Monday, March 05, 2012


The original cry of the feminist was "we don't need your help, we're just as strong and independent as you!" Now its "we have to have the government do everything for us or we can't make it!!!"

If you're like me, you've noticed a trend in modern culture. Someone is being a jerk, or doing something wrong and everyone looks the other way and mutters to themselves. One person stands up and says "look, what you're doing is wrong and you should stop." Immediately the response is to attack, shame, and demonize the one who said something. Its not the bad guy who's at fault here, its the one who made them feel bad about themselves. A total reversal has taken place.

There was a time when if you did something shameful, you'd get shamed for it, hopefully learn, and not do it any longer. Now if you do something shameful, you get a pass and anyone who criticizes or brings it up is shamed into silence.

Which segues us into Rush Limbaugh's unfortunate week. He called Ms Flake a slut and a whore which based on the given evidence seems plausible, and in less than a week, apologized for it after losing advertisers. Think about that a moment.

Ms Flake sat before congress and testified to the whole world on camera about how she was having so much sex with so many people she was spending a thousand dollars a year on birth control medication. Shameless and immodest, to say the least. This is not proper behavior for anyone, male or female.

Rush Limbaugh calls her on it, and what happens? The woman who is shameless gets defended and lionized, she gets a complimentary call from the president of the United States. And Rush Limbaugh gets shamed and attacked. How dare he notice.

The reversal is stark: what was once bad is now good. And I think I know where this comes from. Guilt and desire.

People see this woman being shamed and think back to their lives, wondering how shameful they might have been and how bad they would feel if they were in her place. I Slept around when I was in college, was I a slut, too?

I remember reading a comment somewhere that told a story. He said a couple guys were sitting around with a girl talking and she bragged about how she'd slept with two guys on the same day. She woke up next to her first lover, then met another guy and had sex with him while the other guy was asleep. Upon seeing the looks on the guy's faces she suddenly had an attack of conscience blurting "I'm not a slut am I?"

Well, yes.

Now, its not polite to call someone a name like that. Its rude, and perhaps its even unfair. But if you're going to give people the strong impression that you're a certain way, don't get upset and shocked if they conclude that yes, you are that way. They aren't the bad guy for noticing.

Some behavior is actually wrong and even totally secular, atheist sociologists and psychologists are starting to write about how bad it is for people - especially girls to live that kind of lifestyle. How it damages their esteem and future, how it hurts them and changes their personality and outlook. How it is bad for them to live that kind of life. Its almost as if - shocking I know - the old traditional way of doing things wasn't so horribly wrong and oppressive after all.

But we live in a culture where sex dominates everything, from politics to religion to entertainment to work, all parts of society. College students study sex, TV shows bring it up in the most unrelated places. Having sex with whoever you want, however you want, as often as you want, in any place you want is all but considered a divine right, and no one can question it. If someone dares to say "are you sure that's wise?" they are attacked and shamed for bringing it up.

Because you might make someone feel bad and feeling good is the primary goal and highest achievement in life. Once again, if you strip away every future and transcendent hope of reward and future positive, all that's left is the here and now. If there's no reason to do right for the future, people won't do right in the present. They'll do what they feel like doing. And in a world without anything but what we can feel and experience and measure, suddenly what makes me happy, healthy, and comfortable now is the highest end of man.

See, this isn't so much about contraceptives for me, that's irrelevant to the story. Its about culture and what has happened to us as a people. There are plenty of arguments as to why the Obama mandate to force someone to cover a specific service are wrong. A commenter on Right Wing News called Baoxian explained this well:
Birth control is a MacGuffin in this argument. It's irrelevant. Meaningless. Has nothing to do with the actual issue at hand.

The entire issue is whether the government has the power to force an organization to a) provide a service, and b) provide a service that they are religiously opposed to providing.

The answer is a resounding "no". The government has no Constitutional power to mandate nuances of insurance plan coverage, nor can it make such a mandate when it is in opposition to the religious convictions of the target of the imposition.

Nothing is being banned. No woman anywhere is being denied access to anything. This is all about the government forcing people to pay for something against their wishes, and against the terms of a voluntary business contract.

Liberals make it an argument about birth control because it brings emotion into the debate and obscures the core issue. The Obama mandate and conservative response has noting to do with birth control, and everything to do with rights and power.

What's being covered is irrelevant, the problem is twofold. First, the federal government has absolutely no constitutional power or ethical permission to force insurers to cover specific procedures or services. That's completely illegal for them and is a serious violation of rights.

Second, the US Constitution specifically prohibits violating someone's conscience and freedom of religion. While the government can ban someone from doing something that is deemed bad or illegal, they cannot require someone to do something they consider wrong.

This principle has extended quite a ways through law in US history. Certain native American tribes are able to take drugs otherwise illegal as part of their religious ceremonies. The principle of "contentious objection" to military service is so much a part of the United States that in the initial drafts of the 2nd amendment it was included, primarily to allow religious people such as Quakers to avoid violence which violated their faith.

So the issue is absolutely wrong and reprehensible, doing violence to the very basic principles of American culture, history, and law, and is unconstitutional at its core.

And that culture, which DeTocqueville noted was so strong, vibrant, and promising because of its very ethical core has lost its way and has no guiding ethical principles any longer. Having destroyed Judeo-Christian ethics, American culture now has nothing but what makes me happy right now as its basic principle.

And anyone who makes me feel bad in a culture like that is the bad guy, no matter how right they are. One of the overarching principles of the founding fathers, something they knew from experience, reason, and history to be true is that a republic can only survive if it clings to virtue. Once you abandon that, you leave yourselves inevitably in the hands of tyrants.


Eric said...

My problem with Rush's action isn't that he called her a slut, it's that he did so based on very thin evidence. A lot of reasonable people who have had experience with birth control see big gaping holes in the argument that "The only way to spend $1000 per year on bith control is to buy hundreds of dollars worth of condoms and screw many many people."

I don't have a problem with calling a slut a slut. I do have a problem with people being (justifiably) angry with this woman for her position on this issue and using it as an excuse to say horrible things about her personal life without a shred of evidence. That's what I see happening, and it makes conservatives look very bad.

Or to put it another way, if the woman had testified that she did indeed have to buy $100 worth of condoms a month to keep up with her appetite for sexual variety, and then Rush had proceeded to call her a slut, it wouldn't have been a story and he wouldn't have lost advertisers over it. It is a story because he really had no evidence or knowledge of her sexual activity, and he called her a slut anyway becasue he was angry with her stance on the issue.

Eric said...

Also, I think a lot of people do still react positively when they see someone called out over bad behavior.

I remember being a little kid and going to see a move with my dad. There was another kid in the theatre who kept kicking the back of the chair in front of him. THUD THUD THUD THUD. It was very annoying and his parents did nothing. After about 5 minutes of this, my dad got up and went over to this kids seat, tapped him on the shoulder, and quietly asked him to stop doing that. Then he sat back down, and the entire movie theatre started clapping for him. I thought my dad was Super Man.

This weekend we took my daugher to see 'The Secret World Of Arietti' at the movie theatre. About half way through the movie, this girl a few rows down from us gets a text (didn't even have her phone set to silent). She replied (beep) and gets a reply back (beepbeep) and this goes on for about 5 minutes, very annoying. Her parents dont' say a thing. I was sitting there thinking about my dad in the theatre when I was a kid, and decided what the hell... so I went over, tapped her on the shoulder, and politely asked her if she was going to continue texting if she would mind taking it outside the theatre because it was distracting people from the movie. I sat back down and, sure enough, the theatre erupted in applause. As we were leaving after the movie, the girl's mother even apologized to me. Now my daughter thinks I'm Super Man.

Anyway, your post had me thinking about this, and just thought I'd mention that SOMETIMES people still cheer for the right thing. The problem is that some things have entered a gray area in society as far as how their rightness or wrongness are viewed.

Christopher R Taylor said...

Do you seriously think that there'd have been no controversy if only she'd worded her testimony slightly differently? There was plenty in her statements to infer a great deal about her activities, even if they were all lies.

And the reaction to this wasn't based on "oh, that's mean and rude" but on political calculation, which would be true no matter what she said.

However, I agree that the society hasn't completely lost its senses, but it has largely, and increasingly, and especially when it comes to sex in any form.

Eric said...

"There was plenty in her statements to infer a great deal about her activities, even if they were all lies."

Like what? Looking over her testimony, she offers very little biographical information, and spends most of her time talking about other people.

Again, there are plenty of things to find wrong with her testimony. She seems fine with implying that she is a student when clearly that is not the case. She seems fine with taking special situations where birth control costs a lot of money and pretending like those costs are the norm. She clearly exaggerates the hardships of law school students due to lack of affordable birth control.

But I see nothing that can be used to imply anything about her sex life. In fact, I don't even see where she personally ever claimed to have spent $1000 per year on birth control. She just says it can cost that much for some law students.

Rush was having some fun at her expense because he disagrees with her politically, and he went overboard with it. He even said the words, "And in so doing I became like the people we oppose. I ended up descending to their level." He says he never really thought she was a slut.

He should be commended for apologizing, conservatives should back him on this, and we should all try to move past it and focus on the real issue: goverment opression of rights of conscience and the free market.

Eric said...

It kind of brings up an interesting problem I see on the left and the right: pundits like John Stewart or Rush Limbaugh make over the top hyperbolic commentary because they are trying to be funny, and sometimes they fail, but then some of their die hard fans take what they said literally instead of as the ironic hyperbole it was meant to be, and they start defending it to the death.

For instance, Limbaugh was trying to make a joke about Fluke being a 'prostitute' because she wants society to subsidize her sex life, i.e., what she's asking for is real close to being paid for sex, or at least close enough to try and pass off a throw-away joke. But then that joke becomes controversial and suddenly you have people defending his argument as if he really and truly meant it that way, and that forces him to go back and explain that he did not because most objective folks can see the difference between a socialist and a prostitute, even if they disagree with both professions (personally I find socialism to be the more morally suspect occupation of the two).

Christopher R Taylor said...

Come on Eric, she said she was so desperate for contraceptives she had to have help from the government, buying a thousand dollars a year on average. That's an absurd amount of contraceptive action by any definition.

Eric said...

First, I cannot find where she ever said she personally spends $1000 per year on contraception, or needs to. She said it costs some law students that much.

Second, there are situations where it can cost more than average for birth control. Before my wife went off the pill she used to spend way more than the numbers I see conservatives throwing around (and her OBGYN visits and blood work were paid by our insurance, or else we could have been close the $1000 range). Did she HAVE to use that more expensive brand? No, but it made her periods a lot easier to bear and was worth every penny.

The point is only that the cost of contraception can have very little bearing on how much sex or how many partners a person has. Rush knew this and made a bad joke about Fluke anyway becaue he didn't like her position on the issue. Even he admits this. But conservatives who continue to pretend like the only way a woman can spend $1000 on birth control is by having tons of sex with tons of different people are making fools of themselves, and are handing this issue over to Obama on a silver platter.

Anonymous said...

She said nothing about her sexual life in one way or another. But, you know, that makes for a juicier story.

ybarra said...

Totally agree with you. People are so judgmental D;

Anonymous said...

You people are being fools. This woman was demanding everyone pay for her birth control, at the most expensive choice possible, even though it is considered an evil deed by her employers. The fact that she went before congress to tell everyone about this shows a deep lack of shame, and if you think somehow she didn't mean herself I don't know what to say about your judgment.