On Bullshit: Todd Akin Did Not “Misspeak”

Representative Todd Akin, a six-term member of Congress and the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, said on Sunday: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare [pregnancies from rape]. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

These comments produced a firestorm of backlash, prompting Rep. Akin to release a statement saying, “I misspoke in this interview.” Reading between the lines, it seems important to me not only to repudiate Rep. Akin reprehensible comments, but also to repudiate the Orwellian Doublespeak at the heart of Rep. Adkin backtracking strategy.

Doublespeak is “language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.” Rep. Akin is using the word “misspeak” as if he accidentally said the wrong word or phrase, but it seems to me that  did not “misspeak.” My guess is that Akin was repeating a myth that he had begun to believe as true because he’d heard it so often in the misogynist bubbles in which he traffics.

Our current political discourse is filled with logical fallacies and Orwellian manipulations of language. The only defense I know is to call out these spin doctors as often as possible. Thus, as far as I can see, Rep. Akin said precisely what he meant to say, but in a context that called bullshit on his misogyny. 

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook (facebook.com/carlgregg) and Twitter (@carlgregg).

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