Horton doesn’t hear an unborn child

By Sujay Kumar

Do you like

killing babies?

I do not like that,


I do not like

killing babies.

Who would have thought that the tiny Whos of Whoville and an elephant named Horton would lead the anti-abortion revolution? If you ask some pro-lifers, like his faithful elephant, Dr. Seuss meant what he said and he said what he meant. “Horton Hears a Who!’s” anti-abortion cry is clear: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Published in 1954, the children’s book tells the story of how Horton hears a cry for help from a speck of dust, which happens to be home to the Whos. Horton pledges to protect them in spite of ridicule from others who think that he is insane for believing that the speck holds life.

DING. Paging all anti-abortionists, your savior is here.

Translated into a 90-minute, G-rated, animated film featuring the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, and Seth Rogen, “Horton Hears a Who” has ruled the box-office for the last two weeks. Audiences aren’t the only people singing the film’s praises, critics and anti-abortionists have jumped on the bandwagon as well. At the film’s Los Angeles premiere, a few pro-life protesters who infiltrated the theater went wild chanting Horton’s famous lines.

But was Dr. Seuss really faithful to pro-lifers 100 percent? Is his story really about the evils of abortion?

During World War II and before writing and illustrating nearly 50 children’s books, Dr. Seuss was a left-wing political cartoonist. Scholars such as Philip Nel, author of “Dr. Seuss: American Icon,” and fans of the best-selling “Green Eggs and Ham” believe that Dr. Seuss’ books have a deeper meaning. “The Lorax” is a story about saving the environment. “Yertle the Turtle” warns against the rise of fascist dictators, and “The Sneeches” condemns discrimination. “The Butter Battle Book,” which ends in a stalemate, is believed to be a criticism of the nuclear arms escalation.

Then there’s “Horton Hears a Who!”:

“‘Should I put this speck down?’

Horton thought with alarm,

If I do these small persons

May come to great harm.

I can’t put it down.

And I won’t. After all

A person’s a person

No matter how small.”

Some believe the story is a call for everyone to let their democratic voice be heard, while others think it advocates equality. And of course, there’s the anti-abortion interpretation.

But before you go places with that idea, you should consider a few things. Thing one is that Dr. Seuss’s wife supports planned parenthood. Thing two is that years ago, Dr. Seuss threatened to sue an anti-abortion group if they didn’t stop using his slogan. Looks like the cat’s out of the hat, anti-abortionists.

This past year, Hollywood was friendly to pro-lifers. There were a few movies with quiet anti-abortion undertones that were critical and box-office successes.

In “Knocked Up,” a woman chose to have a baby after a fling with a not-so-charming schmuck. “Juno” chronicled a high school girl that gets pregnant. It was only after visiting an abortion clinic and hearing that her unborn baby had fingernails that the teen decided she couldn’t go through with it.

But in our case, Horton hears a Who – not an unborn fetus. Sure the line is catchy, that’s what Dr. Seuss did best. And sure it seemingly fits the anti-abortion cause. But it appears as though it’s being used to push a political agenda that Dr. Seuss didn’t support. The moral of this story is that the anti-abortionists should give Seuss a break, and leave Horton and the Whos alone.

Otherwise, pro-choicers will be left with the choice of whether to adopt Burger King or Nike’s slogan to fight back:

“Have It Your Way” or “Just Do It.”

Sujay is a junior in biochemistry and will never get an abortion. Because he’s a man. No one else finds that funny.