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Glenn Beck on Mary Walling Blackburn: "I have not seen something this evil since Nazi propaganda."


#1

Glenn Beck, the rabble rouser too conservative for even Fox News, has gotten wind of artist and activist Mary Walling Blackburn’s ebook Sister Apple, Sister Pig, calling it “obscene,” saying that he has “not seen something this evil since Nazi propaganda and what they were doing with their children.” Beck read from Walling Blackburn’s ebook on his program, which you can watch below.

But when is a children’s book not just a children’s book, the reinvention of a lost form? Here is Katie Anania’s prologue to the annotated version of Sister Apple, Sister Pig, published in e-flux journal in March 2014:

Sister Apple, Sister Pig, a book of images and text by Mary Walling Blackburn, emulates a lost literary genre: photo-illustrated children’s books of the 1960s and ’70s that cast the child as a protagonist, problem-solver, and model for action in the world. To use this genre is a radical gesture, as modern discourses on abortion have focused largely on the mother’s experience. Nineteenth-century patent medicine companies, for instance, advertised pills for “female irregularity” and “complaints incidental to the female frame.” In the late 1960s, Western middle class consciousness-raising groups sought to understand abortion as an opportunity for women’s self-knowledge. Later third-wave feminists countered this argument by honoring the traumatic aspects of abortion for the mother, seeking to establish “the death of the fetus [as] a real death.” Right-wing activists now concretize this “real death” in the form of bloody fetus photos. Children themselves, however—both living and dead—remained strangely voiceless.

For Mary Walling Blackburn, the child protagonist in Sister Apple Sister Pig does not seek to reclaim narrative power. Rather, this child’s adventures and the photographs that depict them activate a cascade of contingent relations that displace subjectivity and voice altogether. Lee, the non-gendered main character, masks their own face with a leaf of kale and then proceeds to identify the objects that might house, represent, or capture an aborted sister (the titular apple and pig are two examples). No forms cohere; no identities are fixed. Even as Lee constructs and begins to master the surrounding space, superhero comics and costumes offer opportunities to become someone else. The speculative bibliography that follows the text below assures that another kind of shifting will take place: between the given narrative, where surfaces are not always as they seem, and the historical and visual precursors to Walling Blackburn’s intervention.

The text, bibliography, and photographs facilitate brief “acts of noticing” that are much more slippery than the empirical observations generally associated with photography, or with the reasoned acquisition of knowledge. Throughout this text, we are invited to notice things, but since the things we notice are constantly changing, they discredit the idea of truly knowing anything. Thus, we do not properly learn about abortion, and this story reframes the visual politics of this charged topic. Walling Blackburn challenges the religious Right’s positivistic assertion that the image of the bloody fetus—the child at its most literal deathpoint—activates understanding and salvation. The fetus here is neither living nor dead; it resides neither inside the uterus nor in bloody repose on a pro-life poster. Instead of an image of death, Walling Blackburn invites us to observe “the fetus” as constant deflection and change. It is a lateral image, a shifting presence: in short, an undeath.

The e-flux journal published Sister Apple, Sister Pig last March, and Walling Blackburn @mwb collaborated with e-flux on the program Child as Material last November. You can read Sister Apple, Sister Pig here.


#2

I read the story for myself just to see if something was left out by either Glenn Beck or conversations-flux.com. I have to agree, at least with the emotional and gut reaction regarding this story. I understand that those that approve of abortion as a viable answer for women who choose to have abortions, but this book seeks to minimize it’s impact or significance. In part it’s because those that agree with abortion believe it’s they who suffer and only women have the right to commit to this decision. Part of that mindset disqualifies the yet to be born child and the father who may not agree with the choice of abortion. My question is why? If a man is considered legally responsible for the cost of raising the child, why is he left out of the life of that child? I agree a father must be responsible for financial requirements of bringing a child into the world, but you can’t have it both ways that the man is responsible after the fact but not before that. I’ve heard the argument that the child is nothing more than a piece of tissue inside the mother and so therefore is not of anything close to equal consideration as a since born human being. The argument I’ve heard too many times over is that the growing fetus is not viable on it’s own, this gives some the excuse that it then shouldn’t be saved if the mother alone doesn’t want the fetus to not be allowed to live. The fact is that a fetus is a viable life if left alone in its natural state. If not interrupted by a abortive mother or abortion Doctor, the child is very viable. If we take that type of thinking, then we have no right to save any life at all when someone is in a helpless situation. if someone is drowning, they are out of their element just like a baby that can’t survive outside of the womb. If a child’s life is thus disposable, then so it may be seen by many that if someone is out of their element and in a dangerous situation, then can someone simply deem just material waste that can be allowed to die with no effort to save them just? Is age the factor?, Is it that a baby can’t speak for itself? Is it that the child is smaller and thus more easily vicimized? What’s the difference? I understand that the baby is in the mother’s body, but what if someone is in somene’s home and the house in on fire and the owner of the house simply says that they’d rather lose the house with that person helplessly inside, so as the owner of the house just like a woman owns her own body, then the person in the house should be allowed to die and all laws should be changed should reflect that to make it possible. How about that a baby is expensive or inconvenient to a woman once it’s born? What about after the baby is born? I’ve heard of some place where there was a vote to see if a child can be considered abortable up to the age of 5. Is it the dividing line once there is a record, name, and a social security number attached to that child so that’s why it can’t be killed? I just want to understand how it’s justification of the end of a viable life only affects a child simply because the child is in the womb. Note that we do have laws that do define that even a child within the womb is cannot be killed just because it manages to not have been aborted just the day before the legal deadline. Laws can be changed on a dime depending on who is in charge. Why should life be worthwhile one day, but utterly useless and a candidate for termination the next?