Thursday, March 12, 2015

When the Right Word Just Isn't Enough

A few days ago, I sent out an email suggesting everybody take a deep, calming breath, and get ready for the SC Senate round of "Let's Pass this Awful Anti-Abortion Bill."  The one that I was referring to was Wendy Nanney's pet, the 20-week abortion ban, that didn't make it through last season.  Wendy can't sleep till this bill gets passed, in spite of her contention that people have been just plain mean to her because of it.  Poor Wendy.  You might almost think that she is the one whose welfare is being threatened by the provisions of the bill.

Anyway, no time to take a breath, because that bastion of freedom for old white men, Kevin Bryant, has just sponsored S 531, a bill to ban "dismemberment abortions."  Or as those gentle folk at "Life News" would say, "Bill to Ban Dismemberment Abortions Tearing Babies Limb from Limb."

They may be barely literate, but they make up for it with hysteria.

As you may recall, fanning the flames of hysteria with misinformation and outright lies was a rousing success in the misnamed "partial birth abortion" battle.  This was thrilling for those whose grasp of science is conveniently misplaced but whose imaginations run to the wildly gruesome.  Personhood may not be as successful because it is too extreme, or it may just be that it doesn't raise the hackles as do phrases like "fetal pain" and the more objective sounding yet nonsensical "pain capable."  Giant paintings on the sides of buses, trucks and billboards may not actually represent scientific accuracy, but they certainly can produce Heironymous Bosch chills up one's spine.

In fact, the obsession with the gruesome, in spite of the professed concern for life, pretty much describes the anti-abortion battle.  Much like those so opposed to gays co-existing in their world that baking a wedding cake sends them into frenzies because of the portent of gay sex, the anti-abortion fanatic can't seem to stop seeing dead things.  Tiny dead things.

In this country, theoretically at least, self-appointed messengers of God are still unable to force people to their will based on warped ideas about religion.  So they are forced to resort to gumming up the works with the pretense of science, gussied up with horrid images.

And it works.

I believe it's time we fight hyperbole with hyperbole.  We need our legislators to get out there and write some bills that really, really stand out.

For example, for some inexplicable reason, domestic violence just doesn't have an emotional impact in our red state.  So, to take a cue from those far more adept at inflaming the masses, how about we call it the "Punching and Gunning Down Women Prevention Bill?"

Or the "Don't Starve Our Toddlers Act" in support of expanding food stamps (can also be used for minimum wage).

If that is too coarse for legislators on our side of the aisle, how about a "Prevention of Medical Surveillance" bill to counter the anti-abortion bills?  After all, we here in SC fear being spied upon almost as much as having our guns taken away.  "Death panels" was so effective in revving up fear of Obamacare that perhaps it could be taken out of mothballs and brought back for a bill to actually regulate insurance companies when the Supremes kill the ACA.  Or it can be used here at home against opponents of Medicaid expansion.

I do think we are too timid, and that is why we are constantly in the position of defending ourselves from the onslaught of rabid verbiage that takes center stage in a battle for our civil liberties and safety.  Until we are able to flood Congress and the State Legislature with equally dramatic bills full of fighting words, we will be at a disadvantage.  Thus far, the twenty-first century has not been the time for a reasoned approach.  To anything. 

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