Sexism and Political Hypocrisy

By: hawkgrrrl
October 30, 2012

In the October General Conference, E. Cook cautioned against political extremism that supersedes and erodes testimony and commitment to the church:

Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment . . .  have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whether on the left or right, I could not agree more with this astute observation.  I have long said that political views run deeper than religious beliefs.  People see their religion through the lens of their political beliefs more often that they see their political beliefs through the lens of their religion, despite what they may have you think or their own limited self-awareness.

Many have been surprised to hear that I grew up in a ward that was full of very vocal Democrats, several of whom were liberal arts college professors.  In fact, those voices were so strong that I had concluded as a teenager that the church leaned left, which caused me some angst as I was libertarian at that time.  Given the church’s communitarian roots (United Order, polygamy, church welfare), there was evidence to support that idea.  When I went to BYU I was shocked that so many people openly expressed conservative political views.  Yet they too cited convincing supporting evidence of their claim that the church aligned with the right (traditional gender roles, socially conservative values, provident living, preparedness, the scriptural mandate not to sue each other, focus on works).  I have since concluded that the gospel is paradoxical with regard to partisan politics.  I won’t quite go so far as to say the gospel transcends politics, but I will say that politics certainly sinks much lower than the gospel.

I recently read one of the most thoughtful articles I have seen about just what has been troublesome and manipulative about President Obama’s approach to women.  Ross Douthat from the NYT (no less) points out several clear cut examples of paternalism from the left:

  • The protectionist view in “The Life of Julia” that shows a young woman from toddler to old age who is consistently guarded throughout her life by father figure Obama’s benevolence despite threats from Romney’s scary conservative ideas.
  • Obama’s suggestion that women use their wedding registries to donate to his campaign.  Because that’s not a weird connection – instead of investing in your future marriage, there’s Pres. Obama propping up on a pillow between you and your fiance.
  • Holding up Sandra Fluke as a martyr for free conception when Rush Limbaugh insulted her.  Scare tactic!  The grotesque Rush Limbaugh wants unfettered access to your hoo-hah!
  • Lena Dunham’s winky-wink video comparing voting for Obama to losing your virginity to a really cool guy.  Because that’s not creepy and weird at all to cast the president in the role of bedroom lothario that we all want to hook up with!  I realize Lena’s a woman, but as Alice Walker said:  I have seen the axe, and the handle is one of us.  Parody here.
  • Putting male Democrats in the role of protectors of female sexual empowerment and freedom by pointing to ludicrous statements made by Neanderthals like Todd Akin, pretending those are normal views of the right, and then offering to rescue women from these thugs.  Only Obama and other male Democrats can help save us from these monsters!  So goes the narrative.
  • Manufacturing a War on Women in which the entire Republican party is cast as one composite evildoer (not a few outrageously ignorant dumbasses among many reasonable people who happen to all be in the same party), women’s interests are reduced to reproduction only, and we are super fortunate to have male Democrats there to explain to us women how to feel about it all and just how real this terrible threat is.

For those who want to defend this approach, consider that it has failed parlously to do anything but shore up a narrow tranche of the Democrat base.  Instead of increasing the gap from women preferring Obama to Romney +18, in a few short weeks, Obama basically threw away his advantage, and now women are evenly divided between the candidates.  I suspect Obama’s campaign is bewildered as to why the approach hasn’t resonated for women beyond the young, single, females who are firmly Democrats; this is what happens in an echo chamber.

As a middle aged (ouch) independent female voter, my own reaction to these tactics may have been typical for those like me, and remember, I’m  the one both campaigns want to woo.  I’m not some starry-eyed, high-minded idealistic kid, likely to be wowed by a father figure, charm and good looks:

  • I’m too old and jaded to be scared about abortion and contraception being taken away.  For one thing, I would never personally have an elective abortion.  For another, this threat has been floated a million times in my lifetime (usually by the left), and there’s been no change yet.  I don’t see it as likely, and I sure don’t think a pragmatist like Romney would go against the popular will.  Romney would take the church’s stance on abortion which is in fact, a moderate stance.  Only the far right wants women who’ve been raped to be forced to give birth, not the church, not Romney.
  • Pundits on both sides are worth ignoring outright.  Neither Rush Limbaugh nor Rachel Maddow are worth listening to, IMO.
  • Both groups have crazy uncles (and a few crazy aunts – at least in the Tea Party!) who don’t represent the party as a whole.  There are extremists and moderates in both parties.  Cherry picking the ridiculous ones and pretending they represent anything but an indictment of our public education system is overreaching.
  • “Binders full of women” was about the stupidest tempest in a teacup I ever heard, and yet you could hear the high fives around the world as Democrats congratulated each other on the fabulous score they made against Republicans by blowing this innocuous comment out of proportion.  Was it well said?  No.  But it wasn’t some huge gaffe either.  My definition of a huge gaffe:  it sways opinion.  This comment had zero potential for influence on the election outcome.
  • As a pragmatist, I’m concerned about the economy far more than anything else, which makes the rest of these things look like deliberate evasions to me, and stupid ones at that.  I believe Obama could have made a compelling case for his ability to fix the economy, but the fact that he is spending any time or energy on this stupid crap instead makes me suspicious.  If he really thought he was doing a good job on the economy, that’s what he’d be talking about.  But instead he keeps changing the topic, and smugly congratulating himself on the perceived foolishness of his adversaries.

The hypocrisy I see is that those on the left are so willing to jump on the bandwagon about Republican sexism without acknowledging the paternalistic approach Obama has taken.  As Douthat points out, it’s unfathomable that Hillary Clinton would have taken this same approach (who wants to lose their virginity to Hillary, for example?  No offense to Hillary, but c’mon).  In fact, if you evaluate Obama’s approach as if Hillary had done it, you can immediately see why it is sexist.  Or try this one on for size. What if Pres. Monson took this approach?  Anyone see that as acceptable?  I hear plenty of criticism of paternalism within the church.  Why can we only recognize sexism when some people do it, people we are used to criticizing?  Again, I call that political hypocrisy.

I posted a link to the above NYT article in a feminist discussion board, knowing full well that most of the women there are also very liberal.  The response?  You guessed it:  crickets chirping.  Nada.

It’s enough to make me want to run for office.  I’m Hawkgrrrl, and I approve this message.

Discuss.

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46 Responses to Sexism and Political Hypocrisy

  1. E on October 30, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    Amen.

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  2. mh on October 30, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    Great post hawk. I think it is good to point out how the democrats use women politically. I thought it interesting that the campaign seems interested in younger women (by making Sandra fluke a martyr). How do you think Hillary would have addressed the war on women?

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  3. Mike S on October 30, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    Great post. My favorite part:

    Both groups have crazy uncles (and a few crazy aunts – at least in the Tea Party!) who don’t represent the party as a whole. There are extremists and moderates in both parties. Cherry picking the ridiculous ones and pretending they represent anything but an indictment of our public education system is overreaching.

    I think the true reality is that the majority of Americans, people in the world, and even people in the bloggernacle really want the same things. We probably all agree on 95+% of things. Even Romney and Obama are much more alike in what they want to see happen in the country than different.

    Unfortunately, no one wants to hear this. It doesn’t sell advertising or win elections. It get people to listen to your show or read your blog.

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  4. Mike S on October 30, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Also, specifically regarding women and abortion: Like you, this is almost a non issue for me compared to things like the economy. I don’t expect to ever be in a situation where it comes up.

    I will say, however, that it is a big decision for every woman who decides to have an abortion. There is a member of my fairly extended family who decided to have an abortion. She is LDS and it wasn’t for the “life of the mother or child”. I don’t know all of the details, and certainly don’t know the mental anguish involved in making such a decision, but in retrospect, I would still argue that it was the right thing to do.

    I think the compromise that we currently have in the country makes sense. Women can have abortions if they choose. But I would like to see more sex education and free contraception as it would help avoid the situation in the first place.

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  5. Casey on October 30, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    Mike, those are some very thoughtful and nuanced comments, and you’re making me uncomfortable by running so against the grain of modern political discourse :). Personally I wish the abortion debate would shift away from the legal domain to the moral one, in which abortion remains legal but pro-lifers focus all their energy on persuasion and promoting alternatives. But as long as Democrats benefit from warning that the GOP will impose legal restrictions and the GOP benefits from, well, threatening to impose legal restrictions, I think we’ll be stuck in the same cesspool that dominates our rhetoric on reproductive rights.

    As for the OP, I see elements of paternalism in Obama’s campaigning and am not surprised that a conservative columnist would gleefully point that out. I agree Democrats are using social issues to deflect from economic ones because “Obama: keeping the economy limping along” isn’t a political winner (though I get annoyed by political cartoons that suggest the President is magically responsible for gas prices).

    Still, to me the structure of American society is tilted against women and only one party generally acknowledges that and has made active strides to correct it (to the extent the GOP recognizes gender inequality, it is usually to celebrate rather than question it). That’s not to say Democrat solutions are necessarily superior, but I tend to be more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt because I feel they’re at least coming from the right place. That’s why lefties won’t shut up about the likes of Akin and Murdock — they may be the crazy uncles, but they represent a very prevalent strain of right-wing Christian discourse about women that we find offensive. Pinning that angst on Romney isn’t necessarily fair, but that’s what happens when you become standard-bearer in a two-party system, I guess.

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  6. GBSmith on October 30, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    “•As a pragmatist, I’m concerned about the economy far more than anything else, which makes the rest of these things look like deliberate evasions to me, and stupid ones at that. I believe Obama could have made a compelling case for his ability to fix the economy, but the fact that he is spending any time or energy on this stupid crap instead makes me suspicious. If he really thought he was doing a good job on the economy, that’s what he’d be talking about. But instead he keeps changing the topic, and smugly congratulating himself on the perceived foolishness of his adversaries.”

    Politicians talk about what the polling tells them will get them elected, not what’s right or true. It’s just business not a religion. And the business of politics, in the words of Richard Nixon is to “reward your friends and punish your enemies”. I stopped getting my knickers in a twist about positions like this because once the votes are counted, it will be back to business as usual. IMHO

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  7. jmb275 on October 30, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Putting male Democrats in the role of protectors of female sexual empowerment and freedom by pointing to ludicrous statements made by Neanderthals like Todd Akin, pretending those are normal views of the right, and then offering to rescue women from these thugs. Only Obama and other male Democrats can help save us from these monsters! So goes the narrative.

    This is the one I really don’t get. It really reminds me of the many posts I’ve read in the b’nacle where Mormon paternalism is criticized. I remember one in particular where the author points out the problem with Mormon leaders (men) leveraging the patriarchy to stroke the egos of Mormon women, elevating them above men, while of course in reality keeping them under their thumb.

    How is the Obama campaign any different in that regard? Because it is masked by a crusade of liberal feminists who seem to see sexual emancipation as the deity of the feminine mystique? I dunno. I’m just back to where I started 2 years ago – Obama and Romney are pretty much the same – moderates who’ve been forced to wage an expensive partisan campaign but who in reality probably agree on most issues (as Romney obviously admitted in the last debate).

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  8. aerin on October 30, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    I was flabbergasted (personally) by the outcry against birth control. Abortion is one thing, but since 99% of American women/couples will use some form of birth control throughout their lives…it seems like a no brainer. Who will pay for birth control (and other services) is a valid question and debate.

    I don’t consider it paternalistic because it could happen (decisions about birth control, abortions, new laws that could be upheld). I think many people would rather talk about the economy and war than social issues…I think if conservative Republicans started focusing on the economy and going more moderate on social issues they would have a real advantage.

    With that said, the older I get, the more I realize how this cycle goes. The party out of power criticizes the one in power. It’s unfortunate that the moderates (in both parties) are so criticized and blocked. Maybe if they weren’t we could comprimise and get things done.

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  9. Will on October 30, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    “Who will pay for birth control (and other services) is a valid question and debate”

    Why?

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  10. h_nu on October 30, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    It’s often helpful to compare how stupid a comment is by switching one word for another.

    In Aerin’s case, I swapped food for contraception… “I was flabbergasted by the outcry against conservatives paying for liberals to eat. Overeating is one thing, but since 99% of humans will eat some form of food throughout their lives…it seems like a no brainer, conservatives should have to pay for that.”

    See how stupid that looks when you’re not emotionally involved in the topic?

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  11. Usually a lurker on October 30, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    (Used-to-be-a-lurker, ha ha)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Hawk. I think one of the reasons I’m so, um, engaged (some might call it angry), this political season is the way I, a woman, have been so misrepresented and talked down to by the left, and by the media. That Sandra Fluke would be seen as a representative of women’s rights is appalling. Nope, free contraception is not at the top of my list of concerns. It’s not even in the top ten. And why is contraception all about women anyway? It takes two, ya know.

    I’m a human being, I’m responsible for my decisions and my actions and for making the best life I can for myself and my family, and so is each women and each man. Although I do not want to be discriminated against, neither do I want to be part of a special group that is patted on the head and given special “treats” (taxpayer-funded abortions and contraception) for my vote. Ick. Way to reduce women to a one-note symphony.

    I’m not even really conservative about social issues. I don’t want abortions to become illegal (abortions would still happen, and if they’re illegal–wow, what a Pandora’s box of problems). But the Democratic party of today does not represent me nor the way I feel. Not even close.

    Thank you again. And I can well believe you heard crickets chirping on a feminist discussion board, and I can guess which one it was. I consider myself a feminist, but I don’t consider feminism to be constant complaining about being victims of this, that, and the other all the time.

    Sorry if that was harsh. I did say I was a bit angry–normally I’m a very tolerant, understanding person, really!

    But thanks again, Hawkgrrrl, you said it much, much better than I have been able to.

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  12. Casey on October 30, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    h_nu, anyone can troll like that to make someone’s point seem irrelevant. Observe: Government should be in charge of national defense = Government should be in charge of kicking llamas. Hahah word replacement makes stupid! Or let’s pretend for a minute that we’re grown-ups living in the real world, and that birth control is a medical issue (I promise it is, it’s not just “wimmins wants sex withouts ‘sponsibility”), and that the principle behind health insurance is pooling financial resources to deal with medical issues. Thus, insurance coverage for birth control is a legitimate question even if you happen not to care for it. Calling someone stupid for saying so is exactly what’s wrong with political discussion.

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  13. aerin on October 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    9- @Will, well, some people believe that contraception should not be paid for by the government for anyone at any time. That government should stick to its powers from the constitution ( which does not include medical care). Other people believe that’s in the public interest and should be funded by the government.

    Since there’s a disagreement, it’s worthy of discussion, IMO.

    h_nu, the government does give food to people without any. Other relief organizations do as well. I think that can be a good thing. I have no problem with my tax dollars going to starving American children. It can also be something that many people disagree about. And that’s a good part of our society, we can agree and disagree about issues. And discuss them civilly to a resolution.

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  14. jks on October 30, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Very interesting post. Definitely stuff to think about.

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  15. Jon on October 30, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    aerin,

    I agree with Mike S on this one when he said:

    And it’s a principle that goes far beyond abortion. If Brigham Young felt compelled by God to practice polygamy, was it right for the government to impose someone else’s set of morals on him because they personally found it wrong? At what point to we stop trying to legislate our own morals onto someone else.

    We shouldn’t force people to do things because it fits in our own morality. So, we shouldn’t force people buy birth control for others, i.e., legislate the moral decision of having birth control for all with the use of force to get people to pay for it. What of those that don’t believe it is OK to use birth control? We force them to pay for it?

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  16. FireTag on October 30, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Although this post is about the treatment of feminists constituents of the left by the Obama campaign, one should note that similar manipulation of single issues is going on in regard to ALL of the Democratic constituencies. With Latinos, it’s immigration reform — without any attempt to pass such reform through Congress when the Dems had a filibuster-proof hold on the Senate and held the House. With gays, it’s gay marriage, even though Obama only announced support AFTER the loss of the Carolina vote. With the anti-war left, it’s the notion that Obama is ending the wars, even as the wars grow; Clinton is in Algeria this week attempting to get the Algerians to support military intervention in Mali, and the Israelis are not even pretending they didn’t just send a bomber squadron 1000 miles into Sudan to blow up the Iranian surface-to-surface-missile reserves housed in a factory there to bits. With unions, it’s support of larger government, even though Obama flew over Wisconsin the night before the Walker recall for his own campaign and only tweeted his support.

    I understand why an evil Republican like me doesn’t believe Obama. I just don’t understand why the Dem constituencies put up with being treated like they were fools. As a previous generation would have said, “He won’t respect you in the morning.”

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  17. FireTag on October 30, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Last post should have read “support of larger Federal funding of state and local government”.

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  18. John Mansfield on October 31, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    If women are evenly divided over Obama and Romney right now, they continue to be divided on the matter depending on whether they are married (for Romney) or not (for Obama). Heck, married women poll more support for Romney than single men do. The marriage gap is three times what the gender gap ever was. Paternalism in the Obama campaign fits with this.

    The Obama campaign is reaching out to keep the support of divorced or never married voters, but they are also doing longer-term service to the Democrats with the parts of their campaign that encourage the single or divorced state, and therefore more natural supporters of future Democrats.

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  19. SilverRain on October 31, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Ahem. I am a divorced voter, and the Obama campaign is not reaching out to me. Guess what? Divorced people are JUST LIKE MARRIED AND SINGLE PEOPLE.

    Are you kidding me? What on earth does being divorced have to do with ANY of the issues at hand?

    Also, I’m so tired of this: “We shouldn’t force people to do things because it fits in our own morality.”

    Seriously? What, exactly, do you think law IS?

    Sorry, I’m feeling rantish today.

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  20. Jon on October 31, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    SilverRain,

    Using the initiation of force to get people to do what you want them to do is called tyranny or chaos, pick your flavor. Using only law that has a higher ethical standard as its base is called rule of law and not chaos. That is what true law is, call it what you will, natural rights, common law, natural law, etc. Without this base there is no true law and we become indentured servants or slaves of one another, or, as the scriptures say, the oppression of one to another.

    Clear as mud?

    To all,

    Praise be to heaven. I spend too much time on this blog saying the same things over and over again. The next post I’ll stop subscribing to it. Yay! One less troll to deal with and then you guys can live in a fantasy world where you are no longer reminded that there are higher ethical standards to live by, only majority (read, tyrannical) rule exists.

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  21. John Mansfield on October 31, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Divorced people and single people and married people are all be people with all sorts of commonalities, but focusing on the narrow issue of presidential election polling, they are not planning to vote all the same. See the URL link below for more on that.

    http://blogs.reuters.com/talesfromthetrail/2012/10/24/married-v-unmarried-could-be-the-new-election-gender-gap/

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  22. Heber13 on October 31, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    It seems to me it just feels sexist, but behind the issues are just the mindset difference between the left and the right position.

    Take contraception.

    Obama is suggested to mandate all employers provide it in their healthcare coverage.

    Romney supports letting the free market decide for coverage based on cost of supply and demand from individuals.

    It can be spun as Papa Obama protecting helpless women, or Uncaring Romney who has binders to help guide him to understanding women…but the issues seem consistent with other approaches to taxes and the economy.

    “Why can we only recognize sexism when some people do it, people we are used to criticizing?”
    - Possibly because it isn’t sexism in and of itself…it is spun as such to criticize those we want to criticize, or influence voters we want to push hot buttons for. Whatever gets the vote.

    Then, as GB Smith said, once one person wins the office, things can go back to regular day to day stuff.

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  23. h_nu on October 31, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    Aerin,
    Nice bait and switch.
    You compare the selective giving of some food (aka bare minimum) to some subset of American citizens, to the covering of all forms of birth control for half of America’s population… RU really arguing that all women in America are either, 1) too poor, 2) too short-sighted, to provide for their own birth-control methods? That’s a complete bait and switch and pretty foolish assumptions. There are other options out there, but the problem with the government getting involved is it stupifies the ignorant masses, as well as those who blindly follow the blind leader.

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  24. Stephen R. Marsh on October 31, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    ” I’m Hawkgrrrl, and I approve this message.” — loved that closing line.

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  25. Jon on October 31, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    SilverRain,

    Human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason; and thus it is manifest that it flows from the eternal law. And insofar as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence.

    - Saint Thomas Aquinas (died 1274)

    Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” and “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.

    - Thomas Jefferson (died 1826)

    …I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”

    Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

    - Martin Luther King, Jr. (died 1968)

    The right to enjoy liberty is inalienable. . . . Every man has a right to his own body—to the products of his own labor—to the protection of law. . . . That all these laws which are now in force, admitting the right of slavery, are, therefore, before God, utterly null and void. . . and therefore they ought instantly to be abrogated.

    - William Lloyd Garrison, “Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention” (December 1833)

    It seems we have collective amnesia here. We have rejected the very roots of this country. We reject the core principles that give rise to the Bill of Rights. We reject the principles of liberty taught in the BoM. A discussion of any law without understanding the core principles of law is no discussion.

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  26. hawkgrrrl on November 1, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    “Who will pay for birth control (and other services) is a valid question and debate.” Aerin, I’ll bite. I think there’s room for debate on this one. From an economic perspective, abortion and free birth control fit largely into the category of tactics to avoid poverty and future crime because these are programs that primarily (but not exclusively) benefit the bottom rung of society. That’s not to say no middle class woman has ever had an abortion, although in this day & age of sex education, reliable birth control and the morning after pill, IMO abortion should be extremely rare indeed. I’m not sure it’s that difficult to find other ways to fund birth control for the poor. I’m not inclined to change the abortion laws either after reading Freakonomics.

    I have had this utopian idea lately. What if we cut nearly all entitlements and discretionary stuff (e.g. NASA, NEA, PBS). Then we cut taxes to the point where there is a sustainable balanced budget. Finally, we add an option to income tax returns for people to donate by checking the box for which programs they would like to support with an extra donation to make it simple and easy.

    I’m not convinced that people would not be generous if we no longer compelled them to be. If the social programs were lean, well managed, and the benefits to society were clearly articulated, I think we’d see sufficient support for the poor, sick and elderly.

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  27. GBSmith on November 1, 2012 at 6:29 AM

    “I’m not convinced that people would not be generous if we no longer compelled them to be. If the social programs were lean, well managed, and the benefits to society were clearly articulated, I think we’d see sufficient support for the poor, sick and elderly.”

    Lot’s of ifs. I have patients now that routinely forgo care because of cost choosing between food, rent and medicine. Most are the elderly but some middle aged that are working and have some insurance coverage but for whom a $10 copay is a stretch. These problems can be solved but money is the basic cure and society through government has to be willing to pay the bill and there are no ifs about that.

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  28. Jon on November 1, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    GBSmith,

    OK, government through its programs causes people to be poorer (which means less money to donate to the poor and less for the poor to have). Government, through its programs, causes medicine to be vastly more expensive than it otherwise would be. Government, through its programs, causes less people to practice medicine, which also increases costs.

    So the solution to government caused problems is more government? That makes no sense at all. Maybe, if we adhered to a higher moral standard we wouldn’t have these problems. MLK had it right, we shouldn’t have laws that don’t adhere to natural law and we should disobey said laws. A discussion of any law without understanding the core principles of law is no discussion.

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  29. Will on November 1, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    Hawk,

    “I have had this utopian idea lately. What if we cut nearly all entitlements and discretionary stuff (e.g. NASA, NEA, PBS). Then we cut taxes to the point where there is a sustainable balanced budget. Finally, we add an option to income tax returns for people to donate by checking the box for which programs they would like to support with an extra donation to make it simple and easy.vI have had this utopian idea lately. What if we cut nearly all entitlements and discretionary stuff (e.g. NASA, NEA, PBS). Then we cut taxes to the point where there is a sustainable balanced budget. Finally, we add an option to income tax returns for people to donate by checking the box for which programs they would like to support with an extra donation to make it simple and easy.”

    That is one of the best ideas I have ever heard. Brilliant!

    Related to this, and I’m sure you will not appreciate the comparison, but I also loved the idea of Gov. Rick Perry to start every one getting moeny from the FED at zero and everyone pleads thier case. Great idea.

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  30. GBSmith on November 1, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    Jon,
    your argument is that government through it’s program is the cause of people being poor, medication more expensive, and as a cause for fewer people practicing medicine. I don’t agree with your premise and I think that sort of generalization makes a very complex problem seem simple which it isn’t and the solutions simple which they aren’t. It’s the line of argument that says less government is better and no government is best. I don’t want to threadjack the post so I’ll leave it at that.

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  31. Jon on November 1, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    I don’t agree with your premise and I think that sort of generalization makes a very complex problem seem simple which it isn’t and the solutions simple which they aren’t. It’s the line of argument that says less government is better and no government is best.

    Yet when you used a “simple” argument to say that “money is the cure” therefore we must steal money from our neighbors, that is OK? To deny my argument is to deny reality. Government gets involved in things and the price goes up (or the item becomes more scarce). That is what history has shown. AZ through its licensure laws made it so doctors from other states couldn’t come and help the poor here. We could go through tons of examples and prove that it is so.

    And this is as much of a threadjack as talking about birth control. The OP is about sexism and political hypocrisy.

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  32. SilverRain on November 1, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Jon, inundating me with quotes is really cute, but as anyone who has discussed things with me before knows it is not a good tactic to use. I think for myself. I don’t need the thoughts of others to support me.

    And all you did besides introduce side concepts was support half my point, which is that laws are morally based.

    But let me ask you this: what is the point of having a law that isn’t enforced? Do you really think that everyone on this earth will bend to law because it is reasonable or right? At some point, you have to be willing to use force on others to make them comply. Otherwise, what you have is a pretty set of good ideas, not law.

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  33. SilverRain on November 1, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    One other thing: I’ve heard the arguments of “natural law” or “natural rights” before. But those are, in the end, not as intrinsic as people want to think. The only truly natural law has natural consequences, and there would be no need to put it into written law in the first place.

    The DoI and Constitution put forth “natural law” that all the participants had more or less agreed SHOULD be natural. It is a moral code that underpins this country. So you can’t take the stance that we shouldn’t impose our morals on others. That is a patently nonsensical approach to lawmaking that ignores the reality that ALL law is based on morality.

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  34. Jon on November 1, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    @SilverRain,

    My point in posting the quotes was to show that a system for a higher ethical standard for laws has existed for quite some time, the founding of this country was based on it, without it there is no reason to say that we could have seceding from Great Britain.

    I agree it is important to think for oneself, but it is also important to hear ideas from other people and to consider them too. If we didn’t do that then none of us would even have ideas worth considering. If that wasn’t the case then what would be the point of even posting your comments? It is to discuss ideas and try and find a better way, isn’t it? So, what is wrong with quotes? It is the same thing, it exposes us to more ideas to consider and help us to “think for ourselves” better.

    Yes, laws need an ethical base, not necessarily a moral base. These two words are interchanged quite a bit. When I say ethical what I mean is universal, morals don’t necessarily need to be universal. Like not smoking if a moral, not an ethic. The right to marry is an ethic, not a moral. To have only people of opposite sex be able to marry is a moral not an ethic.

    In order for people to get along better it is important to only create laws that are ethical, i.e., universal in nature.

    I never said that we shouldn’t be able to enforce ethical laws. I agree that we need to. As long as that enforcement is also ethical, i.e., universal. Like MLK said, if a law isn’t ethical then we have no justification for needing to follow said law neither should anyone enforce said law. But if it is ethical then we do need to follow the law and it needs to be enforced.

    I also agree that natural law needs to have natural consequences. If someone steals from me and I hire someone to get my money back and have the person pay for their infringement of my rights is a natural consequence of theft.

    I agree that a common consent on what is natural law is important but this should not be conflated with a tyranny of the majority. A majority can make all sorts of laws that are contrary to what is true natural law which is derived using logic and reason, that doesn’t make those laws right. A majority in this country has said that they want to prohibit people that want to use marijuana for medical purposes, but that doesn’t make that law ethical, just because the majority wants it.

    To say it is ethical is to say that my family has more people in it than my neighbor, therefore, I can say that we take a vote, my neighbor loses and now we can take his home, because we voted on it. That is nonsensical. Not all law is based on morality nor is it based on ethics. To say otherwise is to justify tyrants that oppress their people all over the world.

    I think Rothbard said it best:

    It is also contended that, in democratic governments, the act of voting makes the government and all its works and powers truly “voluntary.” Again, there are many fallacies with this popular argument. In the first place, even if the majority of the public specifically endorsed each and every particular act of the government, this would simply be majority tyranny rather than a voluntary act undergone by every person in the country. Murder is murder, theft is theft, whether undertaken by one man against another, or by a group, or even by the majority of people within a given territorial area. The fact that a majority might support or condone an act of theft does not diminish the criminal essence of the act or its grave injustice. Otherwise, we would have to say, for example, that any Jews murdered by the democratically elected Nazi government were not murdered, but only “voluntarily committed suicide”—surely, the grotesque but logical implication of the “democracy as voluntary” doctrine. Secondly, in a republic as contrasted to a direct democracy, people vote not for specific measures but for “representatives” in a package deal; the representatives then wreak their will for a fixed length of time. In no legal sense, of course, are they truly “representatives” since, in a free society, the principal hires his agent or representative individually and can fire him at will.

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  35. Anon on November 1, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Re #26: “I’m not inclined to change the abortion laws either after reading Freakonomics”

    I have also read Freakonomics and understand the social ramifications you refer to, but I don’t understand any reasonably moral person advocating the evil, evil, evil practice of killing unborn children in order to cut crime, or for any other reason. If you pray, maybe you should ask God how He feels about abortion. I swear we as a nation have completely lost our way. Legal abortion is a national tragedy.

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  36. SilverRain on November 1, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Jon, there is nothing wrong with quotes. I admire people with a library of quotes to discuss. What is wrong is machine-gunning quotes and expecting them to essentially stand for themselves. It is condescending and a light form of ideological bullying.

    There is no such thing as universal ethics. There is nothing, NOTHING under the sun that all people agree upon. If such a thing did exist, there would be no reason to make a law about it because everyone would follow it.

    So what “universal” actually boils down to is “morality of the majority.” When you pretend differently, it essentially gives you license to vilify anyone with a differing moral stance than yours.

    The right to marry, to use your example, is actually neither ethical nor moral, though to whom a society extends that right is certainly morally motivated. The right to marry is a license granted by a society to validate a sexual relationship, presumably because society has an interest in stabilizing sexual relationships. You can’t intelligently pigeonhole one person’s beliefs into “morality” vs. “ethcis” and therefore diminish its value. THAT, in my mind is an unethical moral position.

    All law is based on someone’s ideal of what is moral, what is “right.”

    But you are making it quite clear that you have used your understanding of morality and ethics to boil complex issues into black-and-white justification.

    And since I really don’t like wasting my time in “discussion” with people who seem more interested in preaching, I’m out.

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  37. Jon on November 1, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    SilverRain,

    Interpret my words as you will I suppose.

    Universal ethics are derived using logic and reason. It doesn’t need to be agreed upon. For them to be implemented they need to be agreed upon. But this is the same for anything. For a society to be civil the society needs to agree upon a certain type of ethics otherwise it becomes lawless no matter how many “laws” one makes. Hence why in the USA federal prosecutors play a game (or at least used to) where they figured out how many crimes they could prosecute Mother Theresa with. I wouldn’t call that moral nor ethical nor rule of law, I think that is called chaos and tyranny. But, if you want to call it moral because it would be preachy not to do so, that is fine.

    So what “universal” actually boils down to is “morality of the majority.” When you pretend differently, it essentially gives you license to vilify anyone with a differing moral stance than yours.

    Yes, I’ll vilify Hitler, if you want to call him moral, that is your choice I suppose, after all, he was an elected leader.

    Hope that was a reasonable response. I’m doing my best to be measured and respectful in my response (I had to delete some things :) ).

    I don’t recall preaching at all. But I suppose if you consider talking about morals and ethics preaching then I guess the whole conversation was preaching.

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  38. FireTag on November 1, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Jon:

    Gravity is a universal law, but you can’t get even professional physicists to exactly agree on how it works. Your point about the universal nature of moral law may be valid, and there may be a perfect system of government (or if you prefer, un-government) that can be derived from it, but you really overreach if you claim to understand it so much better that no one can logically conclude differently about the content of the underlying natural law.

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  39. Jon on November 1, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    FireTag,

    Yes, and first things first it would be nice if people actually believed that a universal ethics system exists. Right now people don’t even believe in the existence of gravity let alone what that means. It seems right now people believe in the tyranny of the majority. I think this is a direct consequence of children being taught in government schools – that everything is relative and that right and wrong don’t exist. I agree with C. S. Lewis on that point, it is a dangerous proposition to make everything relativistic.

    So, tell me FireTag, do you believe that a universal law might exist? It would be nice to know that I’m not the only person that comments on W&Ts that believes that there could be something that is greater than us all when it comes to ethics. It’s deeply troubling to me, it used to be a Christian ethic (I’m sure not all, but much more than today – it seems the Christians that believe in natural law are those that home educate their children), from what I understand.

    This will be my last discussion on the topic as I’ll be unsubscribing from W&Ts after the next post.

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  40. FireTag on November 1, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Jon:

    I do believe that a universal ethics system may exist, but I’m also pretty sure that human beings have a pretty provincial view of what that ethics system must entail, because human beings are not that central a part of the universe. (Sorry, my RLDS/CofChrist tradition does not infer the notion that God is a physical human from the First Vision any more than we infer that God is made of cellulose from Moses’ experience with the burning bush; what form God takes on to deal with us is not conclusive of what He is.)

    I’m sure you’ve noticed my gravatar. You may have read my explanation of why I chose it. If not, I explained it here:

    http://thefirestillburning.wordpress.com/about/

    To summarize it, if there is a universal ethics code, only God is great enough to grasp it, and He is definitely NOT playing by rules any human is likely to come up with. A majority of humans may be only marginally better, and you are welcome to reject their conclusions, but marginally better counts for something, IMO.

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  41. Jon on November 2, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    Firetag,

    I don’t understand, from a scriptural point of view, what the purpose of having a God if he doesn’t reveal to us truth. In the scriptures God says he will reveal truth. In the Book of Mormon he says the Nephites lived the natural law (i.e., law of God). He commands us to live a certain standard but then doesn’t reveal the laws to live that standard?

    I don’t think I really believe in God any more. It doesn’t make sense to me. What is the point of a law if we can’t even discover it, or have it revealed. I think there is truth that is discoverable, even with our imperfections. Just like gravity was discovered, we may have not figured it all out but the principle was discoverable. The alternative is pretty scary as SilverRain showed, to believe that people choose their own pain through consent – I don’t think it was chosen, it was only tyranny.

    Could I be wrong? I suppose, but no one has done a good job convincing me yet. People say that I’m unwilling to change my mind just as they themselves refuse to change their minds. I didn’t start here. I learned and changed my mind to what I perceive to be good logic and reason. I’ll continue to try and learn and read ideas that are contrary to mine. I think most people refuse to read what they don’t like and end up never changing, especially as they get older – because they “already have it figured out.” I reject that sentimentality.

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  42. SilverRain on November 2, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    Jon, don’t put words in my mouth please. It shows how little you understand my point.

    I fully believe in a universal morality. I also believe that the more people we have looking for it together, the closer we can get to it. In the absence of God running the country, so-called “tyranny of the majority” is far better than tyranny of the few.

    What I don’t believe is that I understand it, nor that it can only be understood by application of human reason.

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  43. Jon on November 2, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    There is no such thing as universal ethics.
    —–
    So what “universal” actually boils down to is “morality of the majority.”

    If you want to modify your position that is fine. I just read what you write and I know that writing is imperfect. But from what I was going off of and considering you didn’t want to debate it any longer I think I was led to believe that you don’t believe in anything universal. I’ve tried to understand but if you don’t want to put in words what you believe then I work with what I got.

    So, let me get this straight. You believe that there is a universal morality. But no one can understand it but God? And God doesn’t give us understanding of this universal because God likes us hurting one another? God isn’t a God of logic and reason like D&C says? If he is a god of logic and reason then why can’t people discover it?

    This sounds like the argument the Catholic church used to say that the earth is flat and that man couldn’t figure out if it wasn’t or not. I know this isn’t what you believe, but some clarification would be nice.

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  44. Jon on November 2, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    BTW SilverRain, Tyranny of the majority isn’t really a majority because the politicians aren’t voted in by the majority neither do they do the will of the majority even when they enact laws. Take Obamacare for instance and the financial bailouts. Both were opposed by the majority of Americans according to polls. So, it is actually tyranny of the minority, democracy, the god that failed.

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  45. FireTag on November 2, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Jon:

    Consider a quote from, I believe, Haldane: “The universe is not only stranger than we suppose; it is stranger than we CAN suppose.”

    We are a young species, occupying less than .00001 of the time since the big bang. If we survive long enough to “grow up”, we’ll know a lot more. But assuming we know all about morality is like imagining toddlers discussing foreign policy. We may get a few of the simpler principles right, but there isn’t going to be much nuance about having “cooties”.

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  46. Jon on November 2, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    FireTag,

    In most fields of science we don’t know everything but we know enough to make use of the laws and theories to apply them to our daily lives. The chips on my computer and being able to communicate around the world is proof of that. So what I’m trying to say is that we don’t need to know everything to start applying the principles of natural law.

    Unfortunately it seems we live at a time when people view the earth as “flat.” I thought we were past that. So, at this point, we know some of the foundations of natural law, we don’t understand all the nuances. But it would be nice if people started to believe that the world is spherical, then it would be nice if we would actually start applying some of the basic principles of natural law.

    I really think generations of government schools have schooled it out of us. I think with the internet, the new Gutenberg press is revolutionizing the movement to understand these things, sometimes I wish it would happen even faster though, a lot of people are getting hurt.

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