Wednesday, 26 March 2008

In a perfect world

I want to react to those who are saying that one must not ignore the moral aspect of the killing of a fetus by concentrating instead on the mother. I found the following article, for instance, in a blog entitled Vote Life, Canada:

The last few years have witnessed a stunning development in the pro-life movement, one worth considering. The problem: More and more pro-lifers refuse to discuss abortion. A new wave of pro-life leaders insist that victory will not be gained if the debate centers principally on the morality of killing the unborn....

This approach completely sabotages the pro-life position. Crisis pregnancy centers do not exist to handle pregnancy (hospitals and clinics do that). They handle crisis pregnancies, those that will likely end in abortion. They don’t exist for the woman, strictly speaking, but for the child whose life is in danger. Women should not have abortions precisely because abortion is a moral tragedy. If not, then why oppose it?

By contrast, this new tactic implicitly promotes the vice of selfishness instead of the virtue of sacrificial motherhood. Ideas have consequences, and this one may have, as Frank Beckwith observes, “the unfortunate consequence of increasing the number of people who think that unless their needs are pacified they are perfectly justified in performing homicide on the most vulnerable of our population”
(Gregory Koukl).

Now with the greatest respect to Mr. Koukl, he is being highly selective in his view of what is moral and what isn't. There is no denying that abortion is a moral issue to people of the pro-life persuasion and that in a perfect world it wouldn't exist. But the factors that cause a pregnancy to be a crisis are equally moral issues: poverty, abusive husbands and boyfriends, hard-hearted employers, lack of an adequate social safety net, judgmental churches, to name but a few.

To suggest that by concentrating on moral issues that even most pro-choice advocates would support being addressed undermines the pro-life movement, or panders to selfishness, is myopic to say the least, if not obsessive.

What people like Koukl have to learn is that moral movements, like evangelistic efforts, need to start from common ground. To tell women that they are by definition immoral if they would consider, even for a moment, that abortion is a way out of their crisis will not win a large hearing. To tell them that immoral circumstances (like the abusive boyfriend or employer who won't keep on a pregnant employee) are standing in the way of keeping their babies without gratuitous suffering, and that we want to address these because abortion will never solve them, will be persuasive to many.

Now to the purists who say "We have to stick to our moral guns come Hell or high water," I say to you, don your asbestos underwear and life jackets. Decide what you want to accomplish in the long run--moral purity as you define it, or a drastic reduction in abortions.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Don't like the message? Shoot the messenger!

My first teaching gig was at Cambrian College in Sudbury ON. I was a marketing professor and taught an upper-level marketing research course. Marketing research was what I did for a living before I went into academic life, and I used the course to give my students as close to a real-world experience as one can in an academic setting.

In the mid-1970s Sudbury's downtown core was in a deep funk. People were taking their retail business into the area of town called New Sudbury, preferring to shop in the New Sudbury Shopping Centre. The Sudbury & District Chamber of Commerce was anxious to solve this problem for the sake of their downtown members. I was approached by Chamber officials to survey Sudbury shoppers to see what the Chamber could do to bring business back to the central business district.

My students did a first rate job. We had a representative sample of each area of the community (we used the voters lists from the various political wards of the city), and an excellent survey instrument. The results indicated a very big challenge for the city, but at least provided the information necessary to develop a road map for recovery.

I presented the findings to the Chamber membership along with some preliminary recommendations. They were warmly received. In fact, some months later the same officials approached me about doing a follow-up survey the next year to measure any progress as a result of their efforts to improve the shopping experience.

But one member seemed to be completely dissatisfied with the results. I don't know what he was upset about. [I do know that when I did similar work in the mid-1980s for the Langley BC Downtown Business Association, we found that merchants had a very different view of reality than did the shoppers.] But he was bound and determined to undermine the results any way he could.

Eventually he phoned the Dean of the College to complain about my survey, attacking both its methodology and its findings, while taking potshots at me as well. Given that I had done marketing research professionally for a large steel company and had been valued as an important player in their marketing efforts, it was pretty easy to shrug off his attack. I knew my business. But I was irritated on behalf of my students who had worked so hard to do a good job. I'm happy to say that the Dean found me to be the more credible and no further action was taken.

This gentleman was simply following a long-standing practice, wonderfully described in Shakespeare's Henry IV, part 2, where Lord Northumberland is seeking news of his brother and his son, Percy:

How doth my son and brother?
Thou tremblest; and the whiteness in thy cheek
Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand....

Yet, for all this, say not that Percy's dead.
I see a strange confession in thine eye:
Thou shakest thy head and hold'st it fear or sin
To speak a truth. If he be slain, say so;
The tongue offends not that reports his death:
And he doth sin that doth belie the dead,
Not he which says the dead is not alive.
Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a losing office
, and his tongue
Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
Remember'd tolling a departing friend
(Act 1, scene 1).

Now in Northumberland's case, he was willing to accept the bad news, while acknowledging that messengers are often fearful of delivering it to people who probably don't want to hear it. Wikipedia notes that "During the early Warring States period of China (5th to 3rd centuries BC), the concept of chivalry and virtue prevented the executions of messengers sent by opposing sides." In other times and places, messengers were not as fortunate.

Being a messenger is no fun, unless the news is good.

It's an old trick of the political trade that when one receives bad news, one tries to distract from its impact by questioning the methodology of the survey, or the personal credibility of the individual using the results. The hope is that people's eyes will glaze over at arguments about how data was acquired and interpreted, or that they will be convinced by accusations about the source, even if said accusations are irrelevant to the issue.

Joyce Arthur, the apparent guru of Canadian pro-abortion activists, and her ilk are hard at it trying to shoot (or at least seriously disable) a couple of messengers. Two of Canada's leading research firms, Environics and Angus Reid, have both demonstrated that most Canadian women support legislation that would find a person who attacks a pregnant woman and her unborn baby to be guilty of two crimes, not one, if injury or death results for either entity (I can't say either person, because in law an unborn baby is denied personhood).

As many of you, my faithful reader, know, Life Canada has for a number of years commissioned a survey regarding life issues by the Environics Research Group. Respondents were asked whether they would support a bill making it a separate crime to injure or kill a fetus during an attack on the mother. 72% of Canadians and 75% of Canadian women answered in the affirmative (see Life Canada news release Oct. 19, 2007). MP Ken Epp referred to these findings often when arguing the merits of his private member's bill C-484 Unborn Victims of Crime Act.

Now look first at the response of Joyce Arthur surrogate in the House of Commons, MP Alexa McDonough (Hansard, December 13, 2007):

Let me say that I also heard many comments about how this is something that women very much want and need, and he even referred to some polling. I have to say I would need to be convinced based on a great deal more information than he shared, but if he wanted to share the basis for a claim that there is a very high percentage of women who are really looking for this, I would give it my consideration.

However, I would find it extremely surprising, because I have to say that in my almost 40 years of involvement in the women's movement, and my 28 years in public life, where it has been well known that I very much see the responsibility of myself and every other woman in public life to be responsive to women's concerns, I have never had a single woman, a single advocate, a single representative of a single organization, or an individual family member come to me and say that this is a law they would like to see implemented.

That does not mean it is not worthy of introduction and consideration, I want to say that, but to cite it as something that large numbers of women want and need, I find surprising. Maybe I am a little bit suspicious about that, when I would think that if this was something widely felt and wanted by women there might be some indication in the House and there would be a good number of women here for this debate and wanting to put forward their views.

Never does she actually mention the results of the Environics survey, contrary as they are to her preferred view of the world. Instead she discredits them indirectly by saying that they are insufficient, and that no woman has ever told her that such legislation was needed. She says that any indication that women took a different view from her on the issues would be "surprising." Clearly she wants us to disregard the results of a highly professional and credible survey.

Then she and others try to go further by focusing attention on Mr. Epp. He bases his views on credible survey data? Then let's undermine his personal credibility and hope that people will then ignore the inconvenient survey results:

Ms McDonough: At the outset, I do not doubt for a moment the sincerity of the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park....Maybe I am a little unfair in saying this, but in regard to coming from the caucus with by far the least number of women in the House, then one wonders whether it is really an authoritative basis for the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park to talk about how much women want and need this....[I]t further made me uncomfortable to hear several references, both from the Conservative sponsor of the bill and from the Liberal who spoke in support of it, to a number of American states, mostly southern U.S. states, and in particular, South Carolina, as one of the states that has had considerable experience with this bill.

Ms Faille: I was recently reading some surveys and responses to surveys. We learned that the Conservative member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, who describes himself as pro-life, had said in response to a survey conducted by the Campaign Life Coalition for the 2006 federal election that he considered that human life began at conception. In 1997, he responded that if he was elected, he would work to remove abortion from the services covered by the Canada Health Act. He is not the first Conservative member to have said that. There are also rumours going around about a committee being formed here in the House with both Conservative and Liberal members.

The previous bill the Conservatives introduced was similar, but was deemed unconstitutional. A few changes have been made to it, but the objective is the same. The Conservatives' determination is an indirect threat to women's rights, and that threat is evident in the member's remarks.

M. Gravel: As a Catholic priest, I find it somewhat difficult to relate to this bill quite simply because the member who tabled it belongs to a pro-life group, the Campaign Life Coalition, which, in my humble opinion, is a fairly extremist and fanatical group. I am pro-life, but I do not belong to that group....I also mentioned that pro-life group, Campaign Life Coalition. I know that the president of the Quebec group is Luc Gagnon. That group's journal is always full of condemnations and rejections, and there is never any love or compassion in their journal. In my view, what is needed is compassion when a woman is dealing with a pregnancy caused by rape or any unwanted pregnancy. I do not feel there is any compassion within that group. I therefore oppose that pro-life group, just I oppose the pro-choice group, whose views are, in my opinion, too exaggerated, too unrealistic.

Ms Mathyssen: I am profoundly concerned that Bill C-484 is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to make abortions illegal in Canada. I am extremely disappointed that the member would use tragic murders of young women to push an anti-abortion agenda.

Ms Jennings: I can only conclude that the sponsor of this bill and his colleagues in the Conservative Party are hoping to divide Canadian women on the emotional issue of violence against pregnant women. By couching his proposal in the language of choice, the rights of the unborn and recognizing the grief for a lost child, the member is once again playing the classic Conservative game of playing on emotions and playing to its socially conservative base while trying to make this issue appear to be one that all women should support by playing on the grief and heinous nature of the crimes involved.

Ms Freeman: The sponsor of Bill C-484 cannot be neutral either, since the hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park is a self-described pro-life advocate. In 1997, he even said that if he were elected, he would work to exclude abortion from the services covered under the Canada Health Act. In 2003, he supported Motion M-83, a motion by the Canadian Alliance that attacked women's freedom of choice. The legacy of everything women have fought for is at stake here.

Notice that the critics have stayed away from any hard evidence in making their critique. MPs of all political stripes are forever telling us what Canadians want and don't want. But if the research suggests that there is hard evidence for what Canadians want, and it runs counter to one's ideology, than one has no option but to ignore it, undermine it, deny it, or distract from it. [There is another option, of course--accept the validity of the data and change one's views, but that would require an integrity that is often found lacking among our government representatives.]

Regrettably for the critics of Bill C 484, another messenger has arrived with the same message: Canadians, and especially Canadian women, like and support the bill.

A new poll finds 70 percent of Canadians support an unborn victims bill pending the nation's parliament. They strongly support the concept the bill puts forward that criminals should be held accountable for killing and injuring both mother and child when they violently attack a pregnant woman.

The Vancouver-based Angus Reid Strategies conducted the poll and found just 19 percent of the people in Canada oppose the measure.

The survey found 44 percent of Canadians strongly support the bill while 26 percent moderately support it. Another 11 percent are undecided....

Although pro-abortion groups have attacked the bill saying it would only serve to stop abortions, just 24 percent buy their argument that it is a veiled attempt to prohibit abortions. The rest understand it's a measure to protect women and children.

Not surprisingly, 74 percent of women and 66 percent of men support the bill
(LifeNews, March 13, 2008).

As a former marketing research professional I find it significant that while the Environics poll was done in advance of Mr. Epp's bill becoming a focal point, the Angus Reid survey came afterwards and dealt with C-484 specifically. Yet the results are, for all intents and purposes, identical.

Choice Joyce is already heading down the well-worn path:

That (i.e., the results) upsets Joyce Arthur of the Pro-Choice Action Network who claims the poll was "oversimplified" and says the bill will lead to stopping abortions. (LifeNews March 20, 2008).

The Angus Reid people responded to her criticism the same way I did to the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce guy: We know our business.

Angus Reid Strategies’ director of global studies, Mario Canseco, talked with the Vancouver newspaper and said the poll was unbiased and not financed by any outside party with an interest in the results of the voting on the bill.

Canseco said Arthur's reaction to the poll is "normal" from people who are disappointed the results don't support their position.

"This is one of the ways people react to surveys that show that not everyone agrees with them," he said
(LifeNews March 20, 2008).

Next Ms Arthur will start attacking Ken Epp and his party again. I wonder, however, how the average Canadian woman feels about Ms Arthur's assessment of her intelligence:

"Feminists who are politically aware hear about this bill and immediately know what the problem is," Arthur told the Vancouver Straight newspaper.

The pro-abortion activist appeared to indicate she didn't think Canadians were able to understand the legislation enough to answer questions about it in a poll.

Now that's patronizing.

Friday, 7 March 2008

They can't count either

The pro-choice activists who are continuously assaulting poor MP Ken Epp for wanting to respect women's choices raise the same arguments again and again. [They are mostly just quoting Joyce Arthur.] I dealt with this in my last post. But I'm particularly aggravated with arguments that are simply factually wrong.

Some of these spokespeople include the following criticism in their critiques:

Antonia Zerbisias, Toronto Star: It should not be lost on anybody that the party with the fewest number of women MPs in the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favour of Bill C-484 on Wednesday.

Alexa McDonough, NDP MP: Maybe I am a little unfair in saying this, but in regard to coming from the caucus with by far the least number of women in the House, then one wonders whether it is really an authoritative basis for the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park to talk about how much women want and need this.

Well correct me if I'm wrong, but I count the number of female MPs in the various parties as follows:

Liberal - 20
Bloc - 17
Conservative - 14
NDP - 12
Independent - 1

Someone please tell Ms McDonough that her own party has fewer female MPs than do the Conservatives.

I note as well that of the fourteen women in the Tory caucus, 50% of them are in the cabinet, as is Marjory LeBreton, leader of the government in the Senate. There are 112 male Conservative MPs, of which 25 are cabinet ministers. That's 22%. While women represent ~11% of the Tory caucus, they constitute 25% of the cabinet.

I note in passing that the U.S. Supreme Court that considered Roe vs. Wade was 100% male. The Canadian Supreme Court that considered the Morgentaler case had one female justice, Madame Justice Bertha Wilson. Yet no pro-choice activist is suggesting that the opinions of these male justices should be rejected on the basis of gender bias.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

A little on the dumb side

I ran across the following quote today, written just after Ken Epp's private member's bill C-484 Unborn Victims of Crime Act passed second reading. It's addressed to the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Stephane Dion.

Sir, while you were absent from the House of Commons today, a vote was held. The vote in question allowed Bill C-484 to pass into committee. Because you saw fit not to whip your party’s vote, because it did not interest you sufficiently to attend, your leadership will now come under harsh scrutiny. This Bill is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians and a blatant attempt to undermine the ability of women to maintain the right to bodily self determination and personal autonomy. This Bill is a bald faced attempt to enshrine in law a definition of life that precedes birth and creates criminal precedent for ending that newly defined life. Mr. Dion, while I sincerely hope this Bill is killed in committee, your inaction and abandonment of Canadian women’s rights has defeated any faith I might have had for your growth as a leader. You are clearly unfit for the job.

Now M. Dion has not distinguished himself as an Opposition leader, of that there is little doubt. The guy sitting to his immediate left in the Commons, Deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, has clearly outshone his seatmate thus far. But to be so chastised as M. Dion is in the quote above does suggest a certain pre-occupation on the part of its writer. For him or her (I'm guessing her) politicians rise or fall on one issue--the non-status of the unborn child.

But putting all of that aside for now, let's parse her critique and see if we can find a hint of logic in it.

1. Because you saw fit not to whip your party’s vote. To whip a vote means that the leader requires that all of his/her members vote the same way. It's standard practice on motions where the party has either a specific policy or specific objective. I suspect that the NDP and the Bloc did whip the vote. There are a small number of observant Catholics among those members who doubtless were wondering what their priests might say to them if they voted against the bill. But I'll leaving them squirming in their seats.

M. Dion knows full well that he has a sizable minority of morally conservative members who would see this bill as one that they must support. Had he whipped the vote, I suspect that there are some who would have broken ranks and supported it anyway. So for purely political reasons, if nothing else, Dion probably decided to leave well enough alone. The offended writer, however, displays the same intolerant and heavy-handed approach as do those pro-choice activists who want to stamp out all dissent on university campuses through disallowing pro-life clubs, canceling debates and so on.

2. This Bill is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians. Then we must have a lot of very dumb Canadians. Polls indicate that 62% of Canadians, 64% of Canadian women, 66% of people between 18 and 29 and 65% of people between 30 and 44 believe that there should be restrictions on abortion either from conception (30% overall, 34% of women), after the first trimester (21%) or after the second trimester (11% overall, 12% of women).

As to legislation such as Mr. Epp's bill represents, 72% of Canadians, 75% of Canadian women, and 79% of youth (age 18-29) say that they would support it.

Our complainant seems to be making the case for old Canadian men!

3. This Bill is.....a blatant attempt to undermine the ability of women to maintain the right to bodily self determination and personal autonomy. This Bill is a bald faced attempt to enshrine in law a definition of life that precedes birth and creates criminal precedent for ending that newly defined life. This argument is perhaps the most difficult to follow. Only 34% of female respondents to the Environics poll that I have been quoting would be classified as pro-life in the traditional sense (no abortion after conception). 30% of female respondents would be classified as pro-choice as the activists portray it (unrestricted access to abortion). Yet a full 75% of women said that they would support legislation like Mr. Epp's.

In other words, if even all of the classic pro-life women (34%), and all of the female 'tweeners (33%) who would accept some restrictions on abortion had voted for legislation like Epp's, we would still need some of the pure pro-choicers to support it as well to get up to the 75%. The reality is that the majority of women who said that they would support legislation like the Unborn Victims of Crime Act would not be classified as pro-life.

What logical conclusion can I draw from the complaint above. On the surface she seems to be saying this:

a) A woman is pregnant and chooses to keep the baby.
b) A man, probably the father, decides that he does not want the baby.
c) The woman's choice is not taken into consideration at all by the man.
d) The man murders the woman because she won't give up the baby through abortion. In doing so, he also murders the baby. If the woman lives and the fetus dies, as sometimes happens, the man is not charged with murder at all. The would-be mother spends the rest of her life mourning the death of an unborn baby she wanted to keep but the man didn't.
e) There should be no law to prevent this. The woman's choice be damned. Any change to this state of affairs undermines the ability of women to maintain the right to bodily self determination and personal autonomy.

This is neither a woman's argument nor a pro-choice argument. This is the fanatical reasoning of someone who is pro-abortion, plain and simple.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

I'm too old, too jaded, too pragmatic and too experienced to care

No, I have not died since my last post almost a month ago. February just happened to be a very hectic month for me and my colleagues, and I have had no time for the kind of reflection that I like to do before posting to my blog.

But I have been spending a good deal of time following Canadian MP Ken Epp's private member's bill C-484 Unborn Victims of Crime Act as it has made its way through "second reading"--successfully, I am happy to add--and on to tomorrow's vote. This has entailed actually meeting Ken and having him give a public lecture here in beauty's home (Abbotsford, in case you didn't think of it immediately), reading relevant speeches in Hansard, and otherwise following the various critiques recorded in the media.

Simultaneously I have been observing the on-going suppression of free speech on post-secondary campuses regarding student pro-life clubs and activities. I say this as a lifelong academic who was once nominated for a teaching award at one of Canada's largest universities and who has published an award-winning book: I don't recognize the universities of today. They no longer stand for the old values of academic freedom, freedom of speech and expression, tolerance of various points of view and so on. They have become vicious protectors of the new shibboleths, the latest mantras, the popular war cries, the current rallying points, with no regard to other points of view. A plague on them, that they might die out and genuine institutions of higher learning return.

I have come to two conclusions from this four weeks of cogitation:

1. People who have claimed to argue against Ken Epp's bill on the strength of what they call pro-woman/pro-choice principles are beyond philosophical reach. Either they believe the claptrap they spout, in which case they are incapable of rational thought, or they use it as cover for their concern for the 'personhood of the fetus' issue, in which case they are manipulative cynics who are preoccupied, if not obsessed, with abortion. This includes (so called) pro-choice activists like Joyce Arthur, and her counterparts in Parliament such as Alexa McDonough, Irene Mathyssen, Marlene Jennings, Carole Freeman and Raymond Gravel. We should be praying for their constituents.

2. The foregoing notwithstanding, student pro-life clubs have been poorly advised and bring much of their trouble on themselves.

Abandoning completely my normal balanced approach (see the title of this post above), Father Raymond Gravel, dissident Catholic priest and Bloc Quebecois MP, is an idiot. The dislocation between what he sometimes says and how he votes is astonishing. Parliament has suffered its share of incompetents over the years, but even they might have trouble with Fr. Gravel. He rates his own Hall of Fame, believe me.

But even buffoons can sometimes say something useful (Can you say Forrest Gump?). And Gravel did just that yesterday, even though his conclusions did not follow from what he said (maybe he wasn't listening). I would like the members of student pro-life clubs, and those that advise them, to read what he said in debate on Ken Epp's bill. However, I also urge you to take the remarks seriously, which Fr. Gravel did not in voting against a bill that in no way contradicted a word he said.

Mr. Raymond Gravel (Repentigny, BQ):

Mr. Speaker, I think that my remarks were misrepresented after I spoke to this bill in the House in December. That is why I would like to set the record straight today. I think this is in order because my bishop and the apostolic nunciature in Ottawa have received a number of e-mails. I want to clarify and qualify a few things.

First, I am against abortion. I regard human life as sacred and abortion as always being a tragedy in our society. We must do everything in our power, while showing respect for those involved, to limit the number of abortions and promote life.

Second, I sincerely believe that human life starts at conception, and even before. From the moment that a couple decides to have a child, the process has already begun. I have never said that I agreed with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada whereby a child becomes a human being when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, and that until then, it is not distinct from its mother. I simply quoted the definition given by the Supreme Court of Canada. I understand it, even though I disagree with it.

Third, the high number of abortions is distressing. We must identify the causes to be able to find solutions: lack of sexual knowledge, poverty, violence, emotional deprivation and lack of values, just to name a few.

Fourth, the recriminalization of abortion will not solve the problems I mentioned, since before abortion was legalized, many women risked their lives with self-induced abortion or turned to charlatans.

Fifth, by educating, teaching values, fighting poverty, ensuring respect and dignity for people, achieving equality between the sexes, fighting for justice and supporting pregnant women, we can hopefully decrease the number of abortions or even eliminate them entirely. A doctor told me the following: “With all the resources we have available to us now, there should be no more abortions. But we need to promote these resources, which a number of religious institutions refuse to do to this day.”

I have felt for some time that pro-life clubs are too moralistic, judgmental, defensive and negative to really accomplish much. That is not to say that other clubs are any different. Universities used to encourage all kinds of eccentric pronouncements and still should. But the pro-life clubs need to start from common ground and earn a hearing. They don't seem to know how to do that.

My advice as a veteran of twenty-one years of municipal politics, and even more years of wrestling with thorny moral questions, is to accept the reality of our pro-choice situation in Canada. Accept as well that the public is grossly undereducated on life issues. And find common ground in being concerned for the well-being of women, who have been exploited throughout history and are now fighting back in ways that make sense--most of the time.

For making abortion illegal, substitute making it unnecessary. Abortion is a quick fix answer with a poor track record. It is promoted by lazy and unimaginative activists who don't have the creativity to see a better way. It cheapens life. But recriminalizing abortion would no more solve most of the things that make a pregnancy a crisis than abortion does.

I suppose that I should apologize for my harsh language in some of what I have said above. But sometimes you just have to grab a whip and head for the Temple. And I'm too far along in life to care what you think of me. I would just like to see creative, positive, long-term results instead of the hurling of ideologies across the barricades.