Back in June, I, like just about everyone else in blogdom, did a few riffs off Anne-Marie Slaughter's Atlantic article "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." My own particular punchline, you may remember, went like this:

With the world economy in turmoil, it may be that the next question might not be "How can we have it all?" but "How can we have any of it?"

Now this is not a question that keeps me up nights, since "I don't automatically assume that I have X coming to me by dint of Y." This stance is hardly unique, but it's a long way from being universal:

[O]n the contrary, the world seems to be largely filled with people who think that on the basis of some Y or other, they deserve all the X they can get.

That's as far as I was willing to go with that particular premise, though apparently it's extensible. The DarwinCatholic blog, discussing the recent gaffe by Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, made this observation:

My own thought is that we as Americans find these kinds of moral issues very difficult because we have no tragic sense: we labor under the illusion that doing the right things means that bad things won't happen to you, or that if misfortune comes doing the right thing will necessarily lessen our suffering right away. Often it doesn't.

Some days you eat the bear, as someone pointed out long before The Big Lebowski, and some days the bear eats you. However, few of us are apparently willing to imagine ourselves as ursine excreta under any circumstances: it just can't happen to us.

And I'm thinking that Akin's doofus remark about so-called "legitimate" rapes and such was motivated by precisely that mindset. Darwin again:

The first big problem in Akin's thinking appears to have been the result of wishful thinking that is depressingly common. Having read that conception might be less likely after a sexual assault than after normal sexual intercourse, he seems to have wishfully extended this out to be virtually always the case. Akin, like other serious pro-lifers, opposes abortion even in cases of rape. However he seemingly does not want to deal with the fact that opposing one clear evil (killing an unborn child) may leave a woman who has already had her body assaulted by a rapist also unwillingly pregnant. Rather than dealing with the fact that doing the right thing often does not make us happy, he apparently wishes the problem away.

In the process, he adds insult to injury, since his words distinguish "legitimate rape" (from which he believes pregnancy virtually never results) from... Well, he doesn't say what, but the implication is clearly that he's distinguishing between a "real rape" and some sort of rape that the victim didn't actually mind all that much.

Then again, this level of cluelessness may indicate that Akin belongs in Congress, where asininity at this level has long been the rule rather than the exception. Since the first, perhaps the only, priority of Congress is seeing itself returned to power, should they decide that the way to insure that return is to pass a law that says the bear can't eat you, they'll happily pass that law, and the bear will just as happily ignore it.

Much as we may hate to admit it, sometimes we have no good options: things go from bad to worse, then the cycle repeats. Once in a while, referring to dilemmas like this, a dyed-in-the-wool atheist will gleefully point out to you that obviously this purely fictional deity of yours isn't living up to His billing. I could respond that "if I believe in God, that imposes no obligation upon Him to save my ass," but this wins no rhetorical points against someone who values nothing but. Nor, for that matter, will it impress a hungry bear.

The Vent

  25 August 2012

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