Friday, March 28, 2014

152.6 - Outrage of the Week: hang-ups about coat hangers

Outrage of the Week: hang-ups about coat hangers

Now we go to our other regular feature, the Outrage of the Week.

The DC Abortion Fund is a non-profit in Washington DC that helps local low-income women afford abortion care because, they say, "we believe that a woman’s right to healthcare should not depend on her wallet."

For the past four years, the group has been giving out coat hanger pendants to its donors. Why? Because the wire coat hanger has been a symbol of the reproductive rights movement for decades.

Before 1973, before Roe v. Wade, before abortions could be legally obtained, desperate women would go to desperate lengths to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Women would consume Lysol or other household poisons in the hope they would cause them to abort. They would stick knitting needles, Coke bottles, and, yes, wire coat hangers into their cervixes to end a pregnancy. The accounts of the women who were disabled or sterilized or bled to death from botched illegal abortions were legion.

I have said on more than one occasion in discussing abortion rights that I remember the symbolism of a wire coat hanger and I have no desire to return to those days.

So for four years, the DC Abortion Fund has been giving out coat hanger pendants to donors.

So just recently, the right wing noticed. And on cue, Pavlov's dogs went berserk.

The pendant was called "sick," "evil," "disgusting," "horrific," "despicable," "grotesque," "repulsive," "ghastly," while the folks who wear them are "monsters" who "love to wear death on their necks."

It's hard for me to understand, to grasp, the utter, stultifying, abysmal, depths of the ignorance of these people. It was clear in reading the comments, the reactions, the blather and braying, it was clear that these people have no idea, not a clue, not the vaguest notion, of what it is they are talking about.

They flip from screeching to scowling and back again, they pound and pontificate, they mewl and moan, they deride and denounce, and through it all it's clear that they have no idea what the symbolism of the wire coat hanger represents. They have no idea what it means.

And they have no interest in finding out. They don't want to know, they don't want to be told, they refuse to be told. Those few brave souls who ventured into the comments sections of places like National Review Online who tried to point out the the coat hanger was the symbol of a time to which we do not want to return were either ignored, attacked with irrelevancies, or called liars by people who insisted - seriously, literally - that women did not die from abortions before Roe v. Wade.

The appalling ignorance, the repellant bone-headed insularity - It's beyond my vocabulary to find the proper words. Because it's not stupidity, it's not. It's not that they can't know, it's that they refuse to know. They actively refuse to know, to understand.

And part of the reason they refuse to know is that they are so convinced that they already do know, they already do know everything there is to know. It's like a version of something called the Dunning-Kruger effect. This is an actual, demonstrated, psychological principle where people who are really incompetent at something have more confidence in their abilities than those who actually are competent at it, because the competent people tend to be aware of the limits of their knowledge or abilities and the really incompetent people... aren't. So they consistently think they are better at or know more about something than they truly do.

And so here we have the multitudes of mouth-breathers who biliously bloviate about the sanctity of life even as they would condemn women to the mercies of back-alley butchers because they are convinced beyond convincing that the clock of history began in 1973 and abortions did not exist before then.

Happily, the DC Abortion Fund is not backing down. Val Vilott, executive director of the group, noted that its coat hanger pendants predate most of the people on its board. She then said that
We're going to provide funding regardless of what the conservative media has to say about the pendants. The coat hangers aren't going anywhere, and we're not going anywhere.
Congratulations to her and to the group. But fact remains that the people who in their insistent ignorance, their determined denial, their absolute avoidance, of the most basic facts of the history of the issue called the pendants "sick" and "evil" and "disgusting," the idea that we are supposed to regard these as reasonable sentiments, that we are supposed to regard these as reasonable people making reasonable arguments with who we can reasonably reason....

That's just the Outrage of the Week.


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