Smart people saying smart things (7.9)

Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Speech before the House of Lords, June 2013

For most of history, among the upper classes, marriage was primarily a way of controlling titles and wealth. Among all classes, it involved the radical subservience of women. Often it went along with a very lax attitude—by males, not females—to relationships outside marriage. Contraception was forbidden and this resulted in many children, and as often as not the wife dying young. Only in the 18th century did we get a growth in emphasis on the quality of the relationship of the couple. Now, this mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have with the other, in prosperity and adversity, is rightly stressed. This is equally valued by all people, whatever their sexuality.

Brittney Cooper: “The N-word on the Fourth of July”

I pressed forward, in a low voice: “I just want to let you know that your words were hurtful. And I hope you don’t pass that kind of ignorance down to your beautiful boys.” She replied curtly, “I don’t.”

And then we rode the rest of the way south together, her being a mother hen to her boys, me praying that the seeds of hate she’s planting would not fall on fertile soil.

Bryan Curtis: “He Is Not a Prospect”

Cervenak’s condition is more interesting. Like a lot of us in our mid-30s, he has found his career has landed somewhere between optimal happiness and utter futility. These days, Cervenak is more valuable for his reliability than his potential. He would be a tough guy to lose but not a particularly hard guy to replace. He is organizational depth. He is not a prospect.

Ida B. Wells, from Crusade for Justice

Again the question was asked where were all the legal and civil authorities of the country, to say nothing of the Christian churches, that they permitted such things to be? I could only say that despite the axiom that there is a remedy for every wrong, everybody in authority from the President of the United States down, had declared their inability to do anything; and that the Christian bodies and moral associations do not touch the question. It is the easiest way to get along in the South (and those portions in the North where lynchings take place) to ignore the question altogether; our American Christians are too busy saving the souls of white Christians from burning in hell-fire to save the lives of black ones from present burning in fires kindled by white Christians. The feelings of the people who commit these acts must not be hurt by protesting against this sort of thing, and so the bodies of the victims of mob hate must be sacrificed, and the country disgraced because of that fear to speak out.

Rep. Doug Cox: “The GOP and abortion legislation”

I cannot convince my Republican colleagues that one of the best ways to eliminate abortions is to ensure access to contraception. A recent attempt by my fellow lawmakers to prevent Medicaid dollars from covering the “morning after” pill is a case in point. Denying access to this important contraceptive is a sure way to increase legal and back-alley abortions. Moreover, such a law would discriminate against low-income women who depend on Medicaid for their health care.

But wait, some lawmakers want to go even further and limit everyone’s access to birth control by allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraception.

What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt women should have the right to control their own destiny? The party where President Ronald Reagan said a poor person showing up in the emergency room deserved needed treatment regardless of ability to pay? What happened to the Republican Party that felt government should not overregulate people until (as we say in Oklahoma) “you have walked a mile in their moccasins”?

  • themunck

    One of the main reasons (or at least, one of the reasons) such inequality occurs, is when people start earning more than they’ve worked for, as well*
    —-
    * Just to be clear, here I do not mean wages rising with inflation or anything like that. I’m instead referring to CEOs earning 100+ times as much as floor workers, despite working fewer hours, in a less demanding and essential job.

  • Ben English

    I know. I oppose abortion myself, on a very visceral level. I hope to God that I’m never in a situation where my partner must make such a choice. I’m also opposed to being a stingy asshole who cares only for himself. But I can have these positions without expecting that the weight of law should be behind them.

    If the goal is preventing abortion, then promoting sex education and the proper use of contraceptives is one way to do so. The fact that many of the same politicians who claim to oppose abortion also oppose things that would prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place is nonsense to me. A pregnancy prevented means that there’s no chance of a fetus being aborted,When the supposedly anti-abortion groups also try and undermine contraception availability, they are actually increasing the likelihood that abortions will be performed.

    And if legal abortion services are note available then you put both mother AND child at risk.

  • themunck

    tl;dr: I believe you may be wrong on that.

    That does still fail to address the issue that all evidence and experience so far points in one direction. Namely, that making abortion illegal, or legal but so hard to get it might as well be illegal, does not lower abortion rates. What it does do, is make people start getting illegal abortions, with far more risks to the woman involved.

    Also doesn’t address the fact that most pro-life legislators tend to vote against the things that has been shown to lower abortion rates, namely comprehensive sex-ed, access to contraception and an environment you can actually have and raise a child in.
    EDIT: Ninja’d by about 10 seconds.

  • P J Evans

    Actually, it’s been pretty well demonstrated that what they’re trying to do is punish women for having sex, especially if they’re not rich, white, or married.

    When they’re putting forward legislation that would ban all abortions, for any reason, including rape, incest, and maternal health, and restrict all use of contraceptives and Plan B (because setting ‘personhood’ as starting at fertilization would do that, too), they’re not doing it just because they’re against abortion. They hate women.

  • dpolicar

    I oppose people beating each other over the head with heavy sticks.

    I actually do; that’s not some kind of proxy metric for something else.

    To my mind, it follows naturally that I want there to be fewer head-beatings. That’s what I’m “actually going for.” And I want this precisely because I actually think people beating each other over the head is wrong, in itself.

    The idea that somehow “I think head-beating is wrong” and “I’m going for fewer head-beatings” are conflicting positions… yeah, I have trouble understanding that idea. To put it mildly.

    Would you disagree with any of that, when it comes to head-beatings?

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I think that a comma is okay, since “it really does” would be odd as a full sentence, despite having a subject (“it”) and a predicate (“does”). This is largely because it leaves you asking “does what”?

    Maybe a semicolon is what you are looking for:

    It boggles the mind; it really does.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Actually, it sounds like the opposite — an end irrespective of means. The end is to make it illegal, not to eliminate the need for it, and if it gets driven underground and women start dying in back-alley abortions, oh well.

  • themunck

    Uh, a semicolon :o. I do not think I’ve ever actually used those before, at least in normal sentences. Thank you.

  • Alix

    I love semicolons. If I could marry a punctuation mark, I’d marry a semicolon.

  • dpolicar

    It really is.

  • themunck

    I dunno, I do have an appreciation for question marks.

  • dpolicar

    Personally, I am polyamorous with respect to punctuation.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Wyoming has voted against marriage equality on no less than five separate occasions and have no LGBT protection laws. They are a right to work state, meaning an employer can fire an employee for little or no reason, including for being gay. If you’re gay, you are not protected by housing discrimination laws.

    Wyoming’s state motto is “Equal Rights.”

  • caryjamesbond

    One of the weirdest and most uncomfortable moments of my life was on a flight. I’d sat down and was having the usual airplane chitchat with the guy next to me: you know “where you from, what do you do, we’re total strangers sitting six inches from each other for four hours so what’s your deal” sort of thing.”

    The guy asks me where I’m from I say “oh, right outside Asheville, North Carolina.”

    He goes “Oh, great place, but the only problem is, there’s too many goddamned N*****s there.”

    I’m sorry to say if it was one of those “what would you do” tv shows I’d failed because…well, sitting next to this guy for four hours. I’d like to think in other circumstances I would’ve been as brave as Dr. Cooper, and I’ve always been ashamed that I wasn’t.

  • themunck

    *blinks twice* I can’t decide whether to scream with anger or cry at that.
    I think I might need a hug. Or a revolution.*

    * Preferably a non-violent one.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Cats and dogs! Our moral foundation crumbles!

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Conservative legislation nowadays appears to be based on a hybridization of the Old Testament, Atlas Shrugged and 1984.

  • themunck

    Auch. *Hugs*

    I remember a similar experience earlier this year, where I was sitting opposite a guy who asked me where I was from. I said I was from the city of Aarhus, and he said “Nice place, that. Best thing about it? White Pride”*

    * White Pride, as the name implies, are a group of white supremacists who pose as a football fanclub. They’re responsible for a lot of hatecrimes.

  • dpolicar

    Mixing of Greek and Latin roots!

  • themunck

    That would be the Scofield-Bible Old Testament, right?

  • themunck

    I would like to use this opportunity to rail over the threaded comments. Because at the moment, your post mentioning not actually winning the car is seen before Carstonio’s joke about winning a car -.-

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    When I visited my family for a couple of weeks, the following words were uttered on the very first night:

    “One of these days you’re going to be so grateful that you can live in a neighborhood with only white people.”

    It went downhill from there.

    Personally, I’m quite happy in my neighborhood and its extremely diverse ethnicity groups. I’ve seen Russian, Spanish, Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Scottish, German, Danish, Indian, Lakota… probably more that I can’t recall off-hand or simply can’t recognize without being told.

    I like my neighborhood being a melting pot. I have grave doubts that I’m ever going to prefer a neighborhood where everyone has the same culture, especially if it’s a culture as steeped in hatred and resentful privilege as the one my parents enjoy.

  • themunck

    You have my deepest and most sincere sympathies. :/ I hope you don’t mind when I say that I sincerely hope I never meet your family.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There’s a reason I live thousands of miles from them.

  • Abel Undercity

    Apropos of nothing but falling within Fred’s bailiwick, PZ Myers posted something LB-related today that I think folks here might be interested in: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/07/09/god-must-not-have-liked-his-game/

  • Lori

    Eh, AFAICT the US is far from unique in its racism. The difference is the way it’s expressed, not in the underlying problem. I’ve certainly heard people from other countries express racism as breath-taking as I’ve ever heard here. They say it differently and it’s often directed at different groups, but it’s virulent racism all the same.

  • themunck

    True, but I’m rarely hearing, say, Equador being described as the leaders of the free world, or the pinnacle of democracy.

  • Lori

    If it makes you feel any better I suspect I would just have boggled at the guy, too shocked to come up with a coherent response. Obviously that conversation would have been over, but I doubt that I would have been able to come up with anything to say, let alone anything as brave and simple and direct as what Dr. Cooper said.

    Adds “figure out a good come back for shameless racists” to my To Do list.

  • Lori

    I join you in your hatred of the threaded comments. They are of the devil.

  • Lori

    US over-sell is a real problem, to be sure, but we’re not alone in that either. I have been lectured quite a few times, but a number of different people about the superiority of the EU on this and other related issues. Yeah, not so much. There are things where the EU is absolutely out ahead of the US, in some cases by a painfully large margin, but I see no evidence that racism is one of them. People don’t like to own their racism.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’ve never heard an african american use that word in real life. In the media, sure, and I don’t doubt some use it socially, but I’ve never happened to be around someone using it that way.

    I’ve heard the word a fair amount from rednecks, and slightly more often by hipsters who think it’s clever to use it “ironically”

  • Lori

    Wyoming is still coasting on being the first state (territory at the time) to give women the vote. I appreciate that. Really I do. That was almost hundred 150 years ago though and they’ve fallen behind since then. Time to step up or come up with another motto.

  • Lori

    I lived in a minority white neighborhood for years in LA*. I liked it much better than the white bread neighborhood I live in now. For one thing, the food was much better.

    *Whites were the largest single group, but the other groups put together made up way more than 50% of the population. IOW, I was living in the future—that’s what America as a whole is going to be like at some point.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    In which part of the country do you live? I live in the Midwest in an area in which the minority residents are chiefly Blacks and Indian-Americans (with some, but not many, Hispanics).

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    We do seem to have a lot of comprehension gaps here that boil down to the fact that most of us are consequentialists, while a lot of people on the right just aren’t.

    I know i saw one interview with pro-lifers where their position boiled down to “No, women who get abortions and I know ths won’t reduce abortions, but it’s important that we ban abortions because abortions are wrong and we need the force of law to agree to that. More-abortions-but-society-officially-disapproves is worse than fewer-abortions-but-society-is-officially-okay-with-them”.

    See also Orson Scott Card on gay rights: It’s not that we mean any harm to them but it’s essential that society have the force of law saying “But we disapprove.”

    See also drug laws, many of which are not so much about “It will stop (whatever)” but about “But drugs are just BAD and we need the law to SAY SO”

    They just don’t have an instrumental view of what laws are for: they’re not to change anyone’s behavior, thye’re to assert our Firm Stance As A Society about What We Do Or Do Not Approve Of.

  • Lori

    See also Orson Scott Card on gay rights: It’s not that we mean any harm
    to them but it’s essential that society have the force of law saying
    “But we disapprove.”

    Oh yeah, it’s important that his (almost certainly self-loathing) disapproval have the force of law behind it, but it’s wrong for people who disagree with him to refuse to see his movie because he’s an ass and they don’t want to give him money. Skipping a film and asking other people to skip it too is intolerant you see and history is going to judge GLBTQ activists and their allies by how well we treated bigots when their power started to fade. [eyeroll]

    That man is such an asshole.

  • Carstonio

    For these folks, abortion and same-sex marriage seem to be proxies for their views of gender roles and for Christianity’s place in society. Many imply that women who don’t want to be mothers are mired in selfishness or denial, feelings they’ll apparently get over once they’re forced to give birth.

  • Mark Z.

    That’s because they don’t care about abortion rates. They care about the act of opposing abortion by any possible means. That is, if you are ever given the choice (in any form) between abortion and not-abortion, you must choose not-abortion, or else you are contributing to the decline of our society and incurring God’s wrath. This applies whether you’re an individual pregnant woman, a doctor, a legislator, a judge, a voter, etc.

    In their view, contraception is irrelevant and kind of cowardly, a way of dodging the question. Here’s the defining moral issue of our time, and instead of “yes” or “no” you’re saying “let’s try to keep the situation from coming up”. It’s like Abe Lincoln deciding that he was just going to buy slaves out of the South one at a time.* Even if it would work, it fails to express the conviction that you’re opposing evil.

    * which was pretty close to Lincoln’s position; he was a moderate and tried very hard not to start any shit with the South, until they forced the issue. Historical literacy is not one of the Christian Right’s strong suits.

  • Mark Z.

    Exactly that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It works only so long as head-beatings are the only thing you think are wrong.

    Suppose you think that head-beating is wrong, but you also think that eating pickles is an abomination and the leading cause of head-beating is a local custom where you beat someone over the head whenever they eat a pickle.

    In that case, you would support an anti-head-beating law, but you would not support a “Pickle Eating: It’s okay and does not merit beatings” initiative. Indeed, you’d probably support projects which demonize pickle-eating, up to and including funding a PSA on the subject of “Pickle Eaters: They deserve to be beaten,” even though such a PSA would likely increase head-beating.

    Because your ideal scenario is “No one eats pickles and no one gets their head beat”, but “People eat pickles but no one gets their heads beat” is unacceptable: for you, the “compromise” position is “Pickle-eaters get their filthy abominating heads beaten in. And then the head-beater goes to jail.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    There’s an element of magical thinking in there too. As far as they believe, women have the choice not to get the back-alley abortion, so if they die from it that’s their own look out. But if they have the choice to get a safe-and-legal abortion, That’s society’s fault.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’d do a question mark, but I’d be thinking about an interrobang.

  • dpolicar

    Well, it seems implausible that I could care enough more about eliminating pickle-eating than head-beating that I could prefer eliminating pickle-eating while increasing head-beating to the reverse, but if we assume hypothetically that I do in fact prefer that, then sure, I guess I would prefer that.

    And, sure, if we further postulate some contrived situation such that reducing pickle-eating necessarily increases head-beating and for some reason or other I don’t seek to change the situation, then in that contrived situation the hypothetical me considers “Head-beating is wrong” and “I’m going for fewer head-beatings” conflicting positions.

  • Mark Z.

    I dated this Spanish girl once. Her question marks go both ways.

  • mattepntr

    A lot like what Fred has written here before about conservative christians “faith” as nothing but a series of “stances” on issues.

  • P J Evans

    when I got that line about ‘All women must want to be mothers’ I told the (female) co-worker who used it that if God had wanted me to be a mother, I should have been made so I wanted to be one.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    What an odd punctuation mark. I can barely even tell what it’s supposed to be, rather than simply being a question mark that went wrong.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    But then you wouldn’t be able to learn how wonderful it is!

    (Caution: Pregnancy may not actually be wonderful. Children may cannibalize you. Offer valid only in Eden. See increasingly finer print for details and restrictions.)

    (Huh. Disqus doesn’t do that tag.)

  • Alix

    There’s something just so shocking about interrobangs.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    We. Don’t. CARE.

    If it matters to you, whatever, but keep it to yourself.


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