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What My New Amplifier Taught Me about Abortion

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Author’s note: This column is based on a metaphor I stole from Scott Klusendorf. As such, I owe him and Oliva V and a trip to the Texas Roadhouse.

Like most of you, I try to be financially responsible. For example, I pay my IRS estimated pre-payments well in advance. I also make conservative estimates of what I owe the IRS. Therefore, I usually end up getting a nice tax refund. When I get it back, I buy something I really don’t need. Two years ago, it was a Fender Telecaster. Last year, it was a Fender Stratocaster. I don’t mind splurging every year just as long as I wait until I actually have the IRS check in hand. Just last week, however, I did something I should not have done: I spent my tax refund before I actually received it.

But I had to have it. The Mesa Boogie Express 525 amplifier is one I’ve been eying for the last couple of years. When I finally got it home and plugged it in it did not disappoint. I’m already thinking of getting another Mesa Boogie – this time an Electrodyne 2x12. But before I take the big plunge, I’m going to drive out to California to tour the Mesa Boogie factory. When I get there, I’ll have an opportunity to see them put a Mesa Boogie amp together, piece by piece.

They’ll probably start by fastening four pieces of solid birch together. But when they finish fastening them together, they won’t yet have a Mesa Boogie amplifier. Next, the engineer will bolt in a 12-inch Celestion speaker. But it still won’t be a Mesa Boogie amplifier. Even after he fastens the tubes into the chassis, it still won’t be a Mesa Boogie amplifier. When they finally put the knobs on the outside of the amp, we’ll be pretty close to calling it a genuine Mesa Boogie. (For the record, if they ever build me a custom amp, the volume knob had better go to eleven. Ten just isn’t loud enough for this aging rock-and roller).

But after the input jack is installed (so I can actually plug in one of my guitars) I will concede that we finally have a Mesa Boogie amplifier. And that will be well worth driving across the country to see.

And so I’m off to Petaluma, California. Spring break is this week and I am about to head west on I-40. Just a couple of miles from my house, there is a sign that says “Barstow, California, 2,554 miles.” I’m not stopping for anything except gas until I get to California. On the way home, however, I plan to take a detour and stop by the Grand Canyon.

The first time I went to the Grand Canyon was 1973 – the year the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. I was just eight years old. The sight was so beautiful that I took out an old Polaroid camera and snapped a picture from atop the deepest part of the canyon. As it began to develop, it was only a tiny blob. It was too small for me to tell what it really was. In fact, it was kind of ugly at first. A few minutes later, however, it became apparent that something very beautiful was developing out of that tiny little blob. When it was done developing and ready to pull out of the camera, it was a beautiful thing, indeed.

Human beings are not put together from the outside like Mesa Boogie amplifiers. Therefore, there is no legitimate debate about when a human becomes a human. From the very earliest stage of life, humans are actively involved in the process of developing themselves from within. That’s why it is so tragic that in 1973 the Court decided that a woman has a right to disrupt that process by destroying the tiny human in the womb.

Those who understand liberty believe that living entities should be left alone to develop themselves from within. The only thing standing in their way is a living constitution constructed gradually from the outside.

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