What Mythical Rats Have To Do With Modern America

Last week I wrote a short story (you can read it here or you can just scroll down a few paragraphs). I had several people tell me it was disturbing and morbid, and I meant it to be. But I wanted to be sure that my readers didn’t just think I was being disturbing just for kicks.

It’s a story in its own right—there’s no neatly packaged moral and no allegory.

At the same time the conflict and motivations sprang from something very real and very horrible in our own world. We, too, carefully guard our language to hide from the fact that we treat real, living, breathing human beings like rats all the time.

Recently, a certain presidential candidate made the mistake of referring to unborn babies as unborn babies instead of “fetuses”. Cue outrage. How dare she even imply that that thing is human? It’s a pest. Vermin.

A mother should have a choice about bringing a child into the world. That sounds nice and liberating, but it boils down to an unpleasant standard: a baby is only a human being if its mother wants it. It only deserves life if she wants it to live.

It may be easy to dismiss the unborn as non-persons and allow them to be quietly killed. But ignoring their death puts every single one of us in danger.

When the standard changes from “human life is valuable,” to “wanted human life is valuable,” you are no longer valuable in and of yourself. You are only valuable if other people think you are.

I don’t know one person who couldn’t become a rat in the right circumstances. Hitler didn’t think Jews, Christians, homosexuals and the mentally handicapped were valuable. He exterminated them. Women are rightly concerned about young girls’ body images—but if you teach a girl she is only valuable when she’s wanted and loved, what happens when her boyfriend tells her she’d be prettier if she was fifteen pounds lighter? What if somebody really is fat? Are they less of a person? What if you’re homosexual, or a Christian, or Muslim, or black, or American Indian, or Mexican, or Asian, or Irish, or Welsh?

We kill defenseless children when we don’t want them. Who will we kill next? If my story disturbs you, good. It should. Because it’s also reality.

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