What’s all the Fuss About Todd Akin?

Especially from the Republican side.

1)  If you believe, as the Catholic church does and most conservatives do, that abortion is murder, then it is irrelevant whether a woman becomes pregnant through rape or through consensual sex.  At the moment of conception, there is a human being with human rights attached to it.  It really doesn’t matter if someone was raped.  Making an exception for rape makes no sense, and in fact undermines the current right-wing anti-abortion position.  For Republicans to proclaim that they are shocked, shocked by Akin shows that they lack the courage of their convictions.

2)  Akin might have had a better argument if, in response to the reporter’s question, he responded something like this: “Look, rape is horrific crime.  It’s a terrible tragedy for a woman if she is raped and then conceives.  But that doesn’t excuse killing the child.”  The only problem with that is that a reporter might have followed up: “well, then what do you expect that the government should do for the rape victim?”  The answer for most Republicans would be, “nothing.”  Stuff happens in life, and this is one of those things that happens.  Deal with it.  That’s essentially was the answer of the audience during the Republican debates when Wolf Blitzer asked what we should do with someone who doesn’t have health insurance and then gets in an accident or discovers that they have a terrible illness.

And that leads to the seam in modern Republican “thinking,” if it can be called that.  If you think that the government has a responsibility to help the rape victim, why not the victims of other terrible accidents or illnesses?  Why does the rape victim “deserve” help but the muscular dystrophy victim not deserve it?

So Akin tried to get out of the question, using the right-wing justification that as Mark points out has been there for a while in fever pits of Conservative America: if you get pregnant, then you must not have been raped.  See?  Everything works out okay!   Everyone is totally and completely responsible for their own condition.  There is no such thing as luck or the chains of circumstance.  The safety net, as St. Paul Ryan explained, is really just a hammock.

Do Republicans actually believe this?  I don’t know.  But their leaders seem to.  And they don’t want anyone to talk about situations when people’s lives are brutalized through no fault of their own.  The more that anyone does do this, it shows how ridiculous official Republican ideology is.

No wonder they want Akin out of the race.

Comments

  1. cdg864 says

    Thanks for pointing out that Akin’s position is at least more intellectually consistent. Some in the anti-abortion movement have gone to mind-bending extremes to justify the simple fact that they never support abortion. Most of the public doesn’t agree with them on this, so they have resort to seemingly nonsensical logical contortions (“we theoretically support abortion in cases of rape which don’t ever really occur in the real world, but that’s it.” or “I support abortion when the mother’s life is really in danger, but science proves pregnant women’s lives are rarely in danger.”)

    Nobody would argue that a toddler who was conceived in rape is up for termination because he/she was the product of non-consensual sex. If you believe life starts at conception, OF COURSE you extend that right even to the zygote. That position just happens to be unpopular, and for the last 20 years the right has very successfully kept the abortion debate on ground where they maintain the rhetorical high ground. Akin just happens to lack that savvy.

  2. Robert Waldmann says

    I am and always have been an atheist. So are my mother and father. So I very often just don’t get it. But, perhaps for just this reason, I can understand the utter failure of comprehension of those who take religion literally and those who reconcile religion with the data. Ask yourself, if the world were governed by a benevolent and omnipotent deity, would rape lead to pregnancy. It seems to me that, if there were a God, then that God would have (at the very least) have created a mechanism such that raped women don’t get pregnant.

    Consider the case of Teresa Shiavo. Many were amazed by the idea that others believed she had a functioning mind even though most of her brain had died and been reabsorbed. But if one believes in eternal life, one must believe that people with no brain at all have functioning minds.

    Frankly it seems to me that those who say abortion is murder and allow exceptions for rape and incest are no more guilty of self contradiction than those who claim that rape can cause pregnancy and that there is a God who is omniscient omnipotent and benevolent.

    How can any Christian face the fact that rape causes pregnancy and remain a Christian ? How can any Jew face the fact that rape causes pregnancy and remain a Jew ? Etc.

    It is very rude to ask these questions, because the answer is obvious and socially unacceptable.

    • Jonathan Zasloff says

      Short answer: if you believe that God is a sentient Being who is omnipotent and omniscient and all-good, and that we can understand the perspective from which He/She/It views or is part of the universe, i.e. a child’s version of theology (also adopted by fundamentalists of all religions), then you are right. If your conception of God is not that, then the answer becomes more complicated, obviously, and has little to do with a post on Todd Akin! (And is probably a several-volume work on theology anyway).

    • John Herbison says

      One thing that puzzled me about the Terry Schiavo matter is why many of those who claimed to be Bible believing Christians surmised that she would have preferred remaining alive in her impaired state to being Safe In The Arms Of Jesus.

      • Andrew Laurence says

        That’s because they couldn’t be sure she was “saved,” and if she wasn’t, she’d be burning in hell. :-)

  3. Mark Kleiman says

    To be fair, some wingers who completely agree with Akin’s policy conclusion are still appalled by his fake biology. As with the “Christian” historians who have disowned The Jefferson Lies, those who reject Akin as a b.s. artist remain connected – across many gaps, but still connected – to the reality-based folks on the Blue team.

    Of course Rove & Co. don’t give two hoots in Hell about science; they just see Akin as a loser and want to dump him.

    • John Herbison says

      If Akin withdraws–which it appears he will not–is there a mechanism in place to choose a successor Republican nominee?

      • Anomalous says

        The state GOP can appoint a candidate if Akin withdraws. The deadline for said apointment is 5:00 pm today (tuesday aug 21) I suppose that’s Missouri time. But since he refuses to quit I think they are stuck with him. Poor babes.

    • Barry says

      Mark, I’m not criticizing you, but who are those people?

      Note that I’m happily surprised my the fact that some right-wing evangelical scholars have publicly given Barton the spanking that he deserved. I expected them to keep their mouths shut.

    • Potifar says

      Those are some mighty BIG gaps……I’m thinking huge chasm….running river…..alligators…..rope bridge…angry natives on the other side (blue team).

  4. Will says

    >> they don’t want anyone to talk about situations when people’s lives are brutalized through no fault of their own.

    and #2.

    This is exactly right.

  5. more than a little irritated says

    Dr Zasloff,

    Do not make the mistake of assigning everyone the binary code of either left or right. Not all Republicans share the exact same viewpoints as your post suggests you think they do, just like not all Democrats share the same viewpoints. If you are going to insist on conceptualizing every person’s collection of political viewpoints one-dimensionally, please at least recognize that this one dimension would have to be a continuum. Once you manage that, then work on ditching the one-dimensional frame you cling to so fervently. It just cannot capture the reality that (1) a person is capable of having right-leaning viewpoints on some issues and left-leaning viewpoints on others and (2) some very valid viewpoints can deviate from the continuum altogether. I actually believe that most of the people who choose to frame politics so narrowly are those who base their vote on simply which letter follows the candidate’s last name: R or D. Someone as educated as you must surely possess greater critical thinking faculties than that.

      • conservative says

        Nonsense, given how far left the Democratic Party is on all policy issues.

        Your retort is an illustration of how far apart Democrats and Republicans are. Sadly, you too miss the point that people are neither left nor right unless they are mindless party adherents.

        • liberal says

          You’re absolutely wrong.

          Empirical studies have shown that the Republicans have moved far, far to the right, whereas the Democrats haven’t moved much at all, over the past few decades, except insofar as Southern Democrats are no longer Democrats.

          “Sadly, you too miss the point that people are neither left nor right unless they are mindless party adherents.”

          Logical fallacy: Argumentum ad populum.

          Furthermore, the Democratic Party is hardly “left”. At best it’s “center/left”.

          • Ridic-u-are says

            Do empirical studies also show that the Democratic Party is “center/left,” or is that just another one of your authoritative assertions? So we should accept as truth that in the last half-century the Democratic Party hasn’t moved an inch left along this one-dimensional continuum, but the Republicans have “moved far, far to the right?” So the Clinton Administration was just as far left as the Obama Administration?

            But my point does not concern American political Parties. It concerns regular Americans. Either your full allegiance is to a Party, or you have political viewpoints that deviate from the one-dimensional continuum we use to characterize American politics. This is true of everyone, e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. There is no logical fallacy.

          • liberal says

            Ridic-u-are blithered, incoherently,
            “Do empirical studies also show that the Democratic Party is “center/left,” or is that just another one of your authoritative assertions?”

            It’s an assertion which happens to be correct.

            Usually left is taken to mean either “socialist” or “strongly social democratic.” The majority of the Democratic Party is neither. (And please don’t bother me with reasoning that relies on definitions of “socialist” that don’t comport with the dictionary definition.)

            “So we should accept as truth that in the last half-century the Democratic Party hasn’t moved an inch left along this one-dimensional continuum, but the Republicans have “moved far, far to the right?””

            You can accept anything you want, including that 1 = 2 and the sun won’t rise tomorrow.

            “So the Clinton Administration was just as far left as the Obama Administration?”

            LOL. Obama is about the same as Clinton, politically. He’s more liberal than Clinton on gay rights, but the country is also more liberal on gay rights than it was during the Clinton years. Sadly, on economic issues and how best to deal with the banksters, he’s about the same as Clinton was, and indeed imported many Clintonistas into his administration.

            “Either your full allegiance is to a Party, or you have political viewpoints that deviate from the one-dimensional continuum we use to characterize American politics. This is true of everyone, e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. There is no logical fallacy.”

            Yawn. Certainly I have viewpoints that aren’t well-described by the common left/right single continuum, yet that continuum describes my views well enough that I would never, ever vote for a Republican. That doesn’t mean I have unthinking allegiance to the Democratic Party; rather, that’s because I realize the Democratic Party is an imperfect center or center/left party, and the Republican Party is a far-right, sectarian, anti-Enlightenment party.

          • Ridic-u-are says

            “It’s an assertion which happens to be correct.”

            King You said so, therefore it must be.

            “Certainly I have viewpoints that aren’t well-described by the common left/right single continuum, yet that continuum describes my views well enough that I would never, ever vote for a Republican.”

            Thank you for proving the point that I have been making and you have been arguing against.

            “That doesn’t mean I have unthinking allegiance to the Democratic Party”

            You pretty much said that you did in the sentence right before this one. (Want to talk logical fallacies now?) Maybe I’ll let it go if you vote for third party candidates, but then you would have to have an unthinking allegiance to anything non-Republican. Note the keyword, “unthinking.”

            “rather, that’s because I realize the Democratic Party is an imperfect center or center/left party, and the Republican Party is a far-right, sectarian, anti-Enlightenment party.”

            Say no more, you are clearly tolerant of the beliefs that nearly half of your fellow countrymen have. I see bright days ahead for this nation.

          • liberal says

            Ridic-u-are blithered,

            “King You said so, therefore it must be.”

            Yes, it must be, if the facts back me up. But I guess for you the facts don’t matter.

            “Maybe I’ll let it go if you vote for third party candidates, but then you would have to have an unthinking allegiance to anything non-Republican. Note the keyword, “unthinking.””

            LOL. Apparently you have no idea how first-past-the-post voting systems work.

            Thought that would certainly be in touch with your fetish for ignoring empirical reality.

            “Say no more, you are clearly tolerant of the beliefs that nearly half of your fellow countrymen have.”

            Again with the argumentum ad populum. The fact is that the Republican Party is committed to a feudalistic, pre-Enlightenment worldview.

      • liberal says

        Yeah, OK; but work is boring, and I’ve run out of liberal blogs to read (since I never visit Kos or FDL, and Balloon Juice is just rancid with Obots, …).

      • lesson learned says

        I have been frequenting this blog so that I could understand the perspective of some intelligent people that have different viewpoints than my own. Much of what I have come across has been wonderfully informative. Sometimes though, the blog seems to be merely a soapbox for the contributor to generalize his aspersions for the Republican Party to all individuals who have ever voted for a Republican. That is offensive. There are very intelligent and humanist conservatives out there who don’t want to be categorized along with the likes of Akin, Gingrich, or whoever the target of the day from the “other team” is.

        Apparently the purpose of this blog is nothing more than to gather together like-minded people for one big group back-pat.

        Unfortunate.

        • liberal says

          “There are very intelligent and humanist conservatives out there who don’t want to be categorized along with the likes of Akin, Gingrich, or whoever the target of the day from the “other team” is.”

          LOL. The Republican Party is about to adopt a platform plank that would forbid abortion in any circumstance. If you vote Republican, that means you’re very much to be categorized with the likes of Akin.

          (Gingrich isn’t useful for establishing categories, since he clearly has no core beliefs, even using his fellow politicians as comparisons.)

        • liberal says

          Instead of this generic, non-concrete troll-blather, why don’t you list the ideological preferences (on actual, named policy issues) that would lead you to vote Republican in certain instances, and then proceed to defend the claim that your positions are both intelligent and humanistic?

          • Seth says

            A very good suggestion. A concrete defense of a specific Republican policy position would be stimulating. Just scolding us for some indulgence in echo-chamber behavior (a near-universal trait in blogs) is boring: tl;dr.

    • liberal says

      “Not all Republicans share the exact same viewpoints as your post suggests you think they do, just like not all Democrats share the same viewpoints.”

      I think the conjecture that there’s far more ideological diversity among democrats than republicans is probably empirically valid.

      “If you are going to insist on conceptualizing every person’s collection of political viewpoints one-dimensionally, please at least recognize that this one dimension would have to be a continuum.”

      So what if it’s a continuum?

  6. Ebenezer Scrooge says

    Akin’s astounding comment, in a sense, is mainstream. It’s just the Disneyfication of politics. There are no tough choices; there are no tragic circumstances. Bad things only happen to bad people, and it is easy to identify bad people. No good thing has a cost; no good person loses in the end. Everybody benefits from every good policy. No true victim of true rape will bear an unwanted child; all others are either lying or asking for it. Anybody who thinks otherwise is a Grinch or a Scrooge. Hence, in some small part, my pseudonym.

  7. John Herbison says

    Has anyone asked Mr. Akin his position regarding what penalty, if abortion were criminalized, should be imposed on a woman who hires someone to abort her pregnancy? If abortion is murder, then a surgical abortion is by its very nature intentional, premeditated and deliberate. I have a former client now on Death Row because an East Tennessee jury found that he hired someone to kill his wife. Murder for remuneration, as well as murder of a victim who is particularly vulnerable because of age, may be aggravating factors which will support imposition of a death sentence.

    Isn’t it peculiar that many who claim to be “pro-life” become squeamish in discussing what penalty the woman should face?

    • FredJ says

      John Herbison, you’re absolutely right. Dems should be pushing this argument hard. Force the GOP to admit that moms who abort are murderers and deserve the death penalty, or to admit they are total hypocrites. The doctor argument is an obvious cop-out.

    • Andrew Laurence says

      I agree. If abortion really is murder, then a woman who arranges for one is committing murder for hire, which is a capital offense in those places that have the death penalty, and punishable by life in prison without parole in those places which do not. The same would go for the person hired (i.e., the doctor and all of his/her staff).

      Just another in the host of reasons why I’m pro-choice.

  8. IOKIYAR(ight-wing) says

    (sorry for reposting)

    Please continue using your megaphone to keep explain:

    Republican Akin was Republican Presidential candidate Romney’s buddy Ryan’s co-author of legislation that would allow rapists to force their victims to have their babies.

    Republicans Ryan and Akin also partnered to redefine rape, which, while evil, is still eclipsed by their greater evil of giving rapists power to demand their victims have their babies.

    There needs to be a category of “Kinsleyian Truthiness”, as in ‘accidentally saying what you believe to be true even when it’s false.’

    Many right-wingers do in fact believe the disturbing falsehoods Republican Todd Akin was spouting.

    Many Republicans do in fact believe that rapists should be allowed to force their victims to have babies, those that might have felt differently are now (ahem) chained to militant religious fanatics that would force children to have their daddies babies.

    Worse, those same militant religious fanatics would then abandon that baby, that’s what the Republican Ryan budget does, signed on to by Romney: Abandon babies.

    • liberal says

      Republican Akin was Republican Presidential candidate Romney’s buddy Ryan’s co-author of legislation that would allow rapists to force their victims to have their babies.

      What really puzzles me is why the Democrats and the pro-choice movement didn’t use this line of reasoning to smash the forced-birthers years ago.

  9. says

    What’s all the Fuss About Todd Akin?

    Indeed. You mean Todd never spoke these ideas before? Never? Not while campaigning in previous elections?
    I find that hard to believe. And what’s the difference in meanness and mendacity between Todd’s statements and say Rick Santorum bragging on the national stage that global warming is a liberal plot?
    Or the incessant bullshit of “Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya”?

    So here’s the question: Why is Aiken being singled out for his bogus science?

    Why not Rush Limbaugh for saying that “science has become a home for displaced socialists and communists”.
    Or how about this:

    The whopper, though, has to be Conservapedia’s nearly 6,000 word, equation-filled entry on the theory of relativity. It’s accompanied by a long webpage of “counterexamples” to Einstein’s great scientific edifice, which merges insights like E=mc2 (part of the special theory of relativity) with his later account of gravitation (the general theory of relativity). “Relativity has been met with much resistance in the scientific world,” declares Conservapedia. “To date, a Nobel Prize has never been awarded for Relativity.” The site goes on to catalogue the “political aspects of relativity,” charging that some liberals have “extrapolated the theory” to favor their agendas. That includes President Barack Obama, who (it is claimed) helped published an article applying relativity in the legal sphere while attending Harvard Law School in the late 1980s. “Virtually no one who is taught and believes Relativity continues to read the Bible, a book that outsells New York Times bestsellers by a hundred-fold,” Conservapedia continues. But even that’s not the site’s most staggering claim. In its list of “counterexamples” to relativity, Conservapedia provides 36 alleged cases, including: “The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46–54, Matthew 15:28, and Matthew 27:51.”

    What’s all the fuss about Todd?
    He is just another harmless republican garden toad croaking bullshit.
    So why are they going to step on him instead of stand by him?
    Because it makes Romney look like a moderate.

    .

    • liberal says

      Wow. You’re right about Conservapedia. It’s also one of the top “hits” when Google Toolbar tries to autocomplete for “Conservapedia…”

  10. matt w says

    “If you think that the government has a responsibility to help the rape victim, why not the victims of other terrible accidents or illnesses?”

    OK, I’m going to take a stab at how a Republican might answer this question. A principled small-government Republican (I know, there’s no such thing, this is a thought experiment) might say that a legitimate function of government is protecting its citizens from violence. It’s not protecting them from other misfortunes, because violence from other people infringes on a person’s liberty, while going bankrupt and then dying from a disease is not an infringement on a person’s liberty. (I don’t believe this myself, did I mention that?)

    So they might think that government has an obligation to help a crime victim, because it has failed its duties to keep the victim safe from crime. It has not failed a victim of muscular dystrophy.

    I don’t think that this actually is the thinking of Republicans who see a duty to help rape victims; I think they generally are in favor the rich and powerful and against the poor and oppressed, that “tough-on-crime” stances fit well into this world-view, and that leads to a concern for the victims of crimes — well, the victims of non-white-collar crimes. (Yes, the victims of crimes are often poor themselves; I don’t mean to suggest that Republicans’ general worldview excludes anything that might help poor people somewhere.) But you can construct a consistent reason for distinguishing crime victims from ill people, I guess.

    • Anomalous says

      The willingness to help rape victims proves RTL proponents aren’t really unreasonable bastards. But of course they only are willing to help a rape victim who can prove, I mean really PROVE they caught the preggers from a real, you know, not some phony when she really wanted it R A P E !
      And while we are all deliberating about the authenticity of that “offense” (you know you really wanted it) OOPS, too late for medical intervention dear. It’s God’s little lemonade. And look, his eybrow goes all the way across just like his daddy’s. Good luck kid.

      • matt w says

        I don’t disagree with you. I don’t think that there’s any principled stand going on here.

  11. Joe D. says

    Akin is using a sexual morality variant on the “No True Scotsman” argument, perfectly in tune with his dogwhistle politics.

    Akin: No woman who is raped gets pregnant.
    Reality: I was raped and got pregnant.
    Akin: No woman who is legitimately raped gets pregnant. Ipso facto, you’re a whore. No abortion for you.

  12. NCG says

    I think the answer is much simpler. To certain kinds of people, mostly on the right, women simply aren’t fully human. Therefore, their suffering does not matter much. And to the extent it does, they come up with these elaborate fantasies to make that suffering disappear. It is all a game so they don’t have to feel bad about their legislation, which since people are complicated, and they know somewhere inside that they’re wrong, too, they do feel bad about.

    We simply need more women running for office and we need smarter voters. We could get rid of these kinds of clowns if we wanted.

    • Anomalous says

      Wish I could believe they feel bad about this stuff. I don’t think they feel bad in the least. I think hurting people they never see makes them fell all warm inside. They have the power and they know how to abuse it.

      Do you think W felt bad about blowing up frogs? Me neither.

      • NCG says

        I never heard about a blowing up of frogs. Kind of glad, frankly.

        It *could* be less that they actually feel bad, and more that they realize that the rest of us think they should, despite their anti-abortion views. Imposing a pregnancy on someone being quite a serious matter.

        But even the most far gone rightie type probably has female relatives or friends, and imho, therefore subconsciously feels at least some conflict about using government force upon them, fetus or no. From what I can tell, being a conservative means having to struggle, probably daily, to find ways to feel morally superior to others such that s/he can continue to support policies with terribly harsh practical consequences, aside from the brilliant neocon/economic justifications for same. They *are* still human beings, after all. I think it probably takes quite a bit of energy.