Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pious Frauds: Not intended to be a Factual Government

A funny thing happened recently on the floor of the Senate: a sitting US Senator told a bald-faced lie during a serious discussion about funding for women's heath. I know, I know, we just aren't thick-skinned enough if we don't take it for granted that our elected officials dissemble, prevaricate, fib, and even bear false witness every now and then, but what Sen. Jon Kyl said was unique for two reasons--make it three:

1) He said the 90% of what Planned Parenthood did was abortions when it's really about 3%. That's really quite different from the truth isn't it? When this was pointed out, one of his aides said that his statement was "not intended to be....factual."

2) He actually got grief from it in the media, especially from Stephen Colbert, whose hashtag #NotIntendedToBeaFactualStatement highlighted the fun fact that things that aren't factual....are made-up.

3) So Sen. Kyl actually got the Congressional Record changed to simply say "If you want an abortion you go to Planned Parenthood and that is what Planned Parenthood does".  And it's true, for certain facilities. But actually changing his remarks is something of what I believe is called a lie of omission, no?

The point of his contrafactual statement strikes me as two-fold: it was emotionally true, to him, that the actual percentage of abortions simply didn't matter--any was too many; but also, the lie served the greater purpose of damning Planned Parenthood in the eyes of the people who believed what he told them. It wasn't true, but it felt right.  It was a pious fraud.

Pious lies aren't uncommon in the culture war, especially when it comes to the reproductive rights of the female-bodied. In several states, bills have either passed or have been proposed, that would require doctors to lie to their patients about a link between abortion and breast cancer which doesn't seem to actually exist. Anti-abortion pamphlets often suggest a link between abortion and depression that may not even exist.  And let's really look at abstinence-based sex ed--another case of a lie of omission (or sometimes the other kind--the really pernicious, made-up stuff).  Important facts about how to have safe sex and prevent pregnancy are denied to teens on a more-or-less theocratic notion that sex is bad. And yet, not a single person I have ever met came about by any other way! If sex is so terrible, why does it feel good, and result in the occasional fabulous person getting born? And if contraception is so awful--just what the heck have I been doing the last 20 years? (Besides the thing that makes babies without the making babies part?)

But the holy lies and pious frauds aren't just about human sexuality, but are found in other areas of science, as well, such as the promotion of creationism and the denial of climate science. The Christianist right in this country backs historical revisionism  and conspiracy theories, as well.

So what, one might ask, is up with the religious element and the assault on truth? Shouldn't honesty be an integral part of morality? Isn't honesty a real virtue, and the cleanliness of the soul without the taint of a "cover-up" the actual kind of cleanliness one would hold as actually being next to godliness? You would hope truth had something to do with a supposedly righteous crusade?

Well, no, not for a theocracy to take root. Actually, truth is the first casualty. Theocracy is about authoritarianism, after all, and authoritarians need you to need them. Where there is a lack of information or an abundance of bad information, people can not make informed decisions and lose their independence to those whom they feel to have authority. There's a degree of learned helplessness involved--only religion will have answers. God decides when you'll get pregnant. God has reasons for natural disasters, and even unnatural ones, like oil spills and nuclear catastrophes.  Keeping you a little in the dark makes you need a leader all the more. I don't like people who keep one in the dark and feed one shit. And I find it hard to imagine that most people would.

Why would anyone cede authority to the pious frauds who would base their authority on how successfully they:

a) Lie to you


b) create opportunities to prey on your ignorance?

It should insult anyone's intelligence that another would assume that you can't find out for yourself using your own critical capacity what is right and wrong for you once you have access to the necessary facts. It is a monstrous abuse to expose the developing minds of children to propaganda that rots their ability to use critical thought and to view reality as it is. And naturally, any movement that relies on bullshit, lies, hoaxes, (such as Live Action's pathetic humbuggery) and repression of other people's rights or opportunities for speech using Biblical chicanery and the employment of obfuscatory verbiage to mask a not-entirely abstruse point--are hucksters and phonies, and like the money-changers, are in sore need of being flogged right out of the temple of our democracy by people who, well, actually give a shit about the truth.

And that flogging needs to be with the big old honest dialog. The best disinfectant is, as they say, sunlight. So I endorse shining a beam of truth wherever theocrats huddle to spread lies.

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