when the status quo frustrates.

Helping friends

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Let’s hypothetically pretend that Ted’s friend Sally was raped in the last month by Sluggo, a man in an authority position over her at her job. To make matters worse, every sign indicates that Sluggo has worked out his own rape “system”, has raped others before, and will almost certainly rape again. In this scenario, Sally doesn’t report the man in any way to the police or to anyone at her job. Instead, she quietly puts in notice at her work, and quits there as soon as she can. So, Ted’s reaction to learning this is to want to tell her all sorts of things that he thinks she do– file a police report, sue the man, report him to her company and sue them if they’re unresponsive, etc, etc. But of course, she’s already the victim here. Ted knows he can’t very well tell her that she should do anything, not when it comes to anything that might even have the chance of making her life even more uncomfortable than she’s already feeling.

Is Ted being a good friend if he tells her all these difficult things that he thinks she should do? After all, it just really, really burns him that Sally’s having insult added to injury by leaving her job, AND that this shitty asswipe Sluggo is going to rape other women, too. And (it seems to Ted) that both situations could be preventible — but only if Sally took certain actions.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how Ted might encourage Sally to try to do something proactive about the rape (though maybe putting herself through more grief in the process), without becoming a complete dick himself? Or is that impossible? Maybe the best thing for Ted to do would be to stay mute about all of those unasked-for opinions of his, and simply offer emotional support in a positive way whenever/however it’s asked for. To remain as utterly non-judgmental of Sally as he could possibly manage.

Thoughts?

Domestic Violence

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

This post might potentially triggering to victims of domestic violence, or people who had to witness it. It also might suck, because my thoughts are a bit muddled and I’m trying to straighten them out via blogpost. For these reasons, I’m putting pretty much the whole thing below the fold.
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Equal Protection of the Laws.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Over at Red State (and let’s bracket for a moment why I was ever reading a blog called Red State that wasn’t about menstruation), a writer named Hogan blows a gasket over former conservative hero Ted Olson arguing persuasively for gay rights. That’s not really surprising—I expect many modern conservatives see Ted Olson as a kind of Judas figure, selling out his principles and nation and God in exchange for a few pieces of fame and fortune. It’s difficult to imagine that Ted Olson would find this attitude surprising or lose any sleep over it.

What’s more interesting is how Hogan constructs his legal opposition to Olson’s position.

Olson claims that California “has no rational basis for continuing this discrimination.” Really? No rational basis? Who made you King, Mr. Olson? Because it seems to me that we human beings may well have more than a “rational basis” to recognize marriage as it has been recognized around the world for literally thousands of years – the union of a man and a woman. For reasons of pro-creation and parenthood, to start with, but also for reasons of faith and morality, for some of us, any marriage other than such a union can never be, whatever society says, a “marriage” at all.

Mr. Olson hides behind – as any good activist does – the issue of race to use the Constitution for a larger social purpose and to achieve own policy objective. Olson invokes Loving v. Virginia, which was the case ending racial discrimination in marriage laws, to say that gays should be allowed to marry. If you believe that, then you believe that the 14th Amendment means anything. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were specifically designed to deal with racism and the prohibition thereof.

There are two separate claims here: one, that there is actually a rational basis for preventing gays and lesbians from marrying, and two, that the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th amendment were intended to address racism, and shouldn’t apply to gays and lesbians anyway. It’s an argument whose structure you might recall from primary school—“I didn’t do it, you can’t prove it was me, and it’s a stupid rule anyhow.”

On the first point, Hogan wants to assert that tradition, faith, and morality, or at least some combination thereof, constitute rational bases for discrimination against gays. It’s an argument you hear a lot from fans of sectarian government—these reasons seem rational to them, so obviously if the courts fail to recognize it, it’s because the courts are a wing of a liberal anarcho-queer supremacist movement which has as its aim the annihilation of heterosexuality, families, and liberty in general.

Actually, this is his strongest point.

Courts are generally somewhat conservative, and consider tradition and morality—if not someone’s particular, sectarian religious beliefs—to be acceptable bases for legal intervention in our lives. Acceptable, that is, but certainly not sufficient, and that’s where this line of reasoning sadly falls apart. When you’re abridging someone’s rights, the courts have found, you need to be able to conjure up some slightly more compelling reason than, “it has always been thus, so there.” This was an important finding in Loving v. Virginia (and, later, in Williams v. Illinois) —prohibitions on interracial marriage may have had the support of tradition and church, but they weren’t rational. In fact, they were pointless. And even as the courts seem willing to smile on even poorly supported encroachments on liberty, they’ve found unsupported violations will have to go. And so they went, some of them.

But! That’s Loving, a case about interracial marriage. The 14th Amendment, Red State reminds us, is specifically crafted to apply only to people of color. That was the obvious intention of its framers, and absolutely the only reason we think its application might be broader than that today is because the power-mad judiciary has over the years stretched the tiniest of loopholes into an enormous tear in the very fabric of the Constitution. Why, just look at the wording of the thing:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 14th Amendment, Section 1

The text certainly seems to… resist the interpretation that it only offers protection against racial discrimination. In fact, it looks rather more like a broad-reaching law designed to force States to respect the rights of their citizens.

All their citizens.

If the framers—John Bingham, specifically—had intended for the 14th Amendment to apply specifically to institutional racism, it’s not as though they lacked the tools to call it out. The 15th Amendment, passed just two years later, does exactly this:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. 15th Amendment, Section 1

No man may be denied a vote because of the color of his skin, nor because he was once a slave. (No man and his skin, specifically, because of course it would remain illegal for women to vote for fifty years hence, until the 19th Amendment was ratified. It had to be another amendment, because the 15th is silent on the issue of gender in exactly the way that the 14th is not.)

All their citizens. Everyone.

That’s what Bingham meant; that’s what the Congress meant. Hewing to a strictly originalist view of Constitutional law, you might be surprised to read Bingham’s congressional testimony, in which he makes quite clear his intention that the 14th Amendment be a broad thing, a powerful instrument of justice, protecting citizens (All citizens. Everyone.) from the capricious decisions of governmental bodies large and small. In fact, he seems to argue for an even broader reading of the amendment than courts recognize today.

So where does the Red State writer’s interpretation come from? In a blossoming of what I’m tempted to term delicious irony, it comes from an activist judge—five activist judges, specifically. Not five years after its passage, the Supreme Court decided in Slaughter-house cases that the 14th was a response to racism—specifically, to lasting discrimination against former slaves—and so it oughtn’t be applied more broadly than that. So it wasn’t, and for years, the amendment may as well not have existed.

Today, essentially nobody believes that Slaughterhouse was decided properly. In the intervening years, the courts have slowly restored the power of the 14th, building a multi-tiered (and, arguably, overcomplicated) framework under which different laws are considered with different degrees of scrutiny, based on the significance of the rights abridged and the oppression experienced by the class of people it targets. This isn’t a power grab—it’s entirely the opposite, a moderation of the judiciary’s power, rooted in the notion that courts ought to be a last resort for those peoples too maligned, stigmatized, or powerless to seek legislative remedy.

It’s this last point that gives lie to the slippery slope argument we’ve heard so very often—this notion that if you believe the arguments for gay marriage, “you believe that the 14th Amendment means anything.” Yes, the courts have found that gays and lesbians constitute a suspect class, and that abridgment of their fundamental rights must thus be narrowly tailored to satisfy a compelling government interest which cannot be satisfied in any other way. But it only found this—could only find this—after being buried under an avalanche of evidence in which the plaintiffs exhaustively and somewhat oddly argued that gays and lesbians are politically powerless and biologically locked into their sexualities (leaving the sectarian proponents to argue that no, gays have enormous political power and their sexualities are fluid and constructed, making me wonder if they intersperse Butler in their sword drills). It seems enormously unlikely that we’ll see similarly compelling arguments for marrying cats or children, neither of which can offer legal consent.

The evidence is so overwhelming that should Perry make it to the Supreme Court, it will be exceedingly interesting to watch Antonin Scalia tie himself into a pretzel trying to justify ignoring it. Perhaps he will decide that the 14th Amendment really is all about the rights of ex-slaves, pesky things like the framers’ intentions and thousands of pages of jurisprudence notwithstanding. Or perhaps, seeing his very own words quoted in Judge Walker’s decision, he will become radioactive with indignation, and he will explode.

If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest’ for purposes of proscribing that conduct… what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising ‘the liberty protected by the Constitution’? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. Lawrence v Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), Antonin Scalia Dissenting

What We Teach Our Kids

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I have an adorable little nephew. Kid sister has spawned with her husband, and the random result was a little boy that has my sister’s nose and chin, and my brother-in-law’s everything else, only in miniature form. He’s cute, even though he also cements my desire to never have children*. Since it’s not my rugrat, no pictures will be forthcoming (sorry guys).

This kid has been interesting to watch, though. Not that he’s done anything especially newsworthy to anyone who isn’t his family (ah, look how he smiles, and gurgles and coos!), but how people react and change because of him. Kid sister has always been a little flighty- she never really was capable of focusing for more than ten minutes, she was bubbly and she had a sort of laissez-fare attitude towards safety**. Now, she seems to have become extremely cautious. She wouldn’t leave her kid with our mom for an evening out, she’s apparently memorized a whole host of books on child development, and she runs and worries over every little bump and fuss. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, especially the research and effort she put in the kid, just weird. I never believed that “Having children makes you more mature” – I’ve seen too many really immature parents- but apparently there is an anecdata point in my little sister.

Also, I find it interesting how at three months the kid has already been exposed to demonstrating that he is a “boy”. They dress him up in tough little clothes, and I hear how “strong” he is, even though he’s actually adorable more than strong. His parents don’t know what to make of me, I coo to him “Who’s going to grow up to be a radical feminist- you are, you are. Yes, you’ll respect women and I’ll let you cry” and they start freaking out (despite the fact that what the kid most likely hears is “abada da da da auntie’s playing with me *giggle*). I keep telling them I’m going to send him a pink onesie, though they know it’s a false threat (I hate pink- it’s more likely going to be purple).

Finally, the parents are not raising him any particular faith (yet- my guess is they’ll probably cave and end up taking them to church when he’s older) but my mom’s already singing him Bible songs. So far, he’s one of the random babies that hates being song to***, but my kept trying to with songs like “Jesus Loves You”. After listening to this song again, I wonder why we teach this song to anyone.

For those not familiar, this song reads as follows:

Jesus loves me! this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
they are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

There are more lyrics, but like most songs, it’s the first verse and chorus everyone remembers. Simple lyrics, simple melody, a staple of most churches to brainwash little children. Kids, believe this because we repeat it four times! What’s that you say? Generally when someone loves you they demonstrate it by being there for you and not being imaginary? Yeah, but, look- repetition! And, a book says it! What’s that? You have a book that also says that trains can talk and that sky is falling? Those books are just fiction. My book is right (despite having no evidence backing that one up) and also, remember, you’re really weak so you better cozy up to the strong guy. Seriously, this is actually a pretty twisted thing to teach young children. My only hope is, hey, my sisters and I all heard and sang the song and we came out okay- probably the little rugrat will too.

*Eww, eww, fluids. Yuck. Also, it was a hard pregnancy on Kid Sister and I like my sleep too much. Oh, and money.
** For example, jumping out of the barn on to the trampoline, lighting tons of stuff on fire, cutting everything she could get mother’s scissors around, you get the idea.
*** Though for whatever reason, seemed to enjoy my unique song “Eating Various Baby Body Parts”. The lyrics were pretty much as follows: “Look at little baby toes. Yummy, yummy baby toes. I’m going to gobble them up!” This was accompanied by me grabbing onto the body part in question, and then during the “gobble them up” part fake-eating them. Repeat for other parts like fingers, belly, knees and ears. The kid thought it was hilarious, judging by the way he giggled and moved around. So I guess my songs are only actively more disturbing.

Get Over It

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

A friend of mine was talking the other day about this guy who was yelling at her on the street, and how uncomfortable it was for her. Not an uncommon event, not even for her, but this one was a little frightening because he started following her for a bit. She posted it on her facebook page, and got the normal comments of support. Then she got this comment:

Oh get over it. You’re bitching that someone though you were hot enough to try and talk to.

Harassment is a compliment, dontcha know. Now, I could just go “Asshole says things assholes say” but I think this is a very small illustration of something that women, particularly feminists who point it out, deal with when we point to the many, everyday ways we have to deal with shit in a patriarchy and how those things are completely minimized.

Liberals and Progressives like to say things like “context matters” a lot. A noose hung at the “white” tree where some black kids dared venture is a very different symbol than a noose in a western movie (though they both have the broad stroke of being “threatening”). The context of the first makes it “racist”. The context of the second makes it different. The same is true of the shit women deal with.

If I was an alien being who popped in from the land of Egalitaria and I have never experienced sexism before in my life, the random frat guy that barked at me when I was waiting for the bus would have been baffling, but not rage-inducing to me. Was I doing something wrong in a social context? Was it a warning that I didn’t understand? I would assume from the looks that were delivered with it and the tone of the barking activity that this was a judgment of me in some context, and a judgment met with approval by his peers with him, but I would probably find it more weird than embarrassing. In the real world, it was rage-inducing because I knew exactly what I was doing “wrong”- I was being insufficiently attractive to a guy while in public. Hell, I’d probably say “I was existing in public while female” and that’s probably all the “wrong” there was. I went to happily joking with my husband while waiting for the bus to mad as hell in the context of a bark. I took care of it in my normally mature fashion*, but I had the added benefits of it being in public, with my Hubby, and they were unlikely to come back and escalate the situation. In a different time and place, I probably would have just been silent, realizing the powerlessness of the situation and the added danger that comes from the ever-present threat physical violence.**

The context of a guy barking at me was a context where guys feel free, nay encouraged, to comment on women’s body’s like they are entitled to them. One incident is something that is easily forgettable. One incident where you know that you are going to get an equal level of social support, or more level of social support is equally forgettable. Such an incidence happen to me once when I was walking down Minneapolis. An extremely inebriated individual yelled at me “Hey! Do you know you have really big tits!” not once, but twice at me and was aiming for a third time when I acknowledged him by saying “Yes, I know”. I had my Hubby, I had my friends with me laughing at this guy, but the friend of this guy was busy trying to get him to shut up and saying “not cools” at him. This incident did not make me feel embarrassed, nor threatened, nor have the effect of taking up any of my mental or emotional state. This event did not cause me to pause at the idea of wearing a shirt that was low-cut or a push-up bra. The only thing memorable about this incident is the fact that it was actually a little bit funny to my social group. This event is something, that while annoying, is easy to “get over”. Someone barking at me is in a context of social encouragement, dozens of similar events that I have to ignore if I want to be in public, and an all-pervasive attitude of entitlement.

One cut doesn’t kill someone. One cut probably doesn’t even scar, especially if you throw on some salve right away. But a million of the same size cuts can kill a person.

*Yelling at him to fuck off while delivering the boob of justice at him- if there’s nothing that I can do to get him to stop I’m getting an emotional release from the encounter.
** Or maybe not. I’ve been known to invade the personal space of someone who has been yelling at me in the middle of the night by myself. Being suicidal is marvelous freeing in the context of not being afraid of death.

Good Answer, Real Answer

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

I was talking to my husband the other day about Star Trek (like we are wont to do) and discussing replicators. As a thought experiment, we were talking about what we would do with it if we actually were to build a replicator in this day and age. We discussed about how it would change the landscape of the country, and what the fallout might be.

I came to the conclusion that I would in fact start the apocalypse. I would immediately post the plans on the internet on multiple websites, trying to get as many servers as I could, and emailing it to every email address I ever came across. I would patent it under open copyright. I would call up every media source and get it on television as soon as I could. Basically, I would make sure the information got out there before I was inevitably arrested or killed by some organization or another. Because, whatever the fallout, a replicator would do a world of good.

And while this might seem completely unrelated to everyone else, this reminded me of the gay marriage debate. One of the debate points against gay marriage is that it is the foundation of marriage and the larger country would be torn apart if gays were allowed to marry. The liberal response to it is “No it won’t” and point the fact that we’ve already expanded the institution in this country for the better, and other countries have managed to allow gay marriage without anything really happening to marriage or the country. That’s the good reason, and it’s even true.

But, for me personally*, that’s not the real answer. My real answer is “I don’t care- Fiat justitia, ruat coelum.” If, as the conservatives debate, the institution of marriage and this country rests on a foundation of bigotry, than that is a building that cannot be lived in. We can not have institutions based on prejudice if we want them to be safe and just for all. If you have a foundation that has water damage and rot, the rest of the building will collapse soon enough. If you discover the rot, you either fix the house, or you abandon it.

Homosexuals should be allowed into the institution of marriage because it is the right thing to do. Homosexual relationships are the equal to their heterosexual counterparts. There is nothing in a homosexual act that is any more disgusting than a heterosexual one. There is no one being harmed by consensual gay sex. To privilege straight relationships over queer ones is nothing but bigotry.

*Seriously, stop considering me representative of the left. I’m one person who barely gets any blog traffic, not a movement leader (if there even is one).

Today’s Giggle Moment

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Scholars of boys and men converged Wednesday at Wagner College, in Staten Island, N.Y., to announce the creation of the Foundation for Male Studies, which will support a conference and a journal targeted at exploring the triumphs and struggles of the XY-chromosomed of the human race — without needing to contextualize their ideas as being one half of a male-female binary or an offshoot of feminist theory.

…I read that sentence like, three times in a row and it still made no sense to me…so I hadn’t reached the giggle moment yet–

More than anything else, the event was a chance for supporters to frame men and boys as an underrepresented minority

THERE WE GO! :D

Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, said the field takes its cues “from the notion that male and female organisms really are different”…The culprit, said Tiger, is feminism: “a well-meaning, highly successful, very colorful denigration of maleness as a force, as a phenomenon.”

Paul Nathanson, a researcher in religious studies at McGill University and co-author of a series of books on misandry — the hatred of men and boys — conceded that “there is some critique of feminism that’s going to be involved” in male studies. “There are some fundamental features of ideological feminism over the last 30 or 40 years that we need to question.”

He also decried “the institutionalization of misandry” which, he said, is “being generated by feminists, [though] not all feminists.”

Um…so basically what this is is the creation of the Foundation for Anti-Feminist Studies…it’s not really about men at all, is it? It’s Feminism Sucks 101! Which is why, truly, these folks are not calling their bullshit Men’s Studies, because, uh. Men’s Studies (an interdisciplinary academic field devoted to topics concerning men, masculinity, gender, and politics) already exists and has existed for the past 30 years.

Male studies’ combative tone toward feminism and women’s studies programs is one reason why Robert Heasley, president of the American Men’s Studies Association, turned down an invitation to speak at the event.

Yeah, I don’t suppose he’s too crazy about the idea of his actual, real academic discipline getting associated with a hate movement.

Edward Stevens, chair of the On Step Institute for Mental Health Research, said he wants to see male studies search for ways to improve male academic performance. “What are the ethical concerns of devoting 90 percent of resources to one gender?” he asked (though without explaining exactly what he meant).

LOL, seriously! which gender is that and how can I join up? Cuz that doesn’t describe either of the genders that I’m familiar with…this is SO funny! And amazing that anybody would want to waste their one-and-only adult life on this kind of crap, either founding it or, er, “studying” it. The Westboro Baptist Church, Ann Coulter, “Male” Studies…it takes all kinds…what would a deck of cards be without the jokers? I mean, I’ve never actually played a game of cards in which the jokers were ever used but I’d have missed them if they weren’t there in the deck when I pulled it out of the box! If I even noticed they weren’t there in the first place, I would SO miss ‘em! :D

Okay, This Is Ridiculous

Monday, April 5th, 2010

I have kept my mouth shut about this…til now. But this is really the outside of enough, folks. I mean, come ON!

Study: Lack of breastfeeding costs lives, billions of dollars

(CNN) — If most new moms would breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life, it would save nearly 1,000 lives and billions of dollars each year,

Let me note now that I breastfed both my children til each one was a year old and breastfed exclusively through the first four months, so my absolute disgust with this article is in no way some kinda guilt-fueled defensive huffiness. I was a good little Mommie! I saved nearly 1,000 lives and billions of dollars each year! (I could use some of that money right now too, thanks–drop me an email, whoever is holding onto that?)

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Maybe bunnies wouldn’t be such a metaphorical cliche if they just had easier access to contraception

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

First, read Lisa’s little story.

Then listen to the bunnies.

Tell the FDA to Act on Emergency Contraception from Center for Reproductive Rights on Vimeo.

Created by “Once Was A Punkass” Marc Faletti.

Just a little story

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I recently purchased emergency contraception for someone else–fear not, she’s seventeen! So I didn’t contribute to the delinquency of a minor or anything. I bought it for her for three reasons: (1) she lives in a very small town with only one pharmacy, where everyone knows everyone else, and word would probably have gotten back to her parents that she’d bought it, (2) she doesn’t have a car to get to the nearest city to buy it in relative anonymity and (3) she didn’t at the moment have the $40 it costs–she would have in a week, but a week would have been too late.

It wasn’t as easy to actually buy it as I hoped, though–the pharmacy in our small town didn’t have it in stock, and neither did the first three pharmacies that I called in the nearest city. (They did have very disapproving pharmacists, though.) I struck gold in the fourth pharmacy I called, where the phone was answered by a young, cheerful-sounding female voice who informed me that yes indeed, they did have emergency contraception in stock and don’t forget your ID with your date of birth on it when you come to the store to pick it up! I made sure I didn’t forget my ID; I don’t quite look my age, but I don’t look seventeen either! but I wasn’t about to give anyone any excuse to deny me the ability to purchase the stuff after I drove all the way there to get it–time was of the essence in this case.

That was over a month ago, and I am happy to report that she isn’t pregnant. (Not as happy as she is, I can assure you, but still, I’m happy.) I would think that everyone would agree with me that it’s for the best that a seventeen-year-old high school senior shouldn’t get pregnant…but what I find interesting is, apparently there are a lot of people out there who, if she had been a sixteen-year-old high school junior, would have forcefully disagreed and insisted that she should get pregnant. Or a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore. Or a fourteen-year-old high school freshman. This is bizarre and inexplicable to me, given that I think that the more the age of the prospective mother drops, the less and less suited to motherhood both physically and psychologically (and economically, while we’re at it) she is. Apparently others disagree.

Oh well.

Apparently they give PhDs to just about anybody with the cash to buy the college courses

Friday, February 19th, 2010

So I saw this article today while surfing the ‘net:

Dreaded diseases dwindle with gene testing
Wider screening curbs inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs

Some of mankind’s most devastating inherited diseases appear to be declining, and a few have nearly disappeared, because more people are using genetic testing to decide whether to have children.

Births of babies with cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs and other less familiar disorders have dropped since testing came into wider use, The Associated Press found from a review of studies and interviews with numerous geneticists and other experts.

Uh-oh, I thought to myself. Because, you know, the screening itself doesn’t have any directly curative or preventative effect at all on inherited genetic disorders…what it does is allow people carrying genetic disorders to either decide not to reproduce or, more commonly, decide to abort any pregnancy with an embryo or fetus that carries the defective genes. Now, I personally have no problem with this; I am pro-choice through and through. However, I figured that there’d be a sizable contingent of folks out there who would have a b-i-g problem with the idea that giving out access to information that might influence someone to abort could ever, under any circumstances, be regarded as a good thing.

Yep, all I had to do was nip over to the “Comments” section after the article, and what was the very first comment..?

Very ironic and sad that a method touted as a “life-saving effort” is what gives an excuse to kill a baby.

Because of course, you know we are all on the lookout for excuses to kill babies. It’s a lot like being on the lookout for excuses to eat chocolate or go shopping!…sigh.

I can always console myself with the possibility that the hordes of people who are making remarks like that are just ignorant. Or stupid. Or both. But then, linked to the article, is another article written by some dude who presumably is not ignorant or stupid, given that he describes himself as Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.:

Disability-free world may not be a better place
Screening means fewer Down babies, but are we missing out?

A fascinating probe by the Associated Press suggests the reason. Genetic testing is leading to birth of fewer and fewer children with Down syndrome and other genetic disease in the United States.

The “fascinating probe” he refers to is, indeed, the article that originally caught my eye. And you can tell by the way he goes on in the article that he did actually read some of it, because he spends a little time talking about Tay-Sachs disease and Cystic Fibrosis. But his main point, the one he keeps returning to over and over again (after a few sops thrown out acknowledging that children born with Tay-Sachs, for instance, die by age 4) is

As some families with a Down syndrome child have noted, fewer kids with Down may mean fewer public programs, fewer resources in schools and for housing and less political clout.

On a trip to Ireland a few years ago, I was struck by a number of faces among the crowds. They were children with the tell-tale look of Down syndrome. What struck me was the realization that I hardly ever see these young faces out on the street in the United States.

Down Syndrome, which can’t be detected at all through parental screening, which is what the original article is all about, because it’s caused by a mutation in the reproductive cells themselves, not in the parents’ cells. Rinse, repeat: Down Syndrome is not an inherited genetic disorder.

But since the heartstrings clearly get tugged the wrong way by discussing babies born with Tay-Sachs disease–it’s a hell of a lot harder to paint the prevention of that occurence as parents on the lookout for excuses to kill their babies–I suppose Concern Troll PhD couldn’t really use that as his handle, huh?

Things That Are Different and Things That Are the Same

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The wild-eyed woman-hating that apparently characterized this year’s crop of Superbowl ads got me thinking–what do people who make a point of denying that wild-eyed woman-hating really exists in America have to say about it..? Nothing, as far as I could tell–and I don’t blame them; there isn’t much they could say, though I speculated that maybe one or two would capitalize on it as a much-needed backlash against all dem bitchez! or possibly note that the characterization of men as mindless Neanderthals that frequently accompanies ads denigrating women is pretty insulting to men, too.

But in the midst of my aimless perusal of Men’s Rights-type sites, I stumbled across this article: 10 Lies Men Tell Themselves in Order to Stay in Abusive Relationships with their Wives or Girlfriends. I was struck by how very many of the Lies Men Tell Themselves appeared to be very similar, if not identical, to the Lies Women Tell Themselves in Order to Stay In Abusive Relationships. Perhaps not a dazzling revelation–abuse is abuse, regardless of the demographics of the abuser and abusee–but then, that’s also too simplistic of a statement to make. Some forms of abuse really don’t happen much without pre-existing factors that facilitate them; for example, while both parent-on-child and child-on-parent physical abuse does occur, it occurs far more often in the former case due to size disparity, economic imbalance, psychological dominance overwhelmingly in favor of the parent, etc. etc.

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