Abortion and Responsibility

In the wake of the SCOTUS’s leaked draft on Roe v. Wade, it’s time to post this. Again. 

“When can we talk about abortion and a woman’s personal responsibility?” 

I’m glad you asked. 

We can maybe (and that’s only MAYBE) talk about ‘personal responsibility with regard to the need for safe, legal, accessible abortion when (and ONLY when): 

1. When ALL birth control is fully effective and without harmful side effects. 

The pill, for example, is supposedly  99% effective. That’s assuming ideal conditions; real-life numbers are more like 85-90%.  Efficacy rates for condoms are about the same. More expensive options, which require insurance and access to medical care (both of which anti-choice folks have ALSO tried to decrease!), can be more effective (none are 100%) but often have serious side effects, even if a woman has access to them (see #2). But even assuming ideal conditions, that’s still 1 failure for every 100 women (technically it’s 1 for every 100 times PIV sex occurs, but again, I’m erring on the conservative side). In a country with about 174 million females, let’s say (conservatively) half of whom are sexually active, even assuming ideal conditions and optimal possible efficacy, that’s almost 870,000 potential unwanted pregnancies among women being ‘responsible.’

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A project of mine….

So I’ve been working slowly on putting together all my information on theocracy and the religious right in America (mostly, not exclusively), as well as my academic pieces on the history and doctrine of Christianity. And now on a site that will serve as a repository of that info, and hopefully, as a resource for those wanting to halt the trend of theocratic developments in the US. On this anniversary of the insurrection at the US capitol, and thinking about the crosses that appeared there, I decided it was time to make this (sort of) public. It’s very much a work in progress, and I’m not really going to promote it until there’s more to it, but if you land there, please look around, kick the tires, and drop me a line if you find any problems, or there is something you’d like me to include. Be kind; remember, it’s just barely getting started, but feel free to mosey over: Anti-Theocracy

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So, You ‘Did Your Research?’

If by “do your research” you mean that a Google search will reveal pages that agree with your position, that’s not exactly impressive. Using Google I can find pages that say the Earth is flat, the Holocaust never happened, and that Elvis is still alive. It’s time to stop pretending that just because ‘supertruewellnessnews.com’ says that baking soda will cure cancer, it lends any validity to the argument. Continue reading

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To Lead, To Drive, To Do: Why (and How) I Teach

(Originally published December 29, 2018)

Students tend to like solid, concrete, specific answers. Or, more accurately, they like to know, solidly, concretely, and specifically what answers I want from them. They rarely get them, however, and that’s a good thing. Take the Latin verb agere. Our students learn this verb early in their Intro Latin, and it throws them. It throws them because it can mean so many things: to lead, to drive, to do, to plow, to pass time, and a hundred other shaded variations. There is simply not a solid, concrete, specific answer to what the verb means that can be plugged in every time. “But how do we know when it means which thing?” they inevitably complain. That’s the beauty of Latin, though. While it demands meticulous attention to every letter and every syllable, at the same time, it defies specificity precisely because so many words in Latin mean so many things. I tell them they need to look at the rest of the sentence, or even the rest of the passage, to determine what the verb agere is doing in this particular sentence. In other words, students need to look at context to find meaning. They need to infer, interpret, and choose the best meaning in this instance, and in every instance. If there’s a better reason to teach Latin (or any foreign language), I can’t think of one. Continue reading

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Trump and the Blood Libel

Detail of “The Martyrdom of Simon of Trent in Accordance with Jewish Ritual Murder, Giovanni Gasparo” (2020)

I have said before that Trump has intentionally evoked thinly veiled white supremacist rhetoric. I’ll cover a few instances of this before noting what I found most disturbing in his speech from Tulsa, and what it has to do with the ghastly painting, of which a detail is shown above, by an Italian artist.

Let’s begin with Tulsa (a place with an agonized history of racism). One example that might easily be missed without context is his comment about the ‘good bloodlines,’ of Henry Ford: “good bloodlines, good bloodlines — if you believe in that stuff, you got good blood.” On the surface, this seems like an odd way to praise someone. But to anyone familiar with the history of white supremacy and anti-Semitism, this ominous observation, particularly when made about Ford, is an outright endorsement of white supremacy. Continue reading

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We We Don’t Vote and Why it Sucks

America has a voting problem. We don’t vote, and we are losing our democracy as a result, pure and simple. I am not railing at those who don’t.  I am speaking to those who proudly declare that either they are voting third party/write in, or who otherwise do vote, but will decline to do so any time their preferred candidate didn’t get the nomination. I know full well entirely too few people vote at all. (and it’s not just the ‘bottom’ who doesn’t vote, BTW. The left has far lower numbers than the right, and it’s not just lower-income demographics that stay away in droves.) There is not one single, monolithic reason for that; it’s way more complex a question for one answer.  Continue reading

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Evolution 101; the gradeschool edition

Because I am so tired of having to explain this over and over, here it is on one handy-dandy spot. Evolution 101. (To all you science folks, I am going for the 3rd grade version, so I know I’m oversimplifying.)

It’s just this easy: Reproduction, Mutation, Selection-An Idiot’s Guide to Evolution. 

1. Reproduction: All organisms reproduce, producing offspring that share DNA from both parents. Something that does not make copies of itself where DNA is transmitted cannot evolve. This means all living things (and possibly some very complex proteins, because they do this with a sort of proto-DNA) can and do evolve. Continue reading

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Who Made Whom? The Legacy of Fingerpointing in the Era of Trump

Someone posted this as pushback to the fear and bewilderment at Trump and his ilk, and the rise of fascistic ideology springing up worldwide. I felt the need to reply.

“How did this happen you ask? You created “us” when you attacked our freedom of speech.”

– No, we did not ‘attack’ your freedom of speech. We asked you not to denigrate your fellow Americans, and to treat others with kindness, even if they are different from you. We also pointed out that freedom of speech does not mean that others cannot critique what you say. In other words, it’s not a magic shield from the consequences of being a dick. Continue reading

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Musings: Misogyny Masks Racism

Rough musings: Why do I say misogyny masks racism:

-They come from the same place; threatened white male entitlement. Though the conversation about race and gender play out in different arenas, they are essentially the same conversation and tend to intersect when women of color (in particular, black women), enter the fray. Undeserved benefits, special rights, ‘you’re already equal, stop complaining,’ ‘NotAllMen/Whites,’ etc. It’s the same crap from the same people. That’s not to say that gender inequity doesn’t exist in communities of color (intersectionality’s complicated, amirite?), but there is a brand of American racism that is brought to you by the makers of American sexism and vice versa, and they are pumped out of the same factory. Continue reading

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On the Dangers of Literalism in Religion

People keep saying “Islam is a peaceful religion,” and then they follow it up with “ISIL isn’t Islamic” or “ISIL is not real Islam, but a twisted and warped version of it.” Or, these days it’s “Those people aren’t real Christians” or “real Christians would never vote for this or that or so-and-so,” or “no Christian would EVER support the KKK/Nazis/white supremacists.”

No, I’m sorry. They claim the same creed, the same book, and the same deity. They feel themselves to be every bit as devout and sincere as you do. You don’t get to disown them because you don’t like how they interpret your faith. The problem is that who gets to say which is the “twisted and warped” version of any faith?  Continue reading

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