Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nirvana -- "Rape Me" (1993)

Hate me
Do it and do it again
Waste me
Rape me, my friend

Only one week -- just seven little days -- until election day!

This post is likely to be misunderstood -- but I'm going to post it anyway.  

Richard Mourdock is the Republican nominee for the Senate in Indiana.  On October 23, during a televised debate with two opponents, Mourdock was explaining his position on abortion.  Mourdock would allow abortion in a case where the mother's life was threatened, but he would not allow it otherwise -- even if the pregnancy resulted from a rape. 

Richard Mourdock (center)
(NOTE:  I want to make something clear before I go any further.  I have an opinion on this issue, but whether I think Mourdock is right or wrong isn't important.  What is important is that we acknowledge that there are two sides to the issue, and that the people who take the other side deserve to be taken seriously and treated with respect -- assuming that they are sincere in their beliefs and honest about their views.  I have no doubt that Richard Mourdock was speaking sincerely and honestly on this issue.  And I have no doubt that just about everyone else who was involved -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- were much more interested in gaining a political advantage than they were in addressing the issue on the merits.)

While explaining his position on the issue, Mourdock said something that generated a firestorm of criticism from his political opponents:

I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is a gift from God.  And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

Some interpreted Mourdock's statement as meaning that God intended rape to happen.  The Louisville Courier-Journal (which should know better) said that, as did Mourdock's opponent, Joe Donnelly (who generally opposes abortion, although he would allow it in cases of rape or incest).  He did his best to spin Mourdock's comments in a way that would benefit his own chances in the election:
The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in does not intend for rape to happen, ever.  What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful of survivors of rape.
(Not really -- but I guess that all's fair in love and political campaigns.)
Mourdock maintained that he was misunderstood -- that he wasn't saying that rape was God's will.
I think that God can see beauty in every life.  Certainly, I did not intend to suggest that God wants rape, that God pushes people to rape, that God wants to support or condone evil in any way.  I spoke from my heart.  And speaking from my heart, speaking from the deepest level of my faith . . . I would be less than faithful if I said anything other than life is precious, I believe it's a gift from God.

I'm sure Mourdock was speaking honestly when he said that.  And I can't really argue with his logic.  After all, if you believe that all life is a gift from God, how could you come to any other conclusion?  (By the way, I also believe that it would be logical for opponents of abortion to oppose capital punishment, and for opponents of capital punishment to oppose abortion -- even though it seems that most people say, "Damn logic, full speed ahead" when it comes to those issues.)

Sally Quinn of the Washington Post gave credit to Mourdock: 
Mourdock made the horrible mistake of telling the truth about what he believes.  He actually believes that abortion is murder.  And he actually believes that God creates life.
A spokeswoman for President Obama's campaign said Obama "felt those comments were outrageous and demeaning to women."   (The chairman of the Democratic National Committee described Mourdock's comments as "outrageous and demeaning to women."  I don't think that choice of words was coincidental -- sounds like everyone is reading from the same script.)
How exactly does Mourdock's statement demean women?  I don't get that at all.  If you disagree with his position on the merits, so be it.  But the Democrats aren't interested in having a serious debate with  Mourdock on the merits of the issue -- they are playing politics pure and simple.  
The Democrats want to win the Indiana Senate seat, and they'll do pretty much anything it takes to do so (including twisting Mourdock's words).  Does that surprise anyone?  It shouldn't -- that's what politicians do, right?
Mourdock's fellow Republicans we're just as bad.  To quote Sally Quinn again, 
All hell has broken loose among his fellow Republicans.  They are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to criticize him and support their Christian beliefs at the same time.  Mitt Romney, who has a campaign ad out supporting Mourdock, has said that Mourdock’s remarks were not in line with his views. . . .
All of these guys are anti-abortion.  They believe life begins at conception. Therefore, they believe an abortion is murder.  So if that’s true, how can they possibly believe it is okay to murder a fetus (a fully realized person in their eyes) simply because of the way the child was conceived?  This is baffling.  I admire Mourdock for telling the truth about what he believes.  
As Quinn pointed out, the problem for the Republicans is that logical consistency doesn't always make for good politics.

Mitt Romney with Richard Mourdock
Let's do the math.  There are people in this country who support unrestricted abortion rights -- abortion on demand, if you will.  (They're probably voting Democratic.)  
There are people who believe it is wrong to abort a child, and would severely limit or ban abortions altogether.  They're probably voting Republican.
That leaves the people who are somewhere in the middle.  They would allow abortion in certain cases, and deny it in others.  Maybe they support parental notification, or other ancillary restrictions.  Or maybe they just aren't sure exactly where to draw the line.
Both parties are engaged in a delicate balancing act.  They have to hold on to their core voters while attracting those who are somewhere in the middle.  That usually requires them to engage in what the Richard Gere character in the movie version of the musical, Chicago, called the "old razzle-dazzle":
Give 'em the old three-ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance

Richard Mourdock refused to hide behind his wizard's curtain and try to fool people into thinking he was something different than what he really was (to mix my movie metaphors).  His position is logical and consistent.  But logic and consistency can be pretty confining -- most politicos prefer to maintain a little more room to maneuver.
We'll know in a week whether the Democrats or the Republicans won the election in Indiana.  But it would be a mistake to forget that there's a lot more at stake here than a U.S. Senate seat.

The Washington Post's website features a column by Glenn Perdue, a 50-year-old man whose biological mother was raped but who chose adoption over abortion.  Click here if you'd like to read the entire article.

Here are some excerpts:

Both parties have politicized abortion.  Many strong anti-abortion Republicans have bowed to pressure to moderate their position on abortion now that we are past the primaries and heading towards the general election.  The result is the rape, incest, and life-of-the-mother exception to make the anti-abortion position more palatable for centrist voters.  While I understand the political move, the abandonment of principle is disappointing.
While both parties have politicized abortion, I find myself particularly confused by the Democratic position on this issue.  Generally, my Democratic friends want to help others and provide a voice for the voiceless.  They are good people with good hearts.  The obvious irony is that unborn children are the most helpless, voiceless, and innocent of all human beings.  Yet in Democratic politics, the unborn child rarely merits an honorable mention in the abortion debate.  The political cynic in me thinks that this is because unborn children cannot vote and thus don’t have the political value of an adult woman that believes her right to choose trumps my right to live.
But most troubling to me in the abortion debate is the absence of a real discussion about adoption as an alternative. . . . My biological mother (who recently passed away) went back to western Illinois after giving birth to me, attended cosmetology school, married a good man, and had two more beautiful children.  She went on to have a good life after giving me life.  But just as important is the fact that by giving me life, she gave my father a son, and gave my children a dad. . . .
Perdue points out something here that is often overlooked.  When an unwanted child is aborted instead of delivered and given up for adoption, that not only has enormous consequences for that child.  It also has enormous consequences for the family that might have adopted him or her, for the children that child might have grown up to become the parent of, and so many other people.
The recent controversy over abortion involving U.S. Senate candidates Richard Mourdock and Joe Donnelly of Indiana is both telling and sad.  In their Oct. 23 debate, Mourdock made statements about his belief in the sanctity of life, even in cases of rape.  His words were twisted and shamefully mischaracterized by Donnelly, the DNC, and the Obama campaign to suggest that Mourdock (and by extension, Republicans) were somehow pro-rape and a threat to women’s health care.
Like Sally Quinn, Glenn Perdue gives Mourdock credit for speaking honestly.
Having viewed Mourdock’s debate statements and subsequent comments several times, it is obvious that he is a sincere, religious man that was standing by his beliefs – despite how politically inconvenient they may be.  He is not pro-rape or a threat to women’s health care and was respectful of Democrats and Republicans that have differing beliefs in his remarks.  Mourdock believes that life begins with conception and that abortion should only be an option in cases involving a threat to the life of the mother.  Mourdock stated that “Life is a gift from God” and that “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Looking at my life, my children, and the people we all touch, I believe that I am something that God intended to happen, just as Mourdock said.  Even if the manner in which I was conceived was imperfect and not intended by God, my life is most certainly a gift from God.  Mourdock, I thank you for your courage and conviction in being a voice for the voiceless unborn children of rape.
That "courage and conviction" will likely cost Mourdock the election.  I'd like to think that if he loses, he will walk away from the election with his head held high -- proud that he had the courage of his convictions.  There's no shame in losing an election just because your views are not held by the majority -- what's shameful about speaking honestly, doing your best to persuade the voters to adopt your views, and then let the chips fall where they may?

I wonder if Mourdock would take back his words if he could.  I think most politicians in his shoes would.

Here's "Rape Me," which was released in 1993 on Nirvana's third and final studio album, In Utero.  
Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

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