Gays, Women, and the GOP – Rant Roundup

More and more I’ve been seeing posts about “The GOPs War on Women”. Which is sort of funny because gays have less rights than women at the moment and if you’re a gay woman, god help you. Generally it goes something like “Limbaugh said something, look at it!” and it’s a video of Rush or someone saying something inflammatory. I usually just post back the Bill Maher video.

But, something more recently dawned on me. People don’t get it. People, if they bother to respond at all to the Maher video, usually defend it with “oh but it’s humor”. On the face of it, Rush too hosts a program which is just humor, or just commentary. The issue goes a little bit deeper than this, it’s not that the GOP or the Republicans or the Democrats have a war on women, it’s that you wouldn’t say these things in the workplace. (I actually had someone yell at me for posting the Maher video to their page in response because they did watch it at work, with the volume up, completely ignoring the warning in the first 5 seconds). This isn’t particularly about a “war on women”, from any particular side, this is about the permissiveness and moral decrepitude of the average voter. I wouldn’t make a racist joke at work anymore than I would make a joke about a woman at work. If you wouldn’t make the joke at work, why is it then OK to make these jokes about women from either political party? Call misogyny as misogyny and realize these are two sides of the same coin. This means both parties engage in this sort of things.

On the issue of gay rights it actually is even more subtle. The Republicans are the traditional boogeymen of gay rights, but has a Democrat President actually made gay marriage legal? So much anger and noise is invested in making a boogeyman for people to direct their rage towards that no-one has noticed the Democrats have done absolutely nothing for the gay rights issue. The best we’ve come up with is moving it to a states rights issue. This is a band-aide at best because we’ve otherwise codified the idea of marriage at the federal level (tax code). Really the only politician who has carried the Gay Marriage idea to the logical conclusion as it stands today is Ron Paul. If we got rid of the tax code, it really would be a states rights issue. This is the point of the entire rant though – neither party has worked to actually affirm or deny gay rights at the federal level.

On the idea of religious freedom for those of us who roll our own theology, this is another great place to point out the Democrats doing nothing for us. The Democrats have taken the separation of church and state to the point where any showing of religion is treated poorly. By the same token, the Republicans have embraced religion, but it’s usually ascribed as “Christianity”. Funny thing is though, three decades ago it was Catholicism. Now it’s “Mainsteam Christianity”. Now they’re talking about running a Mormon, and the only people who seem to have noticed he’s a Mormon are the Democrats. In terms of progressive religion, the Republicans are more open about discussing theology than the Democrats. You would think the party who was offended by the G word (God) would have already helped out with the other G word (gays) but when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is, it hasn’t happened. Instead they’re happy to accuse other people of being religiously motivated, but then they can’t execute when they’re supposedly “free” from such hangups.

The biggest problem here – a government which doesn’t want to acknowledge the divine – is that laws become inherently secular. What secular states have we seen in the past? The south before the civil war. World War 2 Germany. Can we cite any examples of states which allow for religion without being religious? Sweden comes to mind. It’s possible to find a middle ground here, but it’s also possible to be too far right or left. To be too far right subscribes to religious dogma and things would probably look like the Middle East, and to be too liberal results in comments from politicians comparing women to animals. Of course they’re animals – if you work from a worldview that there’s nothing particularly special about humans then we’re just particularly bald apes. The middle ground is to acknowledge that people are religious without espousing a religion. We can’t do that if we vote for the party that doesn’t talk about religion at all. (Actually this is the paintbrush of the Democrat Smear Machine. Don’t talk about religion so that anyone who even listens to Dishwalla’s “Counting Blue Cars” can be questioned).

On that theme of acknowledging things for what they are, we must also seek to understand things completely. A frightening number of people simply didn’t read the recent Georgia abortion law proposal about transvaginal ultrasounds. Instead, they reacted to a soundbite or the hilariously bad Huffington Post op ed on an op ed. “This person said women are animals!” isn’t thinking about the path this person took to get there, it’s simply an animal reaction to a comment without realizing that the apex of subscribing to evolution and denying the divine is that people are ultimately just very clever animals. This is where we know where people are married with kids, or pregnant. The unmarried, reactionist people operating on an animal level say “I wouldn’t want that in me!” But this is really the point. This medical tool didn’t spring gestalt from the pages of the proposed bill, whirring and throbbing veins intact. This medical tool (a transvaginal ultrasound device) has a legitimate purpose in pregnancy and it’s used by doctors all the time for pregnancy situations which might require surgery. What is abortion if not surgery? Do you really want the doctor grabbing around in there blind?

This previous paragraph is mostly for naught. If anyone had actually read the proposal, they would have seen the text included an opt out for this particular part of the procedure provided there was not a medical necessity to use the device for the protection of the mother during the course of the procedure. You can read HB 954 here. Also included was the objection that anesthesia drove the cost of the abortion up out of reach of “low income unprivileged women”. Lets think about that for a moment – why anesthesia? Because doctors who perform fetal surgery during and after the 2nd trimester know the fetus feels pain and that it will abort if it’s not anesthetized. So think about that, we’re performing abortions on fetuses, who we know from the medical establishment feel pain. Just because you can’t hear or see the pain doesn’t make it any more right than it wouldn’t be murder if I taped your mouth shut and dumped gasoline all over you. Why didn’t anyone bring this up? Because to acknowledge that the fetus feels pain and should be anesthetized because it’s the decent thing to do also acknowledges that the fetus is a person who has rights and we should be decent to our fellow people. But you can’t say that. We would rather call it a child in surgery and a fetus in an abortion setting so we can save a few dollars.

How do we fix this?

The average American voter won’t read the bills. Why anyone would participate in the political process without actually reading the results of the process is beyond me. How do we assess the performance of the governance of the state without reading the laws and proposals? To fix this situation, people need to actually start reading house bills and proposals rather than reading Fox News and Huffington Post. It’s fine to use them as a jumping off point, but half the things posted to Huffpo, for instance, wouldn’t pass muster on Wikipedia. If your source is an “anonymous doctor” and the blog “deletes stupid comments”, not only are you not getting a balanced discussion, but you’re not getting an article anyone would take seriously. Why would you base your political opinions on that?

Read the house bills. Read the proposals. Finally, remember that politicians should be judged both on what they are doing but also on what they’re not doing.

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4 thoughts on “Gays, Women, and the GOP – Rant Roundup

  1. This might seem picky but I do not think your historical examples hold as much water as you assume they do. The Confederate South was decidely Christian and bitterly complained that the problem with the Constitution of 1789 was that it was Godless! They argued anyone familiar with the Bible would support the Lord Servant, Master Slave relationship as the most Christian form of life. Here is how they fix that in their own Preamble compared to the Federal Constitution:
    The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” [4]
    The Preamble to the Confederate Constitution: “We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity — invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God — do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.”

    As for the Nazis- watch Triumph of the Will and count church symbols, or figure out where the music comes from… better yet there are a number of new books which indicate how much the Nazi program relied on churches and the support of ministers and priests. American propaganda painted both the Nazis and Soviets as Godless, but that was because that played well with out very religous society- the historical truth of the matter is a bit more grey.

    As for the Confedrates- they only grey area is in their Battle lines- their motto says it all: God will Vindicate Us! Deo Vindice!

  2. I had to dig deep to remember what I was reading at the time I was citing secular states. Turned out it was either this page – http://www.brucegourley.com/civilwar/gourleyhistor4.htm – or a link to that page.

    This is to say that the South did what Hitler would eventually do – they integrated “southern customs” (politics) into religion and thus was born things like The Southern Baptist Church.

    The Reich (really Goebbles) pulled the same trick – they disposed the catholic church, which Hitler was for since it robbed the Catholics of authority, and then misappropriated ethnoreligious symbolism to his own ends.

    • I do not think the Confederate State was anything but a quasi- theocracy. While the debate is still out on the Reich (recent authors have explored how supportive, not co-opted German Churches were of the Nazi movement) I do not think the CSA appropriated religious symbols. The Second Great Awakening, and the Market Revolution combined for an outlook that honestly believed the CSA was Gods’ shining example for the rest of the world. The CSA emerged out of Southern Churches, not the other way around. In fact I think it would be more accurate to say the CSA was co-opted by churches than the other way around. Ministers gained incredible political access under the CSA.

      While “property rights” was the legal strategy to defend slavery, when Southerners wrote freely about the institution toward each other or the outside world slavery was a Godly ordained system not given its proper respect under the Godless Constitution of 1789. A couple good books are Drew Gilpin Faust’s “Confederate Nationalism” and John Dailey’s “When Slavery was Called Freedom.”

      Even the post war period has great evidence of the connection between church and hierarchy- the KKK was an organization of Christian Knights who defended God’s Plan for honor among men, and a large part of the Civil Rights movement was essentially a battle of Churches- MLK’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” was written by a Black Minister to the White Ministers who had combined to condemn Martin Luther King Jr’s agitation.

      CSA= Best Modern example of a Christian Theocracy

      3rd Reich=Very complicated relationship with various churches and symbols. They certainly used them and therefore were not purely “secular atheist” in outlook, but to what degree appropriation trumps good faith is very difficult. Not sharing your religious understanding is not necessarily Godless or misappropriated. To many, an interpretation of Christ as a “soldier fighting for justice” is a more legitimate interp than a Christ as a “passive turn the other cheek” figure.

  3. In fact, your website does a good review of some of the stuff I mentioned (including Faust’s book) and I do not see how you could use that to argue for the secularism of the CSA, the historiography all points the other way- that politics were co-opted by clergy or at least that the politics were reinforced by the religion. That is definitely not a formula for arguing the CSA as a modern secular/atheist totalitarian police state that appropriates wider culture like religion for its ends.

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