An early episode of the television show West Wing revolved around events that the White House staff preferred not receive extensive press coverage. One character referred to the releasing of these stories to the press as “take out the trash day.”
Donna: What’s “take out the trash day”?
Donna: I mean, what is it?
Josh: Any stories we have to give the press that we’re not wild about, we give all in a lump on Friday.
Donna: Why do you do it in a lump?
Josh: Instead of one at a time?
Donna: I’d think you’d want to spread them out.
Josh: They’ve got X column inches to fill, right? They’re going to fill them no matter what.
Josh: So if we give them one story, that story’s X column inches.
Donna: And if we give them five stories …
Josh: They’re a fifth the size.
Donna: Why do you do it on Friday?
Josh: Because no one reads the paper on Saturday.
Donna: You guys are real populists, aren’t you?
Today is “Take Out the Trash Day” on Keepa – I’ve got some short comments about various issues that really aren’t on Keepa’s normal agenda.
1. Health Care.
If you call for universal access to health care when you don’t have insurance, you’re suspected of wanting something for nothing. Well, I have health insurance for the time being, so that doesn’t apply. And I support universal health care.
I understand that some of you object to the Affordable Care Act for reasons you consider good and sufficient. That’s fine with me – I think it’s entirely possible to object to a specific policy while still agreeing with the goals of that policy. That is, I don’t suppose any of you actively want people to go without health care; you only object to the method proposed for providing that care. That’s fair.
But please, if you object to proposed methods of providing universal health care because you think the uninsured are lazy bums, or welfare queens, or takers, or whatever other negative stereotypes apply, please replace that image with ME, someone you presumably like if you bother to come here often. I’ve just gone through 15 years where I couldn’t access health care no matter how hard I worked or how much I tried to contribute to the world. I wasn’t lazy. I wasn’t a taker, of welfare or anything else. The uninsured are not worthless beings. They – we – have the right to life every bit as much as those who work for employers who provide insurance.
2. Marriage Equality.
Most of the Bloggernacle is enthusiastically promoting marriage equality. A smaller part of the Bloggernacle is adamant that same-sex marriage signals the imminent end of the world.
I feel much the same way about marriage equality as I have long felt about abortion. Regardless of my preference (whatever it may be), I’m pretty sure that we will all soon be living in a secular society where such marriages are a routine and accepted part of the social fabric. But, like abortion when it has been the issue du jour, same-sex marriage occupies a far greater proportion of public discourse than it deserves and has improperly become the standard for compassion, modernity, and worthiness to express an opinion on unrelated matters. There are more urgent public policy matters that are being held hostage to this single hot-button issue. I’m ready for whatever is coming, so that we can get back to dealing with these (to me) more important social and political matters. Like health care. And immigration/citizenship. And the economy.
3. Rape Culture.
Wherever you look these days, somebody is scolding somebody for their unintended support of rape culture. I think I understand the problem as well as anybody, but I’m getting pretty tired of everything being misinterpreted as support of rape culture.
Yes, men should be taught not to rape. Calling for such teaching, though, is hardly the cure-all that proponents seem to think it is: There will always be some men who don’t get the word; there will always be some men who are so evil that they will attack regardless of training. Duh.
Analogy: Car owners should be able to park their cars in any neighborhood at any time of day or night, leave their keys in the ignition, leave their cash lying on the front seat, and be able to return later to find everything untouched. That’s not going to happen anytime soon, though. Teaching drivers to lock their cars and not to leave valuables in plain sight is in no way equivalent to blaming them for having their cars stolen anyway. We’d be guilty of stupidity at best if we didn’t teach car owners to take basic precautions, while still extending empathy and the benefits of insurance policies on those occasions when cars are stolen despite precautions.
There may in fact be things a woman can do to lessen her chances of being attacked, just as there things a car owner can do to lessen his chances of having his car stolen. Some of the things people teach may be foolish or insulting. But teaching women a few precautions, a few self-defense techniques, is not that vulgarly named thing, ****-shaming (which, if used in a Keepa comment, will automatically send your comment to spam oblivion). Teaching women to be aware of their surroundings and to trust their instincts (and defining what that means), teaching women to think through the horror of pushing their thumbs deep into an attacker’s eyes so that they will be prepared to do it if necessary, teaching women how to move with confidence so that perhaps they will be passed over by an attacker looking for a passive victim, is not wrong. While blaming victims for being attacked despite these precautions would be wrong, condemning all talk of self defense that may save women from attack is itself support for rape culture because you’re teaching women that we can do nothing to protect ourselves, that our safety is dependent solely on somebody else, on someone having taught all men in the neighborhood not to be rapists, and all men in the neighborhood having been converted to that training.
I’m sick and tired of this knee-jerk reaction against any kind of self-defense thought and training.
4. Priestly Ordination of LDS Women.
Well, that was fast, wasn’t it? It seemed only moments between Peggy Fletcher Stack’s posting of the news that women would pray in General Conference and the explosion of Bloggernacle calls for the ordination of women. As ugly as the thought is, it’s hard not to think that all those nasty, ill-mannered, self-righteous, vicious commenters who attacked the idea of wearing pants to church were right: Any kind of women’s activism of even the most mild type really had the ultimate goal of extending priesthood to women.
Is that really true?
For what it’s worth, I would prepare for and accept ordination if it were offered by God and his prophets. I don’t think it will be. And I think this is one area where activism – the demanding of a gift, rather than the accepting of one – is wrong. But I don’t think ill of anybody for holding a different view and hope you won’t think ill of me for mine.
Okay, there it is. Maybe everybody has already said everything they care to say elsewhere and there will be no response to this invitation. But if any Keepa’ninnies want to voice an opinion – whether it agrees with mine or not – you can safely say it here, knowing that I will not allow you to be attacked as you might be in other discussions, and I will not allow any discussion to be grievously hostile to believing Mormons or the Church in general. And as always, regular commenters have a lot more leeway on sensitive matters than drive-by trolls.