Dismantle the Master’s House

Hello, Sisters and Brethren,

We got too much anger, hurt and snark coming at our Body Politic, which is running out of bandaids and wishes everyone would stop throwing darts. FYI, most of the US is not following the fine points of what our elected representatives are up to, and this is too bad. Because most of the US just wants simple justice and common sense. But if you were born into a Democracy, it is your responsibility to be one of the People the Government is Of. And if you elect fools you will get stupidity. And even worse if you don’t vote at all.

What, exactly, is stupidity?

One definition from Merriam Webster Online Dictionary is-

: dulled in feeling or sensation : torpid

Here is a related word, ‘stupor’–

: a condition of greatly dulled or completely suspended sense or sensibility ; specifically : a chiefly mental condition marked by absence of spontaneous movement, greatly diminished responsiveness to stimulation, and usually impaired consciousness

Of course, some people are really dumb, and many more just don’t care. Some are impaired by bad choices or bad luck. But some very smart people can be misled by deception and distraction…

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. —

Matthew Scheidt’s attorneys are trying to prevent a 3-hour-long tape from being played during his upcoming trial. He is accused of impersonating a physician assistant and even treating patients.

The 17-year-old even admitted to performing CPR on a patient to fill in for a doctor.

“I swear to God I did not do nothing. I would not have done. I felt so uncomfortable even doing that. And, you know, the only reason why I did do it was because there was nobody else in there. And I’m not going to let her die,” Scheidt said during the interrogation.

During the hours of interrogation, Scheidt admitted that he should not have worn the physician assistant badge and that he did deceive doctors at Osceola Regional Medical Center.

How did very smart professionals get punked by a 17 year old? Distraction, deception. They were probably all maxed out busy, juggling a thousand competing priorities in their day, wondering how they would cover all they were responsible for. They probably did not focus their attention on the young-looking guy in the white coat with the badge. A visitor walking through would be more likely to have the eye for something not right in that guy. They might look past the white coat and see their teenage son’s punky friend walking by.

You don’t brake at every intersection at rush hour. You have to assume that when the light is green you should go.

We trust our lives to life as usual. We base our social life on half-conscious assumptions. It’s woven into our shared reality. If you love English you appreciate and work with the spin and slant that can be worked into the most innocuous-seeming sentences. It’s unspoken assumptions. Some of us are very sensitive to words, others have a different lens for seeing the world.

We are in an election where a deeply divided America struggles with competing visions of what our common reality will be.

Sometimes the differences are thrown into sharp and painful contrast.

Rep. Todd Akin’s phrase, ‘legitimate rape’ was too honest for the Republican Party. I’m not of the ‘no rape is legitimate’ rejoinder that focuses on that one unfortunate word. I do think I understand what he meant. He meant that any woman who was forced into sex should be able to show dire physical injury comparable to what he imagines he would suffer if he had to fight off sexual assault. This type of reasoning goes back to ancient times, as when the good Patriarchs of Israel wrote The Law…

Deuteronomy 22:23-24

English Standard Version (ESV)

23 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

For the Good Patriarch, it’s common sense that a cry for help would bring rescue. But for the less powerful, it’s clear that violence, deception, coercion and seduction could be fatal. The world of the Old Testament was a world of purity and execution by stoning, a world of slaves and servants and wives whose husbands held the power of life and death. The wisdom of the Old Testament is that human nature has not changed much in 5,000 years and we can learn from the past.

It’s a huge cultural shift to acknowledge that sexual violence, bullying, coercion and humiliation are crimes against personhood. It’s a huge shift to take it on faith that there is worth and dignity in every person, and we don’t gain by excusing the abuse of power. It’s a huge shift to defend the rights of people who do not act the way we wish the righteous would– the woman in the city too scared to scream, the child afraid of getting into trouble.

So snarking at Todd Akin won’t change hearts and minds. Too much focus on his too-explicit words distracts from the fact that there is no difference between his agenda and that of the Republican Party except style. Underestimating the power of the unspoken assumptions woven into our culture leaves us open to being punked. You cannot dismantle the master’s house using the master’s tools.

The problem is, the master’s tools are most of our toolbox. We are products of our culture. We have to reach into the box for Justice, Civility, Dignity and Freedom. We won’t use those tools to reinforce the old inequalities. At best we will be living in the People’s House under construction. Sharing rooms with people we didn’t expect to have to deal with.

This is a plea to remember where we came from, and not to underestimate the hold of the past, or the power of the people who fear the dismantling of the old world.

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10 responses

  1. So-if I vote for a Republican,I believe a woman has to carry a pregnancy from a rape?Have you lost your mind altogether?You are going to vote Democratic out of fear?That’s what you love accusing conservatives of.I don’t personally know anyone who thinks a rape victim or incest victim should have to do such a thing.I think a threat to the woman’s life is also a reason for an abortion.I DO NOT believe in abortion as birth control.

    1. I challenge you to locate some people who support abortion as birth control. Who think that is better than preventing conception. I’ll join with you in denouncing them.
      The extreme wing of the Republican Party does oppose abortion in any circumstance, and they have had some success in blocking access to emergency contraception– a hormonal pill that prevents conception and reduces the need for abortion.
      The extreme wing has moved beyond what the average person would consider decent. That’s why Todd Akin is such an embarrassment– he was too direct.

  2. Aside from the three exceptions,what other reason is there?I believe in emergency contraception and contraception in general.i don’t support “personhood”legislation.I am like most people I know on this issue.The extreme wing of the Democrats believes in open borders and submission to United Nations treaties.The hell with that stuff.We lla have our beefs with the opposition.

  3. When you excise, destroy, kill, dispose of, stop the life of, terminate, scrape, remove by any other means, abort, halt the development of a fetus, stop the lives of unborn, although genetically predetermined to be completely human and completely individualized and totally unique by the biology of fertilization and genetics and DNA and RNA, is there not a moral issue not easily rationalized as somehow guiltless? We destroy millions of viable infants each year; where is the recognition of the morality involved.

    1. A fetus is not an infant. If you think I’m not right on that, try rallying the conservative base on maternal/child health, WIC, RiteStart, Head Start, clean air, safe housing, flexible working hours for parents, paid maternity leave– see how many get excited about these issues.
      You need to be honest that your concern is for preventing women from terminating a pregnancy, not protecting children. That is a different issue.

  4. hey ninja nurse. great post. i agree that Akin outed the far right (although anyone paying attention should have been able to see that men like ryan and santorum shared his views beforehand). I don’t believe all Republicans share these views, but as long as they tolerate these extremists in their party, it doesn’t matter. When they elect these guys, they give them the power to enact hateful and discriminatory legislation against women. I think a lot of men cannot understand the real physical threat that personhood legislation poses to women. The erasure of my autonomy over my body is an absolute show-stopper. Moderate Republicans need to listen to and support women on this issue so we can get back to debating more legitimate topics like immigration, the global economy and the role of the UN.

    1. Thanks, Deb.

  5. The role of the UN?Get out of our country for starters.
    Speaking of rape-what is up with planned parenthood not reporting the identities of men who commit statutory rape on their patients?Statutory rape is a felony.Ever hear of misprision of a felony?It’s a crime also. You cannot justify what they’re doing.

  6. I’ve been thinking a lot about your point that the law in Deuteronomy assumes “if it’s a legitimate rape, the woman would have screamed for help and been rescued.” I think you’re right that this law is way too simplistic and patriarchal. I am a Christian and a feminist and so I have to deal with the question of why there is sexism in the bible. (I wrote a blog post about it: “I really hope my God isn’t sexist” http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/2012/08/i-really-hope-my-god-isnt-sexist.html )

    Anyway, good post! :)

    1. thank you. I used to be Christian and searched the Bible for words on women. I now see the Bible as a great and wise record of human beings, their lives and their search for meaning in their various circumstances. I think that the women in those times had their own secret conversations in the menstrual tents and attending birth and death that have been lost to recorded history.

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