Lauryn Gutierrez / Rewire
On this episode of Reality Cast, Sharona Coutts will explain how a fishing expedition to prove legal abortion is dangerous proved the opposite. Fox News tries to link abortion and Obamacare again. And why is the right so upset about California expanding protections for transgender students?
The new Comedy Central show Drunk History had an amazingly funny and touching segment on the history of one of the most sparkly feminist icons of the 20th century, Dolly Parton.
- dolly parton *
Not usually the kind of thing I point you to in this first segment, but everyone needs a little tribute to kick ass ladies once in awhile to lift their spirits.
Oh no, those terrible, evil liberals must be up to something really bad this time. Really, really, really bad, because right wing radio host Mike Gallagher cannot believe they’d even bother to defend themselves this time, because what they’re doing is just so bad.
- obamacare 1 *
Oh my god, what are those horrible liberals doing now? Killing puppies? Banning the viewing of rainbows? Requiring everyone to watch four hours a day of public television? Those crafty liberals are always coming up with new, evil plans to destroy the republic. So what is it this time? Well, let’s go to a news show in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to find out how this despicable, indefensible liberal plan is supposed to work there.
- obamacare 2 *
Oh my god! They’re giving out funds to various groups so they can hire people to help the uninsured figure out their insurance options. What next? Is the government going to start building roads and even putting up road signs to help people get around? I know, it sounds crazy, but that’s the sort of evil slippery slope you get on when you start using taxpayer money to help taxpayers have better lives.
Obviously, conservatives realize that it’s probably not going to sell to simply and bluntly oppose the government having relatively modest nationwide grants to help people unfamiliar with the insurance market get the best plans for them. So the hook here to raise the panic levels in their forever-aggravated audiences for Fox News is to imply that signing up for insurance equals … you guessed it … abortion! Because if it happens in Planned Parenthood, that makes it abortion. Sometimes I wonder if they’re half convinced you abort spontaneously if you simply drive by a Planned Parenthood. Mike Gallagher seemed halfway convinced that if you use the navigator system, you’re getting an abortion.
- obamacare 3 *
Okay, setting aside the assumption that the government has a responsibility not to endorse abortion—which is an assumption I disagree with, of course—this argument that giving a grant to an organization is a de facto endorsement of everything else they do has some serious problems with it. For one thing, a bunch of Catholic charities are also recipients of grants to do the exact same work. By anti-choice logic, that is tantamount to an endorsement of the Catholic faith. Problem is that having the government endorse a faith is illegal and unconstitutional—forbidden right there in the First Amendment. Having the government endorse abortion, on the other hand, is not illegal nor unconstitutional, and if politicians wanted to put out a public service ad extolling abortion as a great thing to do tomorrow, there’s no legal reason they couldn’t. If you accept that giving a grant equals an endorsement, therefore, the very first people you have to yank grants from are religious organizations. Luckily for everyone, having the government give you a grant only means they’re endorsing the activities the grant is for, not anything else your organization may do. I’m glad that Catholic charities are signing people up for health insurance. I’m glad Planned Parenthood is doing it. We need people to sign up for health insurance, and these navigator programs seem like a good way to get that done.
Last week on the show, I mentioned during the Wisdom of Wingnuts segment that Bill O’Reilly and his panelists were all bent out of shape over a very simple law in California that allows students to determine their own gender identity instead of have it imposed on them by outsiders. The law is largely a protection for transgender students, and the broadness of it should make perfect sense. By disallowing school officials to interrogate you on your gender, it shuts down an avenue for bullying transgender students that school officials sadly take all too often. Being able to walk into a bathroom without the threat of having someone demand you “prove” you deserve there has to be a major relief for transgender students. But, as O’Reilly’s freakout demonstrated, he simply cannot believe that such a protection could exist. When people wrote into Fox and asked why he is so mean and thinks it’s appropriate to make fun of minors who are going through the heavy implications of being transgender, he responded in his usual belligerent manner.
- California 1 *
A narrative that’s as implausible as it is hateful is shaping up on right wing media: The claim is that these kinds of protections are bad because supposedly cisgendered people are going to start pretending to be trans for the hell of it. That boys are going to just start playing on girls teams or using girls restrooms to be a pain in the ass, and now there won’t be a way to stop them. It’s typical of right wingers to assume that without strict rules governing every little aspect of behavior, people are going to just go hog wild and start acting strange for no real reason whatsoever, which is a funny stance for people who claim they’re somehow standing up for “freedom”. But it seems that a lot of right wingers have suddenly decided there’s thousands of cisgender boys who are only held back from claiming they’re girls because of the lack of protections in California schools for transgender students. Karen England on Mike Huckabee’s show was spouting the same line.
- California 2 *
I don’t know what human race Karen England and Mike Huckabee have experience with, but the human race I know and love is not one where there’s a whole lot of whimsical flopping around, changing what gender you are on a whim from day to day. On the contrary, most people take their gender identity very seriously and working up the nerve to tell the world that you don’t feel like you are the gender you were assigned at birth is not easy, much less whimsical. These narratives remind me of the way they stereotype women who have abortions, insinuating that women just have abortions on a whim without thinking it through and therefore need all these obstacles to be put in front of them in order to make sure they’re really sure. It’s all a lie; the obstacles aren’t there to protect anyone, but to make it harder for you to go about your business peacefully. And so it is with the obstacles they want put in place for transgender students.
Of course, the irony here is that the obstacle they want put in front of transgender students is to make them fully commit to their new gender before they get basic rights. If you really wanted people to think it over, you’d give them an opportunity to try out being the gender they’re considering and seeing how that works out before making the full commitment to changing your paperwork and your name and even your body. Obviously, I support you no matter how you go about this, but it’s really common for transgender people to transition slowly, working up from using the new bathroom and trying on the new clothes before making the bigger, harder-to-reverse changes.
One line being trotted out repeatedly is the claim that we have to strip transgender students of basic dignity in order to prevent, God forbid, pranks. Evil, evil pranks.
- California 3 *
OH NO, NOT PRANKS. Can you imagine what kind of horrible world we would live in if high school students pulled pranks and nothing bad came of it? If a cisgender kid can walk into the forbidden bathroom on a whim, all sorts of horrible things will happen! Maybe they’ll learn that the other bathroom … looks like a bathroom. Maybe they will realize that this prank is actually kind of stupid because no one actually cares. In the real world, kids going into the opposite sex bathroom as a “prank” happens all the time, and the story always ends exactly the same: They realized that there was no there there and the world stayed exactly as it is. Harassing transgender kids has never been the thing that prevents curious cisgender kids from taking a peek into the forbidden bathroom, and even if it were, so what? Will the world really come to an end if a girl realizes that urinals are a thing that exists in the world?
Leave it to Michelle Malkin to just come right out and say what all this is about bluntly: control.
- California 4 *
They can’t stand that they don’t get to control what gender you identify with, and that decision belongs to you. And anything that means they lose undeserved control over others causes a kicking and screaming tantrum.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, conservatives really failing to understand what consent means again edition. Mark Levin, during a rant that was surprisingly incoherent even for him spouted this bit of “wit.”
- Levin *
He’s objecting to the possibility that people might have insurance coverage for abortion. Once again, I’m forced to remind conservatives that just because you have a right to an abortion doesn’t mean you have to get one. Consent: It’s not that hard to understand.