Listen to this to take a break from the horse race coverage. An interview with the host of "Issues For Your Tissues", domestic terrorism, and an advertising round-up.
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On this episode of Reality Check, we’ll be wrapping up this year’s election coverage on the podcast. Our interviewee is the host of Austin’s public radio show about reproductive rights, and I’ll also talk about campaign advertising and more on domestic terrorism.
Samantha Bee on "The Daily Show" did a segment on John McCain’s moment in the debate where he used scare quotes around the concept of women’s health.
- daily show *
One thing this election has done well is it’s helped educate people about all the various things that can go wrong with a pregnancy that require later term abortions.
Often when talking to people about politics, they’ll express the sentiment to me that the election can’t get any crazier. And like the cock-eyed optimist that I am, I beg to differ. We shouldn’t put a limit on what heights of lunacy that Americans can reach during this election season. We are a creative people, after all.
McCain and Palin finally gave in to Brian Williams’ request for an interview, and it proved my theory correct. Williams asked a simple question.
- abortion terrorist *
A terrorist is someone who commits terrorism. According to the dictionary, terrorism is, "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes". The belief that women should be forced to bear children against their will as a way to control their sexuality and keep them as second class citizens is a political stance. So if you threaten, firebomb, or vandalize clinics, or shoot doctors, you are committing acts of terrorism. It’s almost kind of silly for Williams to ask this, akin to asking if the sky is blue.
But during the silly season, you couldn’t get a politician to sign onto the belief that the sky is blue if they feel that a huge percentage of their base are religious fundamentalists who believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that the sky is lime green.
- abortion terrorist 2 *
Here’s the thing: Since the bombings started, we’ve been firmly instructed not to link the people who actually bomb clinics and shoot doctors with the mainstream anti-choicers scream at women and want to ban condoms. The mainstream anti-choicers are horrible, but they aren’t the sort of people who support shooting doctors, right?
Sarah Palin didn’t get the memo, then. Because if the people who support doctor-shooting are a vanishingly small minority, and your workaday crazy anti-choicer is repulsed by clinic bombing, then who would she offend by calling clinic bombers terrorists? It’s obvious that she thinks the numbers of anti-choicers who quietly support clinic bombing is large indeed, enough that she has to protect their feelings.
The fact of the matter is she wouldn’t be entirely wrong. In years after Eric Rudolph went on his famous bombing spree and hid in the backwoods of North Carolina, he received a lot of community support, according to Crime Library. People put up signs bragging about helping Rudolph and told reporters that they approved of his murdering. Consider then that North Carolina is a swing state.
The fact of the matter is the anti-choice movement is rife with vigilante sentiment. There’s something about misogyny that makes its adherents want to be hands on. That’s the motivation driving the anti-contraception pharmacists who want to have the opportunity to scold you for buying condoms in an effort to escape the womanly fate god has planned for you. Jessica Valenti made a recent video cast about this.
- anti-choice pharmacists *
It’s interesting, because to the public and for legal purposes, anti-choice pharmacists pretend that they believe that the birth control pill is abortion. But this most recent pharmacy shows how much of that is just a plain old lie, because the pharmacy also refuses to stock condoms. Are condoms abortion? No, not even the craziest wingnut would say that. The fact of the matter was this was never about babies. It’s about sex and control. Which is why folk hero to the hard right Eric Rudolph targeted not just abortion clinics but gay clubs, even though there are no abortions being performed in gay clubs. Condoms, however, were probably on the premises.
- insert interview *
Since this is the last podcast before the election, I figured I’d do one last ad round-up covering what campaign ads are covering sexual and reproductive health issues. First off, Prop 8 in California, which would ban same sex marriage and annul already existing same sex marriages, has been the source of heavy advertising. A lot of people are putting a lot of money into this hotly contested ballot proposition.
The best ads, for my money, are the ones that mimick the Apple vs. PC ads.
- prop 8 ad 1 *
Clever. It rightly paints opponents of gay marriage as uptight whiners who are hysterical over something that isn’t their business. Anti-prop 8 ads have brought in star power, too. Ellen Degeneres, so famous that she goes by just her first name, has done just such an ad.
- prop 8 ad 2 *
I like it because she draws attention to the fact that her already existing marriage will be annulled if people vote yes on Prop 8. Taking something away from people that they already have seems even worse than preventing them from having it in the first place.
I was going to play an opposition ad to show you how unfair and silly they’re being, but I’ll do you one better. A group of people took one opposition ad and replaced the words same-sex and gay with the word interracial, so you can see what’s really going on here.
- prop 8 ad 3 *
Of course, in Colorado you have a ballot initiative to grant the status of personhood to fertilized eggs. Many people who want to vote yes just think of this as a backdoor way to ban abortion. They don’t realize that it’s an assault on birth control and perhaps a way to make you criminally liable if you miscarry. And it’s openly anti-childbirth. Illinois politician Jill Morganthaler describes that potential downfall from a similar bill that was presented in Illinois.
- fertilized egg *
Sometimes they have to make dozens, because many don’t live. Will women who use in-vitro fertilization be prosecuted if their bodies reject any?
Now for the dueling abortion ads. A Minnesota ad against Al Franken parades out the anti-choice belief that abortion is killing children.
- anti-choice ad *
Another ad from the How Much Time Campaign calls the anti-choice bluff, pointing out that if abortion is killing children and should be banned as murder, that makes 30-40% of American women murderers who should go to jail.
- how much time *
Of course, anti-choicers say they wouldn’t prosecute women for abortion. But if you kill a child, you are a murderer. That’s beyond dispute. So how come they don’t think child-killers are murderers in this case? I have to conclude they don’t actually think abortion is child-killing.
One last ad I really found powerful was an ad highlighting Joe Biden’s work fighting violence against women. I liked it because it showed how hard it is for abused women to leave.
- insert vawa *
And then he shot her. Thankfully she recovered. Thankfully it happened after the Violence Against Women Act was passed, which ensured that her attacker got 25 years in prison, making his victim safe. Finally.
And remember, after this week, we get to go a whole year, maybe more, before campaign commercials start up again.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts. Bill Cunningham, a Clear Channel radio host, accused poor women of deliberately refusing to take birth control to bilk the state out of money.
- welfare moms *
Even from the pace and cadence of his voice, you can tell he’s reciting a fairy tale, not actually speaking about a verifiable reality.
If poor women were truly refusing to use birth control so they could get welfare checks, then the abortion rate wouldn’t be as high as it is, full stop. Even anti-choice organizations note that high percentage of women having abortion report that they can’t afford to have a baby, which wouldn’t be true if babies were the gravy train that Cunningham claims they are.
Tune in next week for the first post-election Reality Cast. And, regardless who you vote for, I’d urge you to hit the polls and make your voice heard. If you see any problems at your polling station, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE and report the problem. Our democracy works best if everyone has a voice.