The Republican Rape Advisory Chart
I first titled this piece "Mourdock Inflames GOP's "Divine Rape" Problem", but then came across this - a truly inspired graphic (click on image for full graphic) from a Daily Kos website contributor that presents various controversial Republican statements on rape in easy-to-grasp color-coded categories,"Gift-From-God Rape", "Legitimate Rape", "Honest Rape", and so on. Enjoy.
My own version of the incomparable Republican Rape Advisory Chart is my essay on recent GOP rape statements below:
"Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen" - Richard Mourdock
[UPDATE: According to CBS News, the Romney campaign now states that, while it disagrees the recent statement on rape from Indiana Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Richard Mourdock, it will nonetheless still support his candidacy.]
We've been here before - in 1990, Republican Clayton Williams, vying with for Ann Richards for the Texas governor's seat, erased his narrow lead and handed Richards the election by suggesting that women being raped should just "relax and enjoy it."
But the 2012 election has been especially notable for explosive Republican statements about rape, which might well determine which party will control the U.S. Senate on November 7th. First, Missouri Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Todd Akin resurrected a 13th Century Medieval medical theory by claiming that women who were victims of "legitimate rape" (implying, of course, that some rape might be "legitimate") could shut down their own fertility, preventing conception.
Akin's comments led to quick calls from top Republicans, such as vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, for him to pull out of the Missouri Senate race. Akin's real crime, it seems, was in his bluntness, for stating directly what Ryan put much more obliquely, when he suggested in an interview that rape is another "method of conception". In Ryan's delicate way of putting it, the woman who had been raped was conveniently absent.
Now, Indiana Republican for U.S. Senate Richard Mourdock has further inflamed the controversy by stating, in a debate last night, that all pregnancies, even those conceived during rape, are a "gift from God". It's the sort of thinking you'll find coming out of the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement (which Todd Akin was a foot-soldier in) and the Pro-Life movement, that's standing behind Richard Mourdock despite his statement on God and rape.
But if all pregnancies - even those caused by rape - are indeed a "gift from God", from there it's no great logical stretch to conclude that, in some way, God is "pro-rape". Republicans in the Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock mold seem fatally attracted to this, like moths to a flame. They know they can't go there, not even close: ah, but they must. In reality, Akin and Mourdock are stating, albeit clumsily, accepted Republican Party positions.
That's the real scandal, argued CNN's John Avlon, in an August 21, 2012 op-ed:
"Akin was trying to articulate his opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. This is a position that vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan -- primarily a courageous fiscal conservative -- has supported throughout his career, even penning a 1,500-word essay on the subject with the eye-opening title "The Cause of Life Can't Be Severed From the Cause of Freedom." "
Ryan's essay, which astutely noted that automobiles have no inherent rights because they are not human beings, claimed that liberals have the agenda of "reducing the number of human beings who can make choices" whereas conservatives "see human beings as assets, not liabilities"; the proper role of government, stated Ryan, is "to secure the right to life and the other human rights that follow from that primary right."
Ryan's upbeat essay, published in 2010 by the Heritage Foundation neatly skirted the public relations quagmire that the position life, according to divine will, begins at conception, opens up. Ryan knows where to stop short; Akin and Mourdock fell in.
In a way, Richard Mourdock went even further than Todd Akin, who referenced a medical theory that's obsolete by only six or seven centuries. Mourdock suggested that God micromanages the world so intensively that he "intends" every pregnancy which results from rape to happen - that's over 30,000 divine interventions per year, according to an estimate of the number of women who get raped and conceive annually in the U.S.
But if God intervenes in the day-to-day, in all matters big and small, then it would also seem to be true that God intended presidential candidate Mitt Romney to step in it by releasing a political ad, just three days ago, in which Romney endorsed Richard Mourdock.
Who does God really endorse ? What party plank does God back ? One rampant meme in wide circulation leading up to the 2008 election was this; God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. Fair enough.
But days before the 2012 presidential election, aging evangelical superstar Billy Graham broke ranks and issued a high-profile non-endorsement of Mitt Romney, broadcast to the nation through full-page ads in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal in which Graham called on voters to support "Biblical values", foremost of which, it seems, is opposition to same-sex marriage rather than concern for poverty - despite the fact that the former is rarely mentioned in the Bible, the latter on almost every other page.
Graham's high profile bid to rally suspicious evangelical voters to Mitt Romney backfired badly when an LGBT rights group discovered a webpage on Graham's Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, apparently written by Graham himself, that identified Mormonism as a "cult". The subsequent scandal produced dozens, maybe hundreds, of story titles with "Mormon" and "cult" in them, thus reinforcing a preexisting campaign that claims to have enlisted almost 1.4 million evangelical voters to, in effect, bow out of the race altogether by pledging to vote for Jesus Christ as a write-in candidate for president when they vote in November 6th.
In both cases - opposition to Roe v. Wade and to same-sex marriage, evangelical conservatives have claimed to speak for God and in both cases it has backfired, badly. What's an impartial observer to think ? If God exists, it may well be the case that she dislikes those who presume to speak in her name.