Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Rush To Condemn

When one wishes to criticze one's opponent there is always a fine line to be drawn between what is appropriate and what is abusive.  Becoming abusive is wrong for two reasons.  One is because it is because it is unethical and unacceptable.  The other is because it makes one's opponent a martyr and once martyr status is achieved that opponents is placed beyond criticism, even that which is relevant.
Thanks to Rush Limbaugh's foul mouth, Sandra Fluke has become just such a martyr and, along with her, the Obama Administrations campaign to force religious institutions to tow the secular liberal ethical line in violation of their traditional principles.
For those who haven't been paying attention, Ms. Fluke is a 30 year old student at a Jesuit university who publicly stated before members of Congress (it's debatable if it was actually a hearing or a photo op for propaganda purposes) that just because she attends a Catholic university doesn't mean she should have to pay for her own oral contraceptives.  How dare the Catholics inflict their doctrine on her?  She is a young female, she wants to be sexually active and since she has a drug plan through the university she expects it to cover the Pill well as all other medications.
There are so many reasonable ways to respond to Ms. Fluke but unfortunately the one people will remember is Rush Limbaugh's.  He called her a slut and accused her of all sorts of vile behaviours.  As a result, the flaws in her arguments have long been forgotten as she has become the symbol of a cause, a symbol one dares not criticize.
Yet her position needs to be argued against, given its obvious flaws.
Consider, for example, that Ms. Fluke attends a Catholic university of her own volition.  Upon applying for acceptance to that school she would surely have known that Catholics view any birth control with abhorrence.  A quick check would have told her that oral contraceptives are not part of their drug program.  Despite this she applied and chose to attend the school anyway and then demanded that they cover the cost of her contraception.  After all, with tuition, food and lodging how is a girl supposed to avoid getting pregnant?
Then there's the stated reason she wants the contraception.  This was definitely badly played by Ms. Fluke.  There are, after all, many valid reasons for using the birth control pill such as difficulties with menstruation, regulation of periods, control of bleeding, etc.  She didn't say she wanted the Pill for any of those things.  No, she openly stated she wanted to have sexual intercourse at her leisure without worrying about getting pregnant.  She might be in a monogamous long-term relationship for all I know and doesn't want to get pregnant so as not to interrupt the education she's getting from the school she's demanding change their beliefs to suit her.  No, this doesn't make her a slut.  It does, however, make her quite arrogant.
Finally there is the obvious: oral contraception is not a necessary medical service.  If one has high blood pressure one needs to take blood pressure pills.  If one has asthma one needs to use inhalers.  However one does not need to have sex and even if one has the overwhelming urge to do so but still wishes to avoid pregnancy there are cheaper ways they can do so, like condoms or tasers (at the appropriate moment).  The Pill is a  luxury when it comes to contraception (as opposed to medically important conditions) and what Ms. Fluke is therefore asking the government to do is force a Catholic school to violate its beliefs and laws to fund that luxury.
There are other problems with her arguments, as the ever eloquent and brilliant Mark Steyn notes:
As almost all those fashionable split-the-difference fiscally conservative/socially liberal governors from George Pataki to California's pathetically terminated Terminator eventually discover, their social liberalism comes with a hell of a price tag. Ask the Greeks how easy it is for insolvent nations to wean the populace off unaffordable nanny-state lollipops: When even casual sex requires a state welfare program, you're pretty much done for.

No, the most basic issue here is not religious morality, individual liberty or fiscal responsibility. It's that a society in which middle-age children of privilege testify before the most powerful figures in the land to demand state-enforced funding for their sex lives at a time when their government owes more money than anyone has ever owed in the history of the planet is quite simply nuts.
As stark staring nuts as the court of Ranavalona, the deranged nymphomaniac queen of Madagascar at whose funeral the powder keg literally went up, killing dozens and burning down three royal palaces. Indeed, one is tempted to arrange an introduction between "T Squalls, 30," now 32 going on 33, and Sandra Fluke, 30 going on 31, like a skillfully negotiated betrothal between two royal houses in medieval Europe. The student prince would bring to the marriage his impressive fortune of a decade's worth of Trojan Magnums, while the Princess Leia would have a dowry of index-linked RU 486s settled upon her by HHS the Margravine of Sebelius. They would not be required to produce an heir.
Insane as this scenario is, the Democrat-media complex insists that everyone take it seriously. When it emerged the other day that Amanda Clayton, a 24-year-old Michigan million-dollar lottery winner, still receives $200 of food stamps every month, even the press and the bureaucrats were obliged to acknowledge the ridiculousness. Yet, the same people are determined that Sandra Fluke be treated with respect as a pioneering spokesperson for the rights of the horizontally challenged.
Unfortunately these arguments will drift in the wind and disappear because of Rush Limbaugh's idiocy.  What could have been a defining moment for the folks opposed to Obamacare's intrustion into religious institutions will now turn into the trump card for the folks who don't mind that religious people exist as long as they don't let their beliefs get in the way of secular liberalism.  Badly done, Rush.


SJ said...

She probably is a hoe.

AztecQueen2000 said...

Given the number of married individuals who choose to use contraceptives, your argument is disingenuous. Ultimately, the Pill is expensive, as are most effective methods of birth control. (Condoms are not considered as effective because they can break.) Also, if Ms. Fluke were to bring a child into the world because she was denied the necessary funds to pay for effective birth control, how would she provide for it? She would be a college dropout in an economy where even college graduates have a hard time finding sustainable employment.
Also, given that 98% of Catholics use birth control of some form or another, your argument is again, disingenuous.

Canuck said...

Why blame Rush? Those who support the leftist agenda are often much more vitriolic in their language, and unlike Rush, refuse to apologize. If Rush hadn't stepped into this debate, the mainstream media (i.e. hacks for the Democratic Party) would have found some other conservative symbol to tar and feather.

Canuck said...

The aim of those vilifying Rush is to shut down debate about Obamacare. This has nothing to do with Rush; he's just a symbol for leftists and useful idiots, who on faith alone believe Rush is a bad guy and a Conservative extremist.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

AZQ, consider the following:
Ms Fluke is admitting she's a single woman who wants to have sex without worrying about pregnancy. She has another option - just don't have sex. Yes, that's really a choice even though people tend to dismiss it. Look, I can't afford the financial consequences of a beach house in the Barbados so I don't invest in any activities that will lead to me getting one. She can't afford a kid. She should therefore avoid activities that lead to one.

Canuck, I agree with your points but my point was that Rush just handed them what they were looking for without reserving any moral advantage for himself

Richie said...

Sandra Fluke said none of these things - you're paraphrasing Rush Limbaugh misquoting her.

See here:

The issue at stake is health insurance obtained through a school or business. This is due to the fact that the US does not have a socialized healthcare system. However, the end result is that a religious school or employer is then peripherally involved (in many cases, subsidizing) in providing medical services that they may be morally opposed to, such as contraceptives or abortions.

The Republicans don't have an easy way out of this bind. On one hand, they're leery of socialized healthcare and would prefer to maintain private insurance. But on the other hand, they support the institutions' right to refuse part of health services on religious or moral grounds.

They haven't provided a viable option for easy access to all aspects of necessary healthcare.

Of course, since you're Canadian, I'll give you a free pass on this one...

Might Garnel Ironheart said...

Richie, up in Canada there is lots about medicine that is not socialized. If you're not on welfare or over 65 you have no automatic drug coverage. You either get it through your job or you buy into a private plan so it's not so different.
A Catholic institution should be able to tell their drug plan provider which products to include in the package and which to exclude.

Richie said...

Let's leave Canada out of it for now, for which I admittedly have no experience and limited knowledge.

My point was that medical insurance in the US (with which I *do* have experience) is nearly always obtained through an employer (or school, in this case). A Catholic institution will likely have employees of different religions, as would a Jewish institution. Otherwise, there would be an issue of discrimination in hiring practices. In the current arrangement, every institution must view itself as a "common carrier" of healthcare, and cannot "filter out" objectionable content. In other words, it's just a necessary part of doing business - you provide healthcare, and don't focus on the details, which are largely between the insurer (not your institution) and the insured (your employee, again not the institution).

Most importantly, though, you ignored that you are not addressing at all what Sandra Fluke said. You are taking Rush Limbaugh at his word for that, for which he issued a half-hearted apology and minimal retraction. The hearings did not address her personal sex life in any way. (see PDF link in my prior comment)

SJ said...

It wasn't really an apology so much as it was something that totally humiliated the Democrats saying that in these serious times we're discussing recreational sexual activities before Congress.

I'm not against Rush's method of apologizing to libs though. XD

Might Garnel Ironheart said...

Richie, I've read the pdf.
"Reproductive Justice" - first clue there's something wrong. Women do not have a right to medical coverage for contraception. They have other cheaper options including abstinence. "Justice" is a socialist code word for entitlement. She's losing me already.

"I attend a Jesuit law school" - imagine this statement: I attend Yeshiva University Law School and can't get a decent slice of bacon for breakfast anywhere! Honestly, she's going to a Catholic school and is shocked - shocked! - that they don't cover birth control? Was she raised in a cave?

"how embarrassed and powerless she felt" - please, this is PC talk redux. She wants contraception but doesn't want to pay for it. I'll let the Afghan War Widows association know that I've find someone harder up than them.

"report struggling financially" - look, at no point yet has she mentioned valid medical reasons for contraception. Women who can't afford safe sex shouldn't be having sex, just like men who can't afford safe sex shouldn't be. She wants something unaffordable to her and wants someone else to pay for it.

"whose medical needs are good enough" - well yes, if I'm paying for you to have something for a specific reason I would like to know that the reason is valid. I mean, I worked once at a Conservative camp where almost all the girls 15 years old and over were on birth control "to regulate their periods" which is bovine faeces but at least they tried to come up with a medical excuse. And it wouldn't be hard to say "Prove you've got a problem and we'll pay for the pills" instead of simply covering them for everybody.

"What did we expect when we enrolled at a Catholic school?" Clearly she expected the Catholic school to drop its rules in favour of her secular values. Silly Catholics, what were they thinking? Starting frying the bacon at YU guys!

In summary: she wants her Catholic school to pick up an expense for her, no questions asked. In fact, questions being asked are offensive. Just give her the damn pills and pay for them happily.

No, I haven't changed my mind about her.

Bob Miller said...

Except in rare cases, birth control pills are not medications and serve no medical purpose such that any medical plan ought to include it.

The pills are lifestyle enhancers, and those who want to live that life should buy those pills on their own dime, just as they would buy video games or whatever. A naive person might even expect a Catholic university to follow its own religious tenets on birth control and not to encourage sex out of wedlock either.

In some prior, better time the idea that taxpayers should kick in to support immorality would be sneered at universally.

Might Garnel Ironheart said...

One quibble Bob. Painful and/or heavy menses and endometriosis are not as rare as one might think and are valid indications for the Pill. Just to be fair. but that's my point again even after reading the PDF. Had Ms Fluke started off by saying that the Pill was used for various medical indications independent of birth control and that the Catholic schools were therefore denying coverage for treatment to certain women she might have had a point. But she never claimed that's why she needed coverage for what is a voluntarily used product for most.

JRKmommy said...

Garnel - did you read the second page of the PDF, where she was speaking about her friend with PCOS who was denied coverage?

Might Garnel Ironheart said...

Yes, and I noted in my post:
There are, after all, many valid reasons for using the birth control pill such as difficulties with menstruation, regulation of periods, control of bleeding, etc. She didn't say she wanted the Pill for any of those things.

Had Ms Fluke stuck with this approach: "The Pill has many valid medical uses and the school's policy denies people suffering from certain conditions access to the treatment of choice" then she would easily have won this debate.

Bob Miller said...

I think this university even allows using these pills for valid medical reasons!