I came to the realization a few years ago that I’ve become a much calmer person than I once was. I don’t remember making a conscious decision to work on my temper – which I still have, mind you, though it’s much less likely to present itself these days.
Maybe I just grew up.
That doesn’t mean I’m immune to occasional outbursts, particularly those brought on by displays of human ignorance and stupidity. If you’re prone to reactions similar to mine in these situations, brace yourself.
If you already know who Todd Akin is and what he said last week, I won’t hold it against you if you skip this week’s column. I wouldn’t mind doing so myself.
Akin, a United States Representative of Missouri, is in the middle of a Senate campaign, one he had to confirm was still in operation after some statements he made. I refuse to call the statements “controversial,” which is a far too easy and lenient word to use in describing what he said.
The quote, after Akin was asked to describe his stance on the availability of abortion for rape victims:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
Reading it again made me boil.
First: I’d like Akin to identify these “doctors” who told him that a woman who has been raped is less likely to become pregnant than one who had consensual sex.
Second: I want to know if those “doctors” are the same “doctors” who told Akin that a woman’s body can prevent conception by sheer force of will.
Third: I want Akin to describe the difference between “legitimate rape” and what I presume he consideres “illegitimate rape.”
Like him or not, President Obama said it best: “Rape is rape.”
Fourth: Punishing the rapist and having an abortion are not mutually exclusive. If a rape victim decides to have an abortion, the rapist doesn’t get a free pass. Be against abortion. That’s fine. Don’t make it sound like the people responsible for arresting, prosecuting and possibly convicting a rapist are the same people responsible for deciding if abortion should or shouldn’t be legal.
Akin has been under heavy fire for these statements. He’s apologized, although in the process he provided another interesting quote that I’d like to parse:
“I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize.”
What kind of apology is that? Is there a reasonable context in which a person can use the wrong words in the right way?
A significant portion of Akin’s Republican brethren – many consituents, several elected officials, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky – have said Akin should step aside. In the end, the voters will make that decision for him if he decides to remain in the race.
At least I’d hope so. If not, I imagine it’ll damage my calm.
Justin McGill is executive editor of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.