Friday, October 26

Words Don't Mean Things. And Allow Me To Explain.

Jennifer Rubin, "Richard Mourdock and media misrepresenttation." October 24

Mona Charen, "Rape, God, and Liberals". October 26

I MADE the mistake of turning on the local news yesterday morning, not because I meant to hear what they had to say, or sound out phonetically, about Richard Mourdock, but just because I was still on FOX from watching Game One of the Series the night before when I hit the power button.  

Lemme just say this about the local FOX affiliate news: a decade or more ago the always illuminating combination of greed and desperation gave someone in upper management the age-old delusion brilliant idea that a Young, Hip morning newscast would draw in the delusional desired Young, Hip audience. This being America, they did not go out and find Young, Hip talent, or Hip, Young writers; they swiped the Morning Zoo format, sanitized it for television, staffed the studio with something like a dozen careerist graduates of the Communications departments of various Middle Western land grant colleges, and directed them to behave as if a) every day was Casual Friday; and b) they were slightly buzzed.

The results were even more gruesome than that sounds. If possible. The thing had all the wit and charm of a backyard barbecue three houses over in some godawful treeless subdivision, at just the point where everyone's had at least three beers and somebody decides to crank up the radio. It sorta broke up the same way, as I recall: you looked up and realized there were just six people left, then four, then they had new graphics, and the host and hostess were seated at a desk, slightly hung-over, trying to hide their sheepishness, and trying, with even less success, to behave like adults.

They've never recovered; the effect on their news division was much like the effect on Egypt when Nasser had all the intellectuals taken out and shot. I immediately hit the button on the remote than sends you to the previous channel, which turned out to be CBS, and before I could punch in some other number--this was all pre-coffee, fer chrissakes--got to hear their Top of the Hour pitch for the upcoming interview with a woman who was conceived when her mother was raped.

And who was bravely speaking out for brave Richard Mourdock.

In an audio interview.

Channel 8 used to be the gold standard of local news, back when "local news" meant a half-hour of people reading news, weather, and sports, not ninety minutes of Jack in the Box openings. It's fallen on hard times, and has made a rather clear effort to gain viewership by stovepiping Republican talking points. I don't know if this is cynical, manipulative, or both. I do know that these people willingly rode along with the dumbing-down of the news, beginning with the Happy Talk format of the 70s, and now, a generation later, if they want to convince the audience of some ideological point or other the result is a sea of virtual blank stares. Petards are for hoisting.

At any rate, the story was a Channel 8 exclusive, and, at any rate, it turns out that:

• The facts of the case rely exclusively on the woman's say-so. (I'm not suggesting we doubt her, but I am suggesting this was perhaps reason to do some reporting, try to interview the mother, that sorta thing.)

• She was adopted, under circumstances left unexplained, making her a) whiteness and b) health, proper number of limbs, and relative trainability important factors in today's market.

• She met her mother twenty years ago, which is when she got the story.

• She now spends her time as a "Pro-Life" speaker.

• The rape occurred in 1972.

• That's prior to Roe v. Wade. Abortions were illegal in Indiana.

• The fact that an abortion was not a legal option is dealt with by having the mother consider an illegal one.

• This point--that the mother and rape victim still had the option to terminate the pregnancy, only at extremely greater risk--seems to get lost immediately.

As is so often the case in the Faux Balance world, an instance which screamed for real balance didn't even get the Faux treatment.

IT'S hardly surprising that the attempts to walk Mourdock back have avoiding addressing his actual point; that's been the stock in trade of Right to Lifers for forty years. Mourdock wasn't asked about his metaphysical beliefs. He used them to answer the question. He said, essentially, that there should be no exceptions to a total ban on pregnancy termination except the life of the mother. He said, essentially, "Well, we've had two months to refine what Todd Akin said, so here goes: he was wrong about that 'no-pregnancy-from-rape' thing, and spot-on otherwise. Thank you very much."

And this, as has been pointed out many a time since, is the Republican position on reproductive rights. And it's theocratic malarky. And, despite all the comments that "at least Mourdock is standing on principle" it's bullshit. Point me to the Bible verse where God exempts the mother when her life is threatened. It's not principle. It's the lowest form of political convenience masquerading as principle. People who actually have principles about the issue ought to be the loudest complainers.

I found it instructive to consult two of the premier Beltway voices for Ladies Against Women. First up, Jennifer Rubin, Ben Domenech Chair of Applied Lunacy at WaPo Test Prep:
For a moment, let’s understand what Mourdock meant by that. Like some pro-life Americans, Mourdock believes that all life is sacred and, absent a risk to the life of the mother, it is murder to abort the unborn child. Man from the moment of conception, these people believe, is made in God’s image.

Thanks, Jenny. But, y'know, I fucking got that from what Mourdock said. The moderator didn't ask him for a plerophory on conception, he asked about a rape exemption to the anti-choice views the entire fucking lineup of Senatorial worthies--including the fucking Libertarian--espouses. In response Mourdock claimed God as his wingman. Not only is that much fucking clear, it's the only part of the answer that is. Calling a zygote "Life" does not change the equation. Contrary to the convenient Manicheism of Right to Life supporters, there are many people who believe that Life does begin at conception, but that a mother may have the right to terminate a pregnancy anyway.

One of those people being Richard Mourdock. He would require that the mothers life "be in danger" first.

Like Rubin, dour and dull life defender Mona Charen thought the real problem was Democrats (and their Puppet Media) having a contrary opinion, and expressing it.
The very fact that a couple of ill-chosen words by pro-life candidates have become lightning rods this election season betrays the overwhelming bias of the press on this issue. Most Americans consider themselves to be pro-life. The pro-life posture is accordingly the mainstream view. An August CNN survey found that 52 percent say abortion should be illegal in all (15 percent) or most (37 percent) circumstances. A May Gallup survey found that more women call themselves pro-life (46 percent) than pro-choice (44 percent). But the press allies with the Democrats to smear pro-life candidates as “extremists.”

Yes, because anything 15% of the population tells a pollster it believes in can't be extremist.

Look, if you're gonna lecture everyone on willful misrepresentation, maybe you should try to achieve something like accuracy. Like, instead of squinting in order to make that crowd you estimate look homogeneous, you could tell us how many Americans believe, point blank, that every rape victim should be forced to carry her little gift from God to term, then support it for eighteen years, and maybe leave herself open to lawsuits from her rapist over visitation and child rearing practices?
It’s obviously a ghastly thing for a woman to be raped and to find herself pregnant as a consequence.

But the liberal answer — abort the child or else be accused of approving of rape — is a slimy abuse of tragedy and a disgrace to civil discourse.

While portraying the "liberal" position as "abort the child" is the very essence of civility.

Fer cryin' out loud. Moudock's moral principles, or excuses, are irrelevant to the argument. We're talking about a Constitutionally-protected right; at minimum your side has to admit that is the case before there can be any discussion, civil or no. I'll just wait here. In the meantime, the past forty years has driven the extremist religious maniacs of your party above ground, and they have no concept of discourse on this issue. Nor of internal consistency. Those of you in the business of milking them for votes have tried to keep 'em quiet about it, or at least on message, but the message was always ill-considered, illogical, and emotional. When George W. Bush was riding high in 2004, this element decided it could show itself as anti-abortion in all cases, and anti-contraception into the bargain. If you wanna talk about principle, there's where the principle lies. And you know that forcing rape victims to carry fetuses to term, let alone banning rubbers, is a huge electoral loser. A coalition breaker, in fact. That's who has really responded to this summer's White Male rape defenders. (Sorry for the incivility.) That's what you think is unfair.

You want civility, Ms Charen, civility defined as a continued free ride for the religiously mazed on the issue, unfettered by the rules of logic. What you emphatically do not wish is discourse.


R. Porrofatto said...


It’s obviously a ghastly thing for a woman to be raped and to find herself pregnant as a consequence. What Mourdock was saying, if inartfully, was that the child so conceived is innocent, and doesn’t deserve to die because of the crime of his or her father.

Actually, Mona, what Mourdock was saying -- and I do wish the biased press you complain about would state this more clearly -- is that an impregnated rape victim should be forced by government and people like you to carry a rapist's embryo to the point where it becomes a child capable of innocence. Does the rapist have to be Willie Horton before this becomes an extreme position for you?

BTW, Mona, a child may be a gift from god. A zygote may be a consequence of three vodkas past drugstore closing time. Or, in the case in point, something horrendous. But it still ain't a child.

Kathy said...

What if the fetus has a terrible, severe defect like, say, it has no heart or no brain, and its other organs are malfunctioning? Is this an accurate reflection of God's Love made in God's Image?

Both Sides Do It said...

That "But?" was sublime

heydave said...

Fuck you, too civil. Fuck those assholes. Fuck you if you think I'm uncivil. Not you, the assholes around me in the bar as I read this... Yeah, fuck them. Are we clear?

hells littlest angel said...

Life doesn't begin at conception. Life doesn't begin at all. Sperm cells and egg cells are just as alive on their own as they are fused together. Arguing with "pro-lifers" is a colossal waste of time.

prairie curmudgeon said...

Being "created in the image of god" will, in the end, manifest the end of life on earth. Truly, the most dangerous and consequential idea to ever enter the mind of man. We abort ourselves from the planet.