Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Freedom of Ignorance

Carpetbagger has a post about yet another Republican-generated scandal which was created entirely from their inability to comprehend things. In particular, some nimrod misread a report and thought the government paid $1.19 million for two pounds of ham, when they actually bought 760,000 pounds of two pound hams. And so every rightwinger who heard this went apeshit, finally having that nut they were looking to hit Obama with; completely unable to use critical thinking skills long enough to bother fact checking any of it.

And as I joked in a comment, I can't wait until I visit my folks for Thanksgiving and listen while my dad makes a few jokes about how we're having turkey because Obama made ham so expensive. And I'll have a polite smile on my face while I try to explain the truth to him, but he'll insist that he read the original contract and it was all there: Ten million dollars for one ham (yes, like a bad game of Telephone, he'll have goofed the details). And even if I get him to realize the truth, by Christmas, he'll be saying the same damn thing. That's just how it works.

But all the same, these sort of goofs are absolutely HORRIBLE for conservatives. While the base gobbles it up, anyone who isn't fervently anti-Obama will smell a hoax, which will create yet another divide between the sane and insane in our nation. It's been a long, long time since Republicans have truly benefited from a fake scandal.

Forced Abortion on Demand

But what's sad is that this actually describes a discussion I had with my dad on abortion when I visited a few weeks ago. This was part of the same discussion I described before, in which my father seemed uncomfortable with the idea of criminalizing abortion and didn't seem to realize that this was the position of his church and political party. Somehow, he never connected the anti-abortion position with any action he expected the government to do about it. It was about saving babies, not imprisoning doctors, nurses, or mothers for murder.

And in that discussion, he railed against the Freedom of Choice Act, which he demonized as supporting "abortion on demand" and asked me if I supported that. And I said that I naturally did. In fact, I can't quite figure out what's so scary about the phrase "abortion on demand." They use the phrase as if it's an ultimate evil, as if a mother could demand that other mothers get an abortion. Or perhaps the government would do forced abortions; which is the exact opposite of abortion on demand. But I stood my ground and he seemed taken aback that I would support such an evil proposition as the dreaded "abortion on demand."

And that's when he brought up FOCA, which he insisted would force all hospitals and doctors to perform abortions. And I immediately pushed back, saying that this was a myth and that it didn't do that. But he insisted that he had read the bill and it did exactly that. Now, knowing my father, I knew it was absolutely impossible that he read the actual bill; and that, more likely, he read a "paraphrase" of the bill in the stupid emails he gets all the time. Not that it's a long bill, but all the same, I was quite sure he hadn't really read it.

Catholics Debunk FOCA Lies

And so I actually had to go on Wikipedia and read the damn thing to him, particularly the part about how the Catholic News Service opposes the legislation but definitely doesn't think this will affect Catholic hospitals.

As the head of the Catholic Health Association said:
the legislation "has never contained anything that would force Catholic hospitals or Catholic personnel to do abortions or to participate in them."
Yet, my dad didn't know any of this. In fact, my ability to use the internet to research things absolutely amazed him. Not that he's technologically illiterate, as he was a computer expert going back into the early 70's and even now accesses the internet on his phone on a regular basis. He knows how to pay his bills online, but doing research on positions he firmly holds...inconceivable.

So he read the scary emails and I'm sure listened to radio shows which also got their information from the scary emails, and that was the end of it. No further research required than an anonymous email that even Catholic leaders reject. I swear, those wingnut emails are more influential than the Pope, even among Catholics.

Lies Upon Lies

Those emails also contain such insanity as suggesting that it'll lead to a future amendment which will "force women by law to have abortions in certain situations (rape, Down syndrome babies, etc.) and could even regulate how many children women are allowed to have." And that's probably what my dad thinks "abortion on demand" means. Slate's Melinda Henneberger actually promoted the moronic theory that Catholic churches would rather shutdown than perform abortions, and wouldn't even sell their hospitals to non-Catholics; an absolutely insane theory that CHA also firmly disputes.

The misinformation is just piled on here, with lies upon lies upon lies. Here's a crazy anti-FOCA website which lists all the "irreparable danger" FOCA will create, and uses a quote from Planned Parenthood to confirm that it's all true. But of course, PP's quote mentions everything except forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, which is the only truly scary item on the list. BTW, one of the funniest parts of all this is to read the horrors if parental notification laws are repealed. As if it requires more maturity to abort a child than to raise one.

But again, the sad thing is that these emails are far more influential than anything any of us can do. We can use internet to correct these lies, but all the same, the crazy will flow right back in like sand in a hole and they'll have forgotten everything we said; thanks partly to these anonymous emails. Not because they believe these emails to be the irrefutable word of God, but merely because the emails finally provide a reason for why these people hate Obama so much. They know they hate Obama. They just need to figure out why.

1 comment:

Mike Goldman said...

They don't need to figure out why they hate Obama. They know why they hate Obama. They just can't say the reason they hate Obama. So they have to come up with other excuses.