Monday, March 10, 2014

Feeble Arguments

Recently, Michele Bachmann made the astounding claim that "our movement is at its core an intellectual movement," which is a pretty stunning thing to say about a group of people so wedded to anti-intellectualism that they think climatology is disproven each year by the arrival of winter.

But if you want to see some of the real towering intellects of the right, just look no further than this recent Salon article( LINK) about various right-wing groups who have filed amicus briefs for Hobby Lobby in their case against the 21st Century. Presumably, these folks all have law degrees, even if they are from Regent Law School or Bob Jones U. or whatever. These folks should all be smarter than the average bear. So let's look at these fine legal minds in action.

First up: The Beverly Lahaye Institute.

(oddly, if you click on their link, it goes straight to Concerned Women for America, another right-wing looney group founded by Ms Lahaye.) 
Pictured: Exactly the woman you want to have a frank discussion of sexuality with
Now, as far as I know, Ms. Lahaye does not herself have a law degree (although she does have an honorary doctorate from Falwell's Liberty Uninversity, for what that's worth.(nothing)). But someone at the "Institute" wrote this brief and must have a legal education, so let's see their argument.

If the Government intends to broaden the definition of ‘women’s health and well-being,’ and thus the goal of the Mandate, to include non-health related concepts such as emotional well-being and economic prosperity, then it should likewise have considered the documented negative effects the widespread availability of contraceptives has on women’s ability to enter into and maintain desired marital relationships. This in turn leads to decreased emotional wellbeing and economic stability (out-of-wedlock childbearing being a chief predictor of female poverty), as well as deleterious physical health consequences arising from, inter alia, sexually transmitted infections and domestic violence.

God, where does one even begin with something like that?
Documented negative effects? Documented by whom?
Who has produced actual studies documenting that contraceptives are somehow preventing women from getting married?
Oh, wait. Contraceptives are widely available? Never mind!

I mean, I guess they're preventing some women from "having" to get married.
And how does contraception lead to domestic violence? I can't even imagine a made-up scenario for that.

But the craziest part is the idea that having widely-available contraception results in an increase in out-of-wedlock childbearing. I've heard this argument from right-wing religious nuts before and it makes no goddamm sense. It's like saying that having mousetraps easily available is causing rodent infestations.
The only "logic" I can imagine here is that maybe they think that contraception somehow works like antibiotics? Like how the over-use of antibiotics has led to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria? So maybe the frequent use of contraceptives is going to lead to the rise of invincible spermatozoa? Watch out walking down the street, ladies, one of these weaponized spermies might come flying at you and your defenses will be useless against it! You'll be an out-of-wedlock mother without even getting to have the fun of sluttiness!
Ha! Your puny weapons are no match for our super powers!

Next: the American Freedom Law Center

Thus, it has come to pass that the widespread use of contraceptives has indeed harmed women physically, emotionally, morally, and spiritually — and has, in many respects, reduced her to the “mere instrument for the satisfaction of [man’s] own desires.” Consequently, the promotion of contraceptive services — the very goal of the challenged mandate — harms not only women, but it harms society in general by ‘open[ing] wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.’ Responsible men and women cannot deny this truth.

Well, then call me irresponsible!

Say I'm unreliable.
Throw in unpredictable too!

Sorry, where was I?
Oh, right. I deny this "truth."

First of all, "the widespread use of contraceptives has indeed harmed women physically, emotionally, morally, and spiritually?"

That's just too goddamm stupid to even bother with, except to say that stating something as fact doesn't make it so. It certainly doesn't make it an undeniable truth.

Secondly, you're kinda giving yourself away when you say something like "and has, in many respects, reduced her to the “mere instrument for the satisfaction of [man’s] own desires.
Because the only way that statement makes sense is if you start with the assumption that women don't ever enjoy sex, and the only reason they would ever want to have it is so that they can make a baby. Now, it's probably safe to assume that your wife probably doesn't ever enjoy your naughty fun times, but you really can't generalize from her to the majority of women, after all, she was dumb enough to marry you.

This next argument was signed on to by a host of the residents of the rubber room hotel, including U.S. Justice Foundation, Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, Institute on the Constitution, Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Abraham Lincoln Foundation, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Policy Analysis Center.

Those all sound like they should be intelligent, educated people, at least by teabagger standards. Here's their assertion:

Stripped of its “evidence-based” facade, the IOM Committee Report encourages amoral recreational sex without reproductive consequences to be the optimal “quality of life” and “life course orient[ation]” for all American women. 

Okay, I have not read the IOM report, (and I'd be willing to bet every cent I have on me that neither have these nutters) but I will guarantee you that it says no such thing.

The IOM Committee’s message is unmistakable. Female sexual activity without risk of pregnancy is to be encouraged by the contraceptive mandate, not only by making a wide range of contraceptives available, but by an education and counseling program designed to ensure that more and more women do not get pregnant unless “at the point of conception” they want to. 

So, you're saying that your objection to the health-care mandate is based on your fear that women will not be getting pregnant when they don't want to? How could anyone possibly object to the idea that a woman should want to get pregnant before getting impregnated? Oh, right, you're monsters! Sorry, do go on.

This mandate is grounded in the “opinion” of the IOM’s 16-member committee that a woman’s “health and well-being” are adversely affected by the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.

Silly IOM, everyone knows that pregnancy carries zero health risks! It's  not like anyone ever died in childbirth, amirite?
Also, no matter what risks to health and well-being pregnancy does or does  not present, it's still not your business who does and doesn't want to be pregnant.

Then there's a group called Women Speak for Themselves .

On their website they describe themselves as "We are women who support the competing voice offered by Catholic institutions on matters of sex, marriage and family life." So, when they say women speaking for themselves, that apparently means women speaking for the entirely male hierarchy of the Catholic Church for the last 2000 years. To-may-to/to-mah-to. 
Sisters are doin' it for themselves. . .

Here is what they have to add to the discussion:

It is “demeaning and destructive” to argue that contraception helps women achieve equality. Most women aspire to and do rear children deserve social support.

Okay, let's assume that that's true. (albeit a syntactic nightmare)  It probably is true that most women want to, at some point, have a baby, although I would not term that an "aspiration" exactly, seeing as how it's something that almost everyone does, often accidentally. But let's say you're right. Do you think that every woman who "aspires" to motherhood wants to have a baby right now? Do you think she wants to have one every time she gets busy with a dude, like a common Duggar? Does it not occur to you that most women who have chosen to become mothers used contraception until such time as they were ready to reproduce?

So there you have it. These are the bright minds leading the "intellectual movement" that is modern conservatism. Next stop, the dustbin of history.