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Have you been following the Doonesbury comics over the past week? Holy Relevant Politics, Batman!

Here's the progression so far:









Have you read The Handmaid's Tale? In it, Atwood paints a dark portrait of how the US might look if the Christian Right gains the reins of government. When I first read the book - when it cam out, about the time I started college - I thought this an unlikely future. I mean, we wouldn't let this kind of insanity happen, right? Half our population is women - surely they would defend their rights!

I was wrong. This is the direction our country is headed. Women of America, do you like the vision portrayed in this novel? If that's too SFnal for you, let me put it this way: Do you like the world in which women live in theocracies and religion-dominated nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan under the Taliban (or even now), and so forth? Because that's where we're headed.

Don't believe it could happen here? Then you're not paying attention. You're like the young me, privileged with having grown up white male in a United States freshly reformed after the cultural revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s.

This is not only our future; it's happening now. Do something about it.

I'm adding The Handmaid's Tale to my SF Novels reading list.

Chris

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
fjm
Mar. 15th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
I ended up giving an impromptu lesson on it yesterday. My students were shocked when I explained what's happening in Texas, Arizona and Wisconsin.

mckitterick
Mar. 16th, 2012 08:28 am (UTC)
It should shock everyone.
clevermanka
Mar. 15th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
More fun news:

The Arizona Senate is considering a bill that would give all businesses the option to exclude contraceptives from health insurance coverage. The only exception is if a woman can prove she is taking the contraceptives for other medical reasons.

This is happening, people. Don't think to yourselves "Oh, that can't pass," or "That won't hold up in court." Because it can. And it will. It is happening right now.

Get angry. Get active.
mckitterick
Mar. 16th, 2012 08:29 am (UTC)
!!!
steve98052
Mar. 17th, 2012 12:44 am (UTC)

I definitely think that anti-contraception law can pass. I'd also guess that it can hold up in state court, in a right-wing state, since most state judges are subject to elections or at least retention votes. But I can't imagine it will hold up in federal court.

The probe laws have already passed. My guess is that some of them will survive state court challenges too. But again I doubt they'll survive federal courts, even with the rightward swing of the courts.

However, the danger isn't that such laws will actually survive court challenges and go into effect. It's the risk that the very fact that they're debated seriously, rather than regarded as ridiculous exaggeration. When the right manages to push the outer limits of crazy, there's a risk that what used to be regarded as crazy will start to sound moderate.

For example, consider the march toward lower and lower taxes for the rich. During World War II, the top tax bracket was 94%, and even after deductions actual marginal taxes approached 90%. That dropped to 70%, then 50%, then 39%, to 28%, back up a bit, and down to today's weird split: something like 33% for earned income (plus payroll tax) and only 15% for investment income, which is how most rich people's income is taxed. The federal government is squeezed, and states are forced to shut down essential services. And the Republicans point the blame for government dysfunction at the idea that government can't do anything right, rather than recognizing that state and federal governments are starving because of tax cuts.

Also consider deregulation. Reagan deregulated the savings and loan industry, and it promptly self-destructed, with well-connected people running off with heaps of money (such as Neil Bush) or political power (such as John McCain), and the public left stuck with the bill. Rather than learning the lesson, Republicans deregulated other aspects of the financial industry, and even convinced President Clinton to go along with the process. The financial industry crashed again, dragging down the entire economy, and to people who paid attention the only real surprises were in the exact details of the crash.

On the other hand, liberals can shift the middle by taking positions that once sounded crazy too. Consider gay rights. When I was in school (early 1980s), Lincoln Nebraska had a referendum on whether to ban employment and housing discrimination against gays. It was shot down four-to-one, and even that was seen as a success, because gay rights advocates were happy just to bring the referendum to the public, and surprised that even one-fifth of a fairly liberal* city's population would vote for employment and housing rights for gays.

Back when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was put into place, it was controversial, not because it forced gays to remain closeted, but because it reversed the earlier policy, which amounted to "Ask, Investigate, Harass, and Name Names".

Even today, employment and housing discrimination against gays is still legal in many states. But in a few states, gay marriage is a reality – first by what the right denounced as "activist judges", but more recently by legislation and public consent. Even right wing states have gone on defense against what was once an impossibility, legislating against gay marriage. But the fact that gay marriage exists in some states, and is a matter of public debate in all states, makes civil unions an acceptable compromise in a lot of places where it once would have been so unthinkable that no one would even bother to try banning it. Additionally, the general public agrees that the states that still allow employment and housing discrimination are stuck in the dark ages. Over time, generational change seems likely to make marriage equality routine, to the point that people who still hate gays will look as regressive as those who denounce mixed-race marriages.

Wow, I've ranted on so long that I need to split this into two messages.

* Fairly liberal for Nebraska, at least.

steve98052
Mar. 17th, 2012 12:44 am (UTC)

What the assault on contraception and the vaginal probe laws prove is that Republicans can sell somewhat ridiculous positions by debating outrageously ridiculous positions. But it also shows a model that liberals can use to push back against the country's overall shift to the right – and the advances of civil rights for gays shows that asking for something that looks extreme at one point in time will make incremental advances look like reasonable, centrist positions, and may eventually make the once-extreme positions possible.

A good lesson is to keep arguing for more than we expect to get. Don't just argue against elimination of taxes on capital gains and dividends, demand that investment income be taxed just like wage and salary income. Don't just fight further crazy financial deregulation, demand restoration of the New Deal laws that held off depression until the current almost-depression. Don't just try to protect Medicare and Medicaid, demand universal single-payer health care.

The Republican assault on women's rights is outrageous. But it shows that by effectively arguing for more than one expects to get, one can shift public opinion over time. The gay rights example shows that even fairly small minorities can succeed, particularly if they're asking for something that doesn't cost anyone anything except a change of opinion.

carmy_w
Mar. 15th, 2012 10:44 pm (UTC)
This is sort of disjointed....
Oh, yes; I've been glued to the internet over this shit for WEEKS now. And like you, I am SO PISSED that this ugly mess is coming up again.

I saw an article today that postulates that we will probably not be done with this shit for a century. It will take that long to sink into the collective psyche that yes, women do know what they are doing, and yes, they can be trusted with their own bodies, and no, no one has permission to tell them what to do!

ONTD-P has been on fire with all of it for the same time period.

I'm planning on attending the We are Women March on April 28 in Topeka.

And, as usual, I'm hoping a lot of women, or democrats/independents, come out of the woodwork and decide to run for office, locally and nationally, because I'd REALLY REALLY like to help vote Tim Heulskamp out of office!
That's my one ray of light in the November elections: that the entire House is up for re-election. I'm not particularly worried about the Presidency, since the Repub. candidates collectively form the single best reason for another four years for Pres. Obama*.
But I'm sick and tired of the standard male politician that thinks he can pat me on the head & take away my rights. From now on, they do that to me, they pull back a bloody stump. And no guarantees of whether it will be the arm, leg, or that other appendage!

* I am working on getting Obama re-elected, however, by putting out good articles on FB, and pointing out all this shit of how the opposing side wants to put women back in the dark ages.
mckitterick
Mar. 16th, 2012 08:34 am (UTC)
Re: This is sort of disjointed....
It's possible good things could come out of this, such as lots more women running for office. Unfortunately, I'm afraid those will mostly be the Palins and Bachmanns of the world....

I hope it'll only take one generation to get over the current insanity, but only if everyone tells it like it is.
clevermanka
Mar. 16th, 2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
Re: This is sort of disjointed....
I'm planning on attending the We are Women March on April 28 in Topeka.

Hey, d'you wanna make plans to meet up? Because I need to go to that, too. Send me your email addy in an LJ private message if you're interested.
chalcedonygrey
Mar. 19th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
Re: This is sort of disjointed....
I'd like to be a part of this march, as well! I tried looking for info on it to no avail. Would you mind sending me some details? MGraceSmith/at\gmail.
carmy_w
Mar. 19th, 2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
Re: This is sort of disjointed....
Message sent!
carmy_w
Mar. 15th, 2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
I think the best response I've seen so far are Facebook posts to a certain Senator McDougle's page, wherein the women ask him lots of TMI questions regarding their ladybits.

If you Google his name, I'm sure it will pop up; it's been on HuffPo, here on ONTD-P, and I saw it first on Facebook without even going to his page!
mckitterick
Mar. 16th, 2012 08:38 am (UTC)
It's a shame he took down the questions, what with his being such an expert and all! I would like to ask him some health questions myself.
carmy_w
Mar. 16th, 2012 04:28 pm (UTC)
Several women are doing the same thing to Brownback! LOL!

He censors them off the page just as fast as he can, so they post them, take a screen cap, then go to the We are Women page & post the pic!
mckitterick
Mar. 16th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
That's fantastic!
graydown
Mar. 16th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
You're a man. You're in charge of the world. YOU do something about it.
mckitterick
Mar. 16th, 2012 08:38 am (UTC)
:-D

I'll get right on that, little lady.
lazscott
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:16 am (UTC)
"If This Goes On . . ."
mckitterick
Mar. 16th, 2012 08:39 am (UTC)
Yep.
theoneinblue
Mar. 16th, 2012 09:16 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting these - I'd seen the first, but didn't realize there was more!
mckitterick
Mar. 16th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
Glad to help get the word out! Unfortunate that I have to....
(Deleted comment)
chalcedonygrey
Mar. 19th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
A Handmaid's Tale screwed me up. I read it 10 years ago and I'm still squicked. I'll never quite shake the paranoia that my past will be brought against me like that. [hides in dryer]
mckitterick
Mar. 19th, 2012 06:06 pm (UTC)
...and the Kansas legislature wants to lead the charge!
(Deleted comment)
mckitterick
Mar. 20th, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
Exactly my point!
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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