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Monday, October 26, 2015

Ben Carson wants to overturn Roe v. Wade

A few years ago, my husband and I were discussing the right wing, and I said they were going to try and overturn Roe v. Wade. My husband disagreed, because, as he put it, that would be incredibly difficult. So you can imagine his utter shock at the news that GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson recently stated he wants to do exactly that.

Simply put, Roe v. Wade made abortion safe and legal. Prior to Roe v. Wade, women who needed an abortion were forced to visit questionable clinics and doctors, doctors who performed the procedure could be arrested, and women died. Actress Polly Bergen had an illegal abortion that left her infertile and nearly ended her life:
Someone gave me the phone number of a person who did abortions and I made the arrangements. I borrowed about $300 from my roommate and went alone to a dirty, run-down bungalow in a dangerous neighborhood in east Los Angeles. A greasy looking man came to the door and asked for the money as soon as I walked in. He told me to take off all my clothes except my blouse; there was a towel to wrap around myself. I got up on a cold metal kitchen table. He performed a procedure, using something sharp. He didn’t give me anything for the pain — he just did it. He said that he had packed me with some gauze, that I should expect some cramping, and that I would be fine. I left. (source)
A cold, metal kitchen table in a run-down bungalow. Dr. Daniel Mishell, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, remembers what it was like before Roe v. Wade:
Dr. Daniel Mishell is now professor and chairman of the ob-gyn department at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. In the years before Roe vs. Wade, he was a resident at Harbor General Hospital near Torrance and later at what is now County-USC hospital.The women he treated "were the sickest patients, I'll tell you that, because of what they did and the infections they got" -- appalling infections like gas gangrene, which killed tissue and sometimes the patient. "We had ladies who got so infected they went in shock and their kidneys shut down. A lot of them did die."
At any one time, 15 or 20 women lay in the county hospital septic abortion ward, an additional half a dozen at Harbor. They were too sick to talk, but Mishell knew the common thread: usually unmarried and abandoned by the man, uniformly, suicidally desperate.
They jabbed into their uteruses with knitting needles and coat hangers, which Mishell sometimes found still inside them. They stuck in bicycle pump nozzles, sometimes sending a fatal burst of air to the heart. They'd try to insert chemicals -- drain cleaner, fertilizer, radiator-flush -- and miss the cervix, corrode an artery and bleed to death. Mishell once put a catheter into a woman's bladder and "got a tablespoon of motor oil."
"I'm telling you, it was really an awful situation. It touched me because I'd see young, [otherwise] healthy women in their 20s die from the consequences of an infected nonsterile abortion. Women would do anything to get rid of unwanted pregnancies. They'd risk their lives. It was a different world, I'll tell you."
(Why didn't they just get birth control, you wonder. Because some state laws still defined contraception as "obscene," and not until 1965 -- in living memory of some of you reading this -- did the Supreme Court say contraceptives were legal for married couples. The unmarried didn't get that right until 1972.)
The women Mishell treated were poor working women. The rich had other means of breaking the laws against abortion, with doctors as discreet as they were expensive. Mishell spent 1961 working in Sweden, and remembers frequent calls from colleagues back home wanting to send their pregnant, prosperous patients over to get abortions.
When people like Ben Carson say they want to overturn Roe v. Wade, this is what they want. Women will not stop getting abortions. What they will do is end up on a cold, metal table, with a person standing over them who may or may not have medical training. Women will become septic, end up in hospitals, die. They will be rendered infertile. 

Overturning Roe v. Wade has nothing to do with preserving life. Many conservatives view women with contempt, and women who need an abortion as whores, trollops, sinners. Remember, the right wing desperately tried to redefine rape, and quite a few of them oppose abortion exemptions for rape and incest. Louie Gohmert told a woman who aborted her brain-dead fetus after 20 weeks she should have carried that fetus to term, "just in case."

Conservatives don't care if women die. Conservatives don't really care about children; if they did, they wouldn't continue to call for massive cuts to social programs that help families. This is about power. And if someone like Ben Carson becomes president in 2016, they will exercise their power to nominate judges to the Supreme Court who share their vision. 

If Ben Carson was truly pro-life, he would realize abortion must remain safe and legal. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortion; Dr. Mishell's experiences are proof of that. What it will end is the ability of low-income women to receive a safe medical procedure. In reality, this is just another attempt by conservatives to punish and shame the poor.

In the end, it's up to us. Will we protect women and families from the sadistic idealism of conservatives, or will we be silent? If abortion is made illegal, women will die. Women will be rendered infertile. How is that pro-life? Use your voice, and your vote, to stand up for what is right. Visit the following links to find out you can help.


Planned Parenthood

Emily's List

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Could "gun nuts" have Paranoid Personality Disorder?

First, a disclaimer. A "gun nut" is not a responsible gun owner. There are millions of men and women in this country who are responsible gun owners. People like my friend, Manny, who owns firearms, or my husband, who was a gun collector. Responsible gun owners overwhelmingly support universal background checks, while "gun nuts" see any change to current gun laws as some sort of conspiracy. This article is not about responsible gun owners.

If you have engaged with a "gun nut" online, odds are, you have experienced confusion, frustration, and perhaps, fear. Fear for your own safety, and the safety for the "gun nut" and his or her family. I know many people who have braved the internet in support of stricter gun legislation, only to find themselves at the receiving end of rape and death threats, threats against their families, even threats against babies and children. The screenshot to the left is of a threat sent to Chad McDonald, a writer and activist. This all begs the question: Could "gun nuts" suffer from Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is the book used by mental health professionals when diagnosing any mental illness. This is where I began my search for an explanation of "gun nuts" and their behavior. Several entries caught my attention, but Paranoid Personality Disorder best matched the experiences so many of us have had when dealing with "gun nuts." From the DSM:
PPD (Paranoid Personality Disorder) is a DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), diagnosis assigned to individuals who have a pervasive, persistent, and enduring mistrust of others, and a profoundly cynical view of others and the world (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
A pervasive, persistent, and enduring mistrust of others. When "gun nuts" are confronted with the fact that no one is trying to overturn the Second Amendment, they don't believe it. Any change to any gun laws is an attack on their rights; nothing you say or do will change their mind. Some of the criteria for PPD includes a belief others are lying without any proof, interpreting benign remarks as attacks, and holding grudges.(source)

But does this explain the violence? Look at that screenshot again. Mr. Marchus, a "gun nut," immediately begins threatening Chad McDonald's infant when confronted with a view different than his own. Here another of Mr. Marchus's comments:

Does Mr. Marchus seem stable, or does he seem violent? You could argue the "lol" on the comment about Chad's baby, combined with the smiley face at the end of the comment above, indicate some sort of sociopathic disorder, and you might be right. However, violence can be part of Paranoid Personality Disorder. From No
The main symptoms of PPD are not merely that they do not like people, but that they do not trust anyone They do not trust facts. They do not confide in anyone. They dwell abnormally long on past problems with people and may plot revenge. They do not accept what anyone tells them. They are incredibly jealous and easily hurt. They do not accept any form of criticism. They are always in the right and woe betide anyone who tells them otherwise.
Sometimes people with PPD can turn violent. They think they are just protecting themselves, but this is small comfort to anyone at the receiving end of such an attack. Anyone living with a person suffering from PPD must be able to defend themselves, have a place to run to if necessary and be vigilant for signs of impending violence, advises Dr. Stuart C. Yudovsky, author of Fatal Flaws: Navigating Destructive Relationships With People With Disorders of Personality and Character (American Psychiatric Association; 2007.)
After any mass shooting, there is an inevitable backlash against the mentally ill. Those who attack mental illness often have no idea that statistically, mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. There is a difference, however, between mental illness and personality disorders, like PPD:
Unlike clinical syndromes, personality disorders have a life-long pattern. People with personality disorders are more likely to develop a number of clinical syndromes, such as depression, anxiety, and misuse disorder.
Furthermore, the symptoms of clinical syndromes are increased with the comorbidity of a personality disorder, and for this reason, they can be seen as risk factors for the development of clinical syndromes.
Clinical syndromes are thought to have a later onset than personality disorders, and both psychological and medical treatments are effective in the treatment of clinical syndromes in contrast to personality disorders, where the symptoms associated with the disorders are treated, and not the disorder itself. (source)
Is it possible that some "gun nuts" may have Paranoid Personality Disorder? Given how distrusting they are, how easily they believe that any idea of saner gun legislation is an attempt to take all the guns, and how quickly they turn to violent language, it is a definite possibility. 

There is a satirical joke about how the people who hate better gun laws the most probably couldn't pass a background check. Learning what I have about PPD, and having my life threatened by quite a few "gun nuts," I wonder if that joke isn't closer to the truth than many of us would like to believe. Could the men who threaten the brave women of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America with rape and murder on a daily basis suffer from PPD? Or Mr. Marchus, the man who threatened to shoot Chad McDonald, and threatened the life of an infant? Or the man who, a few years ago, sent me a message on social media, telling me he was coming to my house to shoot and kill my entire family? 

Perhaps it's not the depressed, or the anxious, or the schizophrenic we need to fear. Perhaps it's the "gun nuts."

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Make-Believe War on Christmas

Halloween is coming up, as evidenced by the Christmas decorations starting to appear in stores all over the country. A local Hallmark store already has their new ornaments front and center in the window, next to some cute stuffed pumpkins, which is incredibly confusing, because I don't know what the hell to do on the 31st: hand out candy, or sing carols. Oh Come All Ye Ghouls and Ghosts? Jingle Bats? Deck the Halls With Boughs of Wormwood? 

Don't get me wrong-I love Christmas. Our tree goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and stays up until my husband begins sighing dramatically. I love baking, decorating, the weather, the smells, the music, everything. But holy shit, it's October 12. Why are we being subjected to Christmas this early? And why are the twits over at Fox Spews starting their whining about the make-believe war on Christmas? 

In past years, Bill O'Reilly has carried the pine-scented torch for the soldiers fighting this imaginary war, opining from his perch about how saying "Happy Holidays" is tantamount to treason. Conservatives angrily type, all in caps, that they refuse to shop anywhere that has signs reading anything other than "Merry Christmas." If an employee has the audacity to wish a conservative "Happy Holidays," well, that employee better duck, because the most fervent fundamentalist Christians are also well-armed. 

What has Fox's poinsettia panties in a bunch? A public school in Elkhart, Indiana, is being sued by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the ACLU for featuring a live nativity scene in their annual Christmas show. The complaint was filed by a student and his father, and states:
The Nativity scene and the story of the birth of Jesus are, of course, well-recognized symbols of the Christian faith. Their presence at the Christmas Spectacular is coercive, represents an endorsement of religion by the high school and the school corporation, has no secular purpose and has the principal purpose and effect of advancing religion.
If this was a parochial school, the student wouldn't have a leg to stand on. But it's a public school, paid for by tax dollars, not tuition. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the FFRA, said:
Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to ensure that nonreligious and non-Christian students are able to fully participate in their school’s winter concert.The Nativity represents the pinnacle of Christian belief and its most holy day. The spectacle would be appropriate at a private Catholic school, but is a blatant and egregious promotion of religion in a public school setting.
Yes, yes, and more yes. The student, his father, the FFRA, and the ACLU are absolutely correct. The student wants to participate in the Christmas show, without having religion shoved down his throat. This is not a war on Christmas, or a war on Christianity. It's a prime example of fundamentalist bullying.

If a public school wanted to put on a play that glorified the life of Mohammed, or Buddha, do you really believe the same people pouting about this lawsuit would be silent? Of course not; they would be suing the school on behalf of White Jesus™, because the only religion allowed is their version of Christianity. 

What those fundies need to understand is the actual history of Christmas. Jesus was most likely not born on December 25. That date was chosen because many Pagan festivals took place on or near that date. Gift giving originated in Paganism as well, with the Romans giving gifts out during Saturnalia. Decorating with holly and ivy? Pagan. Mistletoe? Pagan and Norse. The "Christmas" tree? Greek, Roman, Pagan. 

Contrary to what Megyn Kelly would like us to think, Jesus wasn't really white, and Santa Clause is an amalgam of Odin, a Turkish saint, and Madison Avenue. And there is no war on Christmas. If there was, do you honestly think we'd be seeing decorations in October? 

Look for Gretchen Carlson, she of the Festivus pole tantrum, and Bill O'Reilly, general in a make-believe war, to bitch and moan for the next two-and-a-half months about liberal secularists trying to destroy Christmas. You know, as we hang our lights, and decorate our tree, and bake cookies, and listen to Christmas carols.