Dutch rightwing politician thinks rape won’t make you pregnant

In a bid to show that Dutch (rightwing) politicians can be just as thick as their American counterparts, the leader of the SGP (the explicitly rightwing Christian party) argued that rape won’t make you pregnant:

‘Women seldom get pregnant as a result of rape and that is a fact,’ orthodox Christian party SGP leader Kees van der Staaij told a tv programme on Tuesday.

He was reacting to a question about the furore in the US around similar remarks made by Republican congressman Todd Akin.

Van der Staaij said rape is dreadful and recognises the huge consequences for the victims, but his party remains against abortion. ‘We are, under all circumstances, for the unborn life,’ he told the RTL programme.

The SGP has long been ignored and tolerated by Dutch politics as a whole, a principled party that stood for a largely neglected part of the Dutch population, the socalled bible belt. Their views may be old fashioned, even reactionary, but who cares, they’ll never get into government anyway. Which meant that for decades they’ve been able to e.g. get away with not giving women voting rights within the party, while recently, due to the minority rightwing government, it has had an undue influence on government policy in return for its support. So far this has luckily been minimal, but the mere fact that van der Staaij felt comfortable to utter these statements on public television shows the growing confidence of the party.

Be disappointed in Heinlein all over again

If there really was one taboo subject in the old Usenet days of discussing science fiction, it was doubting the genius of Robert Heinlein. there were always acolytes and fanboys aplenty to explain away the homophobia, misogyny or racism that cropped up again and again in his work, or excuse the flawed logic or inconsistencies that could be found in them. Times have changed though and as new generations of sf readers have grown up, Heinlein has lost much of his former prominence in science fiction. Which means there has been room to start seeing the real Heinlein, not the idealised picture his fans have build up around him.

Ironically, it’s the self same fans who are helping to tear this picture down, as they are the only ones dedicated enough to publish things like a never send letter to F. M. Busby about freedom and race relations (PDF, starts at page 68). It’s full of gems like this:

Nor do I feel responsible for the generally low state of the Negro—as one Negro friend pointed out to me; the lucky Negroes were the ones who were enslaved. Having traveled quite a bit in Africa, I know what she means. One thing is clear: Whether one speaks of technology or social institutions,
“civilization” was invented by us, not by the Negroes. As races, as cultures, we are five thousand years, about, ahead of them. Except for the culture, both institutions and technology, that they got from us, they would still be in the stone age, along with its slavery, cannibalism, tyranny, and utter lack of the concept we call “justice.”

Which is straight out of any angry white nerd’s rant against political correctness ever written. So when was it written? 1964.

Trouble in atheist paradise

What, a social movement inspired by the excesses of Anglo-American Protestantism and promoted by middle-aged blowhards is not terribly inclusive, caring, or supportive itself?

I came by my atheism the honest way, by getting doubts about the religion I’d grown up in, reading about all the miracles and wonders of the universe we live in, getting into rows with my very religious and constantly worrying grandmother. Granted, my church was not the most oppressive or backwards church in the world and nobody actually much cared about what you did or didn’t believe. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve always been a bit wary about the militant atheist movement that has started up in the last five years or so. Atheism alone is not a broad enough base for a political/ideological movement.

It doesn’t help that its two most prominent public figures — Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitches — are both professional arseholes. The latter was a not very intelligent leftwinger when leftwing politics were in fashion, became an even dumber rightwinger when fashions changed and helped cheerlead the War on Iraq. The former, though no doubt a good biologist and science writer, always had a nasty streak in him. I don’t think he’s ever written a book without putting in a dig at somebody.

But the real problem with militant atheism is that it operates in an ideological vacuum. Atheism, though it has been historically associated with the left, with socialism, is not a left nor rightwing thing anymore. Which means that in the professional atheist movement you have people who agree with each other on nothing but the idea that god doesn’t exist. And since it’s largely an internet movement, it is taken its shape from the biggest loudmouths on the web, which more often than not are rightwing/libertarian blowhards.

It’s no wonder that sexism, rape jokes and assorted bad behaviour is rampant in the “community”.

Minimise, Doubt, Excuse,Shift Blame

I’m sure somebody else will have written about this in a much more clever way, but when has that ever stopped me before? There has been an uptick in stories about harassment, sexual, racist, or just plain hassling the weirdo. These are all three examples of relatively mundane harassment, of the kind that is experienced on a daily basis by thousands of people, but which is relatively invisible to anybody not directly involved as either victim or bully, not being obviously outrageous stories of injustice. Reading these stories and the comments that they attracted, I began to notice something.

It’s of course no secret that any such story of harassment will attract skeptical commenters, who for some reason or another want to deny or excuse the harassment. Few of those, certainly not in the more enlightened environment of e.g. Metafilter, will excuse or agree with the racism or sexism directly. Instead, there are four main techniques which skeptics use to discredit bullying victims: Minimise, Doubt, Excuse and Shift Blame.

Minimise: don’t deny the incident, but deny its importance and the need to talk about it. (Frex) What this does should be obvious: if an incident isn’t worth talking about, it can’t be used as evidence of sexism, racism, bullying etc.

Doubt: just straight up start questioning whether the incident really happened or whether there is another side to the story (frex). This can be done under the guise of keeping an open mind, not wanting to judge on hearsay and “innocent until proven guilty” and all that good stuff, but what it really does is denying the victim their experiences.

Excuse: the other side of the doubt coin, explaining that there are reasons why what the victim thought was harassment wasn’t actually, or wasn’t intended as such, or couldn’t be helped. There are several examples of it in the Livejournal thread about the woman who was hassled at Readercon, with some commenters speculating that the harasser might have Aspergers or ADD or something. What this does is to again doubt a victim’s experiences as well as remove the responsibility for the bullying from the bully.

Finally, shift blame: it wasn’t the bully’s fault that this happened, it must have been something the victim did or did not do which made them do it. This is on full display in the thread about Stephen Mann, where he’s described as provocative and not telling the whole truth (doubt again). You also see this a lot with any story involving cops killing or harassing innocent people, where it seems to be as much fear as hatred driving people to argue that there must be something the victim did to deserve their treatment.

There’s one other technique that helps with each of the four main techniques to delegitimise experiences of harassment: nitpicking, doubting every detail of the story the victim tells. This works well because few people are able to be one hundred percent right or precise when writing down their experiences…

These are all techniques that should be known to anybody who has spent some time on internet threads about bullying, or police brutality, or any other story where you have people wanting to deny the reality of it, but I thought it would be good to write it down for a change, to make it explicit.

You know who worried about women wearing makeup?

some douchecopter telling women not to wear makeup

Amanda Marcotte talks about the latest trend of sincere, pouty men telling women not to wear so much makeup:

Apparently, this is just the most famous of a trend of young men writing signs extolling the joys of “natural” beauty and taking photos of themselves with these signs, complete with wounded expressions conveying the pain they feel because the women of the world get dressed in the morning without thinking first of the preferences of these guys’ specific cocks. It’s just the latest manifestation of a multi-decade long trend of men, who are invariably self-satisfied to an alarming degree, holding forth on why they hate make-up and think women should choose a “natural” beauty path instead. This sort of thing tends to be polarizing amongst women. The weak-minded amongst us buy it hook, liner, and sinker, swooning over these guys for their supposedly feminist-ish ways. The rest of us fly into a sputtering rage, because we know that this is just some more bullshit oppression dressed up as liberation.

You know who elses worried about women wearing too much makeup and abusing their natural beauty? The nazis every authoritarian regime in the world ever. No matter what the reasons for the objections where (makeup is offensive to god, Jewish decadence, a bourgeouis indulgence, unnatural, immodest, undsoweiter), it’s always about controlling women, just as much as the makeup and makeover industries are. If you’re worried about women being “forced” to wear high heels, it’s no improvement to make flat shoes mandatory.

One very special Mormon snowflake

Some Mormom dude explains how he managed to overcome his handicap and managed to live a loving, fulfilling life with his wife and children despite being gay:

I guess the premise of this post is to share that not only am I homosexual, but I’m also a devout and believing Mormon. And that I’m very happily married to a woman, and have been for ten years now.

The happy, cheerful delivery masks an evil, pernicious message: that it is possible for somebody who is gay or lesbian to confirm to a heterosexual lifestyle and that it is desirable that they do so. It’s still arguing that a sick religious ideal is more important than your sexual identity.


Aging Norwegian folkie leads 40,000 people singing the Norwegian version of Pete Seeger’s Rainbow Race, in a giant fuck you against Breivik and all he stands for

The news can seem unending grim day in day out, then something like this comes along and restores some of your faith in humanity. A reminder that despite all the Breiviks out there, there has been progress in the past seven decades since WWII, that the belief in the equality and worth of all people, no matter their race, creed, faith, orientation or gender, is utterly mainstream. The fascists and nazis have lost, they may still be dangerous but they cannot win.

Ten years of Eschaton and all I got were these lousy wankers

Time flies when you’re having fun: Eschaton is ten years old today. I must’ve been one of the first people to put Atrios on the blogroll back then, having barely been blogging for a month myself; no idea how I even found him — probably via Avedon? Back then the closest thing to a liberal (let alone leftwing) voice in the American blogosphere was Andy Sullivan, he who accused the “liberal elites in their coastal enclaves” of treason while the bodies were still falling out of the WTC. The only real progressive bloggers were people like Avedon and other science fiction fans, small voices lost in a wilderness of howling rightwing insanity.

And then came Atrios and he quickly became a focal point for all those people disgusted with these wingnuts and warbloggers, inspiring quite a few others to start blogging while, certainly in these first critical years, he himself was also very good at promoting new, interesting bloggers. For better or worse, he was crucial in the establishment of the liberal blogosphere, in providing pushback against the insanity of both the warbloggers and the wankers in the socalled professional press.

To celebrate, he has put together a list of the Ten Greatest Wankers of the Decade, a veritable treasure trove of assholes and douchecopters:

Some are more active these days than other, many other worthwhile candidates were skipped (where are Glenn Reynolds or Anne Coulter?), but this parade of horrors is still a sadly accurate view of a decade that’s been more bad than good.

Keep feeling vaccination

As the number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children grows in the US, so does the number of pediatricians who refuse to treat them. Over at the inevitable comment thread at Metafilter, one pediatrician explains the realities of vaccination and the risk your children run if they’re not vaccinated:

Sometimes I work with families for whom the reality of the morbidity and mortality of these diseases is extremely limited. In my education, I do focus on morbidity because families will not hear that they are putting their children at risk to die. The injuries from these diseases are often more concrete, even minor injuries like the significant scarring of varicella, or persistent airway disease from pertussis. Refusing MMR exposes male children to infertility risk, all children to acquired heart defects. Refusing HiB, even if your child does not die from meningitis, will surely result in acquired neurological, cognitive, vascular, and extremity injury once heroic efforts have saved the child from meningitis death. In the case of HiB, many currently practicing providers lived through the complete horror of internship and residency in children’s hospitals’ meningitis wards where babies were dying all around them that could not be saved. My current attending talks about the weeks when HiB vaccine was, then, introduced and the wards closed up, one by one. And he gets freaking teary-eyed about it, even now. Refusing pneumococcal vaccines like Prevnar opens all of us up for more of the same–the current Prevnar 13, for example, covers for 48% of invasive meningitis.

Families do not believe they are accountable to their own children–that they answer for their scars and acquired disabilities. But they do. Injury from actual vaccine is an incredibly small and fully reported risk. Any parent can go to the CDC site, at any time, and monitor vaccine injury. But the risk of acquiring a preventable childhood disease by refusing to vaccinate is nearly certain in that child’s lifetime. It’s as if a family made the decision to let their infant lay across the backseat, unbuckled, without a carseat, because they decided they would simply just drive very carefully.

My sympathies all lie with the doctors, though I can spare some pity for those parents who, genuinely wanting the best for their children, are taken in by one of the bullshit merchants preying on their fears and insecurities, their greed masqueraded as concern. But vaccination is not new, not controversial and has been used for a long long time, has slain some of the greatest childhood killers: smallpox is gone completely, polio almost, measles in rich countries is an inconvenient childhood disease, nothing to be worried about. That very same success ironically now makes continuing vaccination programmes vulnerable to indifference as parents wonder what the point is, if these disease are gone or under control. But they are still necessary and not vaccinating doesn’t only put your own child at risk, but other people’s children too…