passerine: Picture of Sparrow from Dykes to Watch For (Default)
[personal profile] passerine
(This is inspired/triggered by an argument I had earlier today with someone I normally have a very high opinion of, who unfortunately had a nasty case of That Guy-itis during most of our interaction.)

First, and the substance of much of the original argument, we have a combination of refusing to understand nuance and lying with statistics, in which two equally valid AND equally invalid conclusions were reached. The specific issue was this poll, which was being quoted at me as evidence of how idiotic and/or ignorant "most Americans" are. He said - correctly, in his view - that only a little more than a third of Americans "believe in evolution". I replied - also correctly, in my view - that more Americans believe the theory of evolution than not.

Unfortunately, I've seen this same set of stats used elsewhere to imply (and I believe that the person I had this argument with was implying as well) that 60% of Americans believe in Young Earth creationism. Clearly, that is not the case.

Much like OCRT spells out and provides examples of L.R. Holben's six major viewpoints on homosexuality (and I'll come back to this later), there are at least four viewpoints to be considered on the creation vs. evolution spectrum. I realize that this assumes Abrahamic religious background overall, which is certainly not the case for much of the world's population, but while that might create different viewpoints I don't know exactly how they differ, so not addressing it here (though feel free to chime in if you like).

There is Young Earth/Biblical literalist creationism, which says that God made the world in six days and that's that, and that by properly counting the generations and their lifespans in the Bible, we can calculate the age of the earth to 4004 BC. There is Old Earth Creationism, which is what was being taught in the Catholic school I went to - God created everything, but the word rendered as "day" in the Bible actually means "period of time", and the Biblical order of creation is close enough to the evolutionary order that it's not sinful to believe "both/and" instead of "either/or". There is theistic evolution, which often sees in the working of evolution and the adaptive capabilities life displays evidence of Divine influence. And of course, there is naturalistic evolution - life just happened to start, it happened to evolve the way it did, and nothing divine or supernatural had anything to do with it.

My beliefs are probably right on the border between theistic evolution and Old Earth creationism. If by "evolution" someone means pure naturalistic evolution, then no, I don't believe in it either, and I don't care if that makes me just another scientific illiterate. I consider the Bible and other "Holy Books" as one set of attempts to understand and make sense of reality, and the body of scientific knowledge another, and not in a "never the twain shall meet" way either.

Seriously, how is saying that the beliefs of anybody who doesn't subscribe to naturalistic evolution are (or might as well be) equal to "irrational" Young Earth Creationism any better than a Young Earth Creationist saying that anybody who doesn't believe in the literal Biblical "day" is (or might as well be) an atheist?

OK. That was the original rant. Now, a handful of other things:

First, with respect to reproductive rights, pro-choice means pro-choice, damn it. Telling a woman or a couple that a pregnancy must be terminated when prenatal tests reveal problems, even serious ones? NOT OK unless that problem is itself one that makes continuing a pregnancy substantially dangerous to the mother. (YES, OF COURSE, ectopic pregnancies should be ended ASAP. Just wanted to make that clear.) But if labor and delivery is not itself dangerous? It's not acceptable to put pressure on a pregnant woman to "get this over with and try again" or whatever the hell else. If it is what she wants, then she should OF COURSE be helped to end the pregnancy in the physically and emotionally safest way possible for her. (This is also why I get so angry about the condemnation of the intact D&X procedure - in those situations where a medical abortion is medically indicated due to danger to the mother, this procedure is the one that will leave the body intact such that a grieving family can see and hold their baby for the first and last time. This is an incredibly important piece of closure for some.) If the pregnant woman wants the opportunity to try to at least say hello and goodbye to a baby born alive, even if that baby is not expected to live more than a few months, a few days, a few minutes? That is her - wait for it - CHOICE. And she should not have to rely on resources run by radical right-to-lifers, should she make that choice. Seriously, "pro-choice" OB/GYN staff who are on the "just have the procedure and get it over with" bandwagon, WHAT THE FUCK? HAVE SOME COMPASSION DAMN IT.

And also? This is the kind of thing that makes the urban-legend "death panels" seem like not so much of a stretch. If a wanted and longed-for baby is just a "fetus with a fatal defect" that needs to be "terminated" (even against the wishes of the mother), then is it really that much of a stretch to imagine people with disabilities, people with terminal illnesses, people who have lived past their life expectancy to be considered part of The Surplus Population?

Likewise with the ranting about how issuance of "Certificates of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth" are just another ploy by the Religious Right to control women. NO. Look, I had a miscarriage scare caused by a subchorionic hematoma when I was 11 weeks pregnant with Alex. Google can tell you what that is and what causes it - I can tell you what it LOOKS like when you have no clue what the hell is going on. It looks like a lot of blood making a rapid downward exit, often accompanied by blood clots at least the size that a fetus is supposed to be that week. When it happened to me, there were two clots, each nearly the size of my fist. I'd never been pregnant before, never had a miscarriage, assumed that the two were "baby" and "placenta" and that that was that, and was emotionally devastated as well as scared because wow, that's a lot of blood on the floor all of a sudden. I didn't much like the idea of acting as if Alex (who already had the name Alex at that point) had never been, even if I had lost her. A pro-choice woman who has a miscarriage or stillbirth still grieves, believe it or not.

And for another straw-feminist argument that I'd like to kick apart, you do realize that there is this thing called intersectionality, and that based upon the privilege or lack thereof of an accuser and the privilege or lack thereof of an accused, men can in fact have their lives shattered by false accusations of some form of sexual assault? Of course, they usually aren't the heterosexual, cisgendered, white, middle class or above, Protestant, "presentable" guys. The "black guy rapes virtuous white woman" trope has a long and disgusting history in this culture, and so does the "pedophile pervert homo-sex-you-all" trope (see Bernard Baran for one of the most notable examples of this one). There are three people I know personally who were victims of obvious false accusations of this nature. For two of the three cases, the alleged victim has clearly stated that no, nothing of the sort happened. One of the three is openly queer and reasonably openly willing to talk about living with a mental illness. One has a very noticeable disfiguring injury and his accuser insisted she'd be believed because he "looks creepy" even though his alleged victim made it clear that this accusation was utter bullshit. The third person is on the autistic spectrum and not always a very effective self-advocate.

I said I'd get back to the "six viewpoints on homosexuality" and now seems like a good time. I'd say that most of us who identify with the political left of center are somewhere around position 5 (homosexual and heterosexual relationships are exactly morally equivalent) or position 6 (homophobia is the real social problem, not homosexuality; LGB people have a special task in the world and in religious dialogue to promote sex-positive attitudes and end sexual repression). I'm theoretically at position 6, but find some aspects of it irritating so maybe I'm more of a 5 these days. But you know something? If you move someone who was at position 1 (homosexual activity is one of the worst sins of all, and is always profoundly immoral; there's no such thing as being born homosexual) to position 4 (same-sex attraction is a symptom of a disordered world, but is unchangeable for most individuals; therefore, committed same-sex partnerships are the least-bad option but are not as good as heterosexual marriages), you've accomplished MUCH MORE than moving someone from 4 to 5 or from 5 to 6. NO, they're still probably not going to vote for marriage equality, but they're ALSO going to stop thinking that gay people deserve imprisonment/torture/the death penalty, and you know? That's pretty important!

No, you're not going to necessarily make big sweeping social changes by "selling out" to "those" un-enlightened, un-evolved, superstitious, crazy religious people. But generally speaking? Calling people idiots or ignorant is not a way to get them to agree with you. And calling "people in general" idiots or ignorant, and assuming that the person you are talking to doesn't want to be part of people-in-general and thus will 100% agree with YOU, is a good way to create the circular firing squad that is oh-so-popular in the American center-to-left. THIS is where the "liberal elitist" stereotype comes from, and it's got more truth in it than most of us want to admit. Myself included, most of the time.
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