Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Obamacare Contraception and the Bishops - Extremes Converge

Originally Published on forbes.com on March 20th,2012
Something possessed me to dive into the dispute between the bishops and Health andHuman Services over the requirement that health plansprovide contraceptive coverage.  It was mainly because I thought the rhetoric was overblown on both sides.  I contrasted the New York Times ad by the Freedom From Religion Foundation with the contention by the bishops that the exception for churches would not have  exempted Jesus and the disciples.  I titled the piece “Would Obama Make Jesus Hand Out Birth Control Pills ?”.  There were quite a few comments particularly if you include a Catholic site, that linked to the piece.  I encouraged them to join the debate on forbes.com, but not much luck there.  I sometimes think that much of the internet is a series of echo chambers in which people of like mind engage in a spirited game of “Tastes great” – “Less filling”.
I noted two things from the comments, neither of which is all that surprising on reflection.  The first is that some people don’t get irony.  I really did not expect comments about whether Jesus would have handed outbirth control pills, but they did show up:
Well, the Catholic religion was formed many years after Jesus supposedly lived, and I’ve always understood Jesus to be Jewish. As far as I know there are no restrictions on birth control within the jewish faith. For all we know Jesus did hand out birth control to his disciples.
And then there was:
Jesus would already be handing them out. His Central Teaching is that Loving, not Pulse, are Life. That 1800 years of Scribes and Pharisees back in charge say different, doesn’t change His example, and His teaching. Oh, there are a whole lot of folks, so called chr’istians, that sure better hope that, as their Love-less lives would suggest, there is no God, cuz otherwise, there’s gunna be a whole lot of gnashing of teeth. ‘You say Lord, Lord, but your Heart is far from me.’
But the way, what day were you conceived?
I had to pass on that question.
More interesting was the response that quite a few Catholics had to FFRF’s challenge to liberal Catholics to leave the Church:
I agree with the ad, as does Pope Benedict XVI, who has lamented the “filth in the Church” and the need for “a smaller Church.” I propose that, for starters, all unrepentant voters and supporters of the baby butchering antichrist in the White House leave the Church en mass.
Wow.  I bet FFRF was not banking on having Bendedict XVI in its corner.

Actually, I agree with FFRF: it is a great moment of truth for liberal and nominal Catholics. They already deny portions of the faith — why not go “all the way” and simply leave? It just might be that some will consider this a great moment of truth — ponder what’s at stake–and return to the faith.
‘Liberal and nominal’ Catholics should follow the suggestion and leave the Church. Better yet, they should be excommunicated. The Church would be far better off without them. But if this ad taps in to their deranged sensibilities, hey, whatever it takes!
It is really amazing how people at the extremes have a certain affinity with one another.  They feel the same way about the muddled middle.  It caused me to take note of another odd convergence of the extremes on the issue of artificial birth control.  One of the arguments against birth control put forth in Humanae Vitae was:
Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
Compare that to radical feminist views on men having a sense of entitlement to PIV (penis in vagina) sex being the source of much of the suffering in the world.  Consider this observation on the extent of the reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s recent contraception comments:
Specifically, Limbaugh has challenged liberal men’s entitlement to unrestrained sexual access to empowerfulized liberal women — women who are willing to acquiesce to liberal men’s brand of rape-culture, which requires sexual access to all females, all the time, so long as liberal women have ready access to contraception and abortion.  And (and!) so long as liberal women don’t feel so shitty about experiencing unwanted pregnancies, and using these services, that they refuse to have recreational PIV at all.
Then there is pornography.  From Humanae Vitae:
Everything therefore in the modern means of social communication which arouses men’s baser passions and encourages low moral standards, as well as every obscenity in the written word and every form of indecency on the stage and screen, should be condemned publicly and unanimously by all those who have at heart the advance of civilization and the safeguarding of the outstanding values of the human spirit. It is quite absurd to defend this kind of depravity in the name of art or culture  or by pleading the liberty which may be allowed in this field by the public authorities.
Compare to a recent post entitled Pornography and the Myth of Free Speechon radfemHub:
We must be encouraged to open our minds to the possibility of replacing free speech with a concept of fair speech.  Social issues must be analyzed in terms of harm to both individuals and groups of people.  Hate speech should be made a criminal offense, and pornography should interpreted as hate speech against women.  To the end that the human dignity, equality, and freedom of both sexes should be honored and protected, our immediate task as feminists, is to expose the hypocrisy of “free speech” and encourage its replacement with a concept of fair speech.
The ironic part of me would speculate on Rick Santorum courting the radfem vote with his recent statements on pornography.  I would also speculate that given their apparent attitude toward male sexuality and pornography, that some member of Catholic women’s religious orders were proto-radfems.  This excerpt from radfem Hub’s FCM tends to refute observations like those:
i highly recommend sheila jeffreys’ excellent book “the spinster and her enemies,”which absolutely destroys any possible argument that early or modern radical feminists were sexually conservative, and asks the question: from whose perspective would “abstinence” and “deprivation” appear to be the main themes, when women were and are trying to save womens lives, and the quality of their lives, from death, disease, and unwanted childbearing due exclusively to PIV?
My purpose in making, them, however is not to mock radfems, but rather to challenge mainstream thinking assuming I can figure out what the mainstream is.  For the moment let’s characterize it as the boomer mode of serial monogamy, married or not, that is “evolving” into the hook-up culture of the millennials.  That would be the context that sees the “sexual revolution” of the last fifty years as somehow equating with “women’s liberation” and chemical birth control as part of basic health care.  A hundred years hence, that might not look like the most enlightened viewpoint floating around.
Sometimes the extremists turn out to be right in the long run.  In the 19th Century, both extremes on the slavery question assumed that the abolition of slavery would lead to racial equality (or mutual extermination).  A more moderate voice like Abraham Lincoln would say something like:
I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.
It might be that in the future, insistence that chemical birth control is part of basic medical care might be viewed in the same way most of us would view Lincoln’s statement on the possiblity of racial equality.  No matter what our view, though, it might be good to have some humility and respect for the sincerity of those who think differently.
You can follow me on twitter @peterreillycpa.

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