Leading Missouri Senate Candidate to Women: If you get pregnant, you weren’t really raped


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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672 Responses

  1. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    As a historian, I’d thought this idea had disappeared in the seventeenth century or thereabouts. I’m astonished to find it still around.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      As a layman, I’m never astonished when outmoded, medieval ideas still have currency among partisanly Christian Republican officeholders.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I’ll second this.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Outmoded? Medieval? Mike, the astonishing part ought to be how little of Christ’s message of love and forgiveness and healing survives in our times. Would that some of the Christianity of the medieval world had currency in today’s world. All that’s left is a withered, disgusting remnant. Tell yez what, if ‘n when Jesus comes back in power and glory, I’m pretty sure he’s gonna have a few harsh words for some of these uncharitable people calling themselves Christians.Report

        • That’s right, Blaise. When Jesus comes back he’ll hand out condoms and be a walking abortion clinic. Step right up and be healed.Report

          • Avatar Morzer says:

            Given that the Bible mentions neither abortion, nor condoms, TVD, I think it’s just a little presumptuous of you to claim to know the mind of the Son of God on these topics. Pretty close to blasphemy, in fact.Report

        • If your particular branch of religion tells you that you get into Heaven on the basis of faith, not works, is it surprising that you adopt politics of the same flavor? Faith in the sense of belief in the absence of evidence.Report

          • What do you know of faith, brother?Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              This has precisely zero to do with the Christian faith and everything to do with medieval medicine.

              The linked article is wrong in only a couple of places; by the early 1800s no really reputable text would have said that female orgasm was necessary for conception. And ovism was a common enough medical opinion in the eighteenth century that even Voltaire made fun of it. But otherwise the first linked piece is right on the money — medieval doctors thought that pregnancy could only result when a woman had an orgasm and released her counterpart to sperm, which they all assumed existed even though they couldn’t detect it.

              The idea that women had such a counterpart, while obviously true, went into decline as a notion during the Renaissance but staged a comeback later in the early modern era.

              But anyway. The new, post-scientific version of this theory is even more repulsive than the medieval one. It suggests that if a woman doesn’t want to become a baby-killer herself, then she’d better start enjoying that rape. Otherwise her body will abort the conceived but still-unborn child, and it will be her fault for failing to consent to the sex.Report

            • Avatar Morzer says:

              All human beings know something of faith, TVD. We have faith that the sun will rise, we have faith that language will still work, we have faith that most people are more or decent human beings.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I would think that even in Missouri, it’ll be hard to get elected Senator with 0% of the women’s vote.Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    when a Democrat says something ridiculous they’re just an individual that nobody listens to and are so far outside the mainstream that only an idiot would think their statement is representative

    but when a Republican says something it’s entirely conformant with what every other Republican thinks

    (that said, Akin is saying an unbelievably stupid thing, like, was this guy born in 1834 or something?)Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      “but when a Republican says something it’s entirely conformant with what every other Republican thinks”


      “The GOP is always telling anyone who’ll listen that the idea of a War on Women is a Liberal lie, as much of a fiction as a “war on caterpillars.” And that might actually be the case.”

      If you want to forward me something this week – or ay week – that’s a case of a major-party US Senate candidate saying anything this outrageously stupid, whether it be misogynist or otherwise, I’ll happily post it.Report

    • Avatar Scott says:

      Exactly, Tod must think that someone here will support Aikin. Or he wants to make the case that Aikin proves that this is really what all Repubs think. I don’t agree with Aikin. Sorry Tod, it must be easier to take about side shows like Aikin or Mitt’s takes than real issues.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I dunno… I think it is at least kinda sorta important that a leading Senatorial candidate is so ill-informed on an issue he may one day be called upon to make policy about.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        “Tod must think that someone here will support Aikin”

        Someone supporting Akin here? Nah, that would be pretty un-League-like. If we get anyone supporting him here it’s going to be a drive-by nutjob that saw this post linked on some other site.

        Someone supporting Akin in the State of Missouri? About 48% of voters, give or take.Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        Because Mitt Romney is just their presumptive presidential nominee, and not anyone who represents party views or anything…Report

    • Avatar clawback says:

      Yeah, that would be because the only Democrats saying anything that ridiculous are indeed far outside the mainstream, and this particular Republican is apparently in the mainstream of his party, as one can see by the fact he got his party’s nomination and currently leads in the polls against a very moderate Democrat. So what was your point?Report

    • Avatar American Fascism Returned says:

      DuplicitousDuck offers us his variant of a “reverse no true scotsman” argument.

      Paul Ryan sponsored a bill to make In Vitro procedures illegal on the basis of his catholic roots. Just what we need, a law based on the tenets of a church run by a former hitlerjugend imposing its will on the people of America.

      But hey he’s only the VP choice. Not like he’s important or anything.Report

  4. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    they really need to stop telling men that women who use birth control are sluts that should be required to video tape themselves having sex

    Correction: Women who want to force other other people to pay for their birth control. Accuracy matters, especially when there’s no evidence that any but a small minority of conservatives are opposed to contraception as such.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Let’s split the baby down the middle and say, “women who think their health plans should cover birth control.”

      And of course most conservatives aren’t opposed to birth control – the vast majority of them use birth control. Which is yet another reason not to put your foot in your mouth if you’re a visible political leader, pundit or operative – especially when you’re trying to convince 51% of the country that you aren’t really anti-them.Report

      • Avatar BobbyC says:

        I think my burger should have cheese on it, but I don’t propose that we make it illegal to sell non-cheesed burgers. Do left-liberals really not understand the objection to regulating health plans in the way PPACA does? Or do you intentionally want to make it sound like having the govt ban selling certain low-coverage health plans is the will of consumers as opposed to the will of the majority using govt to regulate the mkt? Or is it unintentional?

        As for the OP, wow. In my view, it’s stuff like this that keeps people away from the Republican party even when they actually would prefer Republican policy ideas; having political bedfellows who spout such beliefs makes people suspect that Republicans generally are the bad guys. Republicans can complain, and do, if someone tars them individually with some other guy’s awful views, but they should care more about stopping such politicians from ruining their brand than yelling at Democrats and journalists for assigning group blame. For so many of my friends they default to Democratic or nothing because the Republicans have been discredited as backward before the debate begins (so at most they will accept Republican ideas, never the party). I’m someone who wants libertarians to co-opt the Republican party, so it having a shit brand is a bad thing for me.Report

        • Left-liberals think it’s more a question of a “cheeseburger” needing to have cheese. As in “health insurance” needs to cover certain things to be considered health insurance.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            But my hamburgers don’t have ham!

            Wait, what are we talking about? :-pReport

          • Avatar BobbyC says:

            A few things – first, my question is sincere – do you (1) not understand the objection to banning “cheeseless-burgers”, (2) intentionally want to act like all “burgers” of health insurance plans need to have the “cheese” of covering birth control expenditures via insurance coverage or (3) unintentionally talk this way because you think cheeseburgers are a better product for people than burgers-sans-cheese?

            Second, let’s note that society functioned without govt mandating minimum coverage to health insurers. If there was any problem is was that consumers generally faced a huge price difference between an employer-provided health insurance plan and buying it themselves, which left-liberals elevate to the idea that consumers have no choice and must take whatever plan their employer offers. I don’t like health insurance companies, especially for-profit ones, but left-liberals should recognize that this is value-imposition more than correcting any market failure in health insurance (clearly the mkt was not failing to offer any plans that covered birth control). If anything, the argument from the much maligned Georgetown law student was that she effectively didn’t have consumer choice because she “had to” get health insurance from the university. The obvious fix to such distortions / limitations on consumer choice is to remove the subsidy (employer tax deduction), which was the Republican position in the debate. So you’re left keeping a distortion in the tax subsidy to employers (which is the real constraint on choice in practice, ie there is a huge gap in cost from the plan offered via a job and the mkt for individual coverage). And for what? In order to dictate to Americans the minimum that they must have in their health insurance, but keeping it as a private for-profit industry. That will inevitably raise costs and profits, which is about the worst outcome of a reform in this sector.Report

    • BB: “Women who want to force other other people to pay for their birth control.”

      Accurate. And the politicians who pander to them.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        If women who seek to include birth control in their health insurance plans equates to wanting to force other people to pay for it, can’t this logic be extended to anything people want covered in their insurance plan?Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          If women who seek to include birth control in their health insurance plans

          That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a woman who was arguing for the government to force health insurers to cover birth control.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            No, that’s not accurate either. Health insurers don’t need to be forced to include BC, they WANT to include BC.

            She was arguing that employers shouldn’t be allowed to demand that plans not carry BC.

            As I always say, it’s almost never a question of freedom vs. tyranny – it’s always one person’s freedom vs. another’s.Report

            • No, that’s twisted. Obamacare is trying to force employers to pay for contraceptives against their religious conscience and they’re not going to get away with it.


              • Avatar b-psycho says:

                I seem to recall some of these places claiming a religious conscience violation actually covering what they’re complaining about prior to the rule even coming up.

                Like I’ve asked before, where does the workplace end and the individual begin?Report

              • Avatar b-psycho says:

                A minister fired from a religious school for reasons having squat to do with religion wasn’t really what I had in mind. Rather low of the school to do that though.

                What I’m getting at is people working for religious organizations that serve the public who happen to not adhere entirely with the views of their employer. On the concrete issue, no, I don’t think the employer should have to pay for it. The insurance company? I’m not one for requiring it, but I don’t see where their part in the original objection even matters. If it’s based on religion, how many faith-based insurance companies are there?

                (BTW: that this is even an issue is yet another example of why insurance attached to employment was and continues to be a terrible mistake — thanks a fishing lot, FDR…).Report

              • If you don’t think the employer should be forced to pay for contraception, then we have no problem here. And if the insurance company wanted to supply contraception but the employer didn’t want to pay for it, that’s the employer’s problem—no business of the government.

                The Hosanna-Tabor case was in direct reply to your question about where the employer ends and the individual begins. The lady in question wasn’t exactly a minister; the court viewed this employee as part of the ministerial function. Moved the line over a little bit, mebbe a lot.Report

              • Avatar b-psycho says:

                Due to the ridiculous historical accident that led to insurance coverage as part of compensation, I’d say unless the employer is picking up the entire tab the decision should be between the worker and the insurance company, not the employer and the insurance company. The employee is more the client, since they’re the one that’s going to be using the service.

                Now, the employer could hypothetically deliberately pick an insurer that didn’t provide such coverage — and the employees could hypothetically object. Even then though, the negotiation is like that of wages, between the employer and the employees.

                Of course, I’d prefer that rather than go through all this mess it were as simple as “we work, and you give us money for it”, and the workers then purchased goods and services in the market and when necessary formed their own voluntary collective means to bargain for such completely outside of and independent from the workplace relationship, but you knew that already.Report

              • True, Mr. Psycho, employer-paid health insurance is a freak of history that has created this perfect storm with religious non-profits and other anomalies of the American “system.”

                But it’s not all that far from government [single-payer]- financed abortion, so the underlying principles are quite live.Report

              • Avatar Fnord says:

                She “wasn’t exactly a minster”? According to the site you linked to yourself, leading prayer was specifically part of her duties. She had a “diploma of vocation” calling her a “Minister of Religion, Commissioned.” Heck, she claimed a tax advantage only available to ministers.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Really? I thought that after the initial fumbling by Obama they were still against the revised plan where they didn’t have to pay for it.Report

              • Avatar Sam says:

                Of course they’re still against it. Their issue is with women, not with birth control. They’re appalled that they’re not being given the amount of control over individual decision making that they think they’re due, what with their close and abiding relationship with a God of their own creation. Heaven forbid society not bow to the wishes of religious zealots.Report

            • Avatar Roger says:


              Just a question then. The BC requirement only applies to employer chosen plans? Not to individually purchased plans?

              Btw, would you support the requirement that at least one insurance plan offered by an employer cover BC? (as opposed to all plans must cover it)

              Btw 2, would you support the requirement that at least one insurance plan offered by an employer NOT cover BC? How is this different?

              Anyone else feel free to answer as well. I not making any argument in the slightest. I just want to know what people think.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                First off, I think that we should be looking towards medical professionals for what should or should not be required in health plans, with additional consideration given to affordability and mindfulness of equity across the sexual spectrum.

                With that in mind, if it is determined that birth control is an integral part of proper health care and thus coverage should be mandated, I think that mandating A plan be available that offers coverage is actually preferable to requiring that all plans offer it. I would add a condition that employers couldn’t put undue burdens on those seeking the plan that includes BC, such as covering less of the premiums or whathaveyou. If the premium charged by the BC was more expensive either because of the BC itself or because it was overall a more comprehensive/better plan, passing along those additional costs to the employee would be acceptable. So an employer could say they’ll cover 50% of premiums or the first $X of premiums; they could not say that they’ll cover 50% of the non-BC plan premium but only 20% of the BC plan.

                Those are my thoughts, with the disclaimer that I hadn’t considered such an arrangement until you mentioned the possibility here. And I fully reserve the right to completely change this position upon hearing/reading others’ arguments.Report

              • Avatar BobbyC says:

                How about ending the subsidy for employers and letting people buy health insurance with their incomes, like we do most products?

                I can see an argument for single-payer and for a regulated insurance mkt separate from employment. I see no argument for the employer-based system that we have. And if that is the most reasonable viewpoint, then what Obama did hardly qualifies as reform as much as it ossified a bad system by patching up some objectionable aspects.Report

              • The objective of state health insurance exchanges would be to eventually move people onto them and replace the employer provided coverage. (The law has provisions for allowing small/medium employers to move onto the exchanges by a certain date. Unfortunately the Wyden amendment that would’ve eventually required everyone move that direction never made it into the final law.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I agree entirely with disentangling insurance from employment. My suggestion was keeping within the existing framework since it seemed that was what Roger was asking about.Report

              • Avatar BobbyC says:

                I know he said he wasn’t making an argument … but I couldn’t help but see his questions as building the case that “once you wed this product to employment, consumer choice is screwed” … so I jumped straight to pleading that we kill the bad intervention instead of adding a patchwork of added interventions.

                How about the idea that the policy issues here are so basic that the only reason Democrats liked this law was because they have subordinated the whole idea on health policy into extending health insurance. Claiming victory upon passing PPACA was more about partisan winning than seeing your deeply help policy ideas enacted into law.Report

              • The Birth Control requirement is for all health insurance plans. Basically if someone is insured by a health insurance company, the company must provide birth control coverage if the insured individual asks for it.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:


            But saying “They want other people to pay for it” is inaccurate. If we hold it to be accurate, than me wanting penicillin covered would also be considered to wanting other people to pay for it.Report

            • Avatar BobbyC says:

              The “other people pay for it” claim is indirect … the law does operate that way as the tradeoff is that health insurers accepted profit-hurting regulations (like actually covering people after they get sick) for profit-increasing regulations (like making young people buy expensive insurance that they don’t want under the individual mandate). The govt basically set up a scheme where there is a transfer of value from young healthy people who are currently uninsured to older unhealthy people who are uninsurable. I would so much prefer that we as a country just decided whether we wanted to pay for health care (fuck insurance) for people, and if so then fine pay for it, and if not then fine tell people to fend for themselves. We almost certainly would have a single-payer govt funded system for basic health care if that were the choice. The left should be angry with Obama for this atrocity of a law at least as much as the right is upset about it.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Yup. Am upset. Also, understand sausagemaking.

                “young healthy POOR people” — young rich kids with “depression” are just as insurable as anyone with a c-section twenty years ago — which is to say, not insurable at all.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      oh, I’m certain that a large majority of christian conservatives are opposed to any teen contraception that isn’t abstinency pledge related. I mean, they search kids bags for condoms and stuff!

      Have you seen the pregnancy stats that come out of these Christian Camps?Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Holy crap! I might actually be more alarmed with the statement about the spare tire. Women should plan for rape?!?! WHAT THE FUCK?!?!Report

  6. Hilarious. The Dems helped Akin win the GOP primary, now he leads McCaskill by 5 points or more.

    While, we’re bottom-fishing, the Democratic nominee in the Tennessee senate race is even more hilarious.


  7. Avatar MFarmer says:

    The idea probably started from medical facts like this — http://www.babycenter.in/preconception/suspectingaproblem/stressaffectexpert/ — then became oversimplified. Stress can affect ovulation.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Yeah, I can see that leap being made from this starting point. You;d have to really, really want to make it, but still – good find, MF.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      It should also be noted that Akin claimed — “Rep. Todd Akin, the newly-christened GOP Senate nominee in Missouri, said in an interview airing Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy.”

      He didn’t say a woman is not raped if she gets pregnant, so, the claim of this post against Akin is hyperbolic and misleading. You do understand the difference don’t you, between rarely and never? Why do you have to smear rather bring light and clarity? Basically, Akin wasn’t too far off, and his main point of contention was about abortion and whether the unborn child should be punished if the woman becomes pregnant in a rape. I agree that the woman should be able to get an abortion, but others can disagree based on a right to life argument.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        From the link:

        “According to a 1996 study, approximately 32,000 pregnancies result from rape annually in the United States, and about 5 percent of rape victims are impregnated.
        “Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency,” the study says, according to an abstract. “It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.””Report

      • “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year. I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”Report

        • “Although there appear to be no exact figures, RAINN, an anti-sexual violence charity, has said medical reports indicate that about 5 percent of all unprotected, one-time sexual encounters end up in pregnancy, and that percent can be applied to rape victims. Since the FBI estimates (PDF) that about 75,720 U.S. women were raped in 2009, that means as many as 3,786 pregnancies resulted from the assaults.”


        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          Akin is good at not saying what it sounds like he’s saying.

          At the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God…. This is a systematic effort to try to separate our faith and God, which is a source in our belief in individual liberties, from our country. And when you do that you tear the heart out of our country.

          Two days later Akin would not apologize, since he meant that not all liberals hate God, only that liberals have “a hatred for public references for God.”

          The day after that:

          My statement during my radio interview was directed at the political movement, Liberalism, not at any specific individual. If my statement gave a different impression, I offer my apologies.Report

        • Avatar Roger says:

          Politicians say dumb things. So do the rest of us. The difference is that we don’t broadcast it as social commentary every time the “bad lizards” say something that make us feel worse about them.

          If this is his apology, it sounds like this is a non issue.

          Lizard baiting.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            Isn’t slapping the label of “lizard baiting” on calling out a politician who says something really noxious the equivalent of Broderism? The label begs for one to search for a reason to justify the claim that Akin’s opponent is just as much of a lizard as he is, but what could Claire McCaskill have possibly or done that is even roughly equivalent to “If you got pregnant, you weren’t really raped”? As far as I can tell, the biggest knock against her is she mis-charged travel expenses and didn’t pay property taxes on a personal plane she and her husband own, which are as likely to have been good-faith mistakes as they might have been petty corruption.

            IMO, saying the great collective gasp in response to Akin’s remarks inappropriately domesticates them — judging by the quote TVD shared with us, Akin himself came to realize that what he’d said was so obnoxious, he was obliged to swallow his pride and apologize. I for one am pleased that he did so.Report

            • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

              “Lizard baiting”, as used here, is simply Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment.Report

            • Avatar clawback says:

              Note that, contrary to the selective quote provided us, the full “apology” contained a self-serving attempt at misdirection and a campaign appeal that cannot be characterized as swallowing his pride. See my quote below.Report

        • Avatar clawback says:

          So he still hasn’t backed off the deeply offensive “legitimate” rape terminology, which was the basis of the outrage.

          You left out, without ellipsis, “Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.” So he tries to deflect attention by telling us that rapists are bad. And vote for me. Pathetic.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            I’m more willing than you to give him a pass on that — he’s running for office, after all. If he said, “I think women can’t get pregnant if it’s rape-rape, so that’s why you should vote for me,” that would be one thing. He said what he actually said, which did include walking back his remarks and acknowledging his prior error. If we don’t credit that, then in the future we won’t even get that much out of the next guy who opens his mouth without putting his brain in gear first.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        If we’re going to be empirical about it, consider this:

        Rep. Todd Akin caused a public outcry Sunday when he suggested that women who were “legitimately raped” would rarely become pregnant. Study after study has proven that theory false. But one provocative study, published in 2003, went even further: It found that a single act of rape was more than twice as likely to result in pregnancy than an act of consensual sex.

        The study, “Are per-incident rape-pregnancy rates higher than per-incident consensual pregnancy rates?” was published in the journal Human Nature by Jonathan A. Gottschall and Tiffani A. Gottschall, two professors at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. They used data from the federally administered National Violence Against Women survey. There, they found a sample of 405 women between the ages of 12 and 45 who had experienced one incidence of rape that included intercourse.

        Of those 405 women included in the sample, 6.4 percent — or 26 women — reported a pregnancy that year. A separate large-scale study showed that, for the general population of women that age, the per-incidence pregnancy rate for a single act of intercourse is 3.1 percent.

        As a percentage, pregnancy is a “rare” outcome of all intercourse. I don’t consider a 3.1% incidence to be “common,” just all by itself. But if the per-incidence pregnancy rate is more than double that for rape victims, does that not cause your view to swing in the opposite direction? Might that not lead a reasonable person to say that Akin was way, way off?Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          note: this study runs counter to most research on the subject, as is mentioned in the article. It also seems to have a rather limited set of people.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            No, it doesn’t run counter to most research, or at least not most recent research. I’m not sure why I’m pointing this out to you except, possibly, that someone might be reading this thread who doesn’t know that you never actually know what you’re talking about.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            I linked this above, but I’ll link it again. There is actually a biological/physiological reason why rape may lead to higher pregnancy rates than consensual sex:


            This, it should be noted, is precisely the opposite of what the dude in Missouri is saying he hears from doctors.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Chris, I will say what I said to Jason, good find and I wish I had seen this earlier, as it would have simplified the discussions I was having.

              I still don’t think we can automatically move Akin from the ‘wrong on the facts’ column to the ‘misogynist’ column without some assumptions or other supporting evidence – but I have enough faith in the average American (probably misplaced!) to think that ‘wrong on the facts’ is usually enough to make most people turn away from his argument, without the need to accuse him of vile motives.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Dude’s on the Science Committee.

                You have something of an ethical obligation to be “right on the facts” if you’re on the Science Committee.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                It doesn’t matter — once someone has been declared seriously politically-incorrect, nothing matters but a complete smear job as the group competes for the greatest moral outrage. There are some very intelligent people here who should be concerned by these group dynamics which ignore reason, understanding and objectivity in favor of self-righteous emotionalism.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Ah, the convenience of redefining empirical inaccuracy as mere political incorrectness. Where would we be without it?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I’m not sure why you allow yourself to become stupid just because others are being stupid. Maybe you have a need to fit in. People here condemned Akin for things he didn’t do just because the original charge was politically incorrect. No one knew at the time, from the info given in the post, what the empirical evidence was — people just jumped on the group bandwagon led by groupthink. Obviously, noone knew that sudden stress can prevent ovulation. Obviously no one took the time to understand what Akins’ point is, then address that point, which is basically right to life under all conditions. You are a particulary disappointing case, because you claim to be a libertarian and should know better than to allow yourself to be swept up in group think. I support abortion, but my problem here is how people thoughtlessly react and smear for pleasure. Also, you all will tear a Republican apart with glee, yet give passes to Democrats who do worse. Partisan hackery is becoming the norm here.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Obviously, noone knew that sudden stress can prevent ovulation No one knows that now, either.

                Your defense seems to be, “He got the facts wrong, but he didn’t do it maliciously. He was just trying to say that even rape victims should be forced to carry fetuses to term, because there are so few of them who get pregnant.” How much traction do you think that defense is going to get with those who disagree with you/him?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Ah, I see. You’re condemning commentors here for speaking out before they had empirical knowledge, but not condemning Aiken for speaking out before he had empirical knowledge.

                And to condemn Aiken for speaking out without empirical knowledge is just political correctness/partisan hackery, but to condemn commentors here for speaking out without empirical knowledge is bravely refusing to fit in.

                That clears it up wonderfully. Thanks much.Report

              • I can’t even imagine a non-malicious reason someone would use the phrase “legitimate rape”.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I think I can understand what he appears to have meant, though it’s not with a high degree of confidence.

                By “legitimate” he isn’t saying that the woman who was “legitimately” raped deserved it. Quite the opposite. “Legitimate” rapes are rapes where the woman was truly unwilling.

                Rapes where the woman was willing — but later falsely claimed she wasn’t — are illegitimate rapes. The same may very well be true of certain (though not all) statutory rapes, because an underage woman may indeed be willing.

                And how do we sort them out? Pregnancy may be an indication, he was saying, that a rape wasn’t a legitimate one.

                All of which is offered as an explanation, not an endorsement. I find it repugnant in all particulars.

                People who are saying that Akin is in favor of legitimate rape probably haven’t understood the meaning of his comments, I don’t think. Not that this is a defense of them. It’s not. They’re still indefensible.Report

              • To be clear, I agree with your reading. My position is that I can’t think of a non-malicious reason why you would accuse women (especially in a general case) of lying about being raped.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Also, you all will tear a Republican apart with glee, yet give passes to Democrats who do worse.

                Really? You know that how? From my genteel treatment of liberals here at the League?Report

              • Yeah, James Hanley is well known for always giving his liberal interlocutors a pass on the things they say with which he disagrees. A real shrinking violet, that Hanley.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Ryan, this seems to be a failure of imagination. When I hear the phrase, my mind takes it as excluding false (malicious) or erroneous (ex. guy and girl agreed while blackout drunk, but then the next AM nobody remembers what happened last night) accusations; as well as ‘Romeo & Juliet’-type situations where an 18-yr old runs afoul of the statutory rape laws by having consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend.

                The rapes that are left then, are legitimately called rape. No ifs ands or buts.

                Is my interpretation of this phrase really that far out?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                glyph. that while blackout drunk? completely nonconsensual on ALL Sides. Fits my definition of rape.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                A real shrinking violet, that Hanley.

                Well, not since I got the Viagra prescription.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                James, I said he misspoke, and that he was inartful, and that he made a mistake. His wa inadvertent — you purposefully cloud the issue to win an argument.

                Chris, no I said he’s saying he supports life no matter how many women get pregnant from rape. I disagree with him, but I’m not angry with him, and I don’t think he’s a horrible cretin for believing what he believes. Right to life is legitimate stance, I just think that a women’s body takes priority and that she has to make the decision. He said it all screwed up, and he should have said he supports life under all conditions even pregnancy caused by rape. It’s not the big deal you all make it out to be — most of you are likely tyring to score political points against the mean, crazy, sexist, racist, ignorant, evil Republicans.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I said he misspoke, and that he was inartful, and that he made a mistake. His was inadvertent — you purposefully cloud the issue to win an argument.

                Ah, so now you know both his intent and mine. Impressive bit of knowledge that. I wonder how you came about it?Report

              • @James Hanley:

                And to condemn Aiken for speaking out without empirical knowledge is just political correctness/partisan hackery, but to condemn commentors here for speaking out without empirical knowledge is bravely refusing to fit in.

                And therein lies the rub here. When one speaks without empirical knowledge, one is revealing their biases. So, for instance, if one believes, without empirical knowledge, that the likelihood of pregnancy is either no different or higher as a result of rape than it otherwise might be, one’s biases are that rape is a serious problem and that relatively few women are likely to lie about being raped, and even fewer were “asking for it.”

                If, on the other hand, one speaks without empirical knowledge to express the claim that women have some sort of biological mechanism that makes it especially unlikely that they will get pregnant as a result of a “legitimate” rape, then one is expressing a bias that many/most women who get pregnant as a result of a rape are either lying about it or were “asking for it,” but were in any event not “legitimately” raped. It seems no stretch at all to label such a view as either “sexist” or “mysoginistic.”Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                James, both your comment and Mark’s comment are sophistry. It’s juvenile, really. You are incapable of having a substantial debate because you can’t admit when you are wrong. Neither of you are worth the energy, because neither of you argue fairly. And Tod is like a little puppy — this, this this. How fucking silly.

                “If, on the other hand, one speaks without empirical knowledge to express the claim that women have some sort of biological mechanism that makes it especially unlikely that they will get pregnant as a result of a “legitimate” rape, then one is expressing a bias that many/most women who get pregnant as a result of a rape are either lying about it or were “asking for it,” but were in any event not “legitimately” raped. It seems no stretch at all to label such a view as either “sexist” or “mysoginistic.”

                I posted empirical evidence that women have biological reaction to sudden stress which can prevent pregnancy. The rest of this you are making up, Mark. It’s clear that Akin was saying that as aside that pregnancies during rape are rare, but even so he would still support life — this makes no judgement on the woman’s relationship to the rape, and Akin is not saying any woman asks to be raped. This is despicable. I can’t express how mean-spirited, small-minded and petty this type of claim is. This place has become too intellectually dishonest. It’s no better than Balloon Juice. Thats’ sad. Mark, you are a big part of why this place has devolved into this type of partisan hackery. I hope you are proud of yourself.Report

              • Jesus H Christ, Farmer! Did you not look at the evidence posted repeatedly throughout this thread that, in fact, rape victims are, if anything, more likely to become pregnant than they otherwise would be? And, no, citing to an Indian advice column that discusses whether ovulation might be delayed because of stress doesn’t refute those facts, particularly since, when one gets pregnant, one is, in most cases, already ovulating at the time of intercourse.

                The fact is that the claim Akin made has a long and well-documented history. He is not the first politician to make it, and the sources of those claims are well-known and long disproven. And none of those sources, by the way, are advice columns from Indian websites discussing the effects of stress on ovulation.

                And then you wonder why people here think you are little more than an apologist for conservatives.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                It’s clear that Akin was saying … he would still support life … and Akin is not saying any woman asks to be raped.

                Nobody here has argued differently on those points.

                . Mark, you are a big part of why this place has devolved into this type of partisan hackery.

                Nonsense. I’d rate Mark as one of the top 3 or so least partisan persons here. You seem unable to see disagreement with you as possibly having any basis other than partisanship.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Ahh! I think I see the problem!
                Apparently MFarmer is under the impression that there’s only one type of rapist, and that they’re the type with slow sperm and dysfunctional equipment.Report

              • Thanks, James – I appreciate the support, and am flattered. I’d also point out the irony of accusing me of being responsible for this place “devolving into partisan hackery” when I put up an OP maybe once a month. Frankly, if anything, I’m probably slightly less hostile to conservatives than I was when we started this place 3 1/2 years ago.

                Mike, I know it’s hard to believe, but….it’s an election year, which means people are going to write a lot about, you guessed it, the election. And what happens when opinionated people write their opinions about elections? Well, they come across as being partisans; even if they have no intention of voting for either of the two major parties, they have definite opinions about which of the two is generally less bad, and those opinions are going to come out pretty clearly.

                But in this case? Partisanship has little to do with the analysis, given that everyone from John Cole to Michelle Malkin is saying exactly the same thing about the outrageousness of what Akin said.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Mark, yes, and Malkin and rest are politically concerned with the election, so they want to quickly throw him under the bus. I see no virtue in any of this. This man could be destroyed just because he didn’t put his thoughts in the right words. The debate regarding a woman’s choice over her body or right to life is lost in all the smearing, moral-chest-pounding and juvenile gotcha politics. For all the claims from the left to be compassionate, understanding, open-minded, etc, when it comes to a certain set of white men in the wrong political party, the Left is anything but understanding, compassionate or open-minded. It’s ugly, and I’m surprised you condone it. If the Left can’t win on ideas, then the Left is in serious trouble, because this righteous emotionalism and smear-the-enemy campaign will go only so far before everyone is sick of it. When I first came here, you appeared to be a reasonable person and a strong influence on the site for objectivity, but now you come across as just another bozo on the partisan bus.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                This man could be destroyed just because he didn’t put his thoughts in the right words.

                A) Putting their thoughts in the right words is a pretty big part of a politician’s job description.

                B) Not being elected to a public office he has not yet even held = being destroyed? Dude’s got a pretty fragile life, eh?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Mark, this comes from a real Amurican site — http://www.babymed.com/fertility/can-stress-stop-you-getting-pregnant — not one of foreign, Indian sites. Yes, I understand that the Indians proably don’t know shit about medicine, but this is an Amurican dr.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Mike, did you read this article you linked to?

                This article claims – correctly, as I understand it – that stress can sometimes effect fertility, because:

                1. Stress can lead to erectile dysfunction, and

                2. Stress can throw off a woman’s menstrual cycles, which can both effect her both her ability to ovulate and/or her ability to use that cycle as a way to be predictive about ovulation

                In which way is either of these situations relevant in a rape? If a woman is already ovulating when she’s assaulted, she’s already ovulating – and the egg may or may not be fertilized. How that horrible crime affects her next menstrual cycle is pretty moot at that point.

                This article makes no mention of stress “shutting down the system” before the sperm can get there, “secreting a solution that kills sperm,” or killing/jettisoning the egg in advance of fertilization, or any other mechanism that would suggest what you’re suggesting. It just says stress can screw up future menstrual cycles.

                Again, if you don’t want to take the only Doctor on this site’s word, take the clinical study he’s presented:


                Taking these actual, real scientific facts and making the leaps you’re making from them to back up your point is the textbook definition of junk science.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                You missed an important point Mark made above:

                when one gets pregnant, one is, in most cases, already ovulating at the time of intercourse.

                Can on-going stress interfere with ovulation? Sure. Can a sudden moment of stress shut down an ovulation that’s already happened? The evidence says not. The article you is about the first situation; the claim that Congressman made is about the same situation. So your source doesn’t answer the question being debated here; it answers a different question.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Alice Domar from Harvard has done a lot of research on this topic. She’s not an Indian — http://www.domarcenter.com/blog/2011/03/what-truly-is-the-relationship-between-stress-and-ivf-outcome-2/Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                Domar is also talking about the other question–the effect of on-going stress on fertility. She is not talking about whether a sudden stress after ovulation has occurred affects likelihood of pregnancy.

                Those are two different questions, and all your sources refer to the on-going stress question. Nobody here is disputing you on that question. But that’s not the question the Congressman was talking about.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                One can see where Akin made a reasonable assumption as an aside comment. He should have stuck with what he knows with certainty, as should people on this site, but it was an honest mistake, and the comment wasn’t even pertinent to his main point, that, regardless of how the pregnancy happened, he supports Life. The fact that so many have made so much regarding what Akin said shows me this is political and has nothing to do with women, rape or abortion — it’s a gotcha moment and the Left political machine wants to milk it for what it’s worth — all the people jumping on the bandwagon are just what the political leaders on the Left want — people are being played by media and partisans. For goodness sake, think for yourself.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Ongoing stress starts somewhere as does the biological reaction — as if the stress goes away when the rapist leaves?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I imagine the stress is awful and ongoing long after the rape, and the biological reaction is then pertinent.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The fact that so many have made so much regarding what Akin said shows me this is political and has nothing to do with women, rape or abortion — it’s a gotcha moment and the Left political machine wants to milk it for what it’s worth…

                So, the only way for liberals to show support for women and abortion rights, especially abortion for pregnancy due to rape, would have been to ignore what Akin actually said?

                Are you sure about that Mike?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Whoops. First paragraph is a quote from MF.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Well, Mike, nobody here can save you from your self. If your considered intent is to purposely confuse the issue and pervert logic, I’ll leave you to your own devices.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “She is not talking about whether a sudden stress after ovulation has occurred affects likelihood of pregnancy.”


              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                No, Stillwater, not ignore — understand with grown-up thinking. Good try.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “Well, Mike, nobody here can save you from your self. If your considered intent is to purposely confuse the issue and pervert logic, I’ll leave you to your own devices.’

                In other words, you have nothing left.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                No, Mike, I mean pervert logic. You wrote:

                Ongoing stress starts somewhere as does the biological reaction — as if the stress goes away when the rapist leaves?

                You’re reversing time’s arrow here. We’re talking about a women who began ovulating prior to being raped. The rape can’t retroactively prevent the ovulation. That’s what I mean by perverting logic–the “ongoing” stress from a rape comes after any ovulation that would make pregnancy from the rape a risk, so as a matter of elementary logic it can’t have any effect on it.

                And you might want to actually read the article at your latest link. It doesn’t support your claim. It doesn’t even make passing reference to your claim. And if the best you can do in response to links to peer-reviewed studies is to link to news articles that don’t support your claim, maybe it’s time to recognize that your quiver’s empty.Report

              • Now you’re arguing in a circle, Mike. I’m assuming that you’re dropping the claim that Akin was basically right at this point since it has been so demonstrably proven wrong, and you are now saying that he either had a reasonable basis for it, or he just didn’t put his thoughts in the right words.

                Except that he didn’t have a reasonable basis for the belief – claims about stress delaying ovulation have no reasonable or even conceivable nexus with claims that a woman is less (let alone significantly less) likely to become pregnant because of a “legitimate” or even “forcible” (which is what he clarified his remarks to after having time to reconsider; note that “forcible” is no better than “legitimate” since all but statutory rape is definitionally “forcible”) rape. Nor is there any evidence to suggest that studies about stress delaying ovulation were what he was referring to; this is why I mocked your original source – Indian advice columns are (a) obscure since they’re not read by Americans, and thus unlikely to have been Akin’s source; and (b) as with any advice column, hardly viewed as a reliable source for scientific data.

                Nor did he simply mangle a few words, as demonstrated by his attempt yesterday to rephrase his claims as being about “forcible” rather than “legitimate” rape. His use of the word “legitimate” was of less importance than his very specific claim about women having a mechanism, upon being raped, to just “shut that whole thing down.” But sealing the deal in terms of this being far from a mangling of a few words is: (1) the long, ugly, and continuing history of this particular lie, such that it cannot be said that he just garbled a few words; and (2) his personal history of assuming women are likely to make false rape claims.

                And no, what is not important here is whether he is pro-life – there are millions of reasons one might be pro-life. But keep in mind that this claim was made in the context of explaining why he’s opposed to exceptions for rape; that explanation was that due to mysterious biological forces, rape victims are exceedingly unlikely to become pregnant, and that such an exception would be regularly abused – even without the use of the word “legitimate,” this pretty clearly amounts to a claim that a lot of women lie about being raped; the use of the term “legitimate” just clinches this interpretation. Again, given his history of blocking laws against marital rape on exactly these grounds, it is hardly a stretch to call this sexist and mysogynistic.

                And it’s pretty obvious why it is relevant why he is so absolutely pro-life, rather than just whether he is absolutely pro-life- his motivation on one issue says an awful lot about what is likely to motivate him on other issues. That it also happens to confirm one of the key claims made about Republicans’ and conservatives’ recent positions in the contraception and abortion debates, whether or not those claims are correct as to other Republicans’ motivations, is just icing on the cake. If there is anything encouraging about the whole episode, it is that Republicans have, except for the Focus on the Family diehards, basically disowned him for it, meaning that they, too, view such motivations as incompatible with their worldview.

                In effect, by distancing themselves, what the Republicans are trying to say is “no, we’re serious about our positions not being a ‘War on Women,’ and anyone who wants to conduct such a war is unwelcome in our tent.”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Mike, what does that have to do with the relationship between rape and pregnancy?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Mark, what I’m saying, and what I said from the beginning is that Akin said something about rape and biological reactions that lessen the risk of pregnancy — he’s certainly not an expert, so he should have left that out. He should have said he supports life under all conditions, period. But having said what he said, it’s not that outrageous, because it’s close enough to controversial studies to be excused, and it’s understandable. Howver, no one looked past his verbal clumsiness (when you speak of rape without showing an excess of compassion, you open yourself to accusation of insensitity) — they took it and beat the guy over the head with it. We can put under a microscope just about anything any politican says and tear it apart to attack the politican, but if this continues, no one is going to go into politics. It’s unfair to make this much of what the guy said. Is McCaskil being totally cynical when she says that Akin apologized to people who took what he said to be insentive, and that he is an honorable man? Is McCaskill lying?Report

              • Christ almighty, Mike – you keep posting things that say the same thing, which isn’t fishing relevant. Let me explain this simply and clearly: in the overwhelming majority of circumstances, for a woman to become pregnant, she must have already started ovulating at the time of intercourse. This is true regardless of whether she is raped or has consensual sex. Thus, unless you are saying that the sperm of rapists is magically slower than the sperm of a non-rapist, something that might delay or prevent ovulation has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the rape victim becomes pregnant from the rape.Report

              • 1. One can be a sexist, mysogynistic troglodytic ignoramus and still be “honorable.”

                2. After what he said, it is very much in McCaskill’s best interests for the next 24 hours to do everything she can to make sure that Akin stays in the race – she’s the last person I’d expect to be pounding Akin for this at the moment. Now, next month? Totally different story.

                And no, what he said is not close enough to be excusable; it’s wrong under even a 5th grader’s understanding of biology. Unlike the evolution morass, it is frankly close to impossible to be a functioning adult in this country without understanding the basics of the menstrual cycle.

                Nor is this possibly something that can be chalked up to just clumsy wording – this was not some error in syntax, it was a very specific claim made to justify a very specific position. That he should have kept his mouth shut about the claim is irrelevant; he answered a question about his motivations by including motives that are simply unacceptable in a modern society. He doesn’t get to pretend like he never made the claim (which he has not functionally walked back, just restated in less specific terms) because it is a politically toxic motivation.

                The fact is that he revealed insight into his motives (insight that is consistent with his own past comments, mind you) and now has to deal with the consequences of people being incredibly offended by those motives.

                Might this make politicians even less likely to reveal their motives in the future? Perhaps, but probably not – most politicians already know that it’s not terribly wise to express views that suggest half of their constituents are willing to lie about rape. Regardless, though, the alternative is that people just ignore politicians’ own admissions about their own motives, which is just an absurdity, defeating the entire purpose of politician stating his motives in the first place.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Akin said something about rape and biological reactions that lessen the risk of pregnancy … it’s not that outrageous, because it’s close enough to controversial studies to be excused, and it’s understandable.

                Let’s revisit the Congressman’s actual words.

                “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

                “[C]lose enough to controversial studies”? The studies, not actually controversial (nobody here has controverted them anyway), talk about stress shutting down ovulations that have not yet occurred. None of the links anyone has put here show a study claiming the female body’s response to rape is to prevent pregnancy when an ovulation is already happening.

                That’s the key distinction that you keep fudging over, the difference between a future ovulation and a current ovulation.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Yeoman’s work all, but I think this is one of those cases where being right supersedes listening. If Mike’s ever going to get what you’re both saying i think it’s going to have to be after some distance in time and far away from this site. It may be time to give this a rest. Otherwise it may be endless threading of Mike googling stress and fertility and you guys trying over and over to explain what ovulation means.

                Maybe better to walk away for today?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Maybe so. And anyway, now I’ve got Tom Van Dyke’s sexist insult of my wife to gnaw on.Report

              • Nobody insulted your wife except you. Man up.Report

              • Duly noted; I shall listen to Our Tod.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Have the courage to own up to it, Tom. I don’t think anyone here’s going to believe your lies.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Using your wife to get at me? You got issues, brother.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                That’s it, Tom, play a game of misdirection so hopefully folks won’t notice that one of the League’s FP males directed a sexist insult at one of the League’s female commentors.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                If you want to keep disgracing yourself, James, I can’t stop you.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Let’s see, Tom, how many people have jumped in to say I’m wrong and to defend your statement as non-sexist? That might have some bearing on an impartial observer’s determination of who’s disgracing themselves.

                But perhaps you don’t think making sexist comments is disgraceful?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                James and Mark — neither of you are comprehending the links and the research. If you are saying that the perfect timing causes pregnancy, then Akin didn’t say pregnancy can’t happen, but in an instance where the stress causes ovulation to stop, or anovulation, then it won’t, which would reduce the cases of pregnancy.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I’m not sure any of you understand what you are against — you just know that a bunch of people are pissed off at Akin, and it seems like the right thing to do. Mark, you are really stretching this thing out of proportion. It’s pitiful to see a smart person purposefully become stupid. So McGaskill is a lying political animal who will say or do anything to get elected? Good win there team. At least that monster Akin will not win.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                When you quote the “legitimate” rape part, and the body shutting down, you are mistaking what he says. He’s saying if it’s the type of rape we all know to be forceful and violent, not statutory, then there is stress and the stress causes a biological reaction that tries to shut it down to pregnancy. Tod claimed that Akin said that when a woman gets raped and gets pregnant that the rape is not legitimate — this is dishonest, totally. Akin didn’t make this claim.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I’m really disappointed in the low character of those who are intentionally smearing Akin and dishonestly turning him into a misogynist, sexist monster. This is incredible. This is worse than Balloon Juice. This kind of attack is lacking any charitable, mature understanding — it’s just dishonest — and makes you all look like monsters yourselves.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “Yeoman’s work all, but I think this is one of those cases where being right supersedes listening. If Mike’s ever going to get what you’re both saying i think it’s going to have to be after some distance in time and far away from this site. It may be time to give this a rest. Otherwise it may be endless threading of Mike googling stress and fertility and you guys trying over and over to explain what ovulation means.”

                You should be ashamed of this post, especially as you continue in the vein of self-righteousness, but you are the one who doesn’t understand. In a way, I feel sorry for you. You actually believe you are on the right side in this. That’s a dangerous lack of insight.Report

              • I know I said I was done with this, and it is my intent that I so be done. However, your accusation of dishonesty is, frankly, offensive and outrageous, particularly given the evidence that has been provided on this issue. I’m sorry I was unable to persuade you, but being unpersuaded is hardly a basis for accusations of dishonesty.

                Second, I did not say McCaskill was lying – I merely said that her statement did not exonerate Akin, and cannot be read as an exoneration of him, or to quote myself: ” One can be a sexist, mysogynistic troglodytic ignoramus and still be “honorable.”

                In fact, if you go to her campaign website right this very moment, you will be hit with an immediate and, indeed, obnoxious request for donations to defeat Todd Akin; the request features his entire quote blown up in a rather large font, with the even larger header declaring: “Claire’s Opponent Todd Akin Thinks Women Can’t Get Pregnant From ‘Legitimate Rape.'”

                In fact, I’ve yet to find any quote of her even going so far as to say he’s honorable or accept his apology. To the contrary, a minute or two of googling found this: http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/david/mccaskill-rape-remarks-are-window-todd-akins

                “”This statement is kind of window into Todd Akin’s mind,”

                “He may be acting like he was backtracking but he didn’t say he was wrong,” McCaskill continued. “He is now acknowledging that someone can become pregnant when they have been raped. But what he said in his statement was that it was rare, there was something in the women’s body that could, you know, shut down a pregnancy because if it was a ‘legitimate’ rape. He hasn’t said that’s a wrong statement, he hasn’t apologized for that statement.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Mark, what you did in that comment, the one right up there? It’s “is incredible. [It’s] is worse than Balloon Juice. This kind of attack is lacking any charitable, mature understanding — it’s just dishonest — and makes you all look like monsters yourselves.” Dude! You’re worse than Balloon Juice!

                Mike, why do you think Mark is arguing so disingenuously? And I’m asking sincerely. More than anyone at this site*, I think, Mark has a reputation for honesty in his arguments. Why think he’s being different now? Is it because you think his arguments are a thinly veiled attack on Akin’s conclusion about the permissibility of abortion, rather than an attack on Akin’s argument for that conclusion? I’d sure like to think you could see the difference here, Mike.

                Just because people disagree about the conclusion Akin is arguing for doesn’t mean we can’t agree that his argument is really bad.

                *Well, at least as much as.Report

              • Avatar Sam says:


                He did make this claim. He said that when a women is raped, her body shuts down. Ergo, if a woman is pregnant, she wasn’t raped. What other conclusion can you possibly draw?Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Sam, he said that a woman’s body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down, in other words — when the rape is a rape as we know and think of rape, which is horrible beyond imagination, a woman’s body reacts to the stress in ways that can interefere with ovulation. To say that ovulation must be present to get pregnant is saying nothing. Stress has been shown to interfere with ovulation, so after the rapist discharges, a woman who would ovulate, say, two days later normally would not ovulate due to the stress and the body’s reaction. Having sex 2 to 3 days before ovulation is the most fertile time, but if stress interferes with ovulation, then you can see that the comment has some merit, and that the reactions are out of line.Report

              • Avatar Sam says:


                Let’s suppose we concede everything you’ve written here: that women have systems which “shut down” after rape, that ovulation is interrupted, etc. That still doesn’t change the fact that what he was implying was that women who are pregnant can’t have been raped. After all, they have “systems” for dealing with that. So by implication, if a woman is pregnant pregnant, the system must not have been triggered, thus they must not have been raped. That’s offensive even if we concede everything that you’ve said.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “One can be a sexist, mysogynistic troglodytic ignoramus and still be “honorable”

                Stillwater, mainly for making arguments like this. It’s juvenile and dishonest. When people resort to namecalling they have no argument left, but it’s dishonest to pretend you do. Smearing Akin based on what he said is uncalled for — a person can disagree with Akins’ beliefs without smearing the person.Mark acts as if what Akin said is rife with implications regarding whether rape as we know rape is rape at all, but this is not what Akin is saying- Plus, he misrepresents what I say, which is dishonest.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “In fact, I’ve yet to find any quote of her even going so far as to say he’s honorable or accept his apology. ”

                Well, I heard it. You are in denial something terrible. But then you like to make me out as an imbecile, so I probably didn’t hear it and just made it up. Jeez. Wow. How people defend what you’re doing here, I have no idea.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “Well, I heard it. You are in denial something terrible. ”

                Link to it.

                Mark linked to her responses, calling him a liar for quoting what he linked to is… bizarre.

                Unless you can link to her saying she accepts the apology and finds him honorable for saying what he said?

                If you can link to her saying that, I will give you so many kudos. If you can’t link to that, then at the very least you might refrain from calling Mark a liar for quoting things he *can* link to.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “Let’s suppose we concede everything you’ve written here: that women have systems which “shut down” after rape, that ovulation is interrupted, etc. That still doesn’t change the fact that what he was implying was that women who are pregnant can’t have been raped.”

                No, he didn’t imply that. The stress reaction “trys” to interfere with the ovulation and it does at times. Akin says that women who are raped can get pregnant. That’s what he said. This is what I’m talking about when I say dishonest — you are not taking into account what Akin actually said.

                “After all, they have “systems” for dealing with that.””

                What are the scare quotes for, to make it look strange, as if I’m saying women have these magic systems? It’s a biological/hormonal reaction, nothing magical.

                “So by implication, if a woman is pregnant pregnant, the system must not have been triggered, thus they must not have been raped. That’s offensive even if we concede everything that you’ve said.”

                Again, the research doesn’t say that the stress reaction is 100%, and Akin didn’t say this, and you would know that if you had paid attention rather than rush to a simplistic dissing of what I said.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:


                There was another interview in which she used a different term than sincere, and I think it was honorable. I don’t know why you couldn’t find this — it’s basically what I said — it makes my point.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Clearly, you’ve picked and chosen which sort of group dynamics you think should be worrisome to intelligent people: getting shit wrong in the furtherance of an ideology? Not so bad. Suggesting that people might be racist or misogynist? Bad. Got it.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                No, actually I see the light now. Akin is a sexist, misogynist religious nut. I suspected it all along, but I wanted to see if my defense had any foundation. I hope he suffers one day like the women he hates who’ve been raped. I will always hate him now that I see why I should. Thanks. This is a good group, and I have been bad. My antisocial stubbornness has caused pain, and I apologize. Some of the most insightful, cutting edge intellectuals grace this site, and I am grateful to be a small part of it. Fuck Akin, long live the League, Obama, love and Justice.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                You are very bitter today, dude. I suggest a beach vacation, or at least a massage in the mall.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW says:

                Anyone who thinks you can separate rape into the categories of “legitimate” and
                “non-legitimate” (or “forcible” and “non-forcible”) is a misogynist.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Jason – (I thought I was out, but they pulled me back in) 🙂

          Good find. This is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for but my time was limited and I guess my google-fu must bow to yours. This is the sort of thing that (assuming the study is well-designed and results replicable) kicks the legs out from under the ‘scientific’ bit of Akin’s argument, and I’d recommend that people make him aware of these facts pronto. The second, concluding moral part of his argument (abortion is still wrong, and two wrongs don’t make a right) remains, and is a philosophical question, about which reasonable people can and will disagree.

          I said before that it would not surprise me to find the female body had defenses against this sort of thing.

          What I did not say, for fear of becoming an even bigger leper than I have apparently already made of myself here, is that the opposite finding (as you have found, that rape may be MORE effective at causing pregnancy than consensual sex is) would not surprise me either. 🙁

          Reproductive strategies/fitness don’t give a damn about human morality, and what we humans call ‘rape’ is called ‘a successful date’ in much of the animal kingdom. That it’s not pretty, and that I don’t like nor recommend it, makes no difference to the universe. I am sad to find out once again that this is true.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            One ought to read it less as a successful date, and more as “straying may be a good reproductive strategy.” Expect marriage, and continual sex as the default — rape in that context simply means “new and more interesting” genes.

            (also, expressing a full and honest “I dunno, it could be anything” is probably better than tentatively siding with someone being called otu for being an idiot)Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Maybe, but the way things were going already, I was expecting ‘See, Glyph thinks rape is great/natural! I KNEW it! He says that after all, animals do it, so it must be OK! What a maroon/misogynist!’.

              I am quickly learning that what you don’t say is as important as what you do, so I was trying to stay focused on the questions as I saw them, and avoid setting off any more bombs. Not that it helped all that much. This is just such an all-around emotional topic that wading into it is always a minefield.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          Akin’s position can be torn down easily, if you are only paying attention to “rarely”, which was not his primary point. His point is that even if women do get pregnant from rape and his understanding that stress affects ovulation, or something like that, is wrong, it doesn’t matter to him, because he is defending life regardless of how often women get pregnant from rape. This is how I understood him. He was inartful, but an intelligent person who values understanding over gotcha politics will move past the clumsy introduction to his support for life under all conditions. If Akin had simply said I value life over all other concerns, then this wouldn’t have been so controversial, but because he clumsily left himself open to attack, the attack dogs salivated and instinctively attacked. It’s pitiful to watch this behavior from intelligent people. There are many more things to get morally upset over, like Obama;s drone campaign and the innocent people dying because Obama and other politicians are playing political games with young men and women as pawns to be disposed of for political gain or to avoid looking weak to win an election.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      stress can ALSO cause miscarriages, which is more probably causally related to “woman raped, not have baby” — because ovulation often happens BEFORE sex.Report

  8. Avatar Glyph says:

    Based on the 38 seconds of The Jaco Report presented above, Akin does not appear to be saying what this post implies he is saying. Tod, I usually agree with you but I think you are way off-base here.

    Without transcribing the entire statement, Akin says in effect:

    1.) It is his understanding that pregnancy as a result of rape is rare.
    2.) The reason for that rarity is due (again as he understands it) to physiological responses on the part of the victim (implied: the psycholgical and physiological stress of rape presumably acting as a countervailing force to conception/pregnancy).
    3.) He then concedes that even though he understands this to be the case, it is possible that in some cases that this line of physiological defense may be insufficient to prevent a pregnancy (IOW, nothing works 100% of the time).
    4.) In which case, as a pro-life person, he still believes that the perp should be punished, not another innocent victim.

    Now, I am having a really hard time understanding how, even if you disagree with his statements or conclusion, you think that he is saying anything close to ‘those sluts that *do* get pregnant from rape, must really have wanted it’. That is just a huge, and uncharitable, leap.

    When I google ‘how often does pregnancy result from rape’, most of the links I find cite sources similar to what have already been quoted, around 5%.

    I also found this:


    Now, given the title, I am sure many won’t even click on it, and I only skimmed it, and did not check his premises or math – but at least the author goes through the methodology he used to derive his numbers, so those inclined to dig further have plenty to do so. Unsurprisingly, he comes up with lower figures.

    I also found this:

    That’s 1.3 million females raped per year. The article notes this is significantly higher than estimates such as the FBI one Tom notes.

    Hopefully these two links may assist commenters in guesstimating ‘rarity’ (obviously itself a vague/debatable term) as this is one of the two most factually-debatable statements he makes (the other of course being the supposed automatic physiological defenses of female rape victims).

    I probably can’t discuss this much further tonight, sorry, life stuff. But I really think this is much less than it is being made out to be. Is Akin wrong? Misinformed? Possibly.

    But is he slut-calling? Probably not (unless there is more to the remarks than what I saw in 38 seconds).Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I will check this all out when I am back at my computer, especially since it is coming from you glyph.

      Without bein able to access the video in the run, though, I can tell you that while he was absolutely arguing the main point you say he was, he says that female bodies shut down when they are raped – and then takes the time to clarify, “legitimately raped.”

      I take this to mean that those pregnancies that occur where women have claimed it was rape were not being so forthright. Further, I think you have to kind of look for an alternative interpretation not to read it that way. Similar to his liberals hate God comments that he walked back a while back, I think he slipped and said something he really thinks – because “doctors he knows” said so.

      But like I said, it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong so I will review when I get home tonight.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I am basing everything I say here off the 38 seconds of video. I am unaware of the man or his statements otherwise.

        But even his qualifier ‘legitimate’ – do we really think that no female ever gets pregnant, and then either due to malice/vindictiveness/revenge, or mental illness, or alcoholic blackout during the sex act, falsely accuses a man of rape after the fact? Never?

        Maybe I am too naive, but I see the use of the word ‘legitimate’ as an attempt at excluding cases like this from the statement that follows, as well as those things that end up being called ‘rape’ that really aren’t (like the 18-year old getting his 15-year-old girlfriend pregnant via consensual stupid teenage sex).Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          The other way to view the use of the word “legitimate” is that he is going back to the day’s of old-English common law when a woman had to do everything in her power (and beyond) to prevent the non-consenting sex from happening. She also had to be as pure as driven snow.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          alcoholic blackout is rape, if not in legal terms. lack of informed consent is rape.Report

      • In which case, as a pro-life person, he still believes that the perp should be punished, not another innocent victim.

        I’m waiting for him to step up to the rest of the job. If the state requires that the rape victim carry the baby to term, then the state ought to damned well guarantee that the rape victim gets a chance to do the things she would have done without the baby: attend college; put in long hours in an entry-level job building a career; enjoy the chance to occasionally be young and foolish while she’s young. And not hide behind “give the baby up for adoption,” making the mother a victim again. Let’s not make it a choice between giving up the baby or (with high probability) being consigned to being poor forever.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I think that his use of the phrase “legitimate rape” is very problematic. With that phrase, the logical conclusion of his statements are that women who become pregnant via rape might not actually have been “legitimately” raped. Whether such a position is something he actually believes or meant to convey is hard to know. But even giving him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t actually think that, straying too close to the “rape allegations are mostly made up” or “women are asking for it” paths is unwise.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        “straying too close to the “rape allegations are mostly made up” or “women are asking for it” paths is unwise.”

        That he may have strayed too close to saying those things is debatable; but what is not debatable to my mind, is that many appear to have strayed too close to *hearing* those things.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Akin’s phrasing and entire position left open the possibility of being interpreted as saying rape victims are asking for it and/or are falsely alleging their attacks.

          How else should we interpret him saying that the whole system shuts down if a woman is “legitimately raped”? In those instances where a victim DOES become pregnant… are they all examples of that system shut down failing? Or are they examples of something that can’t legitimately be called rape?Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            Please try listening again. We can certainly concede there are things that get called rape that really are not; and he concedes that the ‘shut down system’ may not work in all cases.

            What is so objectionable here (aside from the fact that I have no idea if there even is a ‘shut-down system’, but the deleterious effects of stress on the human body are pretty well-known)?

            I mean, if we want to get outraged, we can always look hard and find a reason, I guess; give me a few to get my pitchfork and torch from the shed. 😉Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              I did listen. What I heard him say was that women who get legitimately raped only very rarely get pregnant. It appears that the incidence of pregnancy among rape victims is more than “very rare”. Either he and I have a disagreement on what constitutes “very rare” or he thinks that most women who get pregnant via rape weren’t “legitimately” raped. If it is the latter, I find that highly objectionable.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                And as the linked article mentions, Akin once expressed concern that women might use an anti-marital-rape law to “beat up on a husband” during divorce proceedings. While I’m sure there are instances of that happening, my hunch is that it is FAR more rare an occurrence than pregnancy via rape. What does not seem so rare is Akin alleging that rape victims are falsifying their attacks..Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Wikipedia, so, you know, salt and all:

                FBI reports consistently put the number of “unfounded” rape accusations around 8%


                So, we can debate about what ‘rare’ means to you and me, but by my math the percentage of false rape accusations exceeds the percentage of rape-related pregnancies, anyway.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I meant specifically unfounded rape allegations used in divorce proceedings. In that case, he saw fit to question the validity of an anti-marital-rape law because of such rare exceptions (though he ultimately voted in favor of it).Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Again, everything I am saying here is based on the 38 second video. I have no idea what he has said about marital rape.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                But given additional evidence, why not reconsider your position?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Because that is not the point of the OP. The OP is, paraphrased, ‘hey, listen to this…this dude thinks that rapes do not result in pregnancy! What’s more, he says this is because if you get pregnant from a rape, you must have wanted it!’

                I don’t think Akin says that in the video, for the reasons I note.

                I am NOT stating that he is therefore correct in what he is saying, just that I believe he is not saying what the OP implies he is saying in that video.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Akin is saying that according to Doctor Spaceman, when a woman is legitimately raped, her body shuts the whole thing down (which is a wonderful way of phrasing what he is completely ignorant of), and only in rare cases does pregnancy result.

                Or, more formally: if a woman is legitimately raped, the chances are she won’t get pregnant.

                The contrapositive: if a woman is pregnant, the chances are she wasn’t legitimately raped.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Or, interpreted more charitably:

                1.) some women who are pregnant who say they were raped, were not raped (I see no reason this statement is false). Why should these women get the rape exemption?

                2.) Of the rest, the legitimately raped, few will become pregnant (very debatable, obviously, but not obviously false on its face, until we get the actual numbers, then agree on what number constitutes ‘few’).

                Akin thinks the number is few enough that it does not warrant an exception. This may be cold, or wrong – but it is not obviously medieval/misogynistic.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                1.) some women who are pregnant who say they were raped, were not raped (I see no reason this statement is false). Why should these women get the rape exemption?

                I’m asking this seriously: Do you see how some people would see that statement as misogynistic?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I will answer seriously: How on earth can that be misogynistic?

                People lie or are mistaken, all the time.

                Therefore, some percentage of people (male, or female) who claim to have been (or think they were) raped, are lying or mistaken.

                People who are lying or mistaken, should not get the benefit of a proposed legal exception explicitly intended to benefit those who are telling the truth, and correct.

                Misogynistic? Seriously? Yer killin’ me here. This is my whole point – some people are looking so hard for offense that they will always find it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I think misogyny claims are based in the fact that rape is one of the few (only?) crime where we spend much of our time speaking about the legitimacy of the claims or the propensity for victims to be mistaken or lying.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Which is not to say that the claims are necessarily on the mark… but I do think we should consider WHY it seems as if rape (almost?) exclusively gets this treatment.Report

              • Waist-deep in Lake Lou Yaeger, Mr. Glyph.Report

              • Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

                Wikipedia mentions that “unfounded” is not the same thing as “false.” As far as I can tell, the FBI stat is of rape accusations that lack corroborating evidence, not those that are positively disproved. It’s certainly possible for someone to commit a crime and leave no evidence behind, or for that evidence to remain undiscovered. Given that rape is a crime uniquely dependent on inner mental states and communication of those mental states, I’m frankly surprised the number isn’t higher than it is. Consider a person who is having sex with a regular partner in the privacy of their home, tells his or her partner to stop, and the partner continues. It’s rape, but what evidence would be left behind?Report

            • Avatar KatherineMW says:

              We can certainly concede there are things that get called rape that really are not

              No, no we cannot. Rape is having sex with a person who does not consent (including cases where the person, due to age or impairment, is incapable of consenting). I’ve heard this line from Republicans before, except they typically use “forcible” rather than “legitimate” as the qualifying term. It’s basically a way of saying that date rape or statutory rape isn’t actually rape. Some go far enough to say that if there isn’t actual internal injury (e.g., if someone doesn’t struggle because she’s got a knife to her throat) it’s not rape.Report

              • Disagree. A 19 year old having sex with a 15 year old is not the equivalent of rape achieved through physical force or the threat thereof.Report

              • Unfortunately, I think there are some shades of grey here. When we start adding in alcohol, drugs, dysfunctional relationships, and emotional and psychological challenges, things aren’t as cut and dried.

                A little while ago, the Supreme Court of Canada had to decide on the issue of “advance consent”. And. of course, as Will notes there are issues regarding relative ages in statutory rape cases.

                Nonetheless, I think I tend to agree with the spirit of your comment.Report

      • Avatar BobbyC says:

        Calling it “problematic” is generous … accurate and generous.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        I assume that he was referring to the possibility of the rape exception being used as a loophole. Statistically, the vast majority of abortions are based on a financial or personal decision, not because the mother was raped. There is anecdotal evidence that young women get around parental notification laws by claiming rape. Regarding the matter of partial-birth abortion, the AMA has said that there is never a need for that procedure in order to save the life of the mother, but that exception is always written into laws restricting partial-birth abortion. So there is something of a pattern of loophole exploitation.

        I also note that the candidate clearly didn’t say what this article alleges.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          Yes, and the people having abortions the most are not teenagers. (this may be part of “affordability” or “ease of access” for what its worth).
          Still, I’d venture to say that a good chunk of “personal decision” or even “financial decision” could be because of nonconsensual sex.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:


      Is a given instance of rape more likely to result in pregnancy than a given instance of consensual sex? This paper undertakes a review and critique of the literature on rape-pregnancy. Next, it presents our own estimation, from U.S. government data, of pregnancy rates for reproductive age victims of penile-vaginal rape. Using data on birth control usage from the Statistical Abstract of the United States, we then form an estimate of rapepregnancy rates adjusted for the substantial number of women in our sample who would likely have been protected by oral contraception or an IUD. Our analysis suggests that per-incident rape-pregnancy rates exceed per-incident consensual pregnancy rates by a sizable margin, even before adjusting for the use of relevant forms of birth control. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are discussed, as are its implications to ongoing debates over the ultimate causes of rape.


      This study aims to gather information either supporting or rejecting the hypothesis that acute stress may induce ovulation in women. The formulation of this hypothesis is based on 2 facts: 1) estrogen-primed postmenopausal or ovariectomized women display an adrenal progesterone-induced ovulatory-like luteinizing hormone (LH) surge in response to exogenous adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) administration; and 2) women display multiple follicular waves during an interovulatory interval, and likely during pregnancy and lactation. Thus, acute stress may induce ovulation in women displaying appropriate serum levels of estradiol and one or more follicles large enough to respond to a non-midcycle LH surge.


      Pregnancy resulting from rape is more prevalent than generally recognized, and violations of women’s sexual and reproductive self-determination take many forms. Four themes–relationship rape, power dynamics, maternal ambivalence, and social reactions and support–can be identified in one woman’s experiences and the literature. Recommended interventions, based on a woman-centered empowerment framework, include safety assessment, formulating a safety plan, and facilitating social support. Emergency postcoital contraception is a preventive option.


      OBJECTIVE: We attempted to determine the national rape-related pregnancy rate and provide descriptive characteristics of pregnancies that result from rape. STUDY DESIGN: A national probability sample of 4008 adult American women took part in a 3-year longitudinal survey that assessed the prevalence and incidence of rape and related physical and mental health outcomes. RESULTS: The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion. CONCLUSIONS: Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1996;175:320-5.)

      Also follow the cites therein, of course.Report

  9. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    Whether it’s rare or not is irrelevant.

    Murder is rare too. Why? Lots of reasons. But in part it’s because the intended victims will often fight back. Much as women are being alleged to do here.

    That said, it would be no defense of someone’s seriousness or empathy if he were asked about murder and he replied, “oh, well, that’s very rare, because legitimate victims usually fight back.”

    We would rightly see that response as legitimizing murder. Wouldn’t we?Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I would disagree that rarity is irrelevant. We normally build law on the case of the norm, not the exception. Using the exception (the rare event) as the basis for the law makes for bad law. It’s illegal for me to speed, but in rare cases I may escape punishment for this (I am rushing a sick person to hospital, or fleeing a carjacker) but the speed limit is what it is, we don’t repeal it in case people might sometimes need to speed. We also may want to (and do, all the time) carve out exceptions in the law for the rare cases

      Akin is being asked whether the (debatably) rare cases justify the current state of the law, and he is responding that in his view, no.

      You can disagree with this (as I do – these sorts of exceptions are part of the reason I reluctantly oppose criminalizing abortion) but I do not see that it is an unprincipled stand, or one that is inherently dismissive to the women who find themselves in this terrible situation.

      I maintain Akin is not saying what Tod’s post implies he is.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        But he was referring specifically to a rape exception. You are right that rarity matters if the argument being put forward is that all abortions should be legal so that rape victims can pursue one if they are pregnant. But what was being asked is about allowing abortion ONLY in the case of rape; even if there is simply one such case a year, it matters not.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I would disagree that rarity is irrelevant. We normally build law on the case of the norm, not the exception. Using the exception (the rare event) as the basis for the law makes for bad law.

        I have no idea what you’re arguing here. You’re responding to Jason here. yes?, and he said that murder is rare. If you’re argument makes any sense at all, then it appears you hold that legislating against murder is bad law.


        • Avatar Glyph says:

          I think Jason’s example is not analogous. In Akin’s view, abortion is murder, presumably. He is being asked if he would allow exceptions to considering an abortion murder, using a commonly-held exception case for many.

          He responds that that case is rare (so would not justify an exemption to a law against murder/abortion), and in any case would create an additional crime victim (increasing criminal acts), so he is opposed to creating an exemption for rape.

          Again, feel free to disagree (I do) but he is not denying the existence of pregnant rape victims; he is simply making a different calculus with regard to the advisability of exemptions to a proposed abortion ban.

          You may not like his calculus, but it is unfair to call the man a rape-denier, based on what I see here.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            He responds that that case is rare (so would not justify an exemption to a law against murder/abortion),

            I agree that this is what he’s saying, but what’s the basis for not carving off an exception for just those cases. If he admits that pregnancy due to rape is possible, and he’s making a moral argument here, then simply saying that “it’s so rare that we need not include it’s possibility in our legal code” appears to conflict with the moral argument he’s making.

            It’s so inconsistent that it invites either mockery and ridicule, or attributing to him an additional and unstated motive (or premise) in arguing as he does.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Stillwater, his justification to not carving an exemption for just those cases is that it creates an additional criminal victim (the fetus) which is consistent with the proposed ban in the first place.

              It’s not inconsistent, and it’s not unprincipled, and it is not misogynistic. You just don’t like it.

              So let’s call him a rape-denier? How does that follow?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                his justification to not carving an exemption for just those cases is that it creates an additional criminal victim (the fetus) which is consistent with the proposed ban in the first place.

                Yes. Of course. He wants to ban abortion. But then why bring in all the “abortion is rare in cases of “legitimate rape” ” stuff? The definition of rare implies that it in fact occurs. But that makes the argument incoherent. Whether it’s rare or not is irrelevant. It’s whether or not it occurs. So the one moral conundrum Akin actually addresses in his argument about abortion – pregnancy due to forced unwanted carnal knowledge – is completely avoided because “rare events don’t matter”.

                How is that argument anything other than incoherent?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                And the lack of a specified ‘but I was fleeing from carjackers’ exception makes speeding limits incoherent? We seem to be talking past one another and I can’t quite figure out why. We don’t want to write every exception case into law. The rarer the exception case, the less likely we want it written in.

                He is presumably proposing a law banning abortion, and then giving 2 reasons why he feels the proposed exception case does not warrant a legal exception (extreme rarity, and the creation of an additional victim).

                How is this incoherent? Wrong, maybe, but it looks consistent to me.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                We’re not talking past each other, at least from where I’m sitting. Akin thinks that abortion should be prohibited. In response to the question of whether it should be prohibited in the case of rape, his argument that “legitimate” rapes rarely lead to pregnancy. There’s two problems with that: 1) “rare” means that they in fact occurs (an issue which both he and you discount as being irrelevant wrt how we construct law, which begs the moral question involved), and 2) pregnancy due to “legitimate” as opposed to “illigitmate” rapes are distinguished by a single criterion: whether pregnancy results. So women who became pregnant due to rape were not the victims of a “legitimate” rape.

                1) is incoherent without a further premise that rarity of X makes legislating against X bad law. But that brings us back to Jason K’s point: murder is rare, and it’s legislated against. 2) is misogynistic, implicitly and – in my view – explicitly.

                So the argument Akin is making is sucks on a bunch of levels.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                2 questions that may help me understand where we are missing each other:

                1.) Are there ever things called ‘rapes’ that are not legitimately, really rapes? Please consider the statuatory, and revenge/alcohol etc. scenarios I mention elsewhere.

                2.) If some percentage of ‘rapes’ are in fact false accusations, doesn’t this divide rapes into ‘legitimate’ (real) rapes and false ones?

                3.) Can we, and should we, write every exception case into law? Is this practical, or desirable? Should whether we do so or not vary, based on the frequency of the exception case?

                4.) If we write an exception for rape, doesn’t this raise the likelihood of false rape accusations, to take advantage of the exception?

                Again , for the record, I reluctantly oppose criminalization of abortion, probably for many of the same reasons you do.

                But I don’t think this guy is being incoherent, or a monster.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                eh, 2, 4, whatever it takes. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Well, I’ll concede that he’s not being a monster. But he’s being incoherent since he doesn’t apparently know that the word “rare” means, and he’s definitely trending towards misogyny when he distinguishes legitimate rapes from illegitimate ones by the criterion of how hard the women resisted the (unwanted) sexual act.

                1.) Are there ever things called ‘rapes’ that are not legitimately, really rapes? Please consider the statuatory, and revenge/alcohol etc. scenarios I mention elsewhere.


                2.) If some percentage of ‘rapes’ are in fact false accusations, doesn’t this divide rapes into ‘legitimate’ (real) rapes and false ones?

                No. It divides the accusation of rape in true ones and false ones.

                3.) Can we, and should we, write every exception case into law? Is this practical, or desirable? Should whether we do so or not vary, based on the frequency of the exception case?

                I’m not sure what this question means. The law is a series of exceptions: “murder is wrong except in the case of …” So exceptions are what constitutes the law, it seems to me.

                4.) If we write an exception for rape, doesn’t this raise the likelihood of false rape accusations, to take advantage of the exception?

                You mean, would it raise the likelihood of women claiming they were raped just so they could legally get an abortion? Absolutely.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Regarding question four, isn’t the same thing true of any exception of the law? Murder is illegal except in the case of self-defense. How many folks invoke claims of self-defense falsely?

                And while I will fully concede that some accusations of rape are false, I think we often forget the toll that making and following through with a rape allegation takes on a woman (which is not to say that remaining silent is preferable… just that there are real costs to going through the process). From what I understand, the experience is challenging enough that it is indeed rare to take the form of either outright lies (such as the type that Akin referred to regarding marital rape and divorce proceedings) or buyer’s remorse. It seems that many folks (not you, Glyph) think women just wantonly throw around rape allegations as if it is a convenient and costless excuse. My belief is that most women who make rape allegations that turn out to be false (for the record, failures to convict do not necessarily mean an allegation was false) are suffering from a mental illness.

                Of course, there is also still disagreement about what does constitute rape. If a woman is black out drunk and without the proper facility to give informed consent, is it rape? Many folks argue that it is not and that such accusations are “false” or “illegitimate” rapes.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                OK, so here is where I see us missing each other. I am charitably interpreting the word ‘legitimate’ as an attempt to exclude false accusation cases from the total set. You are not, instead seeing it as an attempt to de-legitimize some number of the (smaller set of) true accusation cases. This is obviously the biggie.

                W/R/T exceptions – of course the law contains exceptions. But rare scenarios are rarely excepted. We can disagree on what constitutes ‘rare’, but if I say that false rape accusations are relatively ‘rare’ (8%), and I would be surprised if you disagree, it seems strange to say that 5% of rapes resulting in pregnancy is not (even more) relatively ‘rare’.

                Last but not least, if (as the questioner does) we accept the proposed abortion ban itself, and also believe that a rape exception creates (as Akin believes) an additional ‘victim’ in the fetus, and also (as you and I believe) additional ‘victims’ in the form of some wrongfully-accused pseudo-rapists – then exactly why is it so wrong to argue against allowing the exception? I don’t see how this is inconsistent with the premise.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Given that Akin has elsewhere accused women of using anti-marital-rape laws to “beat up on a husband” during divorce proceedings, is it fair to be less than charitable in understanding his use of the word “legitimate” here? It seems he’s got a bit of a bug up his butt about women watonly throwing around rape allegations.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Do women ever falsely accuse of rape, marital or otherwise, particularly during nasty divorce proceedings? It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that both divorcing parties lie about all kinds of things to hurt the other and enhance their own standing. And a rape accusation is the nuclear option, legally and socially. You think no divorcing party ever swears to destroy the other?

                Look, I don’t want to dismantle marital rape (or any) rape laws. I would like to see more aggressive prosecution of false rape accusers, but I am aware of and understand the reasoning against taking a more aggressive stance in most cases (that is, to avoid discouraging women from coming forward). I do think the way things currently stand often put a male who is falsely accused at considerable disadvantage, but that is maybe unfixable and a topic for another post in any case.

                But I do not see how this is relevant to the question I am trying to discuss.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                But Glyph… as I just pointed out elsewhere, rape seems to be the only crime where so much focus is paid to false claims. While I do think there is absolutely a space for legitimate conversation about false claims, especially with regards to the damage such claims can have on real claims and real victims, it so often seems that such conversations are grounded in attacks on women and/or are often proffered by folks who seem to think that real claims are the exception, not false claims.

                Again, I sincerely believe that you are not one of the people described, but I do think there is reason to think Akin just might be.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Do women ever falsely accuse of rape, marital or otherwise, particularly during nasty divorce proceedings?

                Do men ever falsely deny rape accusations, marital or otherwise?

                I don’t see how this is relevant, unless there’s some nasty unstated premise involved.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I’m generally with Stillwater on this subthread. But here are my own answers to these questions, with a couple of other observations.

                2 questions that may help me understand where we are missing each other:

                Well, four, but who’s counting?

                1.) Are there ever things called ‘rapes’ that are not legitimately, really rapes? Please consider the statuatory, and revenge/alcohol etc. scenarios I mention elsewhere.

                Yes. But is it a useful bit of evidence, in statutory rape cases, to observe that the woman got pregnant? That is, if we find that she got pregnant, can we infer with any degree of confidence that the man did not “legitimately” rape her?

                2.) If some percentage of ‘rapes’ are in fact false accusations, doesn’t this divide rapes into ‘legitimate’ (real) rapes and false ones?

                No. As Stillwater said, the allegation is true or false. I don’t know what Akin even meant by “legitimate.”

                3.) Can we, and should we, write every exception case into law? Is this practical, or desirable? Should whether we do so or not vary, based on the frequency of the exception case?

                If it were true that women who get raped are less likely to get pregnant, we could certainly use pregnancy as a piece of evidence that might create reasonable doubt. Our legal system does no such thing, however, and I think it’s very clearly right not to.

                4.) If we write an exception for rape, doesn’t this raise the likelihood of false rape accusations, to take advantage of the exception?

                Yes. But if we hold that pregnancy is indicative of non-rape, then it will create a tendency toward the dismissal of true rape charges.

                There is one way to avoid all this, of course. Allow abortion to be legal whether or not the woman was raped. That won’t solve the problem for people who believe the fetus is a person whose rights trump the woman’s rights, but it is a happy outcome for those of us (like me) who believe 1) the fetus isn’t a person for much of its time in the womb and 2) even when it is, its rights do not trump those of the woman.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Jason – Yes, I caught the 2 versus 4 thing right after I posted, see my next comment, bonus points if you got the reference. 🙂

                “is it a useful bit of evidence, in statutory rape cases, to observe that the woman got pregnant? That is, if we find that she got pregnant, can we infer with any degree of confidence that the man did not “legitimately” rape her?”

                No, of course not. That is not the point Akin, or I was making. This question only arises because you think he was saying pregnancy = not raped, which I don’t think he was.

                “I don’t know what Akin even meant by “legitimate.” –

                Nor apparently do any of us, and there’s the rub. Many see it as an attempt to discredit rape victims. I see it as an attempt to qualify and exclude false charges of rape from the answer following. Glad we spent days debating what Obama meant by ‘that’, only to turn to debating what this dude meant by ‘legitimate’. In each case, the answer seems to be, ‘whatever makes the speaker look jerkiest.’

                “If it were true that women who get raped are less likely to get pregnant, we could certainly use pregnancy as a piece of evidence that might create reasonable doubt. Our legal system does no such thing, however, and I think it’s very clearly right not to.”

                Again, that is not the argument Akin or I am making. As you note, if it turned out to be scientifically factual, accused rapists would try to use use it in rape defenses; but I don’t think Akin was making a point about rape and accused rapists’ defenses, he was making a point about (his belief in) the rarity of the exception case and how that bears on his thinking regarding a proposed exception under his presumably proposed ban.

                “There is one way to avoid all this, of course. Allow abortion to be legal”

                Yes, obviously, I agree. But at the point we are hung up on, the argument had moved past that point. That point was not the one under debate, the debate was, how about this exemption? To which the speaker answered, I think that is rare, but anyway my beliefs (another wrong won’t make a right) compel me to oppose it. Scandalous!

                If Ghandi came back tomorrow and said, ‘Rape victims should use non-violent responses, because I believe that complete acquiescence will cause some rapists to lose interest, and also because it is morally wrong to perform violence, even in self-defense’, some people wouldn’t just be satisfied with calling him wrong (like I would) they would have to call him medieval, misogynist and incoherent as well (which he might or might not be, but I wouldn’t say he was based on the above argument).Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                you think he was saying pregnancy = not raped, which I don’t think he was.

                No, that’s not what I think. But I do think that a fair reading of the original statement indicates that he finds pregnancy a ground for reasonable doubt about whether a rape occurred.

                Remember, to find someone not guilty, we don’t need certainty. We just need reasonable doubt. If a woman gets pregnant, and if rapes usually don’t result in pregnancy, that’s pretty clearly reasonable doubt. And I find that atrocious.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I’ll add one thing more and then I gotta really for real drop this this time, I have a crazy amount of work I should be doing instead of tilting at windmills. If, after reading my comments up and down this thing, people still don’t get the point I am trying to make (that the OP title and post’s characterization of Akin’s comments in the video is IMO unfair in the extreme), then I have obviously failed as an internet commenter, and possibly as a human being.

                To head it off at the pass: no, I am not comparing Akin to Ghandi. Please don’t go there.

                I am simply noting that if Ghandi said ‘Rape victims should use non-violent responses, because I believe that complete acquiescence will cause some rapists to lose interest, thereby making rape rarer, and also because it is morally wrong to perform violence, even in self-defense’ and I posted a Headline an OP that said ‘GHANDI TO WOMEN: DON’T STRUGGLE AND YOU WON’T GET RAPED, AND IF YOU DO GET RAPED, WELL THEN YOU WANTED IT’, it would be a very uncharitable interpretation of Ghandi’s actual statement, thereby imputing to him not only incorrectness, but idiocy and evilness to boot.

                Nowhere in these threads have we tried to tackle the veracity of Akin’s ‘medical’ claim. Even if we had, nowhere have we tried to agree upon whether the resulting number (the population we are talking about, remember) is ‘rare’, ‘common’, or ‘in-between’. Even if we had gotten there, we have not decided if a utilitarian calculus should admit such numbers/frequency when deciding how to craft the proposed prohibition and any proposed exception.

                Despite all this, we can comfortably say that Akin is saying something he did not; and moreover that thing he did not say (but possibly implied, accidentally or no!) is not only wrong, but says the worst of him and his kind?

                Nobody else sees this as leaping to conclusions?Report

          • I’m not the +1 type, Glyph, but you should be acknowledged that the OP headline is way off the fact. You shouldn’t have to keep asking Can I Get a Witness. You have ’em.

            Different question, then—dude’s saying that pregnancy via rape is rare, and I bet most of us thought it’s far more common that the 3-4000 per year figure. Mostly irrelevant, but it’s also argued that late-term abortion is rare, which it is. [1-2000 per year, quick google.]

            Some sense of proportion: rare, common or epidemic*?

            Still, although we should legislate toward the norms, to the rule not the exception, as a matter of principle, the rarity isn’t relevant.

            [There is another entire moral argument here, that a woman who conceives as a result of consensual sex incurs a moral obligation to the fetus that a woman who did not consent to the sex does not. But this is beyond the scope of this.]

            As Glyph writes, Rep. Akin argues against exceptions for rape. Two wrongs don’t make a right is his moral calculus, and it’s unassailable.

            * The “coathanger” argument. Part of what won the pro-abortion argument in the 1970s was that so many women were dying of illegal abortions. The figures of tens of thousands per year was a complete and conscious lie by abortion rights advocates. The true number was in the low hundreds.


            The true number of “coathanger” abortions that caused a death? One?Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              I specifically thought about bringing the coathanger thing up and decided against it. Of course numbers matter. They matter in deciding policy, and crafting law, and winning hearts and minds.

              So trying to get to agreement on what ‘rare’ means in this context, and then trying to find out what the numbers really are, before deciding what to do?

              I have zero problem with this.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Would there be harm in drafting a law that said riding unicorns was illegal?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Not sure I get your point Kazzy? I believe it would be harmful because 1.) it is a waste of time & money, both in the drafting and the likely future legal wrangling 2.) it encourages disrespect for the rule of law in general, because if we pass a law that is obviously ridiculous on its face, what other laws are also like that (see: WOD)? and 3.) it would put a crimp in the…experiments I am currently conducting in my basement.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                My point is that, for any particular law, we should weigh the harms versus the benefits.

                Some laws of inherent harms baked right in… laws that restrict freedoms and the like.

                Now, for some folks, exceptions for rape have a major baked in harm… the death of an innocent. Which is a valid position for them to take and argue. But for some folks, the primary harm is limited to what you’ve outlined in #1 there. If that is the limit of the harm (which, again, is not the case for everyone) and the benefit is that a rape victim is able to mitigate the harm done to her by her attacker, I think that makes for a compelling case for the law, regardless of how rare the exception might actually be.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                But Akin explicitly called out the ‘additional fetal victim’, and Still and I agree that false accusations would likely increase, so there’s some more victims. So that seems to satisfy your objection.

                W/R/T law/exception, go back to my speeding example…how many exceptions do we want to write? Pregnant wife in the car, for sure. Carjackers chasing you, fine. Etc. Etc. At some point a lot of resources (time, money, investigation) go into proving or disproving each exception case. The more exceptions we add, the more drag on the system. Therefore, adding a ‘being chased by Kazzy riding a unicorn’ exception is counterproductive, because that happens approximately 0% of the time – but if it is in the law, someone is gonna try to use that bugger eventually.

                Now, I realize that ‘being chased by Kazzy riding a unicorn’ happens 0% of the time (unless my experiments pan out! Stay tuned!) versus 5% of the time. But somewhere in that continuum (and I don’t know where, exactly) a scenario can be conceivably rare enough to not warrant legal consideration.

                Again, and for the record – I have no problem per se with a rape exception under an abortion ban, assuming there would be any way to administer said exception reliably and efficiently (time matters, we only have 9 months here and a rape case probably takes much longer than that to investigate/litigate).

                I cannot imagine being forced to carry to term the product of a rape. It would be horrific and I would not want to put anyone through it.

                But I do not think Akin’s position is unreasonable, given his premises.

                Listen, I gotta jump. Lots of work to do tomorrow and I have to watch Breaking Bad. Thanks for the thoughtful replies and catch y’all next time.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well argued. I agree with your logic here and will concede that, generally speaking, frequency does matter and the harmlessness of legal exemptions is a mirage (though that is largely a function of structural and/or human failures). Where on the continuum that line should live, I will concede to having no idea.

                Good chat. Catch up tomorrow if it’s still percolating.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                and Still and I agree that false accusations would likely increase,

                I didn’t say that false accusations of rape would increase. I said that if all abortion was prohibited except for those justified by rape, there’d be an increase of false claims of rape to justify legally getting an abortion.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Er, OK, that’s what I thought I said you said.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It’s not a distinction without a difference. If abortion is prohibited except when pregnancy results from rape, my claim is that women will be more likely to falsely claim they were raped to legally access abortion services. You’re claim is that permitting a rape exception to an otherwise general prohibition of abortion will increase the likelihood of women falsely accusing a particular male of raping them in order to legally access abortion services. So maybe your view here accepts an unstated premise: that a conviction in court of an actual, “legitimate” rape is necessary in order to legally receive abortion services.

                If so, then the woman would have to meet a potentially impossible burden of proof to sustain the charge since the presumption employed in this line of argument is that “legitimate rape” is defined as a rape which doesn’t result in pregnancy, and making the abortion contingent on a court case makes the possibility of an abortion moot, given the potential length of the trial.

                Given that, I can understand why you think the exception ought not be included, since the chances of winning the court case are remote to point of impossibility. Fair enough.

                But it should be pointed out – again – that this argument goes thru only on the supposition that a legitimate rape is one that doesn’t lead to pregnancy, which is, – in my mind – an empirically inaccurate as well as conceptually confused redefinition of rape.Report

          • Avatar BobbyC says:

            A very generous interpretation of what Akin said is “look when women get raped I believe, as a pro-life guy, they have to carry the baby to term, but fortunately I believe based on hearsay that raped women have natural bodily defenses to reduce the risk of pregnancy.”

            Wouldn’t it be nice if Akin were right and natural human biology limited pregnancies in that way? It’s not implausible given how incredible the human body is, but as Kazzy said above the whole thing is “problematic” especially in light of how frequently rape victims are blamed, either explicitly or implicitly.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Thanks BobbyC, I think you get where I am coming from.

              I am not saying that Akin is right, only that he is not obviously wrong/incoherent (with regard to the whole biological speculation, there are all kinds of weird things that both males and females do automatically/unconsciously that either increase or decrease the chance of pregnancy – and hey, some of these weird things are even quite fun!). It just seems like some people are jumping to the worst possible interpretation of what was said. And surprise, the people jumping farthest are the ones most likely predisposed to dislike the guy, his party, and his initial premise to begin with.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It just seems like some people are jumping to the worst possible interpretation of what was said. And surprise, the people jumping farthest are the ones most likely predisposed to dislike the guy, his party, and his initial premise to begin with.

                Well, in my own case, I can’t agree that my arguments against Akin’s claims are based on party affiliation. It’s that his argument, as stated, is absurd. If answered the “abortion in the case of rape” question by merely saying that even in that scenario abortion is impermissible since it’s the deliberate murder of a human being, then this post wouldn’t have been written and the comments wouldn’t exist.

                But instead of saying that, he concocted a redefinition of rape such “legitimate” rapes don’t present a moral problem for abortion prohibition since they don’t result in pregnancies, and all other sexual activity which results in pregnancy cannot be, by definition, a legitimate rape. By simply redefining the terms, he’s excluded the otherwise apparent moral dilemma that exists wrt abortion in rape cases.

                The reason it’s incoherent is that he concedes – implicitly, at least – that pregnancy due to rape presents a moral problem wrt the right of a woman to have an abortion. But he then discounts the moral problem as irrelevant by saying that it’s so rare it doesn’t warrant an exception to the general prohibition. What he’s offering in that claim is a pragmatic argument to avoid the moral challenge he implicitly accepts as legitimate.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I don’t see us making much more progress, Still:

                ‘he concocted a redefinition of rape’ – I don’t agree. That he was wrong on the facts of rape-related frequency seems very likely given the links provided today. That he appears to have spoken both ignorantly and inartfully also seems likely, especially given his apology. That he should not be on the Science Committee without having a better grasp of this stuff before he speaks seems incontestable.

                But I just do not see a redefinition of ‘rape’ in his original remarks. Not without drawing inferences that I do not think can be drawn from the comments in the video. Sorry, I just don’t. Shorter version, I just don’t think he meant what you think he meant when he used the word ‘legitimate’. I do not see how we can resolve this. I give him the benefit of the doubt and assume ‘Ignorant, but not necessarily Evil’, you don’t. I don’t see any further resolution.

                That he then basically concedes that even if he is wrong about the frequency of occurrence and moves on to the moral argument which still holds for him in any case – why all the hyperventilating because he dropped one line of argument and picked up another, the one that for him and his base presumably matters most? Again, this just seems like mountains out of molehills stuff. Some pol said something stupid that could be interpreted really really badly if you look at it the right way, and apologized when called on it. Stop the presses.

                This whole discussion would have presumably been much simpler if a.) he’d originally said exactly what we wished he had, in precise and unambiguous terms and b.) I had been able last night to find the links showing that he was likely wrong on the facts (to kick that claim to the side immediately, as factually incorrect). For b.), I apologize, I need to work on my google-fu.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Laughter’s a good weapon. I suggest we use it wisely. Go ahead and laugh at Doofus.

                What? Blaise was Just asking for more lulz.

                The other side uses fear.

                I know which side I’d rather be on.Report

              • Avatar Sam says:


                In our defense, we’re only jumping to the worst possible interpretation because that’s precisely what Akin meant.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                When someone is communicating badly, the rest of us have to try to figure it out, and I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when so doing. I didn’t realize that in addition to ‘chili master’, ‘psychic’ was also on your resume.

                Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? SAM DOES 😉Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Eddie Knows…Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:


                That’s not me doing any figuring. That’s not me being a psychic. That’s not me guessing at what is in the hearts of men. That’s me reading what the man said. You can’t interpret “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” any differently unless you simply aren’t interesting in dealing with the reality of what he’s alleging, which is that a pregnancy indicates that the sex was consensual.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                He alleged (incorrectly) that consensual sex is more likely than rape to result in pregnancy. He did not allege that rape never results in pregnancy.

                That this allegation is incorrect does not make it misogynistic, it simply makes it incorrect. For it to be misogynistic, intent must be demonstrated, and I don’t get that from the video.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I’m a bit throw by your refusal to look at evidence BEYOND the 38-seconds of video. Yesterday, I pointed you to prior statements by Akin, which also toed the lines that surround assuming rape allegations to be false. That same info was available in the linked piece. We also have Akin’s voting record on issues relating to abortion. Why not take any of that into account when attempting to decipher his meaning? Surely, if there was evidence that he was otherwise an upstanding feminist, it’d be fair to trot that out to mitigate his statement. But with evidence opposite that, evidence that seems to confirm he tends to think that women tend to just make up rape accusations, why can’t we consider that and thus be less-than-generous in our interpretations?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Kazzy, was trying to limit, as I thought the OP mostly did, the focus to the interview that caused the brouhaha and the use of the word ‘legitimate’.

                I thought this narrowing of focus would make it simpler, less emotional, less vitriolic.

                Shows what I know 🙂Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I can’t speak for others and say whether they were limiting themselves or what. But based on the quote alone (which I originally read elsewhere), I thought that this guy was simply an idiot for his fundamental misunderstanding of how the human body works. When I read it a bit more closely, I became more troubled about his record on issues relating to women and women’s reproductive health. I know that you are railing against some of the hyperbole here, which I agree with to a degree and I don’t THINK I indulged in. My first (or one of my first) posts here was actually in reference to a link Tod offered regarding the guy who said women should prepare for rape the same way folks prepare for flat tires with spares. That, to me, was a far uglier statement.

                So, just for the record, here is my stance:

                Akin’s statement was obviously stupid and likely ground in an implicitly misogynistic worldview wherein women are not to be trusted when they make accusations of rape. I consider most conversations that discuss things such as legitimate vs illegitimate rape or using rape allegations to “beat up” on men to be misogynistic because A) we seem to only have such conversations in regards to female rape victims, though I have seen no evidence that deliberately false rape accusations are any more frequent an occurrence than deliberately false accusations of other crimes and B) so often they move from, “Ya know, some women deliberately make false accusations of rape,” into “Ya know, most rape victims are simply suffering from buyer’s remorse,” and then onto “Ya know, most rape victims are asking for it.” This leads me to believe that most folks who want to start a conversation about what is a “legitimate rape” really want to have a conversation about women suffering buyer’s remorse and/or “asking for it”. Is Akin assuredly one of these people? I can’t say with any certainty, but I am inclined to believe he is and I think it is fair for us to wonder this (though not necessarily conclude).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I maintain Akin is not saying what Tod’s post implies he is.

        Akin says: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the womans’ body shuts that whole thing down.”

        How is Tod mischaracterizing what Akin is saying?Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Try listening again. “The female body has ways to *try* to shut that whole thing down” (emphasis mine). He then goes on to concede that these ways may not be 100% effective (as is implied by ‘try’).Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Hence Jason’s saying that whether it’s rare or not is irrelevant.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              OK, so you agree that my characterization of what Akin is saying is closer to what he actually, you know, said than yours was?

              Akin says (and I agree) that rarity of exception is relevant to deciding how to craft a law. If 100% of raped women get pregnant, that is a different case and may require different remedies than if .001% do.

              Just like if 100% of speeders are fleeing carjackers, that may call for different lawmaking than if .001% of speeders are fleeing carjackers.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                OK, so you agree that my characterization of what Akin is saying is closer to what he actually, you know, said than yours was?

                Now I’m confused. Akin is arguing against legalizing abortion in the case of rape. What characterization are we disagreeing about? Apparently we both agree about that. We’re disagree about the argument he, and you, are invoking to get to that conlcusion.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Because Akin himself concedes that 1.) He may be wrong (it is his understanding, from doctors) and 2.) even if so, this system may fail. He qualifies his own argument, potentially reducing its force, and then gives another.

                Your ‘quote’ at 8:29 (in quotes, after ‘Akin says’:), by omitting ‘try’, and the following statement that implies the try may not succeed, and the followup statement that he made to justify still not carving an exception, leaves his own attempts to moderate and qualify what he is saying out of the picture. It makes him seem certain on the point, rather than nuanced, and thereby paints him in the worst, most idiotic light possible.

                So therefore, he is obviously a rape-denier?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Glyph, my point is that the “try” is irrelevant to both the substance of his argument as well as the conclusion he’s arguing for. On the one hand, “trying and failing” is precisely the issue he was asked about, which he denied should be allowed an exemption under law. On the other, it’s just bullshit to suggest that if a woman get’s pregnant due to rape, the event causing that pregnancy wasn’t a “legitimate” rape.

                I mean, srsly: Wtf?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                And look: I get that you think that abortion is murder. But if you’re gonna argue for that view, and advocate prohibiting abortion in any event, then just make that argument: abortion is murder. Cuz that’s what Akin is arguing here. And all the other stuff is misogynistic incoherent nonsense.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                IMO – He didn’t ‘suggest’ that. You are inferring that. As I have attempted to explain, there is another, more charitable way to interpret Akin’s remarks. You don’t wanna? Fine. Nothing more to say, is there?

                Do I think that abortion is murder? Sometimes. Not always. It depends.

                Do I think I am a misogynist? I hope not. I oppose criminalizing it.

                Do I understand why someone else would say abortion is ‘ always’ murder, and should be criminalized? Yes, I do.

                Do I think they are misogynists? Some are, certainly. Some aren’t.

                I get that you don’t like the guy, or his party, or pro-life people or their arguments, but are you trying to miss the nuances here?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Glyph, all the nuances you’re talking about are imported into the argument. Here’s the argument: abortion in the case of rape should not be a carved out exception to an otherwise general prohibition because pregnancy to due legitimate rape is rare.

                There are no nuances in that argument. It’s very straight forward. That’s not to say there aren’t other arguments for not allowing a abortion due to rape exception. I mean, of course there are. you’ve been making them all thru this thread. But those are different arguments than the one Akin made.Report

              • Avatar BobbyC says:

                I hear you, but isn’t the point that he is wrong about “shutting the whole thing down” and should stick to the “the fetus is a person” line? As a politician he shouldn’t be treading into territory where you have to listen carefully and take him literally not to hear “raped women cannot get pregnant” which implicates “women who claimed to get pregnant via rape were not really raped” … I know he didn’t say that, and I argee with what you wrote, but I think you are missing the forest for the trees here.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Political tactics and good oratory and tin ears is another kettle of fish.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                from doctors? what sort of cockamamie doctor would not tell him that women’s bodies MURDER babies all the fucking time? And that rape increases the odds of MURDER more than normal, due to stress?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        The are N pregnancies resulting from “legitimate” rapes every year, and M resulting from non-rapes where the accusation of rape is made. For Akin’s claim that the rape exemption needs to go away to make sense, M has to be significant compared to N. The absolute numbers don’t matter, just the relative ones. Akin makes two arguments in this direction:

        1. N is smaller than you’d think for medical reasons.
        2. M is larger than you’d think because women will lie to get the abortion.

        1 is, at best, unproven. 2 even more so. So, Akin wants to make policy based on two unreliable assertions.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        How many pregnancies actually threaten the life of the woman? I’d guess they’re pretty rare. Does that mean they’re not worth making an exception for?Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          To me, they are worth making an exception for, even if extremely rare, as self-defense is everyone’s primary right. If it comes down to him or you, that’s just how it goes.

          But then, I also am ok with the rape exception, even if rape pregnancies are rare, as I have stated. Nor do I want abortion criminalized in the first place.

          But I can see someone else coming to different conclusions. And I can see how the numbers play into it when weighing the different ‘victims’ columns, particularly in a utilitarian calculus. And I don’t think they are necessarily medieval or misogynist to think so.

          Glyph: Hey you guys, you realize that the incidence of false rape accusation is only 8%? That’s fairly rare.

          Everyone else: Exactly, the vast majority of claims are true.

          Glyph: Hey you guys, you realize that the incidence of rape pregnancies is only 5%? That’s fairly rare.

          Everyone else: Misogynist!Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:


            As I’ve said elsewhere, the misogyny claims are based in the unique scrutiny we subject rape victims to regarding the legitimacy of their accusations. How often do we talk about “legitimate” victims of theft or child abuse or battery? How often do we say said victims were “asking for it”? Rape victims are overwhelmingly female (the number I saw is 95%, though it wouldn’t shock me if it was less than that since I’d venture to guess that underreporting is greater amongst male victims than female victims); the general discourse around rape victims focuses near-universally on women. And we see this disparity in the handling of it. You don’t think that, for some at least, that is based in misogyny? And that looking at Akin’s history on the topic, it is a fair accusation to levy?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              And fwiw, it is possible that the percentage of rape victims who become pregnant is greater than 5%. The 5% is based off the prevalence of pregnancy amongst “unprotected, one-time sexual encounters”. So this does not include instances of serial rape, such as might be committed within a marriage or with youth victims. Some estimates peg “stranger rape” at about 26% of total rapes.

              It also could be less than 5%; if any form of protection is used, that has an impact. Plus there are cases of statutory rape that most would consider consensual if they involve a couple involved in a committed relationship who happen to be just across the line from each other. It should be noted that in most of these cases, the person bringing charges or making the accusation is NOT the female.

              So, the reality is, we really don’t know what the number is. Perhaps all these things come out in the wash and 5% is a reasonable figure. Maybe it is a great deal more or less. I think the fact remains is that, at least as far as Akin is concerned, there should be no exception for rape, regardless of frequency; to do so is to double-down on creating victims. With this in mind, why even go down that road?Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

            You need to make the parallels parallel.

            Glyph: Hey you guys, you realize that the incidence of false rape accusation is only 8%? That’s fairly rare.

            Everyone else: Exactly, the vast majority of claims are true. So, when someone makes an accusation, let’s not even bother with a trial.

            Glyph: Hey you guys, you realize that the incidence of rape pregnancies is only 5%? That’s fairly rare.

            Everyone else: Sure, so when a pregnant woman claims she was raped, we’ll just call BS.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Mike, come on. It wasn’t about what we should do (if anything) with those numbers, or how people could misuse those numbers. We never even got that far. As noted by others today, there are reasons to believe that both numbers may be inaccurate, perhaps wildly so.

              It was about what the numbers actually *are*, and what number constitutes ‘rare’, for the purposes of toting up various ‘victims’ in a utilitarian calculus under the proposed exemption.

              I was simply pointing out that many seemed to accept 8% of one type of victim as a ‘rarity’, and 5% of another type of victim as an ‘epidemic’, and anyone who even considers or asks for the numbers is obviously a bad person.

              Was this really not clear? Am I really that opaque?Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                The question isn’t about what’s rare, it’s about the conclusions we draw from their alleged rarity.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                If their rarity is only alleged, we need not draw any conclusions. Even if confirmed, we still need not (other considerations may override). But if you do want to draw any (or simply understand where/why somebody else like Akin may be drawing their conclusions), you need the numbers to start with, no?Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                Akin didn’t have any numbers. He had some crap psuedo-science, which actual numbers falsify immediately, and drew completely false conclusions from it. And you’re unhappy that people jumped on him for it.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                No, I am not unhappy that people jumped on him for the incorrect allegation (=’rapes less likely to impregnate’) . That is what *should* have happened.

                That issue is, the fact that it was pseudoscience is apparent only after you know the numbers. Hence, my request for the numbers, and a definition of what we consider ‘rare’ . As he was hinging part of his argument on that part, I wanted to examine that part.

                Now that we have the real numbers, we know he was incorrect. Plenty of us were happy to jump to that conclusion without knowing the numbers. I wasn’t.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                Cancer can be cured by eating two bags of double-stuffed Oreos a day, being careful to eat the filling before the cookie part. Now, I expect you to research this thoroughly before disagreeing.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Can I do this research by eating two bags of Oreos a day? Because if so, I’m totally on this.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                Yes, but you have to get cancer first. I recommend you go straight to the cookies and skip the actual “research” part.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Come on Mike, you know that’s not fair. Plenty of things that sound like they can’t possibly be true, are, when it comes to Mother Nature. Zombees. Parasites that control behavior. Sperm competition. Ducks and their corkscrew penises.

                Is the idea that stress, which has deleterious effects on most all body systems, might negatively impact fertilization/implantation really so ridiculous on its face? Or that the human immune system responds negatively to anything it sees as ‘foreign’? These seem as likely as ‘aether’ to you?

                I guess nobody needed to do the studies that got linked here today then, since you already knew how they’d turn out. So rape may increase, not decrease, the incidence of pregnancy. Am I surprised? No. Would I have been surprised if it went the other way, or had no effect at all? No. I simply didn’t know, and asked to know.

                Seriously, be honest, turn the jokes off for a minute. You knew the facts of it, before you knew the facts of it? (and, if you knew the facts of it, howzabout throwing a brother a link before he alienates the entire League?)

                Or, you didn’t like the conclusions, so you assumed you knew the facts?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Wait, zombies are real?


                My 11 year old claimed just last week that zombies not only could happen, but that the zombie apocalypse WOULD happen someday. I scoffed, but perhaps I was wrong?Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                I can’t speak for anyone else. I read it, and it sounded like complete bullshit, and the place I read it had links saying it was complete bullshit. To be sure, I did a little Googling, and yup: complete bullshit. Yes, it’s particularly easy to Google right now, but it wasn’t impossible three days ago, particularly if you have a staff of people who can look things up for you, the way a congressman does. I honestly don’t care whether some people find it to have a certain surface plausibility or not. Because it’s, you know, complete bullshit.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Zombees! “Flight of the living dead”!

                It’d be awesome, except for that whole colony collapse disorder business.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Well, you had a head start on me (yesterday was the first I heard of this whole thing) and my brief googling last night, which I posted the parameters & results of here, didn’t lead me immediately to it. So I asked for help in determining whether the assertion was correct or not, and did not see the links here confirming that no, it was not, until this AM; by which time I had already ticked most everyone here off, apparently in large part simply by making the request.

                I say this not to excuse Akin’s ignorance; as noted elsewhere, he should’ve known better. Nor am I trying to excuse my own – but I had never before heard the assertion nor considered in toto the argument he seemed to be making, and I wanted to give it and him as fair a shake as possible (that benefit of the doubt thing, which seemed to be severely lacking); but lack of time for focused research & attention is what it is.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                That was to Mike, obvs.Report

              • You don’t owe anybody an apology or a tapdance for anything, G-man. We could use a couple of more like you.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Tom, it’s not a tapdance or an apology (well, I apologize for not getting to the nub of whether rape is more/less/identically-likely to result in pregnancy via my own googling last night).

                I just don’t like seeing it when everyone appears to be jumping to the absolute worst conclusions about anybody. Humans all say stuff that isn’t fully thought through, all the time. It is possible to be wrong (that is, incorrect); or evil; or wrong and evil; and it behooves us to attempt to determine which case it is. Attempting to divine what someone really means, and generally giving them the benefit of the doubt is the way to go, IMO.

                But that also means that all the people here, I give them the benefit of the doubt too, and assume good faith and reason on their part. At least some of people coming at me from all sides here presumably had their reasons beyond pile-on, and it behooves me to attempt to understand where they are coming from too, as I hope they did me (and some did).

                Mike’s never given me reason to believe he’s less than fair, so I wanted to get past the snark for a minute and explain where I was coming from, since it seems so many didn’t understand it, despite my best efforts to be precise and transparent.

                Anyway, I may have to sit the next few serious topics out, melee-style commenting like that takes a surprising mental/emotional toll (though getting absolutely no sleep at all last night due to kids probably did not help).

                I am definitely gonna try to avoid wading into any abortion-related threads anytime soon.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Not a problem, Glyph. Knowing from the first that it was c.b. certainly colored my reaction to it.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                James, when I read this:


                I assumed it was the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. I mean, it’s even in Atlanta! I haven’t changed my mind.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Peace, Brother Glyph. That the thing you most want right now is to get away from the meat grinder is a sign of mental health. I enjoyed your coming out of the shadows and actually speaking your mind. But there is always hell to pay.

                Seeya next time around, if there is one.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Glyph, how old are your kids? I remember well the no sleep years.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                The boy is 3 and the girl will be 1 in a few days. She still wakes up every 4 hours (she likes to eat) and he is old enough that he can get out of his own bed now, so he does, a lot; he is a high-energy kid and getting him down is only the first part of the battle, sometimes lasting until 11 or so, and last night he then woke up with bad dreams twice.

                I got maybe 2 hours total, if that, between dealing with the two of them.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It was about what the numbers actually *are*, and what number constitutes ‘rare’, for the purposes of toting up various ‘victims’ in a utilitarian calculus under the proposed exemption.

                Glyph, this is sorta tangential to the main theme of the discussion, but what makes you think Akin is making a utilitarian argument in the above clip? It strikes me as deontological. Robustly so.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I sort of assumed it from his ‘you don’t punish another innocent’ conclusion. I may be off-base there.

                That is, I understood him to be saying that he sees rape + abortion of the resulting fetus as = 2 victims of harm (the raped female, and the fetus), not one victim (the raped female). Therefore, more total people get hurt if we allow the exception.

                Then I went off on the tangent about the possibility of false accusations being used to obtain the exemption, noting that to me, those falsely accused of rape can also be considered victims (though on reflection, these doesn’t really change utilitarian numbers at all, since the falsely-accused male simply replaces the non-raped female, so 2 people still get hurt, just in different ways and by different parties).Report

  10. My RSS reader uses the formatting Comment on [Post title] by [author] without anything in the way of quotation marks, brackets, or parenthesis.

    So all day my RSS reader has been saying “Comment on Leading Missouri senate candidate to women: if you get pregnant you weren’t really raped by [Author]”

    This one will read Comment on Leading Missouri senate candidate to women: if you get pregnant you weren’t really raped by Will Truman

    I find this more amusing than I should.Report

    • Avatar BobbyC says:

      That’s Onion-quality stuff!Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Hmmm… a couple of possible responses…

      “You did have sex with Will Truman, but you indeed wanted it.”
      “Will Truman couldn’t have raped you… brother man’s got bad swimmers.”

      And with that, I’ll be catching the next bus directly to hell.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I’m not going to make the joke I was thinking of, so I’ll tell a slightly different joke.

        Rocky Marciano is having a few cold ones in a local bar, when a wannabe tough guy comes up and starts harassing him:

        “Mr. heavyweight champion, huh? Mr. big-time boxer? You’re nothing. Marciano. I could take you, any time, any place. You want a piece of me, ‘champ’? Huh? You got the guts to take me on?” And he raises his fists threateningly.

        “Look,” Rocky responds. “You know I could squash you like a grape. And I will, if you hit me. And I find out about it.”Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Given that at least one front-pager has had a vasectomy and has been very open about that fact, he might want to use that claim in his own defense, if ever it came up.Report

  11. …anything remotely related to reproductive health or minority rights seems to rev our commentariat into overdrive of showing why our readership isn’t as diverse as it could be.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      + 1 billion

      Can I do one billion +s? Am I allowed? Are we budgeted for that?

      + 1 billion, then.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      You mean a bunch of white dudes isn’t the preferred demographic for getting the most comprehensive discussion on issues relating to women and minority groups?

      I call bullshit.Report

      • Avatar BobbyC says:

        Are there in fact zero women in this forum?Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          In this particular conversation, I don’t know how many posts I’ve seen from the folks I know to be women (I don’t know the gender of everyone here). There are a handful of regular female commenters and one female blogger.

          My comment was said with a bit of hyperbole, but as a group, we are largely white and male.Report

          • Avatar Anne says:

            Bobby C There are women here

            Nob +1 you are correct

            Cause you know, women really shouldn’t complain, if they are “legitimately” rape (hey no problem) you won’t get pregnant. What you think that comment is misogynistic? There is no misogyny there you must be a man hating b*** sorry for the sarcasm

            What offends me the most in some of the comments is the “you are just trying to find the misogyny because you hate republicans” No looking at how rape victims have been historically treated and are still being treated today.

            Not to mention the patronizing idea that women can’t make moral or ethical decisions about their own bodies. some women don’t but I believe those are the rare cases. According to some of the arguments I have read here we shouldn’t legislate based on the rare case.

            I will get off my soap box now sorry for the rant but hits pretty close to home. But hey I’m one of the lucky ones apparently I’m legitimateReport

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              Word up, dudette. I’m officially leaving this soapbox out for your. for whenever you have the inking to get up on it.

              (Come May, however, you and I will be having words. We have Dwight now, and I’m looking forward to our boys squaring off against one another in the West Finals. )Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                Thanks for the soapbox Tod I’ll try not to abuse it.

                Come on May I’m not afraid did you hear we have three gold medal winners and one silver 🙂Report

            • Not to go totally OT, but is that photo of your wedding? If so, congratulations!Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              “What offends me the most in some of the comments is the “you are just trying to find the misogyny because you hate republicans” No looking at how rape victims have been historically treated and are still being treated today.”

              I think it is worth noting that this particular brand of misogyny is not unique to Republicans, but has great appeal to many folks of all stripes.

              If it seems that we are “trying to find misogyny” who levy such a charge, it’s because most instances of such crude and crass treatment of rape victims are either directly or indirectly motivated by misogyny.Report

      • This feels like a pattern of the following:
        1. White male (often straight but not always) politician or opinion maker says something absolutely indefensible about women, minorities, voting rights, etc.
        2. League member makes front page post condemning said actions.
        3. Most of commentariat agrees with front pager.
        4. Handful of commentariat and others begin nitpicking front page post and telling us how the person from part 1. is the REAL victim of all these attacks.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Thanks for the link, Wasil.

      Reading Ryan’s position gave me a thought I hadn’t previously considered with regards to abortion exceptions for pregnancies that post a risk to the woman…

      …suppose a woman became suicidal over an unwanted pregnancy. Should this constitute sufficient risk to the woman that would justify taking advantage of such an exception (assuming a world where such exceptions were the only means to secure a legal abortion)? I really have no idea… but it is an interesting question to ponder…Report

      • Avatar Wasil ibn Ata says:

        Speaking for myself, as a pro-life conservative type, I think no. While life of the mother is a standard exception among pro-lifers(me too!), that exception usually requires the pregnancy itself to be the cause of the mother’s death. In the case of suicide, there is an intervening cause, that is, the mother killing herself, the pregnancy was justification for the act, but not the cause itself.Report

  12. Avatar CK MacLeod says:

    semi-OT/Btw – not sure why anyone would expect a blog with “Gentlemen” right up there in the masthead, and what looks to be 24 out of 24 men on the masthead to attract even an average for subject matters ratio of women to men. Don’t know how the gentlemen break down ethnically, but the name as well as the graphics likewise evoke nostalgia for a cultural moment, an imperial moment, during which white men ruled. Hosts mostly polite, thoughtful, across-the-spectrum conversations though. Seems to be a bit of a study in “gently” stabilizing conformity on some axes in order to increase tolerance for diversity on others. Not that I’d have anything against new approaches.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Is Rose not on the masthead?!?!Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Don’t know how the gentlemen break down ethnically, but the name as well as the graphics likewise evoke nostalgia for a cultural moment, an imperial moment, during which white men ruled.

      We tried putting Erik in a sari. It wasn’t flattering.

      If I were to take your comment any more seriously than that, I’d start getting angry. So I won’t.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

        Putting Erik in an unflattering sari might be a step forward, or anyway a step, in the deconstruction of the word “gentlemen,” whose older and original sense of “well-born man,” politically and economically powerful man of the right or same race or clan, is carried forward in the contemporary usage, sort of the etymological iron fist under the velvet “gentle,” a reading reinforced by the graphics. And, yes, I do understand that the site name was also an ironic response to to the title of an Alan Moore comic series and unsuccessful 2003 film.

        You make take these comments as an impolite attack on the site by a guest, but the initial questions were posed by others on this thread, and can be found on other threads especially when it is believed that the presence of a larger number of women and possibly of other not-exactly-gentlemen would have been beneficial to discussion. My point was that expecting anything else than what is actually produced and re-produced on the site would be highly unrealistic. If such examination makes some people angry, that might be a good sign.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          FWIW, the possible limiting repercussions of the site name is something that has not escaped us. The lack of any change has less to do with lack of desire, and more to do with lack of consensus about what such a change might and should look like. So know that there’s a lot of truth to that observation, and it’s something we’re actually working to address.

          That being said…

          I’m pretty sure I know where you lost Jason. But since I can’t speak for him I’ll let you know that where you lost me personally: It was your suggesting that – despite the content of what I write about and argue at this site – the little graphic of a man in a bowler is all you needed to unlock my deep dark secret, which is that I am – how did you put it? – yearning for a world where white men ruled.

          Dude, seriously?Report

          • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

            What I actually said is a scroll or two right up there, so no need to paraphrase. I wrote, “the graphics likewise evoke nostalgia for a cultural moment, an imperial moment, during which white men ruled.” I stand by the analysis, actually a very simple observation based on readily apparent, constantly “refreshed” evidence.

            You admit that you, or some of you, feel concern about the site’s name, which concern is about what the name does: produce “limiting repercussions.” The graphics and format can point to movement beyond the connotations and limiting repercussions of the name, or they can reinforce those connotations and point in the opposite direction. I think it’s obvious that they reinforce them and were chosen to do so – in a perfectly normal, but not inevitable, approach to design and illustration.

            Evolution to a different sensibility, to the site doing something different, might begin with an ironic and polyvocal rather than amplificatory and univocal design concept. Instead of abandoning the name, you would insistently subvert it. However you approached the question, if you want to include and invite more women and non-white-men – IF – then do so, for instance by actually including more women and non-white-men, and by countering and undermining the exclusive connotations of the site name and its staff and history.

            It would be normal if resistance to change is more firmly based in unexamined ideological and emotional commitments. Still, I don’t see how you can think or emote your way around the very basic notion that if you don’t want a site that implicitly or subtly privileges white males of a certain type, then you should prevent your site from implicitly or subtly privileging white males of a certain type – in every way you can, but starting with how the site really, objectively, presents itself to its audience.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              I wrote, “the graphics likewise evoke nostalgia for a cultural moment, an imperial moment, during which white men ruled.” I stand by the analysis, actually a very simple observation based on readily apparent, constantly “refreshed” evidence.

              An observation that would apply to pretty much every nostalgic aesthetic. My wife’s fondness for 1940s fashions could evoke nostalgia for an era of white, male domination, my fondness for blues records could evoke an era of white, male domination, and on and on. At what point can we take someone’s fondness for a particular aesthetic at face value? Or should we all have to do as George W.S. Trow said and wear our fedoras with “a protective layer of irony?”Report

              • I’d say it’s at least plausibly important to include markers that point in different directions. Your wife being a woman and (presumably) a large number of those blue records being by non-white men is a helpful indicator that what’s going on isn’t motivated by any kind of imperialism.

                That’s not to wholly defend CK’s position, in that I don’t honestly know where the line can be drawn. Rejection of sexism and racism at the roots is very difficult, in that (as you and CK both point out) they infuse almost every cultural moment we can think of.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                You realize what will happen, though, the moment we re-brand the site:

                “They’re all a bunch of sexists over there. They just didn’t want anyone to know about it.”Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Maybe we can just put that in the “About” section.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Yeah, I’m asking because I don’t know either where the line can be drawn. For instance, I know some people that are really gung ho about rockabilly music. I love those old records too, but I know people who dress like Bettie Page or rockabilly “cats,” drive old cars, and really identify with those 50s aesthetics. Incidentally, I would agree with them that the 1950s were a high point in terms of design. Now, do those people have to subvert the aesthetic because the 1950s were not a high point for racial or gender equality? Do the rockabilly women get a pass? And what if they really are nostalgic for some of the gender norms of that era? Because, in my experience, many of them are. My point is that it’s not easy to slice it and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt if they seem reasonably intelligent.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                Do you live in Japan and hanging around Harajuku on Sundays?

                More seriously, I know what you mean, there does seem to be a subculture that goes along with a rockabilly look to varying degrees. I even think there is a chain of stores called “Bettie Page” that sells 1950s styled dresses.

                I’ve wondered about this and had it explained to me that the dresses from the 1950s are good for women with hips and curves.

                That being said you bring up an interesting issue about how much of embracing the aesthetics of an era or culture is also am implicit embracing of the worst parts of an era.

                My mom hates Mad Men and thinks it glamorizes all of the racism and sexism of the 1960s especially in the pre-hippie parts. My friends who were born way after the 1960s seem to embrace the show and aesthetic. I’ve never been to one but have seen lots of photos of Mad Men parties on the web at sites like OKCupid. Women seem to think it is a selling point to show pictures of their Mad Men parties.

                I personally find it interesting that a lot of hipsters are now embracing tattoo subculture because hipsters tend to be progressive but many of the mid-century tattoo artists that they lionize like Sailor Jerry were far-right reactionaries.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                a parasol crossed with an umbrella might make an interesting graphic.
                Or a buggy whip crossed with a riding crop.

                Both convey ordinary gentlemen…Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I’d be okay with making the graphic an image of David Bowie for the androgyny.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                If we did that wouldn’t we have to change the name from THe League of Ordinary Gentlemen to The Guild of Calamitous Intent?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:


                Evil League Of Evil
                The Blue Blaze Irregulars
                The Bookhouse Boys (this one is probably out for the same reason Gentlemen is)
                The World Crime LeagueReport

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Glyph: “The League of Ordinary. No, Just Ordinary.”Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:

                The League of Ordinary Gentle(wo)menReport

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Apparently your wife and all the other conservative women are here already.
                However, like good conservative women, they’re busy being not seen AND not heard.Report

              • Ah, but we have you, Kimmi, my rare and beautiful flower, filling a much-needed void.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                … the implication of the entirely of this commentariat being part of Bowie’s harems… is distressing. also amusing. in equal parts.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Tod- I was thinking of either the Cygnet Committee or League of the Diamond Dogs, but that’s much better.

                Kimmi- Some of us are patiently awaiting the day we get the call…Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                Bowie’s harem has opening???!!! sign me upReport

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                @Anne: Not Sam Bowie.Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                Duh I’m talking Ziggy, the Thin White DukeReport

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                Well, I knew you were a big hoops fan …Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                Plus dude, he played for U of KReport

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                A much more knowledgeable hoops fan than me 🙂Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                There has been extensive discussion of the meaning or meanings of the aesthetics of nostalgia, and for that matter of the similar and often overlapping retreat to irony. Nietzsche already defined the implicit statement of the ironic pose as “I am a latecomer in the world”: Nothing for me to do; I’m neither responsible for what is, nor able to effect change, so instead I will construct a reserve where criticism of culture and membership in good standing, rather than contradicting each other, confirm each other. It is an ideology appropriate to a culture in decline, learning to identify its decline as its just desert. On the way to nadir – which we fearfully sense will not be merely an experience of the sensibility, but entail real material costs – of course the ’50s aesthetic is attractive to us. It’s an aesthetic of world-historical victory and its material and emotional spoils, including self-confidence in the values taken to have been proved by that victory,and in their future, congealed in the typical styling of consumer objects, houses, hair styles, etc. To declare them completely unattractive would be to declare oneself immune to everything this world has to offer, like saying you’d rather be picking through the rubble of Hiroshima or Hamburg or hauling coffee beans through the mountains somewhere or working on an assembly line or tank crew on the other side of the Iron Curtain. ’40s styles offer a different kind of “value security,” and similar patterns of nostalgia or borrowed nostalgia for the earlier British or European order is particularly prominent in “steampunk” and other “retro-future” styles. Eventually ANY earlier aesthetic will strike us “at face value” as superior to our own, since all will by definition imply a future that we, the latest latecomers, lack.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You know who else quoted Nietzsche…Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Oddly, I was just thinking, “I know other people who’ve misused Nietzsche’s words” (which, it should be noted, were not even Nietzsche’s words, in this case). In fact, I’m not entirely certain CK hasn’t used Nietzsche to basically say the precise opposite of what Nietzsche said.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Nietzsche said all sortsa stuff. Dont’ have time to track down all relevant passages, but here’s one the Use and Abuse of History that my old professor may have had in mind when he used to shout “I am a latecomer in the world!”

                What the Florentines did under the influence of Savonarola’s exhortations, when they made the famous holocaust of pictures, manuscripts, masks and mirrors, Christianity would like to do with every culture that allured to further effort and bore that memento vivere on its standard. And if it cannot take the direct way—the way of main force—it gains its end all the same by allying itself with historical culture, though generally without its connivance; and speaking through its mouth, turns away every fresh birth with a shrug of its shoulders, and makes us feel all the more that we are late-comers and Epigoni, that we are, in a word, born with gray hair. The deep and serious contemplation of the unworthiness of all past action, of the world ripe for judgment, has [Pg 68] been whittled down to the sceptical consciousness that it is anyhow a good thing to know all that has happened, as it is too late to do anything better. The historical sense makes its servants passive and retrospective. Only in moments of forgetfulness, when that sense is dormant, does the man who is sick of the historical fever ever act; though he only analyses his deed again after it is over (which prevents it from having any further consequences), and finally puts it on the dissecting table for the purposes of history.


              • Avatar Chris says:

                CK, he talks about late comers (he doesn’t say he is a late comer) throughout that essay: late comers to the age of historical consciousness (that is, the Hegelian age), late comers to history itself (that is, in true Christian fashion, but in Hegelian trappings, that we are at the end of the world), late comers as “epigones,” that is, as mere followers of the historical greats (particularly, since we’re talking about Germany, Goethe and the like), and late comers in the sense that, overfilled with history (that is, historical knowledge), be become cynical about the future. This is the ironical stance Nietzsche talks about in the essay: the overfilled, the present-denigrating and future-denying stance. It has nothing to do with the alternatives that the past presents but did not fulfill, and the nostalgic return to the past is only because it inevitably leads to us (this is something he repeats throughout the essay as well, as part of the problem with being overfilled with history, as his age was).

                Nietzsche’s point is that the only people who can judge people are those who live, which is to say, those who create the future, because this is what history is for: life, living, creating the future. His point is that we should be much more subjective about the future, rather than treating it, as the Hegelians do, as an objective, deterministic force, at the end of which we find ourselves. Put differently, history should cause us to see ourselves as being at the beginning of the future, not at the end of the past.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Chris, your and my understanding of Nietzsche’s view of the latecomer is pretty much the same. “I am a latecomer in the world,” is the voice of irony according to Nietzsche, not the voice of Nietzsche speaking about himself. This perspective remained generally consistent in Nietzsche from his earliest major works to his works written on the cusp of madness, the main difference between his Wagnerian and post-Wagnerian periods being whether renewal – or the future, or the transvaluation of values – could be brought about from within a dying culture (e.g., through the Wagnerian festival of all the arts) or would require something essentially external to it, if perhaps glimpsed by a few – which’s why Zarathustra’s a book “for everyone and no one.”Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I do think this is where Nietzsche leaves behind the idea that art justifies life, where art is understood in the Wagnerian sense (and the Schopenhauerian sense), and starts to look at life as itself a creative process, one which art, separated from it, diminishes. I think this is Nietzsche on the cusp of his naturalist turn (which will then comprise the rest of his work, from Human, All Too Human on). This is not, in other words, Nietzsche adopting an ironic stance, but tearing one apart.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Chris, I wouldn’t have characterized the turn as “naturalist,” or as reducible to any ideology (or “-ism”), but am open to the idea, and would be curious to see how you justify it, though maybe this thread isn’t a good place for it.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Huh, and here I thought being ironic was just the expression of belief that the reality of the world is much deeper, and far less affected by our thoughts and claims and attempts to shape it, than we are wont to realize. In other words, I thought irony expressed a coming-to-grips with, and a comfort in, the universe’s inherent disinterest in the fate of humans.

                And now I find it’s all about the decline of a culture that’s wholly temporary and of no interest to the universe. How intriguing.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          If you would like to call us all racist, sexist imperialists, please just go ahead and do so. In so many words, and no more.

          If not, you may kindly stop dropping cowardly hints to that effect.

          Your choice.Report

          • Avatar Sam says:


            A discussion of sexism given some of these comments doesn’t seem entirely out of line, does it?Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              I can name exactly one individual with front-page posting privileges who has done anything other than simply condemn the statement at hand, from one or more different perspectives.

              What that individual did was to argue that the Democrats are often just as bad, albeit in other ways. That’s tu quoque, a poor argumentative tactic, but it’s not sexism.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Well, the “baby killer” bullshit comes close enough for me, and that’s a front pager (the same one who also pulls the tu quoque, which, ironically, is one of his favorite fallacies to accues others of).Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I assume calling people “baby killers” is just a game. You’re supposed to respond by saying that was way out of line to call someone a “baby killer” and he responds by saying the sliming started with calling people “misogynists” and he’s just responding in kind, and then we have the same argument we’ve had on dozens of other threads. There’s got to be a way to nip it in the bud though.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                The “baby-killer” bit is appropriate in that particular comment.

                Tom says nothing in that comment about his particular feelings on abortion. It’s explanatory, “Here’s why this guy gets elected… because the single-issue voters vote for him because he’s pro-life and they think of McCaskill as a baby-killer.”

                Missouri’s 2nd district has been in GOP hands since 1993. It’s 94% white, middle-class, suburban Missouri. I’d hardly be going out on a limb to say that it seems pretty likely to me that Tom’s characterization of single-issue voters in that demographic is probably correct.

                (edited to add)

                If a left-leaning blogger wrote that these Missourians were idiots for supporting this tool because of his pro-life agenda, referring to his constituents as abortion-clinic protestors who carry “Baby Killer!” signs, most LoOGers would probably not immediately do the transference they did, here on this thread.


              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                My apologies- I skimmed the comments and misread.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Dude, you’ve been here long enough to know how Tom lets others express his views for him in quotes and the like. Also, he uses “babykiller” in a subsequent comment in his own voice. He later (much later) went back and crossed it out, sure, but he’d already shown his cards.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > You’ve been here long enough to know
                > how Tom lets others express his views
                > for him in quotes and the like.

                I agree, he does this. He also expresses the aggregate GOP views… some of which he doesn’t agree with, himself. It can be exasperating to try and figure out whether or not you’re arguing with Tom and what he believes… or if you’re arguing with someone who isn’t arguing, he’s just pointing out what other people think/say on the other side of the aisle.

                Let’s say that I see confirmation bias in how often some members of the general commentariat jumps to inferring the first whenever there is ambiguity, and those who jump to that conclusion are highly correlated with “people who don’t like Tom”.Report

              • A nice place to loop in Kyle’s post. It’s fairly “self-evident” to a number of us what game Tom is playing. It seems “self-evident” to others that he’s playing a different game.

                In my more intellectually sober moments, I wonder why we waste so much time arguing about Tom. And yet, here I am, arguing about Tom. It’s not unrelated to the issue of why non-white/non-men don’t come around the League, though.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Let’s say that I see confirmation bias in how often some members of the general commentariat jumps to inferring the first whenever there is ambiguity, and those who jump to that conclusion are highly correlated with “people who don’t like [person X]”.

                Personally, I’d say this gets things backwards. It’s only because X so consistently argues disingenuously, and only because of that, that people develop a bias against a charitable reading of X’s arguments/comments.

                Also, it’s not that people don’t like X, it’s that people don’t like the way X argues.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                That’s a fair enough response, Still.

                But I don’t know that X argues disingenuously as often as people claim he does. There’s a lot of times when Tom says something that might get at worst a quizzical look if I said it, and he gets flam-roasted… and often it doesn’t really seem to be a comment that’s worthy of a flam-roasting. To me, anyway.

                I do think that established relationships matter, to a measurable extent, and that’s not just talking about this specific person X.

                I’m thinking of this vs. that. I see a lot of similarities between what I was saying and what Jaybird was saying and the readings you gave were less charitable to Jaybird than me (part of that might be my rhetorical style, I dunno).

                This is now meta-discussion.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                You’re probably right in that final comment. And a large part of it is rhetorical style and method of argumentation.

                I’ll leave it at that.Report

              • Avatar Sam says:

                Is that front page poster the only person whose comments have offended here?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Yeah, probably. Think scott’s been mostly quiet today, on this subject.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I think Glyph had many comments that, if read out of context, could have been read as offensive. This is not to say that they were… Glyph was playing a bit of devil’s advocate and presenting counter-arguments that he repeatedly acknowledged did not really represent his own beliefs. All in all, it was an enlightening exchange. But if someone had strolled into the middle of it or found them on the gifts of gab, it could have appeared that way.

                I’m debating how much more I want to wade into this conversation here, but I will say these two things:
                1.) The LoOG would be a better place if there was more diversity present, including but not limited to racial diversity, gender, ethnic, sexual orientation, religious, ideological, geographical, and socio-economic; we have more of some of these then others but, overall, would be better served with more of all of them.
                2.) The reason we tend to lack diversity is not simply a matter of chance. There are things we do that signal who this blog is for. They are above any one person, comment, or post. And many of them are intended to signal for folks along one spectrum (e.g., role-playing gamers) which de facto signals for folks along others (e.g., while and male) because of the tendency for members of the former to be primarily members of the latter, though I have no doubt that members of the former who were not members of the latter would be welcomed for their former-ness; however, those folks might feel unwelcome for other signals send out unrelated to those that might have drawn them.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Hey Kazzy, just wanted to say thanks, as usual, for the patience and understanding. I do sometimes get to playing Devil’s Advocate, and I forget that not everyone cares for that, or recognizes it when it is happening. I will say that it has been a brutal gauntlet here in this post, and I doubt I am in the running for LoOG Homecoming Queen after today.

                I would feel terrible if females wandering into the convo without context (or even with context) took my comments as demeaning or dismissive to them, or women in general. That was never the intention. I believe deeply in that all (wo)men are created equal thang, equal treatment, equal pay for equal work, all of it – and I did before I was a husband to a woman, and a father to a (future) woman.

                But I must be honest, I don’t know how else to argue, other than to say what I am trying to say, with as much precision as I can muster – though I try to qualify/clarify (usually parenthetically, he said self-referentially) as much as I can.

                That the words and ideas that come out this way are not always pretty, or nice-sounding on their face, is sometimes a product of imprecise thinking, imprecise writing, rushed writing – but sometimes they just come out that way due to my stereotypically ‘male’ style of arguing (often favoring contest over consensus; discounting anything seen as ’emotion’ in relation to anything seen as ‘logic’, and of course, the occasional d**k joke). In my experience that style often looks to a female much like ‘combat’.

                I do my best to remember that females often prefer a different style of conversation or debate, and accommodate that as best I can when they are present. But I only very rarely find much patience for the stereotypical ‘male’ style of debate amongst females. This is probably going to be a barrier to many females, ‘cos I’m far from the most rough’n’tumble commenter in these environs.

                I have a couple female friends that I am gonna ask to check this place out – they are smart and funny, educated and informed. I have also had plenty of lively debates with them IRL with no lasting damage to either party or our friendship.

                And yet, sorry to say, I don’t have very high hopes that even these women will stick around. 🙁

                I wish I knew the answer.Report

            • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

              Given that the consensus of this site’s contributors is completely opposed to those comments, there’s no reason to consider the site itself sexist. And the only way to avoid that sort of comment is a greater level of censorship than I’d like to see.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                (Here I go… wading in deeper than intended… oh well…)


                I don’t think it is a matter of if this post or this site is sexist or not. I think that is looking at it the wrong way.

                Much of the conversation on this post was about female rape victims. Most of the people weighing in on that conversation were male, meaning by definition they were not members of the group being discussed*. As such, we were all talking about it as outsiders. Yet many of us, myself included, were talking about the situation as if we were insiders. “Let me tell you about female rape.” “No, let ME tell you about female rape.” Back and forth, both parties male, neither party a female rape victim. While that is not necessarily explicitly sexist or misogynistic, I can see how it would serve as a repellant to folks who would be more qualified to speak on the matter.

                * I realize that men can be and are the victim of rape. Since the specifics of this topic revolved around pregnancy and rape, something unique to female rape victims, I am comfortable making this distinction here.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                That’s the nature of the beast — we discuss things we don’t know first-hand all the time. We’re at least 99% educated professionals, yet we still discuss cutting government aid based on hypotheses about people who receive it. (And, to be fair, talk about taxing millionaires without knowing how it feels to have to settle for a 75-foot yacht when all the other guys have the 100-footers.) If Anne and Joann had been disrespected for their comments, then I’d feel pretty filthy; fortunately, that didn’t happen.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Sure, we need not sit around listening to crickets chirp while we wait for the women to weigh in. And we need not limit ourselves to discussions of that which we have personal, first hand knowledge. But so many of us here (again, myself included!) took on airs of authority and expertise beyond our wildest dreams, at least on this topic. Perhaps we’re all just arrogant bastards (I know I am!), perhaps it is our male (or other forms of) privilege poking through, perhaps it is just the tone of this particular site and it doesn’t really bother anyone since we just know that’s how we are. My point is that if I were a woman who stumbled upon this conversation and found a bunch of mostly dudes arguing to determine who had final authority on matters relating to female rape victims, I’d be pretty put off by that (Shit! Look! I’m doing it right now… “If I were a woman…” !!!).

                It is not the fact that we are discussing it… it is HOW we are discussing it. I would not wade into a conversation in a German pub amongst a bunch of Germans waxing sincerely, authoritatively, but possibly incorrectly about Americans. I’d probably be all like, “Yea, but no… I’ll just let them have that conversation themselves.”Report

              • Avatar Meredith says:

                Gentlemen (and ladies),
                I stumbled upon your site this evening about midnight-ish, and it is now after 5 am. I’ve been riveted by the level of discourse I have seen here. I wanted to reassure you that, as a 40-something Black (or African-American or Colored, whatever the kids call it these days) woman, I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to witness your habit of basic civility (even when the discussions heated up), attempts to have all of the facts at hand, and most especially seeing the evidence that you all are aware to some degree of the inherent biases we all have and cannot avoid. Don’t beat yourselves up too much because you don’t have the diversity you might like all of the time. You may call me Pollyanna, but I think that just trying to understand each other’s points of view, even if part of the process does involve some figurative head-butting and heated dialogue, is refreshing and mind-opening–and head-and-shoulders above what I often have to drudge through to try to find some actual “discussion” of an issue. It has been a pleasure to have stayed up all night reading. Fight on, fellows (and gals)!Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Thank you Meredith. That was an amazingly nice comment to wake up to this morning.

                Hoping that now that you’ve stumbled upon us, we’ll se you again.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Welcome, Meredith. Please stick around if you can! I promise to bump heads with you as much as is necessary!Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                What Tod and Kazzy said, with the addition that if my comments gave offense, please believe that none was intended.

                Welcome, and hope to see you again soon!Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                Welcome to the gentle(wo)men’s club Meredith 🙂 Thank you for your comments and I hope you stick around.

                @Glyph I still don’t see how you can’t see that people could reasonably (i.e. without looking to) take offense at Akin’s “Legitimate rape” comment but you made really fair arguments and were very gentlemanly about it I for one do not think you were trying to offend. But also understand some of us have more skin in the game and it is personal to us.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Anne, I get that, and thanks so much for being understanding.

                Like I say, I am very inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt, and seem much slower to take offense than most, usually choosing to believe none was intended until evidence becomes overwhelming.

                I sort of have a reputation for this IRL – long after most people have written someone off, I will often be the one speculating on alternate explanations for their apparently-bad behavior or words.

                I really do think of myself as an optimist, and that misunderstandings of communication, actions and motives/intent are at the root of a huge amount (not all) of human conflict.

                Weirdly (or maybe not) I also have a bit of a reputation as an implacable enemy once benefit of the doubt has finally been exhausted in my mind. Slow to anger, but terrible in it, I guess.

                Anyway, I am rambling. Thanks, catch you elsewhere!Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                I TRY to do that too. once I recognized what you were doing, I got a lot less hostile to you. Take that as a bit of advice abotu communication from someone who’s bad at it herself.Report

          • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

            Could be that the attachment of labels of that sort is just a furtherance of the same syndrome, though it could be that in other contexts the refusal to attach them has the same effect. In a certain sense, it goes without saying that you and me both are racist-sexist-imperialist – so why would I need to state and re-state the obvious? What might be interesting to consider is how we’re racist, sexist, imperialist, and what to do with the information. We’re not required to re-play the multiculture wars of yesteryear.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              In a certain sense, it goes without saying that you and me both are racist-sexist-imperialist – so why would I need to state and re-state the obvious?

              I was hoping you might enlighten me here. I wasn’t the one who raised the issue.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                I was hoping you might enlighten me here. I wasn’t the one who raised the issue.

                Nor was I. I’m finding it difficult to square this newly revealed desire for “enlightenment” with the earlier statement of a refusal to take the argument seriously, unless angrily. So, are you interested in investigating the questions, or not?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Nor was I.

                Nonsense. We are arguing about questions that you were the first to advance, in your comment of August 20, 2012 at 1:08 am.

                I asked you for a straight answer to a very simple question — are we racist, sexist, and imperialist?

                You danced around my question, saying that everyone was. But if so, why bring it up here, and now, and in this context?

                “Enlightenment” would be fairly simple to provide, I would think. So I’ll ask again in a way that I hope will shear off a layer or two of prevarication: Are we at the League racist, sexist, and imperialist in some relevant way that you are not? And if so, what might that be?

                I’d hoped for a simple yes or no, but failing that, I suppose I will have to make do with your typical mock-intellectual verbosity.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                I asked you for a straight answer to a very simple question — are we racist, sexist, and imperialist?

                How many different ways do I need to say “of course”?

                I’m not sure where you see me to have claimed to be somehow “relevant[-ly]” less “racist, sexist, and imperialist” than “[you] at the League.” I would consider that a theoretical question, meaning, there may be no simple answer to it – or the simple answer may not be a very useful one. Does adopting a critical stance toward inherent and possibly indefeasible racism-sexism-imperialism, including one’s own, in any way relevantly serve to ameliorate the presumed harms of racism-sexism-imperialism? Some will consider such a stance utterly in vain if not integrated with an authentic revolutionary practice. I think that’s probably true, though we’ll just have to leave open the issue of what form such practice would have to take if it is not to prove self-defeating or worse, since it might even require us to re-open issues relating to racism, sexism, and imperialism that a liberal democratic culture generally insists on treating as closed to discussion and settled, on pain of banishment.

                One last point: Anyone who has read this thread knows that the questions about why we’re mostly white boys were raised earlier by others, and not just on this thread. Mr. Kelly has stated that the issues have already been the subject of serious discussion among League powers that be. It’s clear from the response to my initial comment that several other Gentlepersons in good standing maintain an abiding interest in the topic. I don’t see what purpose is served by pretending that it’s a controversy I concocted out of nothing, and by continually trying to personalize the issue by way of insults.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                No matter what we say or do, we are racists, sexists and imperialists? Damn, I didn’t know that. Bummer.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                So calling someone a sexist racist is not personal, it’s just business. Got it.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Actually, and by his own admission, calling someone a sexist or a racist ought not to sting at all. Absolutely everyone is a racist and a sexist, and there is nothing anyone can do about it, so there is no sense wasting effort trying to correct the “problem.” Might as well wallow in it.

                I don’t think that this is an implication he intended, but continental philosophy fosters an inattention to such niceties.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I actually agree with him. That is, I think we are all racist and sexist, and there’s plenty of empirical data (experimental, not just anecdotal) to back that up. And it affects our perceptions and therefore our actions, and there is nothing we can do about that, except recognize it and try (recognizing that we’ll ultimately fail to some extent) to counter it whenever possible.

                I even think there’s a place for the sort of analysis CK is doing. I just don’t think that place is here, because it requires a certain common ground that he’s not going to find in this audience (like, say, admitting that there’s racism and sexism and all sorts of other nasty stuff residing in all of us).Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I am more than willing to admit, as the song goes, that “Everyone’s a Little Racist Sometimes.” And I agree with everything you write here too, Chris.

                I sense that that’s a rather different game than the one he’s playing, however.Report

    • Not to get too involved in this discussion, but the white-male-ness (in practice) of the League is an ongoing source of consternation for many. Although there is a place where rubber and road must meet, and if any woman can read a comment thread as poisonous as many around here (including this one) and actually want to stick around, more power to her.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Right. This place has some built in disadvantages when it comes to attracting female readers and commenters, including the name, the fact that the vast majority (in fact, all but one, if I’m not mistaken) of the front pagers, and even the sub-blog authors, are male, and its association with libertarianism, which is an overwhelmingly white male world view, to name a few. I’ve noticed some tone-deafness when it comes to gender from some of the front pagers too, though I’ll also note that most of them seem open to criticism on that (Tod in particular). Comment sections like this will inevitably chase off many of those who make it past all of that, though. Then again, a couple of the commenters in this thread will probably chase off a lot of newcomers regardless of their gender.Report

        • I also think there is, and I have no idea how to cache this out in terms that can be logically defended, just an overwhelming maleness of this blog. I don’t know if it’s the fact that we’re (mostly) all men, that we’re (mostly) all sympathetic to libertarianism, or what. I do think we underestimate the extent to which the average comment around here (definitely including my own) is essentially of the form, “Since I’m smarter than you are, let me explain to you why you’re wrong.”. Or, “You’re wrong and stupid, so I will now mock you.” That’s got to be a big turn-off for a lot of folks.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          As a non-libertarian, I think you are right that many of the libertarians on this site are open to criticism of the field. Or at least willing to try and answer pointed questions that seek to criticize libertarianism as a philosophy.

          However, I think that the libertarian movement does still have a reputation as being “Republicans who like to smoke pot”. In short, they are very libertarian when it comes to their own personal interests and likes but not so libertarian when it comes to liberties that are more aimed at non-white men. Hence the always bone-headed talk among some libertarians on the right’s of business owners to practice discrimination while not understanding the right to be a minority and fully-participate in civil and economic life without fear of bigotry, discrimination, or segregation.

          There are times when some libertarians seem to eager to defend the rights of bigots to practice their bigotry in ways that matter.Report

          • “…not so libertarian when it comes to liberties that are more aimed at non-white men. ”

            The bastards!Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            New Dealer,

            I think the distinction you’re looking for is between negative and positive liberty. I think all of us are fully supportive of a black employer’s right to fire a white employee, or of minorities to participate in politics in precisely the same way whites do (that is, when whites are doing so in legitimate ways–we’re no more approving of bribery and assassination by minorities than bribery and assassination by whites), and fully supportive of minorities’ right to smoke pot without having their lives destroyed by the force of law, or of minorities of the same sex to marry each other, or of minorities to hold property, etc.

            I know that’s all pretty obvious, and I do get what you’re saying. But my point is that we see what you see from a different perspective, and from our perspective it’s not at all about favoring white liberties over minority liberties. I get that you see our approach as having that effect, but I worry that you think or are implying that our approach is actually motivated by some degree of racism, which I think is fundamentally inaccurate.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              I think that the whole debate between positive and negative liberty is rather important and tend to see things through a more positive liberty lens.

              There is a need for both positive and negative liberties and one of my problems with the current American system is that we have not really found language to support positive liberty.

              In the end though, you are right, I care much more about the rights of minorities to participate fully in economic and civil life than I do care about the rights of bigots to run their businesses in ways that conform with their prejudiced and illogical world view.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I think the differing view on positive liberties is the primary fault line between liberals and libertarians. Not necessarily the only one, but I suspect more significant than any other, and often underlying other disagreements without being recognized, or at least without being articulated.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                I agree.

                I think it is not recognized because there are a lot of people who might identify as liberal or libertarian and not be able to talk about the difference between positive and negative liberty.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Very possibly so. I suspect, though, that they have some kind of “gut feeling” that tends to break down along those lines. That’s just a hypothesis, though; I don’t claim that as known fact. It would be interesting to study.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer says:

                “Gut feeling” is probably fairly accurate.

                People know enough about their ideas, ideals, and policy preferences in order to align then with general labels like conservative, liberal, libertarian, socialist, Democratic, Republican, etc.

                However, most people, even regular and loyal party voters do not pay attention to politics with a hardcore zeal because the normal aspects of life get in the way. The people who pay attention are a very small group. The 24/7 news networks are only being watched by a few million people each. Some of the talk radio guys get listenership in the tens of millions. I have no idea about the blogosphere and audience numbers.

                Knowing about the difference between negative and positive liberty requires more than a casual interest in politics and philosophy. It is probably 200-level university philosophy.

                This is not to say that I think it is bad that people cannot talk about positive or negative liberty. It would be nice but is not a requirement.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:


              I also think there are a lot of people who would make the points on why businesses should have the right to discriminate and not have any idea on the differences between positive and negative liberty.

              Not here. The League is largely a smart bunch. I don’t agree with every commentor obviously but most people here debate well and are well-read.

              There are still some jeering partisan hacks though. No place or cause is so noble as to not attract dunderheads.Report

            • Avatar Sam Wilkinson says:


              I think one aspect of this is that although libertarians might not favor white liberties more, they do propose that we simply start from where we are currently, as if whites (and straights, and men) aren’t significantly advantaged in almost every aspect of our culture. By taking apart those things which might benefit minorities without providing any sort of systemic evening of the inherent imbalances, it comes across as though whites are being privileged by the proposals. I’m not accusing you of this, but it is one of my more serious objections to libertarianism.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Helpful. Clarifying. Elucidatory.

                Oh, wait. Those are epistemological terms. My bad.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Ending the War on Drugs would have precious little impact upon the Libertarians that I know.

                Here in Colorado, there are Green Cards for folks who wish to smoke (doctors are allowed to treat pretty much anything except for PTSD) and, for those who aren’t in Colorado, middle class white people who want to smoke have stable dealers with a stable clientelle and money changes hands without the cops caring, particularly.

                Ending the war on drugs would change their lives not at all.

                Let me guess: none of the Libertarians you know talk about the war on drugs. It’s all “taxes” all the time with them.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                libertarians… do propose that we simply start from where we are currently, as if whites (and straights, and men) aren’t significantly advantaged in almost every aspect of our culture

                I’m aware that this is a common perception, but there are numerous ways in which that is wrong. Those ways have frequently been explained here at the League. Among them are a fervent opposition to the war on drugs, opposition to needless occupational licensing and other barriers to entry into occupations (such as taxi medallions) and criticism of condemnation of property so governments can transfer it to other private ownership (because the poor are much more likely to have their property taken than the well off) and, of course, support for vouchers and charter schools (even if empirically wrong about the effects of them, the intent behind the support is quite the opposite of what you’re suggesting is the general modus operandi of libertarians).

                I do find the criticism a bit irritating, since it seems no amount of proposals to change current policies that reinforce inequality is sufficient to rebut the claim that we simply want to reinforce the status quo.

                I guess it’s like addiction–if you claim you’re not an addict, it just proves you’re in denial.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                But James, I don’t know if that gets at the heart of Sam’s point.

                Yes, many libertarians (particularly those here… ya know…. the GOOD kind of libertarian) selflessly advocate policies that would exclusively or largely benefit the poor. But there are rarely corrective measures. You and I have gone back and forth on this. Telling Native Americans that you won’t take any more of their land doesn’t do much about the land already taken, and the great fortunes reaped by those who benefited from that taking, none or little of which went back to those Native Americans, the original and rightful owners of that land. Etc, etc.

                I am well aware of the limitations of what is being asked for. But the point often seems ignored. Delve deep into many libertarian policies and you see how it is not a philosophy solely focused on straight white men. But look superficially and it doesn’t take much to connect some dots and come away with that impression. Is that libertarians’ fault? I dunno. Seems at least, in part, to be a branding issue. But given that libertarians are working on the edges rigReport

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Ugh… last part should read: “…working on the edges right now, it might behoove them to make a more deliberate effort to court favor with these groups.”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                look superficially

                I think that’s what I’m objecting to.

                Telling Native Americans that you won’t take any more of their land doesn’t do much about the land already taken, and the great fortunes reaped by those who benefited from that taking, none or little of which went back to those Native Americans, the original and rightful owners of that land.

                I don’t think I’ve noticed many liberals seriously proposing to kick all the whites out of either the Black Hills or Oklahoma, or seen any libertarians objecting to Indian casinos. I suspect on actual policy grounds the two camps aren’t very far apart, only on the words they use.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I’m not talking about reality; I’m talking about perception.

                Unless I’m misunderstanding, it seems that some are bothered that libertarianism isn’t more well-received amongst groups they believe it would most benefit, whom they sincerely advocate for via libertarian policy.

                I think there are two reasons for this:
                1.) Some libertarians, often the most prominent ones, unfortunately do fit the stereotype of just wanting to pimp for rich white guys.
                2.) The rest of y’all probably haven’t done enough to reach out to these groups and sell them on the policy. Or sell folks like myself and Sam who might not be part of these groups but are drawn to policies and ideologies that would be more directly supportive of them. You object to folks having a superficial understanding of the philosophy, but what do you expect when you’ve been on the margins for most of history, when most folks don’t even know what “libertarianism” is? It is the marketplace of ideas, man! You’ve gotta demonstrate your value. No inherent value, right?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                That’s fine, but I Sam wasn’t talking about perception, but about reality (as he perceived it).

                As to perception, I don’t expect the general public to have a clear perception of libertarians, and I don’t excuse libertarians from their share of the blame for that. It’s the regulars here who have misperceptions that have repeatedly been rebutted here that make me shake my head in wonder.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Understood. Sorry for wading in to the conversation less-than-fully informed on the context.

                You’ll always be one of the good libertarians in my book, ol’ buddy.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I bet that’s a pretty thin book. 😉Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                Hanley is to libertarianism as liberals are to liberty.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Damn, that’s clever, Mike. You stay up all night working that one out?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                This. I’ve tried to make this point and always spend twice as many words for half as much clarity.

                F you, Sam.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            As a non-white-modern-liberal I think that white modern liberals really hate women and minorities, even though they claim to support their rights. And most white modern liberals have small penises, so they are jealous of libertarians. We all know about libertarians and their significant Johnsons.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            So, the drug war negatively impacts financially secure white men more than others, does it?Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              1. I never made any comments on my stance on whether drugs should be legal or not.

              2. The disproportionate punishments for possession of crack and other “minority” drugs were created during the 1980s under Saint Ronnie (trademarked).Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                1) It’s your stated premise that libertarians only care about pot because they’re smoking it themselves. Which is utter bs.

                2) St Ronie isn’t a libertarian. But you knew that. And you know who actually started the racist and unconsitutional ‘let’s make pot illegal’ bandwagon? Your boy, Mr. New Deal himself FDR.

                So embrace your own damn Progressive legacy.Report

    • Avatar b-psycho says:

      I thought of the name as a riff off League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Y’know, the book and film.

      Sometimes a name is just a name.Report

  13. The moment the word “legitimate” is brought into a sentence alongside the word “rape” the interest of the speaking party in the rights of women lies somewhere between “nil” and “but only as much as they need to get back in the kitchen and stay pregnant.”Report

  14. I heard about this on the radio on the way to work. It made my brain hurt, both as a doctor and as a Missourian by birth.

    I did enjoy hearing how the Romney campaign has treated the comments like so much plutonium.

    [Edited to add — Oh, and I guess this all means someone needs to tidy up the Geneva Conventions, then]Report

  15. Avatar joey jo jo says:

    the league of tu quoque, endeavoring to elevate one logical fallacy above them all.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Ummm…. Okaaay….

      Since I’m a little baffled as to what part of my post might be viewed as using a tu quoque argument, and since I have a hard time believing that you of all people are sticking up or Akins, I’m going to assume this is one of those times where you decided what my OP was going to say in advance, and then commented before you bothered to actually read it.


  16. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I’ve been a bit unaware of this particular controversy until just now really. Without commenting too much on the… let’s say darkling discussion going on in this thread, here’s how I hear the guy’s comments:
    First, the context of the discussion is the criminalization of abortion and when should abortion be legally permitted in a situation in which it was made illegal. The host asks, “What about in the case of rape- should it be legal or not?” So, that hypothetical is the context- an America in which abortion is illegal. It really doesn’t matter if you personally don’t think abortion should be illegal- that’s the context in which he answers.

    What it sounds like he says is that pro-choice people like to bring up this rape exception, but it’s very rare, so far as he knows, that a woman actually gets pregnant due to rape because, in the cases of what he calls “legitimate rape,” the female body usually terminates the pregnancy. In the rare case that this doesn’t happen, he would be okay with abortion- or, at least, focusing on prosecuting the rapist. Even in light of the fact that stress can adversely affect pregnancies, it sounds like he’s reeeeaaaallly stretching the medical facts to say that it’s “really rare” that a rape actually leads to pregnancy because the body usually “shuts that down.” But, fine, maybe his doctors tell him this stuff.

    The problem, as I see it, is, if we all magically decide that this is a medical fact, how would the police and other state agents act on this fact in the world he desires- one in which abortion is illegal? Do they allow for abortion for every woman who says her pregnancy was by rape? Or, is there now a much higher burden of proof on those women, given that their pregnancy would be more likely to have come from consensual sex than rape- since, according to him, the first is much more likely to result in pregnancy. Also, who has to prove what here? If a pregnant woman doesn’t want to have an abortion, but still wants to prosecute her rapist, should she have to work much harder to prove it was a “legitimate rape” than she might now, when it’s not exactly easy anyway? Or will this just apply to the wing of the police that would prosecute in cases of abortion? Should they have to consider her claim during her abortion trial? In other words, is it about proving an abortion is legal, or prosecuting a rape?

    But, let’s be honest here- the guy’s a thundering idiot and it really hurts one’s brain to think too hard about this shit. There’s something very Middle Eastern about the whole hypothetical discussion- what should the authorities do with a pregnant woman who claims she was raped?- in the first place. Really, it’s good for politicians to distance themselves from his comments, it’s good that his hypothetical world doesn’t exist in the United States, and it’s good to move on now.Report

  17. Avatar Joann says:

    This guy is an idiot, and from what I have read he may have gotten the nomination because McCaskill encouraged her supporters to vote for him in the primary. But I also find it terribly sad that in disavowing his comments, Romney and Ryan find it necessary to say that abortion is OK in the case of rape. The only legitimate reason to be against abortion is that the unborn child has the right to life. This has nothing to do with how the child was conceived. Allowing abortion in the case of rape is an admission that your position is not completely based on the child’s right to life – it’s an indication that you believe carrying the child is a punishment, and if the conception wasn’t “your fault” you shouldn’t have to bear it.Report

  18. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    What bothers me is that the RNC won’t take him off the ticket, haven’t, at least.

    He is an RNC candidate that’s still in the race, correct? Step one of many for the Republican Party to reclaim the label of reasonable is to disown this man for will-fully making up facts that are on their face compleley sexist in their nature and inteded effect.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:


      There’s a misconception in your argument. The Republican National Committee has no authority here. American political parties are organized at the state level, with the national committees just being the peak association of the state parties.

      So Aiken is not in fact an RNC candidate, but a Republican Party of Missouri candidate, and the RNC has absolutely no authority to remove him from the ticket.

      In fact the Missouri Republican Party may not have authority to remove him from the ballot, depending on the state’s electoral and ballot access rules. There are legal requirements for appearing on the ballot and being removed from a ballot–it’s not simply in the party’s control.Report

      • Avatar Ethan Gach says:

        Interesting, I never knew the party was so fractured. Surely there’s a way to put pressured on the State party though, no?

        Why are the people in the smoke filled room never being all powerful when you really need them to be?Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Indeed, the American party system is very federalist in structure. That’s because states are primarily responsible for elections (and of course most elections–i.e., the offices that are held by elected officials–are wholly state/local, rather than national affairs). To get on a state’s ballot–which is roughly congruent to being an “official” party in a state–a party has to meet the state’s legal requirements. Some states make it very hard for parties to achieve ballot status, while a few (most notably New York, I believe) make it very easy. Most of the dozens of third parties in the U.S. appear only on one or a few states’ ballots.

          But of course there are ways to pressure the state parties (and the candidates). There can be just the informal pressure of “don’t you see how you’re harming our party and our president’s electoral chances,” but also the national committee can withhold electoral assistance if they choose, which can come in the form of both money and technical assistance. And some of the pressure can be done in the backroom, out of the public eye, so it could be happening without us being aware of it. Of course that’s often indistinguishable from it not happening at all.

          But overall, the limited control of party leaders over their party’s candidates is one of the more notable features of the U.S., distinguishing it from the norm among democratic countries. It’s why our parties are less consistent or ideologically coherent than most European parties. In a very real way nobody is actually in charge, and the parties’ ideologies are just the not-always-very-consistent conglomeration of a wide variety of street-level politicians.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            “To get on a state’s ballot–which is roughly congruent to being an “official” party in a state–a party has to meet the state’s legal requirements. Some states make it very hard for parties to achieve ballot status, while a few (most notably New York, I believe) make it very easy.”

            You mean THIS wouldn’t get on the ballot in all states: http://www.rentistoodamnhigh.org/Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            Is there a sort of property right issue?

            In that, once someone wins a primary or election, he or she has the sole right to relinquish the victory.

            This seems like common sense. Akin won the primary fair and square, it seems like it should not be up to a political party to deny him a space on the ballot because they he is an offensive asshole and idiot.

            This goes for all parties. This is just an aspect of democracy.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              I don’t think it would properly be classified as any sort of property right. Really, it’s conceptually pretty complicated. Once upon a time the nomination process was considered purely an internal party matter, not an issue subject to public legislation. That, for example, is how Southern Democrats could run a whites-only primary. They weren’t preventing blacks from participating in the political process because the primary wasn’t part of the public electoral process, it was the purely internal business of a private organization. So at that time the party certainly could have kicked a primary winner off the ballot at will, and the only rules they might have violated would be internal party rules.

              But now we see the parties as not wholly private, and the primary process as not simply the activity of a private organization, but as part of the public electoral process. So we’ve written all sorts of laws about that process, and everyone is constrained by those laws, including the parties, and–drawing from Mike Schilling’s note about Paul Ryan–even the candidate himself. If being on the ballot was truly something like a property right, Ryan could relinquish it, maybe even transfer it to someone else (maybe even transfer it for a fee!). But in fact it appears that even he can’t get himself off the ballot now (assuming he would want to).

              More and more the primary process is wholly out of the hands of the parties and ever more securely in the hands of the state. Open primaries and California’s jungle primary are the clear evidence of that. The party’s role is almost purely unofficial–they provide campaign support for the candidate, but s/he is really responsible for their own campaign–and in some respects all the party does is provide a brand name…whether they want their name attached to a particular candidate or not. And with California’s jungle primary, they don’t even provide a brand name during the primary anymore.

              If America wants to have responsive parties, as parties, every action we’re taking undermines that goal by further removing candidates from the parties’ control, and what we really ought to do is reverse course totally (except for allowing the Southern conservatives to keep out minorities).

              What we’re doing is the kind of thing that makes political scientists tear their hair out.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Akin won the primary fair and square, it seems like it should not be up to a political party to deny him a space on the ballot because they he is an offensive asshole and idiot.

              Shorter version of my long rambling comment: But he represents his party.Report

      • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

        In fact the Missouri Republican Party may not have authority to remove him from the ballot, depending on the state’s electoral and ballot access rules.

        In fact, the article I cited a few days ago saying that Ryan can run for both Congress and VP went further to say that he has no choice: at this point, Ryan lacks the authority to take his name off the congressional ballot.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Heh, thanks for that tidbit. It’s a bit of a safety valve for Ryan, isn’t it? And he can reasonably claim that it was never his intent to run for both, but he has to follow the law like everyone else.

          If he wins the Veepship, Wisconsin Law (section 17.8 here requires an election to replace him. The Cook Partisan Voting Index lists his district as R+2, so he would be likely to be replaced by another R, but not with great certainty.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

            It’s actually in the Constitution that a House vacancy requires an election (unlike a Senate vacancy): I,2,4:

            When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

            The interesting thing about Wisconsin’s 17.18 is that it applies to both House and Senate.Report

  19. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Here’s what Scott Brown said:

    As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for US Senate in Missouri.

    Although I am only husband to one young woman, I agree with this 100%Report

  20. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I do think we should require all Senate candidates to have a good understanding of where babies come from. If that makes me a “comprehends-birther,” so be it.Report

  21. Avatar Glyph says:

    Unfortunately, in no time at all we’d have candidates espousing Storkism.

    To protect the children, of course.Report

  22. LATE ADD: National Review has called for Akin to stand down; the National Republican Senatorial Committee will lend no support.


  23. Avatar Anne says:

    “Statement on Rape and Pregnancy

    August 20, 2012

    Washington, DC — Recent remarks by a member of the US House of Representatives suggesting that “women who are victims of ‘legitimate rape’ rarely get pregnant” are medically inaccurate, offensive, and dangerous.

    Each year in the US, 10,000–15,000 abortions occur among women whose pregnancies are a result of reported rape or incest. An unknown number of pregnancies resulting from rape are carried to term. There is absolutely no veracity to the claim that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” A woman who is raped has no control over ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg (ie, pregnancy). To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths.

    Any person forced to submit to sexual intercourse against his or her will is the victim of rape, a heinous crime. There are no varying degrees of rape. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and insulting and minimizes the serious physical and psychological repercussions for all victims of rape.”


  24. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Earlier in this conversation I said that Republicans tend to embrace their crazies. From what others have put forth here today, it appears that most folks of all stripes are denouncing both the words and apparent spirit of Akin. I stand corrected and apologize for any offense I might have caused by making broad, inaccurate generalizations and assumptions.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      I thin you are still right. Republicans do embrace their crazies. Kevin Drum thinks that this will blow over and I have just seen reports saying that Akin will not stand down.

      You can go very far on the Republican crazy train but every now and then, there will be someone who exceeds the bounds of all decency in the name of their crazy. Akin might be that person.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        I have to say, I feel like the GOP deserves mega-props for the way they’ve handled this. It feels like for a long time, they’ve adopted a circle-the-wagons approach to valid criticisms, and I had some fear they would do that again with this case.

        Instead, I am really pleasantly surprised. The NRO letter from the editors was not only the right thing to do, I thought it was as pitch-perfect as you can ask a partisan site to be.

        So really, kudos all around.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          My issue is that they only seem to do it once maximum damage has been caused or something close to it.

          But to be fair, perhaps this always happens in party politics. The Democrats have at least one similar Akin story in Bob Toricelli in 2002.

          How long was McCarthy able to damage the lives of countless innocents before being shut up?Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          That being said, the Internet is changing the way of scandals. Hence the quick sackings of Anothony Weiner and the Republican Congressman from upstate for putting cheesecake photos on-line and trying to flirt with young women on various dating sites.

          In a pre-internet age, Akin’s comments would probably not have become a national controversy or it would have taken much longer to reach this stage.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        It may be true that Republicans embrace their crazies moreso than they should and/or moreso than Dems. In this particular case, it appears they have not. And I was wrong to act as if it was a foregone conclusion that they would.Report

  25. Avatar Chris says:

    By the way, it should be noted that “legitimate rape” has all sorts of connotations in discussions about rape (which discussions tend to take place on pretty misogynistic grounds). For example, spousal rape, date rape, rape where the woman was scantily clad, rape where the woman was drunk, and so on, have been treated as “illegitimate” forms of rape for a long time. These are the sorts of rape that are the most difficult to prove, so “pregnancy from rape” would be difficult to prove in order to justify (make legal?) an abortion. What’s more, whatever mythical physiological processes some people think would make pregnancy more difficult with rape because of stress would presumably not be involved if the woman is passed out, as is often the case with the sorts of rape that some treat as “illegitimate.” So when a guy says “legitimate rape,” it’s going to immediately call to mind all sorts of negative connotations that are inherent in our rape discourse. This is to say nothing of the fact that many people, particularly many men, see false rape claims as extremely common.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Not only that, it is just creepy to have to say something like, “That was a legitimate rape,” since we so often use that term to bestow positive recognition.

      “He is a legitimate contender for the Presidency.”
      “He is a legitimate HOF quarterback.”
      “He’s a solid dude… he’s legit.”

      I don’t think for a second that Akin was attempting to infer THIS, but having to say the phrase “legitimate rape” makes my stomach turn a bit.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Without defending his semantics one iota, I think I can safely say that his syntax made his odious view appear even odiouser.

        I think he was using “legitimate” to mean “legitimate use of the term”… as opposed to, say, (risible example that detracts from the point).Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Legitimate traditionally means “in accordance with established standards”. I am confident that Akin meant it in this way, referring to instances of sexual interaction that effectively meet the standard definition of rape.

          More colloquially, legitimate can be used to mean “cool” or “of favorable quality”. This meaning is derived from the traditional meaning but carries a different connotation in some circumstances. This is one such circumstance.

          The problem is, I tend to use legitimate in the latter way. So every time I write or say, “Legitimate rape,” a little bit of me dies inside.Report

      • I recoiled at the term. I also recoiled at Whoopi’s “rape and rape-rape.” There’s not standard wording to say “I do not consider this thing people are calling rape to actually be rape.”

        We’re covered when it comes to the prime example, “statutory rape” which is legally considered such but not necessarily viewed as the equivalent of what we would all (or mostly) consider rape. And if we’re skeptical of the facts of the case we can say “alleged rape,” though the shortest phrase we have for cases where we outright believe rape did not occur other than “false accusation of rape.”

        Of course, if standard wording were ever agreed upon, it wouldn’t take long before it would be most associated with those who doubt most rape is rape (either because it didn’t occur or because it was consensual for one reason or another).Report

  26. Avatar M.A. says:

    The radio blowhards are all screaming about how the RNC “let down the base” by not defending Akin, because they consider McCaskill “vulnerable” and counted on Akin’s defeating her to try to win the Senate…

    So sorry, but your insistence that the GOP doesn’t circle the wagons around their crazies is bullshit. The RNC may be saying now he gets no money, but two weeks from now the money comes right back and all the right wing crazies on the radio are encouraging their listeners to donate directly to Akin’s campaign and his PAC right now.Report

  27. Avatar CK MacLeod says:

    Chris @ https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2012/08/leading-missouri-senate-candidate-to-women-if-you-get-pregnant-you-werent-really-raped/#comment-334181

    Seems to be a rather strong criticism of the League to make, Chris, and oddly self-alienated as well, since you on the one hand credit me with making a valid point, but on the other hand don’t think that it or I belong here, or that “the sort of analysis [I’m] doing” belongs here, because of a lack of “a certain common ground… in this audience.” Meanwhile, members of that same audience are now patting themselves on the back and expressing gratitude to Meredith for thoughtful and friendly remarks that seem to refer to this discussion that Mr. Kuznicki finds so unwelcome, and that you seem to think has no place here except as pursued under false pretenses. You may be right, though that would make Meredith wrong even if it left the self-congratulation unaffected. I’m still wondering why you think that of all the viewpoints represented by Leaguers, this particular one is the one that has no place. I suppose that question also will have to be pursued somewhere else.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I never said that you don’t belong here. Things will probably go better here, with me, Jason, and everyone, if you don’t try to make yourself out to be a victim.

      I said the type of argument you make for it doesn’t work well here because it doesn’t, as you yourself have seen. I’m not saying that your point is invalid, or even that you shouldn’t make it, but you’re probably going to have to come at it from a different direction to get people here to listen. If you disagree, well, good luck to ya. Also, I don’t think Meredith was talking about you, even if she posted it in response to someone else who was responding to someone else who was responding to several other people who weren’t responding to you but were responding to someone else in a subthread of a thread you started. If you consider that evidence for your success, well, no wonder you read me as saying that you don’t belong here.

      By the way, I don’t know if you were around for the Travon Martin posts back when, but if you were, you can go watch me beating my head up against the same cultural wall that you are inevitably going to beat yours up against if this is the approach you want to take.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

        Chris, I’m not sure where you got the “victim” bit. You don’t seem to be reading my comments or even your own closely and consistently, which is why you may be reaching unjustified conclusions. What I found interesting if problematic was that you credited me with a valid point, but that you don’t think the League can handle it. I’ve sought throughout to refrain from personalizing the discussion, and I’m indifferent to the kinds of personal attacks that undermine the attacker’s credibility while never actually reaching the matter under discussion. (This ain’t my first clambake.) You did, however, put forward a view on my “analysis” which inherently implicated me and seemed to address the point of my participation at the League. I don’t take it personally at all. I said that you might be right, and yet you seem to be unhappy with me for agreeing with you. Similarly and relatedly, I didn’t say Meredith was talking about me, I said she was clearly referring to that “discussion” of “diversity” issues, in which I played a small part, but which you do not believe can be addressed in good faith here, at least by people who believe as you and I do that ethnic, sexual, and other prejudices must generally be presumed in any discussion of ethnic, sexual, and other prejudices, especially at a forum where at least some leading participants have already confirmed their belief that the appearance of such prejudice, consciously or culpably or not, is a problem.

        I don’t know what you presume “work[-ing] well” ought to look like to me or anyone. Maybe it would have less to do with persuading people to join up the team than with illuminating or exploring a set of questions, to the best of one’s ability pursuing the discussion wherever it leads, and leaving others to reach their own conclusions.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          CK, make a distinction between your conclusion and the route you take to get to it in comments here. Then you will understand how I can think your conclusion is right but that your analysis, that is your route, is probably not going to work well here. It won’t work well here because very few are going to agree with any of the premises that go into your analysis. You’d do better, really, to work backwards from the conclusion to those premises, even.Report

          • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

            Not sure that such a distinction can be sustained, Chris. The route and the conclusion may very much be the same thing in matters such as these. It looks like you’re saying “treat your conclusions as premises, and move from them to your real premises, to be treated as conclusions,” but, aside from the question of whether such an approach would be practicable, effective, and worth the effort, the idea entails unspecified presumptions about what the real premises I’m working with are, as about what “doing better” and “working well” might consist of – returning me to the prior point.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              I’m pretty sure that if pretty much everyone rejects your point, and some consider it an insult, while others mock you, you’ve failed to do anything worthwhile. But you may disagree.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                That’s a whole lot of presumption, Chris, in two sentences. I don’t know from one comment to the next whether to expect that you’re going to agree with or disagree with whatever you last were presuming to be my point, whether or not you consider yourself part of “everyone,” and whether or not you consider that “everyone”‘ so dysfunctional or impaired that to be agreed with would be much worse a sign for the quality of one’s argument than to be subjected to whatever mockery.

                To be clear, I’m not saying that I agree with your description, or your latest description. I’m saying I don’t. Yet, if I did, or if you could persuade me it was accurate, then it would indeed be a very useful result, from my point of view the only useful result, to learn that there was in fact nothing from my point of view to be achieved here.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Of those who responded directly to you, who really engaged what you were saying? Rufus did, I think, but he disagreed. You don’t seem to have swayed him at all. Jason was offended and disagreed, and didn’t really engage what you said very deeply as a result. Farmer mocked, Hanley disagreed and mocked a bit, and the rest talked amongst themselves without really addressing your comment at all.

                I agree with your conclusions, because they’re right. I see it all the time, with everything from the seemingly innocuous like Mad Men to blatant racist nostalgia like that found in the flying of the stars and bars. I’m just not sure that when starting with that, without first establishing some common ground not only about the pervasiveness of racism and sexism even in people who don’t consciously hold explicitly racist or sexist beliefs, and then some ideas about how that racism and sexism might express itself throughout culture, you’re not essentially assuming facts not in evidence. The response you get confirms my suspicion.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Just wrote a response that got eaten. Maybe it was a message from on high that I’ve spent too much time on this, or that I was going on too long, again. I’ll just say that I think you left a few people out, that I don’t entirely agree with your characterizations of their responses, and that I wouldn’t expect everyone to say everything. What people say isn’t all that they think or may come to think, we may never know what has been accomplished, perhaps indirectly, by a discussion like this one.

                Anyway, thanks for your stubbornness in pursuing your arguments out of what seem to me the best intentions. Even where I’ve disagreed or criticized, I’ve found your comments useful, thoughtful, and clarifying. I may give this another go later on, since you’re getting at some things that I think it’s very worth talking about, even if no one is persuaded and haters gonna hate.Report

  28. Avatar CK MacLeod says:

    (Where did or didn’t TVD insult Hanley’s wife?)Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Don’t ask!

      By the way, James, Still, Kazzy, and a few others (you know who you are), I’m quite serious about what I said over there in the now closed thread. I won’t argue for that approach any more here, but if you’d like me to defend my proposal, feel free to email me: mixingmemory at gmail.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I’m sympathetic, and lord knows I’ve tried. But I think you and I are drawn to the same type of thing, feeling a need to point out dishonest styles of argumentation. And I’m completely in agreement with you that letting certain types of comments/argument go un-noted sends the signal that those things are welcome here. Then again, it’s not our blog, and if the powers that be don’t mind that signal being sent, I guess that’s their business. It does contrast, though, with their concerns about whether this place is female-friendly enough. Lots of talk, but not just an avoidance of dealing with one of the clear causes; apparently a continued defense of the cause.

        But with that out of my system, I’ll sign on. But since we all have the frailties of humans, let’s agree to remind each other should we fail. Any response to unnamed should be met by other signatories to the pact with a quick reminder that unnamed is to be ignored.

        And perhaps then it will become quite clear that the pool of critics is not limited merely to our virtual gang of toughs. (If we’re going to be a gang, we need a good name, something that reeks of social decay and destruction, like “the dribble drives” or “the designated hitters.” Or if we want to get more esoteric but truly frightening, “the neutral zone trappers.”)Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Come to think of it, the Designated Hitters seems really appropriate. Our reminder to pact violators can be, “The DH don’t hit that.”Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            I can’t believe I’m going to weigh in on this. Nonetheless:

            1. Tom’s patterns and tendencies of argument are really weak. It occurred to me just how weak they are as I compared them to Erik and North. I’ve corresponded with Erik a small amount, and North quite a bit. Both of them have frustrated me before by their written sloppiness. Nonetheless, comparing either one of them and what they have written with TVD and what he has written, I have to concede TVD is much worse.

            2. This latest round is especially ugly, not because anyone has written anything particularly awful, but because of the sheer mindlessness of it. Pure personal antagonism barely any substance at all.

            3. For what little substance there is, TVD is right on at least one point: the idea that Johanna is a somehow a neutral party in this just does not hold water, and that has nothing to do with sexism. Johanna either knows or ought to know that James has carried on a consistent pattern of antagonism toward Tom for months, if not years. Whatever she adds just goes on top of that pile, for better or worse.

            4. This whole FP vs. not FP thing is a red herring. The issue with Tom is what he writes in the comments not what he writes on his posts, which are much less prolific anyway. Whatever is done about Tom should be done there, for a very specific reason. The smog of mindless rancor becomes too thick to ignore.

            5. James’ justifications for going after TVD are a disgrace, misanthropic antagonism with no regard for Tom’s person. I know James says he feels the need to point out weak argumentation when he sees it, and there was something to be said for that the first few hundred times he did it. But the usefulness of that has been worn out a long time ago.

            6. I miss Bob Cheeks.Report

            • Avatar Mark Thompson says:

              Without either agreeing or disagreeing with any specific points here – and there are points I agree with, and points I don’t (and I don’t think anyone knows which are which)- I did want to express my appreciation for this attempt to make cooler heads prevail here. I mean that sincerely.Report

            • Avatar Johanna says:


              I’ll have to agree that this comment is less flaming than usual for you but you are wrong about me. You are right that I am not neutral. I have my own opinions and on occasion am willing to share. The mere thought that because James and I are married discredits anything I have to say on issues where he and I happen to agree is pathetic.

              Yes I recognize that James and Tom don’t get along here but James had absolutely nothing to do with my comments. If I were indeed supporting James’ evidently long term attack on Tom as you suggest, I would have joined in much earlier.

              I realize I am married to a hot head and have no interest in engaging in any on-line quarrels he may have. I regret I did it this time because after doing so, I realized what I had started. I did however give specific examples of what pissed ME off. I don’t even know if James agrees with me on those examples.

              Just because I happen to hold a similar opinion as my spouse does not warrant suspicion that he influenced me or that the basis of my argument is somehow diminished because of it. You are more likely to see me commenting on issues where he and I agree as it seems bad form for spouses to argue issues on which they disagree on a blog. I really don’t thing that is the commenting culture the League is looking to embrace.

              Let me be clear, James and I do not write together, we do not plot, we don’t even vote similarly. The closest you will get to us speaking as one is when he accidently posts as me when using the ipad.Report

              • I’ll admit, whenever I see you comment my first thought is, ‘did James accidently steal her identity again?’

                But I can usually figure it out within a sentence.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Yes I recognize that James and Tom don’t get along here but James had absolutely nothing to do with my comments. If I were indeed supporting James’ evidently long term attack on Tom as you suggest, I would have joined in much earlier.”

                I’m sure that’s true but it doesn’t matter. I’m sure you’d like the opportunity to express your independent, well-considered disapproval of TVD for this or that. But it’s just a reality that James (and a couple others) sucked all the air out of the room for that a long, long time ago. All that’s left over is a big pile of chokeworthy smog, and whatever you write in that circumstance just adds to it.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I think it’s great that a wholly neutral, non-biased, commentor like Koz is talking about whether someone else could be contributing in a neutral manner. There’s nothing like a bracing dose of irony to start the day.Report

              • Avatar Johanna says:


                So you are saying it matters not what I say, I am guilty by association. Should I be a proper wife and keep my opinion to myself on matters where my husband may have a similar opinions or has extensive history? Sorry, I may regret that I played a pivitol role in restarting the flamefest, but it was not my intention. I was merely doing what everyone else on this blog does when they encounter arguments in which they disagree. I honestly don’t care if you believe me or not. I still feel that my critique stands on its own and I stand by my words whether or not you believe it merely added to your perceived pile of smog.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                But you’re allowed to? No, seriously, is it your contention that nobody’s allowed to bitch at Tom, because a few people have been bitching about him for a while?
                Or is it just Johanna, in particular, because she’s someone’s SO?Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                Johanna I’ve got your back, I think Tom was out of line

                “Just because I happen to hold a similar opinion as my spouse does not warrant suspicion that he influenced me or that the basis of my argument is somehow diminished because of it.”

                Dang I wish I knew how to bold text. The first part of this statement I think is not quite fair people will wonder how much you and James talk about the blog off line but you are right that does not mean James unduly influences your opinion. You are 100% correct that even if he does influence you in some ways that DOES NOT diminish your argument. Your arguments should stand and fall on their own.

                All of know of other commentators who seem to be friends with each other and support each others ideas but we do not discount out of had their arguments because of it. It may not be true but seems to me that because Johanna is a woman some around here (not all mind you) think of course she will look to her husband on what to think so really she is just an echo chamber of James nothing to see hereReport

              • Avatar Johanna says:

                Thanks Anne. I can indeed see how people may jump into thinking that James and I are in cahoots but the quick attack on who I was without addressing what I actually said was quite offensive. I agree wholly that you are correct in that I think that no matter what I say there will be some here who will read James into what I have written. Of course it probably doesn’t help that he often forgets to change names and posts as me 😉Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                One does expect him to ‘fess up when he does so, assuming he later realizes it.
                And that’s all the evidence of good faith I need.Report

              • Avatar Anne says:

                @Johanna as long as he doesn’t dress like you 🙂Report

              • Avatar Johanna says:

                I don’t know it could be quite amusing.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                A hem is a start, but you’ll probably need to adjust some seams too.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Are you addressing me, sir?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Did you just ask him if he’s dressing you?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                I’m not a-going to a-dress you.Report

              • Avatar Johanna says:

                Having no information on your fashion sense except the possibility that you are into the shaggy beard and baseball cap look, I’m not sure I would approve of you a-dressing my husband anyways.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I think you’re skirting the issue, Mike.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                People, he’s a head in a jar. He has no fashion choices to make, except glasses and collar (and brain-sucking-amoeba accessories).Report

              • Avatar Johanna says:

                and I should be taking fashion advise from a bowler hat?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I actually have a theory regarding visual cues and emotional triggers/priming in online conversation that has prompted me to retain the hat instead of getting a personal gravatar (well, that, and a bowler hat is ALWAYS fashionable).

                Though the recent incident of commenter ‘impersonation’ (and I am willing to believe the explanation that it was a misguided attempt to make a meta-point, gone badly awry in an already-heated situation) has made me start to reconsider that stance.

                Also, if everyone else has a personalized gravatar, being the ‘bowler hat’ WILL be my personalized gravatar, obviating the visual anonymity of it anyway.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                You have to admit, the bowler is pretty stylish.Report

              • Avatar Johanna says: