What good is social media?
Why all the rest of it?
As a modestly popular blogger and somebody who spends an inordinate amount of time on social media, I’m often asked those questions. And I see those questions posed repeatedly in the media outlets where I tend to hang out.
What good is social media?
Typically I don’t reply, I think the answers are obvious.
We’ll come back to that.
By now, I’m certain that most of you have read or listened to Representative Todd Akin’s infamous remarks regarding women’s supposed natural ability to ward off unwanted forcible impregnation:
First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy after rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
It really raises the question, doesn’t it?
What do you mean, what question? Read that last part again:
…the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Obvious question is obvious.
If all women have this heretofore unsuspected superpower, what else are they capable of?
Now, I’ve long suspected that that women can spit venom. No seriously, you should see the look my wife gives me when I’ve done something dumb. Venom. From the eyes. Like a cobra. And I think it’s a provable fact that they can read minds. And I’m pretty sure women can secretly levitate too. Women can actually use a Port-o-Potty, or any other unsanitary public facility, without sitting down – they literally hover over the seat in perverse defiance of gravity. Levitation. What’s to say they don’t secretly slip out of bed at night after we’ve gone to sleep and then put on skin tight spandex and a cape and fly around Gotham fighting crime? After women become mothers, they are able to conjure a seemingly inexhaustible supply of tissues and those baby-wipe thingies directly from the fabric of the universe with nothing more than a simple wave of the hand. Magic. Dads don’t get this ability, only moms. Why is that? (because we’d use the zero-point energy hidden in our sleeves to summon an endless supply of beer and hot wings, that’s why. But I digress).
Perhaps a woman’s inability to locate her car in a mall parking lot after an hour of shopping is just cunning misdirection?
What? I’m just asking is all. Sheesh.
Actually, Akin’s comment raises a whole bunch of questions.
See, Akin didn’t give us enough information.
He doesn’t say how the female body shuts the whole thing down.
And, really, how does that work exactly? Are there special muscles? Does the rapist eventually get a package in the mail marked “Return to sender?” Are there force fields involved? Magic fairies? Jesus? What? I’ve got my old college biology textbooks around here somewhere, and I’m pretty sure there’s no mention of this ability. Is it something new? Recently evolved, mayhap, in the decades since I graduated? That would be pretty exciting, wouldn’t it?
Kind of craps all over creationism though, huh? Bummer.
Next question, if the female body prevents impregnation by preventing sperm from fertilizing the ova, isn’t that basically birth control? The end result is no different from using any barrier method of contraception.
Or does the female body prevent impregnation by preventing implantation of the fertilized ova into the uterine wall? Because that would be no different from hormonal birth control like The Pill (including the morning after variety) or Norplant, or IUD’s for that matter, and so on.
Does the Pope know about this?
Here’s a thought, does this ability work by rejecting the implanted zygote?
Because, see, seems to me that a deliberate miscarriage is functionally no different from an abortion – just without the hardware and assistance.
If women can do any of this on demand as Representative Akin seems to believe, then why would his Bearded Angry God get so upset over assisted birth control and/or abortion? After all, if God gave women the inherent ability to “shut the whole thing down” then by definition he must approve of birth control and/or abortion. Right?
And we improve on God’s design all of the time, from conceiving and birthing babies to eyeglasses to cooking our food to pacemakers to using technology to kill other human beings.
God, should he actually be up there somewhere frowning down on the lot of us, doesn’t seem to object to any of that. So what makes this situation different? Because there are children involved? Really? This from the Deity who offed every first born child in Egypt on a whim and demanded the blood sacrifice of children in the Old Testament?
God killed a lot of children in the Bible. No really, a lot. Frankly I’m trying to figure out what a few more matter.
Funny they left that part out.
Since it’s so important, you’d think somebody would have mentioned it in at least one of the Testaments.
They mentioned the killing part all right, over and over. But not the part Todd Akin and his friends think is so important.
Now, I admit that I tend to empirical evidence and logic and things that I can see and feel and touch and therefore mumbo jumbo juju, especially the evangelical version, makes my head hurt. So maybe somebody can explain something to me. Here’s the part I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around: If a woman can prevent impregnation in the event of rape, “legitimate” or otherwise, why don’t more woman actually do so?
No, seriously, if a woman can prevent pregnancy resulting from rape without help, then why are we having this whole conversation in the first place? Why don’t women just close their eyes and squeeze their fists and bunch up their butt cheeks (I’m a little unclear on the actual process here, just go with me) and Voila! Presto Change-O, problems solved. Right? If this is an option, why don’t more women avail themselves of it? Why would they run the anti-abortion hate gauntlet in front of Planned Parenthood when they can just do it at home through force of will?
And how come woman can’t do it all of the time? For any pregnancy? Why just rape? That seems kind of, I dunno, specific from a biological trait stand point.
In evolutionary terms, a trait like this would require that women get raped a lot and need some kind of ability to get rid of the resulting offspring. That pretty much makes us men assholes as a species, but if I squint my eyes I can maybe conceive of certain biological pressures that might result in such an ability (and now you know how science fiction stories are born).
However, if God gave women this ability on purpose, well then He must have expected them to get raped a lot.
That sort of make Him a big fat asshole, doesn’t it?
But here’s the real question: If Akin’s small petulant god gave women the ability to magically disappear rape babies, and He really, really, really gives a good goddamn about all babies as Akin says He does, then why the hell didn’t he give women the ability not to be raped instead?
Or at the very least the ability not to be impregnated against their will?
Doesn’t seem that difficult of a design problem to me, if you’re God, I mean.
Any of the above methods would work and are biologically practical. A muscular sphincter that closes off the uterus from the vagina would do it. A mucus plug would as well, and the uterus grows one of those during pregnancy so the mechanism is already there – God wouldn’t even have to throw in anything extra. Volitional control of hormonal balance or control of the uterine menstrual flush cycle would work too. Or the actual ability to spit nerve poison. Or teeth. Something.
But no. According to Akin, rape first. Pregnancy second. Then, then, you get to shut shit that down.
Oh yes, that makes perfect sense. Sure. That’s the kind loving Christian god Akin believes in, right there.
Here’s what I want to know, why is it that ridiculous gibbering dolts like Akin aren’t held to account?
Seriously, why aren’t these people and their idiotic ideas held to account? Why aren’t the very questions I posed above, ridiculous though they might be and that’s sort of the point anyway, why aren’t those questions asked of people like Akin during the debates? During every interview? During every campaign stop. This is your bullshit idea, Congressman, explain in detail please. Don’t shift the goal posts, don’t look away, answer the question, yes or no, do you believe in the bullshit you’re shoveling or not.
The media needs to step up and start doing their jobs.
Akin is in no way unique.
The House, the Senate, the Judiciary, the White House, Governorships, all the way on down to the local school board, are far, far too often filled with these people. Creationists. Birthers. Flat Earthers. Moon Landing Deniers. Truthers. Holocaust Deniers. Conspiracy nuts of every stripe. Misogynists. Bigots. Anti-Vaxxers. Fearful little haters. They range from those who think you can actually make it rain by singing and doing some kind of fucking rain dance, to people who believe, literally believe, that you can pray the gay away.
These people are just plain goofy.
There’s just no polite why of putting it and frankly I’m sick and tired of trying.
If these people had their way, we’d still be hiding in caves pissing our animal skin kilts in blind fear every time the sky gods made boom boom thunder.
And the thing is they know that they’re goofy, a lot of them do anyway at least at some level, otherwise they wouldn’t try to hide their silly nonsense. No they know just how stupid they sound, otherwise they, like Akin, wouldn’t backpedal so easily when called on their nutty bullshit.
They get away with it because too many Americans don’t call them on it.
They get away with it because, we believe in freedom of speech and freedom of belief without consequence or responsibility.
So people like Akin and the other idiots at large aren’t held to account. And because they aren’t made to drag their idiotic beliefs out into the light of day and suffer the ridicule and mockery that such bullshit deserves, they just keep at it.
Akin is just the latest in a long line.
It’s not limited to the Left or to the Right, though in the last few decades it certainly seems that the GOP has more than its fair share of raging nut cases probably because the Right has increasingly become the party of religious extremism.
Today the press, the blogosphere, the pundits, the professionally outraged Left, the professionally outraged Right, and the politicians are focused the wrong thing.
They’re outraged over Akin’s use of the word “legitimate.”
Sure, it was an asshole thing to say. Sure it implies that there are different kinds of rape, some more valid than other forms of sexual assault. And sure, it implies a certain common belief among people like Todd Akin, that in many cases the victim was really asking for it, or suffered “buyer’s remorse” after consenting to sex, or some other silly excuse for a heinous and terrible violation. And sure, that’s a damned revolting viewpoint in a sitting lawmaker.
I grant you that the phrase “legitimate rape” is cause for some degree of outrage. In degrees of douchebaggery it ranks right up there with Whoopi Goldberg’s “rape rape” dismissal of Roman Polanski’s sexual assault on a young girl. It’s an asshole thing to say. No doubt.
Predictably, everybody is off either condemning Akin’s use of the word, or attempting to justify it by saying he meant something else.
Akin himself apologized for misspeaking, whatever the hell that means.
But what everybody seems to be missing is this: Akin’s comment is a manifestation of a much larger problem. It’s a symptom of a much deeper disease. It is a warning sign of superstitious theocracy, a religious fascism cloaked in freedom of belief.
Akin’s religious viewpoint is nothing more than an excuse to remain willfully ignorant of provable science and indisputable facts.
The so-called “doctors” that he quotes, if they actually exist, are no more doctors than creation scientists are actually scientists. If there really are actual medical doctors who hold this bizarre falsehood as truth, they should be immediately relieved of their license to practice medicine.
This is the “science” that Akin and his ilk would impose on us, on our children, on our nation.
It’s a repudiation of everything that we have learned and a return to the ignorant fearful Dark Ages.
People often ask me, what good is social media. Facebook, Twitter. What purpose do they serve?
Social networking serves to shine light where none existed before.
Todd Akin said the things he did because in the past he could get away with it.
In the past the Todd Akins of America could take to local stages, local media, and spew their ignorance with impunity, as fact. They were rewarded for it, as Akin has been up to this point. They were supported by people who were just as ignorant as they were. Whatever gaffe they made was contained, limited in scope. Hidden from the greater world, a needle in a pile of hay chaff.
Now, as Todd Akin found out Sunday, when you speak nonsense, increasingly it goes viral. Millions of Americans see it almost instantly.
As they should.
Because the parochial ignorance of people like Todd Akin is not limited to the dolts who vote for him, it affects us all. Each and every one. It affects our society at every level, now and into the future. Because we are America, the ignorant foolishness of Todd Akin affects the entire world.
These people have enjoyed freedom of speech and freedom of belief without consequence for far, far too long.
What good is Twitter?
What good is Facebook?
What good is social media?
You’re looking at it.