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.

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  • Carstonio

    Only one point of disagreement with Rosser:

    They don’t believe women are inferior, and they don’t believe God is
    arbitrary. “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it,” is
    enough for them.

    That may be true for some, but I suspect that many others, particularly men, don’t want to give up their position at the top of the religion’s gender hierarchy, and all their talk about biblical authority is merely rationalization.

  • Carstonio

    The sight of those old men in the KofC uniforms angers me for reasons I don’t fully understand, and not just because they’re protesting at a clinic that doesn’t even perform abortions. It’s a stronger version of the feeling I had when I saw the pro-life table at a college event many years ago, staffed by several men and one woman. I imagine myself telling the Knights, “Go home! This doesn’t concern you!” Bad enough when other women presume to decide what an individual woman with an unwanted pregnancy should do. But when the same presumption is made by men, people who have never faced the possibility of becoming pregnant, intended or otherwise, the arrogance is especially infuriating.

  • AnonaMiss

    The saddest thing to me is that their getup was identified as pirate regalia. I had a fleeting hope that there was a troupe of Pastafarians on the pro-choice side.

  • Grey Seer

    Man, that bit about being an escort at a PP clinic is rather chilling. The fact that it’s even necessary always surprises me, and I find myself doubting… right up until I actually read the descriptions of what happens. Sheesh.

    That said, I admit to a great deal of admiration for the people willing to publicly stand there and willingly put themselves in line for such abuse, solely so that they can provide emotional support for those women.

    (I’m British, and over here abortions can be obtained in Hospitals via the National Health Service, so I always have something of a disconnect when I read about these sorts of things. There are clinics and private options available here as well, but that tends to be for those who don’t want to face the waiting lists that inevitably come with going through the NHS.)

  • Lancelot Link

    Those KofC guys sure do love to pray standing on the streetcorners so people can see them. I guess they find it rewarding.

  • Jessica_R

    Tiffany Bredeck is my BAMF of the week, rock on and I look forward to you being Dr. BAMF.

  • I salute Tiffany Bredeck and the organization that she represents!

    Seriously, they are doing more to reduce abortion than any amount of clinic protests, and they do it without any shaming or pretensions about controlling behavior. Those pro-life groups ought to be celebrating clinics like this, not condemning them.

  • (I’m British, and over here abortions can be obtained in Hospitals via the National Health Service, so I always have something of a disconnect when I read about these sorts of things. There are clinics and private options available here as well, but that tends to be for those who don’t want to face the waiting lists that inevitably come with going through the NHS.)


    There is an abortion clinic (so I am told) in my town, just south of Seattle. I see some protesters on the road near by it sometimes. However, the protests are usually one old guy in a priest’s collar and a couple of old ladies. I doubt that the clinic here (if it even does perform abortions) has much to worry about.

  • stardreamer42

    Back in the day, there was an annual Abortion Protest March in Nashville, which drew about a thousand people. Then one year, NOW decided to hold a Pledge-a-Picket campaign, in which people could sign up to pay anywhere from $.01 on up per person in the protest march (and they had someone taking a count so that the numbers would be at least approximately accurate, not relying on what the forced-birthers claimed), to be donated to the local branch of Planned Parenthood. NOW also did quite a bit of PR about the campaign — press releases, etc.

    In just TWO YEARS, that big annual protest march completely disintegrated. They couldn’t stand knowing that they were, in effect, raising money for Planned Parenthood, and they just sort of faded away.

    I am convinced that doing something similar on a nationwide scale could break the back of the Forty Days of Terrorism in only a few years, for the same reasons.

  • Kristen Rosser

    That is a good point, and I think you’re right, but I was trying for a non-confrontational post that said “hey, this is wrong!” without judging anyone’s motives, but as far as was possible to give my opponents the benefit of the doubt.

  • Kristen Rosser

    I’m really honored to have my post included in this list. Thanks!

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’m getting really tired of hearing christians claim that only they are capable of real, true love; that somehow people who don’t know their special version of God aren’t capable of having deep, intimate feelings and acting on those feelings. I heard quite a lot about 1 Corinthians 13 when I was still in a church; there’s not anything there that requires a deity to live out. The entire idea is offensive and completely counter to reality.

    Maybe if Mr. Dunn let go of this idea, he would be less confused.

  • I keep thinking it was kFc guys, and imaging angry Colonel Sanders figures haranguing people eating hamburgers….

  • This is my biblical argument for same sex marriage, against homophobia and trans*phobia, and probably a few other things:

    There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

    Make an argument against same sex marriage, for homophobia, or for trans*phobia without using the idea of either male or female. I dare you. If you can’t then your argument is unbiblical, and since “Biblical” is the only arena in which you [hypothetical person who would make that argument sincerely rather than on a dare] ever stood a chance, you lose.

    My biblical pro choice argument draws on more sections of the bible and is harder to pull up and state quickly.

  • The_L1985

    And stuff like that is also probably why Dad never told me about what the Knights actually do…the only thing I was really aware of was the Tootsie Roll drive.

  • Lori

    Dunn is pretty clearly not arguing that only Christians are capable of love. Quite the opposite actually. That’s sort of his whole point. If he needs to let go of any idea it’s expecting people to not be raging hypocrites. While that’s obviously an expectation that’s tends to lead to disappointment, I’m hesitant to say that he should let go of it because people shouldn’t be raging hypocrites and when they are the fault is theirs, not the person who expected better.

  • SisterCoyote

    Wow. Well said, Chris.

  • So, I’m currently having an argument with someone and he utters the following argument:

    “These arguments are like the ones you used when your party supported slavery. It shouldn’t surprise me that you’re pro-abortion too. I’m German and you’re not, so you wouldn’t understand the value of human life like I do. After all, the United States was the country who took a scientific concept like eugenics and turned it into a national program. Your socialistic party obviously has a long ways to go.”

    I’m now searching for nice things to bury myself in before something vital to health mental functioning breaks.

  • banancat

    I also like doing that for anti-abortion trolls, especially the persistent ones.

  • Baby_Raptor

    It looks to me like it could be read either way, what with his use of “love” as a synonym for God, and that implying that somehow people who know God know actual Love, whereas people who don’t get an inferior, little L version.

    I could be wrong, though. I am far from perfect. >.>

  • Baby_Raptor

    I spent most of the day having a quite frustrating argument with my boyfriend about exactly what consent means when it comes to rape, so I understand wanting to pound one’s head against a wall. *sympathy hugs*

  • Oof, that’s actually somewhat alarming. I hope you get it into his head exactly what it means and why it’s so important.

  • Daughter

    I read an interesting article yesterday. The author made the point that he didn’t think, if SCOTUS rules in favor of marriage equality, that it would generate the backlash that Roe v. Wade has. This is primarily because the arguments that marriage equality causes harm are so weak and easily disproven.

    In contrast, abortion is so controversial in part because of the unprovable concept of when life begins, and as a result, the question of “is it murder” (and therefore a cause of major harm) is always in the picture. But anti-marriage equality arguments basically come down to protecting tradition, and that just won’t generate the same passion as the idea of protecting babies.

  • Jim Roberts

    Why can’t it be both? You’re raised to believe that you’re the dominant gender because the Bible says “x.” Winning, being dominant, is kind of awesome. You just have to never question what you’ve always known.

  • Baby_Raptor

    At the moment, I’ve lost. He doesn’t accept that consent given under coercion isn’t valid consent, is the short of it. I’ve dropped it for the time being, and am hoping that the argument will at least make him think on it further.

  • Perhaps highlight the difference between uttering consenting words and meaning what it is that’s being said. A bank robber can’t claim that the money he just took from a bank was a gift because the teller “voluntarily” handed him the cash (under threat of a gun).

  • O.o Boggle. You may want to refer him to actual legal decisions like a recent Canadian Supreme Court decision that established that consent must be given and continuing through all phases of sex.

    Furthermore, one party falling asleep or otherwise becoming unconscious during sex automatically cancels consent.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Given that some people can get upset over changing from incandescent to CFL or LED light bulbs, you may be optimistic about the attachment to tradition.

  • Fox News is trying to whip up that backlash right now. Their contributors of choice are breathlessly insisting that if same-sex marriage is legalized, Christianity will soon be, I quote, “in for persecution like we have never seen it.”

  • Omnicrom

    Dunn’s consideration is a pretty important one. It ties back to what this blog used to have as a heading a while ago, “It’s usually more complicated than that”. Being religious is not a surefire guarantee that someone is a good person. In fact sometimes it’s a sign that someone is a bad person: can you think of any public figure in America who is actively working to make the country worse that doesn’t publicly speak platitudes about their religiosity? But of course it’s usually more complicated than that, there are plenty of scummy atheists, being in on the liberal side of that movement for the past couple of years has introduced me to more bigoted sexists than I ever wanted to know.

    In the end the sooner people like Jeff Dunn learn to stop associated “religious” with “good” and recognize that it’s usually more complicated than that the better for everyone.

  • Rakka

    Depends on the “we” and “seen”. Sure, if your worst personal experience in persecution was someone saying “happy holidays” and you studiously avoided paying any attention to history and world events EVER, maybe yeah… but that’s like from paper cuts to hangnails.

  • reynard61

    “I’m German and you’re not, so you would not understand the value of human life like I do. After all, the United States was the country who took a scientific concept like eugenics and turned it into a national program. Your socialistic party obviously has a long ways to go.”

    Oh…wow…my irony-meter just threw a spring…

    Did you show her pictures of the various Death Camps set up by those Germans who “understand the value of human life” like she does? How about the piles of corpses or ovens full of ashes and bones built by those Germans? She is right, however, that our “socialistic party” has a long ways to go. Her country’s “socialistic party” went *ALL* the way and it pretty much destroyed them.

  • reynard61

    I’m thinking that it’s *his* head that needs to be introduced to said wall — many, many times…

  • reynard61

    “Bring in the Comfy Chair!”

    And after that we can drag in the fainting couch and clutching pearls…

  • Baby_Raptor

    There were a couple points where, were he actually here with me (It’s a long distance relationship), I probably would have. This argument was had over Skype, so he got spared that.

  • It depends on which “socialistic party”, considering the Nazis didn’t bother much with it, while the SED spent a lot of time trashing Nazis in the GDR’s educational system and trumpeting that they were the real inheritors of the right to claim moral victory of resistance against Nazidom and not that degenerate bourgeois republic over there.

    As such I doubt the SED had much truck with eugenics.

  • Carstonio

    That obviously wouldn’t apply to women who believe in a Bible-directed gender hierarchy, because they wouldn’t have that specific privilege to rationalize.

  • You know that you get special dispensation to go Godwin in this circumstance, right? And I’m pretty sure that guy used to post here. Couldn’t write a sentence without asserting German superiority. And you know who else asserted German superiority, right?

  • Carstonio

    Here’s a question for anyone here who knows more than I do about Catholic theology:

    The procreative “purpose of traditional marriage,” they wrote,” is not “undermined by marriages among the infertile, the elderly, or those who simply choose not to have children. Opposite-sex couples without children who are married model the optimal, socially expected behavior for other opposite-sex couples whose sexual intercourse may well produce children.”

    “even an obviously infertile couple” can “live out the features of true marriage, and so contribute to a strong marriage culture. This makes couples who might conceive more likely to form a marriage and abide by its norms. … The more spouses (including infertile ones) reflect by their lives the truth about what marriage requires, the more saturated we will all be in those truths, so that more families with children will stay intact.”

    “Even couples who neither have nor rear children set an important example for those that may. Married infertile 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 and not be subject to the turbulence of impermanent couplings that lead to motherless or fatherless families.”

    These seem to resemble Catholic teachings on reproduction and marriage roles, clumsily translated into pseudo-secular terms. Does anyone else here agree?

  • alfgifu

    I’m also British, and have encountered protests near to home.
    However, I grew up round the corner from a private clinic in a massive old Victorian house. It is quite discreet, but I have heard (not sure how reliable this information is) that it is one of the largest private abortion clinics in the UK, in terms of numbers of people seen.
    Given that reputation, it’s not surprising that it attracts the occasional protest. In all my years of walking to school past the door, I only saw protesters there twice. One of those times, it was only one woman. Running interference was as simple as talking to her while walking down the street – she had to follow me to keep the conversation going, so it got her and her disgusting little plastic model out of line-of-sight from the clinic door for a good half an hour or so. I didn’t manage to convince her to leave, unfortunately.
    Which goes to show, I suppose, that callous religiosity is not unique to any one country. I think Grey Seer is right that the NHS is a deciding factor in keeping this sort of thing at bay.

  • Lori

    The notion that God is love doesn’t mean that only self-proclaimed Christians are capable of love. I know that there are people who claim that. I don’t see that Dunn can really be counted among their number since the whole point of his article is that his Christian brothers and sister don’t love him and his non-Christian coworker does.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, that looks quite Catholic to me, though as an anti-gay-marriage screed it leaves something to be desired, namely, what distinguishes a f/f or m/m pair from an elderly, infertile, or childless-by-choice f/m pair with regards to reproduction, and what distinguishes an f/f or m/m pair with children from an f/m pair with children.

  • Carstonio

    And I appreciate Kagan for raising that exact question this week. I’m still not sure what point Scalia was trying to make with his Strom Thurmond joke. Sure, the old segregationist and serial inseminator was no longer in the Senate when Kagan was confirmed, but so what?

  • No, it wasn’t Münchner Kindl. I checked. :p

  • Some of us are just annoyed at this being the second “ZOMG you MUST transition to the new technology NOW or you are DESTROYING the EARTH and besides it will pay for itself because these bulbs last 20 YEARS!” in the past decade

  • So just to be clear here, if I tell my partner, “Don’t be offended if I nod off. Just keep going without me,” they still have to stop?

    (If that’s the rule, that’s fine, but I’m going to need to have a private talk to someone if we decide to go to canada)

  • Veeeerry technically, your consent is withdrawn as soon as you nod off. In practice, given that you and your partner already have all the ground rules set out, it is one of those cases where unless it becomes a problem it will not be a problem.

  • See, this falls into that category of “We don’t care what you think you consented to, you can not give consent to this sexual activity” that makes me broadly uncomfortable (Along with “Close relatives can not meaningfully consent to sex with each other” etc), because it’s still a form of some outside party making the choice for me about what kind of sex I can and can’t consent to.

    I’ve listened to homophobes argue “A man can not give meaningful consent to have sex with another man, nor can a woman give meaningful consent to have sex with another woman”, and while I know that their basis for suggesting that meaningful consent is impossible in those cases is different, I’m not sure what it is that makes the basis more valid when it’s an anti-sonambulophiliac making the claim.

  • Lori

    There are two of them? That’s depressing.