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Diversity, Stupidity, and Willful Ignorance

mind-terrible-thing-to-waste

After yet another Republican Congressman got caught saying something demonstrably untrue about rape and pregnancy, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers this observation:

[T]he great strength of diversity is it forces you into a room with people who have experiences very different from your own. It’s all fine and good to laugh at Sherrod Brown dancing to Jay-Z. But dude is outside his lane and he’s learning something. M.C. Rove should be so lucky.
If you are not around people who will look at you like you are crazy when you make stupid claims about other people’s experiences, then you tend to keep saying stupid things about other people’s experiences. It is not enough to pay a political price, or even to be shamed into silence. You have to come to believe — in your heart — that sincerity itself is not the same as accurate information. It is not enough for you to not be “the party of stupid” or to “stop saying stupid things” you must show some active commitment toward being less stupid.

That’s quite right insofar as it goes. Speaking from my own experience, my views and attitudes have shifted rather considerably over the last decade or so, both because I’m exposed to a much broader group of people in the DC area than I was in rural Alabama and because of virtual interactions with other bloggers and my commentators. Engaging honestly and with a willingness to learn with people who have different experiences than you will naturally broaden your horizons.

On the other hand, as some of TNC’s commenters point out, it’s not as if Members of Congress don’t have ready access to smart people and good information. And, hell, this “women don’t get pregnant from rape” thing has been out there long enough and burned enough high profile Republicans that every Member should have by now gotten the memo that it’s not only politically damaging but simply untrue to say that. And, yet, a few continue. Clearly, these people are either actively refusing to learn or somehow believe it’s in their interests to play dumb.

One presumes it’s predominantly the latter by this point. And I just don’t get it. Having spent most of my formative years, and indeed most of my life, living in the rural South, Texas, or on military bases, I’m well acquainted with very socially conservative, very religious people. And I’m quite sympathetic to the anti-abortion position. Yet, until the Todd Akin flap in the last campaign cycle, I don’t recall ever hearing this meme before. Is this some longstanding evangelical shibboleth that I’ve somehow missed, or what?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    It’s an idea that’s been around for a while, but as a native southerner not something I’ve heard often. I can only conclude that 1) there are people who refuse to believe it isn’t true, and B) they feel this is the time to make these statements.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_and_pregnancy_controversies_in_United_States_elections,_2012

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Latino_in_Boston says:

    Well it’s not exactly like the GOP is known for its quick learning. This is not a bug, it’s the feature. They have the truth! It is their job to let America know. Didn’t Jesus say that his true followers would be persecuted for standing up for their beliefs. They are true heroes!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  3. edmondo says:

    It was on the internet. It must be true.

    Apparently this canard has been around long enough that it’s old enough to vote. And – like most stupid things – it was born in Pennsylvania.

    http://articles.philly.com/1988-03-23/news/26277205_1_freind-woman-secretes-luigi-mastroianni

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  4. Phillip says:

    As a former conservative christian, I’m not the least bit surprised. It is almost axiomatic in evangelical circles that if you don’t cover up every bit of exposed skin and limit your hangouts to church, school, and the home, you’re as much to blame as the rapist. And then, there are the Old Testament sanctions:

    “But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” (Numbers 31: 18)

    In other words, war brides.

    “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father fifty skelels of silver, and she shall be his wife, and he may not put her away all of his days” (Deuteronomy 22; 28-29)

    Here, we see the “women as chattel” written into the law. You can hum and haw over the implications but the label sticks regardless.

    In the case of the rape of a betrothed virgin in a city, the Bible says that both the rapist and victim should be stoned to death: the rapist because he violated his neighbor’s wife and the victim because she did not cry for help (Deuteronomy 22:23-25)

    In other words, if a rape victim feels shame for what happened, she must carry just as much guilt as the rapist, and is therefore deserving as the same penalty. It attempts to draw a distinction between rape in the city and the open country, but how in the hell is that defined in the present day? And if she is rendered unconscious or under threat of immediate death (as opposed to being stoned for “allowing it”), such ideas are not worthy of God’s attention.

    Of course, you can find a hundreded biblical “scholars” on the internet to tell you how this isn’t the correct interpretation of ancient Hebrew OR it ignores the covenant of the New testament OR some other justification for holding on to these views as having been an ideal for life since its ISRAEL, the chosen people.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  5. Jenos Idanian says:

    The question that keeps getting fumbled is, “how many abortions are of pregnancies caused by rape?” Since the most common proposed restrictions on abortion involve excepting abortions performed in the case of rape, incest, or life of mother, that’s a fairly significant data point to bring to the discussion.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 22

  6. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jenos Idanian: It’s not that difficult to find. 1% of women having an abortion report pregnancy from rape as the reason. One percent of fifty million abortions in the last forty years means 500,000 abortions due to pregnany from rape.

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.pdf

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. superdestroyer says:

    what is amazing is how many Republicans who are hardliners on abortion refuse to prepare for the rape/incest question. Those Republicans know the question is coming and know that the MSM will repeat their response. Yet, those politicians refuse to plan out their answers, reufse to practice their answers, and the staffs of those same politicians seem unable to prepare their bosses for the question.

    If a politician is not going to prepare for something they know is coming, then now can citizens expect them to think about the long term implications and impacts of their policy proposals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  8. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Ben Wolf: Thank you for that link. I’d be reluctant to extrapolate those results over the previous 40 years, but I think that 2005 is recent enough for the general statistics to be mostly valid today.

    So… rape was a factor for 1% of abortions, incest another 0.5%. The last of the standard “big three” — life of the mother — is represented in the 12% of the “physical problem with my health” and the 13% “possible problems affecting the health of the fetus” factors. Note that those don’t actually go so far as to say life-threatening or even risk of major disability.

    Added together, that’s 26.5%. With the vagueness of the terms used, I’d be inclined to round that down to 20% that actually fit “the big three,” but to avoid a pointless argument I’ll settle for 25% here (just for statistical tidiness).

    The next two questions that come to mind are:

    1) Can we write laws that cover the 75% of elective abortions, while respecting the 25% (or less) of cases where pretty much everyone agrees it’s an appropriate option?

    2) If we can, then we must ask: should we?

    The problem with creating exceptions to the law is that you create an incentive for people to falsely claim to qualify for it. And if too many exploit that exception, it’s a worthless law. (Witness the explosion of “disabilities” in the past decade or so.)

    Or, alternately, we can each find idiots taking things to extremes on both sides of the issue and focus solely on mocking them, to the exclusion of actually talking about the issue…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  9. Tony W says:

    @superdestroyer:

    refuse to prepare

    You can prepare all you want, but if you are willfully wrong it ain’t gonna help.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  10. Mikey says:

    Well, maybe what Franks said wasn’t so stupid after all.

    Paraphrasing The Dude: “You’re not wrong, Congressman Franks, you’re just an asshole.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. Barry says:

    James: “Is this some longstanding evangelical shibboleth that I’ve somehow missed, or what?”

    It is; it was made up by the physician (OB-GYN) founder of ‘Physicians for Life’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. Moosebreath says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    “pretty much everyone agrees it’s an appropriate option”

    This is not true. I have certainly heard politicians and religious leaders who do not think exceptions should be made for any of these.

    I will add that the overlap between politicians who do not support a rape exception, and politicians who believe it is more difficult or impossible to get pregnant from rapes is very large. This counter-factual argument generally arises as a justification for “no exception for rape” positions, as if a woman can’t get pregnant due to rape, there’s no need for an exception, and women who were not really raped may try to use it to get an abortion where they otherwise would be forbidden from having one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A question for all the men wanting to limit the reproductive choices of women: How would you feel if it were your reproductive choices being limited?

    Snip Snip….. ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  14. Jack says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Hillbilly, mens reproductive choices are being limited. If teh man wants an abortion and the woman doesn’t, he has no say. If teh woman wants an abortion and the woman doesn’t he has no say. Therefore his choices are being limited. Apparently, the man has no say until it’s time to fork over the money to raise the child.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Yet, until the Todd Akin flap in the last campaign cycle, I don’t recall ever hearing this meme before. Is this some longstanding evangelical shibboleth that I’ve somehow missed, or what?

    James, mistermix over at Balloon Juice gives the rundown:

    “In the aftermath of Akin’s statement, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on a 1972 essay by an obstetrician named Fred Mecklenburg, who cited a Nazi experiment in which women were told they were on their way to die in the gas chambers—and then were allowed to live, so that doctors could check whether they would still ovulate. Since few did, Mecklenburg claimed that women exposed to the emotional trauma of rape wouldn’t be able to become pregnant, either. (He also argued that rapists are infertile because they masturbate a lot.) The essay was published in a book financed by A.U.L.”

    A.U.L. is Americans United for Life, a pro-life advocacy group with increasing clout because of its success in drafting model state laws to restrict abortion. The line from the Nazis to Mecklenburg to Akin and Franks runs through Jack Wilke, a doctor who is the former head of the National Right to Life Committee. He said, “What is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that’s physical trauma.” And he stuck with this when the Los Angeles Times called to ask him about Akin last year. When I asked A.U.L. head Charmaine Yoest about the claim that rape rarely results in pregnancy, she was smarter and called it “a distraction.” Abortion opponents sure do keep bringing it up, though.

    Lots of linky goodness over there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jack:

    Apparently, the man has no say until it’s time to fork over the money to raise the child.

    Ahh yes, the poor downtrodden male, pity the man who procreates for he will ever be a slave to womanhood.

    “I don’t know what women are complaining about, they got half the money and all the pussy.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  17. Kari Q says:

    If men could get pregnant, the right to birth control and abortion would be sacred.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  18. Phillip says:

    @Jack:

    the man has no say until it’s time to fork over the money to raise the child.

    He had just as much to say, he just chose to say it with his penis. duh! I pay zero child support. Self-control, ever heard of it? Taking responsibility for YOUR actions, ring a bell??? It was all the rage in the conservative circles I used to run.
    Please, respond with some tripe about “male entrapment”, so we can all marvel at how easily some men are betrayed by their penis and blame it on the woman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  19. Phillip says:

    @Kari Q: If men could get pregnant, we would be passing out birth control in the sixth grade, federally subsidized. Refills given without question by the school nurse, cause FREEDOM!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    And I’m quite sympathetic to the anti-abortion position.

    Of course, since you’re a woman and all, and may have to have one yourself someda….hey, wait a minute.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  21. Phillip says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The problem with creating exceptions to the law is that you create an incentive for people to falsely claim to qualify for it

    You also create an incentive for people who disagree with those exceptions to find ways to deny an actual exception is possible. Don’t believe me? @OzarkHillbilly: provided the necessary link to get you started.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jack:

    Apparently, the man has no say until it’s time to fork over the money to raise the child.

    Absolutely true. Why, I can’t count the number of women who’ve grabbed my penis and shoved it forcibly into their vagina until I ejaculated, all as I begged and pleaded for them to stop.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  23. @Jenos Idanian:

    The next two questions that come to mind are:

    1) Can we write laws that cover the 75% of elective abortions, while respecting the 25% (or less) of cases where pretty much everyone agrees it’s an appropriate option?

    2) If we can, then we must ask: should we?

    You left out:

    3) Given that up to 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, how do we outlaw abortion without subjecting huge numbers of women to the trauma of a murder investigation?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  24. John D'Geek says:

    @edmondo:

    And – like most stupid things – it was born in Pennsylvania.

    That was uncalled for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kari Q:

    If men could get pregnant, the right to birth control and abortion would be sacred.

    Say what? Kari, are you trying to say women aren’t treated as equal as men but they are equal to men? That is a truly radical position to take!

    “Kill the heretic! Kill the heretic!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    3) Given that up to 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, how do we outlaw abortion without subjecting huge numbers of women to the trauma of a murder investigation?

    And when it is found that those women had nothing to do with it, will they go after the real guilty culprit? You know, God?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Oh, and this: It’s not just Akin.

    Good for a giggle or 2… or 43.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  28. John D'Geek says:

    @Phillip:

    He had just as much to say, he just chose to say it with his penis.

    Let’s reverse that and see if you can avoid getting offended:

    He She had just as much to say, he she just chose to say it with his penis her Vagina.

    @JJ: I heard this when I was a teenager (which means you would have been a teenager too). I, like most people I think, ignored it since even 1% is too much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    1) Can we write laws that cover the 75% of elective abortions, while respecting the 25% (or less) of cases where pretty much everyone agrees it’s an appropriate option?

    If you sincerely believe that abortion is murder, why would you agree that an exception in the case of rape or incest is “an appropriate option”? Ethically, that makes no sense. If it’s your sincere belief that it’s the murder of an unborn child, then you should oppose it in all instances, no exception, since to do otherwise is to punish an innocent child for something that it had no control over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  30. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Moosebreath: This is not true. I have certainly heard politicians and religious leaders who do not think exceptions should be made for any of these.

    Which is why when someone like Todd Akin says something stupid, it’s not instantly “news” — because it happens so often, right?

    Let’s try that again: a very comfortable majority of Americans support abortion choice in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. That’s the stock phrasing. There’s also the case of severe fetal deformity/disability, but that’s almost always assumed as well.

    The fighting is over the roughly 75% of abortions where it’s for the convenience of the mother. That’s what it boils down to — which is of more concern to society as a whole?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  31. Moosebreath says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    “a very comfortable majority of Americans support abortion choice in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. That’s the stock phrasing. There’s also the case of severe fetal deformity/disability, but that’s almost always assumed as well.”

    That’s an unobjectionable phrasing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The fighting is over the roughly 75% of abortions where it’s for the convenience of the mother. That’s what it boils down to — which is of more concern to society as a whole?

    Ahh yes. You hear that women? Pregnancy is just an inconvenience for you. Jenos, I didn’t think even you could utter something so insanely stupid. You are right up there with Akin.

    Tell me something Jenos, if you are so concerned about all those unborn children, are you willing to pay for their health and welfare through higher taxes? Never mind, that was a silly question. You only care about these children until they are born, after that if they are slaughtered with an AK-47 that had a drum magazine holding 2000 rounds….

    Well that is just the cost of freedom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gotta go now. You boys and girls play nice now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Rafer Janders says:

    If you believe abortion is the murder of a human life, then you should not allow any exceptions for abortions in cases of rape or incest, because, after all, we make no other exceptions in the law for people whom we allow to be murdered. And if you believe it’s murder, you should also support long prison terms, or even the death penalty, for the pregnant women who commit such a murder, just as for anyone else so charged. That’s not something I agree with, but it’s at least an ethically and morally consistent position.

    But if you don’t believe abortion is murder…then what’s your problem with it, exactly? What harm is being done?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  35. Phillip says:

    @John D’Geek: not even remotely offended. But I’ve little doubt how much of a burden carrying a pregnancy can cause a woman. I guess that responsibility is insignificant in terms of consequences to you, in comparison to the poor guy’s bank account.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  36. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rafer Janders: Congratulations. You’ve just invented a totally inflexible position for me, one where there is not the slightest room for discussion or compromise. That it has no resemblance to what I actually said didn’t slow you down one whit in your rush to square that circle.

    But to borrow the language from gun control arguments, is there no room for having a discussion on the matter? Is there no place for common-sense restrictions?

    Or am I dealing with an American Taliban, for whom even discussing the matter is heresy and dissent must be stoned into silence?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  37. stonetools says:

    Yet, until the Todd Akin flap in the last campaign cycle, I don’t recall ever hearing this meme before. Is this some longstanding evangelical shibboleth that I’ve somehow missed, or what?

    Its the only argument left for those who want to close the rape/incest exception. Its a lousy argument, but you go with the argument you have.Otherwise you would have to rethink your position, and who wants that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rafer Janders: Let’s turn that around, shall we?

    If you don’t believe that abortion is murder, do you oppose laws that make it a separate crime to harm a fetus against the will of the mother? Do you support harsher penalties for people who kill pregnant women? Is beating a woman into miscarrying worse than just standard assault? Should the psychos who held the women prisoner in Cleveland be charged with murder for beating their prisoners into miscarriages?

    How about laws that cover a fetus that somehow survives an abortion? Should it be left to die, should it be “helped” into dying as the mother wishes it to, or does it have some kind of right to live once it’s no longer within the mother?

    Kermit Gosnell. He’s been charged with murder for performing late-term abortions and killing fetuses after being delivered alive. Should he be facing criminal charges at all? Isn’t he just doing what the pro-choice crowd supports and demands?

    No, those aren’t reasonable questions, laying the groundwork for reasonable discussion. But they are an appropriate response to your own straw men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  39. anjin-san says:

    @ OzarkHillbilly

    the convenience of the mother

    Do you ever get the feeling that some of these cats have very little experience with human sexuality and it’s real life consequences?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  40. Phillip says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Let’s try that again: a very comfortable majority of Americans support abortion choice in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

    Now, try this on the other foot: a very comfortable majorityconsiderable growing number of Americans conservative politicians support abortion choice in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. under no circumstances. I shall have to investigate the # of male voters for whom abortion rights are a significant determinant in their voting choices.
    You say

    is there no room for having a discussion on the matter? Is there no place for common-sense restrictions?

    Start discussing it with the politicians in the link @OzarkHillbilly: provided. You will get less discussion from them than you will even here, and they are driving the policy as far right as they can without braking for logic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Ah, I see the Victim Industrial Complex is back in town. Poor you! No one will listen to you! You make a very serious, thoughtful argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care, and yet people still treat you like a clown!

    It must be maddening, frankly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  42. Phillip says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Isn’t he just doing what the pro-choice crowd supports and demands?

    Gosnell, like many people motivated by greed and lacking a moral compass, took advantage of poor women for whom getting an abortion (or indeed, even basic reproductive health care) was made difficult by politicians legislating their way around Roe V. Wade. Gosnell is a harbinger of what will become common if abortion is outlawed. IANAL but that does not absolve him of the crimes he committed. I am a human being though, and I am sickened by anyone who preys on the weak and the poor. Gosnell is a skeleton in the closet of the anti-abortionists, not people in favor of access to all forms of reproductive health.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  43. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Congratulations. You’ve just invented a totally inflexible position for me, one where there is not the slightest room for discussion or compromise. That it has no resemblance to what I actually said didn’t slow you down one whit in your rush to square that circle.

    Umm, I haven’t invented any position for you — I asked a series of questions. I described a situation with certain logical consequences, worked out those consequences, and then asked, in a general sense, how people got to those positions. It was a question — as you might have been able to tell by the fact that I put a question mark at the end.

    Never once did I say that was your own individual position on abortion — but, on the other hand, I can see how you might assume that any mention of hypocrisy was targeted at you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  44. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Ah, the old “I don’t want to answer this question, so quick, look over there! Let me distract from the argument I’m losing by bringing up a separate matter and hope that people are dumb enough to take the bait!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Or am I dealing with an American Taliban, for whom even discussing the matter is heresy and dissent must be stoned into silence?

    Yes, challenging someone’s assumptions on a blog post is JUST LIKE a group of right-wing religious fundamentalists murdering a woman. It is EXACTLY THE SAME THING, and asking you questions makes you as much a victim. Just as the woman buried up to her waist and battered with a hail of rocks until her face and head are crushed, so are you equally defenseless against a storm of blog comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ Rafer Janders

    Good luck trying to get Jenos to understand what a logical fallacy is. If you have any luck, I want you to explain quantum mechanics to my cat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  47. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    But to borrow the language from gun control arguments, is there no room for having a discussion on the matter?

    Sure, let’s have a discussion: what’s your problem with abortion? In plain English, why do you think it’s wrong?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  48. Rafer Janders says:

    @anjin-san:

    If you have any luck, I want you to explain quantum mechanics to my cat.

    Doubt it will work. I once tried to explain string theory to a cat, and it got completely distracted by the ball of string I was using to illustrate the concept.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  49. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Rafer Janders: Sure, let’s have a discussion: what’s your problem with abortion? In plain English, why do you think it’s wrong?

    Because, at its core, it’s the destruction of life. We can get hung up on the nuances of when life begins, and go around about comparative rights of the fetus vs. mother, and the rights of fathers (none, apparently), and all else, but in the end, it’s destruction of life.

    Unlike you and the stereotypes you rail against, I am tremendously uncertain about the issue. I have nowhere enough conviction to wish to impose my views on anyone else. But I do know that, at the core, the pro-life arguments are more honest and profound than the pro-choice ones.

    And I also know that Roe v. Wade was a truly awful decision, filled with shoddy reasoning and backwards rationalizing. It created the “trimester” legal definition that simply doesn’t work; it imposes a digital solution to an entirely analog process. “Viability” has been redefined tremendously since Roe v. Wade, but the trimester structure is engraved in law.

    There are good and valid arguments on both sides, and sincere and decent people on both sides of the issue. (Also a lot of a-holes, who tend to get most of the attention. In that category I’d put Randall Terry and several of the commenters here.)

    What I’d like to see is Roe v. Wade overturned and the matter returned to the states. Then we’d have 50 areas where we can experiment and see what works, and what doesn’t. Some states will be very restrictive, some will be pretty much totally open.

    And you know what else would happen? Arguments like this would actually mean something, not just the same old crap repeated ad nauseum to no point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  50. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: If you have any luck, I want you to explain quantum mechanics to my cat.

    I once explained Schrodinger’s Cat to a cat. I was very clear, but it was completely disinterested in putting it to the test.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  51. anjin-san says:

    destruction of life

    Approx homeless in the US – 633,782

    Approx uninsured (medical) in the US – 44 million

    Approx undernourished children in the US – 16 million

    I can’t help wondering why conservatives don’t give a shit about these lives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  52. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: I’m gravely disappointed in you. Why didn’t you bring up Iraq this time? That’s your standard go-to “STFU” isn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  53. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @Jenos Idanian: It’s none of your business, this abortion thing. Not one iota. You have no business inserting yourself, via the state or otherwise, into the private medical affairs of women as laid out under the law. None.

    It will never be your business. Your role is to butt out. Whatever statistics you invent does not change this.

    I know this drives you and some other men mad with anger and despair, losing control as you have. And, it’s still none of your business. You make a fool of yourself with every disjointed breath you make on this topic.

    You have lost and will continue to lose this argument.

    Butt out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  54. anjin-san says:

    Why didn’t you bring up Iraq this time?

    And you are crying about other people making up positions for you?

    At any rate, you avoided dealing with the issue. Not a bad play, considering where you stand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  55. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James in Silverdale, WA: Well, that’s an honest response. Completely stupid and wrong, but honest. So thanks for that.

    Here’s a case for you: a five-month fetus is killed/destroyed/whatever. Is the person who destroyed the fetus guilty of murder?

    The answer today is, that depends.

    If the mother requested the fetus be destroyed, then no, it’s not.

    If the mother did not wish the fetus destroyed, then yes, it is.

    In either case, the fetus’ rights are dependent on factors totally beyond its control.

    And if the fetus is the product of rape or incest? Again, a factor totally beyond its control. Yet its very right to exist is contingent on, essentially, the whims of the mother. It enjoys the right to life — as protected by the state — solely at the discretion of another party.

    That makes me uncomfortable. Nowhere near enough to push for laws to restrict or ban abortions, but enough to make me want to seek out arguments on both sides.

    Let’s toss out one more example, on a tangent: suppose two people (a man and a woman) get drunk and have sex. Both were legally intoxicated to the point where neither was competent to consent to sexual activity. But will the man be charged with rape? That, again, is entirely dependent on the discretion of the woman. He was just as drunk, his judgment was just as impaired, but the liability is entirely on him.

    By your argument, isn’t it simply a private matter between these two, and nobody’s business what happened between the two?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  56. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Here’s a case for you: ”

    No hypotheticals, none, are going to make this any of your business. This must just suck for you. But it will never be your decision to make.

    Ever.

    What “makes you uncomfortable” is completely and utterly irrelevant. It does not allow you to stick your beak into the private medical affairs of your fellow citizens, and make those decisions yourself.

    Even the citizens with whom you disagree.

    Your role is to butt out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  57. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    , but in the end, it’s destruction of life.

    If it’s “destruction of life” then why, again, make any exception for rape and incest? If life — or the potential for life — has value and is to be protected, then that should apply whether the life is the product of a rape or of consensual sex, since, after all, the life itself has no responsibility for how it was conceived.

    It’s completely nonsensical to say it comes down to the protection of life, and then come up with multiple exceptions for why that life doesn’t deserve to be protected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  58. Rafer Janders says:

    And, as others have already noted, you don’t seem to care at all about the destruction of life in multiple other circumstances. You were fine with the destruction of Trayvon Martin’s life, you’re fine with the destruction of a million Iraqi lives, you’re fine with the destruction of millions of Americans’ lives due to inadequate health care, housing, joblessness, etc. This tender concern for life only seems to apply to one very particular set of lives, and then it stops being such a pressing issue – and that’s why no one believes you when you say it’s about “destruction of life.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    That makes me uncomfortable.

    No one cares.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  60. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    You were the one who said that “it’s an appropriate option” to have an exception for abortion in cases of rape or incest. Given your position that your qualms about abortion — a medical procedure you yourself will never face — is about “destruction of life”, then I’m still very very unclear why this rape/incest exception is “an appropriate option.”

    Why is life that resulted from rape and incest less inherently valuable than life that resulted from consensual sex? Why do you not think it worth protecting? Why are you OK with this life being destroyed?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  61. Jenos Idanian says:

    Apparently there is no room here for discussion or compromise. The very same people who denounce the right wing as extremists are absolutists on this issue, and an openness to discuss middle ground is seen as weakness or dishonesty or disingenuousness.

    I’m very disappointed in myself that I actually thought it might be otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  62. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    No, seriously, just try and answer the question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  63. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san:

    If you have any luck, I want you to explain quantum mechanics to my cat.

    Put the cat in a box. It will soon understand.

    And not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  64. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Apparently there is no room here for discussion or compromise.”

    Not when you propose to make medical decisions that are not yours to make. Not when you insert your choice for someone else’s, even those of perfect strangers, when it will never, ever be your decision to make, no matter how many laws you pass, or temper tantrums you decide to throw.

    So, apparently, this teachable moment is not completely lost on you. Almost. But not completely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  65. stonetools says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I have some sympathy for the anti-abortion position. Indeed, we are talking about the destruction of human life, or even , after six months, a a human being. Its not just a “clump of cells” or a “mass of tissue.” Heck, in the end, we are ALL just “clumps of cells”.
    The problem here is that this human life is inside someone’s body. You just can’t get away from that. Now generally the the pro lifers want to minimize that. They talk about a “baby” and imply it’s completely separate from the pregnant woman. But it’s not. It’s PART of that woman.
    Now as a man, I have total control over medical decisions affecting my body. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I suspect you feel that way too.
    Anti-abortion rights people essentially say, ” I should have a say in those decisions too, because I think that killing a human life living in your body is wrong. You should bring that life to term and take care of this life for 18 years after, no matter what. And, BTW, I will stop caring about you and that life two seconds after you’ve delivered.”
    Faced with that, I have to go with the pro choice position, despite my qualms that yes, you are ending a human life. Now if the pro-choicer supported a strong safety net for that human life and the mother, I would be more sympathetic to the pro life side.(Indeed, some Catholics are pro safety net). But pro lifers are are often anti safety net types who bang on about “welfare queens” pumping out babies irresponsibly. Doesn’t help.
    So that’s my “sympathetic” pro-choice position.Also too, I strongly support helping the woman who wants to take her pregnancy to term and support pre-natal care, Head Start, etc. programs for helping that human life after birth. What’s your position on that, Jenos?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  66. anjin-san says:

    Apparently there is no room here for discussion

    Oh, there is room. It’s just that no one here regards you a serious person with whom one might have a serious discussion.

    You want to know what the problem is? Go take a look in the mirror.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  67. Ben Wolf says:

    @stonetools: I broadly agree. Is abortion destruction of innocent life? It may very well be; despite what advocates tell us there is no clear and natural distinction between tissue and an individual. We still have no useful or testable theory of consciousness, without which this issue is entirely a matter of personal opinion. However we do have quite a bit of evidence that a woman is an individual, and individuals must be inviolate in their own person. No one has the right or authority to violate another, which I think most in our society would agree with.

    So this leaves us with a contradiction: the definite rights of a mother clash with the potential rights of the unborn. There is no easy or simple answer. I simply choose to place priority on the rights of the person I can be pretty sure has thoughts, feelings, and some measure of free will. That is the most ethical position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  68. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    @Ben Wolf: “We still have no useful or testable theory of consciousness,…”

    It gets better. We are vastly outnumbered by the bacteria we carry. Their presence is required, and they precede us by most of the history of evolution. So the Royal We becomes even harder to pin down the more we stumble across.

    http://blog.ted.com/2009/04/08/discovering_bac/

    IMHO, such gross untidiness makes the definite rights of all citizens trump the potential rights of anything.

    At some point the SCOTUS will be compelled to answer, as it did with no patents on genes, how much of me is Me? How much of what I am can be monetized, and how much is shared among humans, and how much is shared by mammals, and how much is shared by all life?

    One predicts new actuarial tables as one result…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  69. mantis says:

    @anjin-san:

    If you have any luck, I want you to explain quantum mechanics to my cat.

    Is your cat alive or dead? Or both?

    Edit: I see I’m not the first to make these jokes. Guess I should read the whole thread before posting…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  70. rudderpedals says:

    He doesn’t even have a cat, for dog’s sake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  71. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: No, seriously, just try and answer the question.

    The question? There have been a hell of a lot of statements here, but very few questions. You put up one, and I did answer it.

    It seems that more people are interested in misdefining my arguments for me than bothering to make their own. I have to give Silverdale James credit; he’s at least sincere and clear in his statements.

    I don’t believe that there is a single “good” answer, and certainly not one that will please a significant majority of the people. Which is why I would like Roe v. Wade overturned.

    BTW, Nancy Pelosi has declared that late-term abortions are “sacred ground” and seems to argue that there should be no laws in regards to abortion — which she says is perfectly consistent with her Catholic beliefs. I think we’ve found someone to represent the Silly Stupid faction of the pro-choice crowd.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  72. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The question? There have been a hell of a lot of statements here, but very few questions. You put up one, and I did answer it.

    No, you didn’t. Here it is again:

    You were the one who said that “it’s an appropriate option” to have an exception for abortion in cases of rape or incest. Given your position that your qualms about abortion — a medical procedure you yourself will never face — is about “destruction of life”, then I’m still very very unclear why this rape/incest exception is “an appropriate option.”

    Why is life that resulted from rape and incest less inherently valuable than life that resulted from consensual sex? Why do you not think it worth protecting? Why are you OK with this life being destroyed?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  73. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    It seems that more people are interested in misdefining my arguments for me than bothering to make their own.

    Wow. That must be horrible for you. I can’t imagine how that feels.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  74. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: That’s pretty much what I meant — you want to make my arguments for me, paint me into some absolutist position that you can gleefully make yourself out to be morally superior.

    In the rape/incest case, there is an argument to be made that to continue the pregnancy and compel the woman to bear her attacker’s child, to accept a physical reminder of their violation, is more than we should ask of someone. I have enough sympathy for that argument that I accept it as a competing interest to the fetus’ interest in not being destroyed. Because it ain’t a perfect world, and sometimes compromises have to be made.

    Now, anyone else wanna put forth actual arguments? Or even make a little mockery of Nancy Pelosi’s extremism?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  75. JohnMcC says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Is it possible that you think that the division of pregnancy into trimesters was unknown until the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v Wade?

    I have very intelligent (PhDs!) familly members who are deeply anti-abortion, tea-party sympathizers. I have a lot of respect for the American voice to which they join.

    But they are not stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  76. Scott O says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I’m pretty comfortable with the current regulations on abortion. No restrictions on early (pre viability) procedures, exceptions for the health of the mother after that.

    Here’s a question for you. Suppose someone you never met needs a kidney transplant. Without one they will die. The government know that yours is a match, the only one in the country in fact. Should they be allowed to force you to donate?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  77. anjin-san says:

    is more than we should ask of someone

    Ah, so we should murder a helpless innocent for the convenience of the mother? Preventing the destruction of life is paramount, except when it will make someone feel bad…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  78. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Scott O: That’s a truly stupid analogy. Let me see if I can make it work, though:

    Suppose the government set up a program where you could sign up for $1,000 a month. Anyone could sign up after a health screening. But once a month, a random number of people on the list are called up and told that they have to give up a kidney. If I signed up for that and cashed the check, and then got the call, would I protest about having to give up a kidney? I knew the risks going in. No one forced me to take the checks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  79. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Interesting discussion style you have there. You alternate between denouncing the other side as absolutist extremists and pushing those who don’t fit that stereotype into it. Why, it’s almost like you’re not interested or even capable of honest discussions.

    So, let’s put you on the spot. What kind of restrictions on abortion do you consider reasonable and acceptable? Or are you with Nancy Pelosi, who considers late-term abortion “sacred ground” and oppose any kinds of limits?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  80. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian

    denouncing the other side

    Actually, I did not “denounce” anyone but you. And you don’t really have a side, except perhaps as a representative of the “Stupidity, and Willful Ignorance” faction James mentioned.

    honest discussions.

    See above @anjin-san:

    That’s all. You may resume your your whining.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  81. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Jenos. I don’t know what to say. That was a well thought out post. I deliberately haven’t read any farther than your first post before replying because, as a frequent detracto,r I felt I owed you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  82. mike shupp says:

    @Jack:

    He says quite a lot when he pulls down his zipper.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0