Monday, June 16, 2008
Christianist or Pharmacist?

The Washington Post reports today that a new pharmacy is opening in NoVA--one which will not sell contraceptives. These folks are calling themselves "pro-life" (who do they think they kidding?) but what they really are is anti-woman. Which brings us back to misogyny (no, I'm not going to get into the nomination again, but it's just another example of how endemic it is) that masquerades as something else. [btw, check out the photo of the pharmacist dude--scary-lookin' child-porn-viewin' creep, or what? and why do these fanatics always look like that? Oh.]

Can they get away with this? Pharmacies are businesses of public accommodation, and so federal anti-discrimination laws apply. But... is it discrimination to refuse to dispense some legal medications? And so, do anti-disc laws apply in this instance? maybe not, if they clearly label themselves as christianist anti-contraceptive drugstores--they might then not really be a pharmacy, but a more limited-purpose dispensary, akin to a Chinese medicine apothecary. And since they don't sell condoms, they can argue (though perhaps not effectively?) that they don't discriminate against women (tho they do, apparently, sell viagra. Hmm).

Pharmacists' "conscience clause" laws that have been pushed through state legislatures by christianist extremists haven't been tested in the courts. But looking through to the logical extremes: what would we do about christian scientist pharmacists who wouldn't dispense ANY drugs; veggie pharmacists who wouldn't dispense medications tested on animals (all, no?); a scientologist pharmacist who won't fill scrips for psych meds... where does it stop? Do we need a different pharmacy on each street corner to accommodate the differing religious views of the various dispensing pharmacists?

These "pro-life" pharmacists are conveniently ignoring the fact that BCPs are prescribed for different conditions in addition to their contraceptive purpose. Is it the pharmacist's role to decide which person's health situation merits treatment and which not? Of course not. It's clearly a misnomer for these pharmacists to refer to themselves as "pro-life"---denying someone medications that may improve their health or save their lives is hardly evincing a reverence for life---a woman whose health would be seriously threatened if she were to become pregnant could be harmed by a pharmacist's refusal to dispense EC.

Luckily, the National Women's Law Center is on it--providing advocacy materials for fighting these folks. As is "religion link," providing a wide range of resources, and suggesting ways for reporters to question (a good way to avoid adopting the christianists' frames) when reporting on this issue (remember, not all religious are fanatics. Some are really nice people!).

I suppose economic reality will prevent either a small full-service pharmacy or another conventional bigbox drugstore opening in the same shopping center or immediate vicinity--so the possibility that people will vote with their pocketbook by choosing not to shop at the drugstore for other drugs/ convenience items, and thus drying up their business is remote. But I hope those folks in Chantilly boycott the fuck out of that place.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Vote for Pedro
a couple of years ago, a friend of mine and I got into an argument about whether or not Bush was an idiot. Before I identify which side of that argument I was on, let me say first, that if your response is "well, naturally he is!" then my burgeoning hopes for the future of the Democratic party are for naught [subject of future blog post]. And second, I am well aware that Bush is not an intellectual giant [just for the record].

Ok, so, I've already revealed which side of the argument I was on. Well, anyway. For now, I'm going to save for another day the discussion of why people thinkin' that Bush is an idiot is the reason why he's serving his second term. What is reminding me of this conversation now, though, are recent remarks by Sen. Grassley (R iowa).

The connection? It's what I think is most insidious in politicians: not stupidity (leaving aside whether any individual politician is or is not stupid) but cynicism.

Cynicism in politicians is, among other things, the belief (expressed through actions) that WE are stupid. Thus Virgil Goode's pandering and false math (see The Fifth District Race is on! below); Bush's fake Texas accent; and Sen. Grassley's disingenuous statements about how corn ethanol cannot possibly be the cause of the spike in food prices around the world, because, shucks, we just can't eat the kind of corn that ethanol is made from: "It’s not something you’d sit down at your kitchen table and eat.” Well golly day, then what's everyone crying about? ...Corn? Why don't they just eat cake?

Well, duh, Sen. Grassley, of course the corn used in animal feeds and ethanol production is not the same as the sweet corn people set on their table. But the corn that people eat around the world is not sweet corn. They eat field corn, maize, which is, in fact, basically the same kind as animal feed/ethanol corn--it's hard, non-sweet corn that is ground into cornmeal, mixed into animal feeds, and distilled into ethanol.

But, the main problem is not that we're snatching corn out of babies' mouths to make gasoline with. The fact is, the government's incentives for growing corn for ethanol production means that more farmers are growing biofuels and fewer are growing foods for human consumption--crops are being churned into ethanol, not ground into meal. And, the demand for biofuels is driving up prices for all grains across the board. This all would be true no matter what grain we used, or even if we were making ethanol out of thistles--when farmers turn away from food production, growing or diverting crops for a non-food purpose, we are diminishing our world-wide food security. We are taking land out of food production and turning it to fuel production.

Now, THIS is stupid. I've written before on how nonsensical ethanol is as a way to independence from foreign oil. But now were beyond nonsensical and looking at harmful. Children with kwashiorkor and beriberi--remember Ethiopia? It's back.

OK, so, do I think Sen. Grassley is dumb when he says ethanol is not driving up the price of food, because people don't eat field corn? Hell, no. He's cynical. He knows very well what he's doing, which is earning big bucks for his Iowa corn-farming constituents. But does he think we're dumb, to buy that argument? Apparently. And that's cynicism in politics--from Iowa corn farmer to New England WASP, it's the trademark of Republicans--to be so sure that we'll buy any bridge they've got to sell. Whether we're dumb enough to believe it and buy, or dumb enough to believe that THEY are dumb and actually believe they've got a bridge to sell, they win, and we lose. That's their whole strategy {hyperbole--I'm sure they have a few other tricks].

What can we do about it? Well, first, don't fall into the trap of thinking a politician is stupid, when you've just bought the brooklyn bridge: they're dumb like a fox. And second, always question--why does this politician say something that sounds, if not dumb, at least counterintuitive? Could it be that they know very well that it's total bullshit? Finally, enough with the ethanol already! It's a wild dream--not the solution.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The Contest Ends...

So, it appears that after the decisions regarding Michigan and Florida, Obama has the nomination wrapped up, and Hillary is saying she'll be veep if asked. That outcome has appeared inevitable for some time now, and I reckon we'll hear some announcement from Hillary soon. Since I've always liked both candidates, and wished they were not running against each other (tho preferring Hillary--for THIS race) that's fine with me.

But, what's not so fine with me is how people have been acting in the process. As purely a social observer, not as someone with a stake in the outcome (right, as if that's really possible!), it's been interesting to note how much both misogyny and racism have been uncovered in this race. What's telling (and disconcerting) is that while the racism has been overt (voters in Kentucky say straight out "I won’t vote for a colored man. He’ll put too many coloreds in jobs") the misogyny is more subtle--and therefore, harder to confront without seeming to be sour grapes, or just general whingeing, or worse, playing the "woman" card.

One of the things that has intrigued me as I talk about the nomination with people is the different attitudes of Hillary supporters vs. Obama supporters. Even the kindest, gentlest Obama supporters seem to become rather viciously unhinged when they talk about Hillary; while Hillary supporters, though able to articulate their support for Hillary or their concerns about Obama, don't seem to make personal attacks on Obama.

I suppose the Obama fanatics will say that it's because he's so saintly there's nothing bad to be said about him, while Hillary is [insert your favorite invective here]. But, I think there's something more to it than that. First of all, that's too simplistic, and too dichotomous. And, it's too emotional--these people practically foam at the mouth. I think there's two (connected) factors at play here. I think it's partly that racism is a greater taboo among many in our society than sexism. And I think it's also because people are not confronting their misogyny, because they're in denial about it.

And, I'm not excusing the female Hillary haters, of whom there are many. But, I will explain it: internalized oppression causes women and people of color to subscribe to the prejudice of the larger culture and, often, be harsher on others of their group than are those of the dominant culture. It's sort of a useful phenomenon as far as the dominant culture is concerned--like self-policing! No need to be heavy-handed in enforcing the limits when those limited will limit themselves--no fuss, no muss!

I suppose it's useless to hold unconscious attitudes against people, as they're not acting with intent. But, is it real lack of awareness or wilful ignorance?

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