I’m a big fan of what’s going on in Alabama. They recently passed the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a “clean” abortion ban(auto-play warning on that link) that only contains an exception for the life of the mother; no rape exception, no incest exception, no “health of the mother” exception. The people who passed it have said that they are presenting it as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that discovered this then-previously-unknown right.
I probably should qualify what I mean by being a “big fan” of it. It clearly articulates the value of human life from the moment of conception, and provides severe penalties for doctors who perform the procedure contrary to the law. Would I have written the law this way? Possibly; it’s easier to add exceptions to a clean bill than try to remove them, when they were part of the bill the way the legislature voted on it. Do I think it has a chance that it will take effect? Not one little bit; there will be an injunction while the bill travels through the courts.
Personally, I believe that rape and incest are horrible, terrible crimes, that are not improved by committing another violent act. I also realize that, as a government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” a law will probably end up having those exceptions in it. We don’t have to imagine any exception being exploited; I’m sure Georgia doctors can and will ultrasound not quite right, so the heartbeat isn’t found. I believe their police reporting requirement for invoking the rape and incest exceptions is an excellent step; many people who commit these terrible crimes don’t just commit them once, and getting these criminals off the street will prevent further victims.
A common argument against those who wear the “pro life” label is that we seem to only care about unborn life. That couldn’t be further from the truth; and, in reality, that characterization is often made by political groups trying to marginalize us when we’ve just made a good point. Most “pro life” people I know also support fostering and adoption (when they’re allowed to), work programs, and end of life care as well. What they do not seem to get is this - the key to being truly pro-life is valuing life from womb to tomb. Re-read the last sentence of the previous paragraph; that’s a statement that values life! Until we can figure out a way to un-rape someone, preventing future rapes by the same perpetrator is something we can actually do. If you want to move beyond “thoughts and prayers,” there’s something concrete.
Life begins at conception; the closer we get to protecting all human life from that point forward, the better off we will be.
“Same vocabulary, different dictionary.” This is the way Skip Heitzig described false teachers in a recent sermon on 2 Peter 2. That certainly is good to remember when it comes to theological matters; think about how many different definitions, just in evangelical circles, you have of the word “worship” and of its role in the life of the church and believer.
It works outside the realm of the directly-theological as well. Take the CIA report released last week. I’ve been seeing a lot of banter back and forth over the results of the report, but relatively few questioning its characterization. Even though pretty much everyone is against “torture,” there are competing definitions at work. If we just debate back and forth without addressing the root issue, we’re simply reinforcing the “other side”'s view of us.
Now, to be fair, it’s generally the left who like to redefine things. Racist no longer means “one race is superior”; rather, it covers a host of things, from ethnically-related comments, stereotypes, or even common insensitivity, if the object has a different ethnicity from the one who is offended. Rape is expanded to include a whole lot of things that are not really rape, including simple after-the-fact regret. Marriage means something today that it has never meant throughout millennia of history. And, somewhere along the way, freedom of speech has been replaced with freedom from offense, and freedom of association has been replaced with freedom to compel.
That being said, I’m not necessarily advocating for “the right” either - it’s not about the right, it’s about being right. We cannot flourish, either as a Christian or as a society, if we do not share a common lexicon. And, until we do, it is futile to try to defeat one person’s argument with an argument that has an entirely different meaning. All you’ve got is ships passing in the night. Same vocabulary, different dictionary.
Who would have thought that a beauty pageant would bring rape to the forefront of American conversation? Yet, this year’s Miss USA pageant has done just that, in two different aspects. As you may have already surmised, this post will deal with rape by name, but in the abstract. You have been warned.
First up is the winner, Nia Sanchez. She entered the competition as Miss Nevada, and it is her interview answer that’s getting the attention. She was asked about the spike in rapes on college campuses, and she replied:
“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation, and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black-belt, I learned from a young age you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself, and I think that is something we should start to implement for a lot of women.”
Now, you may be reading that thinking, “OK, where’s the controversy?” The backlash has been mostly from leftist feminists, with a common response being “Instead of telling women to defend themselves and victim-blaming, why don’t we tell men not to rape?”
Now, I’m going to set this off in a larger font, in bold, all-capital letters, so that if any of these lunkheads venture over here, it’ll stand out, and maybe they’ll get the point.
ADVOCATING SMART SELF-DEFENSE IS NOT VICTIM BLAMING!
See, you can tell men all you want not to rape, and the vast majority of them will get it. In actuality, the vast majority aren’t rapists to begin with, contrary the leftist feminist talking points. A large number of victims does not equate to a large number of perpetrators. So, by all means, educate. The men who grew up raping in video games or watching rape fantasy pornography may have their minds reoriented, and not become perpetrators.
That leaves us with the men who will not alter their behavior, and continue to think it’s OK for them to do that. Why in the world would you get onto someone for advocating that women learn how to defend themselves? I’ve been around a while, and this tip-toeing around the defense issue has done nothing but make the numbers of victims skyrocket. Punch, kick, shoot - whatever it takes, learn the skills to give yourself the greatest chance to not become a victim.
Let me take a quick minute to address the “victim blaming” charge. There are people who do this; however, there are people who would categorize what I’ve written above, particularly that last sentence, as victim blaming. Those people are just as useless as actual victim blamers. Yes, a woman should be able to do whatever she wants and maintain a reasonable expectation that no one will take from her what she has not offered. But, we don’t live in a “should” world, we live in an “is” world. An “after-action analysis” type of look at these events can yield information that could make this less likely. We have no trouble telling women to walk to their cars in pairs, and to park under a light, to avoid getting mugged. But, if we make that same situation as a smart way to reduce your risk for rape, now we’re victim blaming? Now, if you take that analysis and start saying, “Well, you knew you couldn’t hold your liquor, and you had 7 drinks” to imply that the woman had a hand in it, you’re venturing into victim blaming territory.
To take this thought one step further - let’s say that we can eliminate all rape in the next 15 years through education. Are they really arguing that it’s smart for women to leave themselves more vulnerable for the next 15 years? If so, I would put these leftist feminists into the “rape culture enablers” camp. A good self-defense class takes a couple of weeks to complete. If the men won’t get educated, let’s make sure they get hurt.
On a much more positive note, we have Valerie Gatto, Miss Pennsylvania. After the competition, she revealed that she was conceived during a rape. (See, Todd Akin? You moron…) That part isn’t good, but what is good is what happened after that. Her mother was going to give her up for adoption, but decided to keep her, and worked to raise her in a loving home. Now, she is using her platform to support those who have gone through similar situations. Who knows, maybe she can be the poster child for the people the “rape exception” abortion people want to keep from being able to draw breath.
Welcome to “2012 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous.” If you’re reading this as they’re posted, it’s backwards; but, if you’re reading back through the blog archives, they’re in order.
2012 has been quite a year. We survived 3 ends of the world, by my count. That’s pretty ridiculous, true, but our very existence here means that they must be, so we won’t waste any more words on that. What did make the cut?
The “War on Women”
That this tops the list should not surprise my regular readers; several of my posts this year (including this one and that one when it first broke) dealt with it. Now, the “war on women” is not to be confused with the “war on a woman”; that I addressed in 2008 (first item). No, in yet another display of Democrat projection, this one was an accusation against Republicans.
It started with a strange question in the Republican primary, shot to the forefront with Sandra Fluke and Rush Limbaugh, and continued throughout the campaign. The Obama campaign created a horribly insipid animation called “The Life of Julia,” where their heroine (um, victim?) displays her dependence upon government at every stage of her life. It was presented as if it was a good thing; the government as boyfriend, husband, business partner, and health insurance provider. To me, the suggestion that women need, or would want, something like that is truly offensive and sexist.
Granted, the Republicans didn’t help themselves against these charges. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, both running for the US Senate, answered questions about abortion by emphasizing their “no rape exception” views – clumsily. Akin should have removed himself, but did not, and squandered a gift-on-a-platter opportunity to remove a senator who has not been that helpful to her home state. Mourdock was a Tea Party Republican who defeated a long-term incumbent in the primary, yet went down to defeat in a state that Romney took 54/44.
Really, the war on women was nothing more than the “they want kids to starve” meme from the late 80’s and 90’s, where ridiculous charges were made against Republicans, and those charges went unanswered. This year, as well, the response was tepid. What Republican wants to take away health care? The charge is ridiculous, and should be addressed as such. Otherwise, they’ll continue to make these outlandish statements “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains!”, said our vice-president. They took “binders full of women” out of the context of people-to-hire and somehow turned it into a negative. “You didn’t build that” - oh wait, that’s just poor sentence structure. Please! There is no poor sentence structure in a pre-written campaign speech!
The main problem with all of that, though, is that it worked. Which brings me to my next item…
Barack Obama Reelected
When Obama was elected in 2008, that fact made the “bad” list for that year. Looking back at that post, in view of the past 4 years, I see that I was being way too generous. He presided over 4 of the toughest years in recent memory, making things worse with every decision (or indecision). His party hasn’t passed a budget in over 3 years now, and one of his was so unrealistic that it was defeated 96-0 in the Senate. We lost our top credit rating, and that cannot be blamed on George W. Bush; S&P downgraded us because of our lack of a plan of paying back our debt, not the size of it. This administration has brought us economic time bombs in the form of Obamacare mandates and repeated “debt ceiling”/“fiscal cliff” showdowns, one of which is staring us down even as I write this.
But, all of the above is not the ridiculous part; it just proves that I was right to put his election on the bad list 4 years ago. No, the ridiculous part is that the American people, seeing all of the above, put him back in office for another four years. My countrymen are playing the part of fools, falling for the ridiculous claims about their opponents, while failing to see that their own are the ones leading us down the slide to mediocrity. They’re behaving like little kids; what little kid wants to vote for the guy who says “Hey - we’ve got to pay for all this free candy we’ve been eating”? No, they vote for the guy who promises even more free candy, while demonizing those who generate enough wealth for our government to skim the top of it to provide the free candy. They cheer when the rich get poorer, not noticing that this does not make them richer, it only diminishes the overall wealth of our nation.
The National Park Service has signs in several forests warning against feeding bears, because they will become dependent on that food, lose their hunting skills, and become aggressive. Yet, the very people who suggest that this applies to human beings as well are branded as hate-filled and greedy. America needs to wake up, and do the hard work of dealing with the withdrawal symptoms of this free ride coming to an end, or the country itself will find itself in decline. Sadly, I don’t see this generation as one willing to sacrifice its own comfort to secure the comfort of future generations.
Reactions to Mass Murder
Again, I get to fault my fellow citizens. Sadly, our nation endured two mass murders this year; one at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, and the other at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On my first visit to Facebook after learning about the Sandy Hook shooting, I was greeted with lots of “Don’t Take Our Guns!” images. Really, guys - that’s the way you show compassion for 25 families who lost their kids a scant few weeks before Christmas? And, the other side is just as bad. “Why are these guns on the street?” is not the question (although “because, Constitution” is the easy answer). Confiscating every gun in the Union would not bring an ounce more comfort to those families who lost their children and adults that day.
The proper response to something like this is sorrow and compassion, then anger, then punishment (if applicable), then speculation on prevention measures (within the parameters of our founding law). Jumping to #4 dehumanizes the response. I fault the gun-grabbers with having the non-Constitutional lead in this; but, while I did fault people above for not responding to ridiculous charges, there is a time for those sorts of debates. While the dead bodies are still warm is not that time.
Year-In-Reviews in Early December
On a lighter note, when did December become not-part-of-the-year? How can you review a year with nearly an entire month remaining in that year? Unless you’re covering NASCAR or the college football regular season, the first week of December is way too early to be publishing retrospectives (and, for the latter, you’d better wait until the conference championships to write it up). Look at the newsworthy events this year - Sandy Hook, the deaths of several notable people, and George H. W. Bush’s hospitalization, just to name a few. Don’t review a year until it’s over.
There you have it. I’m sure I’ll have no problem filling out another one of these in 2013.
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, produces a daily podcast called “The Briefing,” which he describes as an analysis of current event from a Christian world view. It’s my morning newscast; at 15 minutes, it’ll pretty much get me to work. This past Friday, he hit an absolute game-winning, out-of-the-park, grand-slam home run. (Hey, I’ve got to get my baseball metaphors out of the way, since the season’s over as of about an hour ago.)
The transcript below is mine (names spelled phonetically if I didn’t know them already), of the final 10 minutes. He analyzes Richard Mourdock’s controversial comments, then turns his attention to the issue that both he and Todd Akin have both bumblingly defended. (If you’re in a hurry, skip to the last 4 paragraphs.)
It was a statewide debate that would’ve been unlikely to gain national attention. But all that changed on Tuesday night when, in a debate between United States Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, the Republican, and US Representative Joe Donelly, the Democrat, the issue of abortion arose, and it ended up arising explosively. In this case, Richard Mourdock, asked about his position on abortion, said this: “The only exception I have to have an abortion is that in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And I think that, even that life that begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
The fury and firestorm that erupted after Mourdock’s comments has now reached a fever pitch. And, what you have across the political spectrum is somewhat feigned, and perhaps somewhat genuine outrage at the candidate’s statements on abortion. All this, of course, is more intensive in terms of our national discussion, because of the aftermath of the controversy over another Senate candidate’s comments - that was Todd Akin, running for the United States Senate seat in Missouri - and in a similar way, Mr. Akin found himself as the topic of focus and controversy over the statements that he intended to be reflective of a consistent pro-life position.
In both cases, the issue was rape, and the connection to abortion. In Mr. Mourdock’s case, the comments are actually far less complicated than the comments that were made by Todd Akin. His statement - let me repeat again - was about his position on the sanctity of human life, and thus, exemptions for abortion. Mr. Mourdock is known as a pro-life candidate who has said he will try to achieve increased limitations on abortion if elected to the Senate. Let me read to you his words again. He said, “The only exception I have to have an abortion is that in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, and I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And I think that, even that life that begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Many in the media, and even some in very high office, have attempted to characterize Mr. Mourdock’s statement as suggesting that rape is a part of God’s will. For instance, you have the President of the United States responding with outrage, suggesting that what Mr. Mourdock said is nothing less than politically atrocious. The Obama campaign, according to Jonathan Weissman of the New York Times, sought to exploit the opening from Mr. Mourdock’s comments, as did virtually every Democratic campaign for the US Senate; pressing, they say, a unified message that the Republican party’s out of step with female voters. President Obama “felt those comments were outrageous and demeaning to women,” so said Jane Saki, the president’s campaign spokeswoman. Ms. Saki also said it was perplexing that Mr. Romney, the Republican candidate, had not demanded that his ad for Mr. Mourdock be taken off of television.
Let’s look at the comment, and let’s consider the controversy. There is something here that is very important for those of us who are pro-life to note, and to note with requisite care. What we’re talking about here is a man who, very sincerely and very self-evidently, sought to define the sanctity of human life to cover every single human being from the moment of conception until natural death. He has found himself in very hot political water, in a very close Senate race that was probably already too close to call, and may now put himself in a significant electoral disadvantage. What went on here, and what should we learn from it?
The first issue to consider here is the matter of communication. I think any fair-minded person would understand that Mr. Mourdock is right when he complains that his comments have been taken out of context, so that it appeared that he was referring to rape as God’s will rather than the gift of life. Hats off to at least some in the media who have noted this; Amy Sullivan writing in the New Republic wrote this: “Despite the assertion of many liberal writers I read and otherwise admire, I don’t think that politicians like Mourdock oppose rape exceptions because they hate women, or want to control women. I think they’re totally oblivious,” she writes, “and insensitive, and can’t for a moment place themselves in the shoes of a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape. I don’t think most care that their policy decisions can impact what control a woman does or doesn’t have over her own body.” She then writes this: “But if Mourdock believes that God creates all life, and that to end a life created by God is murder, then all abortion is murder, regardless of the circumstances under which the pregnancy came about.” She is exactly right; that was Richard Mourdock’s point.
But, he’s paying the price for miscommunicating here, and for bringing up the issue of rape in a context in which he didn’t have to answer the question that way. He brought up the issue of rape without a way of adequately explaining what he was going to say thereafter, and he spoke in a way that was simply too brief to carry the weight or the moral meaning of the argument he was trying to express. He needed to say that he believes that God has given the gift of life to every single human being, and that the circumstances that brought that gift of life about are not what establishes the dignity or sanctity of any human individual’s life. Rather, he was trying to say that there is an objective value - sanctity, dignity - to every human life, and that includes one born out of wedlock, that includes one born out of expectation or hope, and that includes one born, also, out of something so absolutely horrible, sinful, and almost unspeakable as forcible rape.
There are others who similarly got it right, in the midst of those who clearly got it wrong. Kevin Drum, writing at Mother Jones, which is one of the most leftist periodicals in America, also decided to do a bit of truth-telling here. He writes this: “Mourdock is getting beat up pretty bad for this, so I think that’s just fine.” He means that politically. “At the same time, can’t we all acknowledge that this is just conventional Christian theology?” Very interesting. He goes on to write: “What I find occasionally odd is that so many conventional bits of theology like this are so controversial if someone actually mentions them in public.”
Going back to Amy Sullivan, again at the New Republic, she writes this: “Take a look again at Mourdock’s words. ‘I came to realize that life is a gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.’” She then writes, “The key word here is ‘it’; I think it’s pretty clear that Mourdock is referring to a life that is conceived by rape, he’s not arguing that rape is the ‘something’ that God intended to happen.” She then writes this, very important: “This is a very common theological belief, the understanding of God as an active interventionist. It’s also,” she writes, “not limited to conservative Christians. There are liberal Christians,” she writes, “who also argue that things work out the way they’re supposed to. Some of them are in my own family, and I think they are wrong.” So, in other words, Amy Sullivan clearly believes that Richard Mourdock is wrong; but she’s very clear also that her liberal media peers, far to many of them, and those who are politically opportunistic on the other side, are using this statement out of context, and knowingly so.
But there are severe lessons to us. The lesson first is communication. We must not let ourselves fall into the position of appearing to say anything that comes close to what Richard Mourdock is accused, albeit falsely, of having said. But the most important issue here is not politics - it’s not political; and, it’s not about communication either. It’s about the dignity and sanctity of every human life, and the attack upon human life by the culture of death in the form of abortion. Here is something that conservative Christians - those running for office, and those voting for someone running for office; those who are activity in the political sphere, and those who are just trying to understand it - in terms of how abortion should be considered in the frame of public policy.
Right now, the public is very clear that the vast majority would accept legislation or some political action to constrict and restrict the number of abortions in America. Americans, across the board, are increasingly outraged at the scale of abortion, with 1.2 to 1.4 million babies being aborted every year. Only a tiny percentage of them are covered by the most frequently-asserted exceptions, whether it’s rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. The last of the three, an intervention to save the life of the mother, is often misconstrued by virtually everyone, because the main issue there should be cases in which action to save the life of the mother tragically, but unavoidably, causes the death of the unborn child. But in looking at the three exceptions - just taking them at face value, understanding that we cannot be morally satisfied that the circumstances of those conceptions should lead to the allowance of the abortion of those babies - we should, as a matter of public policy, right now, work for legislation that would restrict the number of abortions, and would eliminate the vast majority of abortions. Approximately out of the 1.2 to 1.4 million, we’re talking about all but a handful of about 20 to 50,000 abortions, at the most extreme estimate, in terms of a year.
Now let me be clear: we could not accept those exceptions as a permanent condition. We could understand that on the way to this society embracing the full dignity and humanity of every single human life, this is a way of at least saving the vast majority of unborn babies. That’s why, when a politician right now is running for office, we should not expect them to say that they would not accept any exceptions in terms of public policy. But I do expect them to say that they cannot accept them morally as a permanent condition. In other words, if I were asked this question, I would say that right now, I’d be willing to sign on the dotted line to legislation that would eliminate over 95% of all abortions in America. I would not then remain satisfied. Even as the pro-abortion movement would be trying to convince Americans to liberalize abortion, I will from that point onward be doing my dead-level best to try to convince Americans to move to an even more consistent pro-life position.
There’s a statement that applies in politics perhaps more appropriately than anywhere else. “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” We cannot sell out our principles - most importantly, the principle of the dignity and the sanctity of every single human life - but, we cannot sacrifice millions of unborn children to our principle on our way to trying to get this nation’s conscience in alignment with human dignity.
If you aren’t listening to “The Briefing,” you’re missing out. Check it out on iTunes, or at Dr. Mohler’s site.
Last weekend, Claire McCaskill’s (D) opponent in the Missouri Senate race, current Representative Todd Akin (R) went on a television show, and the discussion turned to his views regarding abortion. He is on record as not supporting a rape exception as part of an abortion ban. He explained himself thusly:
Charles Jaco, Interviewer: Okay, so if an abortion can be considered in the case of, say, tubal pregnancy or something like that, what about in the case of rape? Should it be legal or not?
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.): Well, you know, uh, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, “Well, how do you - how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question.” It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
To say that the middle sentence in his reply got a lot of attention would be the understatement of the week. As someone who shares his overall views, that sentence made me cringe. There are two ways to address the “what about a rape exemption” question, and neither one are that.
First off, he’s wrong on the biology. What he wanted to say was that significant emotional distress can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, or can cause hormonal changes that can trigger a miscarriage; since rape is such an emotionally devastating event, the body may very well take care of it itself. This is something that I’ve heard anecdotally (from real people, not a website), but I’m not aware of any sort of study that can confirm that. Even if there is an increased likelihood that an egg fertilized during rape will not turn into a pregnancy, though, it in no way “shut(s) the whole thing down.” A risk factor is not the same as a bodily function.
Secondly, he’s wrong on “legitimate” rape. One he knows what he meant by that; he’s later clarified to say that he meant “forcible” (as opposed to statutory), but still - what a horrible choice of words! What is the world is a legitimate rape? I’d wager that all of them are illegitimate acts of violence against the other party. Some might excuse it as a slip-up, but this man has been a legislator for longer than Obama’s been in politics - he should darn well know how to articulate his views without giving the left a Scooby snack! Rush Limbaugh, in his denunciation of these remarks and call for Akin to get out of the race, speculated that he surrounds himself by only those who agree with him, so he hasn’t had to articulate it very much.
This gets to the crux of why he should remove himself from the race. Mr. Akin, you have misrepresented the position, discredited yourself and your party, and you’re down over 10 points in Missouri polling. All Republican party groups, including the Romney/Ryan team, have distanced themselves from you and your remarks. I personally have learned to silently roll my eyes when the sneering liberals group me with what they call anti-science religious zealots, but I absolutely hate it when they’re right. You have single-handedly dealt the pro-life cause a serious blow, and by continuing to stay in this race, you are doing little more than twisting the dagger. People of principle are loyal to the principle, not the person. You may be right on principle, but by continuing to force yourself as the leader of that cause, you are making it about you instead of the cause of life. No one wants you to go down with the ship; if you step aside and let another lead, the ship may not go down at all.
He did hit the first way to address the “what about rape” question toward the end of the excerpt above; it’s not the baby’s fault. The other is an equally simple response; either all life is sacred, or it is not. If abortion is unacceptable because life is sacred, life created through violence is no less sacred, and should be afforded the same protections. He sort of hit that earlier in his interview when discussing tubal pregnancies, even using the term “optimize life.” That’s a good way to put it, IMO.
Mike Huckabee, you need to get out of this too. You lost to Mitt in 2008, and revisiting your grudge in 2012 is going to do nothing but give us 4 more years of Obama, with no chance of repealing that health care monstrosity. If that happens, public tax money will be used to fund abortions and abortofascients, and religious organizations will be forced to provide them against their convictions. I know you don’t like the idea of voting for a Mormon, but the only rallying that needs to be done is the one that will drum Akin off the ballot.
This year, the usual combined weekend of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday followed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is not combined, as the third Monday of January precedes the third Sunday by 6 days. Plus, this year provided lots of content on both topics, so the usual combined column will be split.
Sadly, racial issues were front and center during the past year. In May, the residents of New Orleans, Louisiana re-elected Ray Nagin, the governor during Hurricane Katrina. Like Dr. King, he had a dream too. His was nowhere near as admirable, though; he wanted New Orleans rebuilt as a “Chocolate City”. Although he apologized for that comment, regular readers will know what I think about apologies (and non-regulars can learn here). Comments such as this only serve to deepen racial divides, not contribute to Dr. King’s vision of a nation where race is not even a concern.
In May, the “Day Without Immigrants” attempted to paint those who are opposed to illegal immigration as racists, rather than fans of enforcing our existing laws. I’ve written about this recently (see the 2006 Year in Review: The Ridiculous), so I won’t expound on this too much here. These folks are attempting to equate their plight with those of blacks, using the same language. However, the truth of their situation is that they are here illegally, and as such have no standing to demand rights and treatment of American citizens. There is a way for non-Americans to become Americans, and cutting in line in front of those who are observing the law is not that way.
Come November, Michael Richards went off on a racial rant during a stand-up comedy show. This was followed by, you guessed it, apology after apology upon apology, with a side helping of apology. And again, these ring hollow with me. Richards’ racism shows what can happen in today’s environment of focusing on race and stereotypes - even a successful actor such as he can still harbor these feelings. Like Nagin’s apology, his apology does not erase the window into the soul that his words provided. The words themselves are not the problem; the attitude behind them are. (Let me be clear - I’m not against apologizing to someone if you personally hurt them. Not all apologies are as useless as the two I’ve described above.)
Wrapping up earlier this month, the Duke rape case carried immense racial undertones. Many people were quick to believe the story, especially since the accuser was a poor black woman, and the people she was accusing were rich, privileged white men. Now, it turns out that the plentiful DNA evidence collected from the accuser exonerates the lacrosse players. When this story broke, several people suggested it was a ploy by the District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was up for re-election, to pander to the black voters in Durham, North Carolina. Even now, the accuser’s family are still buying into the hype. The accuser’s cousin was interviewed on CNN a few nights ago, and here’s part of what she said, with the highlighting added by me… (In the transcript of the entire show, do a search for “UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE” to find the beginning of this interview.)
It’s unfortunate that it’s turned into race. But it’s always been there. It sensationalizes the story. You know, it’s got class and it’s got race in it. And I think from day one, a lot of people felt that these were privileged young white boys, who felt like they could treat these young women, strippers or not - I think they had the mentality that they were superior to these young women. And I think that’s unfortunate. And I think that that’s just the world we live in.
Read the part I highlighted - even though these guys have been found guilty of nothing, they’re still privileged white boys who were superior to the others! And that’s just “the world we live in.” Incredible! I do agree with her conclusion, though - it is truly unfortunate.
But, these prove that racism is still a problem, right? I’m not so sure. Sure, there are still racists of every color, and there always will be; that’s one of the pitfalls of a free society. But, people do not have to be hyper-sensitive over racial issues, either - that is a conscious choice, although our current society has some pretty strong conditioning towards that sensitivity.
Let me wrap up by sharing my personal observations, based on data from Census 2000. I’m white, and I’ve lived as a minority for the past 9 years in Montgomery, Alabama. This city is 50% black, 47% white. (Subtract “Hispanic origin” from White - they’re counted both places.) For the next 4 years, I’ll be living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city that is 40% Hispanic, 32% white, 3% black. In Montgomery, I’ve rarely felt unwelcome. When we go out to parks or the mall, nearly everyone I meet is friendly, no matter their skin color. We’ll talk about our families, or crazy things our kids do. Sometimes, we’ll even discuss contentious things, like the war in Iraq. Depeche Mode said it more than 20 years ago - people are people.
The only exception to this was in some stores and restaurants. Usually, this was just unfriendly service - and, this can’t all be blamed on racial differences, as I’ve had woeful service from all races. The most offensive time (to me) was the store where two black customers in line behind me were checked out before me. In these cases, though, did I call my local city commissioner, or the media? Nope - I just kept my feet and dollars away from those establishments. That’s the way a free society works - you’re free to be a jerk, and I’m free to not give you my money.
I’m looking forward to Albuquerque. I’m not there yet, so I can’t say this for certain, but I’m pretty sure that most folks out there are friendly as well. As we go around the parks, malls, restaurants, and churches of that city, we will meet Americans just like us - folks who want a safe nation, clean streets, and the best for their children. Apart from some loudmouths, Dr. King’s dream is being realized every day; hopefully, common sense will begin to prevail among all the races, and the “racial offense” industry will begin to wither. If the money spent on trying to make people apologize or comply with some minutia of the law was instead spent on positive things, this nation would be much better off.
(To read previous years’ columns, select the “Race” category from the sidebar.)
I’m going to be writing a 3-part series of posts entitled “2006 Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous”. I’m posting them in reverse order, though, so that once all three are out, you can read from top to bottom and it will read correctly. Plus, that saves the best for last. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the most ridiculous things of 2006.
On May 1st, the issue of illegal immigration became the subject of a massive rally. Across the nation, legal and illegal immigrants did not show up for work, but rather took to the streets to march for “immigrant rights.” It infuriates me greatly how much this issue is misrepresented. First of all, no one (generally speaking - there are bigots everywhere) doesn’t want legal immigrants here. From Germany to Japan to Mexico to Brazil, from Poland to South Africa to France, any legal immigrant is welcome, as well they should. What the proponents of illegal immigration are doing is equating illegal aliens with legal immigrants. It is true, we are a nation of immigrants - but with the current situation in the world, forcing foreign nationals to abide by our immigration procedures seems to me to be a simple security no-brainer.
Thankfully, this day did not achieve what it set out to achieve. Many groups of people made a point of purchasing lots of goods, and patronizing businesses that were open on that day. In fact, as one pundit points out, the main point of the protests (that America’s economy needs illegals working in it) was proved false. And, in the last month, raids at Swift meatpacking plants have proved this again, as hundreds of legal Americans are applying for the jobs that are now open. (Note that in that last story, they still use the term “undocumented workers” - grrrr!)
Back in March, allegations were made by a stripper who performed at a party for the Duke University lacrosse team that she had been raped by three people at the party. There were many, many overreactions to this charge, as there always seem to be when sexual allegations occur - the accused become guilty until proven innocent. The season was canceled, and the coach resigned. As news began to leak about the case, allegations were made that the accuser was less than honest, and had actually had consensual sex later in the evening - hardly what a rape victim would do. There was also news that DNA collected did not match any of the accused lacrosse players.
This month, the stripper has had a child - a child whose DNA does not match any of the accused. District Attorney Mike Nifong has now dropped the charges. At the time, he had been accused of filing these charges as an election-year stunt; and now that some have been dropped, those who made those accusations have been at least partially proved right. However, none of this gives the team back what was taken from them; and, these baseless accusations of rape only serve to weaken the charge against the next alleged perp - a perp who might actually have done something illegal.
(Links: None - this is a family website!)
It was a banner year for the paparazzi, who managed to not only continue their tradition of invasive photographs of celebrities, but also photograph the nether regions of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Britney Spears. While none of these women have been role models for many, many years, I guess they are now serving as role models - of what not to do. I don’t follow pop culture all that closely (although I have been known to catch an episode or two of Best Week Ever) - much of it seems to bring one question to my mind, over and over again, that being “who cares?” But for those of us with children, who want them raised apart from this, we have to care a little.
That’s not really all the things I found ridiculous about 2006 - but, those are the biggest ones that came to mind. Here’s hoping the list is smaller in 2007.