Breaking News: Akin is a Moron (No, really!)

Usually I try not to mention anything even involving politics because there’s no possibility of real discussion on the internet, but then I remembered I posted three times last week that I wasn’t going to apologize for having opinions anymore. Nevertheless, this post isn’t about my political beliefs, but about the general stupidity of what passes for ‘political discourse’ in this country.

Much as I love words, I don’t think talking any more about Todd Akin will accomplish anything.

What he said was stupid, absurd, and awful. There you go. That’s all that needs to be said. The continued coverage as though it goes any further than that implies there is room for debate. There isn’t. What he said was WRONG in every way.

And you know what? He’s trying to get elected. What’s the solution?

DON’T VOTE FOR HIM

That’s why we have a system of representative government. So when an idiot wants to be in charge you can tell him no. Or ‘over my dead body’.

I saw a clip of an interview he did on GMA this morning and apparently all he wanted to say was that he didn’t like abortion? Not sure how he even got from one to the other, but whatever. That was the political opinion, and you don’t have to vote for him either.

Only Missourians can keep him out of office. So there’s no room for national outrage unless he is elected to the Senate. Then maybe the rest of use could call our Senators and tell them not to vote for anything he puts forward, especially if it’s anything related to humanity (I don’t know his position on infrastructure, but considering science knows pretty well how pregnancy works and he hasn’t a clue, I wouldn’t trust that either).

Why is everyone worried? Because no one votes.

Fifteen percent of eligible voters voted in California in the primaries. 15% Admittedly, this is because there’s almost no point in voting during the primaries in California because of whoever decided that they shouldn’t be all on the same day and by the time it gets here we don’t really have a choice. But we still have the largest population…maybe we could get it changed. If anyone actually voted.

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True Evil

Oops. Been awhile.  Before I get to new content, may as well at least cross-post the last 6 or so articles from the class…

Is evil really a simple concept? We like to think it is, we like to think we can recognize evil as something evil, and something other. But most people don’t actually have any real experience with evil, no direct experience.

Craig Williamson was an operative for the South American apartheid government. He was granted amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He now works in a market, selling produce, but despite the official amnesty he says that he does not feel that he is forgiven. In his defense, he claims a sort of “just following orders” defense. If he’d been told it was evil to do the things he was ordered, he would have thought about it more. Apparently because it was presented to him as the “greater good” he just didn’t question anything. As weaselly as this sounds, and, really, is, the fact is that once people get into the mindset of distinguishing “us” from “them” this kind of thought process can be used to follow through with all sorts of terrible actions: it’s probably very similar to what urban gangs to do each other.

However, though at times during the documentary “The Ones That Got Away” Williamson does seem to have accepted his actions, and is genuinely trying to make some restitution and, in a way, make up for his evil, he also resents what he sees as an over-positive fairy dust solution. Part of his reasoning behind this resentfulness is that “there will be people…who hate what I did.”  This is problematic, because he should also hate what he did. Everyone should hate what he did. Forgiveness means that we shouldn’t hate him, as an individual, but apparently, somewhere in his mind, he may still believe that he wasn’t entirely wrong.

In A Human Being Died that Night by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, who was a part of the TRC and is a clinical psychologist, believes that “even atrocities call for an apology that is sincere, unencumbered by explanation or justification.” I believe that is true. It’s very hard to make a sincere apology. No one likes to admit being wrong, and to make a sincere apology they have to be able to face what they did. They have to strip away their mental defenses against whatever wrong they committed…and even minor every-day infractions, like forgetting to take out the trash, can be very difficult to admit to, especially when the person apologizing feels they are in the weaker position: also a hard place to be.

As Gobodo-Madikizela says, an apology “clears…the air in order to begin reconstructing the broken connections between human beings.” An apology doesn’t come from weakness, but it does require the speaker to completely acknowledge their own faults—and that admits weakness. Actually truly apologizing is strength. But an apology enacted to put the apologizer in a position of moral power is even less likely to be sincere. Gobodo-Madikizela uses the example of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and her official apology in front of the commission for the death of Stompie Seipei. The young man’s body was discovered just outside of Soweto, and linked to the activities of the Mandela Football Club. A court hearing found that there was evidence that Seipei’s death was related to events that had taken place in Madikizela-Mandela’s home.

During the TRC public hearing, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela refused to admit she knew anything about anything, whether or not it had happened in her home. Gobodo-Madikizela does not give details as to what specifically she said, her focus was on how Madikizela-Mandela used that opportunity as a way to offer an “apology” and keep a position of moral strength: “She approached Stompie Seipei’s mother while the TV cameras rolled. With a triumphant smile and open arms, she embraced her.” Unlike Gobodo-Madikizela, I don’t know that I believe Seipei’s mother was stripped of dignity in this interaction, if only because she seemed to be behaving far better than Madikizela-Mandela, but I wasn’t there, and I don’t know the details of the interaction. Unfortuantely, Madikizela-Mandela was unwilling to face what she’d done, or even what she hadn’t done, much less try to heal the wounds she left behind.

Both of these people did very wrong, and hurt people. But where do they fall on the scale of evil? Is there a scale? I would judge that, at least to a certain extent, Williamson is willing to face what he did during the apartheid—even if rather obliquely. But Madikizela-Mandela does not face any possible damage she may have done, what part she played. And Williamson undoubtedly killed more people, and was far more directly involved. So should we not forgive them, because they aren’t doing enough? Perhaps so. After all, we know what’s Right.