As I have said before and will likely say again–and I do not know how many times I can or will need to repeat this––the law cannot take a woman’s rights away. [ Rights precede law, how?]

The right to have an abortion exists whether the law grants a safe and legal one or not. Even under the strictest social repression, a woman has unalienable rights, as does any human being; and among these rights are the basic human right to have sole control over body and mind. All questions are mute before a woman’s irreducible humanity. 

The above is self-evident. I wish they were as self-evident to others, perhaps even some who support what I have so far herein asserted. But water from the moon is probably more likely. The triumph of this idea cannot alone be willed. Belief and vigilance are required; intelligence and articulation; literacy; historical consciousness; what else would help. A thousand intelligent, articulate, highly literate essays go further than a 100,000 of us marching and chanting monosyllabically in the streets.  We don’t believe so, which is now part of our problem, and which puts women in jeopardy. We thought we were advancing democracy by lessening the requirements in literacy, undermining just what our understanding of literacy was. The ground beneath us is unstable; no one can stand under anything on ground unable to support him.

In general, we do read at a level a lot lower than we used to, even though more students graduate high school and even more go on to some college, but that’s the product of an intellectual and educational inflation, not other. More and more students graduate reading below grade level because we insist on empowering young people by sending them out in the world wearing another set of the emperor’s new clothes. And it’s at the bottom we see this most clearly. More and more of your civil servants are reading at the eighth or the seventh grade level, and what we call seventh grade today and what was called twelfth forty years ago are a lot farther apart than the number five might infer to you. Your bus drivers, and worse, your police officers are barely literate, and that’s a problem we are becoming less and less able to fully grasp.

The importance of literacy to civilization cannot be underestimated, but it seems we suffer a serious delusion about the unimportance of literacy, unless it’s a power elite’s understanding that a semi-literate state serving public is the best way to undermine the power of the people to protect their rights. There was a time when cops had to read on grade to have graduated high school, but we still imagine history is progressive and that it is not possible that we are less educated and less able to negotiate written texts than we used to be. If we wonder why Roe vs. Wade is in jeopardy, it is our reduced level of literacy that we should point to most certainly.  


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