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Desert Ground Light Under The Shadow of Dobbs

“I don’t think it helpful to assume that an agenda that gets established at one

point in history will forever claim success on the basis of its initial victories.”

- Dr. Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy

In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold through the art of Kinsugi. The

‘flaw’ is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, the repair of that flaw – that crack, now

filled with gold, bonding the piece together – rather than stressing a wound, transforms both the

break and the object, through its golden mending and cohesion, to a celebration and presentation

of hope and beauty to be honored.

One thing is sure. Oppression helps destroy itself.

This is different than abolitionism.

Abolitionism is about a new way, a new habitus (Bourdieu). A new life. Drawing on all


Oppression just repeats itself, however wickedly.

Key to the construction of an oppressive system is the duplicity and disjointed

mechanisms that come with persuading and controlling a system of lackeys who willfully agree

to be self-bound under a inconsistent, transactional system of service and sacrifice which

promises immunity and impunity, delivering just enough at just the right time on that promise to

keep the dream alive, while the same lackeys, in the larger sense, are kept at war with everyone


As such, there is a point where the minions – as we’re seeing in the January 6th hearings –

begin to eat each other.

This while the oppressed may bond, if looking up, in their shared, though varied, state of

implied, indentured servitude. There is no question as to who their enemy is – the killers. The

dividers. Those who only know the ethic of the Overpower. Yet, the killers will always end up in

a three-front war between those they strive to control, their overextended ambition, and their

brazen assumption of immunity and impunity concerning the harm they do to their obvious

targets. Their soft power becomes more illusory as their hard power fractures to unhealable

divisions. They know that they are always on the verge of being attacked and erased. Abolition

and democracy is inevitable, as history shows. So is the struggle to get it and keep it.

As the sick social structure breaks, it can be rebounded – at least in part - in gold.

With that hopeful reminder, let’s have fun dialing in a few key logical contradictions and

expressions of brazen Overpower from the majority opinion in the Dobbs ruling, overrunning,

and overturning the previously established Roe and Casey decisions which availed access to safe,

timely medical abortion procedures for women and their society. Rather than merely frame the

abortion ruling, as the court does, in preserving life after the first 15 weeks of gestation (it

doesn’t), let’s consider what the abortion ruling, in fact, actually does:

It aborts.

The Dobbs ruling directly demolishes and jettisons the protective dams between

legislated, control-based oppression and a woman’s right to choose: that is, her own ability to

self-determination over her life. It also betrays a couple’s, friend’s, and family’s rights, in at least

one state, to participate as counsel and aid in the woman’s process, as supposedly sanctioned

under Federal law, now giving present and burgeoning, significant, punitive measures to helpful

accessories. In its slanted, patriarchally framed, biased, and legislated Puritanical cultural

backsliding, the ruling maintains what Mark Fischer dubs the “Hauntology” of the past (here,

pre-Roe - not the untold stories of safe health that followed that ruling), making that inverse

public health view all-too present and doomed to be countlessly relived, rather than relieved, of


Notably, such an action is also, in itself, a hallmark of trauma – being frozen in the past,

pathologically reliving the past, even re-creating the past of an egregious, unexpected harm from

an instilled fear – repeatedly re-habitualizing and reliving a period or point in time, within the

body (the personal, cultural, social, political, etc. bodies, are all applicable referents here), as the

present - yearning for release, but compulsively driven to repeat even self-harming practices that,

while familiar, are dangerous and isolating. There is no natural shift, escape, or movement into a

new day - only a temporary, head-on effort to relieve the embodied familiar, though externally

absent. Following that, some sense of orientation and control over one’s environment is re-

established, if only temporary, and ultimately gives way to fear and frustration as a normative

personal and social development that accompanies life arises. Trauma ensues and the cycle

repeats and continues.

The violence of oppressive female subjugation has been renewed through Dobbs; the

damage of such oppression upon the female psyche under such conditions of threat is renewed;

the socio-economic strife such a measure inspires and incites, is renewed. Cultural conflict is

renewed. The harming and triggered self-harming of the social body is renewed.

The perpetrator attempts what all abusers attempt: to steal and own another’s story while

silencing the victim in the process.

All is systemically engineered to repeatedly interrupt, attack, subjugate, and silence its

scapegoat, its target of comparative superiority and dominance – its sacrificial lamb - to bolster,

however ultimately futile the effort, a sense of Power. Society writ large, following the initial

target of its women’s spirits, minds, and bodies, will also bear some, but not all, critical


Our critique here is important, as the Free the Body project incorporates the assessment

tool of abolitionism – imagining life outside of compulsorily considered structural realities,

measuring that imaginary against present circumstances, then culling effective approaches to

functionality from a cooperative binary. The Roe and Casey rulings represented ameliorative

abolitionism. Something was done away with and a new, safer, more equitable structure took

over, drawing from (not eschewing) both history’s lessons and best practices, while

complimenting then-current successes.

The logic of the majority justices in the Dobbs ruling, disappointingly, does not evoke a

complimentary anything (though Justice Roberts provides a critique of his majority colleagues,

albeit, ultimately, avoidant of the true matters). Again, in an imperialist system of oppression,

one can always locate a few standards of operations: duplicity, silencing, invisibilizing,

avoidance, denial, gaslighting, and the assumption of more-knowledgeable experience, ie.


Colonization and imperialism – in any form – is an attempt to steal your story from your

body, so the Overpower can make your body and your story another story, or no story at all.

Either way, an evaporative system of imprisonment and control strives forth.

Here we go:

Duplicity from Justice Kavanaugh:

When the State petitioned for our review, its basic request was straightforward: “clarify

whether abortion prohibitions before viability are always unconstitutional.” Pet. for

Cert. 14. The State made a number of strong arguments that the answer is no, id., at 15–

26—arguments that, as discussed, I find persuasive. And it went out of its way to make

clear that it was not asking the Court to repudiate entirely the right to choose whether to

terminate a pregnancy: “To be clear, the questions presented in this petition do not

require the Court to overturn Roe or Casey.” Id., at 5. Mississippi tempered that

statement with an oblique one-sentence footnote intimating that, if the Court could not

reconcile Roe and Casey with current facts or other cases, it “should not retain

erroneous precedent.” Pet. for Cert. 5–6, n. 1. But the State never argued that we

should grant review for that purpose.

After we granted certiorari, however, Mississippi changed course. In its principal brief,

the State bluntly announced that the Court should overrule Roe and Casey. The

Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion, it argued, and a State should be able

to prohibit elective abortions if a rational basis supports doing so. See Brief for

Petitioners 12–13.

The Court now rewards that gambit, noting three times that the parties presented “no

half-measures” and argued that “we must either reaffirm or overrule Roe and Casey.”

Ante, at 5, 8, 72. Given those two options, the majority picks the latter.


Unbelieveable. A duplicitous entrance into proceedings by the state of Mississippi,

condoned by the SCOTUS, and then absolved of duplicity and responsibility by the same court.

Let’s watch Justice Roberts take the very distanced, narrow, stereotypical white, heteronormative, male, narrow view of the matter:

Justice Roberts: "Ample evidence suggests that a 15-week ban provides sufficient time,

absent rare circumstances, for a woman ‘to decide for herself’ whether to terminate her


So, the court is deciding how and when a woman – any woman - decides. Let’s continue.

...the hauntological...

Justice Barrett in the majority opinion “...the question is whether the right is “deeply

rooted in [our] history and tradition.”

The above point, intoned by Justice Barrett, is put forth as central to the court’s majority

decision. Yup, you read that right - history and tradition. Like our history and tradition of

slavery and pistol duels and labor exploitation and women voting/land holding and

Reconstruction turned Jim Crow and LGBTQI2 marriage denial. History and tradition – also used

to deny gay marriage (see the “I don’t think the U.S. is culturally ready for such a freedom”

argument from the late Justice Scalia) is proof positive of the cyclical trauma behaviour of the

Controller to freeze things at a familiar, though off-kilter, point in time within their own social

body, consciousness, and the story-body of their victim (ie. repeated abuse through the regular

transference of loathing through violence (see previous Blog)).

Justice Alito, in his lengthy opinion and addendum, does not prioritize access to an

abortion procedure that occurred before, during, and after Roe, at all - with Kavanaugh

concluding: “To be clear, then, the Court’s decision today does not outlaw abortion throughout

the United leaves the (issue) to the people and their elected representatives...”.

J. Kavanaugh, didn’t you...I thought you said you even read your own

opinions? I mean, do you want hamburgers or hot dogs? Make up your mind. Are you

overturning Roe or not? Because you’re, literally, writing two different things and, also, not

judging simply on the merits of the case, as Justice Roberts reminds the majority at the end of his

concurring opinion (though it frames an avoidant, irresponsible diversion, as we’ll see below).

Most notably, the court references the principle of stare decisis. This principle addresses

“the legal principle of determining points in litigation according to precedent. (Webster)” For the

SCOTUS, certainly as described in the majority opinion, stare decisis is bedrock, foundational,

immoveable, supportive ground.

Justice Kavanaugh, again:

“When precisely should the Court overrule an erroneous constitutional precedent? The

history of stare decisis in this Court establishes that a constitutional precedent may be

overruled only when (i) the prior decision is not just wrong, but is egregiously wrong, (ii)

the prior decision has caused significant negative jurisprudential or real-world

consequences, and (iii) overruling the prior decision would not unduly upset legitimate

reliance interests. See Ramos v. Louisiana, 590 U. S. ___, ___−___ (2020) (KAVANAUGH,

J., concurring in part) (slip op., at 7−8).

Applying those factors, I agree with the Court today that Roe should be overruled. The

Court in Roe erroneously assigned itself the authority to decide a critically important

moral and policy issue that the Constitution does not grant this Court the authority to

decide." Cite as: 597 U. S. ____ (2022) 7

KAVANAUGH, J., concurring

Given the history of harm to the female and social body under a lack of access to safe

abortion procedures, as well as the cumulative social strife it creates, how can Kavanaugh

quantitatively and qualitatively assert that there is not “significant negative...real world

consequences” rendering the absence of such legal structures “egregiously wrong”? By any

legitimate, sane metric, he simply can’t. It’s an incomplete, superficial, avoidant gaslighting of

an argument. And why does it win? Because of the slanted ideology and power position of the

Supreme Court. The in-group can say what it wants and gets away with it.

Even before the ruling, some State legislatures were instituting measures to hinder access

to safe, medically assisted pregnancy termination. In this opinion, as in Roe, that behavior is

considered illegal given the “viability” clause, yet in the present day United States, the practice

continues to go unpunished. Again, the colonialist effort is always imperialist. And the above

duplicity, false logic, applied posture of ignorance, and tradition of control exhibit just some of

its tools.

Check out the Dobbs opinion for yourself. It is eminently readable. That the majority

does not give even a modicum of effort to hide its contradictions, failings, inappropriate personal

ideologies, false logic, insubstantiation, and social irresponsibility as the lead body of measured

justice in this country is an embarrassment to both the U.S. judicial process and the Supreme

Court as a proposed exemplar. The ruling is a brazen example of this most brazen ideology and

culture of imprisonment that the Overpower heaves upon the constructed “other”: the ideology of

control, scapegoating, social division, disenfranchisement, harm, silencing, and disappearance.

Thankfully, there’s a way out. Within us. Around us. Spiritually. Systemically. People are

working and thriving. We can, too. We’ll look at the poetics of this freedom next week. For now,

ironically, this week’s sound swatch is dedicated to a new tomorrow, today. This is the creative heart

of abolitionism.

Next Blog: The Culture Prison – Control, Restraint...and Escape


Written by Peter DiGennaro, Sound Artist/Human Rights Educator

Sound Swatch: SoundCloud

Learn more: Free the Body


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