Friday, March 30, 2012

Stand Your Ground: A Further Analysis

Earlier today, I posted Stand Your Ground: An Analysis. I actually wrote that post yesterday, but forgot to press the Publish button. Anyway, this morning on the way to work, I heard a story (well, a series of stories) on NPR that got me thinking again about Indiana’s “stand your ground” law and its implications for certain situations. The stories dealt with the movie Bully (including a review) and its R rating (followed by the decision to release the film unrated). And from there, I started thinking about the victims of bullying. And the extent to which they have a right to stand their ground.

So, please take a moment and reread this provision from Indiana’s stand your ground statute and then I’m going to offer a scenario for you to think about:

(c) A person is justified in using reasonable force against any other person to protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person:

(1) is justified in using deadly force; and

(2) does not have a duty to retreat;

if the person reasonably believes that that force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.

Now, with that in mind, consider the following scenario:

Johnny is a freshman in high school. Every school day is miserable for Johnny as he is the target of near-constant bullying because he is gay. The name-calling he can live with (sticks and stones and all that…), but it is the physical abuse that has left him considering suicide. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being pushed from behind or shoved sideways into the walls or lockers, but other times it involves being punched or hit. Changing before gym class is always a disaster as some of the other boys push and hit him. He can’t even try to take a shower or use the restrooms at school anymore. His wallet and lunch money have been stolen countless times, his lunch tray upended into his lap, his backpack stolen, his cellphone stomped on. He’s told the school but the administration doesn’t really seem to care that much, so long as nobody gets too seriously hurt. After all, boys will be boys. Oh, and not to mention, that this is a state that refused to enhance protections from bullying for gay youth out of a faux concern for the First Amendment rights of the bulliers. Johnny has told his parents, too; after all, it’s hard to hide a black eye. But they don’t really seem to have come to terms with his being gay and haven’t wanted to rock the community boat, so to speak. So day after day, Johnny goes to school and wonders whether today will be the day that someone finally hurts him badly enough to send him to the hospital … or whether today will be the day he gets up the guts to … check out. And then one day, Johnny finds his father’s gun. He puts it in his backpack and takes it to school. And when one of those bullies shoves Johnny into a locker, but before the punch comes, Johnny pulls out that gun and kills the bully. And maybe a few of the other bullies who were hanging around, cheering on their leader.

Is Johnny covered by Indiana’s stand your ground statute?

And how will those who advocate laws like the stand your ground statute react to this kind of situation?

Once again, I’m not advocating violence. I don’t want the Johnnies of the world to take guns to school or to resort to violence to respond to the epidemic of bullying that adults and schools seem impotent (or unwilling) to check. But when we think about the stories we hear over and over again about gay teens (and other teens, not just gays) who have been bullied to the point that they feel that they have no option other than suicide, shouldn’t we worry?

I suspect that most bullied teens have never heard of laws like stand your ground … at least they’d never heard of these kinds of laws until the Trayvon Martin story went viral. But now those youth, many of whom are growing into their own forms of social consciousness may have heard of these sorts of laws, may have heard about states giving people the right to use deadly force in apparent self-defense. And one of these kids may realize that, hey!, I can put an end to this bullying and I won’t be punished. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised when we hear of a bullied teen deciding to point the gun, not at his or her own forehead, but at the bully who made life so intolerable. And then the question will become whether that act was justified, whether the force was reasonable, whether laws like “stand your ground” are equally applicable to the victims of bullying.

Is that a road down which we really want to walk?

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Stand Your Ground: An Analysis

Earlier this month, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into a law a bill that was designed to “remedy” a controversial decision of the Indiana Supreme Court. Without going into too much detail, the issue was whether a homeowner could use force against a police officer to prevent that officer from illegally entering the homeowner’s house. The bill signed into law by Gov. Daniels recognizes that the so-called “castle doctrine” (the right to use force and no obligation to retreat from your home) applies, even if used against police officers.

In all honesty, I didn’t pay too much attention to this particular bill. On one hand, I was offended at the notion of police officers being allowed to conduct an unlawful entry and the homeowner not being able to prevent it. On the other hand, the idea that we would ever condone using force against a police officer just seems wrong. After all, if the entry is unlawful, the homeowner has recourse through the courts against the officer and the municipality for the unlawful entry. That seems a much better resolution that force which, in many instances, is likely to escalate.

But it was the ongoing story of the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida and the impact of Florida’s so-called “stand your ground” law that caught my attention. Because, and I was not aware of this, Indiana (largely at the behest of the National Rifle Association) passed a very similar “stand your ground” law back in 2006. Now that I’ve looked at that law, I must stay that I’m more than a bit scared of its real-world implications. But first, let’s look at the actual text of the law. (Text in bold was added in 2012; text in strikeout was deleted in 2012; I hope the formatting works as expected…)

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana:

SECTION 1. IC 35-41-3-2, AS AMENDED BY P.L.189-2006, SECTION 1, IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE UPON PASSAGE]: Sec. 2. (a) In enacting this section, the general assembly finds and declares that it is the policy of this state to recognize the unique character of a citizen’s home and to ensure that a citizen feels secure in his or her own home against unlawful intrusion by another individual or a public servant. By reaffirming the long standing right of a citizen to protect his or her home against unlawful intrusion, however, the general assembly does not intend to diminish in any way the other robust self defense rights that citizens of this state have always enjoyed. Accordingly, the general assembly also finds and declares that it is the policy of this state that people have a right to defend themselves and third parties from physical harm and crime. The purpose of this section is to provide the citizens of this state with a lawful means of carrying out this policy.

(b) As used in this section, “public servant” means a person described in IC 35-41-1-17, IC 35-31.5-2-129, or IC 35-31.5-2-185.

(c) A person is justified in using reasonable force against another any other person to protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person:

(1) is justified in using deadly force; and

(2) does not have a duty to retreat;

if the person reasonably believes that that force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.

(b) (d) A person:

(1) is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, against another any other person; and

(2) does not have a duty to retreat;

if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other person’s unlawful entry of or attack on the person’s dwelling, curtilage, or occupied motor vehicle.

(c) (e) With respect to property other than a dwelling, curtilage, or an occupied motor vehicle, a person is justified in using reasonable force against another any other person if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to immediately prevent or terminate the other person’s trespass on or criminal interference with property lawfully in the person’s possession, lawfully in possession of a member of the person’s immediate family, or belonging to a person whose property the person has authority to protect. However, a person:

(1) is justified in using deadly force; and

(2) does not have a duty to retreat;

only if that force is justified under subsection (a). (c).

(d) (f) A person is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, against another any other person and does not have a duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or stop the other person from hijacking, attempting to hijack, or otherwise seizing or attempting to seize unlawful control of an aircraft in flight. For purposes of this subsection, an aircraft is considered to be in flight while the aircraft is:

(1) on the ground in Indiana:

(A) after the doors of the aircraft are closed for takeoff; and

(B) until the aircraft takes off;

(2) in the airspace above Indiana; or

(3) on the ground in Indiana:

(A) after the aircraft lands; and

(B) before the doors of the aircraft are opened after landing.

(e) (g) Notwithstanding subsections (a), (b) and (c), (c) through (e), a person is not justified in using force if:

(1) the person is committing or is escaping after the commission of a crime;

(2) the person provokes unlawful action by another person with intent to cause bodily injury to the other person; or

(3) the person has entered into combat with another person or is the initial aggressor unless the person withdraws from the encounter and communicates to the other person the intent to do so and the other person nevertheless continues or threatens to continue unlawful action.

(f) (h) Notwithstanding subsection (d), (f), a person is not justified in using force if the person:

(1) is committing, or is escaping after the commission of, a crime;

(2) provokes unlawful action by another person, with intent to cause bodily injury to the other person; or

(3) continues to combat another person after the other person withdraws from the encounter and communicates the other person’s intent to stop hijacking, attempting to hijack, or otherwise seizing or attempting to seize unlawful control of an aircraft in flight.

(i) A person is justified in using reasonable force against a public servant if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary to:

(1) protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force;

(2) prevent or terminate the public servant’s unlawful entry of or attack on the person’s dwelling, curtilage, or occupied motor vehicle; or

(3) prevent or terminate the public servant’s unlawful trespass on or criminal interference with property lawfully in the person’s possession, lawfully in possession of a member of the person’s immediate family, or belonging to a person whose property the person has authority to protect.

(j) Notwithstanding subsection (i), a person is not justified in using force against a public servant if:

(1) the person is committing or is escaping after the commission of a crime;

(2) the person provokes action by the public servant with intent to cause bodily injury to the public servant;

(3) the person has entered into combat with the public servant or is the initial aggressor, unless the person withdraws from the encounter and communicates to the public servant the intent to do so and the public servant nevertheless continues or threatens to continue unlawful action; or

(4) the person reasonably believes the public servant is:

(A) acting lawfully; or

(B) engaged in the lawful execution of the public servant’s official duties.

(k) A person is not justified in using deadly force against a public servant whom the person knows or reasonably should know is a public servant unless:

(1) the person reasonably believes that the public servant is:

(A) acting unlawfully; or

(B) not engaged in the execution of the public servant’s official duties; and

(2) the force is reasonably necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person.

SECTION 2. An emergency is declared for this act.

Yeah, I know, I know. For the non-lawyers out there, that’s quite a mouthful. But, as I mentioned before, it’s not the castle doctrine that I want to focus on, but rather, the stand your ground component of the law. Let me reprint the most relevant portion (and I’ve highlighted the section I want to discuss):

(c) A person is justified in using reasonable force against any other person to protect the person or a third person from what the person reasonably believes to be the imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person:

(1) is justified in using deadly force; and

(2) does not have a duty to retreat;

if the person reasonably believes that that force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or a third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.

Go ahead. Read it again. I’ll wait.

Done? OK.

Now, with that law fresh in your mind, I want you to think about the following scenarios and, in each case, decide whether you have the right to shoot to kill.

  • You see a little old lady being robbed on the street. Her attacked is grabbing her purse and pushing her down toward the ground. You believe that the only way to stop the robber from getting away with her purse is to shoot him.
  • You see two boys engaging in a fist fight and you notice that one of them has a knife in his pants pocket.
  • You see an adult yelling at a child and hitting that child in the parking lot of a shopping mall. The adult is not hitting the child’s face, but is doing more than spanking the child’s butt.
  • You are walking through an alley and you see several rough looking men. You think that you hear them call you a mark.
  • You are a woman and your husband decides that he wants to have sex, even after you’ve said no. He pushes you onto the bed and starts to lower his pants.
  • As you are pulling up your driveway after a night out, you see someone trying to jimmy open your garage door.
  • You hear a sound and walk out to the patio of your lake house and see someone pulling away from the dock in your motorboat. (You may want to look at Section (e), too.)
  • You get into an argument with someone at a bar (you looked at his girlfriend the wrong way) and he yells, “I’m gonna kill you!”

Now I’m certainly not an expert in criminal law. But it seems to me that in each of the examples that I’ve given, a legitimate (though not necessarily winning) argument could be made that you have the statutory authority to use deadly force. And note that only three of these eight cases involve actual self-defense and several don’t involve likelihood of personal injury at all.

I think that we all need to be able to defend ourselves. And we shouldn’t get in trouble for trying to help someone else. But I do worry about the statutory authorization to use force — including deadly force — in some of these sorts of situation. Yes, we want to protect innocent people from being hurt; but what risk of unintended consequences or death or serious injury caused by mistake are we willing to accept?

One further point that I want to note, and some have apparently suggested that this is a point that was directly at issue in the Travyon Martin/George Zimmerman matter:

No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.

Of course, the real question is what means were necessary. But I’d certainly argue that if you were to use force in any of the instances set forth above, that you would certainly have a decent argument that your use of force was a reasonable means. And so, here’s the proverbial rub. If you are arrested or brought to trial, you are placed in legal jeopardy. Note that the statute doesn’t say that the circumstances surrounding your use of force are a defense to or justification for the use of that force, but that you can’t be placed in legal jeopardy. Think of it this way: Absent this law, if you were to shoot and kill the men in that dark alley that you worried were about to assault or rob you and the state decided to prosecute you for murder (or manslaughter or whatever), your defense would be self-defense and it would up to a jury (I think…) to decide if your use of force was justified and, with that in mind, whether your conduct was criminal. But with the stand your ground legislation, the question most likely could never get to a jury because that would mean that you had already been placed in legal jeopardy. I suppose that, so long as you can articulate any sort of reasonable basis for your use of force, then the police and prosecutors would be hamstrung and unable to arrest or prosecute you. And query whether that is any different if they don’t believe you.

I think that these stand your ground laws have enormous potential for very bad unintended consequences. And, while I’m not suggesting that self-defense or the prevention of a forcible crime not be legitimate defenses, I think that I’d be more comfortable if the analysis of whether a person acted properly was conducted by a jury with all of the facts rather than in a split-second decision or by a police officer confronted by a “reasonable” explanation. Let’s allow the legal system work rather than trying to pre-judge certain outcomes.


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Monday, March 26, 2012

In Today’s Episode of The War on Women

Three new attacks in the ongoing war on women caught my eye this weekend.

First, you’ll recall that in Wisconsin a state legislator introduced a bill that identified single-parenthood as a form of child abuse or neglect. Well, one of the co-sponsors of that legislation is so opposed to divorce that he wants to ban it, even in cases of domestic abuse.

Instead of leaving an abusive situation, women should try to remember the things they love about their husbands, Representative Don Pridemore said. “If they can re-find those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help,” he told a local news station.

Pridemore — who, coincidentally, is a co-sponsor of Republican state Senator Glenn Grothman’s “being single causes child abuse” bill … also said that while he thinks women are capable of caring for a family “in certain situations,” fathers are the only ones who provide structure and discipline. If they don’t grow up with married biological parents, Pridemore says, “kids tend to go astray.”

So, women of Wisconsin, even if your husband beats you, remember why you loved him and stick around because, you known, if you don’t, you’ll be abusing your kids. Or something. And I’d really like to hear what Rep. Pridemore would say to a woman impregnated in a sexual assault by her abusive husband. My suspicion is that Rep. Pridemore would probably be the sort of fellow who would tell that woman that she didn’t have the right to say “no” to her husband in the first place. Furthermore, what do you think he would say to a woman impregnated by a third-party rapist? I mean, I’m sure he would be opposed to her getting an abortion, but given that he views single-parenthood as a form of abuse or neglect, who is the woman supposed to marry? The rapist? Because, you know, that kid needs a father to keep from going astray. According to Rep. Pridemore, that raped mother, by herself, might not be capable of caring for her family and might even be guilty of abusing or neglecting the child by failing to get married.

Not to be outdone, a Republican legislator in Kansas compared women who are raped to … wait for it … flat tires. Seriously. How and why, you ask? Well, Kansas was debating legislation (which passed) to prohibit abortions from being covered as a standard part of an insurance policy. Instead, abortion coverage could only be obtained through an abortion rider that, obviously, only women would have to buy.

Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who supports abortion rights, questioned whether women would buy abortion-only policies long before they have crisis or unwanted pregnancies or are rape victims.

During the House’s debate, Rep. Pete DeGraaf, a Mulvane Republican who supports the bill, told her: “We do need to plan ahead, don't we, in life?”

Bollier asked him, “And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with a pregnancy?”

DeGraaf drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, “I have spare tire on my car.”

“I also have life insurance,” he added. “I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”

In other words, women should purchase abortion insurance just in case they are raped and want to terminate the pregnancy … just like we have spare tires in our cars. Of course one might ask why women have to get a special policy; I presume a standard insurance policy that is legal in Kansas would pay the hospital bills of both men and women who were injured by a criminal. But only women would have to have coverage for a certain type of result of a criminal act.

And remember Indiana Rep. Jim Morris who criticized the Girl Scouts last month before offering a sort of half-assed apology? Well, when the Indiana General Assembly’s session was over, he took to the opinion pages of the conservative Washington Times to rehash his contempt for the Girl Scouts and their “agenda” and progressive ideals. But he didn’t limit his assault:

As for the culture wars, the left had just dispensed with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation when they turned their attentions to me. Today, they are bludgeoning Rush Limbaugh and tomorrow they will find a fresh new target. My advice to that target is to never back down.

So far, all of the victories in the culture war have gone to the progressives. Nearly all of our most revered institutions, such as universities and major charitable organizations, have been infiltrated and transformed by agents of the left. It is hard to believe that Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and nearly all of the now reliably liberal Ivy League universities, were founded as conservative Christian seminaries, just as it is impossible to imagine what conservative industrialists, like Henry Ford, would think of the politics of the board of directors of the foundations that bear their names.

Whatever concessions we make will be followed up with angry demands that we abandon even more of our core principles. If we accept homosexual members today they will demand that we have anti-Christian leadership of our Christian groups tomorrow, as is the case at Vanderbilt University. Each new appeasement is welcomed by the left with their moving the goal post yet again, and anyone who objects, like myself, may be subjected to the full force and fury of a monolithic cultural warfare machine.

Nothing short of the destruction of our faith and values would satisfy progressives. We have been left with no choice but to refuse to cede even one more inch of ground in this bloody culture war. The time for resolve is now.

A “bloody culture war”? I’m familiar with attacks on abortion clinics and doctors who perform abortions. Both bombs and guns have been used. And I’m familiar with gays who have been beaten or even killed (strung up on a fence and left to die, in one infamous case) or so severely bullied that they have no course but suicide. Did I mention that many of those committing suicide were children? And yet Morris, on the same side apparently as those who threaten abortion clinics and bully gay teens is refusing to cede more ground in the “bloody culture war”? Look, I don’t advocate violence, but I don’t see Morris’  nose being particularly bloodied. I mean, nobody has stopped him from praying or saying really, really stupid things or even hating gays. On the other hand, it does sound like Morris is making an appeal, at least implicitly, to violence, at least it is if that’s what it takes to win the “bloody culture war”. So look for Morris and those who think like him to be on the front lines against equality for gays (maybe using a tire iron to make their point?) or at an abortion clinic protest (perhaps with a Molotov cocktail?). Remember this is a “blood war” from which people like Morris will refuse to “cede even one more inch”.

Oh, and “all of the victories in the culture war have gone to progressives”? Really? I guess that would explain the rollback of abortion rights, the defunding of programs that benefit women, children, and the poor, the expansion of tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, votes to enshrine discrimination against gays into state constitutions, and so forth? The problem is that Morris and those like him are simply terrified of progress and the fact that many people simply don’t share his worldview that harkens back to the world portrayed in Leave it to Beaver or maybe The Andy Griffith Show (if not The Scarlet Letter). A world that tolerates gays, that recognizes that women can make their own decisions, and that values helping those least able to help themselves is apparently antithetical to people like Bob Morris. And Don Pridemore. And Pete DeGraaf.

But those are the people who are being elected to office and until they’ve been replaced by legislators who are tired of the “bloody culture war” then the fight will, I’m afraid, go on and on.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

The War on Women: The Attacks Keep Coming

The war on women being waged by some Republicans just keeps raging. Here are just a few of the newest attacks.

In Congress, Republicans are delaying reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Why? Because Democrats have added language to make the law more applicable on Native American reservations (where it apparently can’t be applied to the non-Native spouse of a Native American woman because the tribal police don’t have appropriate jurisdiction), to provide more protections at shelters to battered homosexuals, and to make it easier for undocumented aliens to be protected from deportation if they come forward to report spousal abuse. Good reasons to object to reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, no? But leave it to Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council to offer the real explanation: He called the Violence Against Women Act “a slush fund for the feminist lobby”.

In Idaho, the state legislator who sponsored that state’s mandatory ultrasound bill responded to criticism that the bill did not include an exception for rape or interest. His explanation?

Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that's part of the counseling that goes on.

In Tennessee, a bill before the legislature would require the state to publish detailed information about doctors who perform abortions and about the women who had abortions. The data would not include the woman’s name, but would include “her age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant.” If I’m not mistaken, a similar law was passed in Oklahoma a few years ago … and stayed by a federal court. And think about this for a moment: Even if the report doesn’t include the woman’s identity, in a rural community won’t it be somewhat obvious? And what does a woman’s race have to do with anything?

The Governor of Pennsylvania, responding to criticism about that state’s new mandatory ultrasound law, told women seeking an abortion who are forced to undergo a potentially invasive and medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure: “You just have to close your eyes”.

In Alaska, a bill is pending that would mandate ultrasounds, forbid doctors from disclosing all of the various options available to pregnant women or give referrals for abortions, and require the pregnant woman to get permission for an abortion from the man who impregnated her.

And now a woman Republican in Arizona, seemingly in an effort to be sure that Arizona stays one step crazier than other states, has suggested that women seeking an abortion be required to view an actual abortion first.

But at least one Republican isn’t so keen on some of the positions that members of his party have taken. Earlier this week, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), spoke at a rally for equal rights:

“I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault,” he told the crowd of mostly women. “I’ll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can’t succeed without your help.”

Hanna, a pro-choice Republican and co-sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, acknowledged that women’s continuing fight for equality is meeting some resistance among his Republican colleagues. He urged women to become more politically active on their own behalf.

“This is a dogfight, it’s a fistfight, and you have all the cards,” he said. “I can only tell you to get out there and use them. Tell the other women, the other 51 percent of the population, to kick in a few of their bucks. Make it matter, get out there, get on TV, advertise, talk about this. The fact that you want [the ERA] is evidence that you deserve it and you need it.”

This shaping up to be a very interesting election, indeed.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Did You Known that Jews Were Once Expelled from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Other Parts of the United States?

I like to think that I have a pretty good grasp of history. I’ve taken plenty of history courses and read plenty of history books over the years. I’m not suggesting that I’m an expert in all things historical or in all epochs or regions. But I do feel like my knowledge of American and Jewish history, in particular, is at least above average. That’s why I was so surprised when I learned about General Order No. 11 issued by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on December 17, 1862, in the midst of the Civil War.

What did General Order No. 11 say?

  1. The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department [of the Tennessee] within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.
  2. Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters.
  3. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits.

On the same day that he issued General Order No. 11, Gen. Grant wrote to the Secretary of War to explain his reasoning:

I have long since believed that in spite of all the vigilance that can be infused into Post Commanders, that the Specie regulations of the Treasury Dept. have been violated, and that mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders. So well satisfied of this have I been at this that I instructed the Commdg Officer at Columbus [Kentucky] to refuse all permits to Jews to come south, and frequently have had them expelled from the Dept. [of the Tennessee]. But they come in with their Carpet sacks in spite of all that can be done to prevent it. The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel any where. They will land at any wood yard or landing on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy Cotton themselves they will act as agents for someone else who will be at a Military post, with a Treasury permit to receive Cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy up at an agreed rate, paying gold.

There is but one way that I know of to reach this case. That is for Government to buy all the Cotton at a fixed rate and send it to Cairo, St Louis, or some other point to be sold. Then all traders, they are a curse to the Army, might be expelled.


General Order No. 11 was revoked just a few weeks later on the orders of President Lincoln.

But still…

I’ll readily admit that I’m not a Civil War buff and that Reconstruction was my least favorite era of American history to study. But this I would have remembered.

Maybe it was discussed in one of the numerous days of Sunday School that I missed. Maybe I skimmed that particular chapter in one of the numerous history books that I read in high school and college. Maybe.

Anyway, I happened upon the story of General Order No. 11 a few nights ago when someone on Twitter posted a link to a fascinating, in depth article in Slate by Jonathan D. Sarna. The article is a bit on the long side, but for anyone interested in either Civil War or Reconstruction-era history or Jewish history, the article is well-worth reading. And no, the focus of the entire article is not on the immediate impact of General Order No. 11 on Jews and their expulsion. Rather, the article focuses on the aftermath of General Order No. 11 in the post-War era and, in particular, the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant. One of the conclusions that Sarna draws is summed up by this paragraph:

[D]uring the eight years of Grant’s presidency, memories of General Orders No. 11 surfaced repeatedly. Eager to prove that he was above prejudice, Grant appointed more Jews to public office than any of his predecessors, and, in the name of human rights, extended unprecedented support to persecuted Jews in Russia and Romania. Time and again, partly as a result of his enlarged vision of what it meant to be an American and partly in order to live down General Orders No. 11, Grant consciously worked to assist Jews and secure them equality.

In other words, the focus of the article is on how one anti-Semitic act, taken on the basis of anti-Semitic stereotypes eventually led to greater inclusion of Jews in the political process.

Go. Read. Then come back and tell me what you think.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

CNN Provides a Platform for a Vile Voice of the Tea Party

This may be a slightly odd, somewhat confusing post, so just hang in there. I think that the pieces will tie together … eventually.

A few weeks ago I was in Atlanta for one of my daughter’s cheerleading competitions (she did very well, thanks for asking…). Coincidentally, to the events I’m going to discuss, we happened to be staying in the Omni CNN Center hotel and took a tour of CNN after the competition was over. Anyway, on Friday night before the competition really began, my son and I found ourselves killing time in a big holding room that my daughter’s gym had rented for the weekend. He was busy playing games on his iPod touch and I … well, I think I now know why Twitter was invented. I spent my evening reading and responding to all sorts of things on Twitter.

But one tweet that evening set off a whole interesting sequence of tweets that, in a roundabout way led to this post.

Things got going about 7:15 that evening. I’d read a tweet from Charles Johnson, owner of the Little Green Footballs website. Johnson, you may remember from my post Apparently I’m Not Eligible to Run for Office as a Republican; How About You? was a conservative blogger who (in)famously parted ways with the right (that discussion is at the bottom of the previous link); his reasoning is worth reviewing. Anyway, the tweet by Johnson led me to his blog post CNN’s Dana Loesch Equates Mandatory Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound to Having Sex in which he recounts how Dana Loesch equated Virginia’s proposed trans-vaginal ultrasound to the act of having sex in the first place.

Who is Dana Loesch, you may ask. She is a Tea Party leader from St. Louis. She has her own St. Louis-based radio show and she is also an editor of Andrew Breitbart’s “Big” sites. And Loesch is now a CNN contributor, hired by the network to provide the Tea Party viewpoint to CNN’s election coverage. Wikipedia has a brief biography. She has not shied away from controversial acts or positions, whether advertising a rally at which pictures of a Congressman were burned and a coffin was carried to his house, or commending US soldiers for desecrating the bodies of Aghans they’d killed, noting that she’d like to “drop trou” and urinate on the corpses too, notwithstanding that desecration of a body in that way is a war crime.

So, anyway, back to that Friday night tweet. Following Johnson’s post about Loesch’s comments, she expressed her anger toward Johnson on Twitter and called him a pervert. One of her far-right colleagues took up the call and tossed off a somewhat offensive tweet about Johnson. Loesch then followed with this:

I wouldn't be shocked if he has to live so many miles from schools as per the law.

In other words, Loesch was suggesting that Johnson was a sex offender and thus had to live away from schools. Her colleague then wrote:

I hear sirens going off if he so much as rides his bicycle 2 close. Did U know it has a cool horn. Beep Beep - Uncle Charlie's hre!

To which Loesch responded:

'Step inside my van for some candy!'

Now, as I mentioned, it was a Friday night and I was stuck in a room at a convention center … and I was bored. So I decided to toss of a tweet of my own (DLoesch is Loesch’s twitter handle; Lizardoid is Johnson’s twitter handle):

@DLoesch Just curious: Are you alleging that @Lizardoid is a child molester? Allegations like that have consequences.

Not surprisingly, Loesch didn’t respond. But within minutes her followers did. Over the next few days, I engaged in quite a running dialogue with these people, none of whom ever made any attempt to discuss substance; rather they simply spent their time making personal attacks against both me and Johnson (he and I exchanged a few laughs over the whole thing). The two most interesting/curious parts of these events were my discovery of a few people who actually created brand new Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of sending “nastygrams” my way and being called a homophobe. Why was I called a homophobe, you ask, especially knowing what I’ve written here about gay rights or that I was the chair of a prominent gay rights organization? Ah, well you see one of these Loesch supporters called me “penis breath” in a tweet. In response, I said:

Ooh. You're soooo smart. You called me a name with a term that implies I'm gay. Wow. I'm so impressed!

And later, after further attacks from the Loesch follower, I replied:

First, where have I ever insulted women? Second, what is the point of insulting me? Does it make you macho?

Ah, I fell into a well-laid trap. For apparently, in the world of the far-right loony bin, suggesting that the term “penis breath” might be an insult is evidence of homophobia. I’m not joking. When I tried to patiently explain that I was not a homophobe and gave, as evidence, my association with Indiana Equality, the charming Loesch supporter tweeted:

By the way, that's just like saying "I can't be racist because I have a black friend".

To which I responded (and after which that crazed tweeter decided to go away…):

More like "I can't be racist because I was head of local NAACP chapter and worked hard for equal rights".

Anyway, after giving me a few good laughs and something with which to occupy myself during the cheerleading competition (when not watching my daughter or hanging out with some friends…), the whole Twitter episode died down and went away (though I did pick up some new followers and make some new online friends). I’d meant to write about this series of events but never quite got around to it. I did send several tweets to @CNN asking them why they continue to employ someone like Dana Loesch. Not surprisingly, I never heard back from them.

So why am I bringing this up again now?

Remember yesterday’s post Just How Low Can the Attacks Go? in which I discussed how a right-wing blogger had transferred the criticism of Sandra Fluke (in particular, the criticism of things that she didn’t really say) to an anti-Semitic attack on her boyfriend? Right. Well guess what Dana Loesch had to say about that anti-Semitic attack:

I appreciate his fight --> @brooksbayne .

As I’m sure you can guess, that is the Twitter handle of the author of the offensive, anti-Semitic blog post. It’s also worth noting how Brooks Bayne has taken to defending his post:

honestly, i'm glad we're having the discussion. please, read this book: it's only one book, but it'll get u started.

The book that Bayne links to is The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements by Kevin MacDonald. Who is Kevin MacDonald and why is Bayne linking to his book? Here’s what the Anti-Defamation League has to say about MacDonald:

Kevin MacDonald is an anti-Semitic tenured professor of evolutionary psychology at California State University, Long Beach, where he has worked since 1985. Couching his views as legitimate intellectual inquiry, MacDonald has asserted that anti-Semitism, including the anti-Jewish hatred exhibited by the Nazis and those who carried out the Spanish Inquisition, is a “rational” response to Judaism. MacDonald also regularly argues that Jews are a “hostile elite” in American society who undermine the country’s European heritage and traditions in an effort to "destroy Europeans."  According to MacDonald, Jews maintain their elite position by fostering non-white immigration into America to alter the country’s “racial hierarchy” and by creating intellectual movements that weaken ethnic European identity. His arguments mimic those of anti-Semites from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, he is a contributor to David Duke’s radio program and on the board of A3P (American Third Position), an avowed white supremacist group. Charming. And that’s the author who Brooks Bayne wants you to start with to understand his anti-Semitic argument against Sandra Fluke’s boyfriend. The anti-Semitic argument that Dana Loesch appreciates.

But it’s worth noting that anti-Semitism is apparently a hot topic in the Loesch household. The day before her “appreciation” of Bayne’s anti-Semitic attack, Loesch’s husband Chris accused CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien of being anti-Semitic:

She won't apologize because it's cool and edgy to be an anti-Semitic leftist right now.

What did O’Brien do to deserve that allegation? She disagreed with a Breitbart supporter in an on-air interview and argued with him over the definition of critical race theory. That Breitbart supporter, Joel Pollack, is Jewish. And what does Dana Loesch think of her husband calling one of Loesch’s fellow CNN employees anti-Semitic? Well, when Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America retweeted Chris Loesch’s tweet, Dana Loesch responded:

When will @Eric Boehlert go full Klan and hire Duke to write for MMfA? He uses his talking points.

You see, Boehlert and the folks at Media Matters for America are accused of being anti-Semitic because some people from Media Matters have been critical of Israel and of American Jewish support for Israel. I vehemently disagree with some of the things that have come from Media Matters on the subject of Israel and Jewish support for Israel, but comparing those actions, even if anti-Semitic, to the KKK and David Duke? Seriously? So you see, to Loesch only the left can really be anti-Semitic. Criticism of Jews from the right is apparently hunky dory and “appreciated”. If the left criticizes Jews for their support of Israel, that is anti-Semitic, but if the right criticizes Jews for … well … being Jewish or believing in social justice or being around other Jews … that is not anti-Semitic. At least not to people like Loesch.

So, why, one might ask, is Dana Loesh still on CNN?

And that is, I hope obviously, the purpose of this post.

Dana Loesch is entitled to have whatever loathsome points of view she wants. And I guess if a St. Louis radio station wants to continue to give her airtime, then that is their decision (though I think the exodus of advertisers from Rush Limbaugh may make for an interesting case study). But why has CNN continued to turn to Loesch for her opinion? Why is CNN providing a platform for a woman who accuses people of sex crimes, who supports (and would like to commit) war crimes, and who “appreciates” anti-Semitic arguments? CNN suspended Roland Martin for making some homophobic tweets, but Loesch is still with CNN. Why? Why does CNN feel that particular voice and viewpoint worthy of being given a televised platform from which she can call attention to her views?

Next time you hear Loesch on CNN, remember what some of her other opinions and beliefs are and factor that into what you hear her say. And remember, when you hear the Tea Party or an Andrew Breitbart supporter say that they aren’t about racism or offensive behavior, suggest that they look more carefully at one of their own national spokespeople.

One final, tangentially-related point. If the Tea Party and those opposed to President Obama really aren’t racist, then I suppose none of them will be purchasing this bumper sticker:

Crazy Talk: 'Don't Re-Nig' Bumper Sticker

Nope. No racism here. Move along.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just How Low Can the Attacks Go?

Last week I wrote in some detail about Rush Limbaugh’s faux apology and the smearing of law student Sandra Fluke. As I pointed out then, Fluke’s testimony to Congress about birth control was primarily focused on the cost of birth control to treat medical issues and not for birth control purposes. And as I also pointed out, her testimony was about other women. Fluke did not testify about her own needs or about her own sexuality. But that hasn’t stopped Rush Limbaugh and others on the right from ripping into Fluke and making all sorts of jokes about her sex life (how many times have you heard the comment that she’s having so much sex that she can’t afford her birth control?).

Well, one blogger has not decided to take this line of attack even further into … are you ready? … an anti-Semitic attack on Fluke’s boyfriend and his family.


Now, before reading what this blogger has to say, remember one important thing: Because Fluke was not testifying about her own sexuality, the identity or character of her boyfriend (let alone his family) is completely and totally irrelevant.

So, here is the post Sandra Fluke’s Boyfriend, Adam “Cutie Pants” Mutterperl, And His Radical Socialist Family from blogger Brooks Bayne. Go read it, if you dare, but as you do so, try playing the following game: See just how many anti-Semitic tropes you can find. But should you choose not to waste your time reading this drivel, let me at least highlight a few of my “favorite” parts (and, as you read them, also ask yourself what any of this has to do with whether women should be entitled to birth control medication as a part of their insurance). I’ve omitted internal links:

Anyway, on to Adam’s “typical Democrat family”. The term BIll O’Reilly used to describe Bill Mutterperl is “Democratic stalwart”. However, as soon as I heard his name in a story about Sandra Fluke, I almost choked, due to my sudden epiphany. Why? Because anyone familiar with Boston and New York political history knows about the wealthy Mutterperl family’s long tradition of supporting the typical Jewish variant of socialism. Bill Mutterperl’s family are much more than Democratic stalwarts.

The Mutterperl family, via Adam’s great grandfather Sol’s handbag fortune, established the “Mutterperl Scholarship Endowment Fund” in 1951 for Brandeis University. This school, as some people call it, is named for Louis Brandeis, a secular Jew, Zionist, and United States Supreme Court Justice appointed by Woodrow Wilson. Brandeis was a self-proclaimed socialist. Herbert Marcuse, the famous Frankfurt School Marxist, came to Brandeis in 1954, three years after the Mutterperl fund was created. Brandeis University is one of the nation’s leading petri dishes for anti-American and neo-Marxist thought.

Sol was also supportive of unions and was the Director of the United Jewish Appeal (now The Jewish Federations of North America) a Jewish “social” organization. From the JFNA website:

The Federation movement, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).

There’s that “social justice” code word again. Jewish Socialism is linked to a very progressive concept of the above tikkun olam. New Bedford, MA, where Raphael Mutterperl ran the family’s manufacturing arm, was a hotbed of  Marxist trade-unionism in early 20th century America. Why? It was easy to “sell” radical trade-unionism to a whole people group who were brought up in the lap of Weimar Marxian ideology, because New Bedford had many new eastern-European Jewish immigrants living there at the time, including, of course, the Mutterperl family.

Oh, as a complete aside, check out Adam’s grandpappy, Martin Mutterperl, hanging out with Cass Sunstein’s, (another Obama appointee, Regulatory Czarina, and overall radical leftist) great-uncle, Alexander Cass Sunstein, and Samuel “Subway Sam” Rosoff, the guy who killed one of his detractors over a labor union spat, in Palm Beach back in 1965, at the Ambassador Hotel …. Purely coincidence, I’m sure, since they’re all associated with Marxists, socialists, and trade-unionists of Eastern-European, Jewish, descent. There are some other interesting names in this list. Can you spot them?! Just kidding. Move along. Nothing to see here, hobbits.

Apparently, this is what now passes for discourse on the wingnut fringe.

And I thought far-right Republicans were supposed to love Jews? Oh, wait. Sorry. I forgot. They love Israel. They love the idea of “Greater Israel”. They love the idea of everything Israel stands for … except, well, you know … all those things Israel stands for (like equality). And they love the idea of Jews going to Israel so that we can help bring about Armageddon before we are “perfected”. Loving Jews who stand up for democratic principles of equality and fairness here in the US? Eh, not so much. And I guess it’s OK for people like Mitt Romney and Donald Trump to make lots of money, but not “socialist” Jews. Nope.

And that’s apparently why we should discount Sandra Fluke’s testimony about why women need access to birth control. Who knew?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some Examples of the War on Women (update)

Yesterday I posted Some Examples of the War on Women. Last night I read an article about an almost unbelievable new attack on women, this time emanating from Arizona and, believe it or not, from a woman legislator (and hat tip to reader Karin for posting a comment about this new attack last night). The Republican Whip in Arizona has sponsored a bill that … and I hope you’re sitting down … requires women who want a birth control benefit in their insurance coverage to provide their employer with a certificate providing evidence of a medical condition, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, that can be treated with birth control.

Think about that for a second. If this bill were to pass, an Arizona employer could ask a woman about her medical condition and the medications she takes for that condition. Could you imagine what would happen if a bill were introduced allowing employers to ask men about the drugs that they were taking, perhaps requiring men who take Viagra to provide a certificate from their spouse that the man really does have erectile dysfunction? Yeah, I’m sure that would pass. In what other situation is an employer allowed to ask an employee about their medical condition or the drugs they take? Should a Scientologist employer be able to ask an employee if they are receiving any mental health treatment or taking drugs for depression or anxiety?' Should any employer be able to ask an employer about any medical condition (other than, perhaps, a medical condition that might reasonably interfere with the employee’s ability to perform the job function)?

By the way, I think one aspect of the explanation given by the bill’s sponsor is truly worth considering:

We live in America; we don’t live in the Soviet Union.

Right. Because here in freedom-loving America it makes perfect sense to ask women about whether they are taking medication for birth control purposes; they’d never ask invasive questions about sex back in the old Soviet Union. Wait. Um. Er.

And consider this, too. Arizona, like many other states is, I believe, an at will state. That means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason, so long as the reason is not one of a select group of discriminatory reasons (i.e., the employer can’t fire the employee for being African-American or Muslim or female). But if the employer asked for the certificate and the woman refused to provide it, could the employer then fire the woman for being “loose” or for using birth control against the employer’s religious beliefs or moral convictions? What about an employer who refused to hire single women or who fired women who got divorced (hey, isn’t divorce against some religious teachings, too)?

I want to quote one thing that Karin said in her comment, because I think that it really makes the point:

When is this going to end? … I'm beyond bemused and have slid into scared to death for myself and the younger women in this country. Wake the hell up ladies!

Oh, and did you catch Mitt Romney’s comment about Planned Parenthood yesterday? No, he didn’t just say he wanted to defund it. That wouldn’t really be news anymore (though it is worth considering the fact that Mrs. Romney has contributed to Planned Parenthood from their joint checking account). No. Romney went even further. And, before reading what he said, please remember two things: 1) Planned Parenthood is a private non-profit organization that 2) provides a broad range of health care services (including such things as mammograms and cancer screening) to and for women, in particular poor women. So what did Romney say about Planned Parenthood in an interview yesterday?

Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that.

And I also forgot to include another doozy from Rick Santorum during an interview earlier this year with CNN’s Piers Morgan who asked Santorum about his opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape:

Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

In Santorum’s sick world (yeah, what the hell, go ahead and click on the word Santorum; sorry, but I couldn’t help myself) when a man violently shoves his penis into a woman’s vagina in a dark alley, when an adult abuses a relationship with a child and forces her to have sex even though she is too young to consent, or when a woman is taken advantage of after having too much to drink or being spiked with a date rape drug … then G-d is giving that woman a gift. Hey, I’m not a woman. I’m not a mother. And I’ve never been raped. But I’ll take a wild ass guess here. I’m sure that the woman will love that child. But I also have no doubt that every time the woman looks at that child she will remember the violent or non-consensual act at its conception. Maybe I’m off base, but I don’t think that most women, many women even, would view getting raped as a gift from G-d.

And I’m sure that Republicans like Rick Santorum will do everything that they can to create programs to help pregnant women and then to help them with their offspring, like creating programs to help them pay for food and medicine and … oh, wait. That’s right. They want to cut those sorts of programs too, because, you know, we need to give millionaires more money.

If you see, hear, or read about any other aspects of the GOP’s war on women, let me know.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some Examples of the War on Women

The news has, in recent weeks, focused quite a bit on two related issues, both of which have, I think correctly, been described as part of the Republicans’ “war on women”. First, there is the ongoing discussion about whether health insurance plans, including those from religious hospitals and universities, should include birth control. Then, stemming from that discussion came Rush Limbaugh’s verbal assault on a woman who testified about the need for birth control, primarily for matters not relating directly to sex. Limbaugh called the woman a “slut” and “prostitute” (along with making all sorts of other horrible claims) and, though he has offered a partial apology, very, very few Republicans have been willing to criticize Limbaugh … or stand up for women. And let’s not forget that the testimony that led to Limbaugh’s attack was necessitated only after Rep. Darrell Issa’s committee hearing evidence on the birth control mandate controversy refused to allow Democrats to call witnesses and the only witnesses the committee actually heard from were men. All of them. Six white men testifying about birth control.

These are but two acts in the ever-broadening war that Republicans are waging against women. I thought I’d take a few minutes to highlight some of the other anti-women policies that Republicans have introduced, pursued, or endorsed.

  • Let’s start back in 2009 with the very first bill that President Obama signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. That law makes it easier for women to sue a company for unfair pay practices related to gender equality. The Republicans had blocked and filibustered the bill in previous sessions of Congress, but the new Congress, in early 2009, was finally able to pass the bill. The votes, in both the House and Senate, were on a virtual party-line basis. Democrats supported expanding the rights of women to sue employers for unequal pay; Republicans opposed that law.
  • We know that Republicans want to repeal “Obamacare”.* Of course, rarely is there any discussion of what that would really mean (other than the repeated lie that Obamacare is a government takeover of healthcare). One thing that Obamacare includes is a requirement for employers (I don’t know if it’s all employers or a limited subset based on size of business or whatnot) to give nursing mothers both time and a place to express breast milk. Seems like pro-family values Republicans would be in favor of that. But they’re not.
  • Let’s not forgot the effort by some Republicans to redefine rape to include only “forcible rape” — whatever that might mean — or the effort by some Georgia Republicans to no longer refer to rape victims as “victims” but rather as “accusers” (at least until the rapist was convicted).
  • Some communities (I’m looking at you Wasilla, Alaska, under Mayor Sarah Palin) have required women who have been raped to pay for the rape testing done by the police.
  • We know that most Republicans want to make abortion illegal. But let’s look at some of the things that they’ve done (or tried to do) to restrict access to abortion:
    • A few states have toyed with bills that would permit a person to harm an abortion doctor in order to stop the doctor from performing an abortion.
    • Republicans have made much of defunding Planned Parenthood (thus limiting women’s access not only to abortion services, but also to the large amount of other women’s health services provided by Planned Parenthood). And let’s not forget that Republicans have not been shy about lying about what Planned Parenthood does (remember Sen. John Kyl’s lie that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions followed by his statement that the lie “was not intended to be a factual statement”?). And don’t forget that Komen, who so infamously tried to defund Planned Parenthood recently, is run by several anti-choice Republicans (including a former candidate for Governor of Georgia).
    • Republicans have also been busy passing or proposing laws that make abortions very difficult for some women, in particular poor women or those from rural communities, to obtain. Among these sorts of bills and laws have been some of the following:
      • Requiring women to make multiple trips to the doctor providing the abortion. Usually this is framed in the nature of requiring one trip at which the woman is examined and given information and asked to consent followed by a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure can be performed. If you live in a big city with easy access to an abortion provider, this isn’t a big deal (unless you need time off of work). If you live in Montana, a massive state with one abortion provider in the corner of the state, that can be a major hardship.
      • The information that doctors must provide to women and/or the consent that women must sign often include scientifically inaccurate information. For example, some states now require doctors to tell women that abortion can cause breast cancer, that abortion leads to mental health issues, and that a fetus can feel pain. In Indiana a bill to require doctors to provide medically accurate information failed. Republicans were opposed to that because it didn’t conform to their anti-choice worldview.
      • States have also adopted so-called “facilities” laws. In essence, these laws attempt to make it very difficult to operate a facility that provides abortions. Usually these sorts of laws will require the out-patient facility to meet the standards that apply to hospitals, rather than other out-patient facilities (even though other out-patient facilities may be performing much more invasive and difficult procedures).
      • Restrictions on doctors have become another tool frequently employed. These restrictions include such things as requiring the doctor to have admitting privileges in a hospital in the county where the abortion is performed. The problem with this is that in many states there are very few (often only 1) doctor performing the abortions, sometimes at satellite clinics around the state. It is sometimes difficult (and often expensive) for the doctor to get admitting privileges (and those privileges are often tied to work-related matters, too). And those sorts of restrictions are not imposed on doctors performing any other outpatient procedures.
      • The newest, and most vile efforts that have surfaced (presently being debated in Arizona and elsewhere) would permit doctors to either lie to or withhold information from a patient about her condition (or the condition of the fetus) if the doctor thought that the woman might seek an abortion. Just think about that for a minute. An anti-choice doctor who knows that a woman has a non-viable pregnancy or knows that the woman is likely to suffer severe complications from the pregnancy could tell the woman that the fetus is fine or that the woman won’t suffer complications in order to prevent her from seeking an abortion.
      • I only learned recently that, apparently, in some states a rapist still has parental rights. Seriously. A woman can go to court to get those rights revoked. But still…
      • And of course we can’t forget the Republicans that have decided to humiliate women who want an abortion. First, they passed laws to require women to view an ultrasound or listen to a fetal heartbeat. But when that wasn’t enough Republicans began to pass laws that require women seeking an abortion to undergo a medically unnecessary vaginal ultrasound. Yes, that’s right. Before a woman in those states can get an abortion, she has to be raped by the state.
    • Some Republicans have also proposed bills that would allow a hospital to essentially let a woman die rather than perform an abortion.
    • Though they are also tied closely to the anti-choice movement, so-called Personhood bills are really a category unto themselves. In essence, a personhood law (and lots of states are considering them) would declare a fetus to be a “person” with the same rights as “post-birth” people. But think what that might really mean for a woman, besides her right to an abortion. What if she drinks or smokes? It would seem that the fetus should be able to sue her, right? What if she doesn’t eat healthy? Seek enough pre-natal care? How long before governments can begin stepping in to “control” pregnant women to protect her fetus? Wait a minute, isn’t that just the sort of government takeover of healthcare that Republicans hate? But in any event, the point remains that control over a pregnant woman’s body might suddenly be out of her hands because of the interest of the government (or the father) to protect that unborn “person”. And just imagine how these sorts of laws would impact such things as in vitro fertilization. I mean, freezing a “person” in a Petri dish is probably not going to be legal, is it?
    • In addition to the discussion about whether insurance should pay for birth control, some, like Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, have suggested that pre-natal testing should be banned because it might lead a woman to seek an abortion.
    • Many states have examined Republican sponsored legislation to allow a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription for birth control or an abortifacient because the pharmacist is opposed to birth control or abortion — even if the woman has a prescription.
    • Just this week a Republican legislator offered a bill to require women to carry non-viable fetal tissue to term because, you known, cows and pigs carry stillborn fetuses. Yes, he seriously compared women to livestock.
  • Among the funds that Republicans have cut (or tried to cut), a prime target have been programs aimed at helping low income pregnant women and poor women with young children. Because, you known, we need to give tax breaks to oil companies.
  • On a completely different note, it has been Republicans who have sought to limit the expansion of women’s roles in the military.
  • We can’t forget the bill offered by a Republican in Wisconsin that, in essence, identified single-parenthood as a form of child abuse or neglect.
  • And let’s not forget the allegations of an Indiana legislator that the Girl Scouts are a “radicalized organization” that acts as the “tactical arm” of Planned Parenthood with an agenda of “sexualizing young girls” and promotes a homosexual lifestyle and allows transgender youths to participate.

There are, I’m sure, plenty of other examples. But I think the basic point is clear: The modern Republican party is so worked up about sex and so beholden to far right religious beliefs, that the idea of women as equals, as people who can make their own decisions, especially about their own bodies, has been lost. The Republicans will do everything that they can to stop abortions, even if it means trampling the rights of women. They will cut programs, even if it means harming those most in need. They will do everything they can to shame women out of exercising control over their sexuality and reproductive systems. While Republicans cry about government intrusion into our freedom, they are themselves intruding upon the freedoms that women enjoy (or did enjoy in states now dominated by Republican legislatures).

Somehow Republicans seem to have forgotten the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. That Amendment gave women the right to vote. I hope that women use that vote this November as there is no better way to strike back against the Republican War on Women than to vote misogynists out of office.

*I really don’t like using the term Obamacare as I find it to be pejorative. However, it appears that term has become the de facto phrase to describe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Thus, I am reluctantly going to begin (at least sometimes) to use the term Obamacare.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Anatomy of an Apology

I have pre-teens. Two of ’em. And every now and then, one of them will say something to the other (or to me or my wife) that is inappropriate. When that happens, we ask the child to apologize. Often the apology will be offered in a surly tone; we try to calmly explain that to be meaningful, an apology must at least sound sincere. Sometimes the apology will be followed by a “But…” and we try to calmly explain that an apology is not the time for excuses. An explanation is fine, but not if the purpose is to excuse or even justify the conduct. Other times, the apology will be followed with an effort to blame the bad act on someone else (“She made me!”), to deflect attention from the act itself (“The other day when…”), or to create some form of equivalency (“But he didn’t get in trouble when he …”). And again, we try to calmly explain that these sorts of defensive postures are not properly a part of an apology.

I’m not sure that my kids have really absorbed all of that yet…

But Rush Limbaugh isn’t a 12-year-old kid.

I want to take some time to examine Limbaugh’s so-called apology to Sandra Fluke, issued Saturday afternoon. For, while it has been referred to as an apology — and even includes the word “apologize” — I think a careful reading of Limbaugh’s statement will reveal that it may be a lot of things, but a true apology is not one of them.

Let’s start by reading the text Limbaugh’s “apology”:

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

The first thing worth noting is that the “apology” was written. You’d think that a man who makes his living via voicing his thoughts on the radio could offer an apology in the same medium. But I recognize that the “apology” came over the weekend. Thus,I was curious to see what, if anything, Limbaugh might say on his radio program on Monday. And sure enough, he did discuss and expound upon his “apology” with a lengthy discussion about why he apologized:

While I have your attention, give me 30 minutes here. It's all I ask and then you can do what you want. I want to explain why I apologized to Sandra Fluke in the statement that was released on Saturday. I've read all the theories from all sides, and, frankly, they are all wrong. I don't expect — and I know you don't, either — morality or intellectual honesty from the left. They've demonstrated over and over a willingness to say or do anything to advance their agenda. It's what they do. It's what we fight against here every day. But this is the mistake I made. In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them.

Against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error. I became like them, and I feel very badly about that. I've always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program. Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for.They distracted from the point that I was actually trying to make, and I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her. I do not think she is either of those two words. I did not think last week that she is either of those two words.

The apology to her over the weekend was sincere. It was simply for using inappropriate words in a way I never do, and in so doing, I became like the people we oppose. I ended up descending to their level. It's important not to be like them, ever, particularly in fighting them. The old saw, you never descend to the level of your opponent or they win. That was my error last week. But the apology was heartfelt. The apology was sincere. And as you will hear as I go on here, it was not about anything else. No ulterior motive. No speaking in code. No double entendre or intention. Pure, simple heartfelt. That's why I apologized to Sandra Fluke on Saturday, 'cause all the theories, all the experts are wrong.

But the point here is that this was an issue that represents a tiny, tiny slice of what the Democrats really want here. They use Sandra Fluke to create a controversy. Sandra Fluke used them to advance her agenda, which is to force a religious institution to abandon their principles in order to meet hers. Now, all of this is what I should have told you last week, 'cause this is what happened. I use satire. I use absurdity to illustrate the absurd. The story at the Cybercast News Service characterized a portion of her testimony as sounding like (based on her own financial figures) she was engaging in sexual activity so often she couldn't afford it. I focused on that because it was simple trying to persuade people, change people's minds.

I am huge on personal responsibility and accountability, people providing for themselves when they're totally able to. The government has no business doing any of this, getting in people's bedrooms and mandating that other citizens pay for other citizens' social activities and so forth. That was the wrong one to focus on. I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations to describe Sandra Fluke. It's what we have come to know and expect of them, but it's way beneath me. And it's way beneath you. It was wrong, and that's why I've apologized, 'cause I succumbed. I descended to their level. Don't be mad at them or mad at her. Everybody here was being true to their nature except me. I'm the one who had the falling on this, and for that I genuinely apologized for using those words to describe Ms. Fluke.

The portion that I omitted was another 13 paragraphs criticizing President Obama in particular (“Barack Obama, has a socialist agenda when it comes to health care” etc.) and Democrats in general. In those paragraphs he discusses the issues, the “facts”, and so forth.

So let’s take Limbaugh at his word that the “apology” was sincere. And heartfelt. But was it an apology for three days of ridicule, scorn, name-calling, and — most importantly — bald-faced lies?

Let’s go back and see what, precisely, Limbaugh apologizes for (and what “mistakes” he owns up to):

  • I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
  • My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.
  • But this is the mistake I made. In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them.
  • [A]gainst everything I know to be right and wrong I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error. I became like them, and I feel very badly about that.
  • [T]hose two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for.They distracted from the point that I was actually trying to make, and I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her. I do not think she is either of those two words. I did not think last week that she is either of those two words.
  • The apology to her over the weekend was sincere. It was simply for using inappropriate words in a way I never do, and in so doing, I became like the people we oppose. I ended up descending to their level.
  • [Y]ou never descend to the level of your opponent or they win. That was my error last week.
  • I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations to describe Sandra Fluke. It's what we have come to know and expect of them, but it's way beneath me…. It was wrong, and that's why I've apologized, 'cause I succumbed. I descended to their level.
  • I'm the one who had the falling on this, and for that I genuinely apologized for using those words to describe Ms. Fluke.

I think that the last bulleted point sums things up reasonably well. Limbaugh is apologizing for using “those words” to describe Sandra Fluke, What words, in particular, is he referencing? Well, if you look up just a few bullet points, you’ll find your answer: “[T]hose two words were inappropriate.” (Emphasis added.) Two words. Slut and prostitute. Those are the words that Limbaugh is sincerely apologizing for using. OK. Like I said, I’m willing to take him at his word that his apology for using those two words is sincere and heartfelt. But here’s the problem: He said a lot more than those two words. He lied about Fluke and about what she said. He used lots more words than just slut and prostitute. Those two words were part of the context of a discussion of her sex life. And it wasn’t just an off-hand comment made on the spur of the moment. Rather, he repeated the comments for three days. Even after he’d been called out for the “inappropriate words” he kept at it and kept repeating those words. And then he went even further, even suggesting that Fluke send him a tape of her performing sex acts. And yet Limbaugh expects us to accept that three days of vitriol and lies was not meant to be “a personal attack on Ms. Fluke”? What then was it?

So perhaps, with Limbaugh’s “apology” in mind, it is worth turning to what he actually said about Fluke for those three days. Blogger JohnKWilson, writing for DailyKos, has conveniently compiled Rush’s 53 Smears Against Sandra Fluke (with bonus video!). Note that Limbaugh’s website has now apparently been purged of the transcripts for those days (as originally linked to by JohnKWilson’s post):

Feb. 29, 2012:

1) “testifies she's having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope”
2) “they're having so much sex they can't afford the birth control pills!”
3) “essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
4) “Sandra Fluke. So much sex going on, they can't afford birth control pills.”

March 1, 2012:

5) “You'd call 'em a slut, a prostitute”
6) “she's having so much sex”
7) “are having so much sex that they’re going broke”
8) “they want to have sex any time, as many times and as often as they want, with as many partners as they want”
9) “the sexual habits of female law students at Georgetown”
10) “are having so much sex that they’re going broke”
11) “having so much sex that it's hard to make ends meet”
12) “four out of every ten co-eds are having so much sex that it's hard to make ends meet”
13) “Now, what does that make her? She wants us to buy her sex.”
14) “to pay for these co-eds to have sex”
15) “she and her co-ed classmates are having sex nearly three times a day for three years straight, apparently these deadbeat boyfriends or random hookups that these babes are encountering here, having sex with nearly three times a day”
16) “Therefore we are paying her to have sex. Therefore we are paying her for having sex.”
17) “Have you ever heard of not having sex so often?”
18) “Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
19) “we want something in return, Ms. Fluke: And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we are getting for our money.”
20) “'If we're paying for this, it makes these women sluts, prostitutes.' And what else could it be?”
21) “essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right?”
22) “I'm having sex so damn much, I'm going broke.”
23) “She's having so much sex that she's going broke! There's no question about her virtue.”
24) “having so much sex she's going broke at Georgetown Law.”
25) “Here's a woman exercising no self-control. The fact that she wants to have repeated, never-ending, as often as she wants it sex -- given.”
26) “She's having so much sex it's amazing she can still walk, but she made it up there.”
27) “Maybe they're sex addicts.”
28) “to pay for her to have sex all the time.”
29) “she wants the rest of us to pay for her sex.”
30) “She wants all the sex that she wants all the time paid for by the rest of us.”
31) “Here this babe goes before Congress and wants thousands of dollars to pay for her sex.”
32) “a woman who is happily presenting herself as an immoral, baseless, no-purpose-to-her-life woman.”
33) “She wants all the sex in the world, whenever she wants it, all the time.”
34) “If this woman wants to have sex ten times a day for three years, fine and dandy.”
35) “to provide women from Georgetown Law unlimited, no-consequences sex.”
36) “so she can have unlimited, no-consequences sex.”
37) “You want to have all the sex you want all day long, no consequences, no responsibility for your behavior”
38) “The woman wants unlimited, no-responsibility, no-consequences sex, and she wants it with contraceptives paid for by us.”

March 2, 2012:

39) "she's having so much sex, she can't afford her birth control pills anymore.”
40) “she's having so much sex, she can't pay for it -- and we should.”
41) “She's having so much sex, she can't afford it.”
42) “this, frankly hilarious claim that she's having so much sex (and her buddies with her) that she can't afford it.”
43) “And not one person says, 'Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?'
44) “Does she have more boyfriends? Ha! They're lined up around the block.”
45) "It was Sandra Fluke who said that she was having so much sex, she can't afford it.”
46) “By her own admission, in her own words, Sandra Fluke is having so much sex that she can't afford it.”
47) “they're having a lot of sex for which they need a lot of contraception.”
48) “Her sex life is active and she's having sex so frequently that she can't afford all the birth control pills that she needs.”
49) “who admits to having so much sex that she can't afford it anymore.”
50) “she's having so much sex, she can't pay for it.”
51) “As frequently as she has sex and to not be pregnant, she's obviously succeeding in contraception.”
52) “Ms. Fluke, asserts her right to free contraceptive, to handle her sex life -- and it's, by her own admission, quite active.”

UPDATE: added thanks to your comments,
53) "Ms. Fluke, who bought your condoms in junior high? Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade, or your contraception?"

So what do you think? Did Limbaugh’s apology cover all of what he actually said? But wait! Before you answer that question, it is also worth noting just how much of what Limbaugh said was an outright lie. You see, much of what Limbaugh said he took from Cybercast News Service. But many of the “facts” that Limbaugh pulled from that article were bald-faced lies. By way of simple example, at no point in her testimony did Fluke ever talk about her own sex life. Don’t believe me? Here’s Sandra Fluke’s testimony (with a transcript):

Leader Pelosi, members of Congress, good morning, and thank you for calling this hearing on women's health and for allowing me to testify on behalf of the women who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage regulation.

My name is Sandra Fluke, and I'm a third-year student at Georgetown Law School. I'm also a past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice, or LSRJ. And I'd like to acknowledge my fellow LSRJ members and allies, and all of the student activists with us, and thank them so much for being here today.

We, as Georgetown LSRJ, are here today because we're so grateful that this regulation implements the nonpartisan medical advice of the Institute of Medicine. I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. And just as we students have faced financial, emotional and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously affiliated hospitals and institutions and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens. We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women. Simultaneously, the recently announced adjustment addresses any potential conflict with the religious identity of Catholic and Jesuit institutions.

When I look around my campus, I see the faces of the women affected by this lack of contraceptive coverage. And especially in the last week, I have heard more and more of their stories. On a daily basis, I hear from yet another woman from Georgetown or from another school or who works for a religiously affiliated employer, and they tell me that they have suffered financially, emotionally and medically, because of this lack of coverage. And so I'm here today to share their voices, and I want to thank you for allowing them — them, not me — to be heard.

Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that's practically an entire summer's salary. Forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they've struggled financially as a result of this policy.

One told us of how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance, and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn't afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.

Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn't fit it into their budget any more. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face this same choice.

And some might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that's just not true. Women's health clinics provide a vital medical service, but, as the Guttmacher Institute has definitively documented, these clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services. Clinics are closing, and women are being forced to go without the medical care they need.

How can Congress consider the Fortenberry, Rubio and Blunt legislation, that would allow even more employers and institutions to refuse contraception coverage, and then respond that the nonprofit clinics should step up to take care of the resulting medical crisis; particularly when so many legislators are attempting to defund those very same clinics?

These denials of contraceptive coverage impact real people. In the worst cases, women who need this medication for other medical reasons suffer very dire consequences. A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and she has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown's insurance, because it's not intended to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, under many religious institutions' insurance plans, it wouldn't be. There would be no exception for other medical needs. And under Senator Blunt's amendment, Senator Rubio's bill or Representative Fortenberry's bill, there's no requirement that such an exception be made for these medical needs.

When this exception does exist, these exceptions don't accomplish their well-intended goals, because when you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose are not, a woman's health takes a backseat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body. In 65 percent of the cases at our school, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they needed prescriptions and whether they were lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20 percent of the women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription. Despite verification of her illness from her doctor, her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted birth control to prevent pregnancy. She's gay — so clearly, polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy for her.

After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn't afford her medication anymore, and she had to stop taking it. I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that, in the middle of the night in her final-exam period, she'd been in the emergency room. She'd been there all night in just terrible, excruciating pain. She wrote to me: "It was so painful I woke up thinking I'd been shot." Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result. On the morning I was originally scheduled to give this testimony, she was sitting in a doctor's office trying to cope with the consequences of this medical catastrophe.

Since last year's surgery, she's been experiencing night sweats and awaking and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She's 32 years old. As she put it: If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no choice at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies, simply because the insurance policy — that I paid for, totally unsubsidized by my school — wouldn't cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it. Now, in addition to potentially facing the health complications that come with having menopause at such an early age — increased risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis — she may never be able to conceive a child.

Some may say that my friend's tragic story is rare. It's not. I wish it were. One woman told us doctors believe she has endometriosis, but that can't be proven without surgery. So the insurance has not been willing to cover her medication, the contraception she needs to treat her endometriosis. Recently, another woman told me that she also has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and she's struggling to pay for her medication and is terrified not to have access to it. Due to the barriers erected by Georgetown's policy, she hasn't been reimbursed for her medication since last August. I sincerely pray that we don't have to wait until she loses an ovary or is diagnosed with cancer before her needs and the needs of all of these women are taken seriously, because this is the message that not requiring coverage of contraception sends: A woman's reproductive health care isn't a necessity, isn't a priority.

One woman told us that she knew birth control wasn't covered on the insurance, and she assumed that that's how Georgetown's insurance handled all of women's reproductive and sexual health care. So when she was raped, she didn't go to the doctor, even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections, because she thought insurance wasn't going to cover something like that, something that was related to a woman's reproductive health.

As one other student put it, this policy communicates to female students that our school doesn't understand our needs. These are not feelings that male fellow students experience, and they're not burdens that male students must shoulder.

In the media lately, some conservative Catholic organizations have been asking, what did we expect when we enrolled at a Catholic school? We can only answer that we expected women to be treated equally, to not have our school create untenable burdens that impede our academic success. We expected that our schools would live up the Jesuit creed of "cura personalis," to care for the whole person by meeting all of our medical needs. We expected that when we told our universities of the problems this policy created for us as students, they would help us. We expected that when 94 percent of students opposed the policy, the university would respect our choices regarding insurance students pay for completely unsubsidized by the university.

We did not expect that women would be told in the national media that we should have gone to school elsewhere and — even if that meant going to a less prestigious university. We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health, and we resent that in the 21st century anyone thinks it's acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women.

Many of the women whose stories I've shared today are Catholic women. So ours is not a war against the church. It is a struggle for access to the health care we need. The president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges has shared that Jesuit colleges and universities appreciate the modification to the rule announced recently. Religious concerns are addressed, and women get the health care they need. And I sincerely hope that that is something we can all agree upon.

Thank you very much.

So now that you know both what Fluke really said, what Limbaugh really said, and the content of Limbaugh’s faux apology, I think you’ll have to agree that the “apology” was far from all-encompassing. Limbaugh apologized for those “two words”; but did he apologize for the sentiments behind those words? Did he really mean “tramp” and “harlot” but mistakenly said “slut” and “prostitute”? His apology doesn’t seem to show remorse for impugning Fluke’s sex-life at all. He certainly doesn’t apologize for saying, over and over, that she has too much sex. And his apology doesn’t retract the suggestion that she send him a sex tape.

Add to all of that the fact that Limbaugh’s apology is weighted down with excuse and explanation innuendo and, most importantly, that rather than just accept responsibility, he tried to blame liberals and Democrats by suggesting that he became like them. What? What does that have to do with an apology? What do the actual issues that he may have been trying to discuss have to do with an apology? What does the alleged way in which Democrats argue (and I would of course take issue with Limbaugh’s “down to their level” suggestion) have to do with his apology? (It sounds like a child: “I’m sorry for hitting you Johnny, but I only did it because your friend Pete pushed my friend Tommy one day.”) What does any of that have to do with lying about what Fluke actually said in her testimony and then criticizing her on the basis of things that she didn’t say?

A few final points on Limbaugh’s “apology”. Some have tried to analogize Limbaugh’s comments to Ed Schultz calling Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” and a “talk slut”. But here are a few very important differences to note. First, the reference was singular. Schultz didn’t repeat the comment for three days. Nor was his comment embedded in a longer series of highly personal attacks against Ingraham. For that matter, it doesn’t appear that the comment was even sexual, but that point isn’t worth debating. Second, Schultz apologized quite promptly and was suspended from his program for the comments. I don’t think that Schultz’s comments come anywhere close to being as offensive as Limbaugh’s. But if people really want to compare the incidents, then it is certainly worth comparing Schultz’s apology to the faux apology offered by Limbaugh:

Good evening, Americans and welcome to The Ed Show from New York tonight. Thomas Roberts will be here tonight anchoring the program, but first I want to take some time to offer an apology. On my radio show yesterday I used vile and inappropriate language when talking about talk show host Laura Ingraham. I am deeply sorry, and I apologize. It was wrong, uncalled for and I recognize the severity of what I said. I apologize to you, Laura, and ask for your forgiveness.

It doesn't matter what the circumstances were. It doesn't matter that it was on radio and I was ad-libbing. None of that matters. None of that matters. What matters is what I said was terribly vile and not of the standards that I or any other person should adhere to. I want all of you to know tonight that I did call Laura Ingraham today and did not make contact with her and I will apologize to her as I did in the message that I left her today.

I also met with management here at MSNBC, and understanding the severity of the situation and what I said on the radio and how it reflected terribly on this company, I have offered to take myself off the air for an indefinite period of time with no pay. I want to apologize to Laura Ingraham. I want to apologize to my family, my wife. I have embarrassed my family. I have embarrassed this company.

And I have been in this business since 1978, and I have made a lot of mistakes. This is the lowest of low for me. I stand before you tonight in front of this camera in this studio in an environment that I absolutely love. I love working here. I love communicating with all of you on the radio and the communication that I have with you when I go out and do town hall meetings and meet the people that actually watch. I stand before you tonight to take full responsibility for what I said and how I said it, and I am deeply sorry.

My wife is a wonderful woman. We have a wonderful family. And with six kids and eight grandkids, I try to set an example. In this moment, I have failed. And I want you to know that I talked to my sons especially about character and about dignity and about the truth. And I tell you the truth tonight that I am deeply sorry and I tell them every day that they have to live up to standards if they want to be a successful human being in life. And I have let them down. I have never been in this position before to the point where it has affected so many people. And I know that I have let a lot of people down.

To the staff here at MSNBC, I apologize for embarrassing the company and the only way that I can really make restitution for you is to give you a guarantee, and the only way that I can prove my sincerity in all of this is if I never use those words again. Tonight, you have my word that I won't. Laura Ingraham, I am sorry. Very sorry. I'll be back with you in the coming days.

I think it’s also worth noting that Schultz made the effort to speak directly to Ingraham to apologize. And he didn’t try to place his statement within some sort of context; in fact, he noted specifically that the circumstances didn’t matter; the only thing that mattered was what he said.

Limbaugh apologized for a very small part of what he did wrong. He made that apology “contextual” and he sought to try to divert some of the attention from his own misconduct and poor choices to others. If it weren’t for the nature of the what Limbaugh was apologizing for, this might be the perfect way to show my children precisely how not to offer an apology (I think I’ll wait a bit longer before discussing birth control, sluts, and prostitution, let alone sex tapes, with my kids).

Given the exodus of Limbaugh’s sponsors, even after the faux “apology” was offered, it seems clear that I’m not the only one who doesn’t put much value in Limbaugh’s apology. He’s made a career of insulting people. (Does anyone remember the things he said about Amy Carter or Hillary Clinton when they were both children? If not, Google it…) But finally it appears that his big mouth has gotten him into the trouble that he has managed to elude for so long. I can’t wait to hear Limbaugh’s apology to the radio stations that carry his show as they begin to complain about lost ad revenues.

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