Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pro-Life, The Sanctity of Marriage, the Death Penalty and Corporate Crime

Every time I hear some Republican candidate or right-wing spokesperson talk about being pro-life, and the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage, bla, bla, bla, I want someone to ask them the next logical question. Does that mean you are anti-death penalty? This political conversation we are having with the politicians running for the highest elected office in our land is not about being pro-life, it is about being anti-abortion, anti-choice for women. Anyone who is willing to kill another human being in the name of the State, cannot claim to be pro-life. Pro-life is code for traditional, religious right wing roles for women. And role number one is to be obedient to some male authority—husband, pastor, priest, politician, certainly to God, who Christian’s seem to believe everybody knows is male. Quite an assumption.

It is a feature of all mainstream fundamentalist religions that woman, the female person, must be controlled. This is often framed as something for her protection, but it's really the desire to control, not protect, that motivates all suppression of the female. The religious right in this country has much in common with religious fundamentalism in all cultures. I remember being taken to a Catholic Church when I was a child and I noticed that all the women wore hats or scarves. I asked the family friend who took me to church with her, why, why all the women but none of the men? Her answer was, “Because of Eve, and the tempting of Adam, all women are believed to be unclean and a temptation to men, and therefor should cover their heads so as not to offend God and not to tempt or be a distraction to man.” This answer did nothing but raise more questions for me— a girl who would grow up to be a woman. “Unclean?” I took a shower every day, sometimes twice a day. And if a man finds me a temptation, isn’t it his responsibility to control his impulses? These were my first lessons in sexual politics.

Why doesn’t the news media ask these questions of politicians on the right who want to limit the freedoms of all of us regarding choice and reproductive freedom, family planning, choices about sexual partners and identity and on down that dark path toward the death penalty? Why does the issue of reproductive freedom and sexual preference threaten the religious right so much? Are you guys on the right afraid that if we women were allowed to choose, we’d always choose to live with women, and you’d be left out? Alone and having to do your own laundry, clean your own toilets? Or worse yet, forced to pay someone to do this unpleasant labor? Do you assume that because you lust after almost all strange women you rest your eyes upon, that we we women, in turn, respond to that anonymous lust favorably? You would be mistaken. Your lust isn’t any woman’s responsibility. Your lust is your problem. Don’t ask me to give up my rights, my freedom, because your lust makes you feel powerless and insecure and tempted.

Let’s talk about homosexuality for a moment. You on the right say that gay marriage threatens the sanctity of your marriage. I’ve seen research that indicates that homosexuality occurs in all cultures over the long span of human life in recorded history in pretty much the same small percentages. It’s kind of like the statistics on left-handedness. I don’t think long-term, committed gay relationships threatens marriage or ever has. But I do admit that marriage, as an institution, is threatened. It’s threatened because women have other options now. Women can actually get paid for their work now, even if that means cleaning someone else’s toilet. The choices women have today make traditional marriage look like a bad deal to a lot of young women. And if, when her biological clock’s ticking starts to make her think she wants a child, she can pick a partner, get pregnant, without benefit of clergy, she can raise her child alone, or with her extended family. She might be able to afford good child care, a career, a partner who really is a partner, and not a Master. She just might choose freedom over servitude. Marriage seems like an anachronism to me. The word sanctity is almost alway used to justify preventing freedom, choice, autonomy, even thought, in the name of God.

Now for the death penalty. I’m a little ambivalent on that one. So, I can’t really call myself pro-life. There are crimes that do seem so horrific to me that I want the perpetrator punished in a comparable way. Primarily these are crimes against children. Pornographer’s who use children as sex slaves—I’d like these bastards castrated and then executed. Men who use their own children, or children they adopt, or children they acquire access to through marriage, to satisfy their own twisted lust—these men should do very long terms in a prison population that hates the pedophile. Serial rapists and murderers where there is DNA evidence along with a strong evidentiary chain and good clean police work probably warrant the death penalty. Any kind of trafficking in women and children as sex or domestic slaves should get life in prison or the death penalty. Hate crimes should carry much stronger penalties.

Crimes against humanity, the genocides, rape used as a policy of war, the ones who order and support torture, the war crimes, these deserve the death penalty. But we murder people who are mentally retarded, or actually crazy, or under the age of eighteen, with such gusto on flimsy evidence almost everyday. It makes me sick at heart for my cruel and often stupid nation.

Corporate crimes ought to get much stiffer sentences than they do. Like the “energy” companies who have “accidents,” spilling oil in the oceans of our world and ruining the life aquatic and the economies on land affected by these “accidents.” Remember the Exxon Vallldez and Prince william Sound in Alaska? Or the “chemical and plastics industries”? Remember Union Carbide and Bhopal India? That mishap caused an “official” death toll of 3,589 human beings, caused serious and lasting injuries to 50,000 people. Not to mention the damage it did to the environment. This amounts to a genocide, but was an “accident.” There were fines levied by courts, but as of yet they have not been payed. These fines amounted to very small compensation to the families of the dead and injured. Remember that wonderful invention called napalm used with such gusto in Vietnam? It’s back in Iraq. I could go on and on. The companies whose products kill thousands at a time and the governments who employ them for this purpose have committed crimes against humanity. Monetary damages are not enough. These should be capital offenses. These crimes warrant the death penalty for anyone who knew the impending danger and looked the other way, said nothing. And these crimes require the forfeiture of the right for the offending companies to do business. Ever. Anywhere.

These musings are just my opinion. But I’m curious about yours. Leave a comment, start a dialogue.


K McKiernan said...

I agree whole-heartedly. I have never understood why we accept the labels the wrongheaded (read: "Right") and the media give us. Pro-Life? IIIIIIIIIII am Pro-Life AND I believe in a woman's right to choose. What could be more pro-life than respecting a woman's right to choose whether to bring a life into the world that is wanted and can be cared for. I always use the terms: Anti-choice and Pro-Choice.

It is so hypocritical... the way the anti-choicers do not give one lick about babies once they are here. They vote against any kind of help for them or their familes or their single mothers (because those sluts shoulda known better and need punished now, right?) And what of all the children unwanted? How many of these "Life" advocates have adopted babies of their own? They seem to only love life unborn, but once outside a woman's womb, they don't give two shits... especially if they are black, poor, gay, female.... the list is endless.

On the subject of child pornographers and "what they deserve," I think you should rent "Hard Candy," its an independent film that Ellen Page ("Juno") did in 2005. It is amazing and deftly deals with that subject. I show it in my Gender and Film class and students either LOVE it or HATE it.

I think you would ab-so-lute-ly love it.

Re: your last post, I thought your line about cotton candy hair was about the best line of description I have ever read. I instantly could see that fluff ball bleached-too-many-tiimes head walking around.


pissed off patricia said...

I am pro choice and anti death penalty.

We were having dinner with republican friends Saturday night. The man said, with a tone of disgust, now they are allowing gay marriage in California. It which I replied, so how will that change your life and your and your wife's marriage? He just looked at me with the blankest stare.

Vigilante said...

Utah, I like your new format. Given to long-winded rants as you are, the larger font is probably worth a try.

Vigilante said...

That said, I feel compelled to observe that this post is basically a typically long-winded Liberal rant. It's an omnibus riff, lacking a specific focus. Typical of liberals, this treats politics and policies as a menu:

I'll have some of this, and some of that, but hold the mustard.

What I like most about this post is you mention abortion only once, but "choice" five times. Different from Liberals, Progressives insist on the importance of words. In this instance, it is very progressive of you, Utah, to emphasize choice over abortion. "Abortion rights" is not a very productive, wholesome, winning expression. Not nearly as productive as A Woman's Right to Choose or Reproductive Rights or Freedom of Choice.

K McKiernan gets hearts and flowers from me for her comments on this point.

As for capital punishment, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

Utah Savage said...

Vig, tell me what you think, feel, about the death penalty. Please. I have the feeling I should be able to say I'm anti death penalty. I'm not quite there yet.

Utah Savage said...

vig......and hold the mustard. You should have been around yesterday. Yesterday was hold the mustard day. But chili cheese dip, yea, I'll take that. Yesterday was also a potpourri of offenses against fat asses, hillbillies, rednecks and crackers. I had so much fun offending everyone yesterday, I thought I better pull back a little and talk niceish for a day. Because tomorrow is Kentucky day, where Hillary's going to have another big win and I'm working on the demographics of the state so I rant real offensively about Kentucky and say pretty things about how smart Oregonians are.

Petrosexual said...

Virgil, I think you're bullshitingly pandering to Salvage. The large font sucks. Especially in the comments.

Utah Savage said...

Petro, you're hanging with an old crowd here, we need big font or we have to go looking for our reading glasses.

Kentucky Rain said...
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Kentucky Rain said...
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Kentucky Rain said...

P.S. KmC I teach a major crimes course at the local university and "Hard Candy" is required watching. It is powerful indeed and I highly recommend it.

Vigilante said...

What Mike said.... But only because you asked for it, Utah, here's my long-winded statement on capital punishment. Only because you asked.

DivaJood said...

How can someone call themselves Pro-Life and support war? The book, "un-Spun, finding facts in a world of disinformation", by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, unSpun helps us spot deception, shows us how and why it works, and demonstrates how to drill down to factual bedrock.

Human beings are complex. Or we used to be. We seem to have lost our ability to investigate nuance and we want everything in black and white. What KMcK says applies to me as well: I am Pro-Life, which means I wholeheartedly support a woman's right to choose.

The hypocricy of the far Right is mind-boggling. Exhaustingly so.

Oh, and I like the new format, it's much easier for my eyes to read.

Stella by Starlight said...

K, bravo again. You are absolutely right: there's pro-choice and anti-choice. If a woman chooses not to have an abortion, so I'm also pro-choice.

If the anti-abortion movement took a tenth of the energy they put into noisy theatrics and devoted it to improving the lives of children who have been born into lives of poverty, violence, and neglect, they could make a world shine.
~Michael Jay Tucker

Here's eight minutes well spent: George Carlin on abortion.

Conservatives don't give a shit about you until your military age... they want to raise live babies so they can make dead soldiers.... They're not pro-life, they're anti-women.

Yes, I know you've all probably heard this, but with the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade...

Utah, this is a vintage Carlin sentiment: anti-choice is often framed as something for her protection, but it's really the desire to control, not protect, that motivates all suppression of the female.

Pissed Off Patricia, my beloved California Supreme Court who voted in favor of gay marriage. I love asking questions that right-wingers can't answer. Great job. Hopefully, those justices' courage will wake up the country.

Kentucky Rain said...

The death penalty serves only to satisfy our need for revenge. It is not and has never been a deterrent, except of course to those who are executed.

I no longer support capital punishment. It costs more to execute someone in this country than it does to imprison them for life. Secondly, and most importantly, once you are executed your punishment is at an end. I would prefer to see those who commit capital offenses imprisoned for life, natural life, meaning until death.

The rumor that prisons are "country clubs" is nothing but a rumor. In my other life I had occasion to visit a number of institutions of higher crime and I can promise that none of them is Sunday in the park. These places are filled with violence and fear. Even more remarkable however is the absence of freedom. Your life is not your own. It belongs to the state. Unless you have been in prison, or know someone who has, it is impossible to understand the horror of it all.

I have sent people to their death and to life without parole. I attended two executions, one by gas and one by lethal injection. Both were quick and appeared to be relatively painless. Those I sent away for life, however, continue to suffer the pain. The nightmare that is incarceration is impossible to describe.

In conclusion, if you want to seriously punish someone, then lock them up in an 8 x 10 cell for 23 hours a day. I promise that is punishment.

Note: There is a difference between jail and prison. Jail is at the county or city level and holds inmates for a period not exceeding one year usually for misdemeanor offenses and holding areas for trial. Prison is for those convicted to serve more than one year, always for a felony offense. Neither are fun but prison is very, very grim indeed.

P.S. I had to move this Vigil. Sorry but I read your excellent piece from 2006 and it appears we both saw the light.

Utah Savage said...

Vig, I did go read your long winded piece on the death penalty. And you have now made a convert out of me. Now how do we reform the prison system, since it's been "privatized", and the Bush family is part of that money making venture?

Kentucky Rain said...

The prison system has not been privatized. There have been experiments and the experimentation continues at the county and city "jail" level. In many cases it has been a disaster. I know of no connection between the Bush gang and jail privatization. I would like to see a source for that bit of information. That would be most interesting indeed.

jmsjoin said...

I agree! it is all about control, forcing others to do as you want. That is not Christian. It is Republican. They pervert Religion to achieve their perverted goals. A woman should be in control of her body period!
MSM is complicit and will not interfere as they are profitting from this perverted gravy train. Anyway personally I do not like anyone doing anything for me. I clean the toilets and wash the clothes.
I don't know why but I much prefer to do mt own cooking and generally do as I like the way I prepare my meals and do things. We aren't all idiots but most are as well as ass holes. Oops sorry!Must be the woman in me! Peace Ladies!

Unconventional Conventionist said...

Utah - Tag - you're it!

Naj said...

"Men who use their own children, or children they adopt, or children they acquire access to through marriage, to satisfy their own twisted lust"

But Peggy dealt with daddy "sympathetically" ... I vote for castration and public humiliation, hmm maybe public castration ... oh no that seems to Saudi Arabian ... But, not execution ... not because I think life is sacred, but because I think death is a blessing!

enigma4ever said...

great post...and a discussion worth having...and it is worth looking at how the Prolife People can be so ProCapital can people that aren't here yet be more valuable then others ? it makes no sense...

E said...

Great post. My take is that, yes, it's about control. But it's also about punishment. I think anti-choice wingnuts come at it from the perspective that an unintended pregnancy is a sign that you were doing something you shouldn't have been doing, and any method of dealing with the situation that, in their mind, doesn't involve being pregnant and having the baby is somehow saying it's okay to have premarital sex. Their attitude is that abortion is letting you get away with something. I heard stuff like that from friends' parents in high school all the time, ie, you should "face the consequences" if you have sex and get burned. And yet, no recognition that every choice, whichever one you make, has unpleasant consequences.
I don't think I'm expressing it very well, but suffice to say, much of it comes from a desire to punish.

Madam Z said...

Reading this post was like reading something I would have written if I were more ambitious and eloquent. I agree wholeheartedly with virtually everything you say and have asked the same questions of the right wingnuts. e.g. How can one be pro-life *and* pro-death penalty? What does Eve's plucking of an apple have to do with her being unclean? Why is it always the woman's job to clean the toilets? Why is the life of an embryo, 1/2 inch long, more important than the well-being of an adult woman?

Ok, now I get to play with your title: Pro-Corporate Crime, the Sanctity of Death, and the Life-Penalty - Marriage

Madam Z said...

Oh! I just read what "e" said. I agree, of course. It's all about punishment for doing what the religious zealots have decided that you shouldn't do. Heaven forbid you should have any personal choice about how to live your life. And that dear, precious baby is your PUNISHMENT for indulging in sex. How sick is that? And what is the punishment for the co-conspirator in this heinous crime?

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

My opposition to the death-penalty, Utah, is based more on practicality than principle. I.E., I have no problem with a society imposing the ultimate form of punishment on those who have committed heinous/unpardonable acts. My objection totally revolves around 1) the fact that we can rarely know with certitude absolute guilt and 2) the uneven application of the death-penalty along racial and economic lines. Those 2 factors make me somewhat queezy. Later, Will.