. How, for example, would you recommend an immigrant woman called "illegal" by our racist government, get licensed? What makes you think women usually choose to get pregnant? What about girls impregnated by their father or their mom's boyfriend? What about women who are routinely raped by their boyfriend or husband?

You'll have to end incest and rape--and all of patriarchy, as well as racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism, before such a position would be at all considerable and considerate of most women.

And, you do know you, a white man, is declaring yourself as Holder of The Truth in a nation that remains pro-genocide, yes? We whites are still committing this atrocity against Indigenous people across the land that was stolen--and many Indigenous nations' people are struggling in many ways to survive the atrocity. We whites allow our government to plant nuclear waste nearest to Indian reservations, don't we? And we whites have a history of forcibly sterilising poor women of color--especially Black, Brown, and Indigenous women and girls. And forcibly removing culture, religion, and language from Indigenous children. As well as taking children from their own communities. As well as white men trespassing on reservation land and raping Indigenous women and girls.

Your proposal also does nothing to substantively stop white wealthy het men from traversing the Earth to rape girls and women in systems of trafficking and sexual slavery.

I hope you know that the term "breeding" for child-bearing is one that was used by white men against Black people throughout U.S. history--and never, ever to describe the "breeding" of white wealthy men.

Do you see any of these very related issues as relevant to a discussion of "ethics"?


Update: a recent exchange. I'll put Hank's words in italics. Mine won't be.

Hi Hank.

I'll reply in sections.

You wrote:
For example, I don't believe that just because I am a white man I am supposed to be silent and not have an opinion. I also don't believe that past historical atrocities - like African-American slavery and Native American genocide - are supposed to dictate policy forever, especially in rather unrelated fields.

I don't see whites' genocide against American Indians, which is current, as something that is unrelated. And I'm not suggesting you be silent. There are also more slaves now than in the past. So neither genocide nor slavery are matters of the past, and whites benefit to this day in all kinds of ways due to their on-going reality. I won't take up this thread detailing how that works. I recommend reading Tim Wise's work for more on this, though.

You wrote:
I can't buy into the "white shame" that you seem to want me to feel, for a variety of reasons.

I'm not at all suggesting you feel any guilt or shame. I'm asking you, I suppose, to be responsible for the structural location you inhabit. We are not all placed into this world equally, even if equality is a value for some of us. Surely the Royal Wedding proves this point. And also the fact that bin Laden can have a bullet blow his brains out and U.S. Americans can cheer, but if such a thing happened to Cheney or GWB, or Rumsfeld, we'd bomb the CRAP out of the countries we determined to be involved. Oh wait: we already are doing that.

You wrote:
I find your notion of "white guilt" and "white shame" very silly and non-productive.

Where do I use those terms? I don't. So why are you quoting them? And that's not what I'm speaking about at all. Please don't presume what I'm saying. If you're not sure, I welcome you to ask.

You wrote:
You regard my parent-licensing proposal as invalid, and you claim it is racist and classicist.

Yes, the proposal is. And I apologise for saying that you are racist and classist, if I did. I meant that the proposal was. I still find that to be the case.

You wrote:
 I maintain, as I have throughout this thread, that my motivations are charitable,

I find most white people's charity to the less materially fortuned to be racist and classist as well.

You wrote:
 I am interested in guaranteeing that children are born into this world in good health and that they live in family situations that promote their well-being.

Riches not only don't guarantee it, but rich folks tend not to even raise their own children: they have servants do it and send their kids away to boarding schools. This is addressed to the person who seems to think that having more money makes someone a better parent, automatically.

You wrote:
We are looking at situations from a different perspective -- I see children as the victims and I want to remedy this, perhaps you see Native Americans as the victims and you want to protect them.

Not at all. I see people as people. And political location as a meaningful factor in what people say and how they say it. For example, I find that rich folks tend to talk down to poor folks. And whites tend to talk down to people of color. And that middle aged people tend to talk down to children and to the elderly. Not each and every time, and not without plenty of exceptions. But these are patterns that correlate well to "what one has experienced" and if someone has never been treated as a non-person by whites because they are white, they likely don't know what it is like to be treated the way Black and Brown people are often treated by whites. I'm speaking about the real world, in reality. Anyone who isn't white will likely have plenty of stories to tell about not being treated as well as the average white person similarly economically located.

You wrote:
You have also resorted to calling me names, and that is unfair. You say I am racist and classicist,

I meant that the writing, what you say, participates in patterns of racist and classist writings by others. Sorry for not being clearer.

You wrote:
 let's just talk about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I am interested in ending this horrible maiming of human beings before they are even born, and I am interested in doing it quickly.

Hank, you can't. I hope you truly understand that you can't do that. That's an aim well beyond your capabilities, or mine, or anyone else's.

What we "want to do" is not at all what we can do, necessarily. And I think it's important to soberly realise that.

You wrote:
Your attitude about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome seems to be that it is a Native American issue and I should not have any say in it? because I am just a white male perpetrator of genocide?

I said nothing of the kind. I never asked you not to speak. And I never called you a perpetrator of anything. My comment is up there. Please re-read it. What I wrote about was your political structural location in society as white person, as a man, and as someone with relative class (economic) privileges. And nowhere did I associate fetal alcohol syndrome with being Native American, and for you to do so is, in your writing, "racist" to me. Because it plays into a common negative stereotype about American Indians--that white folks write about and think they're being "charitable" to American Indian babies when doing so. I welcome you to engage with American Indian children and get their point of view, and not try and speak for them. Or for any children who you don't know personally. That's not asking you to be silent. It's asking you to speak responsibly about what you know--not from reading, but from life outside of reading. Are you implying that white babies don't suffer from F.A.S.? And every other color of babies? Rich, middle class, and poor babies too?

You wrote:
I very adamantly disagree and I am happy to represent the infants in this situation.

I'm saying that you don't represent them, Hank. Nor do I. In theory or in abstraction you might. But not in reality. You don't, unless you're an attorney or a social worker. You're speaking here, writing here--that's not "representing" them. I'm asking you to be honest with what you say and write.

You wrote:
I believe they have the right to be born healthy

So do I.

You wrote:
 and I believe we all have a moral responsibility to help them.

Hank, I find this to be an issue of abstractionism. How does you having this discussion in cyberspace materially or spiritually benefit any children in the U.S., or any fetuses? Can you explain that to me please?

You wrote:
 Do you think the threatened fetus, in a womb toxic with alcohol, if it had a vote, would side with its mother, or with me?

Assuming a level of distinguishing itself from its mother, which cannot happen before birth, my answer is: no doubt with its mother. The baby doesn't know you at all and would likely be frightened by you pretending to be someone who "represents" it.

You wrote:
I think discussion of ethnicity and even gender in regards to my proposal are just paralyzing distractions and that I've been subjected to very foolish name-calling and finger-pointing.

I'm addressing the content of your writing. I'm naming it a certain way. You get to disagree, but that doesn't mean I'm right and it doesn't mean I'm wrong either. We get to disagree about what you're saying above, and to me here. A person above noted that there are unowned biases in your work. I agree. I'm asking you to be more conscious of those and to be responsible with them.

You wrote:
 I believe that the USA should be much more egalitarian - my recent article on Denmark exhibits this - but waiting for that to happen while babies are born unnecessarily damaged and children are severely abused - is cruelly negligent.

Hank, you haven't shown how writing about this makes any difference at all in the lives of real fetuses, babies, and children. Writing out ideas isn't the same thing as shifting societal patterns and systems of harm. We might call it a written proposal, or a statement of belief, or an argument for something. But that doesn't mean it is more than that.

You wrote:
I know who I am defending in this discussion - the future children.

I'm calling that statement dishonest. I don't think future children will likely ever know you or me, honestly. I doubt much that either of us has to say will impact their lives at all. So I hear you attributing to yourself as power I don't believe you (or I) have: to advocate, in material reality, the lives of children, unless you are raising them or being an uncle or teacher to them directly.

You wrote:
 WHo or what are you defending? The right of Native American women to drink heavily when they're pregnant?

I wish you'd please stop putting really sexist-racist statements in my writing that aren't there. Is that a fair thing to ask of you? I'm not defending anyone at all. I'm only speaking for myself. I object to racist and sexist and classist speech. I find your writing in this post to be all of those things. Am I not entitled to come here and state that? You welcomed me to come here and post comments, so I did.

You wrote:
 I oppose their right to do that. Is that what we're disagreeing on?

You don't oppose a racist-sexist stereotype; you promote and perpetuate it. How does that help anyone of any age?

I'll try and be clearer. I don't believe that people writing things down means they magically happen. I don't believe you have the power to do what you say your statements can do. I don't believe you are, in reality, advocating for any Native American children. I believe you think you are. But that's not the same thing. If you were working with poor women and children, assisting them in finding more social services slashed because the rich don't want to be taxed 3% more, I'd argue you are, in fact, helping those very few women and children. Is that your line of work? If you were a doctor attending to babies, white ones, or not, with F.A.S., I'd argue you are helping those few children. Is that your line of work?

I hope I'm being clear. I'm not insulting you, I hope. I mean to be communicating truthful statements. I'd like racism to go away, and sexism too, and classism, and for all children to be loved and cared for in family systems if that's the social model, or in community, raised more communally. But me writing that doesn't do much of anything to make it socially real. It helps no children in the present. And future children aren't here. And I don't believe you or anyone else speaks for them. When they are born and grow up, if they grow up, if they can speak, they will speak for themselves.