“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Monday, August 20, 2012

Misspoken Is....

Well, I hadn't intended
To bend the rules
But whiskey don't make liars
It just makes fools
So I didn't mean to say it
But I meant what I said

~ James McMurtry, "Too long in the wasteland"

Let’s talk about the word “Misspoken.”  I know. It’s been in the news too much. Maybe you are even tired of it. We get that way pretty quick, right. The news bombards us with a story until we are sick of it and shut down. But in this  case the implications of shutting down rather than taking the time to really understand this holds significant implications for all of us. Hang in there.

My daughter (and yes, this makes a mother’s heart proud) wrote,

 I have misspoken if my statement offends anyone and it compromises my popularity. In which case it is obvious that I have "misspoken" and those affected should suffer no offence as a result of my earlier statement.

She gets it. In fact her quote actually started by calling the person most recently in news for having misspoken, an a**.  I tend to refrain from such words…but her point is well taken.

No doubt the headlines have me shaking my head. Silly me - to think that we are becoming a more informed, aware, educated people. In case you missed it I’m referring to the words spoken by Congressman Akin of Missouri regarding conception and rape. The Rachel Maddow Show sums it all up well. I really didn’t mean to copy her entire post, but she says it so very well that I see no point in rewriting it:

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), a U.S. Senate candidate, explaining his unique perspective on biology and sexual health:

"[F]rom what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare," Akin told a St. Louis TV station. "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."
So, as Akin sees it, forcing a woman to carry her rapist's baby to term is fine, but it doesn't much matter because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" -- if it's a "legitimate" rape. What's more, contrary to the congressman's claims, rape-related pregnancies occur "with significant frequency."

Akin issued a statement arguing that he "misspoke," but he didn't apologize, it's not clear which part he didn't intend to say, and Akin didn't renounce any of his specific claims.
And what about Romney/Ryan? Akin's scandal matters more to the Republican ticket than you might think.

President Obama's re-election team has been hammering both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for being so extreme on reproductive rights, so Akin's timing certainly doesn't help the national GOP candidates, and it's one of the reasons Romney/Ryan was quick to say late yesterday that the ticket "disagrees" with Akin's comments, adding that "a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape."

But even that's problematic -- this new stated position appears to contradict Ryan's previous position on the rape and incest exception.

And then there's the legislative problem. Remember the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act"?
In January 2011, one of the very first bills pushed by House Republicans, launched almost immediately after they took the majority, was something called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." While existing law already restricts public funding for abortions, the law makes exceptions for impregnated rape victims -- and GOP lawmakers decided it was time to limit what can legally be considered "rape."

Specifically, Republican proponents said the exception would only apply to "forcible" rape. If the law had passed, for example, a 13-year-old girl who was impregnated by a 24-year-old man would not be able to use Medicaid funds to terminate the pregnancy, unless she could prove she'd been "forcibly" raped.
The idea that Republicans would try to redefine rape became so controversial that the effort was quietly scuttled. But who were among the original cosponsors of the legislation? Todd Akin and his good pal, Paul Ryan.

Claiming to have misspoken does not change the reality that the words were said.  Worse yet, stating that one has misspoken as IF that alone is enough to rectify this leaves me drop-jawed.

I find it equally astonishing that this man serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In fact I emailed them yesterday and requested that he be removed from the committee. You can too if you go  here:  http://science.house.gov/contact-us/email-us

It is not enough that he issued a statement saying he “misspoke” – for that is an empty sentiment. He meant what he said.

Words matter.