Lies


Slide1Let’s face it. Most of us are here on this earth because our parents had sex. As honest as this statement is, it likely makes people squirm. Who wants to think about their parents naked, sweaty and humping one on top of the other or grinding side-by-side on the dining room table or in the back seat of the car or in the tent next to you in Yosemite National Park? Certainly, not me. I’d rather scratch my eyes out. Our squirminess and discomfort points to a huge problem in our nation. While the common hegemonic sentiment of America is one of superiority, in reality, we Americans have failed miserably to accept and fully embrace our human sexuality. More specifically, we have failed to apply scientifically-sound and medically-accepted knowledge in public health and public education to benefit those who engage in sexual activity safely and responsibly. And who is responsible for this failure? I’d argue that those responsible are a misguided minority with their knickers in a knot over human sexuality. They go by many names but together they’re really the self-appointed morality police who run for political offices mostly on a conservative ticket, who prey on women outside abortion clinics, and who work for or are members of organizations like the Heritage Foundation, the Catholic Church or Operation Rescue. These morality cops are all about promoting abstinence only sex education in schools, sustaining propaganda campaigns about the evils of masturbation, telling bald-faced absurdities about a raped woman’s body shutting down a potential rape-related pregnancy, denying the spectrum of sexual expression, and ignoring the scientific data about the safety and efficacy of contraception and abortion. Sexual behavior for these folks certainly seems, well, icky on so many levels. And we as a nation pay a stiff (no pun intended) penalty.

In addition to their narrowly informed heteronormative perspective on sexuality, this minority further constrains natural human sexuality with their religiously informed myths about intercourse being only for procreation. Doesn’t that just take the fun out of an afternoon romp in the sack for post-menopausal Auntie Joyce and Viagra-defunct Uncle Tony? Such a heterosexist view clearly ignores the sexuality of our LGBT brothers and sisters.  It also ignores the perfectly natural practice of going it alone because, in their worldview, the two concepts—pleasure and masturbation—are the work of Lucifer. And such a view surely ignores those lovely, lively priests with predilections for little boys. But I digress.

Let me say a bit more about some of the religious conservatives’ bias in favor of opposite-sex relationships of a sexual nature, and against same-sex relationships of a sexual nature—aka, what is called heteronormativity. The problem here is that they take their sexual bias to an extreme in educational settings. In many states, their bias has rewarded with state funding to discriminate against LGBT children. Specifically, their homophobia is rewarded with adopted state laws – sometimes referred to as “neovouchers” – to transform state money into private Christian school scholarships used at religious-based schools that prohibit gay, lesbian or bisexual students from attending. These schools are essentially given a license to emotionally and physically bully and expel children who fail to be straight.

Abstinence only = Unwanted pregnancy

Abstinence only = Unwanted pregnancy

Listen, I have no argument with being sexually conservative, heterosexual and/or abstinent. It’s a right that should be respected just as individuals who are not hetero should be respected. But, I do have a big argument when their penchant for prudery and balderdash leads to serious health consequences for real children. I’m talking about their misguided drive to demand abstinence-only sex education in public schools and as the price to play for charter school funding (at the cost of decreasing public education funding). Abstinence-only sex education is a well-documented financial waste as well as an epic education disaster that has resulted in the United States having one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and the highest rates of sexually transmitted infection rates in the industrialized world. Thanks, in part, to abstinence programs, female teens are more vulnerable to sexual violence because abstinence isn’t a realistic response to peer pressure. Among the general teen population, one out of four has a sexually transmitted infection. The STI rate for African American teens averages 50%. And for all teens, if left untreated some of their STIs can cause permanent damage, such as infertility and even death.  Of course, the response of the Panties-in-a-Wad crowd, this bastion of heteronormative bias, is to point a judgmental finger at the individual teen and wag their tongue about the evils of having sex. But my response to the Panties-in-a-Wad crowd is to illustrates the impact of states with predominantly conservative and religious views and the teen birth belt.TeenBirthRateStates

A further response to this uber conservative minority is say that their work is disingenuous. Teens are sexual beings. Not providing comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education is the moral failure of conservative, religious thinking.

And speaking of moral failure, consider all the bickering over the Affordable Care Act and contraception. Church-going entities like Hobby Lobby, the Catholic Church, and Chik-Fil-A went ballistic over their obligations to provide contraceptive insurance for their employees. Let’s be honest here. We’re talking about white men making a fuss about paying for health care for the women in their organizations because it goes against their beliefs while making no religiously-informed complaints about paying for Viagra or Cialis for men.  Let’s also be clear that statistical studies illustrate the majority of women (Catholics, Christian Evangelicals alike) who are married to these men use contraception. Hypocritical much?

Access to contraception, while clearly a smart response to reducing unplanned pregnancies and abortions, is seriously problematic for many who protest outside abortion clinics and for those who legislate morality in the state and federal government. They believe that contraception causes abortion, is dangerous, and is immoral if outside heterosexual marriage. The bigger issue with those who don’t believe in abortion or contraception is their attempt to impose their beliefs on others. A comparison of the United States to countries where abortion is legal reveals that other countries have much lower rates of abortion, have healthier perspectives on human sexuality, have better health care systems and have normalized sexual education for children and teens.  What we have here in the United States is staggering puritanism informed by a peculiarly aberrant form of Christian ethos that is seriously harming our children with the abysmal failure of abstinence education. So much for the claim to be pro life, to uphold family values.

Those with their eyes wide open have witnessed the stunning waste of taxpayer dollars over legal battles about DOMA, about the Affordable Care Act and contraception, and about targeted regulations against abortion providers based on nothing more than willful ignorance of science and, no doubt, their god-deluded sense of moral righteousness. Like the epic failure of prohibition on alcohol during the early 20th century, this ongoing battle against our God-given sexual nature has failed our nation. Attempting to prohibit or constrain sexual behavior according to the mythically-constructed boundaries of the sexually thwarted and perverted minority, is dishonest, unhealthy, disingenuous, and immoral.

ImageYou are forever talking about what you know is right for women, what women want, and what they really need.   You’ve even told clinic staff, doctors and nurses that you know they could do better in another line or work. With your particularized notion of moral righteousness, you’ve lodged complaints with police about what you know are your rights to free speech at abortion clinics. You’ve written letters to private citizens, neighbors of doctors and clinic directors, asking them to tell these professionals to find a new job, because you know better, you know what’s right. But your self-obsession as well as your presumptuous omniscience conveniently ignores the rights of others and summarily dismisses the knowledge women have of their own lives. Behaving, as you are wont to do, foolishly believing you are right when you are really wrong on so many levels, you reveal more truths about your nature than you might imagine or want. Let me spell it out for you.

  • To begin, it’s not right when you call escorts, staff, and doctors murderers because they don’t murder anyone. The carnivalesque act of calling someone a murderer is convenient because it frees you from thinking about the sacredness of women and men who offer and choose abortion services.
  • It’s not right when you use grotesque images that defy the reality of abortion. Aborted fetuses look remarkably different from all the manipulated grotesque images you use in your visual propaganda. Using such images only serves to shame, hurt and demonize women and, consequently, alienate them to your message.
  • It’s not right to say that All Women Regret Their Abortion. Documented scholarly evidence illustrates that overwhelmingly women have no regrets about their abortion. Not one bit. People make choices and live with them. It’s called life. Some women have sadness about their choice to end their pregnancy, but choose abortion anyway because they know it’s right for their situation. Your bombastic overgeneralization only makes you look ignorant and desperate.
  • Forced Birther Screaming in Women's ears with Megaphone

    Forced Birther Screaming in Women’s ears with Megaphone

    It’s not right to scream at women we’re here to help you. Take a good look at yourself. You’re a stranger who is screaming. What reasonable person would want to trust you or anything you say? It makes you look doubly foolish and deceitful when you follow with the disingenuous high-pitched scream God loves and so do we and, immediately afterward, shout, you’ll regret this day the rest of your life. Again, take a good look at yourself for you are nothing but a vacuous and mean-spirited provocateur.

  • It’s not right to publicize your own sexual fears and perversions. Telling women that the doctor will perforate their rectum and uterus illustrates your own salacious fascination with debauchery. Telling well-endowed women with cleavage, “You look like you’re all set up for breastfeeding” reduces you to a common pervert. Telling women to abstain from sex reveals your prudish anxiety about human sexuality.  In your ill-conceived attempts to lie about body parts and sexual matters, you embarrass yourself in a most undignified way, earning a big fat 10 on the Ick Factor Scale.
  • It’s not right to lie. Remember thou shalt not lie? Until you have an M.D. after your name, you should rely on reputable medical and scientific sources and not junk science in LifeSiteNews. The evidence is there for you to read. Let’s face it. You rely on the scientific and medical credibility of pediatricians, cardiologists, dermatologists and internists. Yet you throw out medical and scientific evidence when a gravid uterus is involved. Here’s the evidence: There is no post abortion stress disorder. There is no abortion-breast cancer link. There is evidence that the morbidity and mortality in pregnancy and childbirth can be more dangerous than abortion. It’s also a fact that the United States is 50th in the world for maternal health. Such transgressions illustrate the disturbed fascination with fear mongering that is your lingua franca.
  • It’s not right to inflict your religion on others. Humiliating and dehumanizing women is morally unacceptable.  Manipulating your faith to justify your heinous actions displaces your responsibility onto your God.  Like the Nazi war criminals that claimed they were only following orders, you antiabortion protesters claim you are doing God’s will. Barking like a madman “in the name of Jesus” as preface to a hurl of toxicity hardly seems godly. Face it; your morally bankrupt behavior only serves to show how unchristian and blindly intolerant you are towards others.
The Anti Abortion Brain

The Anti Abortion Brain

When I think about the pornography of your madness, your frothing, detailed rendering of humiliation of women and men who choose and provide abortion services, I have to say that the unintended consequences of your own behaviors illustrate how karma works. In plain English, you get what you give. And what you give is intolerance, disdain for truth, misogyny, desperation, alienation, and misanthropy.

The expression “Charity pulls people out of the river, Justice jumps in, 
swims up stream and stops the people throwing them in” certainly connects to war against women. While Charity attempts to deal with the short term, Justice takes a longitudinal approach to addressing the root causes of personal and social problems. This expression succinctly captures the essence of the Charity types outside abortion clinics who offer free pregnancy tests and free ultrasounds, free prenatal care and baby showers. It is the Charity-minded, curbside anti abortion activists who demonstrate their own short-sightedness and sense of urgency (and futility) to save someone’s unwanted fetus for their own personal glory. Meanwhile, the Justice workers strive to ensure access to family planning services, abortion services, childcare, early education, fair housing, job training and an environmentally sound world.

This election season illustrated the folly of those who claim to be prolife Republicans. Their platform preached to the choir about their views on abortion while ignoring the bigger picture that illustrates the multitude of reasons women choose abortion like poverty, too many kids, not the right time to have a child, not the right person with which to share parenting responsibilities. Some of their cronies, with seriously offensive and deeply disturbing comments about contraception and abortion, illustrated how out of touch they are with women.

In particular, the Romney/Ryan duo surely showed the nation how they would expect privatized Charity workers to throw crumbs at those who were unable to resolve their social problems or were too lazy to achieve the American Dream like they did with government support.  Meanwhile, these two rich guys would dismantle the very infrastructure of Justice, AKA, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, Affordable Care Act, public education, the EPA, the FDA and other institutions.Their worship of corporatism— whether through direct handouts, corporate bailouts, eminent domain, licensing laws, antitrust regulations, or environmental edicts — inflicts a measurable degree of harm on Americans. For example, the fact that measurable levels of hundreds of corporate manufactured chemicals are routinely found in the bodies of all Americans, including newborns sheds a sinister light on their shiny prolife platform.

Fortunately, despite the blitz of propaganda and outright lies, Americans were able to see the deceptions and malevolent intentions of the anti life, pro corporations Romney/Ryan team and told them to go back home.

And best of all, the global news media shared a huge sigh of relief when learning that Obama was re-elected. Across the world, there was a collective Phew! I agree.

It would be foolish to call their handouts literature.  Literature has recognized artistic value, is written by scholars or researchers, and is the output of a literary writer. No, the anti abortion materials are not literature, not by any stretch of the imagination. It would be more brutally honest to say that the minds creating their works are so malignant as to be horrifyingly amusing. All of the materials creatively stretch and, at times, ignore evidence-based medical research. Visually, their materials use ethically-challenged imagery. Their page designs (or lack thereof) and font choices ignore readability and economy in favor of the “more is better” mentality. And while their stuff is ugly in appearance, their content is made all the uglier with unadulterated propaganda.

Name-calling, a propaganda technique, links a person or idea to a negative as illustrated in “The abortion industry is motivated and driven by money and greed.” Or, in one example, completely dedicated to the Allentown Women’s Center, the fetal image alongside a dime is captioned “Abortion is not the answer. The AWC is not on your side. They are a business. They don’t care about you . . . and they don’t care about your baby! Choose Life. Walk away!” As you can see in
the image, the writer loves random underlining (as of shouting), indiscriminately using a variety of font styles and generously accenting words with exclamation marks. Again, is more better?

Take a closer look at the image of an alleged 10-week fetus and a U.S. dime. The size of a 10-week fetus is 18-22 mm while a dime is 17.9 mm. Is the comparison misleading imagery or an outright lie? And when all else fails, the author uses the propaganda technique of transfer which links the authority or prestige of something well-respected such as church or nation, to something she would have us accept. In an effort to convince an abortion-minded woman to carry her pregnancy to term, the author uses the image of a red heart with a purple cross with the words pro life (appealing to the church).
And beneath this image, the

words “Remember . . .Christ was conceived out of wedlock and so were many famous people including President Obama.”  Now that’s a real doozy of a comparison. Christ conceived by the Holy Spirit and Obama conceived by his father’s seed. The comparison has a ten on the ICK factor.

In another tract, the author again shares the love of rampant underlining, the haphazard use of a garden variety of font styles and several propaganda techniques. Lacking any particular authority, the author, uses the transfer technique, to link the authority of external sources to help the reader make a connection that appears to be credible.  Unfortunately, many of the external sources are from religious organizations (who specialize in religion, not abortion) and a publication house that is no longer in business.

The author unashamedly uses the special propaganda appeal of fear mongering claiming breast cancer connections to abortion and post abortion sequelae. Despite extensive evidence-based research that finds no cancer connection and no mental consequences to abortion, the author plays on deep-seated fears of impending doom. And for good measure, the dangers of contraception are tossed in to further the fear factor and to offer Natural Family Planning as an alternative. And if the reader is not convinced to “just say no” to abortion, the author tosses factoids about sexually transmitted infections. Too bad the factoids are incorrect.  Frankly, I’m thinking masturbation is about the only sexual taboo that’s missing with this hodgepodge.

Both of the above tracts fail miserably to stick to one message. Instead, they beseech the reader to turn away from abortion, provide spurious information on available resources, use high inference language, grotesque yet inaccurate imagery and ask loaded questions. Moreover, instead of consistent, thoughtful message, they bludgeon their reader with their desperate, no holds barred antiabortion agenda.

A particularly absurd piece, that appears to be a glossy bookmark, quotes Dr. Seuss “A person is a person no matter how small” (breaking copyright laws) and displays human fingers holding what is alleged to be an amazing photograph of six-week ectopic-situated fetus. But here’s the rub: At six weeks, the fetus is between the size of the tip of a pen and a pencil eraser. The human fingers displayed are clearly out of proportion to the fetus. The reverse side of this bookmark contains a jumble of statements that offer misinformation and outright lies. For example, week five to six is when the heart begins to beat, not three weeks, as written. Also, it is week six or seven when small buds appear that become arms and legs. Aesthetically arresting imagery does not excuse intentional fabrications.

One of the most spectacularly cynical and perverse tracts that antiabortion activists use is the comparison of abortion to the Holocaust. Printed in Nazi red and black colors, the handout explicitly compares the murder of millions of Jews and others in the Holocaust to women having abortions in the United States. Abraham H. Foxman, Anti Defamation League National Director and a Holocaust survivor said, “No Christian who understands Jewish suffering should resort to inappropriate comparisons to the Holocaust to send a message that abortion is wrong.” The tract is exemplary in its propagandistic appeal using the name-calling technique linking abortion as a Holocaust and using the logical fallacy to deliberately promote their antiabortion appeal by suggesting that the U.S. government is like Nazi Germany. Of course, there’s no mention of what American women want for their own reproductive health in this work, no mention that Nazi Germany was pro birth for Aryan women, and no mention that the U.S. government does not target particular groups with mass killings. Why let facts get in the way of a outrageous horror story?

There are anti abortion pamphlets that are professionally designed and then there are anti abortion handouts that are amateurishly cobbled together.  Aesthetics aside, these homemade tracts fail to articulate the compassion and unconditional love that Jesus so passionately offered for all humankind. Looking through a stack of antiabortion activists’ tracts that have been given to women and their companions (and then tossed out), it becomes obvious to me that these activists’  have forgotten compassion and unconditional love. Instead, their handouts consistently use fear-mongering as their number one preferred tactic. Fear tactics, combined with misinformation, outright lies and unethical imagery, create a body of work in the anti abortion industry that any ethical person would be embarrassed to distribute. But from my experiences, the anti abortion activists are not embarrassed and that should tell you something about them.

A common sentiment from antiabortion activists is the juxtaposition of what they want versus what the clinic staff and volunteers want. For example, Gerry McWilliams, an incorrigible protester at Allentown Womens Center, is fond of saying to women as they cross the parking lot with clinic escorts (who wear green AWC vests), “We want your baby to live. Those people in the green vests want your baby to die.” It’s a perfect example of a logical fallacy in public debates on politics, ethics, and religion. As a straw man, this protester attacks a position not held by the other side (in fact, staff and escorts respect what women want), then acts as though the other side’s (the escorts in the vests) position has been refuted. This straw man is easy to defeat and is a sign of a weak, desperate man who knows he is losing. It’s also an indication that the woman is symbolically dismissed.

The notorious Flip Benham, Director of Operation Save America, writes about abortion in an ironic twist “there are no cheap political solutions to the holocaust presently ravaging our nation” (operationsaveamerica web site). Yet, outside the Hebron, NC clinic, he uses cheap political solutions that are grotesque, bordering on pornographic. Standing on a raised platform, he uses a bullhorn to broadcast to women entering the clinic “the devil inside that door will drink the blood of your child.” Again, the appeal is for the sensational and the want of the fetus. It’s not about what the woman wants. She is symbolically dismissed as unimportant.

When prolife pundit Abby Johnson tells her story on college campuses about why she resigned her position at Planned Parenthood, she appeals to emotions. Claiming to have witnessed an ultrasound-guided abortion that horrified her, she claims she was compelled to cross over to the prolife side. Of course, she obscures the fact that she was about to get fired. She also fails to mention the money she earns for her new-found celebrity status. But that’s another story. In telling her story over and over, she attempts to create a logically coherent narrative to convince her audiences that abortion is wrong. But, like others who just don’t get it, she ignores the very reality that abortion is right for one out of every three women of reproductive age. She, too, ignores these women.

Another common prolife sentiment, especially among the women, is talk about life being precious. A tender-hearted Lutheran minister in Allentown, PA, suggested these women just loved babies. They prattle on with what is essentially their own desires, “Love your baby” or “Life is precious. Don’t kill your baby” or “Give your baby up for adoption. It’s the selfless thing to do.” But their suggestion of adoption as a selfless option fails to consider the documented disadvantages of adoption. It fails to recognize that life’s preciousness can and should mean the concerns of the woman who is considering her options with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. But for these prolife women, symbolically dismissing the pregnant women, while favoring “the babies” is simply what they do best.

At clinics across the nation, antiabortion activists stand on sidewalks and streets with signs that 1) not only make it easy for women to locate the clinics (because they are warned about the trolls) but 2) illustrate their own obsessions and utter disregard for the very women they hope to attract. They use grotesque fetal images that exploit fetal death, that strip any human dignity from the fetus, and that turn death into leering pornography. These faux moralists cheapen their brand when they stigmatize women through grotesque imagery and powerful language of condemnation. Their monster talk is convenient. It frees them from thinking about the sacredness of women. And with predictable frequency, the protesters create a circus of the bizarre for women and their companions, with performances of religiosity, banal rituals of fear mongering, and social repudiation directed at women and their companions. And while they claim to direct their efforts toward women, in reality, they are simply performing acts of self-righteousness while ignoring what women want. In other words, they symbolically dismiss women in favor of what they want.

It was Gaye Tuchman (1978) who coined the phrase ‘symbolic annihilation’ when she was describing how women were underrepresented or misrepresented in media and society. She divided symbolic annihilation into three aspects: omission, trivialization and condemnation. It is within these aspects that symbolic annihilation is evident in the prolife industry. They omit women’s agency. They trivialize women’s reasons for wanting an abortion. And they certainly condemn women who consider abortion and who choose abortion.

Symbolic annihilation of women through omission, trivialization and condemnation: it’s the hallmark of the antiabortion zealots who care less about the rights of girls and women.

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