Okay, it doesn’t always, but a second dumbass never hurts. Double the dipshits, more than double the dumb-dumb; these things scale exponentially, not linearly, you know.
Not half an hour after I published that last essay about Denver and socioeconomic inequality and shit, I encountered one of that very zeitgeist’s fruits in the flesh. Planned Parenthood had deployed canvassers on the Sixteenth Street Mall (bougies!) to solicit signatures or contributions or some shit in support of women not having any kids yet (bougies!). This isn’t an entirely fair way to put it; I only have time to chronicle this nonsense right now because the friend I got together with here had to split for Saturday evening babysitting duties in Evergreen, meaning once again that raising children is le hard, on people other than the parents, too, and that I’d be an arrogant bastard to tell anyone that I’m totally ready for it or ever will be. That makes three kids that she’s babysat this weekend, so if she wants to pursue better living through chemistry in her own deferment of parenthood, it may be Planned Parenthood’s business, but it sure as hell isn’t yours or mine. Speaking just for myself, I hardly have the energy to ride herd on my two quasi-nephews in Orange County when their parents and mine are also on scene, so yeah, there’s no need to go telling other women that they’re immoral for not carrying a pregnancy to term already when they’re spending Saturday night keeping other people’s rug rats from destroying the house.
But the canvassers. There were two, a young woman I barely looked at and a twenty-something metrosexual fellow with a sort of old-school Meat Loaf hairdo who was in my direct line of sight. Normally I avoid canvassers like the plague because they can be royal pains in the ass and pathetic low-rent mercenaries, but this time, even though this guy looked like a bit of an ineffectual twerp, a sort of pathetic desire for human companionship stirred in my lukewarm heart, and I engaged with the fucker. To wit:
Canvasser: “How’re you doing?”
“Eh, not bad. How about you?”
Canvasser: “Pretty good. Would you be interested in supporting women’s rights?”
“Actually, not really. I don’t think so.”
Canvasser: “Oh. That’s cool. Well, have a nice day!”
“Yeah, you too.”
That was “cool” in the sense of his obviously considering it very uncool but being too relieved of his balls to say as much. Testicles are a common impediment to civility, so this isn’t an entirely bad thing, even if it’s cringe-inducing and pathetic and really not admirable. If I had to choose between this twerp and the kind of guys I’ve read about in Fort McMurray and Williston, I’d take the former in a heartbeat because I don’t want some meathead decking me in a bar fight over some chick we just met, and I don’t even want some meathead decking some other guy in a bar fight over some perceived slut. If it’s that important to them, they hire a professional and take their turns like gentlemen. It’s not like this canvasser twerp was plumbing some new depth in bad manners or bad morals; he was but a minor pain in the ass of a sort that, but of course, congregates in trendy places like LoDo.
And of course it wasn’t all his fault. I was a dipshit, too. To resort to unctuous morally relativistic language for a moment, in my personal religious tradition they don’t teach us to tell you that it’s through your fault, through your fault, through your most grievous fault, y u no admit fault asshole?! I thought about trying to (pardon the unctuousness again) start a dialogue with this twerp about birthrates in the Denver Metroplex, maybe how they broke down by neighborhood and income level, how they relate to the higher birthrates among the Christian breeders in Colorado Springs, and how all of these things relate to natalist public policy, if there even is any, and to do so in a spirit of Christian humility and charity and civic probity and all that shit, but my thoughts were far too inchoate for the task. I fell short of the mark.
Mea maxima st00pid. Okay, maybe just mea intermedia st00pid, but still. I could have, per Bareilles, said what I wanna say, and let the words fall out, but honestly, that would have been literally just words, not the sort of thing an honest man can properly call “thought.” Is blowing an unusual opportunity for dialogue about serious matters of public policy and family life with a streetcorner mercenary twerp a sin? Maybe, but I wouldn’t be inclined to take it to the confessional unless I have an impish interest in momentarily dumbfounding a priest in his sacramental duties, and that would be a sin, too. And the entire preceding paragraph could fall under a third sort of sin, that of scrupulosity. Or as Robin Williams said about his own Episcopal Church: “Same religion, half the guilt.”
I missed an opportunity. I fell short of the mark. But the mark in question is a practically unreachable one. The Planned Parenthood crowd and the preening, politicized breeders who order “Respect Life” license plates are flip sides of the same awful coin of civic degradation. It’s easy to demolish arguments that Christian breeders are just a bunch of misogynists or that their barren secular-liberal counterparts truly disrespect life. Promoting motherhood over Lean In careerism is not misogyny, and preferring to hang out with one’s nephews or nieces than to have children of one’s own due to high-volume accidental pregnancies is not disrespect for life. Neither of these things is the case. These are conflicting values, a circle that can’t quite be squared, but they’re also easily enough turned into complementary values. Do you want your kids’ babysitter to have to call off work because she’s in labor with a baby she never really wanted to have, or do you want her to be able to keep her own sexual affairs in order like a competent adult, without interference from moral busybodies, and be available to keep your kids from trashing the kitchen while you’re out at dinner? Now, let’s up the stakes and stipulate that the babysitter is your sister. Do you want your own sister to carry an unintended pregnancy to term and have to raise an unwanted child just because some meddlesome asshats made her feel like otherwise she’d be a ruined slut? These are serious questions, and to be fair, many people give them the serious answer of “hell no.” But these are not the ones who outshout everyone else on matters of reproductive health policy.
Should affluent Denverites have more babies? Probably. A more fecund bougie population would probably lead on short order to a number of beneficial sociological and policy effects, like less bitching about profligate wetbacks in Aurora as Bougie finds himself in similar family circumstances. Conversely, should the thumper breeders in Springs have fewer babies? No. This is absolutely not a morally conscionable conclusion. Natalist policy is not about calibrating birthrates by politicoreligious persuasion so that one’s enemies are not allowed to outbreed one’s allies. That is an execrable position. Natalist policy is about ensuring that people who want to have children will be able to do so adequately, with material and policy support from their government where practical and appropriate and certainly without undue countervailing bad policy making it needlessly difficult to adequately raise their kids. It’s about the children and the demographic stability of a society, not about what religious or political persuasion the children will adopt when they’re grown.
Legitimate natalist policy has practically nothing to do with sex; that fucking happens on its own. (Think for a moment about the meaning of this last sentence, and be burnt, sickly.) It has everything to do with the asymptotically large portion of procreation that Quagmire does everything in his power to avoid. This means that effective natalist policy requires supporting policies that various parties, some of them noisily claiming to be natalists, find objectionable: more school and preschool funding, more prenatal and early childhood medical care, demolishing the criminal racket that has been made of American health insurance, ensuring that fit parents who are able to hold down jobs will not be financially ruined by childrearing costs, more public housing, converting housing from a speculative bubble investment into a utility, etc. Whether they’re natalist by design or by happenstance, good natalist policies are probably more likely than anything to be socialistic in nature. This is why it’s impossible to find Americans who denounce the public schools as the form of socialism that they objectively are; we never call a thing socialism when we like it.
More importantly, decent natalist policy absolutely must be about loving the virtue of parenthood, not hating some countervailing vice and forcing others to forsake it. Otherwise it degenerates into authoritarian, and sometimes totalitarian, social controls run by moral busybodies with less concern for the children than for the prurient interests of disordered adults. This is a worldview that makes things go ugly in a hurry. This is something that a number of conservative religious establishments have a hard time grokking. They’re generally getting better at loving the virtue of parenthood and excluding salacious details about the sexual histories of the parents from the discussion, but they aren’t there yet, and some of them never will be. That guy from Planned Parenthood was stupid, but let’s be honest, a number of y’all in Springs advance the public discourse on matters pertaining to sex with all the intelligence of a pair of shit-encrusted bully balls. If that sounds harsh, remember that Rocky Mountain Oysters, cleaned up or au naturel, on the hoof or off, are morally neutral. Because as Muhammad Ali might have said had he been a whole lot more country, no shit-covered pair of cow nuts ever hijacked my country’s air force academy for purposes of imposing crass and unconstitutional religious tests on its cadets. (NB feminists and masculinists: Cows can be boy cows, too, unless they’re expressly girl cows. Hope that explained things.)
Yeah, that got kinda gross. But it’s easy enough to hose shit off the ass ends of barnyard animals; I’ve seen it done at the Farm Show. Hosing the stupid off a frivolous society with ulterior motives takes a hose that the Canadians haven’t used on us yet.