Smart people saying smart things

Jean Ann Esselink: “Tiffany Bredeck — The Stork Who Delivered”

The group convened in front of the Wausau Family Planning Health Services (FPHS) Wednesday afternoon. It is an odd place to go to renounce abortion, since FPHS in Wausau not only doesn’t perform them, its workers are forbidden by the terms of their state grants to so much as make a call to help a woman find a clinic where she might exercise that legal option. But in the Lifers defense, it is 100 miles from Wausau to the nearest actual abortion provider. I would imagine it’s hard to persuade many of the elderly participants, prone to prostate trouble and bladder issues, to travel two hours in order to confront the genuine article, especially when there are so many local sexually active women they can shame and still be home for an early supper. So, even though it’s a little like marching to reinstate Glass-Steagall in front of a sperm bank, this group of Catholics from the 40 Days for Life campaign, has chosen to make their stand, twice a year, on the sidewalk in front of a place pregnant women of modest means come, not to end their pregnancies, but to get prenatal care, and healthy food through the WIC program, because they want healthy babies. I think this is known in Catholic theology as the transitive property of interchangeable vaginas.

Libby Anne: “Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Abortion Wars”

Another car pulls in, and then another. Some cars park closer to the protesters than others, and some of the cars have crosses hanging from their rear view mirrors. Ashley and I take turns walking women in, studiously ignoring the yells of the protesters. Sometimes women arrive alone, but more often they have someone with them: a significant other, a friend, a parent. Their reaction to the protesters varies.

Jeff Dunn: “Quitting Christians”

So why does Smokey, an adamant non-Christian, “get it” when it comes to love, but most every Christian I know doesn’t? Why is it that when I am struggling, like I am right now, I can’t get my brothers and sisters in Christ to show love without a court order, but those like Smokey and other employees and customers I work with will show love in their words and deeds? How is it that those in whom Love Himself lives bottle up love and refuse to give it while those who do not know Love are very free with their love? I really don’t get it. I am ready to quit Christians, or at least quit hoping Christians will do what Jesus commanded and love each other. Christians don’t get it. Agnostics and atheists do. Something is really screwy here.

Rob Tsinai: “Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away”

See, Gracie, those of us who believe in same-sex marriage also think if you’re lucky enough to have two parents who love you, then you have every right to say you need them both. In fact, I wish every child were lucky enough to grow up in a safe, stable home with loving parents. And Gracie, that’s why I support same-sex marriage.

Kristen Rosser: “‘But That’s What the Bible Says'”

And this is the sad thing. That we’d rather live with cognitive dissonance, believing that women are somehow equal but yet somehow lesser — or that they are to be restricted for no reason, but that God is still just — than to believe it’s possible we’re misreading our Bibles.

We’d rather restrict women and have the Bible be “clear” than admit that we just might be wrong.

Certainty is more important than female humanity.

"The Scalia who couldn't tell real-life from movies and tv shows."

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  • Lunch Meat

    That definitely sounds Catholic. It also makes very little sense as reasoning for why the “procreative purpose of traditional marriage” is “undermined” by same-sex marriage.

    “Even same-sex couples who neither have nor rear children set an important
    example for those that may. Married same-sex couples still support the
    norm that sexual relationships between men and women should take place
    within marriage. Their observance of vows of faithfulness reinforces the
    social norm that children should ideally enjoy the security, nurture,
    and love of their father and mother parents and not be subject to the turbulence
    of impermanent couplings that lead to motherless or fatherless single-parent

    Unless all you mean by “features of true marriage” is “man+woman” (in which case you’re begging the question), same-sex couples can live out all the same “features.”

  • Lunch Meat

    Was I the only person who noticed that a child in a poly family could ask the exact same question about “mom, dad, or uncle”?

  • The objections were raised and discussed here in the comments.

  • Lunch Meat

    Just realized saying “uncle” could be misinterpreted to mean that the third parent is not a true parent. Since I’m not familiar with what kids in poly families call their parents, I just said the first thing that came to mind to differentiate between three adults, which I shouldn’t have done. Unfortunately, I can’t edit.

  • I think what they mean by “model the optimal” is basically “We know you can’t or won’t have children, but at least you’re still going through the motions, whereas same-sex couples aren’t even doing that.”

    It’s condescending.

  • Yeah, and it sounds like the place where the discussion ends is basically “Who cares about that minority, it’s more important that we protect rape victims.” Which is maybe true, but I don’t see why that has to be accomplished with “unconsciousness always withdraws consent” and not “The consent of an unconscious person is no more presumed than the consent of a conscious one.” It seems like it would already be rape to have sex with a sleeping person who didn’t consent (And yes, I know that courts are notorious for finding excuses to convict rapists, but that’s the problem you should try to solve, rather than trying to create some kind of triangulation of technicalities to “trick” the court into doing the right thing), so the only thing this law actually adds is that it restricts the consensual activities of people who are into that sort of thing.

    Basically, I don’t know how to build up a sensible framework for consent where a court can tell a person that they are mistaken or deluded about whether or not they consented. (Either way. If a person says they didn’t consent, they didn’t. They may be mistaken about the facts of what activities happened, but not about their lack of consent)

  • Lunch Meat

    In that case, they should be just fined with a transwoman marrying a man.

  • Lunch Meat

    *fine. Stupid allergies making the screen blurry.

  • Ever have anal sex with a man prior to about 2003/4?
    Ever smoke pot/do other drugs?

    Ever go over the speed limit?
    Ever rip that stupid tag off a mattress?
    Ever jaywalked at like 3 AM?

    You’ve probably privately broken the law a hundred times or more in your life. What matters is that in most of these cases the ethics of doing so in a manner that doesn’t hurt anyone has already been worked out between you and yourself or you and the other person(s) involved.

    Like srsly do you think the RCMP in Canada is gonna camp outside your door while you and your partner do whatever up here? They’ve got other things to do.

    The legal standard is designed to create a more effective vehicle to punish harm to women who’ve been raped to which the accused would have been able to credibly offer the defence that she consented at first.

    The ethical standard is a different ball of wax.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    In Iran, the punishment for homosexuality includes death. However, sex reassignment surgery is totally legal, and the government will even front up to half the cost in cases of financial need.

    Reactionaries can have some bizarre and contradictory sexual ethics, is I guess what I’m saying.

  • Tapetum

    Well, yes – except that the same sorts of Catholics who say things like the above also tend to disbelieve in the existence of transpeople. As in, they view it as a straight up mental disorder, which should never be accommodated in any way, shape, or form.

    I conducted a very unscientific, but fascinating experiment with the commentariat of a very conservative Catholic blog. I brought up the existence of people with extreme Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). Some sufferers feel strongly that one or another of their limbs is not theirs, doesn’t belong there, should be removed, and they want it gone to the point of doing themselves damage in the effort to force an amputation. Now, obviously actual amputation is a last resort, never a first, but there was a trial some years back (In Scotland, if I remember correctly) where they did amputate the otherwise healthy limb of some BIID sufferers who were otherwise to the point of needing 24/7 in-patient surveillance to prevent them from mutilating themselves. The surgeries were highly successful. The patients adjusted to their new amputee status much faster than normal amputees, were happy with their altered bodies, and were able to resume life outside the mental hospital.

    When I put this forth to the conservative Catholics, they were horrified. To the very last one, they agreed that it would be better to have those people involuntarily committed and live out their lives in a mental institution under tight self-mutilation watch, than to give them a medical amputation. And as far as I can tell, that’s pretty much exactly their view on transitioning as well. A weird sort of “We care about you so much, we’d rather lock you up forever than let you do something we define as harm that lets you live your life.” I don’t get it at all, but it was very consistent.

  • Tapetum

    I’m pretty sure our priest’s daughter (Episcopal priest, not RC) would be just as quick to ask them which Dad they thought she could do without.

  • I share a bit of Ross’ discomfort due to personal experience. I have been in a situation where the woman I was dating at the time asked me for sex, but then fell asleep halfway through (I guess the bed was comfy and she was more tied than she thought.) I stopped and woke her up when I realized she had fallen asleep and did not just have her eyes closed, but still, technically

    I think that the only harm done there was to my self-esteem, since I would hope that I am not such a bore in bed that my partner literally starts snoring. :p

    Still, I agree that protecting any potential victims should be given legal priority, and that a competent court would understand certain circumstances were not meant to apply.

  • I understand that many homosexual people in Iran undergo gender reassignment surgery, even if they do not identify as the gender they are being assigned to, as the only way that they can actually legally be with their beloved.

    I think that the Iranian government uses this kind of encouragement just so they can say, “We don’t have homosexuals here.”

  • Just to confirm: the technicalities you refer to here are specifically technicalities referring to sexual consent, yes? That is, you’re not claiming that in general I can’t consent to being acted on in various ways while I sleep, merely that I can’t consent to being acted on in various sexual ways while I sleep?

  • The law errs on the side of prudence to narrow the usable window for rapists. There are common practices in BDSM which possibly would legally count as “acting without consent” because the law wouldn’t count certain forms of non-verbal, or even contrary to verbal consent, due to the possibility that a woman saying “stop” could be argued as “but what she really meant was ‘don’t stop.’ ” It’s up to the partners to hash out these rules so that they know what is and isn’t consensual, but the law will err on the side of prudence so that no one can abuse the concept of consent by claiming their partner’s signals belied what they really wanted (when that’s not actually the case).

    If you’re concerned about it, talk to your sexual partner and get confirmation that it is, in fact, all right. Try to communicate often whenever there’s a possibility of doubt. It’s hard to go wrong if you’re that considerate of your partner’s feelings and wishes, regardless of what the law says.

  • Yes, I understand the principle of making the law broad enough that we can ensure that bad acts can be prosecuted, and implicitly counting on the good judgment of law enforcement and of participants in technically illegal acts to ensure that good acts are not prosecuted.

    I’m not challenging that principle here, nor am I concerned with being prosecuted for my sexual acts with my partner. Those days are thankfully behind us.

    Regardless, I certainly endorse your advice. Actually, I endorse it for activities other than sex, too… e.g., before making large joint purchases, or extending invitations to long-term houseguests, or redecorating our living room. Which is not to say that these are (or aren’t) equivalently important to sex. Merely to say that communicating, explicitly addressing doubts, and being considerate of my partner’s feelings and wishes is also a good idea for activities other than sex.

    What I asked, though, was whether you were stating a principle that applied narrowly to sexual consent, or generally to consent. Given that your response was focused on laws surrounding rape rather than laws surrounding assault, battery, theft, etc., I take that as confirmation.


  • P J Evans

    What bothers me about their view is that their assumption that they know what’s best for *other* people.

  • Thing is, pretty much every other time someone says “Well technically it’s against the law, but we all know what the real intention is here,” it’s turned out to be an invitation to harass people the majority doesn’t like through selective enforcement.

  • WRT rape and consent, I think the very idea that Canada’s Supreme Court has a ruling on the concept of consent and how unconsciousness automatically renders any consent given to be invalid indicates that they don’t have nearly as bad a rape culture as the United States and thus selective enforcement (and thus protection of rapists) isn’t liable to be as much an issue.

  • Lori

    Strictly speaking they think that God knows what’s best for other people and that they know exactly what God thinks on the matter. Which is worse. I think it’s easier to convince someone that he doesn’t actually know what best for you than it is to convince someone who is invested in believing that he knows God’s opinion that he doesn’t and it’s not his place any way.

  • Tapetum

    When this was pointed out to them, the answer was invariably “It’s not what I think is best. It’s what God thinks is best.” That other people didn’t believe in their God, or did believe but not in the same way was also not worthy of consideration.

    I have found that somebody’s reaction to the extreme BIID sufferers tracks nearly exactly with their reaction to transgendered people, without getting into the politics of the whole thing. Useful on occasion when I want to scope out someone’s probable reaction without letting them know something might be up.

  • Really? I think Canada’s rape culture probably isn’t as bad as the US’s, but I can’t see how this law demonstrates it. If anything, the fact that they felt the need to assert in law that, regardless of how the participants feel, consent is withdrawn in this case, as if in the absence of this law, the consent of an unconsious person could be assumed demonstrates something else. That law only makes sense if you think “What, I still need consent even if the person is unconscious?” is a vaguely sensible thing to say. If a culture wasn’t heavily invested in the protection of rapists, “the other person has to consent” would be enough, you wouldn’t need to specify that “Yes, even if they’re unconscious” any more than you need to specify in law that ‘Yes, consent is still required even if it’s Tuesday’

  • I… thought that was kind of the point of the court decision.

  • syfr

    I myself am wondering when my parents will be forced to divorce. I mean, my brother and I are in our thirties, there are only us two, so my parents aren’t raising children anymore and have no reason to stay married.


  • Rhubarbarian82

    The Strom Thurmond joke referred to Thurmond marrying a 22 year old woman at the age of 66, then fathering children beginning at age 68.* It was an oblique joke in response to Kagan’s question regarding older couples getting married.

    *He fathered a mixed race daughter much earlier.

  • Carstonio

    I knew about Thurmond’s marital history, I just don’t understand what it has to do with when Kagan was confirmed.