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Politicians say the dumbest things.  For Democrats, it’s usually about the Economy or Social Justice.  For Republicans, it’s usually about … well … Life.

So let’s address the suited-and-tied elephant in the room.  Comments by [[Todd Akin]] instantly became ammunition for the other side, those who recently created the newest political meme, the “war on women”:

It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape is] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.

Akin got into hot water over this, but  for the wrong reasons, as the context was never considered.  His central point was not about rape, but abortion.  Yes, he sounds like he’s repeating an old wive’s tale or a science book from the 1800s.   But the flame war it started wasn’t about pregnancy from rape, but the use of the term “legitimate rape”.

What did he mean?  Well, many offended assumed he was suggesting an ugly, ignorant distinction between forcible rape and one that doesn’t leave marks.  It throws back to the lowest attitudes of society where the victim is blamed or assumed to be complicit in some way.

However, if you reverse engineer the [[Pro-Life]]” mindset, and realize this was a discussion specifically about exceptions for rape in anti-abortion legislation, it all makes sense.  If an exception is made for rape, the obvious consequence is that any woman desiring to abort could claim rape, hence not a “legitimate” rape but a fabricated one.  And yes, women do such a thing.  Evil knows no bounds of gender.

It’s another ugly consequence of such a law, and why law is not a remedy for this complicated issue.

{Here I must point out that, according to a local police chief, nearly all accusations of rape are retracted.  Rape, or rather the accusation of it, is in some circles the weapon of choice in domestic strife.  And then there’s the under-reporting by “legitimate” victims, especially men.  In other words, we don’t even have accurate statistics, even if we were to base law on likelihood rather than individual circumstance.}

But it’s even stupider to proffer a medical reason to not have to worry about it.

And then we have another GOP candidate, [[Richard Mourdock]] showing the same colors:

I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

Sure … just like [[Hurricane Katrina]] was God’s spite against all those bead-wearin’ Mardi Gras homosexuals.  But let’s back away from emotion (and perhaps decency) for a moment and examine the need for such an argument in the context of their larger objective of a wholesale, no-exception outlawing of abortion.  When all else fails, release “God” into the fray to tie up the loose ends.

Never mind that pesky thing called free will.  Maybe that’s only for God’s “legitimate” children.

Now I am not suggesting that Republicans are some monolithic club of anti-Enlightnement theocrats — I am currently registered as one myself — but these comments are, from my perspective, not a war on women as much as they are a revelation that we risk Church and State having not a veil between them, but them between the sheets.

And yet this point is missed.  It’s election season, where every word is turned and twisted for the purpose of reallocating chairs in Washington.  And it tells us nothing if we don’t look beyond that.  It deceives us about the intentions of our candidates, and even when the oversimplifications and propaganda is seen for what it is, does not guarantee that in fact the sound-bitten victim is innocent of some worse charge.

It’s political theater, with heroes and villians, but behind the curtain often lay far darker muses.


{Note: My comments above should not be misconstrued or used to extrapolate my personal position on abortion.  The only intention here is to address how badly handled dialogue is on the topic and the political, rather than theological or moral implications thereof.}