One of the pleasures of living in a world where anti-intellectualism rules a major political party is that it’s fairly easy to spot the political leanings of the shockingly ignorant.
These are the people who consistently vote against their best interest, and are completely immune to the cognitive dissonance that rational people encounter when they attempt to hold diametrically opposed opinions in the same brain. They want to repeal Obamacare because socialized medicine is bad, while protecting Medicare because socialized medicine is good. They want the incredibly rich to get ever larger tax breaks, even though the very rich pay proportionately less than they – the working and middle class – do. They actually believe the obvious bullshit of the ultra-rich Romneys and Koch brothers of the world, who promise they would be creating oodles of jobs (Really!) if not for the unduly burdensome 13% or less that they now pay in taxes. They are the same people who are completely in favor of the death penalty, but anti-abortion no matter what the reason.
They support defunding government grants for poor students, since only snobs want their kids to be educated. The budget proposal put forth by Paul Ryan, the new star of Mitt Romney’s presidential ticket, would not only reduce the size of Pell grants and even eliminate access to them for tens of thousands of students, but would have cut the Head Start program to ribbons, too. Education? Our kids don’t need no stinkin’ education! We can compete with the educated workforce of countries like Sweden, Japan and Germany without all that schooling. It doesn’t take education to know stuff.
Just ask U.S. Senate candidate, and current U.S. Congressman, Todd Akin (R-Mo). He knows stuff. Akin is the guy who has been all over the news in the last couple of days because of his cocksure knowledge that “legitimate rape” doesn’t result in pregnancy. He knows this because “doctors” told him. In his interview with Charles Jaco on a St. Louis television broadcast, Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole [conception] thing down.” (If you want the full context, watch the full interview. The abortion comments are in the second video, and start at 1:54.)
There are about 32,000 women in America who are now relieved to know that the rape by which they were impregnated last year wasn’t “legitimate” rape. They can now conclude that despite the non-consensual nature of that sexual congress, they actually enjoyed it. And that’s good news for this year’s approximately 32,000 impregnated victims of non-consensual sex, too. Thank you, Congressman Akin, for your words of comfort. All those women can stop going to therapy now that they realize that they weren’t really traumatized at all. That’ll save a bundle on their health care costs, seeing as how your party would prefer not to insure these women’s health, either.
To be fair, Akin did say that he misspoke. He meant to say “forcible” rape, not “legitimate” rape. Because non-consensual sex with a drunk college student isn’t really rape, whether or not she’s cognizant of what’s happening. And it’s totally not rape if the parties are married, even if they happen to be going through a divorce. It’s not rape if one partner is under the age of consent, because children who have sex know what they are getting into and are making an intelligent, informed decisions about it. Especially children who have had abstinence-only sex education.
Life starts at conception, according to Akin. (It’s right there on his website, so it must be true.) Or maybe it starts two weeks before conception, like Arizona recently legislated, which means that women are in a perpetual state of “pregnancy” because conception could happen two weeks in the future at any time. Akin must be right, because he knows this stuff. He sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and pregnancy is sciencey, right?
Oops. No. I’m wrong. It’s God stuff, not science stuff. Totally my bad. Sorry.
Where better to look than to God for guidance on, well, everything? Now, God doesn’t speak out loud, or even very clearly, but fortunately he wrote his completely unclear directions down for us. Reading the Bible for instruction on life is tantamount to reading the instructions from Ikea, except that once you’re done with the Ikea instructions you have a piece of furniture that either wobbles, or doesn’t. Reading the Bible is tougher, so fortunately we have crowds of really, really smart preachers to tell us exactly what God actually meant when he dictated those mystifying instructions. Now, a disturbing number of those really, really smart preachers, especially the fundamentalist ones, haven’t been to college, much less seminary, but they can read Elizabethan English and understand it just fine because they’re touched by God. Yes, we’re back to the refrain of “We don’t need no education.” Thank you, Pink Floyd.
The Bible is crystal clear about when life begins, if by “crystal” you mean “obsidian.” If you don’t believe me, check out the Open Bible site, which has all the references its author deems relevant gathered carefully in one place. You can even vote for which verses make things clearest for you. Of the 40 or so verses excerpted from various English translations of the Bible (we know God meant the Bible to be in English), I found two that were absolutely on point and helpful. Oddly, they were the same verse, just in slightly different translation: Exodus 21:22-24, which says that if a bunch of men get together and hit a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage, then they either get fined as the husband sees fit, or they get punished to the same extent that the woman was injured. Go ahead and click the link on that verse. Read it in multiple English translations. If you know other languages, read the translation in other languages, too. Now you tell me which one is the best translation, given your expertise in ancient Hebrew.
Now, just for funsies, look at the rest of Chapter 21 of Exodus. It’s all relevant and pertinent to life today, isn’t it? So it makes perfect sense to use it as our go-by.
The homepage of Akin’s campaign website opens with a religious statement that puts the cart before the horse:
First, I want to give thanks to God our Creator who has blessed this campaign, heard your prayers, and answered them with victory. Through the months we have seen frequent instances of His blessing and are reminded that with Him all things are possible!
Evidently he credits prayer and divine intervention with his success in the Republican primary rather than the hard work of his supporters. I suppose that makes sense, seeing as how his list of endorsers lean heavily toward leaders of conservative Christian religious institutions. (Surely there’s no impermissible politicking going on in the churches those endorsers represent. Surely. Because that would jeopardize the tax-exempt status of those churches.)
This situation with Rep. Akin demonstrates exactly why I have a huge problem with politicians using an inconsistently translated collection of Bronze Age “wisdom” to guide modern government policy. This situation, among others, is why I advocate, agitate, and get politically active – not to mention write passionate blog posts – when elected officials decide it’s okay to blur the lines between church and state. It’s also why I get cheesed off when people want to base their lives on a book of superstitious tales and ancient customs we no longer observe.
When we allow our leaders to cherry-pick verses of this collection of ancient manuscripts, we set ourselves up to go back to that time. Me, I’d rather live in a world of universal health care than a world of leper colonies and plagues. And if that makes me a socialist, then I am a proud socialist.
Furthermore, when a page of platitudes masquerades as “clearly the Bible says life starts at conception,” then I think it’s way beyond time our elementary schools taught critical thinking and logic to children – because if their parents buy the crap on that page as “proof” of anything, they won’t teach their kids to think at home or anywhere else.
Apparently what makes a human different from other living creatures is that we have a soul. How religious people can tell whether we have a soul, and how they know animals do not, remains an insurmountable mystery. Science cannot say when the soul comes into existence, since there is no evidence that such a thing as a “soul” even exists. But ignoramuses like Todd Akin want to legislate matters pertaining to women’s health based on their Bronze Age “wisdom” without any proof whatsoever. If we permit this to happen, we will get the same draconian laws as places like the Dominican Republic, where pregnant teenagers are denied chemotherapy because the life-saving treatment might harm a 13-week old fetus. Yeah, that happened.
The problem is ignorance, lack of education, and reliance on “facts” gleaned from questionable translations of Bronze Age texts.
The problem is that people with no more background in science that this Akin clown sit on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Presumably he would know something about science if he’s sitting on a major legislative committee devoted to it. Of course, his Bible-based philosophies are contravened by science, so he cannot possibly wrap his head around them. Like that other ignorant politician who attempted to speak about a subject he knew nothing about, Akin apparently believes that women are a series of tubes, tubes that can easily be rerouted just by the nature of forced intercourse, to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
What complete jackassery.