But You Have to Pick One

Lies We Believe About Ourselves and Others

Day Two: But You Have to Pick One

So many issues, so little time.

Pick a contemporary American issue. Heck, pick a classical political issue. It can, and almost always is or has been, reduced to two diametrically opposed opposites. Women’s suffrage – for or against. Emancipation – for or against. Blue lives matter or Black ones do. Pro-choice or pro-life.

There’s no nuance, which leads to the black-and-white generalizations of others we discussed yesterday. You have to pick a side. The only time we allow for any amount of nuance is from our candidates in or around an election year. Even then, though, it all stems through two lenses. You may disagree on what education should be funded by the government – two year college, kindergarten, or full four year college – but you either think the government should fund some parts of education or should not fund any.

We’re going to explore this concept through two popular political facets, revealing what options we have in the popular, and why these issues don’t have as easy of answers as we think they do or should.


It could just be me, but I’m actually asked quite frequently if I’m pro-choice or pro-life. It’s an impossible question for me to answer. I’m very adamantly neither. There’s nuance, more and more every day to this question, but it ultimately boils down to those two options. Even the nuance we offer, is a condtion of our stance on those two options. Pro-life except in cases of rape or incest. Pro-choice except after the third trimester.

When we’re arguing about abortion, we’re very rarely talking about the actual issue. Women are left out of health-care conversations with their own bodies, a by-product of encouraging more men than women to get into the medical field, and a product of the generational decisions to diagnose women with hysteria over actually listening to their health concerns. The decision over pregnancy is one area that women can assert legal control. Trans* men and gender-queer individuals who have uteri are given even less autonomy over their bodies and healthcare. A federal ruling on abortion gives them a tiny amount of protection back, even if it’s often only symbolic than actual.

People with sperm who do not have a uterus are often left out of the conversation around abortion, typically explicitly with being told their opinion doesn’t matter. These people cannot have biological children of their own without the help of someone with a uterus. Yes, there are ways to acquire one, such as through surrogacy or artificial insemination, but these aren’t nearly as free as impregnating someone else naturally. In fairness, the cost of not being able to biologically carry children has the benefit of… not having to carry children. No morning sickness, no risk of preeclampsia, no labor pains. No periods for decades and all that accompanies it. But it is a concern. Legally, fathers are responsible for the offspring after it’s born, yet isn’t considered in the potential termination of it. That said, over $100 billion dollars are owed in child support, 82% of which are women, so clearly the legal burden rarely translates to actuality and mothers and taxpayers are often the ones that pay.

Foster care and adoption services are often posed as the alternative to getting an abortion. Babies stand good chances of being adopted by willing families. But for the average-aged eight-year-olds in foster care, and 60% spend between 2 and 5 years in care. 2% of American families actually adopt. These statistics show that adoption may not be that viable of an alternative, or at least one that carries human cost. It also disregards those who can even medically carry a fetus to term without risking their own lives.

As for the option listed above – pro-life except in cases of rape or abortion, one has to laugh (it’s a sad laugh. But it’s a laugh.) 95.4% of rapists never go to prison. Hundred of thousands of rape kits are currently untested, sitting in warehouses or destroyed by police stations. To think that this country cares about victims of rape is ludicrous. To think abortion would somehow be able to revolutionize this system without adding another layer of legal victimization is laughable. You can read more of my thoughts on this topic here.

These are just some of the complexities that surround abortion. The easy answer – to legalize or criminalize, lies outside the realm of reality.


Similarly, as an avid fan of the Live-PD franchise, and a race relations researcher, the issue of Black vs. Blue lives mattering is something I’ve long-since been fascinated with.

This argument centers less around an opposite – few people say cops should die or Black people die (emphasis on “few” is key. A.C.A.B and plenty of racially motivated hatred exists. I don’t want to pretend either of those don’t) – but rather, the disagreement often lies with which life matters most.

Police officers risk their lives every day. They run into the places people are running out. They take victims of mass shooting in their own cars to hospitals, risking their own jobs by forgoing protocols. They witness and investigate the spots of personal traumas – drug addition, murders, domestic abuse, gun violence – day in and out. They can’t investigate crimes to the full extent they wish to due to limited human and financial resources. They respond when they’re called, no matter the hour or day.

They also, inadvertently or purposely, participate in institutionalized racism; supply the economic system with the goods that replaced slavery; and are forced, like all of us, to rely on racial micro-judgements that, unlike most of us, often result in death. (Wait, what are racial micro-judgments? We’ll explore this tomorrow when we talk about “But I’m Not Racist).

So, are police local heroes or legal hate crimes? Is it possible that it’s… both? It’s a harder answer, but a necessary one. We can critique and admire, appreciate and condemn. It’s a paradox of existence that Black vs. Blue lives can’t capture.

Easy answers are plentiful. What easy answers come to find for you? Are there situations in this world you refuse to see the other side of? You don’t want to fight through to get to the difficult answer – the, could I say, right answer?

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