Monday, August 20, 2012

Todd Akin, Social Media’s Bitch

What good is social media?

Why Twitter?

Why Facebook?

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.


  1. "why the hell didn’t he give women the ability not to be raped instead?"


    Yes, God should have equipped every female of every species with two sets of teeth; one set in her mouth, and the other set in her sweet spot.

    We'd get a LOT more respect if that were the case.

    (A long time ago I read a science fiction story that featured a humanoid species which featured females equipped in this fashion. The concept was original, and memorable. If I remember who wrote the story, I'll update)

    1. You'll note that I mentioned this option in passing. Teeth. Just saying.

    2. That was easy. Googled "science fiction author vagina dentata" ---> Julian May, author of the "Saga of Pliocene Exile" (described at one site as "Spaceships, psychics, Portal To The Past and The Fair Folk. Something for everyone.") The Firvulag women are equipped thusly.


    3. I can see complications with australis dentition. Who do see for an overbite?

    4. @KaJo:

      A similar biological variant played a major (and somewhat scary to contemplate, for the male readers anyway) role in "Venus On the Half Shell", by Kilgore Trout.
      (Now the more obsessive readers may be raising hands and shouting "Kilgore Trout wasn't a *real* SF writer! He was a Kurt Vonnegut character." True, as far as it goes. BUT, in a development predating the "internet meme" by over a quarter century, an entire science fiction novel was cobbled around some "story fragments" Vonnegut had featured in his writing and published as a standalone. Ostensibly by Trout, the story was actually ghosted by Phillip Jose Farmer, who indulged a taste for interspecies porn only hinted at in his --ahem-- "legitimate" SF.)

    5. If there's anything PJF only hinted at, it's news to me.

    6. Like this?


      Also, I seem to remember stumbling across a late-night movie where a girl had another set of teeth. I would google it, but I'm a little afraid of what that search string could bring back for results.


    7. There was a pretty good movie about this.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0780622/ "Still a stranger to her own body, a high school student discovers she has a physical advantage when she becomes the object of male violence."

    8. Anon-
      That movie was called Teeth. I stumbled across it doing some research for some art pieces I'm working on. I haven't actually sat down & watched it yet, although every time any of my students find out about that particular series, at least one of them brings it up. The pieces in question are a series of Amulets to Protect Against Rape, all based on cigar cutters. (And I wonder why I never get asked out on dates. :-D)

    9. I'm a month late here oh well.

      The Lovers, also by P. J. Farmer was the first SF Story, ca. 1952 to actually have sex in it - with an alien species, no less.

      That female was capable of avoid pregnancy if raped, by a very Akins-like mechanism.

      "If a lalitha were raped by a gang, she would not have an orgasm because the negative emotions of fear and disgust would bar it."



  2. just keep kicking ass and taking names, Jim. Please.

  3. What really bothers me most is the fact that there are morons out there who believe this and are just waiting for validation from some asshole like Akin. So when their wife, daughter, girlfriend etc, get pregnant from rape; they feel justified in beating the shit out of them because it wasn't a "legitimate rape". How many rape victims who get pregnant are going to be further victimized and tramatized because of what Akin said?

    1. Take it a step further. When are they going to want to jail rape victims because the victims obviously used that mutated ability to not get pregnant, i.e. used a self-mechanized abortion tactic. Raped? Not pregnant? Go to jail.

    2. What really bothers ME is that Akin apparently sits on a science committee.

      Bad enough he believes - or, at least, says he believes it, thinks it, whatever - this silliness, but he probably applied that same "thinking" to the questions of science that come before the committee.

      Just think what that could make optional.

  4. If I may,just a couple of corrections from a long-ago French major: viola is a musical instrument. Voila! is an exclamation loosely translated as "Look at that!" Gaff is a piece of equipment fishermen use (I think). Gaffe is an embarrassing slip or error.

    I stand in awe of your ability to say in such compelling fashion what so many of us are thinking. One comment on fb suggested Akin's kind of off-the-wall unscientific thinking will only grow exponentially with the increasing popularity of home-schooling. We are doomed!

    1. I should write for conservatives, they have lower standards when it comes to grammar and spelling.

    2. I thought you ARE writing for conservatives, Jim, to try and edjimacate 'em!

  5. "These people have enjoyed freedom of speech and freedom of belief without consequence for far, far too long." I would add to that the freedom to be irresponsible with the truth and with lies without suffering the consequences.

    So much of what is happening in politics right now is related to just that issue, the lack of consequences. It used to be the print press and the great commentators like Sevaried, Murrow, Cronkite,etc. who shone the light. Now, at least we have blogs like yours. Keep fighting the good fight.

    1. I would add, a lot of this stuff is given a pass because of misguided notions that everyone has to "respect" the crap people spew, however nutty. No, we don't.

      Used to be, we had a media that called crap on a cracker, well, crap on a cracker. Now the "media' will bend over backwards to present crap on a cracker as caviar on a crumpet; then, top it off with a nice dollop of "both sides do it!" false equivalency.

      I lay the blame at right-wing whining about how the media was "unfair" to them for calling crap on a cracker exactly that. But instead of the media declaring that crap is crap, it tucked its tail between its legs lest it lose its precious "access" to these nutballs.

      So now, we get every bit of crap on a cracker regurgitated by the likes of an Akin treated in the media as though it's a serious statement to be taken seriously. Time to go back to calling crap what it is, and laughing these fools off whatever stages they have appeared upon.

  6. One other chilling thing about Todd Akin's ultra-stupid statement is that it was said by a member of the House Science Committee. Fortunately he's not on the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education.

  7. I'm not defending Akin here, but he's almost right... in a twisted, one eye closed, pretending-to-understand-the-science kind of way.

    Statistically speaking, women who are raped get pregnant less often than women who are not raped. (Gosh. You think that flood of stress hormones might have something to do with Junior not finding a Welcome sign?) Note: a statistical trend is NOT a description of any individual's situation. It does not indicate anything intentional on the part of the people involved. But the math-challenged -- and the GOP, and a whole bunch of other folks who think edumacation is all un-American and stuff, and who can't wrap their heads around any concept where there was just chemistry and random chance involved, no decisions from people nor Gods need apply -- can be counted on to misunderstand and mis-use such information.

    Akin may very well truly believe his horse-shit, based on such mis-perceptions. Or he may be a cynical politician playing to a bigoted base. Or...

    Me, I just wish the quality of the minds controlling the hands on the reins of state was a bit better than grade school mush.

    1. http://io9.com/5936157/the-real-science-behind-todd-akins-claim-that-victims-of-legitimate-rape-dont-get-pregnant

      No the flood of stress hormones do not stop sperm sorry.

    2. Let's discuss via science why women who are raped get pregnant less often than women who are not raped - actually - that makes no sense to me, a pointless statistic if it exists - so lets discuss why only a small proportion of raped women get pregnant.

      Many GOP men have shown ignorance of how women's reproduction works - and also too how birth control - as used by women works.

      1. If you are a single woman, who is in a relationship (or not) and do not wish to become pregnant the contraception of choice is often birth control pills. Whether you have sex with your partner, or are raped, you will not get pregnant.

      2. If you are a newly married woman who does not wish to immediately have children, again the contraception used is often the birth control pill, same result as 1.

      3. When you are married (or in a relationship) and have had all the children you want, a more permanent form of contraception may be used - one common method is tubal ligation (get the "tubes tied"). Same result as 1.

      4. If a woman post menopause or pre puberty is raped she is obviously not going to get pregnant.

      Not a lot of raped women left to be included in the "pregnant from rape" statistic - two obvious groups - young girls not long through puberty and older ones who believe the stories that the only good contraceptive is abstinence - the latter brought to you by people such as Akin.

    3. There's another qualifier at work for fertility. An egg is only viable for fertilization for about 48 hours. That's 2 days out of the average 28 day cycle.

    4. There are still 32,000 pregnancies cause by rape in this country each year.


      Abstract for the article that discusses the who and how many.

    5. TS, Unknown and Laura - very very good points. I may quote you at some point - and I have no idea how to give you good people credit - permission to use your words?

    6. I'm sure, however, that the 32,000 women who got pregnant as a result of being raped are comforted by the fact that their experience, according to Todd Akin, wasn't legit. They'll also be comforted, no doubt, by the fun of raising their rapist's child.

    7. @Valerie Helmbreck:
      I seem to recall Sharon Engle referred to that as "making lemonade from lemons".

    8. Women who get raped get pregnant at a rate ABOVE those who have consensual sex. Why? Possibly because if the sex act is agreeable, contraception (condoms, diaphragms, spermacidal gel) are more likely to be used. I just saw this statistic somewhere, think it was on Slate magazine. So Akin was wrong all around.

  8. "A muscular sphincter that closes off the uterus from the vagina would do it." We've already got one of those, too. It's called a cervix and any woman who's had a kid knows it'd be awesome if we could control them voluntarily.

    Excellent post, as usual. I, too, was struck more by the biological errors in his statement than the victim-blaming, which is unfortunately pretty standard coming from the right...

  9. I'm tempted to say someone read Watership Down, came across the bunnies' ability to resorb embryoes when conditions are bad and went: sure, all females can do that. Because we're mammals and all that jazz. Bunnies, women, where's the difference.

    But that would require the actual reading of a very good book and that requires some actual brains. So much for that theory.

  10. As usual, Jim, you rock. Kleig lights have been focused on this pathetic excuse of a "leader." In order for Akin to walk around in public he is going to have to have facial plastic surgery, petition for a name change and move to a different country.

  11. Akin is a member of the House Science and Technology Committee.

    Just let that happy thought bang around in your brain fro a moment.

  12. Excellent as always Jim. Thanks!

    The thing that struck me about Akin's statement, aside from the obvious, was when he said: "I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

    SOME PUNISHMENT for the rapists? - SOME? What about the punishment dished out to a woman who has been brutalized, raped, sometimes gang raped and then forced to carry her rapist's child. That punishment is deserved, in GOPTP/AmeriTaliban eyes. In their eyes, rape is not a crime and they try to minimize it by "classifying" it. Acceptable rape, inadvertent rape, consensual rape, asking for it rape, women deserving it rape. All the woman's fault in some manner. Eve started it - if "SHE" hadn't.... Woman=evil temptress of innocent Male.

    They "might" accept as "legitimate rape" when a woman is beaten to the point of death, but then they probably believe that the woman "asked" for the beating for refusing to be subservient & "just lying back & enjoying it." Since she didn't, she must be punished by being forced to bear the "gift" of the maniac who "gave" it to her. If she does get pregnant it isn't a "legitimate" rape. That punishment is "Divine Justice."

    I guess women should be grateful that at least one biblical direction isn't still followed. "A virgin (even children?)who is raped must marry her rapist after he gives her father 50 shekels of silver for property loss."(Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

  13. Every aspect of the Republican Cosmology these days is really just S&M cloaked in economic or theological language. Every last policy point.

    That is the only thing you need to know in order to figure out what their policy is or will be on any subject whatever.

  14. I won't recap the whole thing here, Jim, but Akin isn't stupid: the word you and everyone else have been looking for is "evil".

    There's a foul tautology lurking in his "God's ways are mysterious to us mortals" rationale: if women can't get pregnant from rape, and a woman gets pregnant, well, she must not have been raped, Q.E.D. (I hope the fact I'm pointing out he's evil and not stupid would be sufficient, but I'll say it anyway: I disagree with his premises and the "facts" he bases his premise on are simply wrong.)

    This is not the first time Akin has taken this kind of approach to related issues, his reasoning (if you script his premises; again, I myself don't) is impeccable and even cruelly nuanced (he also recently discussed the sole abortion ban exception he would tolerate, which was essentially triage: abortion may be permitted, essentially, if not allowing it would kill the mother and the child would likely die anyway), and his position does not appear to be too dissimilar from former Republican Presidential contender Rick Santorum's.

    Calling him "stupid" gives him an out he doesn't deserve. He phrased out badly, yes, but there's a sexist, fundamentalist, callous and vicious rationality behind his words.

    1. "...accept his premises," not script. Damn autocorrect.

    2. "I phrased it badly" is GOP-speak for "Oh shit, people were actually listening? I didn't expect to be called out on my bullshit..."

    3. I don't disagree, Eric, but I'm always leery of using the word evil.

      I think that people like Akin intend well (as they see it according to their twisted religious beliefs). And I think if allowed to reach fruition those beliefs often result in great evil (what is that Akin's Bible says the road to hell is paved with? I forget). But I tend to think that people like Akin arrive at their worldview through limited or undeveloped intelligence.

      He phrased out badly, yes, but there's a sexist, fundamentalist, callous and vicious rationality behind his words.

      Oh I certainly agree. That is, in a larger sense, the point I was trying to make. I should have been more clear.

    4. Akin's psuedo apology claimed he "misspoke." He didn't "misspeak," he wasn't misunderstood, he wasn't unlclear. He lied, he made up stuff, he imagined scientific facts that do not exist, he told a whopper. Lying is, by almost any moral standard, evil. If he believes his BS is actually true, then he's too dumb to be breathing spontaneously. His brain stem isn't functional. He's terminally stupid. So, by my estimation, our choices are malevolent despot or pea-brained cretin. It's your blog, Jim, you choose.

    5. I wonder when these so-called Christians lie like this whether they have read Exodus 20:16, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." If they do recall that Scripture, maybe they have their own definitions of "false witness" and "neighbor". ps That's Number 9 of the Big 10.

    6. Jim, I'm not so sure that Eric isn't right when he says that Akin and his ilk are evil. I'd like to think, like you do, that it's just that they have limited or undeveloped intelligence. That undoubtedly holds true for many of their supporters.

      However, I have to admit that increasingly frequently when I read another of these mind-boggling pronouncements from those in or seeking elected positions, the first thought that comes spontaneously to mind is that these people are evil.


    7. I wonder at the religiosity of it. In Akin's world, everything is done by G_d's Will. There is no Free Will. If a woman is raped, it is because it was G_d's Plan for her life and allowing her to abort the baby would interfere with The Plan. However, it is okay to pray for parking spaces, winning the lottery, and for your football team, G_d's Team. It is also A-okay to demand G_d bless you/them/Amurikuh. If G_d determines you/them to be deserving, He may grant your prayer (as long as it doesn't interfere with His Long Range Plan for your/her/their life). We are each/all G_d's Plastic Puppy - manipulated at His Will.

    8. God's will, imo has nothing to do with it - Man's will, my will or the GOP will is what is meant when people such as Akin talk about god's will.

      If I had a god - he would be the god of love that cared about women - not the person whose will Akin would impose upon the world.

  15. It was a "Kinsley gaffe"

    A politician inadvertently saying something publicly that they legitimately believe is true but have not fully analyzed the consequences of publicly stating such...

    1. 'legitimately'???

    2. and they say irony is dead. In this case "legitimately" means that the person involved in the Kinsley gaffe honestly believes it to be true.

    3. John, I agree with you. Akin knew exactly what he was trying to say and he meant what he was trying to say. His only non-Kinsley "gaffe" was, most likely, using the word "legitimate" when he meant "forcible".* And I don't think the national GOP would be trying to pull the plug on Akin's campaign if Romney wasn't polling so badly with women voters: Akin's position on the issue isn't on the party's fringe (though it may not predominate, either).

      *N.b. "forcible" rape as opposed to what, exactly? Akin has expressed skepticism about spousal rape and I suspect he doesn't think much about date rape. And I further expect he's not even considering statutory rape in the rape context at all unless the perpetrator uses violence. The point is not that I think there's any difference to the distinctions (which I think are morally offensive, actually)--the point is, I think Akin is making these distinctions.

    4. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Legitimate+Rape&defid=6722495

      August 20, 2012 Urban Word of the Day
      Rape between one man and one woman who are not married or even acquainted; the only rape sanctioned by the Republican Party.
      "Was it legitimate rape, or was it just like, hilarious prison rape or acceptable acquaintance rape?"

  16. "Here’s what I want to know, why is it that ridiculous gibbering dolts like Akin aren’t held to account?"

    I think they don't know how to. As Dr. Krugman has mentioned, if some dingwah politician were to assert that the Earth is flat, the news story would be headlined "Views on shape of Earth differ".

    1. I think Akin's position is shared by a sufficient plurality (not a majority, one hopes), that being "held to account" means he gets the votes of people who agree with him and Rick Santorum on reproductive rights issues. It's only a loss to Akin if the national GOP withholds the five million dollars in campaign funds they've threatened to, and that puts the GOP in danger of angering the part of their base who were skeptical of Mitt Romney's flip-flopping on choice issues and who were supposed to be appeased by Paul Ryan's pro-life credentials.

      I haven't checked to see if Akin has pulled the plug on his campaign this morning, but there might be more in it for him if he doubles down and positions himself as one of those "mavericks" the GOP like to pay lip service to. I guess it depends on how much his comments hurt him with Missouri voters and whether the national GOP triggers a teabagger backlash that helps Akin with his war chest.

    2. Eric, I don't disagree with you at all but I would change one phrase, to wit- "pro-life".

      Since I sincerely believe that he who frames the argument and defines the term WINS the argument, I insist on using the term "anti-choice".

      No one who wishes to see more women butchered and killed by back-alley abortions is remotely deserving of the sobriquet "pro-life". It simply defies logic.

    3. To my way of thinking Mr. Akins and his followers are "pro-chattel" aka Organization of Over Compensating Authoritarian White Males and the Women who Inexplicably Stick with them.

    4. Dear RockheadedMama,

      I shall defer to you on this subject. There is no way that I could have put it better myself.

      Thank you.

      Regards, Doc

  17. Great writing, as I have come to expect especially on topics both political and scientific, Jim.

    One possible typo in first big paragraph ... Number 15? ... There is, I think, an extraneous indefinite article in the phrase "those a baby wipe thingies"

    Thanks again for saying so many of the things many of us, your reading public, have been thinking also...

    Old Navy Comm O

  18. I agree with your larger premise, Jim, and was amused, as always, by the way you made it.

    I want to point out that Akin's statement about "legititmate rape" and pregnancy comes from a long-established, quasi-scientific belief about women's sexuality: that a woman must climax if conception is to occur. While it is true that fertility may be increased if the woman experiences orgasm (which, as I understand it, makes it easier for sperm to enter the uterus), it definitely does not follow that every pregnancy was the result of a mutually satisfying sexual encounter.

    This is a way for folks with this mistaken belief to take it a step further and assert that if the woman derived pleasure (as "proven" by her pregnancy), then she cannot have really been raped. It's a two-fer for them, validating their crazy stances on both the abortion and rape debates. I think it probably gives them extra points, because it allows them to believe that if they themselves have procreated, their children are tangible, public proof that they know how to please a woman in the sack.

    I remain HIGHLY skeptical.

  19. http://www.theonion.com/articles/i-misspokewhat-i-meant-to-say-is-i-am-dumb-as-dog,29256/

  20. Brilliant piece, Jim. Thank you for it--and thank you for the cool drink of sanity that you give.

    And I say this as a non-practicing Catholic who believes in science (and that G-d thing).

    You are dead-on about the fact that these nutballs--from all sides and all stripes--are able to spout their nonsense and no one--or at least very few--in the MSM call them on it. Granted, social media can and does help level the playing field in some ways, but we need journalists that have a low tolerance for bulls**t and can call these jerks out immediately.

    But that's just me.

  21. Excellent piece. Any doubt about what an utterly reprehensible thing it was for Akin to say was removed by how quickly (for him anyway) Romney moved to denounce his remarks. When it is that obvious that fast to Mitt and his campaign you know you have stepped in it big time.

  22. "The media needs to step up and start doing their jobs."

    That's it in a significantly understated nutshell. Folks in the "mainstream media" are so afraid of appearing biased they don't challenge even obvious bald-faced lies, let alone the ignorant musings of Neanderthals like this.

    Submitted with apologies to Neanderthals everywhere, who've done nothing to deserve such an offensive comparison …

    1. Sorry folks, Wally World's closed. The media ARE doing their job.

      They are getting paid for whatever it is they are doing that they are getting paid for. Just like Subway sandwich assemblers and McDonalds food production workers.

      If "journalists" went off the reservation and starting "reporting" truth instead of stenography then they would be out on their asses. Edward R Murrow types are as obsolete as typewriter repairmen.

  23. Thank you for this post. Excellent piece! This is why education is so vital!

  24. Maybe he needs to read about Rwanda and Serbia, to name two places in the world where women were raped in wartime and forced to carry the enemy's child. Often womwn in such situations are shunned and the children are neglected or worse.

  25. A sad part of this is that, once the frenzy dies down, Todd Akin will be talked about in some conservative circles as a victim of political correctness and censorship, rather than as an example of ignorance. He'll be framed as a victim of the "liberal media."

    1. Once the frenzy dies down? They're doing it ALREADY.

  26. I am a new fan of the HBO show "The Newsroom". Last night's episode (part 2 of 2)speaks directly to this subject. The story is that the staff is trying to get the Republican Primary Debate - they stage a mock debate which is set up a bit differently than what we've seen in the past few elections. The reporter will ask questions of the candidate and keep on questioning him/her, calling them out on false statements, as well as ridiculous statements. (My favorite question they asked was to Bachman - "What does God's voice sound like?" in response to her statement that she was called by God to run for President. And - I think it was Santorum - how many specific freedoms had he lost since Obama had become President?)

    It really pointed out how our Presidential debates have been turned into sound bite platforms where um-factual and ridiculous statements are not questioned or called out on. After the Newsroom lost the bid to hold the debates they showed actual clips from the 2008 Republican primary debates. Priceless.

  27. I mentioned in a previous thread that I was attending a family wedding this past weekend. A couple of points on that. The rabid right wing second degree I anticipated from my sister never materialized. Amazing. I guess she remembered that the last time she tried to convince me that Jesus rode dinosaurs to the GOP convention, I just feigned death for a couple hours til she went away.

    Second, the wedding. Wow. My nephew (the lucky guy) married an absolute goddess (as in beautiful, charming, smart, guileless (for now) and sweet). What a great couple - I wish them all the best. As a Marine, I set them up for kitchen cutlery. And I showed the bride how to get the chef's knife between the ribs the first time.

    The point is that the wedding service was presided over by a young minister from the bride's "church" (unknown denomination, probably Early Medieval Saxon Fundamentalist Baptist). This guy started reading from the book in his hands, talking about the WIFE submitting herself to the HUSBAND because her flesh was now his flesh and both their fleshes belonged to the Big Guy cause he gave his flesh for all of us. "Submission" factored in big from the Wife's standpoint. Lots and lots of SUBMISSION to the Husband, yadda, yadda.....thought my wife and sister in law were going to jump up and tear this little fucker's eyes out.

    Anyway, the couple just stared and beamed and glowed at each other, ignoring the little preacher and the bored bridesmaids and grooms dudes. The coolest thing about the proceedings is that it was in a public park in Oregon, next to a lagoon. And all through the service an osprey kept hovering and diving into the water behind the service. That was cool.

    Yeah my points. One is that these "churches" preaching and spreading regressive social bullshit exist in large numbers. I'm always a little shocked to actually witness this from morons like Todd Akin or in practice like this weird little wedding ceremony.

    My second point is an observation that even amidst the bible thumping, intelligent designing and the founding fathers spew, young people could give a rat's ass. The young couple just married have lived together for a year, drink, party and watch porn, and only go through the "churchy" motions for the OLD PEOPLE in their midst. They are still Christian (just like young Iranians are still Shiite) but they realize that they can hoe their one rows so to speak.

    I now submit this thread - Tommy D

    1. At my daughter's wedding the preacher started into the "honor obey" thing. I watched two of the brides-maids and my wife both bite their lips to keep from cackling at the thought of my daughter following those lines.

    2. The minister said that obey shit at my wedding as well. There's a picture of me with my fingers crossed behind my back. ;-)

  28. Akin's hot air strikes me - a female - as delusional, self-serving garbage he is spewing because - HE RAPED SOMEONE and is denying it! She didn't get pregnant, and this is his delusion.

    And yes, he's probably stupid, too.

    1. Um . . . this seems awfully close to libel. And rude, to boot.

    2. A statement of opinion/impression is not libel that I have ever heard.

      And rude?? Oh, horrors!! I am being rude about a bumbling, uninformed dolt who wants to be one of our leaders? How awful! I am so glad you pointed out my errant comments, obviously the worst ones of this entire group, and worse than any of Jim's glowing compliments in the above article.

      That's sarcasm. Make sure you do not read this: http://www.theonion.com/articles/i-misspokewhat-i-meant-to-say-is-i-am-dumb-as-dog,29256/?ref=auto

  29. Jim, I've posted a link to your thoughts on my Facebook page and have visited my doctor to inquire about this super power that I've been overlooking for so many years. She assures me I don't have it. I'm having a series of tests to confirm that this pointed-headed intellectual, global warming advocate knows what she's talking about. The tests will be paid for by my generous employer, who provides me with wide ranging medical insurance and lots of time off for lab work, surgery and other procedures for my general health and well being. Thank you for helping me understand my undetected capabilities. I'll let you know how the testing goes.

  30. I suspect that too, Debtee.

    I don't know how the hell he got into the House, as I'm on the other side of the state, but I do know bunches of Democrats voted as Republicans in the primary so that they could vote for this bat-shit crazy misogynist to run against Senator McCaskill. Her unfavorables are high, but he's nobody's hero today.

  31. The comment was completely unintelligent for an elected official. Get him out! There is a cause to remove him spreading across the Web - http://www.youstand.com/cause/82112/remove-todd-akin-from-the-house-science-committee

  32. This is one of those rare occasions where I get so hyped up with anger that I can't write anything meaningful without a lot of #@**@#@%. So I'll just thank you for another great post, Mr. Wright- might even check "you are my God!" for this one.


    (oh, I tie a big ballon on the antenna when I park at the mall) :)

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. The best article or blog post written about this Akin crap so far, by far!

    The reason people like Todd Akin and Steve King and Bryan Fischer can spew this idiocy with impunity is because they're appealing to religious zealots who vote.

    As Bill Maher says, "There are two kinds of people. Religious people and sane people."

    Today's poll numbers show no noticeable drop for Akin in Missouri after all of this hit the proverbial fan. Folks who intended to vote for the baby savior conservative don't give a shit what he's said to make himself and their movement look foolish. Their cause is just, in their squinty little eyes, and ridicule is but part of the self-flagellation they're willing to endure to change public policy on abortion.

    Glad I came over here today. Thanks for this one.

  35. Jim -- heard on the local radio station today -- WBZ AM here in Boston -- that Rep Akin is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (as am I). WPI is a 150 year old college dedicated to the education of young men (women, too, since the '70s)in engineering and science. How come he doesn't understand the basics of biology? I want his diploma revoked.

  36. Jim -- heard on the local radio station today -- WBZ AM here in Boston -- that Rep Akin is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (as am I). WPI is a 150 year old college dedicated to the education of young men (women, too, since the '70s)in engineering and science. How come he doesn't understand the basics of biology? I want his diploma revoked.

  37. sheila, who is not lurking todayAugust 21, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    "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?"

    I wish! If women could do that, then every rapist (whether that person rapes men, women, or children) would be caught after the first offense and either locked away or summarily dispatched.

    I'm not a big fan of spandex or even capes, but I'll be the first to don both once I become able to realize my magical super powers.

  38. Problem with social media is, the smart is grossly outnumbered by the stoopid.

    Btw - anti-vaxxers?? Who's got a problem with VAXen? They were damn good computers back in the day!

  39. One of the scariest aspects of this whole situation, in my opinion, is that Romney and Ryan hold many of the same beliefs and have both promised and/or already drafted bills to legislate the destruction of women's reproductive rights.

    Ryan co-sponsored a personhood bill - WITH AKIN - that could possibly outlaw IVF and make all abortions, and perhaps some forms of birth control, illegal. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has raised the concern that this same bill could give rapists the legal right to prevent a woman for aborting a baby conceived through the rape.

    They are also the duo responsible for the infamous "forcible rape" bill, later withdrawn after a very loud public outcry.

    While Akin is getting a deluge of (well-deserved) blowback from his comments, there is very little attention being paid to the fact that the current candidates for President and VP adhere to the same basic beliefs. In fact, the official Republican platform, approved just this morning, calls for a Constitutional amendment banning abortion with no stated exceptions for rape or incest.

    Akin may be under the glare of the spotlight at the moment, but there are candidates at a much higher level who have the potential to do much more damage to women's lives if elected.

    1. It is scary, Anonymous, sure. But remember that the United States government was specifically designed to prevent one crazy bastard, or even a bunch of them, from forcing their ideas on the rest of us. Remember that Ryan/Akin's bill failed to pass at even the lowest level. It didn't even break the first safety check, let alone make it to the final backstop, SCOTUS.

      Should you be concerned? Sure. Should you be afraid? No. And what's happening to Akin right now is good reason why. Both Democrats and Republicans are outraged by Akin's assclown behavior, as they should be. Granted it's for different reasons, but it still demonstrates that not everybody in American is nuts.

      HOWEVER, that said, Akin could still win. This should serve as a Clarion call to Missourians, get off your ass and go vote for Claire McCaskill, because if you don't not only do you screw yourselves, you screw us all by letting the balance in the Senate shift Right. It's on you, Missouri, a big part of it anyway. Vote. And get all your friends to vote. That's where the real power is, as the Founders intended. It's not enough to be outraged, you have to vote. Apathy is the death of republics.

      As far as Ryan goes, sure, he's a concern. But like I said in this piece, The Unsinkable Mitt Romney, should Romney get elected I'll send him a fruit basket, because he will basically neuter Paul Ryan and he should be thanked for that.

    2. You're right, Jim, that the government was designed to temper Teh Crazy coming from either side, but the GOP has swung so far to the right that the moderates are no longer welcome. In order to survive their primaries, all GOP candidates have to lean further to the right than they might have otherwise and promise to NEVER compromise, even if it means bringing the entire country to a screeching halt (as we've seen all too frequently over the past 4 years). The current GOP have proven time and time again that they have absolutely no compunction about destroying this country in their single-minded quest for power and wealth.

      I worry that, if R/R get in (which I sincerely doubt) and the House and Senate go red (please, no!), we are all in a world of hurt. In an ideal world, there are enough sane people in our country to insure this would NOT happen, but the vote suppression and easily manipulated voting machines worry me...a LOT!

  40. Good job. How do you stay sane in the State of Sarah Palin? I used to live up there back when Alaska was much more libertarian than it is now.

  41. Douchenaggery?? Wonderful word, very apt.

    My concern for the citizens of the great state of Missouri is this asshat could still win the election! How can there even be a race?? Has Claire done THAT poor a job serving the state?

    It is a never ending wonder to me that people as obviously stupid as Atkins can remember to breathe. Over long periods of time

  42. %$*#. I inserted the diet doctor 's name in place of the jackass, Skins. No slam intended.

  43. You know, my first reaction as to the nature of Akin's hypothesis was that he probably thinks something like this. God probably watches sperm, much as He watches sparrows falling out of trees. (Doesn't seem like much of a stretch from the latter to the former to me.) Then, when some protection is in order, and assuming the woman is actually deserving of being spared a pregnancy of course, He simply puts a right 10 degree rudder bias on those little suckers and they veer off target! Viola!

    Greetings from the Bible belt, Jim. There are still a few thinkers down here, but it's lonely at times. :lol:

  44. As usual, Jim, you express so beautifully what I feel.

    And, then there is this young woman, Taylor Ferrera, who put her words to music to explain "Legitimate Rape"...


  45. Thanks, Jim! You are so RIGHT ON! I am so sick and tired of all the theocratic bullshit that I actually consider leaving our great nation for one less "superstitious." Problem is, all of my family are here, and I have no money. I do what I can with signing petitions and all that, but honestly, I feel as though I am bailing out the bilge with a dixie cup! Love your posts! Keep up the good work. ;-)

  46. I believe he's just confusing human females with muscovy ducks. http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091223/full/news.2009.1159.html
    The article is worth reading for this cringe-worthy sentence fragment alone: "I have long had a fantasy about working out where these enormous penises actually went inside the female. . . "

  47. The polls are not 48% to 38% against him per Rasmussen.

    Check Rasmussen Missouri

    1. Warner,
      Nate Silver says that Rasmussen has a ~3% bias ("house effect" is his phrase) towards Republicans, except for the last couple of weeks before an election when that firm hits the same polling numbers as everyone else, making it look reliable. Their polling numbers jump up and down much more than other firms. They also do not reveal much of their polling protocols, unlike the transparency one should expect and sees from a reputable organization. Finally, the owner Rasmussen was a GOP operative and has close ties to the Republican party and Fox News. (Nate Silver is a baseball statistician who turned to election statistics. He now works for the NY Times and writes at fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com) I recommend against checking Rasmussen in Missouri or anywhere else. regards,

    2. Jerry A. I'm aware of that, and also that Rasmussen might be really cooking the books to make the numbers look so bad that Akin drops out.

      Nevertheless, last night Rasmussen had those figures out and I was trying to tell people where to go to see them.

  48. "They get away with it because, we believe in freedom of speech and freedom of belief without consequence or responsibility."

    I agree with the overall sentiment of your article, Jim. However, while it has served as a vehicle for pointing out the factual errors & out-right lies of people like Akin, the internet simultaneously serves equally-effectively to disseminate & amplify - to perpetuate - misleading information. I find worrisome that notion that, despite all the ridicule heaped upon Akin here & elsewhere on 'net, I will wager that tomorrow there will be at least a million people walking around this country thinking that women [i]do[/i] possess the means of 'shutting that whole thing down' in the event of 'legitimate rape'. Whatever the hell that means.

    The internet (and the advent of cable television) has enabled people to become quite siloed from one another in their sources of information. The result, IMHO, is that a large swath of people - on both sides of the political divide - tend to gather their information from sources they agree with. And they are none-too-diligent about checking facts from those sources. Call someone out on a pant-on-fire lie? They'll accuse you of citing biased sources. We live in a society where truth itself is, for all intents and purposes, becoming relative.

    And that, my friend, scares the living shit out of me.

    It appears that someone has already beat me to your substitution of 'gaff' (a fishing implement) for 'gaffe' (a social blunder). Being a sailor, I suppose you deserve a pass on that one. You shouldn't write for conservatives, though. You would merely trade our editorial input for comments along the lines: "U spelt it rong! Its 'soshulist' ya idjit! Lern 2 SPELL!'

    Stay with the light side; both sides have cookies, but ours have weed in 'em. :p

  49. I like it . . . "religious fascism".

  50. Apparently the Republican Party platform is going to include a pro-rape provision. To protect the rapists.

    Paul Ryan just doubled down on Akin. Ryan came out and said that rape is just another method of conception.

    Okay. Then castration is just another form of birth control.

  51. Well, I think it was great of him to come out into the light so we all can see him for what he is. Now the question is will there be a petition signing party, will he be removed from office and replaced by someone who has a foot in reality and is capable of real research before opening his mouth? For instance the Rooster that plays tic-tac-toe at the fair or even Rowdy Roddy Piper, seems like ANYONE might do a better job!

  52. Actually, women who are raped get pregnant about twice as often as women having consensual sex:

    "Using data on birth control usage from the Statistical Abstract of the United States, we then form an estimate of rapepregnancy rates adjusted for the substantial number of women in our sample who would likely have been protected by oral contraception or an IUD. Our analysis suggests that per-incident rape-pregnancy rates exceed per-incident consensual pregnancy rates by a sizable margin, even before adjusting for the use of relevant forms of birth control."

  53. The 1st century medical theorist Galen argued that in order for a woman to become pregnant she must experience orgasm, and orgasm meant, to Galen, pleasure. Pleasure meant consent; ergo, for Galen, pregnancy negated a woman’s claim of rape.

    That these clowns continue to hold this concept in their hearts and minds, after centuries of modern medicine, opposing proof, statistics, and science makes me very sad.

  54. Great post Jim. I was searching for your blog again to see if you had written anything about the Matt Bissonnette story.

    I am a Canadian and I can tell you this creationist evangelical "conspiracy" to put people that share Akin's ideology in positions of political power is North America wide and has been going on for years.

    The U.S. has effectively almost had Roe V. Wade overturned, slowly, state by state. People only notice when someone manages to forget this is 2012 and not 1912 and spew some nonsense like what is being discussed, but you are absolutely correct that this is a widespread problem and not confined to Missourians.

    Trouble is, I don't know what can be done as these evangelical, mega churchers are serious and have a real plan in place and will not back down. They have a long view and I'm afraid one day were all gonna wake up too late and wonder what the hell happened to our secular society.

  55. perhaps we need... ChristBacca!


    Not really on topic, but I thought it would give everyone a chuckle.

  56. I am reminded of the quote from the late, arguably great Lions' tackle Alex Karras, who was once (many years ago) asked his opinion on some significant social issue. Karras responded: "I am a goddamned jockstrap athlete. Ask me about football."


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