Politics Archive for June, 2009

Call it Like it Is

Today on Huffington Post, writer Ayelet Waldman has a piece up in response to the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller, and the experience she and her husband (acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon) went through in deciding to have a late-term abortion to terminate a pregnancy after tests showed their baby had a genetic abnormality. What struck me most about this piece, apart from its raw honesty, was the way in which Waldman talks about their decision and their child.
Not once in the essay does she refer to their lost baby as a “fetus,” viable or not. Her words are personal, painful, as she describes the days between learning their unborn child had a problem, and the day of the scheduled procedure to end the pregnancy: Over the weekend, we felt our baby kicking. We knew what the procedure would do to him. He had a name. You can still feel, all these years later, the pain these memories cause her.
A name. A baby. A child. A future. A loss.
I applaud Waldman both for writing the piece and for calling it like it is. I am very much pro a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, but I’ve always been opposed to any attempt to spin abortion as something other than what it is: the death of a baby — or at least the death of the potential to grow into a baby, a child, a teenager, an adult. A zygote or a fetus in its mother’s womb will (unless man or nature interferes) grow to be a baby. Not a chimpanzee, or a tree, or an apple. Pro-lifers use this to their advantage in spinning the idea of abortionists as evil baby murderers. We do nothing to further our cause by allowing the focus of the abortion debate to be over the semantics of fetus vs. baby; the issue is the right of the woman to control her body.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon