The Serpent Lives in Hollywood, and at Planned Parenthood

By David Mills Published on August 24, 2015

The serpent lives in Hollywood. The one who says “Hey, don’t worry, you won’t die,” and “You too can be like God!” makes movies. Take a recent movie called If I Stay, in which a teenage girl lies in a coma while her spirit hovers nearby, talking about her life while she decides whether to go back or go on. The half-ghost girl watches as a nurse tells her body, “Here’s the secret, baby. If you live, if you die, it’s all up to you.”

The New Yorker’s film critic Anthony Lane finds this revealing, and he doesn’t like it. “What sounds to me like lousy nursing is, however, the über-mantra of young adult narrative: everything is a choice — your boyfriend, your college application, your breakfast, your playlist, the color of your scrunchies, and your ontological status,” he writes.

No reference must be made to principles beyond your reach, because those do not apply; you will be tested and validated according to your own lights, and Mia’s predicament, though terrible, should therefore be seen not as a tragedy but as the very last word in self-help. If Macbeth had been her age, we would have none of that nonsense about strutting and fretting and candles and idiots. On the contrary, life is a tale told by a highly intelligent young woman with great career prospects and excellent hair, and it signifies what she damn well likes.

There, in a movie calculated to bring in the teenagers and their money, is an explanation of the Planned Parenthood horror. If I Stay may be a light summer movie, but bad ideas can drive the light production as well as the serious. (I suspect Lane wouldn’t follow me in arguing this, but he’s seen the basic problem.)

The Wests Uber-Mantra

The horror is rooted in the modern West’s über-mantra, which happens to be the very same one presented in the movie: that we must each have what we want. Nothing but our individual will matters. Which is to say, declare that you won’t die (unless you want to) and that you can be like God. Reverse the fall of man into a rise.

That done, whether we live or die is up to us. And if our own life itself is ours to keep or reject, every other choice must be ours as well. We can’t give ourselves the ultimate choice and give up our right to make the penultimate choices. Whether we’re male or female is up to us. Whether we sleep with a man or a woman, and the number of each we sleep with, and in what legal arrangements, is up to us. Whether we bear a child or have it killed is up to us. No reference may be made to principles we don’t like.

Anthony Kennedy’s infamous remark in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision says it all, and with the authority of a majority of the Supreme Court. He wrote back in 1992: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” As thousands have pointed out since, that’s insane. He doesn’t himself actually believe it. I don’t think he or the Court have ever applied this idea to anything but sex.

But as applied to sex, it’s our society’s unquestioned belief. The belief that justifies Planned Parenthood in torturing and killing unborn human beings is one they share with five justices of the Supreme Court and the makers of a summer movie and most of the people who pay to see it. Planned Parenthood has simply taken the application of the West’s über-mantra a few steps farther than many of us would take it.

Most people who see the latest one will ask “How could anyone do that?” That’s the normal human response, even from those who declare themselves pro-choice. That is not a choice they want anyone to make. Abortion, even late term abortion, yes, but not cutting up living children.

How can anyone do that to a baby? The answer is easy. Listen to the serpent. Begin with a belief that everything is a choice and external principles do not apply to you, and that each person makes all the fundamental decisions for his life. That is, accept the modern West’s über-mantra.

Live in a culture where pretty much everyone — including the religious — believes that mantra to some extent, and where the entertainment industry and most other businesses pour billions of dollars into making everyone believe it. Then set up a business that provides a technology necessary for people to live out this belief. Choose to serve a basic human drive like sexual desire, which can’t be indulged without consequences people won’t accept and which you will remove.

Present this removal as an altruistic enterprise. If absolutely necessary, call the removal a tragic necessity but try not to admit even that. If possible, staff your business with idealists who think they’re helping women, but if you have to, hire morally callous people who don’t care. Make sure the idealists are the people who speak for you in public.

Get to work. Find your market. Grow the business. Get good at it. Work the system, always stressing the good you’re doing (as you see it). Court the rich and powerful. Get the government to fund you and use that as a testimonial to the value of your work. Speak in euphemisms and sound bites. Claim to be an agent of enlightenment. Trade in tragic stories solved only by the use of your service. Ignore anyone who objects and if you can’t ignore them dismiss, patronize or slander them.

Most of all, get used to doing it. Do it thousands and thousands of times. Get used to doing something every natural human instinct rejects. Make it routine, nine-to-five. Get used to doing worse and worse things. Whatever you do, however horrible, claim to do it for the best of reasons. Invoke the greater good. And do this year after year after year, watching the money pour in.

If you do all this, however idealistically you started out, you will someday find yourself — or rather, one of your underlings — slicing open a living baby’s face to extract his brain.

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