Saturday, August 25, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #70 - Part 8

Clarabell Award: Todd Akin and pregnancy

The Clarabell award is given as necessary for acts of meritorious stupidity.

This time the dishonoree is someone I'm sure you've heard about unless you woke up from a coma sometime in the past two or three hours. And even then you might have heard about this.

On Sunday, August 19, Rep. Todd Akin, a right-wing loon who is the GOPper nominee for Senate in the state of Missouri, defended his opposition to allowing access to abortion even in the case of rape by saying that in instances of what he called “legitimate rape,” whatever that might mean, in cases of “legitimate rape,” women don't get pregnant. That somehow, their bodies block an unwanted pregnancy. Getting pregnant from rape was "really rare."

Now, lots of people, including even the Republican National Committee, Sen. Mitch "Fishface" McConnell, and even Mitt Romney went after him for that, saying he should drop out of the race or even resign his office, but let's be fair: He is neither the first nor the only right-wing flake to have made this claim; Rachel Maddow at MSNBC and Garance Franke-Ruta at "The Atlantic" had citations of right-wingers saying this from 1980 on through 2010. One of those quoted argued that pregnancy from rape was as rare as snowfall in Miami, another said that the odds against it were "millions and millions" to one, and another claimed that in the event of rape, a woman's body, quoting, "secretes a certain secretion that tends to kill sperm."

And I have to admit that there have been physicians who said that women could not get pregnant from rape, that pregnancy could not arise from nonconsensual sex. They did say that - in the Middle Ages. In the real world, the modern world, one which it seems Mr. Akin and the rest of these jackasses rarely visit, we know that's the absolute worst sort of nonsense and in fact tens of thousands of women get pregnant every year as the result of rape.

Which is one thing about Akin's statement, one reason I chose it for the award. I usually try to bring up things you may not have heard about on the TV evening news but this time I picked him despite all the coverage about it first of all because it is, hands-down, the stupidest thing I heard all week. It is not only offensive and destructive of women's rights and the health of rape victims, it is appallingly ignorant.

But there's another thing about this which sealed his victory in the competition for the award: He tried to weasel out of the meaning of his own words with that moldy, vapid, all-purpose but doesn't actually mean a thing excuse "I misspoke." Here's what he said:
It's clear that I misspoke and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.
Note clearly that he does not say that his claim that women can't get pregnant from being raped is wrong. It took him a week to get around to that. So what in heaven's name did he "misspeak" about?

Here's his actual quote that started all this:
If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
I want someone, some reporter, somebody, to say to him - in fact, I would like to see this applied to anyone who falls back on that totally lame "I misspoke" crap - I want someone to say to Akin, "Mr. Akin, here is what you said. Would you please tell us what words you meant to say that are sufficiently close to these that you could have accidentally said what you did instead?"

Todd Akin and the rest of the right-wing bozos, the flakes, wackos, and loons spewing your venomous stupidity all over the politic, you are, all of you, clowns.


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