Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wingnut to Moonbat: WTF?

Blog Rule #1: Never complain about bloggers who bash you, as long as they link you.

Blog Rule #2: Never complain, but never hesitate to bash 'em right back.

Here in its entirety, except for a little bit of free-speech-chilling censorship, is a post by the (appropriately named) Jabbering Stooge:

Robert Stacy McCain, lovingly linked by Stalkin' Malkin, asks this of Obama's comments that pregnancy shouldn't be used as punishment of uppity sluts who dare think themselves worthy of being more than ninth-class citizens:

Huh? Who thinks of babies as "punishment"?

You and all the other anti-choice, misogynist nutters who keep carping about "consequences" for women "not keeping their legs shut."
This has been Snappy Comebacks to Stupid Wingnut Questions.
Sidebar: You wouldn't believe how many times I saw some variation of the utterly inane “Well, if you didn't want to become pregnant you'd keep your slutty [vulgarity] shut, you [string of degrading vulgarities]!" during my time in various web forums. Quite frankly, it made me ashamed to have a Y chromosome.

Leaving aside his limited vocabulary, I am struck by the assumptions implicit in Stooge's rant:
  • Pro-lifers are "anti-choice" -- Given the slim likelihood that Roe v. Wade will be overturned in my lifetime, and the even slimmer likelihood of a nationwide ban on abortion, I consider the contemporary debate less about "choice" per se, and more a matter of persuading people to choose life. Given my extensive familiarity with the pro-life community, I think my own perspective is widely shared among pro-lifers. Yes, there is a lot of legal and legislative activism, but the overwhelming majority of the activism is about education and advocacy.
  • Pro-lifers are "misogynists" -- The Stooge expresses this in several ways, including putting slurs into the mouths of his "anti-choice" strawmen. This accusation is a non sequitur, unless you buy into Stooge's implicit assumption that women enjoy getting abortions. But even women who are politically pro-choice will tell you that having an abortion is a dreadful experience that they would rather avoid. Anybody who's ever been in an abortion clinic lobby knows that it's not a happy place -- certainly not as happy as the maternity wing of a hospital. I would further point out that most pro-life activists I know are women. Would the Stooge say these are "self-hating" women? Automisogynists?
  • All consequences are punishment -- If action A leads to consequence B, is B automatically a "punishment" for A? The original object of my criticism was the harshly negative attitude toward babies suggested by Obama's word "punishment." Sex leads to pregnancy and pregnancy leads to childbirth; that much is basic biology. But why introduce the concept of "punishment" to this unremarkable chain of causality? This was the cause of my puzzled "huh"?
More argument (not ranting) to come, after I tuck our "punishments" into bed . . .

OK, now that the "punishments" have gone nighty-night, let me return to the subject of Obama and his defender, the Stooge.

I was listening to a talk radio program Tuesday afternoon and heard a caller who pointed out that Obama wasn't necessarily talking about abortion when he made the remark in question. He was talking about sex education and whether schools should be instruct young people in the use of contraceptives, condoms, etc.:
"Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old," he said. "I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information."
Along with many other bloggers, I got the issue of abortion got mixed up in there because the original item in the Politico had the word "abortion" in the headline and the article began by describing an exchange between Obama and a pro-life Pennsylvania woman. But a careful reading of the Politico item makes clear that the "punishment" quote came before the subject of abortion was raised.

Nevertheless, Obama did explicitly describe babies as "punishment." Reading the quote again, and understanding the context, this phrase is still disturbing. Notice:
  • A baby and a sexually transmitted disease are both "punishment." Is a baby like herpes? Is a baby like syphilis? Obama made this analogy as if nothing was remarkable or offensive about it -- and no one in his Pennsylvania audience seemed to notice.
  • To have sex is to "make a mistake." Oops! An accident! "Well, Dad, you see, I was sitting there talking to Suzy, and she asked for a piece of chewing gum. I meant to reach into my pocket and hand her a piece of sugar-free Trident, but instead I made a mistake and unzipped my pants and . . ." As a rule, sexual intercourse takes plenty of cooperative effort. The participants might later regret their actions, but the word "mistake" isn't really right.
  • "Information" is the solution. This is my pet peeve with sex-ed advocates, who seem to assume that teenagers get pregnant or contract STDs because teenagers are ignorant of what used to be called The Facts of Life or "the birds and bees." Not only is that absurd -- given that "information" is now more widely available than ever -- but it is insulting to teenagers. Does Obama think his kids are too stupid to figure out how to use a condom? Has he ever Googled the topic? How about reading the instructions printed on the condom package -- does Obama think his daughters will be too stupid to do that when they're 16?
  • "Safe sex" is 100% effective. This is the Big Lie of Sex Ed, and one that Obama apparently has never bothered to question. Try this mental exercise: You meet someone and decide to have sex with them. Then the person tells you that he or she is infected with herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea and AIDS. However, he or she offers to use a condom. Are you still going to have sex? No, because of your common-sense hunch that condoms are not 100% effective in disease prevention. It is only when there is no reason to suspect a prospective partner of being infected with any disease that most people are willing to trust a condom to protect their health. If they know someone is infected, it's a different story.
What is true of condoms is equally true of contraceptives. Suppose I told you that a given method of contraception was 99% effective. Sounds pretty safe, right? So you use it, and there is a 1-in-100 chance you'll get pregnant anyway. Use the same method again, and your cumulative chances are 1-in-50. Use the same method 20 times, and you're down to a 1-in-5 chance.

This is what is known as The Law of Large Numbers. In a nation of 300 million people, there are tens of millions of sexually active people of reproductive age. Many millions of those will use contraception to avoid pregnancy, and a certain percentage of those will become pregnant anyway.

These kinds of "mistakes," to use Obama's phrase, do a lot to help keep the abortion clinics in business. The woman in such a situation will often say: "Pregnant? How can I be pregnant? We used a contraceptive!" The guy will often cast the contraceptive burden on the woman: "Pregnant? But I thought you said you were safe?"

Pregnancy is the normal, natural and ordinary consequence of sexual intercourse. It should never surprise anyone when sex leads to pregnancy.

Contraception is an attempt to separate the cause (sex) from the consequence (pregnancy). The prevalence of contraception in our society, especially since the invention of the birth-control pill, has led many people to internalize a mental or emotional separation between cause and consequence.

When the psychological separation is proven false -- when the natural consequence overcomes the artificial barrier -- a sort of cognitive dissonance occurs, and the unexpectedly pregnant woman (or her partner) asks: "How could this happen?"

The answer is also a question: "How could you expect that it wouldn't happen?"

This is one reason why the really hard-core pro-lifers are critical of artificial contraceptives. They understand that, to some degree, contraceptives cause abortion.

I'm not advocating laws against contraceptives. But the contraceptive industry is not merely content with legal sales; they want the public schools to promote their products to children at taxpayer expense. (Big Condom and Big Pill have lobbyists, too, you know.) And the promotion of condoms and contraceptives is based on a false premise, namely that their products provide 100% prevention.

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