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Akin’s Ignorance Hardly Unique

Memo Pad

Akin’s Ignorance Hardly Unique


Rep. Todd Akin’s fame — more accurately, his infamy — now reaches all the way to the Congo.

There, Eve Ensler, the award-winning American author of “The Vagina Monologues” and herself a survivor of rape, wrote an open letter castigating last week’s suggestion by the Republican congressman that when a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” her body has means of preventing pregnancy. As it happens, Ensler is in the Congo working to help some of the thousands of women raped in the fighting there. She called Akin’s words “ignorant.”

Nor is hers the only voice of international opprobrium. Criticism of the Missouri lawmaker has rung from such far points as London (“shamefully inaccurate”), Belfast (“profoundly offensive”) and Paris (“medieval”). A writer in Australia dubbed Akin a “boofhead” — apparently, not a compliment. All this, plus domestic denunciation, including sharp criticisms from his own party.

Akin, make no mistake, richly earned every ounce of contempt that now rains upon his head. What he told KTVI-TV, the Fox affiliate in. St. Louis, manages to combine repulsiveness (“Legitimate rape?” As opposed, one supposes, to the rapes where “she brought it on herself”?) and remarkable ignorance (Does he really think the uterus is equipped with a force field?) into one appallingly malodorous ball of stupid. Naturally, given his grasp of biology, Akin sits on the House Science Committee.

Yes, you read right. You can’t make this stuff up.

Still, this is not about one congressman’s need for sensitivity training and remedial science. Akin is hardly unique, after all. To the contrary, he is just the latest vivid example of conservatism’s unrelenting hostility toward women’s reproductive rights — as in a Texas judge who just upheld the state’s ban on Planned Parenthood. Indeed, even as this controversy was simmering, the GOP unveiled a proposed platform plank calling for a constitutional amendment that would ban abortion with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. It’s a plank Akin himself could have written.

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a nationally syndicated commentator, journalist, and novelist. Pitts' column for the Miami Herald deals with the intersection between race, politics, and culture, and has won him multiple awards including a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

The highly regarded novel, Freeman (2009), is his most recent book.

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  1. Lynda August 27, 2012

    Of course Akin does not represent anything unique. His views are almost mainstream in one of the parties. Anti-science and alike are standard procedure for the party of NO. The uber neocons are so pissed at him for voicing in public what they’ve been saying behind closed doors for years. All he did was step in it a little before the clown show in Tampa.

    1. Daniel Jones August 27, 2012

      He didn’t encrypt it enough, either.

      In Texas, the G&P (God and Pony show) wants to stop the state’s schools teaching critical thinking!

      The accusation has been, for some time, that the Republican Party is largely comprised of magical thinkers.

      Now they outright want to ban other points of view altogether.

  2. Dominick Vila August 27, 2012

    What is even more embarrassing than Akin’s bizarre statement is the fact that millions of Americans share his beliefs and continue to support people like him, Allen West, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and the rest of a gang that, by all measures, should be permanent residents in an insane asylum.

    1. beverly stanford August 27, 2012

      The travel guide books to Amsterdam tell a female if you have un protected sex or are raped go to the pharmacist and get the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy….better than an abortion.
      Some US pharmacies would not fill prescriptions for morning after pill? No prescription needed in Amsterdam. Maybe low price or free?

      1. Dominick Vila August 27, 2012

        In my opinion, contraceptives and sex education should be free. That’s the most effective way to limit abortion. I suspect Mr. Ryan may have a very different opinion on this subject. Responding to a question about Rep. Akin bizarre comments on rape and abortion he suggested that rape is a method of conception as in “the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life”. Hopefully somebody will remind this clown that rape is not a method of conception, but a crime.

        1. Gerry1211 August 29, 2012

          To confuse the issue even further Dominick, these folks are not pro LIFE. If that were so they would not cut the funding for programs that feed children once born, or deny them medical care, cut the Board of education. They are pro BIRTH and couldn’t care less once the child is born. It is a control issue. There are more women in the U.S. than men, and these “patriarchs” are getting nervous of losing control. The Netherlands has the lowest teenager birth rate of all westerns industrialized countries. WHY? Because sex is openly discussed at home. Through the ages young people have always engaged in sex, so it is in everyones interest to educate them as early as possible. Boyfriends and dgirlfriends are allowed to sleep over at each others parental homes, in the same room/bed. Theirs is a rational way of looking at sex. Here sex is still “verboten” evil, etc.

      2. howa4x August 27, 2012

        Beverly the issue has never been solely about abortion. It is more about pre marital sex as the puritans in the church preach against. This is why they fight against contraception. It is about control. Are white men still in control or are women in control of their reproductive system? This is what the fight is about. The Republicans and crazy religious leaders want to humiliate women who make an error in judgement and get pregnant outside of marriage. This is why they wanted trans vaginal ultrsound in Va. not medically necessary but humiliating. The Republicans want to turn back the clock and are still fighting the women’s movement. Paul Ryan picked as Romney’s running mate co sponsored legislation with the disgraced Akin, prohibiting women to have an abortion under any circumstances. No matter what Romney says this is their agenda. Mitt hasn’t stood up to anyone on the far right, and won’t start now.

        1. Gerry1211 August 29, 2012

          Welcome to the American Taliban and Sharia law. Next we’ll be wearing Burqas

      3. Gerry1211 August 29, 2012

        For all Dutch nationals the “morning after” pill (2 pills actually to be taken at the same time) are free. For non nationals the cost is between 12 Euro to 14 Euro. No physician prescription is required

  3. Patrick Hankin August 27, 2012

    I have a problem understanding America (I am not from there) Why is it that the US is so obsessed with interfering in how a woman manages her body, ig. contraception, abortion, rape etc, when they have such abysmal gun laws and most of the population is armed and have seemingly made an art form of killing their own citizens whenever they feel like it it. I am just so confused

    1. SaneJane August 27, 2012

      Me too and I am from here. I am more than confused, I am flabbergasted, frustrated and embarrassed that the entire world can see these idiots. They are supposed to be grown-ups. How they got where they are is an indictment of the American public.

      1. Thom Delahunt August 27, 2012

        america is actually pretty together given what we’ve got to work with. we just have a bat crap crazy bunch of fundamentalists christians who want to turn this country in to a theocracy…

    2. Dominick Vila August 27, 2012

      The only redeeming argument I can come up with is that most of us do not share Mr. Akin’s beliefs. People like him are an aberration and are, indeed, an embarrassment to our country. Our gun laws, or lack thereof, are a disgrace; and the cynism of those who want the Ten Commandments posted in every public school, and enthusiastically support the death penalty, is beyond comprehension. Again, the “U.S.” is not obsessed with some of the things the Tea Party is proposing, a segment of our population is.

    3. mah101 August 27, 2012

      Patrick, I honestly don’t know the answer to your question, and many of us are confused as well. All I can ask is that you realize that a few loud ignorant people don’t represent all of us.

    4. frida August 27, 2012

      Patrick, the answer is so simple and short: It is all about DOMINATING everything and feel good.

    5. howa4x August 27, 2012

      It is a complete missunderstanding of what religion means

    6. DurdyDawg August 28, 2012

      Don’t be confused Patrick.. Be appalled!! Contempt is what most Americans view the far right. What you’re receiving is the shouters and bangers.. A small minority who envision themselves as the majority. Basically, our media is pumping such notions around the world with little thought of repercussions and more on profit. You don’t have to be confused, just comparing. I’ve visited several right wing forums and I can tell you first hand.. If you checked them out you’d be happy to come back here.. Oh, there are some here who bash pubs but not nearly as much as the pubs bash us and worse, they continually bash the president of THEIR United States. As far as their philosophy goes, it’s beyond appalling.

    7. Gerry1211 August 29, 2012

      Join the club. I live here and I don’t understand it. Not about their hangup about sex nor their unhealthy fascination with guns.

  4. cdnobserver August 27, 2012

    As a Canadian Observer, I know that the majority of Americans are not ignorant and stupid like Akin. What I am surprised at is that the Republican Party in your country has tried multiple times at state level and nationally to pass laws that are directly related to what Akin said, (Personhood Amendments). The republicans have continuously repeated that the AFC (Affordable Care Act/ Obama Care) is a slippery slope towards the erasing of freedom, what do they call telling women that even in cases of their health, rape and incest, the government will tell them they cannot have an abortion. These people are trying to take women back to the 18th century, but worse yet, they want to put government squarely in a woman’s decision regarding her body. This is extremely scary and dangerous to me as a woman, and I don’t think American women are very different from all other women in the world.

    1. jennewinn August 27, 2012

      I agree, I don’t think the majority of Americans are ignorant or stupid.

      So how come the Akins of this world can steal the elections, if the majority of you does not swallow his baloney?

      1. cdnobserver August 27, 2012

        Because the silent majority need to stand up and vote all those clowns out, that would send a non refutable message that the majority rule, not the clowns that belong in an asylum.

    2. Stella53 August 27, 2012

      We call it hypocrisy, Mr. Canadian Observer. The word is H Y P O C R I S Y! The tea people scream that their freedoms are in jeopardy, while at the same time they are willing to deny other Americans, like women, their freedoms. Hypocrisy!

    3. joyscarbo August 27, 2012

      I hear you, cdnobserver, it’s all in the name of “morality,” and religiosity. Republicans always claim that our government is “too big,” and interferes too much with corporations but yet they have proposed to plant themselves directly into the personal life (and uterus) of every child bearing woman….it’s a shame.

  5. ignore the facts August 27, 2012

    All you folks who plan to vote for Romney/Ryan, try to remember they are in the dark ages as far as their thinking. Neither one of them has ANY Respect for women. Nor do they have any respect for individuals of any type. They are against gay marriage. Against equal pay for work. Try to remember it’s Obama who took the stand for these things. They rant about Obama “stealing” $700 million when in fact that number REFERS TO THE SAVINGS THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WILL BE ABLE TO RECEIVE FROM TIGHTENING UP THE OVERPAYMENTS TO INSURANCE EXECUTIVES…..among other things. This country has FINALLY, after four years of embarrasssing stupidity from Bush, been able to get respect once again around the world. Just for the record, those countries trying the no spending idea are failing because it doesn’t work. You HAVE to invest in your country, your people, in order to get any good result. Obama beliees in INVESTING IN AMERICA. It’s your couuntry, why don’t you? Is your ONLY desire more tax breaks for you billy? That’s billionaires for you uninformed.

  6. desertdustoff August 27, 2012

    As if the United States needed something else to be embarrassed about, especially after 8 years with bush, and the latest repugnican, nit wit mitt “went abroad” and made an absolute ass of himself. What a joke these people are making of this country.

  7. PamelaT August 27, 2012

    Thankfully the GOP are die off, literally die of old age and this will resolve this craziness.

  8. sleeprn01 August 27, 2012

    Mr. Hankin, I was born in America and I don’t understand it either. The religious right is all about the sanctity of life from conception to birth. However, after the child is born, especially if not a part of the bourgeoisie, they don’t give a damn! Cut social safety nets such as WIC, headstart, food stamps, after school programs, decrease money going to basic education, and as you stated our support of “abysmal gun laws”. All is not lost however, because when the child turns 18, if he’s survives that long, the interest begins to peak again. This is because they are old enough to be sent to some rat hole around the world to be maimed or even killed. Not for the defense of our country, but for the defense of the military-industrial complex. Both the Viet Nam war and the Iraq war were started because of faulty assumptions, some of which were even fabricated. Ah-ha, I’ve answered my own question, women must be turned in to birthing machines so that we have a steady supply of young people. This then provides more people to support the bourgeoisie in the form of a larger tax base and in terms of human capital to support the military-industrial complex. I think that Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said ” there are 2 kinds of people in war, those that get killed and those that make a killing”. Truer words have never been spoken! For a more thoughtful and sarcastic approach on this topic of the military-industrial complex I would like to point you toward a comic series that began in 1948 and ran until 1958. That strip is as germaine today as it was in 1948 when the comic strip started; however, I think, that things are even more reprehensible now. You can get the book online for a few dollars and it contains a wealth of philosophy and sarcasm. The book is: ” The Short Life and Happy Times of the Shmoo” by Al Capp

  9. triumph181 August 27, 2012

    You do well to bring the whole picture into focus. Where were these idiots when reproduction was given in class? Did they skip the topic, does all his knowledge of female and male anatomy onlycome out of late night session of pornography? Is he part of that group that lewdly walks around sniggering at the titillations going on in his head? Finally, what does his wife, girl or boy friend think of his sexual stupidity?

  10. Kennith August 27, 2012

    Watch what you say because of technology it can go around the world

  11. howa4x August 27, 2012

    Religious people have always been hostile to women. The good news is they stopped burning them at the stake calling them witches and heritics, but the bad news is they still harbour deep resentment about the womens movement is this country. Most republicans saw Roe /Wade as the begining of the end of our civilization, and have been carring on about it since it was past. They use it as a wedge to rile up the religious base and really don’t want to end it just use it when they need to. Think of this for the 1st 2 yrs of Bush II the republicans had a marority in both houses and the presidency. Did they use their power to repeal Roe? No because they would loose an issue that gets the bases blood to boil.

    Now the Tea party is far more religious than the old guard who knew issues like Law and Order and abortion and how to use them to advantage. They want to create the american Caliphate, a religious order that all would live under and are zealots in their approach. So they see it as a badge of courage that everyone is rising up against them. . To the soldiers, this fight is between the rightous and the demons,and God is on the side of them and will damn everyone else. This is not really a fight for the soul of america, its a fight to see who controls the reproductive rights, Women or Men

    1. Lynda August 27, 2012

      Such fear and distrust of the uterus is beyond belief, but there it is out there for all to see. Very strange people coming from that side.

      1. howa4x August 27, 2012

        If there was ever a time for women to stand united and vote these people out it is now!!!

  12. Landsende August 27, 2012

    The republican party has been taken over by the christian conservative extremists and if you look at their record it’s a lot like the talibans. Keep women enslaved by taking away their rights and teaching extremists views in schools as fact. Have a ruling class of the wealthy elites while keeping the rest of the population as serfs. What they seem to underestimate is the fact that most Americans are smart enough to figure it out and aren’t willing to give up our freedoms. We have fought to many wars to ensure those freedoms to let a bunch of teathuglicans take them away. Don’t let Kochs, Adelson, Rove, Trump and other wealthy elitists who are funding these extremists win by turning us into a third world country like Afghanistan.

  13. Stella53 August 27, 2012

    Akin a “boofhead?” I like it. It reminds me of goofball, doofus, dolt and goofy.

    1. imabrummie August 27, 2012

      I love your comments. Seems this moron Akin is a good fit with the rest of what now passes for the RePUBIC-Clown Party. When they have specimens like Michelle Bachman on an Intelligence Committee, it kinda leaves one wondering what hope there is for this country in the event that Mr. Bendyboots Romney becomes the next occupant of the Oval Office.

  14. Dennis August 27, 2012

    Why is akins sitting on the U.S science committee?That’s the problem in this great country too many idiots in positions of power who don’t have a clue of what’s going on.Isn’t there some type of testing we could administer to check to make sure these people are qualified before appointing them to these such serious positions?I personally believe there should be.And by the way who does the appointing?Well I see by the republican nominees the blind leading the blind leading stupid.I f these idiots are allowed to take power in this next presidential election God forbid we’d might as well just kiss America good bye because these nominees have no conception of what is going on in this great country.Think before you vote for these idiots PLEASE.And oh by the way akins,a word from the wise step down and please don’t say a word.Your ignorance is showing.By the way,same advice for mitt and ryan.

  15. dtgraham August 27, 2012

    I thought Bill Maher had the best line on Akin. He’s apparently receiving death threats now. The FBI is investigating and has narrowed the list of suspects to…………ALL WOMEN EVERYWHERE.

  16. Justin Napolitano August 27, 2012

    The Republicans believe that a man should be able to stick his penis into a women, ejaculate his seed into her and then prevent her from having any rights about the zygote that may occupy her womb. That violence associated with that act, or that it might involve a close relative, should not be a consideration, that her own life is subjugated to only one purpose: protecting the zygote even if it means she should die. Even if she should die!!!
    How in the hell would a zygote survive without the woman? How could a society exist where only one sex has a say in all matters? Shall we go back to slavery and a world where women can not vote?
    If you want to live in that world we will fight you to the death because we believe otherwise.

  17. Budgie August 27, 2012

    Election time will be on us before we know it, and I think that all who can, pick up a copy of George Orwell’s 1984. We are at the point of time, in our history, where we are in supreme danger of making life imitate art. If, and when you’ve read it, you have the decision of voting for the beginning of the beginning, or for the beginning of the end. The choice is yours, and yours alone, and the outcome you will have to live with, either as a free human being, or eventually, an ‘unperson’.

    1. Jennifer A. Nolan September 7, 2012

      I would like to copy this article and your comment, Budgie, and distribute them to every progressive group I know! Bravo!

  18. Ernest P August 27, 2012

    I’m from Missouri and this is just the latest in a long string of conservative stupidity in my state. From a referendum against Obamacare, to putting a bust of Rush Limbaugh in the Hall of Famous Missourians, and most recently a “Right to Prayer” Amendment that is really just a way to let fundamentalist parents yank their kids out of badly needed Biology classes that teach evolutionary theory. Where is Samuel Clemens when you need him?

  19. bestofandy August 27, 2012

    The best that can come out of this Akin thing, is that the debate will continue and REAL experts will appear and give the scientific truth to the matter. For once we can expose the religious RIGHT as a WRONG and decide to vote them out of office for the good of the American people.

  20. Melinda Killie August 28, 2012

    LOLOLOL~~ This REALLY brings the traitor against women repubs up by their nards, doesn’t it??


  21. west_-_park August 28, 2012

    Think-(what was his name)-a Medical Doctor, who raped his wife in the anus while asleep.
    He did not deny doing it, he said, he could not distinguish the anus from the vagina. He was a Bush Appointee to the FDA and the one who blocked the Morning After pill.

  22. Opinionpage September 30, 2012

    I wonder if he’s related to Paul Ryan – they deserve each other and have a lot in common, such as their innate stupidity and natural thoughtlessness. I wouldn’t be surprised, in fact, if Akin was the “C” student who is teachers grew to dislike, and if Romney was the Mamma’s boy who only acted intelligent to make his parents proud…of being the person they only thought he became through time. Yes, he had cookies and milk every night, and Mom warmed up the milk for him.


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