Real vs. Manufactured Outrage

I was going to write a post very much like the one that Peter Friedrichs shared yesterday. One in which I bemoaned the barrage of outrage from all sides of the political spectrum: “President Obama thinks that small business owners don’t actually accomplish anything by their own hands!” “Republican lawmakers swam naked in the sea of Galilee!” Surely people on all sides of the political spectrum can find real and substantive differences to argue about rather than hollering “OMG! OMG!” about the latest manufactured crisis or media-hyped “gaffe.” Surely there is a way for people to discuss genuine differences in a way that allows people to vote for a vision of the future that inspires them.

All the manufactured outrage keeps us from treating one another with respect, and prevents our listening for both our genuine differences and our genuine commonalities. But it also does something else. It makes it harder to determine when something really, genuinely is outrageous. As much as I hate the media pouncing on a single sentence or paragraph casually uttered by a politician (let alone the deliberate spin of what a politician says), some too-frank utterances provide insight into genuinely outrageous beliefs that are more often sugar-coated.

When Todd Akin says that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape” he lets slip the seamy underside of a world view that declares that women not only do not deserve control over their own bodies, they don’t even have the ability to name their own experience. The concept of “legitimate rape,” or “forcible rape,” assumes that women are not really able to name the experience of rape, that there are kinds of rape that somehow don’t count, aren’t real rape. As when Republican lawmakers convened a panel made up entirely of men to discuss women’s health care, this attitude declares that men, and only men, have access to the real reality, and that women are not qualified to define the needs and the violations of their own lives, their own bodies.

My religion affirms “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” To write into law the notion that women not only don’t have the right to control their own bodies but, worse yet, don’t have the ability to understand and articulate their own experience, is, in fact, an outrage, and an offense against my core beliefs. It isn’t just a gaffe, it’s a world view, a world view that conservatives have built into the party platform. So this time, yes, I am outraged.

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