All Things Sex and Pop Culture


Alyssa Rosenberg talks all things sex and pop culture. The right reacts poorly to Obama’s support of gay marriage. An examination of the controversy over wrongful death lawsuits.

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Limbaugh pretends he’s under assault

Huckabee throws a tantrum

Bill Donohue and the naturalistic fallacy

Clay Aiken calls it like it is

Wrongful birth

Mississippi legislator is clear: he doesn’t care if women die of illegal abortion

On this episode of Reality Cast, Alyssa Rosenberg will be on to talk about sex, contraception and pop culture. President Obama causes right wing media to lose their minds. And is it wise to ban wrongful birth lawsuits?

I’m going to be talking about the right wing response to Obama’s announcement that he favors same-sex marriage for the first segment, but in a warm-up, I have to point out that a lot of conservatives evaded the question of gay marriage altogether, and just claimed that this was naked political maneuvering. Jon Stewart responded:

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I still find it amusing that so many right wing pundits hold it as an article of faith that Obama is committing a grievous sin by actually conducting a campaign. By far the most common complaint about him is he takes measures to appeal to voters. Why do they think that he and he alone doesn’t have a right to actually campaign when he’s campaigning? I think we can all take a shot and get pretty close to the truth of that.

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So, President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage. You may have heard. It’s a pretty big deal even though there’s no real policy implications right now. The administration was already doing as much as they really could with the power they have, so this was more of a President showing leadership moment. It also, as you can imagine, created a five alarm fire of fury in the right wing media. All of which I rounded up so you don’t have to sit through talk radio and Fox News yourself.

Naturally, Rush Limbaugh responded as he usually does, with language that implies a personal, visceral sense that he’s being physically assaulted. In Limbaugh’s world, all sex ever is about is assault and power—hurting others, being hurt yourself, and just dirtiness in general. That came across in his reaction.

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To paraphrase Jon Stewart, does Rush think that he has to get gay married? This “putting it in our face” language is really common amongst people who want to say homophobic things but not get called out on it. The argument behind it is that their bigotry is only a problem if they actually say something about it. And by demanding rights, gays are forcing them to say something about it, therefore it’s somehow gays’ fault that they’re bigots. Of course, the actual reality is that bigotry, whether quiet or loud, is not acceptable. If you don’t like people thinking you’re a bigot, don’t be a bigot. That you can be provoked to say and do bigoted things is your fault, not the fault of people who just want their rights. Believe me, Rush. Having to acknowledge that gay people are  human beings is not an assault on you. Not being allowed to visit your partner of 30 years in the hospital because you’re not legally married is.

 Of course, then you had the right wingers who decided that Bible-thumping was the appropriate response. Mike Huckabee was right in there, arguing that 21st century politics should be determined by myths created by people thousands of years ago, before they had science, democracy, medicine, or literacy. Huckabee took umbrage to the claim that opponents of gay marriage are on the wrong side of history.

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Okay, let’s review. His evidence that history is against gay marriage is the creationist myth in the Bible that evolutionary theory has neatly disproved. And also another Biblical myth about mythological cities that there’s no evidence existed, and which were supposedly destroyed by the wrath of angels. And his third piece of evidence is a vague reference to the Roman and Greek empires, neither of which had gay marriage and both of which lasted longer than the American empire has so far. Okay.

Here’s the reality: The only argument he has is what he claims God believes. Well, this country has freedom of religion and separation of church and state. We don’t have to make laws based on what Huckabee’s god supposedly believes.

Bill Donohue was busting out an even more illogical argument.

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Arguments from nature are by far the most irritating logical fallacy, because it should be obvious why it’s false and yet, people still go this well. Bluntly put, there is no such thing as “not natural” or “unnatural”. We know gay people are natural for a very simple reason, which is they exist. If something exists, it’s in nature. If you want law to reflect “nature”, then law has to reflect the reality that exists. And that reality is that gay people exist and they want to get married.

Clay Aiken scolded noted homophobe Tony Perkins, and basically summed up what I think of all this nonsense.

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I think that’s exactly right. Which is why I see the people taking a stand on this and I have to wonder about them. They have to know they’re going to be seen as the villains of history, right? So why do they persist?

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One of the weirdest parts about following the reproductive rights debate is watching all the increasingly baroque legal maneuverings of the anti-choice movement. The stuff they come up with in an attempt to take away women’s basic rights to sexual and bodily autonomy is just astounding. NPR covered one such maneuver that’s going on in a number of states.

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It’s such a small, weird thing to go after, because it’s such a weird, small thing. Most doctors aren’t anti-choice, and most doctors don’t want to deprive their patients of important health information. These lawsuits are, as noted, rare. But this isn’t really about the lawsuits themselves. It’s about creating a legal infrastructure that undermines women’s bodily autonomy. It’s about making it legal for a third party to basically force you to have a baby if you don’t want. Once it’s established in this case, I imagine they’ll look for other ways to create legal precedent that brings an end to the idea that women own their bodies, at least while pregnant.

By and large, any effort to keep people from seeking recourse in courts for injustice should be treated with skepticism. It’s usually rooted in the idea that the people who might sue don’t have basic rights. Kari Ann Rinker of Kansas NOW talked to NPR about this bill.

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Forbidding someone to seek recourse when they’ve been done wrong is basically saying that the wrong thing wasn’t wrong. Anti-choicers are basically saying that the law should let doctors make the choice for women of whether or not to give birth, which means that they’re trying to say that women’s bodies belong to doctors and not themselves. Again, this is part of a larger attempt to create legal precedents that hold that all sorts of people—doctors, family members, husbands, conservative lawmakers—are the rightful owners of women’s bodies, and not the women themselves.

In the immediate future, there’s the very sad results that come about when families aren’t given the opportunity to abort pregnancies that go very wrong.

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A horrible tragedy could have been minimized or averted, depending on how you look at it. Either way, it’s a far better option than forcing the child and the parents to go through this horror. For no real reason, except to create a legal infrastructure that holds that women aren’t really people.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, yes, it’s all just about punishing female sexuality edition. Republican state legislator Bubba Carpenter has words for those who point out that women who don’t have access to safe, legal abortion in Mississippi will just use coathangers.

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Doesn’t get more blunt than that: He shrugs off women dying and being dismembered because it’s all about “moral values”. Death and dismemberment is just what women have coming if they’re supposedly immoral enough to have sex for reasons other than procreation. Anti-choice “morality” for you, folks. 

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte