Friday, June 12, 2015

Is AHA an organization?

A prominent abolitionist emailed me to complain about my terminology. I will reproduce my side of the correspondence. This is edited to eliminate personal references. His statements are indented:


You don't even attempt to offer a substantive rebuttal. You don't try to show how my interpretation of the AHA post I quoted is fallacious. It's just your knee-jerk defense of whatever anyone at AHA says or does. 

The AHA post uses a straightforward argument. Resort to violence is logically entailed by the argument it gave. 

Also "at AHA" is a meaningless statement, which I've corrected you on before and on which is based many of your misrepresentations. Yet you forge ahead without taking into account the correctives I offer. THAT is knee-jerk.

You mean, because I don't accept AHA's hairsplitting, nonsensical distinctions about how it's not an "organization" or even a "group"? 

It's AHA that's redefining words. You say it's not a "group," but you say it's a "movement." Well, a movement is a group of people. You say people can't "join" or "belong to" or be a "member" of AHA, but, needless to say, people can belong to a movement.

Likewise, AHA has "societies." Well, what are societies if not "groups." 

In fact, you try to have it both ways:

First, “Abolish Human Abortion” is not a group. 
"Abolitionists are a group of people..."

I don't accept the propagandistic redefinition of words.

I notice that you haven't even attempted to offer a plausible alternative interpretation of the statement I posted. 

Movements aren't groups, or organisations. They're movements. Because words mean things, Steve.
It's not fair to say we're REdefining words. We're defining WHO WE ARE. Just like it would be wrong to say that Calvinists are fatalists. You're not being fair, and that's not loving of you.

Consult a few dictionaries. Movements are organized groups of people, with a common ideology, working together to advance a common cause. 

Yes, you're defining who you twisting language.  

AHA is a social movement. It deploys group action to further its agenda.

Stop saying "AHA says" and "AHA is a group" and stuff like that, because it's false, and you know it's false. The question is: Do you care?

You're being preposterous. Take this:

Or this:

Or this:

You're going to tell me that's not what AHA says? If that doesn't represent AHA, who or what does it represent? Disneyland? 

An, an "ideology" can't speak for itself. An ideology is an abstraction for what the ideologues say it is. People define an ideology. It's a set of ideas by a person or persons. 

A group can have subsets. Groups within groups. Collectives. 

Your effort to drive a wedge between the singular and the plural is arbitrary.

Abolitionists define AHA as both an ideology and a group. Groups can say things. A member of a social movement can speak for the movement.  

It's bizarre that abolitionists are so hung up on these artificial, semantic quibbles. 

You're being simplistic. To state "AHA says" is shorthand for "representatives of AHA say."

To state "CBS said" is shorthand for "a CBS reporter said."

Do you really need to have anything that elementary explained to you? 

It's true that at one time AHA was spoken of as a group, but for a long time now we have been trying to reform our language and be careful to speak of it as what it actually is - an ideology. Sometimes even the most experienced of us slip up. You ought to be engaging what our position actually is, though, not slip-ups.

You can't obligate me to use your irrational descriptors, any more than I'm obliged to call Bruce Jenner a woman or Caitlyn. 

Like it or not, AHA is an organization. It has spokesmen. They post on the AHA blog and Facebook wall. 

AHA isn't just an ideology. Rather, it's a social movement, an organized group of people united by a common ideology and a shared purpose.  

It's a waste of time…

You emailed me, not the other way around. You're wasting my time. 

You don't get to define who we are or what we have set up, especially not in the face of our protestations to the contrary. You're the Arminian insisting that Calvinism is fatalism despite many reasons to the contrary. You're that guy. Stop being that guy. 

As a matter of fact, I do have the right to define things in the face of protestations to the contrary. I have a right to define homosexuality and transgenderism in the face of protestations to the contrary. I have the right to define atheism in the face of protestations to the contrary. 

A social movement or ideology is not entitled to dictate how other people must view it simply because it wants to be viewed a certain way. It only gets to define itself if in fact its definitions are reasonable–which is not the case with AHA's fabricated, illogical dichotomies and disjunctions. That's not something you get to impose on other people just because you say it or just because it serves your purpose.  

When open theists redefine omniscience, then say they affirm omniscience, I reserve the right to say they deny omniscience. 

Intellectual honesty would demand you deal with who we really are, not who you want us to be. 

Well, John Reasnor is an XRecon theonomist, and he used that to define AHA in your sponsored debate with Wilcox. Is that what AHA really is? 

Intellectual honesty demands that I distinguish between who you really are and who you imagine you are. 

Part of your mistake is thinking of AHA as a top-down group. We are neither top-down nor a group. It may be difficult for you to imagine that, as I get the feeling you're in the rut of thinking everything has to be some sort of institution. 

I notice you don't quote anything I've said to that effect. That's just your idiosyncratic definition of an organization, as if, by definition, an organization must be a top-down group.

I notice you've reciprocated nothing about love in your emails. 

I'm amused by your hypocritical refrain about love, when AHA routinely slanders prolifers.


  1. So AHA is the Borg.

    Good job outing their Collective on terra firma, steve. Who'd have imagined Oklahoma? Very clever.

  2. I'm glad you're dealing with them. My exchanges with the non members of the non organization generally devolve into them calling me to repentance for "slander" and failure to "love". The self righteousness displayed by the average AHAer is staggering.

    1. I got a lot of that from my correspondent as well. I simply left it out of what I posted. They all read from the same sanctimonious script.

  3. The claim is also absurd on its face as it runs counter to all the (overwhelming!) evidence that AHA evinces a very strong "in-group / out-group" mentality in both speech and in writing.

    AHA's proponents' rhetoric drips with contempt for its ideological foes both within the pro-abortion and pro-life spheres.

    1. There's a cultic quality about this obsession with "AHA is not a group!" It's so irrational.

      I don't know why they're so defensive about people calling them an "organization" or even a "group." They act as if that's a pejorative characterization, yet it's vanilla gray terminology. "Group" and "organization" have no pejorative connotations. These are morally neutral descriptors.

      i) The best explanation I can think of is plausible deniability. By disclaiming that AHA is an "organization" or "group" which people can join or belong to, perhaps they hope that if an abolitionist gets caught doing something illegal, they can say that doesn't reflect on AHA inasmuch one can't belong to AHA in the first place. It's not a group or organization. It's just an "ideology."

      ii) However, this may also reflect the mindset of sects and cults which have eccentric beliefs and practices to demarcate their adherents from other groups. Even if, or especially if, the beliefs and practices are ridiculous, that unmistakably differentiates the in-group from the out-groups. They defend these eccentric beliefs and practices with fanatical devotion, because their identity is wedded to these boundary markers.

    2. This raises an interesting dilemma for AHA. If they are not a group or organization, but merely a loose coalition of individuals who form "societies" around some set of (presumably) core ideals or ideology, then who's to say of what those ideals or ideologies consist?

      If no one is "in charge", then everyone is "in charge". In this case, why couldn't Klusendorf, Stanek, Wilcox, or Hays simply take up the mantle and declare themselves to be the "true abolitionists"?

      How do they guard against heresy within their ranks, keep folks towing the line, holding to orthodoxy, prevent wolves from entering in?

  4. I'd assumed from the beginning that you were referring to Alan, of course, so it came as little surprise to me when he admitted to such on his blog last week. What amazes me, though, is that Alan has posted what he claims to be the entire email exchange between the two of you, apparently under the delusion that it somehow exonerates him of the charges you've repeatedly leveled against him. Needless to say, it doesn't come CLOSE to doing that at all, of course, and only showcases the sort of preening and posturing we've come to expect from him on this issue. That Alan can be so willfully blind to how he conducts himself in this discussion is astonishing.

    1. There were a couple of other problems with his post as well:

      i) Once again, he trots out the "fatalist" illustration. Problem is, I already explained to him why that illustration fails. But he offers no counterargument to my response. He simply repeats his original illustration. That's intellectually dishonest. It fails to acknowledge the fact that I replied to his illustration, and it fails to interact with my response.

      ii) In addition, it's not as if AHA feels duty-bound to describe a group or movement the way it describes itself. When, for instance, abortionists resort to euphemisms like "a woman's choice" or "reproductive rights," AHA doesn't hesitate to disregard that self-characterization. AHA labels abortion organizations according to AHA's perception, and not how the organizations describe themselves.