Category Archives: Politics and philosophy

Pinterest Commenters: Yeesh

The most repinned post on any of my Pinterest boards is an infographic on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It’s also the one with the most comment-conversations by far.  Normally I don’t engage in comment battles — if I have something I absolutely must contribute, I usually shut off notifications of further comments — but when it’s my post (my board, my thought, my backyard) I will keep ploughing ahead.  I also reserve the right to have the last word, under the Get Your Own Damned Blog ruling of 2002 (cf. Twisty Faster).

A summary of interactions:

1.  “Other people have the right not to want gay marriage”:  yes, and they are free to express that opinion.  My adding that it should include the explicit right never to marry seemed to heal the breach.  Verdict:  fist bumps.

2.  Random frothing from a lady who conflated the declaration with “not working for what you get” and determining that it’s “BS” because the US Constitution only guarantees the PURSUIT of happiness, not free abortions, and PS you probly are for gun control: explaining the difference between the US and the UN, that the US Constitution doesn’t apply worldwide, that I am pro-gun, and that thinking a blob of cells should have more rights than the woman pumping them full of blood, etc., etc.  (When their rebuttals are limited to 500 characters, anti-choice folks don’t get to indulge their rant-over-facts technique to end conversations and pretend they won the argument.)  Verdict: random frother tires of presenting balloons for my pin; bails.

3.  Anti-PC snark stating that if you can’t be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., then there is no freedom of speech:  sorry, wrong number, since you have the freedom to be as bigoted as you want, but free speech doesn’t imply freedom from repercussion.  Everyone is free to have an opinion; whining because your opinion is disgusting doesn’t take away your right to speak it.  Verdict:  sincere offer to explain why it is logical to be intolerant of intolerance and still be tolerant was met with silence.  (I hope she works out the math and comes back; I was looking forward to that.)

4.  Crypto-pseudo-Libertarian coyly asserting that it can’t be a “right” if it places a burden upon others: delicious fun spanking the monkey ass of someone who cherishes license more than liberty and thinks public health is an unnecessary luxury that poor folks don’t deserve.  No inherent rights?  I agree!  It’s shorthand for the idea that no one person or group inherently deserves less respect or fair treatment than any other individual or group.  No burden upon others?  Easy!  The word “burden” can mean any responsibility, no matter how slight, as well as mean a problematic responsibility that exhausts resources.  A main purpose of society is to do useful things the individual can’t; putting a slight burden on everyone for a significantly useful common purpose (roads, schools, and — whisper it — public health) is not the oppressive type of burden but an obligation that does good for all and harm to none — like a “Good Sam” road rule.  Verdict:   NOT TODAY, SATAN!

5.  Fastidiously polite Saudi man thinks that democracy isn’t All That, that Westerners have a distorted notion of royalty, that a king who owns a country should not have to bend to the will of the people any more than a shop owner should consult the factory schlubs on how to run his business; and that people who have different ways should just be left alone because “they are happy the way they are”.  Agreed that democracy has major problems and that the US has “No More Kings” printed on its DNA from its history with England (and secretly longs to indulge its shameful urge to adore royalty in filial piety).  That said, a nation is its people, unownable, and it is shameful and unjust to govern without consent of the governed.  PS:  “leave them alone, they are happy the way they are” has been used to justify non-interference with all manner of abuse, from domestic violence (“she’d leave if she didn’t like it; it’s not our business to interfere”) to slavery (“look at how happy they were back then, with all their meals and things provided”), so use that idea with care here in the West.  Verdict:  royal subject still thinks kings are awesome if they treat their people well yet does not mind that kings are not obliged to be awesome.

What next, seriously?  I did not expect one do-gooder infographic to inspire so much resistance.  How many Americans think individual freedoms are actually a horrible idea and highly suspect?  I get the Saudi guy, who is a paragon of intersectional privilege, but garden variety poor Americans?  To paraphrase Professor Kirke, what ARE they teaching in schools these days?

More shock: a teenager has snapped again.

Guys, I can’t even.  I *can’t*.

When I was a teenager, there was, for want of a better word, an epidemic of suicides at my high school.  Oh, the shock!  Those poor young people, their whole lives ahead of them!  On and on, the weeping and wailing…with the dark pioneer countryfolk suspicion all around that anyone who can’t handle the cocoon of high school would never have lasted in The Real World where Life is Real Hard.

(The rural identity where I am from, at the place where the northern plains meet the northern Rockies, can be simplified to “the cowards never started and the weak died along the way”.  A lot of adults felt sadness but no pity for kids that weak, because they remember that, at the same age, they were about to be shipped off to Vietnam or Korea or France or Belgium — folks where I’m from live a long piece — or that they were about to spend long war years scratching it alone with little ones.  What in hell makes people give up before the real battle begins?)

Well, I was in high school, and I knew.  I could have told them, but they didn’t ask. And it was before the internet, so my voice went as far as my journal and my loved ones.  Lest ye forget:

Small children have to face small challenges successfully or they will not be prepared for the larger challenges they will face as larger children.  Mastery of those small things will give them confidence to tackle bigger things.  If they are not afforded small challenges, their stunted problem solving abilities will sabotage their ability to care for themselves as adults.

If they do not learn to tolerate distress when they are little, they will not be able to tolerate distress when they are big.  And they will have more powerful expressions of that intolerable distress.

When I was a kid, I learned how to build a fire, manage a fire, extinguish a fire, and what to do if the fire went out of control.  My next sibling was taught that matches are dangerous and never to touch them.  Who is safer?  Who is more confident?  Who is better protected from this hazard and better prepared to face it?  The kid who has been guided, taught, supervised, and exposed to consequences.

Well, guess what?  Social situations are no different.  Anyone who thinks kids don’t need manners doesn’t understand that, among other things, good manners give a kid tools to maintain poise and self-mastery when in uncertain social waters.  Train your kids, test your kids, support your kids. Don’t shield them from awkward or challenging situations, or from difference in peers, or from threats.  Better a kid should face those challenges under a loving wing as a little one than after age 12 or so, when peers have more weight than parents.

I am sad for those quiet kids who grew up in the deep country who couldn’t handle switching from a school of ten kids in eight grades to a three-year county high school with 1500 kids.  I am sad for the Queen Bees of the country schools who turned into little fish in a large pond.  I am sad for kids like me, who turned to voracious overachievers in the struggle to stay afloat, tying our personal value to grades.  Because we were the kids who punished ourselves by not eating for three days when there was an A- paper instead of an A; we were the kids who begged for plastic surgery at age 14; we were the kids who kept the car running in the garage when the folks were at the Elks for the evening and never woke up the next day.  We matter just as much as the kid who took a gun to school.  But if that kid had stayed home and simply taken himself out, the act would have been too common to care.

Venn Diagram: Sluts and Feminists and Feminist Sluts

Separate intro problem for contrast:  powerful women who think “feminist” is a dirty word. 

On one hand, we have the Susan Sarandon / Madonna contingent who like Wendy Wasserstein’s preference for the term “humanist” instead of “feminist”.  This term sounds more inclusive, is ungendered, and is congruent with my own feminism, which is against all oppression, not only the oppression of women.  While I respect their choice, it has the flavor of white privilege and echoes the problem of being “color blind” to race.  “I don’t see people as having color” = “I don’t have to acknowledge the problems faced by people of color”.  “Rather than fighting against women’s problems, I fight against humanity’s problems” seems to equal, “Women and girls face no special problems in this world,” — a laughable fiction.  The more empowering non-feminist feminist term might be Alice Walker’s identification as a womanist.

Weak tea, ladies.

On the other hand, we have conservatives such as Michele Bachmann and Michelle Gellar, who are happy to have privileges hard-won by self-identified feminists (college degrees, the right to vote, the right to equal opportunity employment, etc.,) but would never stand with the women who fought for their rights.  “OOH ICKY, heck no, I would never call myself a feminist!  It’s so pushy and aggressive and doesn’t acknowledge the importance of men”, usually in God’s Plan.  (These women are my sisters but lordy, they are trapped in their thinking.)  The “lite” version are people like Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry, who don’t seem to know anything about feminism.  Believing women can be strong and still wanting to play traditional gender roles in their personal relationships have zero-nil-nit-swabo-nada-nothing to do with feminism, but someone apparently told them they couldn’t be feminists and let their dates buy them dinner.

To quote Handy from “The Tick”: READ A BOOK!

(On that mythical third hand, the gripping hand, the stunted mental tentacle, we have people such as Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative party monster who worked hard to kill the Equal Rights Amendment — how unAmerican to want civil equality! — and is kept hidden in the GOP attic because she is two things the party hates in women:  smart and ugly.  Fox Republic likes women who are pretty and stupid.  While Mrs. Schlafly is a roaring hypocrite, being an educated divorcee who has had an abortion who fights to keep other women from having the opportunities she enjoyed, she is not stupid.  Evil, yes; stupid, no.)

Look at all the people who are not feminists!

Who DOES identify as feminist?  (And perhaps should not?)

Certain dudes.  I live in the Pacific Northwest, which is home to a lot of passive aggression hiding behind non-confrontation and masquerading as good manners.  There are a lot of guys here who seem sweet and friendly and positive and supportive and nurturing, but only because they have been socialized to appear that way.  In relationships, they are sneering, demanding, angry, resentful babies when faced with the most minimal life demands, but in public, they are sleek and smooth and good little boys.  Oh, these middle class folks and their love of appearances!  Part of this is calling themselves feminists. They might be the dudes of random hygiene and baby dreds, or they might be the neckties at Tektronix who smoke dope on the weekends.  Either way, when you scratch their feminism, you get “hey, I never said we were monogamous just because we’ve lived together for six years; you’re a feminist, you shouldn’t be trying to chain me down”, and a wife who also works full time but does almost all the chores, childcare, and shopping.  Her last name is hyphenated; his is not.

Certain women.  As tepid as the Katy Perrys and Kelly Clarksons, but just this side of the divide.  “Well, sure, I’m a feminist.  I mean, I guess.  I wouldn’t NOT be a feminist.  But I do shave my legs and wear makeup and stuff.  And I’m straight (not that there is anything wrong with NOT being straight).  And my husband, he’s a feminist too, at least he calls himself one.  But, yeah, my husband always drives and stuff.  He gets carsick if he’s not the driver, which I get, because that happens to me too.”  She’s married to the guy at Tektronix.  And she feels in control of her life because she chose to knuckle under.  Real strength lies in flexibility, right?  It’s the sort of flexibility that allows her to cleave unto her husband’s interests (the beer she does not like, the sports she never played, the hobby she tries hard to share) but not mind, not really, that he has never made an effort to see what she sees in the things that thrill her.  Her early married life involves convincing herself she’s not a doormat and that her husband’s boots aren’t that muddy, anyway.  Common life paths:  being traded in for a younger model when the paterfamilias hits man-o-pause; slowly growing a spine and holding her own (so long as she doesn’t leave Nice Village, because that would mean giving up her Nice House and moving to Divorcetown); and/or eroding into a conservative out of isolation from youth and fear of change.

(Aside:  aging so often leads to an unhealthy preoccupation with self, really a tunnel vision focusing on self, that people celebrate as “finally becoming independent” and “taking control of my life” and all kinds of other self-petting BS.  A lifetime of social skills are slowly replaced by selfishness and a demanding nature and an I’m-too-old-to-give-a-shit-you-can’t-make-me attitude.  It is possible to cultivate wisdom, patience, grace, and a generous heart; I’m not saying these folks aren’t out there.  But the voice of the zeitgeist for the next generations is one of a petty egomaniac.)

Yeah, but what about the sluts?  You promised us sluts!

And sluts you shall have, my pretties.  But first, let me say that the word “slut” is used here as a social type and should not be construed as an insult.  Mentally substitute “Bad Girl” or “Libertine” or whatever, so long as there is an implication of visibility, aggressive sexuality, and extroversion in non-mainstream ways.  This is not a meaningful identifier.  As a label, it’s about as value-descriptive as a sticker that says HI MY NAME IS:_____.

Since you don’t know me, let me add that I have nothing against wild styles, wild behavior, or any degree of promiscuity.  I know you can sleep with a passel of folks and still be as sacred in your person as the Virgin Mary, still be as sweet and good-hearted as Snow White.  Nor do I have anything against women who dress and comport themselves like two-peso whores, strictly because those whores can be wonderful people too, and clothes themselves do not possess, impart, or deny morality.   You can have a dirty mind and work your body like a rubber ball and still have a solid-gold character (as explained in the Song of Saint Rizzo, the Book of Grease, Act IV).

What is in your underwear, and what you do with it, does not make you a person of moral refinement OR moral depravity.  Period. This is part of my feminism: that virginity is a social construct, that most moral codes are keys to the commodification of women and girls, that the double standard for men works against both men and women, and that men are also deeply harmed by patriarcho-religious BS.  We’re all victims here.  That said:  the problems of men and women are not equal.  Men have more physical power and more socioeconomic power.  While males are more prone to stunted emotional expression and a twisted sense of entitlement, females are more prone to being victims of violence, loss of franchise, physical disfigurement, and other, harsher penalties.

One of those penalties is for sexual freedom.  The main argument for mutilating the genitals of girls at puberty, in the many countries where it occurs, is to deprive females of sexual pleasure.  Whether that pleasure is undeserved, or makes them rival men, or whatever, the ultimate problem is that it is a threat to the social dominance of men.  It keeps women “pure” (a purity that men don’t seem to need), whether that is to make them good mothers, to atone for the sin of Eve, or to keep them submissive to the proper authority of men and worthy of wifehood.  Consider issues of clothing modesty, social judgment, the blaming of rape victims by other women, and other typical problems in Western culture.  American government traditions were begun by Puritans in the northeast, and eventually our nation’s capitol was raised in this center.  Those values were adopted wholesale and passed down through law and culture.  And they stink.

Burlesque artists, dominatrices, sex workers, strippers, “artist’s models”, and feminism.

The goods at last!  Recently an article by Lizzie Crocker at The Daily Beast presented Karley Sciortino as a case and asked if she was the new face of feminism.  Karley Sciortino has a blog called “Slutever”, which involves sexually provocative activities and sly commentary; she is not my concern here.  My concern is the question: is she the new face of feminism?  The answer is an easy “no”, for me.  My comment on the post:

“Being free to behave as you wish is the result of feminism, not an act in support of it, in my opinion.  There are many types of feminism.  Mine has very little in common with hers — so little that it’s impossible to compare them.  But the word still has some meaning, and calling yourself a feminist when you encourage the worst problem women face doesn’t work.  I fully support her right to express herself and present herself as she wishes.  But is it a specifically feminist act to cater to the oppressor?  Not so much, no.

“It’s true that my wave of feminists tends to see sexually aggressive / open females as heading back to the pedestal/gutter binary we fought to destroy.  Her generation is free to behave in a hypersexual way, but honestly, women have always been free to do that because men were in power, and men enjoyed it.  Men still are and men still do and still keep women in the binary cage because of it.  It’s challenging to support behavior that feeds the beast, you know?”

I have had friends in all the categories of the section header, and most of them consider themselves feminists.  Dressing provocatively, twerking and twirling, selling your services — all that and more — do not prevent you from wanting or deserving social equality.  And I fully acknowledge that no feminist has to conform to my wave of feminism, which was (sometimes stupidly) preoccupied with gaining the respect of the oppressor.  (It’s not stupid when you are convincing those in power to share it; that’s being smart for the cause.) Part of that respect involved continuing to conform to a the Modern Puritan Establishment standard, for some people; burning bras, but wearing turtlenecks, even if what we wanted was to go barechested in the summer heat, as men do.  And for others, it meant taking advantage of new-won sexual freedom by engaging in more sex than we really wanted, or with people we didn’t really like, to exert our power to do so — it’s hard to say “no” when you’ve only just won the right to say “yes” — but we had yet to learn that we had the power to say “no”, too.  It was a hard time if you were not a libertine, but a good time if you were ready to fight for your rights.

You can march to the White House in glitter paint and pasties, but if you are not marching, you are not the face of feminism.  The new generation does not have a goddamned clue what it was like to have to wear skirts to work, get sent home for not wearing a slip or pantyhose, lose custody of children for dating after a divorce, be refused the right to divorce without proof of infidelity, or have no legal recourse after blatant sexual harassment on the job, and a thousand other atrocities.  That’s part of what allows them to think feminism is a dirty word.  But while feminism has earned women the freedom to dress as they will and not bow to the desire to earn the pseudo-respect of Decent People™, it’s not a feminist act to conform to the expectations mainstream society has for Sluts while asking for nothing better.

Most of the body workers I know either live solely in society’s gutter or they maintain rigorous separation of identities so that they don’t lose their day jobs.  Living in the closet is not a feminist act.  But feminism one day might get you out of the closet.  Stripping, strutting, and selling it are fine.  But they aren’t feminist acts.  If you’d like to merge your worlds, work for social justice.  Take a stand and come out of the slut closet.  But do not assume that showing the world your cooch is a blow for justice.  It might make you feel in control of your body, and that is a wonderful thing.  But is it knocking down stereotypes, opening doors to insight, helping mainstream society learn (or demanding that they acknowledge) that women have value beyond what they keep in their panties?  No.  It is not.



Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye, Debating Young Earth Creationism versus Evolution

There is a huge mistake debating this topic:  it implies that there are two equally valid sides.  It implies that there is a debate that can elevate understanding.  We need to fight back against the Michele Bachmanns of the world, and the Texas textbook conspirators, but we must not proceed from the position that there are two sides here.  There is science, and there are fairy tales.

Let me add that I respect the right of any individual to believe as he will.  If you have a deep inner conviction that there are ghosts or gods or gnomes in the garden, I will defend your right to do so.  But you don’t get to teach it in schools or dismiss the work of scholars based on your feelings.  (NB:  vintage, poorly edited fanfic such as the Bible is not valid support for those feelings.)

The nub of the gist:  there is no point debating faith versus science because there is no overlap.  Faith is of the heart and science is of the brain.  If you fall in love with the meth addict who runs the Tilt-O-Whirl and bring him home to your folks, they will say he’s dangerous because he uses hard drugs and is just passing through town.  You will scream that they don’t know him like you know him, and that it doesn’t matter anyway because you luuuuurve him.

And you would both be right.  But either way, in six months you’re going to be living in a van and pumping gas until the baby comes, because chances are good you don’t believe in contraception or abortion, and your parents endorse those opinions but won’t keep a sinner under their roof.

AFFRONT: the gripe so large it deserved its own post.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  if I ever got knuckle tattoos, which is less likely than winning the lottery I don’t play, they would read C-A-P-S   L-O-C-K.

My winner of all things irksome right now:  POMPOUS INDIGNATION AND HORRIFIED MORAL AFFRONT.

This one is special to me because three of my exes specialized in it.  But overexposure to it permanently altered my immune system and lowered my tolerance for it.  In the ex-husband, it manifested as I AM SHOCKED AND APPALLED THAT YOU WOULD EVEN THINK SUCH A THING.  Picture him drawing himself up to his full 74 inches in height, eyes widening, chin receding into his neck as he recoiled in horror, no different from a proper matron in a Victorian drawing room.  In the long-term boyfriend it took the tone of YOU HAVE ASSAULTED MY UPRIGHT MORALS AND OFFENDED ME DEEPLY, MADAME!  This ass was a 66 inch tall pile of jutting jaw and flared nostrils, ready to challenge someone to a duel on the spot.  In the deeply manipulative sometime girlfriend it was closer to WELL!  I NEVER!, and while she always tuned it to the audience, the root was deeply self-entitled narcissism of the DAR / Scarlett O’Hara variety.

Folks who display this attitude are prone to calling out others but rarely check their own bullshit.

There’s another kind I know too well but would never date:  the inane ingenue.  With them I try to be compassionate, because the sincere ones have a rigid standard for their own behavior and either grew up without compassion or never learned that human frailty is not the end of the world.  But it’s hard, since after a lengthy high-toned rant about the moral failures of others, the sincere ones tend to boo-hoo about how everyone is so cruel and hypocritical.  No, honey, you have that exactly backward:  you are expecting generosity from people who have received only judgment from you.  You’ll be fine once you learn to cut yourself some slack and extend the same courtesy to others.  But the one who dishes out harshness and expects worshipful respect if not candy coated adoration (HOW DID WE NOT SEE THAT YOU WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG? PLEASE FORGIVE US FOR NOT RECOGNIZING YOUR MORAL SUPERIORITY EARLIER!  PROMISE YOU’LL BE MY MORAL GUIDE FOREVER) is the sort of ass who gets abandoned by even close friends until the next step in growing up occurs.

Of course, not everyone is earnest and naive.  For most I think it’s just an idealized self-image, an exalted and tender amour propre.  I would say my ex-husband’s case was most self-damaging.  Even though he was the nicest guy of the three, his view of the world was skewed by his protective cloud of huffing and puffing, maladaptive defenses against his shame at failure.  Don’t torture yourself, amigo — just try harder.  You’ll need to protect yourself less when you are confident that you have done everything you could do, and have not conned yourself into thinking it was your best work when you simply quit after getting tired, chickening out, or losing your nerve.  You never got support and encouragement growing up and your batteries get drained fast.  Sometimes the critics are right, and listening to them can help you — especially if the topic is too painful for you to consider.   Wherever you are, I hope you are being honest with yourself and doing better in life.

The long-term boyfriend was very different.  He had two layers:  the first was conscious cover for his chronic cheating (“your suspicion hurts me and implies that YOU are the one who is cheating since you are trying to deflect the focus from yourself; I will now proceed to make this all about you.”)  The second layer was his core self, which had lofty, deeply felt values at odds with his own actions, but a perception of himself based on the values rather than the deeds.  Being publicly called on those actions was deeply upsetting to his core self, and he avoided that pain by blaming his girlfriends or distracting himself with a new side piece — anything to feel good about himself.  He was completely toxic to females as a young man but he got his act together through work with a professional friend.  I’m glad for him and relieved for women at large and generally hopeful for us all.  If he can improve himself, miracles are possible.  Good on ‘im.

As for the sometime girlfriend, who knows?  Any display of emotion on her part might have been to manipulate others or as normal-person camouflage (see The Mask of Sanity by Cleckley) or something else, but it was always purposeful.  Her affront was sometimes the only thing about her that seemed honest, but again — who knows?  You can’t trust a liar.  She was mercurial and calculating and damaging to anyone close to her — but she was also always witty, funny, passionate, and game for the ballroom or the pool room.  I miss her company and our extemporaneous sister act.  But she is (by self admission) the person least likely to change herself or accept the criticism of others.  In her terms, “who listens to the lowing of cattle?”

The problems begin when you despise the cattle for being what they are, but expect their adoration anyway.  It wouldn’t hurt to see yourself as others see you, *especially* even when the image is unflattering.  It’s the only way you find out that your dress is tucked into the back of your pantyhose.  If you don’t accept criticism from your friends, your adversaries are the only ones you can trust.


For the first time ever, I had a bad dream about my adored husband dying.  Normally I would never mention such a thing, being just superstitious enough to want those words kept out of the universe’s ears, so let me move on by saying that the point of this sad dream was that social work saved my life.  It gave me a support system, it gave me clients who needed me to show up for work, it gave me positive feedback and visible successes as a trail of breadcrumbs back to life – even though it was a life without my heart or self.  I never stopped being sad in this dream; never had a life of my own again.  All I did was throw myself into my work so I wouldn’t have to go home to the Honey-less house.

Thing next:  though I grew up in a home that emphasized self-sufficiency, my single working mother tried to hone discernment in her boy-crazy daughter (me) by teaching me to judge men, in part, by how they treat subordinates, behave toward the weak, and care for dependents.  On a date, how does he treat the server?  Does he big-dog other men, especially men of short stature or men perceived as socially less-than?  Is he dismissive of women who aren’t beautiful or young?  Does he mimic or mock people with disabilities or impairments?  Does he describe himself as a cat-hater, or hater of anything?  Basically, if this man esteems himself for being higher on the pyramid than other people, he is just a bully looking for an excuse.  Chances are good he doesn’t kowtow to those higher up the pyramid than he is, but he expects it from those lower.  Sign of a hypocrite and a scoundrel.

From a social work perspective, why can’t we judge a society the same way?  This does not clash with my bootstrappy childhood because even though we never depended on other people to help us up, we were deeply committed to helping out people who needed it, be they strangers or neighbors.  You work hard and plan well for yourself, but we all know that Mother Nature can wipe you out in a single day, a single moment, and you could be the one in need.  Users and abusers go to the end of the line or out the door – their kids don’t, mind you – but if you don’t give help, you don’t get help.  Again, why not judge society this way?   How do we treat our widows and orphans, our physically and mentally frail, our marginalized populations?  How do we treat the animals in zoos and factory farms?  How do we treat the children in our schools and streets?  How do we treat the populations we control, such as the jailed, the institutionalized, and the military?

Consider the high number of people with moderate mental illness who end up in jail because they can’t afford the treatment or meds that keep them functional, and end up shoplifting or squatting in order to obtain food and shelter and clothing – basic survival needs.  Life on the streets is not safe or healthy.  Neither is life in jails and prisons.  But incarceration offers food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, and a life out of the elements.  It’s cheaper to provide services outside of prison, and it’s fundamentally wrong to imprison people for crimes committed only for the purpose of survival, but that is not how we run things.

I love the United States and I am proud to be an American.  Individualist culture is my preference.  But individualism is defined by the divisions between people rather than ties that bind them, and it is a mistake as a society to let individuals fall into the cracks.  I have too much pride to enjoy living in a country where fat rich people can be chauffeured past starving homeless children.  This indecency is un-American to me.  We should care for our own.  If people are looked down on for living in slum tenements, but the people who collect their rent are not looked down upon as well, something is radically wrong.

As with individuals, society must be judged by how it treats its weakest members and those in its control.

Emotions: We All Have Them

To quote (or misquote) Neil Gaiman on Twitter:

Warning:  contains Me.

My first semester of grad school is wrapping up (I should be working on at least one of my last two final papers right now.)  My husband has been unemployed for five months, I have been unemployed for two years, and money is tight.  There is no medical insurance, and despair is setting in.  There are other things, lots of them, but this is enough to support my statement that I can not afford emotional excess right now.  I’m not prone to emotional excess normally, but much less so at the moment.

I have made a huge mistake, and that is trying to engage with internet-only or past-local friends on the topic of guns in the aftermath of the Lanza shootings.  These friends fall, with only a few exceptions, in two solid categories:  gun nuts and anti-gun nuts.  I am a pro-gun leftie who thinks banning all private ownership of guns is extreme, unnecessary, and probably impossible.  I also think that unrestricted, unregulated access to all forms of ordnance is extreme, unsafe, and irresponsible.

My mistake is being emotionally ragged, needing all the positive vibes I can get, and taking a chance on playing the calm, respectful devil’s advocate to both camps.

It turns out that gun nuts don’t want to be reminded that individuals don’t get to own bazookas and grenade launchers and cannons, and the Bill of Rights hasn’t withered because of it.  Banning assault rifles will not be a material abrogation of their right to bear arms.  They do not want to hear that urban environments are made volatile and dangerous by guns, and that many urban owners are scared folks with no safety training and no target practice.  They do not want to acknowledge that gun shows, private transactions, and gun theft are real problems.  They do not want to require mandatory safety training or proof of current training to purchase guns, nor do they want to put revocation of rights on the table for irresponsible gun use.  They also do not want to hear that the NRA is hurting the cause of responsible ownership by its extreme positions, or that they need to try to understand the anti-gun crowd rather than dismiss them all as ignorant reactionaries.  A lot of them are ignorant, but no one is educated by derisiveness.  Teach them.  Show them better if you can.  If you can’t, check yourself.

It also turns out that anti-gun nuts refuse to acknowledge that there is such a thing as responsible gun ownership, or circumstantially appropriate gun use for self-defense. They don’t want to hear that most gun owners have trouble-free experiences.  They don’t want to hear that there is no psych test that can screen out potentially dangerous people.  (Most so-called “crazy” people are harmless, or harm only themselves; most so-called “sane” people with no history of problems are the ones who snap under certain kinds of pressure; and anyone can game a psych eval with high face validity anyway.  It’s true.)  They don’t want to hear that all the regulations and restrictions being discussed might be great ideas (some are not), but none would have prevented what happened.  Reducing damage is possible, and it’s important that we pursue that.  (My insurance-worker past goes to the bone, and I’m all about risk management.)  But thinking, for example, that a gun safe can defeat an intelligent 20 year old with unlimited time and access to the safe is not rational.  They didn’t want to hear it.

I told them about growing up in the deep country where all of us used guns and no one got hurt, and they said that nobody hunts anymore.

I described having people try to break in, thinking deep country people who had no neighbors within earshot and no cops for many miles would not be able to stop them, and how the sound of a shotgun being shucked (and, once, a warning shot being fired) got them to move on when turning the yard lights on didn’t; they said it never happens.

I told them of my single working mom opening a gas depot on a trucking road at 3 a.m. and keeping her .22 handy until the other folks arrived; half were shocked that she didn’t either shoot herself or someone else, and the other half said she never needed it so she shouldn’t have had it.  (We keep a First Aid kit in the car, too, and we’ve never needed it, either.)

I told them about being out with a girlfriend (in the days of our young hotness) and having a group of guys making noise like they wanted to mess with us.  When they walked our way, making ugly noises, she opened the trunk of her car and displayed (not brandished) a high-powered handgun; they departed.  I was told, “You should have just driven away.  They would have just taken your gun away and used it against you — that’s how it happens.” Only if you are not willing to shoot before they get within arm’s reach, and that was not the case.  “No way were you going to shoot someone!”

Well, what about all the still-dark mornings at the bus stop?  What about all the crummy neighborhoods I’ve lived in?  What do I do if a guy, or more than one guy, wants to mess with me?  How do I outrun a van?  Sneering is all I got, and I really didn’t need it at the time.  I don’t expect my personal anecdotes to change anyone’s mind, but I thought that people would at least understand how a person they get along with otherwise might find guns useful.  Instead, I was told to ignore my personal experiences because irresponsible gun owners exist and plus, statistics.

This aspect of the hooraw is particularly hard for me, since I cleave hard Left.  Openmindedness, inclusiveness, and respect for difference is what it’s all about.  But lately, I’m getting derided and dismissed.  Contempt and sneering are  no fun.  They certainly don’t make me think, “Wow, I’m being sneered at!  They must be right and I must be wrong!”

This is like the conversations between steak lovers and morally indignant vegans.  The carnivores who chant “top of the food chain” at the top of their lungs are stupid to ignore issues of sustainability, animal welfare, or ethical slaughter.  The vegans who dismiss all consumers of animal products as murderous cannibals are stating that anyone who doesn’t already feel the way they do are cretinous savages incapable of reason and unworthy of persuasion.  There is no thought that someone else might be reasoned with, on either side.  Certainly there no attempt to get inside the other guy’s head and figure out why he feels the way he does — and certainly no acknowledgment that hey, if I had been in your shoes, I might feel the same way.  Scornful, simplistic rejections are so much easier than admitting the other guy might have a point.  Then we’ll actually have to THINK THIS THROUGH.

It’s so much easier to feel than to think.

I know this horrible shooting has everyone feeling emotional, and people need to work out their feelings.  But there is a difference between ventilating feelings (an unburdening that leads to relief and improved perspective), and narcissistic emotional indulgence (which gets you all worked up as you follow the emotional spiral toward hysteria.)  I’m seeing the latter on both sides, and it’s wearing me out.


The PC Movement

There is a great if horrifying post on elder rape today over at the Daily Beast, and as always, there are horrifying comments.  Like that judge in Arizona who found a cop guilty of sexual assault, but chided the victim for having gone to a bar (“if you hadn’t been there, it never would have happened”) and said that she hoped the victim “learned something from all this,” there are a large number of commenters who are loudly disagreeing with the statement that “rape isn’t about sex, it’s about violence.”

Jaw on the floor, I read comment after comment saying that this statement is untrue, that it’s just “feminist dogma”, that it’s not rape if it’s not violent and forcible, that sometimes, yeah, it IS about sex.

Doesn’t that make you wonder about the “dating history” of a person who would say such a thing?

And then the inevitable bitching and moaning about the PC movement.

Well, guess what, sports fans?  We never would have needed a PC movement if it hadn’t been for ignorant jerks who might loudly vaunt Good Old-Fashioned Family Values, but behave and speak in a thoroughly ungentlemanly fashion, denigrating people for their differences and choosing rapists over their victims.

So every time a feminist irks you, keep in mind that the dittoheads of the world are to blame.

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On abortion, especially in cases of rape, incest, etc.

“Horrid circumstances” have nothing to do with whether or not abortion is acceptable. Nor does the inherent idea that the mother must have done everything in her power to avoid pregnancy.

The left don’t feel comfortable discussing the boundaries of ethical abortion too much, since the right uses that boundary to argue that all abortion is wrong. Even so, there are those on the right who admit that there are times when abortion seems inarguably appropriate — and therefore abortion isn’t 100% immoral.

But the “horrid circumstances” rule only clouds the issue. Whether abortion is always okay (within ethical limits such as viability) or it’s always murder (just like a two-day late period is a miscarriage) (sorry, but those folks are idiots) — that determination has nothing to do with the circumstances of the origination of the pregnancy.

Folks, get over yourselves! Read some books (the kinds with facts, not shouting) and keep in mind that if it’s not your body, it’s not your business. Let the law reflect it.


Since the Democrats have dropped the word “rare” from their classic abortion litany (“it should be safe, legal, and rare”) some folks, even Eleanor Clift, are wondering if the Dems have gone too far.  In her Daily Beast piece this morning, she said the Dems might be unwisely pushing the envelope.  You already have the base; why alienate the centrists?

I love Eleanor (gee-I-think-you’re-swell-anor), but is she kidding?

The GOP have pushed abortion/contraception issues out of the stratosphere, with personhood bills for lentil-sized blobs, trying to lay murder charges on women who miscarry, and even dating pregnancy to the previous period — essentially making you pregnant before you might have even had sex.

After all that, nothing the Democrats do to defend a woman’s right to control her own body can be called “pushing the envelope.”

The idea of forcing a woman to remain pregnant against her will is not compatible with a free society.  We’re not incubators who have no ownership of our bodies, nor slaves who can be bred like livestock.

And babies are not punishment for having sex.  The anti-science of the Right, which as a party plank in many states wants to deny high schoolers education in reproductive biology (as well as many other critical scientific ideas which don’t align with their misguided religious beliefs, which they are free to have but not smart to have), cannot have it both ways.

You can’t bullshit people using pseudo-scientific language that a teensy blob of human cookie dough has rights that supersede those of the grown woman — or immature girl — who houses it.  You cannot deny high schoolers the facts about their own bodies, prevent them from obtaining condoms and the Pill, and then punish them for not having blindly obeyed you in your insistence that abstinence is the only acceptable form of birth control.

Be honest, Texas Republicans.    A lot of your women had pregnancy scares.  A good number of them had abortions, back when it was legal and unobstructed, and thanked God for it.  A lot of your men abandoned the women they knocked up.  And a lot of folks got married young, with white shotguns on both sides.  Don’t lie to yourselves about what teens do.  Don’t hypocritically deny your young people rights you exercised.

And don’t try to assuage your own guilt about having had premarital sex, out-of-wedlock babies, or even abortions by “saving” young people from making the mistakes you made.  Grow up, little britches.  Accommodate reality rather than pretending that married women, religious women, and people who used birth control don’t get abortions.  Or need them.

You know darned well that Plan B and early-term abortions are not murdering babies.  All you are doing is cultivating a wedge issue in people who might vote for the other team if they took their eyes off the non-government problem of unwanted pregnancy and glanced for a moment at the real problems of the economy and unemployment.  These are complicated issues on which good folk disagree.  How bright of you to take away people’s facts, and whip up their emotions, on an issue that solves none of the real problems America is facing — and which her government might solve.

But thinking about the economy instead of teensy little baby bones might lead folks to vote for the other team, and you can’t have that, now, can you ? 

And hey, not that you care, but forcing a woman to bear a child she doesn’t want, or can’t afford, puts another real person into the world.  A little kid you insisted be brought into the world, which you have denied food, medicine, and shelter.

As Helen Lovejoy said, “Won’t someone *please* think of the children?”  The Republicans sure as hell are not.

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On Motherhood, Spanking, and Texas

As has been repeatedly pointed out to me by acquaintances, friends, and strangers who are mothers, I am not a mother, so my parenting opinions are meaningless, utterly without value, and should be kept to myself.

To an extent, I agree.  I have seen new mothers (first-timers and those with other little ones to manage) at wits’ end, exhausted, filthy, running under the gun, living in houses that look like battlefield routs.  I have seen entrenched mothers who are so worn down (and have so little assistance) that they feed their kids whatever crap the fussy darlings will actually eat, let the television babysit, and close the house like a fortress in order to get a few hours sleep before some horrible accident with the gas range kills them all.  Never have I judged.  Less-than-ideal parenting is not the same as unsafe parenting, and you do what you gotta do, Honey.  I’m not saying a word, unless it’s an offer to help, a pat on the back, or a sincere round of cheerleading to keep you swinging.

But the ruling that my opinions are always wrong and don’t count does rub, sometimes.  I’ve never been a mommy, but I was a child for quite a while…until shortly after my first sibling was born.  Seven happy years of being an only child, followed by two years of being Mommy’s Little Helper, then another six years or so of being Mommy Pro Tem during hours that our single working mother was off site.  Let’s put it this way:  when I was 9, I was taking care of my 2 year old sister.  When I was 16, I was taking care of my 9 year old sister.  During summers visiting my father (whom I love, but who never paid a dime in child support), I took care of my even younger sister and brother.  (This is the first chapter in the ongoing saga titled, “Why I Am Childless:  A Draft In 438 Parts.”)

So when I voice my dismay at seeing a clean, well-rested, cheerful mommy at the park divvying her own Mountain Dew into her baby’s bottle, I get in trouble for voicing my opinion — and it irks me.  This seems like a no-brainer, rather than something that an elite squad of mommy-scientists needs to adjudicate.  (Try to keep in mind, my dears, that your principle qualification for motherhood was a healthy ovum and a hospitable uterus.  No education was required, no training received, no tests passed.)  I don’t walk up to strange mommies to share my opinions, nor do I engage in the passive-aggressive pantomime of glaring and snorting and sniffing and clucking and making angry faces.  It was inculcated in me from my earliest years that you can think poorly of someone’s actions and yet not judge her (or him) — if you were in his or her shoes, you might have done the same, or done worse.  People need encouragement to do better.  Snarking never helps.

[This lesson was straight from after school specials PSAs during Saturday morning cartoons.  My family did voice this, to a certain extent, but there were some very harshly judgmental old ladies in my kidhood.  And there was absolutely no encouragement.  You were either pulling your weight, or you were dragging others down.  The former was expected of you as the bare minimum; the latter was unacceptable if not treasonous.]

But whether or not the mommies like it, I have opinions.  While I welcome disagreement (we don’t learn much from those who only agree with us), anyone who thinks I’m not allowed to voice my opinion because I have never been delivered of a child is free to lodge a protest somewhere else.  I am officially invoking the Gitcher Own Damned Blog rule.

* * * * * Now that I’ve disclaimered and backstoried, it’s time to talk about spanking. * * * * *

First:  lately there has been a FB meme circulating among my friends of the crotchety right-wing Archie Bunker persuasion, which proclaims, “I was spanked, and it never hurt me a bit.  It taught me to keep my pants pulled up, to respect parental authority, and inculcated a sense of fear and shame — without which I would have led a life of crime and dissolution — and which made me the paragon of virtue you see bitching before you today.  Spanking was good for me, it’s good for all children, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a whining Communist pansy.”

—  Settle down, Beavis! This is a reaction to the current news items asking if spanking can ever be healthy, if it’s child abuse, if it causes psychological problems in the child, etc.; where are the boundaries?  The kindest thing I can say about the Archie Bunkers on my f-list is that, like me, they were spanked as kids, probably not to excess, and that they, like me, turned out okay.

But it doesn’t allow that others’ mileage may vary.  Unfortunately, most people tend to skew their recollection to their preferred version of reality, whether it’s nostalgia or utopia.  Most people aren’t especially honest with themselves, either.  If what they are exposed to challenges their biases, you can keep your facts, and they will cherish those illusions.  They may not believe it, but there are kids who will not benefit from spanking.

[Okay, more anectodes:  I was a praise-craving teacher’s pet type, eager to please, and the one spanking I got from my dad as a toddler was all noise, very little pain, and more bruised ego than anything else.  That much I remember.  Later my mother filled in the blanks:  it just about did my old dad in to do it; he was upset and shaky after the few seconds it took.  Later, when I went through an incredibly sarcastic, sharp-tongued phase, my mother threatened to spank me a few times (“Do I need to get the wooden spoon?”) but it was a vanity check.  I’m not a baby to be spanked!  Okay, then act like a grown up!  — Ah, poop.  Okay. ‘Nuff said.

[My sister was a hellion, very much like Mom was, and was spanked frequently.  This mostly ended when Sister was being a real shrieking pill, and would not back down.  Mom told me to Fetch The Wooden Spoon!  I knew Sis would take the spanking with a smirk and a so-what and a mocking (but quite true) “You would never hurt me!”  So instead of bringing back the wooden spoon, I brought back the wickedest looking thing in the drawer:  a large, flat semicircle of metal with a sharp lip and holes punched in it, and a long handle.  It was some sort of grease strainer, and we never used it.  When Mom and Sis saw it, they were startled out of their fight, and we all cracked up.  Obviously we were all done with spanking.]

So I thought spanking was fine.  But clearly it was not the same sort of spanking one of the boys in my class routinely got from his drunk father, whose wife (my friend’s mom) had run off years ago.  This kid used to come in battered to hell, as well as dirty and uncared for and hungry.  We all pretended not to notice his misfortune.  Teachers were not mandatory reporters in those days, either.  Being male themselves, and brought up in similar molds, they treated his acting-out as challenges to their authority.  Our sixth-grade teacher, a large and mostly sweet guy, hauled the kid into the hallway once after protracted belligerence.  We could hear him slapping the piss out of the kid.  Five minutes later, it was business as usual. My friend was bloodied but unbowed.  My teacher was relieved of his emotional buildup.  My social studies homework was still boring, and Bolivia was still a primary exporter of antimony, zinc, and tin.

Does anyone think what that teacher did counts as spanking?  Texas, maybe.  We’ll get back to Texas.

Second:  a (former) local politician here in California was recorded by a neighbor who became alarmed after seeing the man abuse a child.  The man was playing ball with his stepson, and belt-whipped him when he failed to catch the ball.  The neighbor verbally intervened, was rebuffed, and called the police.  The man accused of abuse has claimed that he was not beating the child, but disciplining him; and that this was not the result of failure to catch the ball, but of the kid’s words to him.  I didn’t need to wonder what a child could say that could drive an otherwise reasonable adult to violence.  My friend in sixth grade was not the first or last kid I saw “get it” from a grown up.  But it’s not acceptable, in my opinion. And it’s certainly not “discipline.”

My guess is that the guy is calling it discipline in order to exploit the broad parental prerogative to apply physical force to a child.  My opinion?  Once a child has reached the age of reason, you must guide it by reason, in order to teach him or her to employ reason as a guide in future action.

Obviously this is my ideal, and while I hope parents are actually trying, whenever possible, to do what’s best for the child, I repeat that less-than-ideal parenting is not necessarily unsafe parenting.  Conversely, if you are not intelligent enough to train your child without violence, you shouldn’t be parenting, in my opinion.  But what’s shown on the video is a complete lack of (self-) discipline by an adult.  He’s beating the child because he’s angry and frustrated, not because it’s what he reasonably believes will be the best way to encourage good behavior.  Even if he thinks he’s punishing the child appropriately, he isn’t.  He’s just belt-whipping a little boy.

Which is the crux of the matter for me, even taking into account the less-than-ideal realities of life, and occasional moments of understandable frustration on the part of harried parents.

A noisy swat on the diaper-padded butt of a toddler is mostly an attention-getting device, used to snap the kid out of misbehavior.  Clapping hands loudly has about the same effect.  Slightly older kids, who need (real) discipline, the kind that involves training and consequences, can be punished meaningfully without violence.  Telling the kid, “If you hurt the kitten again, I’m going to hurt YOU!” is not exactly guiding the child to empathy.  (Retaliation and other forms of playground justice are lessons learned from peers, not grown ups.)

Whaling on a kid, particularly from emotion — and whaling harder if the child strikes back at you — is just brute dominance.  It teaches a kid that the person he should love, respect, and trust most in the whole world gets to hit him, and he doesn’t get to defend himself.  (When people sneer at victims of domestic violence who defend their abusers, it’s the first thing that comes to my mind.)  A sparky kid will hate you for beating her.  A sad kid will hate herself for making you want to.

Again, for basically well-behaved children, the odd spanking or smack will not be the end of the world.  If it’s part of the cultural context for their family (region, ethnicity, etc.,) it’s at least easier for the kid to understand and get over without help.  If it’s neither severe nor frequent, it’s usually not a big deal.

But what if that kid has a real problem?  What if he’s acting out from a separate issue?  No matter how annoying or inconvenient his behavior, if there is another problem there, you’re not going to beat the kid to wellness.  It won’t change what’s spurring the bad behavior.  What if he’s getting bullied at school?  What if some creepy uncle is getting handsy?  What if he did something too upsetting or shameful to admit, but can’t get over having done?  A kid who senses that he could actually use some straightening out is not a kid who needs a beating. Kids may not have jobs or mortgages, but they have all kinds of pressures and fewer tools to cope.  Are you going to help that kid find tools, or are you going to whack him until he shuts up?

Good parenting, there, Genius!  (Kids who are raised poorly might be a separate topic, since it’s the same problem I have with people who buy puppies, don’t train them, and condemn the growing dog to years of being shouted at for misbehaving — when the responsible party never made the effort to teach them acceptable behavior.)  Some of my Archie Bunkers think any parent who provides a child with clothes, food, and a roof has discharged his parenting duties sufficiently.  Any kids who are less than perfectly behaved, after basic survival needs have been met, are obviously Rotten Spoiled Brats.  (And you know how we deal with them!)

Hitting a troubled child just makes him more troubled.  The problems he has are not solved by it.  You have not beaten his problems out of him.

As the troubled child grows, with his problems unsolved, the more and harder you have to hit him to make your point.  Even if you admit that your point is the disgusting practice of physical domination to force the kid to respect your authority to strike him (Texas, I’ll be with you in a minute), you must understand that you won’t get to hit him forever.

And if you have a troubled child who is physically aggressive, the more you hit him, the more you guarantee that violence will be central to his life.  It’s all you’ve ever taught him to do.  It’s the only tool in his toolbox.  You will have to beat him to death to get him to stop.

* * * * * Which finally brings us to my third point:  Texas. * * * * *

Let me say that the Texas spirit is dear to my heart, and I cherish the gusto with which they assail life.  The Lone Star State spawned Janis Joplin, Molly Ivins, and Walter Cronkite, rest their sweet souls, and many other folks good and great.  It is the home of my beloved Johnson Space Center.  It has a lot going for it.

It is also legally prepared, as a State and in its various businesses and organizations, for secession at any time.  It won’t rely on the rest of the Confederate states in the future, but will be an independent nation.  Anyone who says Texas is its own country is speaking a true word in jest, even if it might be more accurate to say that Texas is its own little universe.  I don’t believe they get to claim to be patriotic Americans, in their focus on these principles, but I don’t think they care a whit.

The Texas GOP platform was recently released, and it’s so openly dedicated to evil that it sounds like hyperbole.  Unbelievable.

The general rundown should be read.  Since the document links at the GOP website are broken, try this: or the aptly titled ) — and since I’m linking it up, here is a concise highlight reel of Tex-insanity GOP demands:

(The part about opposing teaching critical thinking as well as higher order thinking skills really deserves its own entry.  We may scoff at their ludicrous mind control attempts, but Texas makes the textbooks for the nation.  Remember when they wanted to replace all references to slavery with the phrase “triangle trade” and remove the humans-as-commodities aspect by emphasizing the rum, bananas, and sugar leg of the trip?  When they tried to require that all textbooks list the President’s middle name, did you believe them when they said it was out of respect?  It would not have surprised me if they insisted it be misspelled in all caps, too, since that’s the way it seems to appear in their personal emails.)

There are a million gems in this document that deserve our appalled attention, but here is just one:  explicit support of expanding the current corporal punishment in schools.   There is so much to fear in the overall document — from their insistence that Christian Creationism be taught in science class, to their position that the separation of Church and State is a misinterpreted myth, to their repeal of everything from minimum wage laws to environmental protection and beyond — that this might seem the least of our worries.  But basically, they want to give teachers more authority to beat your children with impunity.

It doesn’t surprise me that the Texas GOP wants to beat their own children, or beat other people’s children, or let other people beat pretty much any children they want.  But it does disgust me.  They make a poor case for corporal punishment doing the child any good — associations of pediatricians and mental health providers have come out against it — but they aren’t interested in the child’s well being.  They emphasize the importance of their own authority being undisputed.

What they sound like are perverts who want to dominate others, including children, in a way that is not safe, sane, or consensual.

It sounds as if I’m being facetious, but I’m not.

Systematically depriving young people, especially young women, of education in science, knowledge of reproductive biology, access to birth control, the right to abort, and even the freedom of personal belief, points to a mindset that craves the enslavement of others.  There is nothing more perverse, in my opinion, and the religious aspect only adds spiritual coercion to the enforced submission.  It’s the same mentality that has FLDS elders marrying nine year old girls; it’s all there but the prairie dresses.

But demanding expanded access to spank school-aged children is the sort of thing that should have the FBI confiscating their hard drives.