As If We Didn’t Know

March 25, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

Politics dictated FDA policy?  Say it isn’t so!

According to this NY Times piece, the Bush Administration (they get the blame because, after all, he was the Decider) bade the FDA to meddle with contraception when it suited a certain agenda.

Image by Sweetgoddess at

Image by Sweetgoddess at

What I find so delightful about this, as with the Dover PA decision on Intelligent Design in the classroom, is that a Republican judge, this time a Reagan appointee, made the call.

The thing is, contraception and all that it implies really ought to be a conservative issue.  I mean, really—it has all the hallmarks of the last 60 years of conservative philosophy built on the rights of the individual, the freedom from interference being chief among them.  You would think conservatives would have leapt on this a long time ago, staking it out as exemplary of the idea of American Individualism and the freedom to act as a moral agent, dictating one’s own destiny and making determinations about how one will live one’s life free from government meddling.  Handing both men and women the tools—provided by the free market, to boot—to manage their own lives in accordance with their formulation as individuals of the American Dream should have been a slam dunk for conservatives.  They should have been cheering for it since the days of Margaret Sanger.

What is more, given the attitude of the communist states, which dismissed Sanger and the entire notion of family planning as a bourgeois, capitalist plot to undermine the growth of the collective, this should have been part and parcel of rearing a generation of people cumulatively opposed to Soviet style socialism and collectivism.

Everything about the Choice movement smacks of good ol’ fashion American Values!  It is the perversity of the debate that is ironic, that it should be those who are castigated as liberal soldiers in the march to socialism and its destruction of all things individualist and  true blue American who are the champions of the idea that people ought to have full say in the when and if of having children.

How did this happen?

Well, it has occurred to me that one of the singularly binding features of human political reality is the in-built hypocrisy of claiming that you (whoever you are and under whatever system you live) wish to be free.  When you look at that claim—and Americans are by no means exempt—what it means in practice is the freedom to be autocratic in your own way.  Even back in the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan you heard members of the Mujahadeen claiming thay they were fighting to be free.  But free to do what?  And for whom?  Certainly they didn’t mean freedom for their womenfolk.  No, they meant freedom to be oppressive in their own unique way, and apparently it’s not much different here.

When conservatives claim to represent American values for freedom, the image they seem to have in mind is one locked in the amber of time that discludes equality for women.  It is freedom for men.  It is an old, hoary, knotty kind of image that harkens back to notions of the frontier and the need for growing populations and the presumed biblical virtues that allowed us to dominate this continent (displacing, killing, and otherwise bilking the natives out of the land along the way).  What it did not include was the image of women running businesses, holding political office, and certainly not bedding down with anyone they liked any time they liked just to have fun.

So much for the vaunted champions of American individualism.  But still, it is a profound irony that the rhetoric—so powerful, so eloquent, so persuasive—should represent the polar opposite of what it is intended to.

But some of them, apparently, seem to get it.  Good for you, Judge Korman!


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Category: American Culture, Civil Rights, Culture, Current Events, History, hypocrisy, ignorance, Law, Noteworthy, Politics, Religion, Reproductive Rights, Sex

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (4)

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    America's Puritan roots stretch far and wide, and I suspect that much of what so many Americans assume are "America's values" — including the staggeringly bizarre notion that women should be treated as property, to be used for the forced production of offspring — are merely left-over Puritan anachronisms that too many Americans no longer bother to question. These roots have many deplorable progeny. Mark mentioned one — America's supposedly God-fearing 'Christian' immigrants swindling the Native Americans out of their land and resources. Here's another: Americans' unquenchable appetite for fictionalized violence (on television, in movies, in video games, etc.) while expressing outrage at even the briefest appearance of, say, a uncovered female breast, as if the former is mere entertainment while the latter is a shocking example of moral bankruptcy. Perhaps America's hard core (i.e., evangelical) "conservatives" are really just repressed sex addicts (or booze addicts, drug addicts, dishonesty addicts, etc.) who want to impose their repression on others in order to not feel out of place.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Bertrand Russell once wrote that those who are so compelled to interfere with the sex lives of others are actually, in so doing, finding sexual satisfaction in meddling with others sexual lives. They are getting perverse sexual satisfaction by interfering with others' sex lives.

  2. Grumpy wrote:—"Perhaps America’s hard core (i.e., evangelical) “conservatives” are really just repressed sex addicts (or booze addicts, drug addicts, dishonesty addicts, etc.) who want to impose their repression on others in order to not feel out of place."

    There's a lot to that. Recent studies have shown that conservatives, especially of the far right, consume more pornography, cheat more on their spouses, and tend to be more sexist in their workplace deportment. The suppression of sex and sexual outlets clearly exacerbates obsessive attention to matters of sexuality. I think it is not at all bizarre that people in the most sexually repressive societies are both the loudest in condemning "western" immorality and at the same time indulge in the worst examples of that "western" immorality when they come to the west for any reason. Consider the 9/11 murderers—it was found later that all of them bought, rented, and viewed enormous quantities of pornography while waiting for The Day, several going out to attend strip clubs regularly.

  3. p.s. to Grumpy's comment…

    I don't think it's to keep from feeling out of place, but rather to control access to it. How often have we seen leaders of oppressive movements, from governments down to small cults, who seem immersed in sex with numerous partners, none of who really have a choice? The loudest critics of what we might take as normal sexual expression often are the worst offenders of the very standards they claim to promulgate. Why? In simplest terms, so women can't say No to them.

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