We Can’t Just Run for Cover
When Ignorance Runs for Office
‘If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.’ Rape pregnancy ‘is something that God intended to happen.’ ‘You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along.’ ‘Evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory — all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.’
As everyone and Ann Romney now know, these statements have been uttered by two U.S. Senate candidates and two House reps, all identified with the ‘family values’ and anti-abortion rhetoric. The question is: how they all have even a shot at joining Congress?
First, the protagonists, please. Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who made the incredibly ignorant and hurtful comment about rape, is Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and is in an absurdly tight contest against Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill. To show his class, he added another pearl to his biography by calling McCaskill ‘one of those dogs.’
The author of the god’s will statement on rape is Indiana Treasurer and GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock. The contention about abortion was professed privately by pro-life and family values champion Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a then married physician, who pressured one of his patients turned into mistress to end her pregnancy, according to divorce court papers.
The ‘pit of hell’ quote comes from Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, also a physician, who’s member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, and is running for reelection. Speaking to an enthralled church audience, he also said that the Earth is ‘about 9,000 years old’ and ‘was created in six days as we (sic) know them.’
As for the answer to why they’re contenders to such a cushioned job, it may require a painful soul-searching process from every American, with self-recriminating stops along the way, and plenty of room to elaborate sensible theories; from the failure of our education system to the deterioration of our appreciation of science, to political calculation, to old-fashioned demagogy.
The short version of it, however, may be blunt and merciless: reasoning and the power of rationality has been under attack, and to get elected to office in the U.S. these days, one needs not a platform or ideas, but cash, and plenty of it. And to deny evolution and women’s rights, too, of course.
FREE SPEECH BUT NO OFFICE FOR YOU
To dig deeper, it’d be useless to sit down and explain to each of them the facts of life, as science has done for all of us for the past four centuries, nor they’d accept that. See, one of the traits of the deluded and the deranged is to believe, against all evidence, that they actually know what they’re talking about.
But we can’t possibly give them a free ride either. Because either for ignorance or for political gain, or some combination of both, to let extremists like these write laws and sway policies that may affect everyone, at taxpayers’ expense, is not just almost as insane as their own delusions; it’s downright dangerous.
We can’t prevent them or any other dope from expressing their opinions. And supposedly, democracy is there exactly to weed out this sort of radical and discriminative thought from the mainstream of politics. But if that fails, there must be a call to the Constitution’s undeniable bias towards plurality and inclusion.
One may prefer some aspects of birth control over others, or even be in favor of no control whatsoever. Sounds fine for one’s own bedroom. The majority of the population, however, is living in the 21th century, when such methods are a social necessity, so ideas that may restrict that majority’s rights are in contradiction with the ideals of inclusion needed for a legislator.
In other words, their personal opinion and beliefs can not become the law of the land. Millions living in the same land may disagree with such an opinion, and their majority takes precedence over fringe thinking and retrograde morality. That’s what democracy of representation is about, by the way.
WHEN THE MEDIA FAILS TO QUESTION
Also, about that phony baloney hogwash about ‘fair and balanced’ coverage. When a news organization places side by side someone claiming a literal biblical interpretation of history and a scientist, it’s betraying the very principles of what accurate news reporting is supposed to be about, a role bestowed in good faith to the media by society.
So, it should be a non starter if someone declares the Earth’s age is in the thousands, which has been proven that it can’t be: that person loses all credibility and should not be allowed to remain unchallenged to say anything else, in a setting with the potential to reach millions of people, period. Unless they have irrefutable proof, which they don’t.
The media is there to neither pick sides nor to always offer a counterbalance to what’s already a fact. Just as a scientist needs to have proof, and usually does, to back up everything he or she says, everybody else may be entitled to an opinion, but not to, as some say, ‘their own facts.’
Ah, and about the party question. Yes, these four examples above are members of the Republican Party, endorsed by the GOP presidential candidate, and are, in fact, part of the mainstream of the current republicanism. Unlike just a few years ago, when such obscurantist statements wouldn’t pass muster or be uttered in public, risking widespread scorn. How far (behind) we got. And don’t even start with the party’s current push to prevent voting altogether.
WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL?
Finally, if the statement about evolution shows a staggering lack of basic-level education, it’s also unacceptable coming from a college-educated professional, who should have never ever been accepted as a member of a science-based congressional committee. The other statements, though, reveal something even more serious: a profound disrespect towards women.
To talk about ‘legitimate’ rape, we’d need to surrender all assumptions about what reality is to impossible levels of oblivion, and even then, we could never accept the brutality implicit in the act. To ignore this is more than, well, ignorance: it’s deeply offensive and degrading to what many women go through around the world every day. Never mind the stupidity of the theory, of course.
Fortunately, some women’s rights groups are beginning to rise up to fight this stupefying trend of qualifying the word rape. Collectively, such efforts have been called ‘ending rape illiteracy,’ a definition given by The Nation’s Jessica Valenti, which would be laughable if we were, as a society, at a place of respect to individual rights as we should. Since we’re not, that will do.
On the eve of the last presidential debate Monday, for instance, two activist groups, Force and Luminous Intervention, have projected on the walls of the U.S. Capitol building, the words ‘Rape Is Rape,’ along with stories of survivors of sexual violence, a conversation that’s been sadly missed from the national debate over the issue.
THE RISE OF A NEW FEMINISM
Due to the magnitude of this question, and its commonality to all walks of life and pretty much all nations in the world, the reaffirmation of our disgust towards sexual violence against women, or against anyone for that matter, must be an integral part of our sense of community, as in the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind on this planet.
If the sentence above sounds a tad pompous, it’s only because of our own inadequacy to properly frame the issue with the gut-wrenching urgency it requires. It may take years before we properly gauge the incalculable damage that those well-paid elected politicians may be causing, as we speak, to women everywhere, when they take turns expressing their deep-seated prejudice and intolerance.
It’s indeed enough that a major news organization, such as CNN, has published on its Website, a study about the unlikely relationship between voting and hormones for women. The study was so staggering misguided, and the protests were so intense, that within hours, the news giant made the unusual move of withdrawing the whole thing from the site. We, however, won’t forget what you’ve actually tried to do, CNN.
But apart from keeping the issue on the table, while pressuring top to down candidates to office about their own responsibility about it, which should and must be supported by us all, there’s something else women, all women, should recognize and it is within their power to change: do not vote for candidates whose policies may ultimately curtail our right to make choices concerning our own bodies.
This is not about placing blame again on women, for the rise of such an incomprehensible tide of ignorance and stupidity. But as there’s no justification for a member of the LBGT community to support candidates biased against their rights, there’s absolutely no excuse for a woman to vote for candidates who may, given a chance, reverse Roe vs. Wade and other feminist hard-earned achievements.