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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rhetoric gone wrong

So the other day I happened to be looking at Conservapedia and happened to notice something a little bit odd:



Or, in plain text:

With a pro-life Governor of Kansas for the first time in many years, legislation to end its preferential treatment of abortion moves to his desk for signature. Half of the abortions in Kansas are from poaching on Missouri women. [emphasis original]


You can read the article they're referring to if you like. It's depressing and makes me really feel for the people of Kansas, but that's not really what caught my interest. No, my attention was piqued by the use of the term "poaching". Now, the word poaching has a number of meanings, but the relevant ones* would seem to be:

1. to trespass, especially on another's game preserve, in order to steal animals or to hunt.
2. to take game or fish illegally.


That's clear enough, but is that what's happening here? A literal reading of the sentence would seem to imply that doctors from Kansas are piling into vans, driving into Missouri, and trying to entice women into having illegal abortions. The problem with that is obvious- doctors in Kansas aren't going anywhere, it's the women in Missouri who are going to Kansas. And that just isn't poaching. Oh, you can call it poaching, but by that logic back in the dark days of the Cold War, West Berlin was poaching citizens from East Berlin by just... you know... existing. We could laugh this off as just poorly chosen language, but there's one last definition of poaching that I haven't mentioned yet, mostly because it's the noun form and not a verb form. But, I think it's instructive:

any encroachment on another's property, rights, ideas, or the like.


And now, we see, that the term "poaching" is entirely appropriate... so long as you're prepared to view the women of Missouri as property. Some people wonder how it is that pro-choicers can view a fetus as something other than a person. Me, I wonder how it is that some pro-lifers manage to do the same with grown women.


* Other possibilities include "(of land) to become broken up or slushy by being trampled," "(in tennis, squash, handball, etc.) to play a ball hit into the territory of one's partner that is properly the partner's ball to play," and, my personal favorite, "to cook (eggs, fish, fruits, etc.) in a hot liquid that is kept just below the boiling point." I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to judge whether I've intuited the definition intended by the Conservapeons.

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