Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sometimes Private Matters Have Public Relevance

I really can't stand Republicans. Well let me correct that. I can't stand the Republican Party. There are some perfectly fine and kind people who for reasons beyond my comprehension think that's the way to vote. That's how democracy works and I'm glad they have that right.

The thing that bothers me about what the Republican Party has become is that it seems to preach a kind of Democracy in which only their rights and beliefs count, a democracy in which if I disagree with them, I don't love my country. In the Republican Party's democracy, they get to legislate my values and assess my spirituality as "lacking." What makes this even more irritating is that when they themselves fail to live up to the values they are trying to impose on me, they get all huffy and say such things are private and not up for discussion. They get to have it both ways.

In principle, I agree with Barack Obama about Bristol Palin's pregnancy being none of anybody's business. It isn't. At least not in a personal way. Bristol Palin is a teenager. She shouldn't be fodder for gossip. Being 17 and pregnant is hard enough in the "privacy" of your own community. Being 17 and pregnant on a national/international stage has to suck in spades. Personally, Bristol's life and decisions are none of my business.

But on another level they are my business, because they are a reflection of how well the social policies that the Republican Party want to impose on the rest of us work. If Mrs. Palin and the Republicans only wanted to shield their own children from options like sex education and abortion, Bristol's pregancy would be absolutely none of my business. But Mrs. Palin and the Republicans want to teach Creationism in everybody's school. Mrs. Palin and the Republicans oppose educating not just their own children about the dangers of unprotected sex; they want to keep everyone else's children ignorant as well. So the success of this approach to education in her own child's life does have relevance in the larger debate.

As a mother, Mrs. Palin has every right to thinks her own pregnant-at-17 daughter should have a baby that she probably doesn't want and be pushed into a teen-age marriage to make it "tidy." The thing is, Mrs. Palin and the Republican Party want to force that same "values" system onto my young neighbor and my great niece and everybody else's sons and daughters. I have a problem with that. Mrs. Palin's idea of good parenting isn't the same as mine. I don't think pushing teenagers into marriage because they got knocked-up is wise or loving. I think it's expedient and potentially spirit-killing.

Mrs. Palin's daughter and her prospective young soon-to-be husband will undoubtedly have lots of family support - especially given that it's an election year and what was once a private family matter is now being played out on a national stage. Interestingly, Mrs. Palin's compassion for unwed mothers doesn't apparently extend to other people's children. She used her line-item veto pen to significantly slash funding to a program designed to offer housing and counsel to young unwed mothers in Alaska. Hmmm. Mrs. Palin and Mr. McCain both oppose funding for sex education in our schools and they oppose spending money to cope with the results of such policies.

I'm not delusional enough to think that sex education in the schools will prevent all unwanted pregnancy. I'm also not delusional enough to think "just say no" will work either. Clearly it didn't work with Mrs. Palin's daughter. One of the things that really bothers me about someone like Mrs. Palin who wants to keep everyone else's children as ignorant about sex education as she keeps her own, is that she then had no compassion or sense of responsiblity about cleaning up the mess that her own policies create. Unborn babies are treasured. Other people's knocked-up teen aged daughters, not so much. And I guess that while it's important to Mrs. Palin and her ilk to keep unwanted babies in teen (and adult) wombs, they draw the line at providing support and education to their mothers so that when the beloved precious foetuses pop out of the womb and start needing love and attention, both they and their parents have have a chance at a decent life. I just don't get that kind of selective sacredness. How can the life of a non-viable egg be more sacred than the life of a real, flesh-and-blood young adult?

I'm finding much of the Republican spin about the wonders of Mrs. Palin entertaining. Bristol's pregnancy isn't a reflection of failed parenting or the pit-falls of not educating your children about unprotected sex. Nope. They're marrying the kid off and not kicking her out of the house, so it's a sign of the strength of family values. And apparently just living in Alaska makes people foreign policy experts because part of Alaska borders the Soviet Union. Wow. Who knew! And then Mrs. Pailin's year-and a half as governor trumps everyone else's experience. Simply by living in Alaska, she apparently has more foreign policy - this is a Republican talking point - than Joe Biden after 33 years in the Senate much of it serving on the Foreign Relations Committee, currently as chairman. It also apparently trumps Obama's 8 years in the Illinois Senate and his 4 years in the US Senate. Something about Alaska, I guess, and that intense border proximity.

But I'm digressing from my theme. Bristol's private life is and should be private. But since her mother wants to legislate my private life and that of those I love and care about - the success or failure of how her policies work is profoundly relevant.

That's it for now.


Kaylia Metcalfe said...


I have to agree… the political is always personal and vice versa.

Carletta said...

I can't express anything half the way you can - I'll just say you make your points and convictions very well.
There are issues I just think government should stay out of - pregancy is one.
Politicians just don't get - you CAN'T have it both ways. Palin's daughter and her family might be fine and flourish with their decision - another family wouldn't and the choice that family makes has to be theirs and no one from either party has the right to judge that decision.

Dianne said...

I pretty much spent myself regarding Bristol Palin in the comments section of your previous post (before Ruby Tuesday of course).

We pretty much said the same thing. You just said it more eloquently and with your usual research. I didn't know Palin cut un-wed parent programs - how NOT surprising.

I did see one interesting fact. Before Obama ever entered politics he was heading up community programs that served more people than the entire population of Alaska. And still they question his administrative experience while offering up Palin.

Again - doesn't surprise me from a group of people who revere liars, who promote incompetents while firing those who refuse to break the law.

How sickening was their Day One propaganda about scaling back the convention out of their concern for potential victims of Hurricane Gustav!? Meanwhile the levees barely withstood a category 2 and 3 years after Katrina the mold ridden trailers are still there while Cheney's buddies get paid millions to do absolutely nothing.

So far all the convention has offered up is endless shots of McCain in Viet Nam and even more endless shots of Palin's kids wearing tiaras and corsages!! what the hell is that.

And poor Bristol holding a baby or a jacket over her belly wherever she goes. Apparently the Republicans love unborn babies they just don't want to know where they come from!

Anonymous said...

So well said - especially the part about the marriage. I was just thinking about this in the shower this morning (where we all do some of our best thinking). If I were a mother of a pregnant teen who was not having an abortion or giving it up for adoption, what would I think was best for her: #1 - Have the baby and raise it with the support of her family (except her mom might be a teensy bit busy...) take her time growing up, and be a single mother with one baby, or #2 - Insist she marry the guy at 17 (such a mature age, right?) and then a few years down the road end up a divorced single mother with several more kids. I know there are people who married under 20 and everything worked out just fine, but I think that's the happy exception.

Robert said...

You make some dangerous assumptions here. You assume Bristol "probably doesn't want" her baby. You assume she is being "pushed into teen-age marriage to make it tidy." What would make the left happy here? If she keeps the baby and gets married, the left complains. Should she have the baby killed? Would that be better? The left would love that fuel for their cause then. The left also assumes that since the right promotes family values that they all must live perfectly. And look how the left is feeding off of this. They seem as if they couldn't be happier to find a republican family that didn't meet up to the mark. You assume they will get family support because it is an election year. Do you know this family? Is it ONLY politics in action? Do you KNOW what they would do if she were not a candidate for VP? The left just hates Palin no matter what it seems. They say she's pretty so they hate her. They say she's inexperienced so they hate her (even though she's run a state and Obama's run...ummm, what has he run exactly?)

You say you're aware that sex education won't prevent all unwanted pregnancy. What you don't mention is that how that kind of state funded "education" can actually promote unwanted pregnancy. Mrs. Palin keeps kids ignorant about sex education? Really? That's the state's job? You put no accountability on parents? Isn't it a parent's job to teach kids about this?

You talk about a non-viable egg. It's not an egg any longer. Science teaches that it has changed at conception. It has new DNA. It is now a human life. It no longer has the father's DNA or the mother's DNA but it is unique. It's not a blog. It's not tissue. It is a human being. It won't grow to be a tomato. It won't become a puppy. It is a human in an early stage of development. Science clearly supports that. And you are not equally comparing. You compare the LIFE of a non viable egg to the life of its mother. What you mean is the mothers convenience or quality of life. It is not a life and death matter for the mother like it is for the baby. And when did viability determine when someone can be killed? And where do you draw the line? First trimester only? What if it's a day past? Now killing is off limits? What about partial birth abortion? Or what about Barbara Boxer that once said the mother should have the right to choose up until the baby is ready to leave the hospital. (I can send you the link for this transcript in case you don't believe me.) Back to viability, Lily couldn't pick up food to feed herself when we got her at 11 months of age. Was she really viable then? Wasn't she dependent? I'm glad her birth mother didn't have her killed because she might have led a less than ideal life in an orpanage or because she was inconvenient.

In a previous post and here you talked about the baby being unwanted. Some 2 year old's are unwanted. Should we kill them too? Is just the stage of development the difference? Some children are missing limbs. What about them? They're not fully developed. They might not have arms and legs and could never care for themselves. Should we kill them too? What about the elderly that lose their ability to care for themselves.

I just don't get the viability argument. It's too inconsistent. I don't see how some want to save trees, whales, manatees, but have no problem killing babies because they will be inconvenient. Or might not have a great life. Or might have a disease. Or just because a woman has a right to choose. They continue by saying "it's her body...she can do with it what she wants." Not true. It's another body (remember the new DNA thing) within her body. Attached, but still another being.

Robert said...

And a comment on what Dianne said above: "How sickening was their Day One propaganda about scaling back the convention out of their concern for potential victims of Hurricane Gustav!?" What does she want? Scale back the convention and it's sickening? Go forward and what??? Damned if you do, damned if you don't. She should just be honest and say she hates repbulicans no matter what is done. Nothing a repubilcan does will ever be right in her eyes it seems.

Raven said...

Hi robert - To respond to the easiest part of your comment. Obama has 8 years experience as a state senator, 4 years of experience as a as a senator on the national level. Before that he ran a massive community based organization for three or 4 years. This seems to me to outweigh less than 4 years or less combined experience as a mayor and Governor.

Regarding the other half of your comment. For me personally, a fertilized egg whether it has it's own DNA is a non-viable entity and not a baby until significantly further on into a pregnancy. I don't know if I could have had an abortion if I were pregnant. I believe each human being should have the right to make that decision for themselves based on their personality and their own life situation. It isn't any of my business.

I think it is reasonably safe to assume - whether she has made peace with having a baby or not and intends to keep it or not - that at 17, few young girls actively wish to be pregnant - particularly when they are not married. As for what she "should" do with it, I think I made it pretty clear that this is her business and not mine. I didn't say that there was anything wrong with Bristol getting married. If she were my child, I'm not sure that it's what I would recommend to her. These are very intense decisions. What's right for one child might not be right for another. People being human, I think most of us behave differently, usually somewhat better, with millions of eyes on us than we do when we are behind closed doors. Politicians are people at core.

I take no joy in a 17 year old girl being pregnant when she didn't want or plan to be. I don't take any joy in this conversation. I don't think many liberals - not any that I know - do either. I don't think all right wing families are perfect. Quite the opposite. I don't think left wing families are perfect either. My problem with people like you and Mrs. Palin is that while I have no trouble with you living according to your values, you seem to feel that your values trump mine and that you have a right to impose them on me and the rest of us. THAT is my quarrel with you. Do I agree with you that no pregnancy should ever be aborted? No. Do I honor your right to have as many babies as you want to and to live in accord with that belief? Yes.

I'm sure you know perfectly well that I don't advocate the massacre of full term babies or any other human being. I believe I have stated elsewhere that I oppose killing of humans and or animals. I oppose the death penalty despite having lost an older sister to murder. As I said, I don't know what I would do if I were pregnant. Was never fortunate enough to be pregnant in this life.

The statement that sex education increases pregnancy is pure unadulterated bullshit. Sorry.

Statistics Source #1

Statistical info #2

Stastical Findings #3

I personally don't think unwanted children should be brought into this world if it's possible to avoid it. Once children ARE here, we should do everything in our power to make sure they have the best lives and educations possible. We should be certain that medical care is available to them, that their families can afford to feed them, that they and their families get help when they need it. Guaranteed medical care is another area where your party and mine are in profound disagreement. I will continue to wish that we cared more about the born than the unborn.

I have to go feed the cats before they kill me so I'm going to have to cut this short.

As for Dianne's comment about the sincerity regarding Hurricane Gustav, I can't help remembering that McCain and Bush were celebrating McCain's birthday while the citizens of New Orleans drowned after Katrina. I'm sure they were sincere in their concern. I also think they were singing the song extra loud in hopes we'd forget last time.

I find the arguments of right-to-lifer's inconsistent. We just view the world very differently. I'm fine with you viewing it differently. I'm not fine with you trying to make your belief something that I have to share by default.

Unknown said...

Kudos...for the original post and for taking the time to reply to Robert's comments. Not sure I would have done so. Good for you!

Quiet Paths said...

So well stated, Raven. These thoughts were murmured over and over in our house the last days. Should we tear our hankies or laugh? The talking points from the GOP don't mention that Palin was under Ted Steven's payroll for awhile -- he's under investigation too. Also her little town tried to recall her mayor's seat because she, ahem, tried to force everyone to quit their jobs to prove their loyalty. Is that a rumor? Well said and you said it in a very honest, clear manner. Send it to a Republican near you! Obama: one spouse; one house.

Dillo said...

Not that some Republicans aren't guilty of the same thing---but aren't you using a very broad brush-stroke here?

Funny that you keep saying that Republicans are trying to mandate their choice of lifestyle on others. But of course that's how it is.

Like when we want to maintain the historical status quo of one man, one woman =marriage. Now its mandated that one man/one man; or two women can marry.

What if I tell someone that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin? Soon it's likely to be hate speech. That's a liberal value being forced upon me (again).

What about the cross on the hill in San Diego? People (primarily liberals) want it taken down because "its offensive". Who's mandating values in that scenario?

Fact is that there are historical, long standing issues that some on the left are trying to change. Thus creating new standards and new rules.

I'd say that Republicans stand for status quo (historical Judeo-Christian ethics) and it is (generality here too) liberals who are mandating their standards on us!

Dianne said...

Raven - I saw a clip this evening of a bunch of delegates bitching about how they "lost a day's worth of Obama bashing because some people were getting rained on"

Of course that got no coverage yet the press is liberal!?

OK now let's jump from Robert and his whining about being hated to dillo and his clear hatred for gay people.

How in the world can letting people love who they love and have the same basic human rights as everyone else possibly be mandating standards or forcing anyone into anything!?

And give me a break with the Bible spouting. The Bible also says people who work on the Sabbath should be stoned. Guess we need to start collecting some rocks.

In Iraq we're allegedy fighting a war in part against hatred and terror born out of religious insanity and driven by fanatics.

Hmmmm - sound familar?

Raven said...

hi dillo -

Last I heard we live in a nation which separates church and state so religious definitions or opinions don't belong in our legislation. You might find this History of Marriage in Western Civilization informative about the history of marriage.

You have every right to believe that homosexuality is a sin. I disagree with you, but you have a right to your belief. Your personal belief. You don't have a right to say I have to believe the same thing or that our society has to operate in accordance with your beliefs.

As for the Bible saying that homosexuality is a sin, the Bible is open to much interpretation which is why there is such a broad spectrum of Christian beliefs and denominations. Your interpretation of the Bible is YOUR belief system, not fact. It is also a religious belief and irrelevant to the law of a land which is culturally and religiously diverse by intention and design of it's founders and by the reality of its population.

It is confusing to me why what anyone else does sexually is any of your business and why a gay couple wanting to be married - a legal, not religious - arrangement in any way diminishes your own marriage. I gather you are divorced from something you said in one of your posts, so I guess your particular branch of the faith skipped over the no divorce rules. That seems a bit selectively sacred to me.

I had no idea what you were talking about regarding the cross in San Diego so I went and looked it up. As I understand the case - it had nothing to do with religion per se or liberals. The issue was that a huge memorial to the war dead of many denominations was built featuring a HUGE cross. In an effort to appease hurt feelings a Star of David and other symbols were added later but the cross is dominant. I'd say that's thoughtless at best. Not something I'd fight anybody over myself, but that's just me.

What you are labelling the status quo is your own personal belief system of what is/should be that status quo. In a Democracy you have the right to believe that homosexuality is a sin or that the earth is flat or anything else you wish to believe. You don't have a right to say that I have to believe and live by those things just because you do.

The TRUE status quo in this country is that church and state are separate entities.

The Taliban believes that all people in Afghanistan and elsewhere should live in accordance with their vision of the ethical status quo. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't argue with me that this was not a good thing, yet it is exactly what you want to do here ultimately - to legislate everyone else's morality according to a values system which you have decided is THE values system. And of course it's your interpretation of Judeo Christian values. I read the same Bible you did, attended an Episcopal seminary for a while and have a very different take on what the words of Jesus and the Bible mean and teach.

Those on the left are not in any way trying to change your values or alter the status quo. Rather we are trying to honor the Constitution and the principles of a democratic society. The so-called "historical" values you think you represent are not particularly historical, nor are all things historical writ in gold. As recently as 40 years ago, racism, anti-semitism were at justified by those who cited the Bible as their excuse for bigotry and hatred. Interfaith/inter-racial marriage was illegal. Fortunately, over the course of time, we used the law to overcome such distorted interpretations of faith. Interfaith and interracial marriage is now standard practice and part of a the new status quo.

Well, guess this is long enough.

Raven said...

dianne - that people getting rained on is pretty distasteful. People really say stupid things sometimes.

Your comment made me think of that funny email that used to circulate addressed to Dr. Laura, I think.... full of all the Biblical rules that we all - even right wing fanatics - ignore because they are silly.

Kimmie said...

Thank You Raven! This was very impressive and informational. You did a great job writing this post!


San said...

Raven, I have been following this whole twisted scenario. The policies of Ms. Palen are not woman-friendly nor family-friendly nor earth-friendly. I am disgusted by the hypocrisy.

Come over to my place and play. It's my birthday!

rebecca said...


this was so well written. i assume you watched palin last night speak. i have to say (and i am not a republican) that she spoke very well and i believe she won over many people last night. but that aside, i do agree with you 100% how the republicans spinned it and made it seemed like she has more foreign policy experience than biden on the basis of her mayor/governship in alaska. i'm sorry, alaska is not washington and i think comparing the two are apples and oranges. biden may not have been a mayor/governor, but i think he is a lot more knowledgeable in this area than ms. palin. then, lets get to the point of creationism. that is her view, fine. but when it comes down to passing those views down to our kids, then yes, it becomes personal. look, regardless how good a speaker she was last night, her ideals do not match up to mine and never will. you need to go and find the vidoe on youtube where she speaks about how God asked us and wants us to fight this war! when i heard this, that did it for me. this is how extremists are born and this is exactly the kind of thought that brought terrorism onto our land. and for anyone to put down women who do not support her because we are women, i find offensive. this is not a gender game. it is, however, the most important decision we will make and it should not be taken lightly -- woman or no woman. i base my decision on who can better serve and whose ideals come closer to mine.

come on over to my place, i have a current post on her and video you will find interesting.

Clarence said...

You've just summed up how I feel about it all! Except I could never say it half so well.

Kimmie said...

Hey Raven!

I have something for you at my blog. :-)

Hope you are having a happy day!

maryt/theteach said...

Wow, Katherine! Thanks for putting me on to this post of yours and the responses to it! You're right on every point and the fact that you back up your statements with links to sources is truly amazing! You've done a magnificent job here. I'm proud to know you! :)