Shooting Blanks | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Shooting Blanks

"I've made a lot of enemies from that abortion bill, but I'm tired of Republicans beating the hell out of Democrats over that issue."

Hell, yeah, Rep. Holland, you have made a whole blank-load of blankety-blank enemies with your stupid blankety-blank abortion bill. A whole lot of those enemies would say that you could kiss our blankety-blankety blank blanks.

For those of you who aren't privy to the shenanigans of the Mississippi Legislature, allow me to explain that I am responding in kind to the Plantersville Democrat's recent legislation to ban all abortions in Mississippi in a language that he can understand. You see, Rep. Steve Holland likes to communicate in expletives. And he's funny at it, and often I agree with him on the issues—like the need for insurance reform to balance out "tort reform," like the need to excoriate Republicans and Dixiecrats trying to dismantle public education in the state brick-by-brick—so I tend to giggle a bit at the audacity of a man who would just as soon tell Gov. Barbour to kiss his ass as to look at him. I kinda get that.

This time, however, it's a bunch of donkeys who can kiss my ass.

I'm not livid that a state legislator is trying to pass a bill that would take away a Mississippi woman's right to have an abortion in her own state. Hell, who couldn't have seen that one coming? Did you really think that Mississippi was going to be the last state to pull this backward stunt? No, of course not.

In fact, that is Rep. Holland's excuse for doing this—to call the bluff of Republicans who say they want to end abortions but might, let's just say, not really want to take away that privilege for all their well-heeled friends and themselves. After all, many—some studies say most—U.S. abortions are a result of affairs and, y'know, boys will be boys.

So, our legislator with the sailor's mouth and whatever fool was giving him advice this session—certainly no one I respect—thought it would be a clever trick to hit the Repubs with what would, actually, be their worst nightmare: a bill to outlaw all abortions, no matter what, and then criminalize them.

Those of us who believe as strongly in a woman's right to choose to have a child or not as we do in a man's right to use a condom to limit his fatherhood expected a frontal assault on abortion. But we didn't expect it from people who are ostensibly progressive.

Now, after putting forth such a "brilliant" trick (seemingly designed as much to dupe voters into believing certain legislators are "pro-life" as to call any man's bluff), Rep. Holland seems a bit hurt that all us meek and grateful progressive types aren't just overflowing with joy and gratitude at his "brilliant" stunt. Wink, wink, this is just to show up the Republicans and somehow beat the hell out of them back. We can do it, too.

Nuh-uh, Mr. Holland. What you have done is taken one of the basic rights of the women in this state and made a mockery out of it. We have become the oppressed pawns in another stupid-ass Mississippi Democratic game that will. not. work. I promise that you are not clever enough a snake as the folks calling special session after special session to get their way and then using the media to blame it on the other side. I promise. Remember Mitch Tyner? Didn't fool a soul. Ronnie inviting the Ten Commandments rock over for a campaign visit? He still got beat.

Meantime, you have taken away the ability of the women, and men, of Mississippi to have a real dialogue over this issue. And you know what? We have never had one here. As a very wise woman told me today, we have young women growing up in the state who do not even know what is being done to hurt them and to handicap their futures. And we have adult men and women who are afraid to friggin' stand up and say, "I support abortion rights. I support women's rights. I support life after birth." Why is this? In part because a bunch of cowards are leading the Democratic Party (and losing elections, but I quibble).

The truth is, I would much rather have this discussion with a bona fide "pro-life" person who believes that abortion is murder, and also believes that children should be helped, poverty ended, and that the U.S. should join the rest of the civilized world in rejecting the death penalty. I get that kind of pro-life argument, and I can respect someone who is consistently "pro-life" before and after birth.

What I cannot respect, no matter what the underlying motive, is a bunch of (overwhelmingly male) legislators trying to outsmart another bunch of (overwhelming male) legislators and one governor, by deciding that the hot potato they are going to swat around the halls of injustice is one of women's most basic and fundamental rights. As you might say, Mr. Holland, this sucks.

And the truth is, there is no telling how it might work itself out. Sen. Alan Nunnelee was saying today he might send it to conference—great, let's conference this puppy and see what kinds of compromises we can come up with that still ban abortion in the state. And then let's go spend scads of taxpayer money litigating this monster all the way to the Supreme Court—funds that could best be spent elsewhere in this poorest of poor states, as Mississippi ACLU Director Nsombi Lambright pointed out about this "irresponsible" bill just after it was introduced.
"The State of Mississippi cannot afford a legal challenge of this magnitude, and it was very irresponsible of our lawmakers to pass this unconstitutional and dangerous bill," she said.

Here's the thing, boys. We need a real discussion on abortion rights in this state. We need to bring women before the Legislature, discuss this issue inside and out in the media, and take away the ability of zealots to lead this debate based on misleading information. And you Democratic men up there—being that y'all are the majority—need to find your cajones and lead this debate by getting out of the way of the women who need to be heard. You could say, Mr. Holland, that I'm tired of Republicans and Democrats beating the hell out of women's rights.

Or, put another way … blank you, too.

Previous Comments

ID
71854
Comment

This is a very informative and well-written article about the present-day situation of abortion in Mississippi. I had no idea a game was being played with this. And the article clearly illustrates we citizen have no permanent friends or enemies, and we damn well better be watching what the boys and girls are doing at the big house from January to April. Otherwise, we will can wake up one day and learn it's illegal to have an abortion or to wear thongs or tennis shoes in Mississippi. I say this although I'm a very conflicted pro choice person. I couldn't support abortions willy nilly and without some good reason. But I know I would be out of place telling a woman what to do with her body. And I wouldn't let anybody demand what I do with mines.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-03-22T15:35:57-06:00
ID
71855
Comment

The sad part is this bill will send women back to the back alleys and untrained persons to get their abortions. It would take men to do something so tramatic to women. If they really cared about the unborn then why are there so many children waiting to be adopted?

Author
jada
Date
2006-03-22T20:39:35-06:00
ID
71856
Comment

A new grass-roots organization has formed in Mississippi to bring together and give a voice to Mississippians who support abortion rights. Visit the Web site at http://www.prochoicemississippi.org . There, Deirdra Harris Glover explains the group's mission and challenges supporters of a women's right to choose a safe abortion to not "speak in secret handshakes and politically correct riddles." We are a diverse group of people: men, women, liberals, conservatives, professional activists, concerned citizens, mothers, families. We are persons of faith and science who believe in social justice, moral agency, and the ability of a woman to make educated, compassionate decisions regarding birth control, pregnancy and abortion. We invite you to lend your strength to this movement. One of the reasons the pro-life movement is so strong is that their message is visceral, emotionally charged: strong stimuli provokes strong reactions in human beings. Pro-choice Mississippians should not have to speak in secret handshakes and politically correct riddles. We cannot wholly rely upon reason, data and science to support our case, because to the majority of our opponents, faith trumps all of these. We cannot tiptoe around, mutely supporting reproductive freedom. If we believe in a cause, we shouldn't be hesitant to speak about it frankly, openly, strongly. We must be willing to frankly discuss our commitment to abortion rights, unfettered access to birth control and emergency contraception, comprehensive sex education, and —importantly— that fighting for reproductive rights isn't always about fighting to have an abortion, but rather fighting for the choice itself. Maybe Rep. Holland's idiotic bill will have a positive effect, after all—to get progressive Mississippians to speak up and stand together.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-03-27T19:32:33-06:00
ID
71857
Comment

And I'll say "Amen" to that.

Author
Lori G
Date
2006-03-27T22:54:29-06:00
ID
71858
Comment

I agree that dialogue is desperately needed. I also agree that dialogue almost never happens. This is because both sides have staked out positions with foundations that share little or nothing in common with each other. Abortion rights advocates stand on the premise that abortion is principally (and maybe entirely) a woman's rights issue. Pro-life advocates stand on the premise that abortion is principally a fetus rights issue, with the womens rights aspect either irrelevant or of secondary importance. Certainly there is emotionalism on the pro-life side, but I think it is incorrect to imply that there is none on the pro-choice side (see Deirdra Glover's comment above). Emotion and passion are shared by most everyone involved in this isssue, and understandably so. Similarly, science and reason can be applied to both sides of this issue. However, reason is contingent on premises, and if both parties consider their premises axiomatic, then reason won't result in any progress. To have a dialogue, a reasoned dialogue, we have to discuss whether or not our premises are indeed axiomatic or not. Only by focuing on these presmises,and seeing whether or not we can find common ground to build on, can we even begin to make any progress toward some common resolution. I don't know if this will ever happen or not. I tend to doubt that it will. But, for better or for worse, I think our country, and indeed the whole western world, is in for a lot of change and contention with respect to this issue over the next several years, and who knows how things will turn out. I think we'd all be better served if we tried to reason with one another, before those for whom reason is anathema take control of the issue entirely.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-03-30T16:48:45-06:00

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