Jeb Bush: Let’s Heap Shame on Single Mothers

In case you’re laboring under the misconception that Jeb Bush is, to quote his father, a kinder, gentler kind of conservative, the Huffington Post did some digging and found an appalling passage from his book Profiles in Character wanting to heap shame on single mothers.

In a chapter called “The Restoration of Shame,” the likely 2016 presidential candidate made the case that restoring the art of public humiliation could help prevent pregnancies “out of wedlock.”

One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.

Bush points to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter, in which the main character is forced to wear a large red “A” for “adulterer” on her clothes to punish her for having an extramarital affair that produced a child, as an early model for his worldview. “Infamous shotgun weddings and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter are reminders that public condemnation of irresponsible sexual behavior has strong historical roots,” Bush wrote.

As governor of Florida in 2001, Bush had the opportunity to test his theory on public shaming. He declined to veto a very controversial bill that required single mothers who did not know the identity of the father to publish their sexual histories in a newspaper before they could legally put their babies up for adoption.

WTF? They actually passed a law in Florida to do that? Seriously, do they really think that’s what young single mothers need is to have more shame aimed at them? Fuck these people. This just fills me with rage.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
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  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    “publish their sexual histories in a newspaper”

    The women should just claim they are virgins and this God guy is going around impregnating virgins. He does have a histroy of that type of behavior.

  • zenlike

    How the fuck is that law constitutional? How the fuck does that not break international threaties on human rights?

    Anyone knows if this law ever came to effect? And if it is still a thing?

  • D. C. Sessions

    How do you punish the sluts if they can just pawn off their by-products on someone else without paying their debt to society?

  • John Pieret

    zenlike:

    The law did go into effect. Bush didn’t sign it, just failed to veto it. Abortions went up significantly. The state courts declared it was unconstitutional and Bush then signed a law that repealed it.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/10/shaming-unwed-moms-was-the-law-in-jeb-bush-s-florida.html

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Yes, that law was indeed enacted, though eventually demolished by the courts iirc. The goal was to enable fathers who had cum and gone to claim their brats should they so desire – very few if any did.

    Note that Jeb! published his book right around the time he converted to Catholicism: as sincere a transformation as any Bush could possibly achieve.

  • aziraphale

    “..public condemnation of irresponsible sexual behavior has strong historical roots,”

    True. So does slavery.

  • Lesbian Catnip

    How do you punish the sluts if they can just pawn off their by-products on someone else without paying their debt to society?

    What debt? Why do they need punishing?

    If you are suggesting that carrying a child to term without personally assuming parenthood is a “debt,” is it not paid by the couples who want/need to adopt a child in their place?

    And why isn’t the man, who is 50% responsible for the child carried by said hypothetical slut, being punished for eschewing this alleged debt?

    I mean, we could legalize and cover abortions with public healthcare, which would avoid this entire scenario entirely. But that would be logical.

  • Die Anyway

    It was presented as a father’s rights initiative. Letting possible fathers know what was happening to their child before it was too late. You can make your own decision as to whether this was the TruMotivation or not.

  • Synfandel

    Each and every legislator who voted for that bill should be publicly shamed by having his name published in the Miami Herald. And perhaps have to wear a scarlet “A” for “Asshole”.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    @ Synfandel (#9): “Each and every legislator who voted for that bill should be publicly shamed by having his name published in the Miami Herald.”

    Yes. And they should be forced to publish their sexual history. Just to be sure they did not create one of these illegitimate kids clogging the welfare rolls!!

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    The follow-up bill, where potential fathers had to publish their own sexual histories just in case they’d sired any offspring they weren’t aware of, also passed but was quickly repealed by the Boys Will Be Boys Act.

  • eric

    That settles it. I am absolutely not voting for Jeb Bush’s ghost writer.

  • raven

    One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame.

    1. Can we start with Bristol Palin? I’d like to see what Sarah Palin would do to Jeb Bush.

    2. Jeb has said and done a lot of dumb and/or horrible things. One was the Terry Shiavo case. He beat up on her husband way past anything reasonable and fought to keep an animated corpse alive.

    3. Jeb Bush is no brighter and no better than his idiot brother George!!!

    Do we really need to wreck the country again? Obama is still fixing the Bush/Cheney Catastrophe.

    4. I can’t imagine that the GOP would nominate another George Bush clonoid or the USA would elect one. It’s just too horrible a thought. None of which doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

  • raven

    We’ve known for a long time how to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate. This is an important metric because it is correlated and causal with life long poverty.

    1. Comprehensive sex ed including values clarification. Widespread knowledge and availability of birth control for free if necessary.

    2. Countries and states that do this have much lower rates than the US Red states. In the Netherlands, it is 1/6 the US rate.

    3. If Jeb Bush had a brain, rather than making single mothers wear a Scarlet A, he would be advocating that. The Christofascists with their failed abstinence only sex ed and attacks on birth control have done a lot to make the problem worse, not better.

    Hmm, sex ed. available birth control, keeping the christofascists away from kids and the government, and Jeb Bush away from any position that requires thought. That would help a lot.

  • scienceavenger

    One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock …

    First of all, until you get fully behind sex ed and full access to birth control (if I had my way they’d be in vending machines everywhere), you’ve got no business bitching about this. Second, its the first category (young) you should be worried abouit, not the second (out-of-wedlock). By obsessing over marriage, you gloss over the legitimate issue of people having children too young, before they are emotionally and financially equipped to do so, to fret over the Murphy Browns of the world who are doing just fine thank you.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    We’ve known for a long time how to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate…

    Oh please — do you really think people like Jeb Bush give a shit about reducing teen pregnancy? One glance at their policy ideas proves that bullying, shaming and punishing women is their ONLY objective. They’re no better than middle-school boys taking out their hormone-induced frustrations on the girls they suddenly find themselves wanting, hating, and fearing all at once.

  • caseloweraz

    The Daily Beast: Bush said he decided not to veto it because Campbell told him the newspaper-reporting language would get fixed. That didn’t happen. What did happen? More abortions. The Orlando Sentinel reported there were almost 2,000 more abortions in the first six months of 2002—after the legislation went into effect—than in the first six months of 2001.

    They put roadblocks in the way of adoption, then are surprised that the abortion rate spikes up.

    Also, a governor approving a measure he knows is bad because someone assures him it will be fixed later does not fit my definition of good governance.

  • iknklast

    Can we start with Bristol Palin? I’d like to see what Sarah Palin would do to Jeb Bush.

    But…Bristol Palin is a good Christian girl who knew who the father of her child was, and kept the baby. She didn’t do the evil thing of trying to light out of her responsibilities. Besides, she comes from a prominent Republican family, so it would be horrible to mention that she is pregnant without marriage, because that would be cruel. Or something…I can’t follow all the twists and turns.

    Besides, you missed the obvious thing. Bristol Palin is white.

    These people disgust me (Bush and friends, not the people commenting here…)

  • colnago80

    Re raven @ #13

    Jeb has said and done a lot of dumb and/or horrible things. One was the Terry Shiavo case. He beat up on her husband way past anything reasonable and fought to keep an animated corpse alive.

    The autopsy on Schiavo demonstrated conclusively that she was brain dead. What are the chances that the lamestream media will ask Bush if he now knows he was wrong about Schiavo?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    What are the chances the lamestream media will mention the GOP’s Shiavo meltdown at all? Or their Elian meltdown, or their Monica meltdown, or…

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Bush didn’t sign it, just failed to veto it.

    Like most bullies, and most bully-wannabees, Jeb is also a coward. He wants to pick on young women because he can’t stand up to anyone more powerful.

  • pocketnerd

    Thus Spake Zaraiknklast, #18:

    But…Bristol Palin is a good Christian girl who knew who the father of her child was, and kept the baby. She didn’t do the evil thing of trying to light out of her responsibilities. Besides, she comes from a prominent Republican family, so it would be horrible to mention that she is pregnant without marriage, because that would be cruel. Or something…I can’t follow all the twists and turns.

    Besides, you missed the obvious thing. Bristol Palin is white.

    White and affluent, which means she’s entitled to control of her reproductive life that the lesser people of the world must not be permitted. If she had seen a special lady doctor in another state to take care of a little situation, why, that’s nobody’s business but her own, because Free Market. Alterately, she could have done an end-run around the whole situation by seeing the special lady doctor for a special prescription for her “painful, irregular menstrual cycles.” It’s simple when you have the right connections and say the right words and, of course, have the right money.

    Note that even her decision to keep the child, despite being a single parent with no visible means of supporting herself, was hailed as a glorious stand for the sanctity of human life. Remove “white” or “affluent” and she’d be just another one of Those People rutting and spawning like the animals they are, and demanding government handouts for it.

  • raven

    She didn’t do the evil thing of trying to light out of her responsibilities. Besides, she comes from a prominent Republican family,…

    Not to mention a rich and famous one.

    Bristol, amazingly enough, did something did something smart. She leveraged her instant fame and cute baby into several high paying jobs and made close to a million USD.

    There is a huge difference between growing up in a rich and famous family and growing up in abject poverty. With the GOP War on Poor People, that is happening more and more often.

  • Trebuchet

    I had to read The Scarlet Letter in high school. Bush has got the meaning of it exactly backward.

  • raven

    I’m not going to recommend being a single mother. It’s hard enough these days for two people to raise a few kids.

    But we do owe them something.

    1. 40% of US children are born to unmarried mothers.

    2. The US birth rate is slightly below replacement right now. It started down right at Bush’s Great Recession as economics made it harder and people decided not to bring children into a GOP controlled world.

    3. Do the math. Without that 40% unmarried mother contribution, the US population would be shrinking fast in real time. We wouldn’t be talking about illegal immigration, we would be in Mexico and Canada filling up trains with volunteers.

    You can look at people however they end up being born as either a resource or….a problem. It’s obvious what Jeb Bush would think if he ever actually….thought.

  • freemage

    Trebuchet: Thank you! I was going to be slightly miffed if I was the only one to point that out. The Scarlet Letter is a condemnation of shame, and in particular of the inherent unfairness of the shaming process that focuses entirely on the woman. Hawthorne was obviously repelled by such things, and cast everyone other than Hesther as a bunch of busybodies and hypocrites.

  • Synfandel

    raven, good luck finding volunteers in Canada.

  • Numenaster

    Raven said: “Bristol, amazingly enough, did something did something smart. She leveraged her instant fame and cute baby into several high paying jobs and made close to a million USD.”

    I wonder how much of that was due to Bristol’s cleverness and how much was due to donors looking for ways to suck up to Sarah. Providing support and opportunities to the family members of an influential person has a long and infamous history.

  • Randomfactor

    Bush has got the meaning of it exactly backward.

    Doing the backward of whatever Republicans say is generally a good practice.

  • Dago Red

    Jeb Bush (and supporters) is just a talking billboard for why religious-based ethics fail in modern society. Societal norms simply change too fast today for religious-based ethical systems to adapt, let alone be relevant. Jeb Bush (and others like him) are simply becoming moral dinosaurs, destined to become ethically extinct (and also politically extinct as long as they make ethics a political talking point). Conservatism will likely survive, religion will definitely survive, but the ossified “scripture” based morality preached by many religious conservatives right now simply can’t compete in the court of modern (secular) public opinion anymore.

    Already fought are issues over slavery, women’s suffrage, miscegenation, abortion, access to contraception, same-sex union/marriage, and many non-traditional family structures (like single-parent families, divorced families, second/third/fourth marriages) — and in every case, when the wheat separates from the chaff, its the conservative/religious ethics that becomes the chaff every time. On the horizon are trans-gender acceptance (along with other trans-humanist developments, no doubt), polyamory, human-cloning, genetically engineered children, and perhaps even the first ethical concerns to be raised over artificial intelligence. How will religious ethics inform us about such things? Let me guess — shun/ban/shame and ignore (i.e. the de facto eleventh commandment, “thou shalt not accept ethical change”).

    I say, let Jeb tell us more about his ethical concerns. It’s time for these ethical dinosaurs to pass into history and I, for one, welcome the ethical debate to politics, even if for no other reason than just to prove this very point. Americans are clearly becoming more secular in their values, not less, regardless of how “religious” or “traditional” we claim to be in opinion polls….and the tipping point is near when politicians like Jeb who spout this kind of shit (outside of the South, that is), will consistently become unemployed when running for national office.

  • Anna Elizabeth

    Remember always my friends, that to the GOP and the Xtians, human life is sacred – in the womb.

    Once born, the precious formerly-unborn are either welfare cheats or collateral damage in the latest drone strike/USAF bombing raid.