After the flaming I've had on Ricochet recently with regards to homosexuality and drugs legalization, I've learned my lesson and now plan to stick resolutely to uncontroversial subjects.
Here's a story in the UK press that my wife (who like me would consider herself a conservative) and I both found pretty shocking.
To obtain a termination under the Republican plan, women in Virginia would first be made to have an ultrasound, which would allow them to see their foetus and to hear its heartbeat.
During the first three months of pregnancy – when 80 per cent of abortions occur – such an ultrasound must be carried out by vaginal probe. The plan is furiously opposed by women's rights groups and Democrats.
It is due to be signed this week by the state's governor, Bob McDonnell, who is a high-profile ally of Mitt Romney, and is frequently tipped as a potential Republican vice-presidential candidate.
Opponents have grouped it with comparable rules elsewhere in the US, along with new measures to restrict contraception, to claim that the Republicans have launched a "war on women's health".
Virginia Democrats who oppose the ultrasound bill said that it would force women to undergo an invasive procedure that was akin to "state-sponsored rape."
Now I don't know how fair a representation this is of the facts on the ground. But I can tell you that even if it contains a scintilla of truth, it's an approach that most of us on this side of the Atlantic - including I'm guessing maybe 80 to 90 per cent of conservatives - would find wantonly vindictive and unpleasant. Some of you, I know will dismiss us as bien-pensant Euro weenies who have long since lost the moral plot. But speaking as one of the reddest-meat, most pro-gun, most anti-big-government, pro-Constitution, pro-liberty, pro-American conservative you are ever likely to meet, I'd just like those of you who support these kind of measures to pause and consider how it makes you look from the outside.
The reason I'm a conservative and proud to be a conservative is because I believe that ours is the philosophy that truly values human beings and works with human nature. The reason I despise liberals - well, not so much liberals, as their political philosophy - is that I see in almost everything they believe a deep intolerance masquerading as virtue, a determination to impose their Weltanschauung on EVERYONE, an urge to bully and control because, darn it, they KNOW they are right.
I referred to another example of this in my most enjoyable podcast with Paul Rahe the other day. The one where I cited the truly disgusting Anti-Saloon League chief enforcer Wayne Wheeler who just knew that alcohol was so wrong he considered it perfectly acceptable to persuade the US government to poison the nation's supply of industrial alcohol which (as everyone knew) was being used to make moonshine. This "Formula No. 5" - a mixture of methanol, pyridine bases and benzene, resulted in 10,000 deaths.
Wheeler joked about this: "If a man wishes to violate the Constitution of the United States he should be free to commit suicide in his own way."
I worry about this strain in US Conservatism, a) because I think it confirms all liberals worst prejudices and b) because it makes it that much less electorally attractive to the nation as a whole.