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Opinion

Opinion

Akin’s gaffe is part of broader pattern

August 27, 2012

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Rep. Todd Akin’s fame — more accurately, his infamy — now reaches all the way to the Congo.

There, Eve Ensler, the award-winning American author of “The Vagina Monologues” and herself a survivor of rape, wrote an open letter castigating last week’s suggestion by the Republican congressman that when a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” her body has means of preventing pregnancy. As it happens, Ensler is in the Congo working to help some of the thousands of women raped in the fighting there. She called Akin’s words “ignorant.”

Nor is hers the only voice of international opprobrium. Criticism of the Missouri lawmaker has rung from such far points as London (“shamefully inaccurate”), Belfast (“profoundly offensive”) and Paris (“medieval”). A writer in Australia dubbed Akin a “boofhead” — apparently, not a compliment. All this, plus domestic denunciation, including sharp criticisms from his own party.

Akin, make no mistake, richly earned every ounce of contempt that now rains upon his head. What he told KTVI-TV, the Fox affiliate in. St. Louis, manages to combine repulsiveness (“Legitimate rape?’’ As opposed, one supposes, to the rapes where “she brought it on herself?”) and remarkable ignorance (Does he really think the uterus is equipped with a force field?) into one appallingly malodorous ball of stupid. Naturally, given his grasp of biology, Akin sits on the House Science Committee.

Yes, you read right. You can’t make this stuff up.

Still, this is not about one congressman’s need for sensitivity training and remedial science. Akin is hardly unique, after all. To the contrary, he is just the latest vivid example of conservatism’s unrelenting hostility toward women’s reproductive rights — as in a Texas judge who just upheld the state’s ban on Planned Parenthood. Indeed, even as this controversy was simmering, the GOP unveiled a proposed platform plank calling for a constitutional amendment that would ban abortion with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. It’s a plank Akin himself could have written.

But he is emblematic of more than hard-core opposition to abortion. In him, one also senses the juvenile discomfort with which some male conservatives are afflicted at the merest suggestion of female sexuality. Think then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, piously covering the breasts of the “Spirit of Justice” statue at the Department of Justice. Think then-Rep. Tom Coburn decrying the “full frontal nudity” of a movie broadcast on television — the movie being “Schindler’s List,” the nudes being doomed European Jews. Think Republicans banning Rep. Lisa Brown from the Michigan statehouse for using the word “vagina” — as opposed, perhaps, to “lady parts,” “third base” or “tunnel of love.” Think Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut because she has, presumably, on occasion had sex.

It’s the kind of behavior one associates with a locker room full of adolescent boys, waiting for their faces to clear up and their voices to change. But these are men. Worse, they are men who are judged competent to make, interpret or influence laws impacting the most intimate decisions a woman can make.

Including, for example, whether she must have a probe stuck up her “lady parts” before being allowed to terminate a pregnancy.

The temptation is to view Akin’s gaffe in isolation. But there is a pattern here. In his antipathy to abortion and his childish grasp of reproductive science, Akin personifies much of the GOP, increasingly an extremist sect from which moderation has been banished.

He has said he just “misspoke,” but that is disingenuous, as is, frankly, much of the criticism from within his party. Their problem and his is not that he misspoke.

It’s that he spoke all too clearly.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesdat on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

msezdsit 1 year, 7 months ago

This just in, new polls show that todd "claude" akins has an 80% to 20 % approval rating over incumbent Claire (bear) McCaskill in Columbia Missouri. Experts say that only in Columbia could an " animal" believed to have escaped from a nearby zoo hold such a commanding lead. Authorities are in the process of combing the Tampa area to try to determine how many such animals may be on the loose. Police warn these creatures have been diagnosed with "cc" and are extremely dangerous. Do not, i repeat, Do not try to attempt to communicate with these creatures if you think you have one in your vicinity.

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JHOK32 1 year, 7 months ago

I can't believe that in 2012 we're really even having a major political party even attempting to have governmental control over what a woman can or cannot do with her own body! They are advocating to throw women's rights back 100 years. Next they'll be trying to enact laws that dictate that men automatically get the kids in the event of a divorce like they did 100 years ago, and next it will be making it illegal for women to have the right to vote. Women of America you better wake up & open your eyes about what these nuts are wanting to do! And who pray tell are going to support these tens of thousands of babies that the GOP are forcing to be born? The very party that's slashing all funding for anything that even resembles some form of welfare program - these are the holier than thou people that our society is going to entrust with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it costs to raise each of these babies to adulthood? - Yeah right!

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Cait McKnelly 1 year, 7 months ago

And now Akin has come out saying that breast milk will "cure" homosexuality in gay men. Will the stupid never end? http://dailycurrant.com/2012/08/26/todd-akin-claims-breastmilk-cures-homosexuality/

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Carol Bowen 1 year, 7 months ago

This is obviously what Todd Akins thinks. There was no attempt to give a different explanation. Akins said what he believes. Why should he apologize? I would rather know his position up front.

There are other politicians who hold the same views. How can we trust them as candidates and potential representatives if they hide what they really think? What do Romney and Ryan really think? Were their reactions a cover?

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msezdsit 1 year, 7 months ago

As I have previously posted, the republican party is upset because Akins was blatantly truth full. What the party has become, with the help of their propaganda arm, Fox, is to put on a face of fluff to hide their real agenda and Akins violated this effort. Just like ryans budget joke which is anything but a budget. It doesn't fix any of the problems related to the budget but does foster along the ideological right wing backwards thinking that Akins let slip out. I mean , come on, his medicare won't affect anyone for 10 years so just take nap and don't worry. Lull you to sleep with their delayed reaction and then reality, no more medicare. This, disguised as " saving medicare". The pubs have used this same tactic with abortion. Slowly nibble away at abortion with small bites of laws and complications until one day they have eliminated it. Just like id laws for fraud where there is no fraud. As ignorant and backwards as Akins is, he managed to come out with the real "no spin zone." These people need to be stopped before they turn this country into a third world ran by people that look like akins.

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verity 1 year, 7 months ago

I posted this article link on another thread, but I think it's just as appropriate here.

http://truth-out.org/news/item/11129-the-conservative-psyche-how-ordinary-people-come-to-embrace-paul-ryans-cruelty

Scientific research into the way we think explains the reasons decent people wind up supporting horrific policies.

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Chris Golledge 1 year, 7 months ago

It really comes down to when you think human life begins. All this about rape and incest is just a way to twist the logic. It is like they are saying, life begins at conception, but not if we find the method of conception immoral, and then you have to get all twisted trying to define the morality around rape, and whether it is somehow a real rape or not. If you believe that the moment two gametes (sperm and egg) come together to form a zygote, that that single cell is a full human being deserving of every protection the law can give it, then it really doesn't matter how the two gametes came into contact.

However, for me, that is a bit of a stretch to think that a bundle of DNA wrapped in a cell wall qualifies as a human being. The big difference between that and a skin cell is a little bit of chemistry, a very little bit. Somewhere between conception and birth it gets fuzzy, but that is the status quo with Roe vs Wade. Might as well leave well enough alone.

If you want a broader context in which to put this argument, put it in the context that the Republican party has been taken over by the religious right who would be all too happy to use the government to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

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Gotland 1 year, 7 months ago

Akin could learn from the urban black community on the proper enlightened way to view women. Some people are so ignorant.

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rockchalk1977 1 year, 7 months ago

Talk about hating women, the DNC is taking flak from women’s groups for the lack of child care that is being provided at the convention. Apparently children will not be allowed access on the floor of the Democratic National Convention and that daycare will not be provided for delegates who bring their kids. Women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem and several NOW chapters have called out the DNC for the “discrimination against mothers with young children." How sad the DNC hates children even after they are born.

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Gotland 1 year, 7 months ago

To bad Pitts doesn't advocate for all the black babies killed by clinics that target that specific community. Perhaps he is self hating.

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headdoctor 1 year, 7 months ago

I am sure there is a porch for you to set on waiting for your Government check. It is only a few days away unless yours comes the second week of the month.

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rockchalk1977 1 year, 7 months ago

In Occupy news... a man with a machete was arrested Sunday while walking with a group of Occupy Tampa protesters near the Republican National Convention. Here we go again with the Occupy-A-Brain-Cell loons that Saul Obama Alinsky is so fond of.

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headdoctor 1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you snap for your feeble attempt at vocabulary and semantics lessons. If a pregnancy occurs and all abortion is outlawed it doesn't matter how you label it. Forcible, statutory, unlawful carnal knowledge, rape, illegal coercion, etc.

Nothing unusual here. Just another worthless post by snap.

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Paul R Getto 1 year, 7 months ago

Akins spoke the truth about what many R's believe and it's in their platform. That's why they are mad at him. Fortunately the candidates tend to ignore them.

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 7 months ago

Before too many knickers get permanently twisted, the term "forcible rape" is used as a contrast to "statutory rape". There are two types of rapes according to general legal usage. (from a source)

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headdoctor 1 year, 7 months ago

What could turn out to be twisted political humor may be watching Romney straddle, back pedal, and turn a few back flips to please the voters he needs to win. Especially since a large chunk of the suggested party platform is something Romney in the past has been against. If he doesn't follow the platform he will lose his basic supporters and if he does he will lose several others. Either way he will lose a lot of the female vote and I am sure he knows the history of how many women have voted in recent elections. The number of Black women voters was up and with their platform the Hispanic women may join in.

If nothing else. Ryan and Palin have something in common. There will be several voters who don't want Ryan that close to the Oval Office if something were to happen to Romney.

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autie 1 year, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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fiddleback 1 year, 7 months ago

I just enjoy all the coded language for blame that comes from the right. They've made no secret of placing total blame for poverty on the poor themselves; it's no surprise that they have the same attitude towards women and pregnancy. To review Akin's would-be logic, “Illegitimate” = the woman's muscles weren’t “shutting it down”= she enjoyed it= she’s a whore = she deserves any consequences, including bearing a child. Thus, it's an ingenious way of blaming the woman, and like blaming the poor for poverty, absolves men in power of offering any sympathy or assistance...

It’s just too bad for his slightly more tactful fellow sociopaths that one little dunce’s slip of tongue suddenly makes it so obvious to everyone how they actually think.

Kind of like the Chick-fil-A guy—his millions to Focus on the Family and the infamous pray-the-gay-away group Exodus Int’l did the real talking a long time ago. But he makes one little comment in an obscure interview, and suddenly everyone finally understands that he's intolerant of homosexuals.

These poor schmucks are clearly blindsided by the locomotive of sound-bite culture, and it’s frankly hilarious to watch their hapless fumbling in the aftermath. Kind of like they've lost multiple limbs in the collision, yet the fatal extent of the damage isn't yet clear to them. "'Tis but a scratch!!"

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headdoctor 1 year, 7 months ago

I know Todd Akin’s comment has caught a lot of attention but what he said is what the Republicans actually want to stand by. Has anyone looked at the suggested Republican platform cooked up by their committee. It is just waiting for approval at the convention. The Republicans wont have to be concerned with Akin's remark. They just want to eliminate abortion in all circumstances. I wonder how well that will go over when it is their wife or daughter that is raped. I bet they will figure out then what legitimate rape is.

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 7 months ago

he said pointed out what a great number of other GOP legislators think and feel

Say whaaat? He 'clairvoyant'? He be a clairvoyant 'savant'?

Does any of you Genies think Akin's can 'pick' lotto numbers too?

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rbwaa 1 year, 7 months ago

What I find even more appalling is the number of women who believe this same crap.

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purplesage 1 year, 7 months ago

Once in a while, Leonard Pitts writes a brilliant, sensitive column. This isn't one of those times. Pitts is the ideologue and Planned Parenthood and abortion are his causes. Of course Rep. Akin misspoke, poorly communicated. Let's not make more out of this than there is. No rape is legitimate. The traumatic nature of the crime can equate to no conception. But conception, and therefore innocent human life can result.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 7 months ago

"Akin personifies much of the GOP, increasingly an extremist sect from which moderation has been banished."

Sadly, that pretty well sums it up. And even worse, respect for facts of any kind, especially of the scientific variety, has also been banished. In its place is a petty and mean-spirited ideology that makes up all of the "facts" it needs as it goes along.

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Cait McKnelly 1 year, 7 months ago

Akin isn't the only one. He's just the one who got "caught".
Akin sponsored legislation with the GOP's own "golden boy", Paul Ryan, that would have changed the legal language from rape to "forcible" rape. Is there any other kind? That bill would have also given the IRS powers to force women to prove that they were raped.
Ron Paul spoke about "honest" rape. Is there such a thing as "dishonest" rape?
Indiana Representative Eric Turner called the rape/incest exception a "huge loophole" and insisted that women would actually lie about being raped to obtain an abortion.
Senator Chuck Winder: "I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that's part of the counseling that goes on.”
These statements are just the tip of the iceberg and they all point to one thing; the inherent belief by the men of the GOP that women, as a gender, lie, especially about their sexuality, whether they are 13 or 73. It really is a teenage boys locker room.
Using the conservative estimates of the government's own CDC, 2% of women that are raped each year become pregnant. This translates to an actual number of about 24,000 women each year. Even this number is artificially low, as the CDC also estimates that 52% of rapes each year go unreported. Spread that over 50 states and this means that hundreds..HUNDREDS..of women in Kansas, alone, are becoming pregnant through rape.
And there is inherent danger even in reporting it. 31 states in this country allow rapists to sue for custody or visitation rights and allow them to block women from aborting or giving up for adoption the products of their assaults. Women are actually bargaining away their right to a criminal trial in exchange for the freedom of severance of parental rights. And by the way, this includes Kansas.

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FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 7 months ago

Has "Akin's" been 'accused of "broader pattern" rape like Bill Jefferson (his cronies like to call him B.J.) Clinton has? Or has Pittsy missed Akin's rape accusations?

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 7 months ago

Akin just said what many in the tea party GOP believe, including Paul Ryan, who sponsored legislation to recognize "forcible rape" as distinct from just rape.

The GOP platform also has a no exceptions anti-abortion position.

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 7 months ago

If median incomes had been declining all through my administration, I'd certainly have all my Oompa Loompas talking about everything except the economy. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303822204577468750027784434.html

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mom_of_three 1 year, 7 months ago

I am related to a few republican men and they can't believe what Akin said and they DON"T agree with him either.
They don't quite want Claire McCaskill to win, but they don't want Akin to run or win and think he doesn't have a snowballs chance.

And Pitts is right. You can tell from the legislation that many Republican men agree with him, including one or two running for higher office.

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jaywalker 1 year, 7 months ago

Can't disagree with a word of the column. Incredibly sad, unbelievably true. I find it hard to believe all these legislators, in this day and age, can still hold such antiquated notions over these subjects (women, reproduction, nudity, etc.). I suspect some (I hope many) don't actually believe some of the spittle they spiel, but are only pandering to their base and/or party, because to do otherwise would signal the death knell to their political career. However, if that actually were the case I don't think that would be a better state of affairs, but rather sadder still that they'd actively stunt their own values, abandon their own principles.

Whatever the case, WAKE UP!

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autie 1 year, 7 months ago

It’s the kind of behavior one associates with a locker room full of adolescent boys, waiting for their faces to clear up and their voices to change. But these are men. Worse, they are men who are judged competent to make, interpret or influence laws impacting the most intimate decisions a woman can make.

Kind of scary, ain't it? Because Leonard is spot on. I fully agree that the breadth and scope of intellectualism in the TeaParty is limited to that of a bunch of eighth graders Eighth graders that have not yet had Amercian Government class.

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somebodynew 1 year, 7 months ago

A Pitts' column I can agree with. This is the big part of the problem with Akin. There are soooo many more that feel exactly like him, if not worse. They are just smart enough not to "misspeak" to a media member. But they will pass all the laws they can - just look at the Ks. Legislature. And it doesn't matter if the laws are actually constitutional, they will spend big bucks trying to defend them.

The only reason Akin is being shunned by his party is he actually SPOKE to the media about what he (and others) actually believe.

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observant 1 year, 7 months ago

No right wing whines yet about Pitts being racist Sure will be flooding in as soon as nuts finish getting their morning talking points from Fox.

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