The real shame

At the risk of dating myself, when I was a teenager the best deterrent for finding oneself in “the family way” was shame.

Sex aside, argueably a major contributor to teenage pregnancy today is the absence of shame.

The real shame, though, is the exploitation of a 17-year-old girl for political purposes and the selling of media sensationalism.

According to CNN, the left-wing blog, Daily Kos, was the source of the rumor that Sarah Palin’s daughter is the mother of the 4-month old baby with Down’s syndrome. Pretty neat trick, since the daughter is five months pregnant.

Has it occurred to anyone that left-wing propaganda is just as despicable as attacks from the right?

Republicans are not without blame. Fox News spent the hours after the introduction of Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket parading one right-wing pundit after another delivering talking points about how great it was that Palin didn’t abort her afflicted baby.

Now, they have used Bristol Palin’s pregnancy to try to turn this election once more on the issue of abortion – a maneuver meant to mask eight years of ineptitude.

George W. Bush once addressed a fundraiser crowd, “Some call you rich; I call you my base.” Nothing like a culture war to bring low- and middle-income folks into the fold and make them forget they’re the ones being screwed.

As for Democrats, I thought we were the good guys. We’re beginning to sound more like the right than the right.

Even in our patriarchal society, no one accuses fathers of abandoning their family role when seeking - and serving in - public office.

We had better back off, or we might just find that bullet we’ve shot into our collective foot is sexism.

I’m ashamed.


Anonymous said...

Dear Friends,

Betty, your column is very thoughtful today. You know what my feeling is on the Sarah Palin story concerning her daughter's pregnancy? I feel great sadness. As a priest, I know the pain many, many families right here in my parish go through when receiving this news. A teen pregnancy changes lives forever, the lives of the teens involved and the lives of the families involved. I am also so saddened by the personal attacks on this poor girl and all her family. What a horrible thing to be doing. I don't care if this is a national figure or not. Barack Obama said it best: families should be off-limits. Where is our decency? The whole thing is just too sad and says something very troubling about our nation right now: for political expediency on either side of the aisle, decent people with everyday problems can be trashed now. The truth doesn't matter. What matters, it seems, is winning at any cost. God loves us all. He can't be pleased with this sort of trashing of people for political gain.

Father Tim Farrell,
Farmington, New Mexico

B.J. said...

Amen, my dear friend! BJ

Richard Falzone said...

I agree with everything said in the post and the comment. I also am ashamed wherever I see low blow tactics used in political dicourse whether it's from the "right" or from the "left". Family matters, childrens issues, close relatives past scandals or failures are not appropriate for evaluating the qualities and qualifications of a candidate. Attributes that directly relate to the mindset of the politician are fair game. Therefore, I will take this opportunity to list some of my concerns about the Republican VP pick.

She is inexperienced, knowing little or nothing about foreign policy or national issues; she is really an anti-feminist, wanting the government to enter women's lives to block abortion, but not wanting the government to guarantee equal pay for equal work, or provide adequate child health coverage, or child care, or early childhood education; she shills for the oil and gas industry on drilling; she denies the scientific truths of global warming and evolution; she misuses her political authority; she opposes sex education; and, rather than being a maverick, she is on the whole a radical right-wing ideologue.

B.J. said...

Falzone for America! Good comment. It’s fair game to go after any candidate on the issues. You have just described the perfect candidate to appeal to the Republican “base.” We will find out on November 4 whether such arch-conservatism in this country is waning. Thanks for your thoughts! BJ

Anonymous said...

"Inexperienced" is not a place Democrats want to go.

Frodo, Keeper of the Ring said...

Frodo waited, simply because he wanted to see if any one would refer back to the little donnybrook between Rev.Jesse Jackson and Sen.Barack Obama. Although not exactly on point, remember that "Reverend" Jackson was going to, let's say, emasculate, shall we, the Senator for bringing up the issue of parental responsibility in Black America. One of the issues us paleskins dare not raise outside our own is the open debauchery which characterizes "them." Did we fail to note that Sen. Obama dealt specifically with the "fathers?" Have we so quickly forgotten that there was no cry for equal treatment among the genders? Is it okay to point out that some of our teenagers are animals, and some are merely misguided? Frodo asks, "Which is Levi?"
Frodo is seven feet tall when self-righteous indignation enters the room. It is the most human of characteristics for those of us in one "cave" to seek to distinguish ourselves from those in another "cave." The important part of this discussion is that there has been one who has tried to bridge the divide. That is a quality to which Christians, supposedly, prescribe. Perhaps, dear friends, that is "the bridge to the twenty-first century," and the wisdom of one too "inexperienced" as our anonymous contributor might allege.

Eowyn said...

McCain's recent ad comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton seemed like a really stupid move. But his ratings soared. I noticed in the WSJ that his speech writer--good lord the guy may be running the campain--is a man so from Hollywood that he wears a sweatshirt with the word Hollywood accross it. Sadly, my friends, we are in a very entertaiment-based society in which the weekly tabloids like People, US, OK, Life and Style, . . .I can't remember all the names, but there they are selling every week, are the "stage" on which people see the world's players. I talked to people in a Walmart and Safeway today, and their eyes are shining with hope for the VP choice. Gone are all the concerns, gone are the world problems. She's photogenic, she's inexperienced, and she's a common "joe." She's beautiful. I'm very depressed to have the Republican gambit work. But one can't even ask a question of The One Who's Been Presented without being labeled Sexist. This is a difficult lie, as they say in golf. E

B.J. said...

Now, Mr. Frodo, you know Obama supporters, the left-wing blogosphere and the left-leaning media (read: MSNBC) jumped on this woman the minute her name was revealed. For days all we heard was villifying reports about her daughter’s pregnancy and her own inability to serve two roles – mother and public official. To compare these attacks with Obama’s correct criticism of “dead-beat dads” is just apples and oranges.

You know, if Obama gives just one-tenth of what Frodo expects from him, he will be the greatest leader Western Civilization has ever known.

I sure hope Democrats – all Democrats – paid close attention to the GOP speakers last night, because the war is on – and Sarah Palin is now a force to be reckoned with. Even th old boys’ club on MSNBC is saying “a star is born.”

If Obama supporters were scared of Hillary Rodham Clinton, they need to be afraid, very afraid, of Sarah Palin – and the fire she’s ignited under the Republican base. Her nickname, “Barracuda,” might be a little mild. In her own words: “The difference between a soccer mom and a pit bull is lipstick.” I kept imagining Susan Sarandon fighting that vicious dog off her paper-boy son in the great little movie “Safe Passage.”

As for attacking a person on the basis of gender rather than on issues, let me say right now I am as opposed to sexism as I am to racism! And, why wouldn’t I be?

Finally, IF Mr. Frodo did watch the speeches – nnd the roar of the GOP crowd – he might be seeing more clearly the challenge ahead of us - facing an opposition equally dedicated to its own beliefs. I know the hobbit earnestly believe Barack Obama is going to work unprecedented miracles in Washington, D.C., but if the Democratic nominee truly can “bridge the divide” between what we saw in Denver last week and in St. Paul last night, then he is possibly a new messiah, and his followers might be forming a new religion – say, one for the 21st Century.

I can imagine that following Rudy Guliani’s dog-and-pony act, the hole in the hobbit’s wall is in the shape of his black-and-whte!

With tongue in cheek, I remain a faithful Democrat.


Anonymous said...

Gustav has me a little busy at present but I'm reading a book titled "For Shame: The Loss of Common Decency in American Culture" by James B. Twitchell.
Much food for thought there.

Jan said...

It seems to me two children were exploited for political purposes. The age 17 unwed pregnant Bristol and the age four-month baby afflicted with Down Syndrome.
Mrs. Palin is a staunch anti-abortionist, yet says her daughter choose to have her baby. I question whether the child or the mother made the choice.

And the air of self-righteousness and the holier-than-thou-art concerning both was over the top. Would self righteousness prevail had Bristol also told them she had herpes or aids with this pregnancy?

Why is it that doddering old men make reproductive laws for young women? Yet, on the other hand, they pass laws for insurance companies to pay for them to have Viagra. Why? Should women ban together and pass laws for anti-prostate surgeries. After all there
is life there or the prostate cancers would not be growing!

I think the real shame is that people in this nation refuse to come to terms with sexuality and allow young children to have factual sex education. Not only to protect themselves from sexual predators, but to prevent babies from having babies. For humans to mate is as natural as it is for flowers to bloom in the spring.

However, there is a faction of people who think this natural inclination is somehow flawed and must be fixed or eradicated from nature. The fact remains that it was due to sexual intercourse that each of us came into this earth. I'm sure that's what is meant by the King James book saying: "Go forth and populate the earth."

What I did not hear this week was any solutions to the countless perilous conditions heaped upon the masses of people these past
eight years. No solutions to the millions forced into poverty; the millions who lost their homes to foreclosures; the millions who lost their jobs and health care due to outsourcing; the ever present piles of debris three years after Katrina drowned NOLA; no rebuilding of this nations infrastructure after all the devastating floods, fires, tornados, and hurricanes; no building and/or refurbishing of dependable school buildings with ample books and supplies for adequate education of our children; no health care coverage for millions of people; no plan to bring our troops home from an illegal war or means to provide them desperately needed medical care and jobs; no shelter for the millions of Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Check McCains record and see how often he voted against our veterans. Our troops are scared of him getting into the White House. The list goes on and on and on.

Oh! and by the way, did you know John McCain was a POW? You would think he was the only one. I don't have the foggiest idea how many time that mantra is repeated over and over. He wasn't the only POW in Hanoi. Many were there long before he went there and were still there when he left; but they didn't have a high ranking military dad negotiating for their release. No one mentioned the 55,000 who came home in body bags. We hear about McCain being tortured; yet McCain, like GW Bush, has sanctioned torture for others. How reasonable is that?

A Master Teacher once said, "Come let us reason together." However, there's a faction of people who refuse to listen to reason. I hear a lot about the Islamic extremists. But not a peep about the Christian extremists who declare God tells them to wipe out entire countries and cultures of people. And they are the ones who insist on staying in Iraq and destroying the Islamic peoples. They think their slaughter of others is sanctioned and that they are doing God's will. Even Sarah Palin has made the same statement in her church in Alaska. You can
listen to it on YouTube.

As Dennis Kucinich pled, "Wake up America. Wake up." Do we want another four years of the deplorable last eight years? If not, then it is time for this nation of people to "Come, let us reason together" to heal our economic, social and religious ills that we might live in peace and harmony with our fellow human beings.

I learned a long time ago that a memo without an example is not effective. We must live the example we want to teach to others. We teach by our examples instead of words. Let's come together and heal the toxic shame that binds us as we go forth and build a better society than we see today.

Frodo, Defender of Wildlife said...

Frodo moves into slightly dangerous territory in order to make a point.
The Disciples were a bunch of guys, and maybe a gal, who followed the Big Guy around, and sought to learn from him, so that they could go out into the world and pass along the message, if you will. On more than one occasion one or more said something that didn't really follow.
So, isn't it possible that simple little old people, following the same methodology might do something similar, more than 2000 years later?
So why do we decide to label a person "messianic?" Why do we automatically judge adherents as forming a religiosity?
Having the good judgment to bridge issues rather than to stand on one side and simply yell at the guys on the other side is hardly the Hand of God. Apples and oranges are both fruit; and the issue is mature human behavior and conduct.
Besides, Barack can hammer the ding-a-lings all day long on the economy and we walk home. McCain says he doesn't understand it, and Palin is no help. If the good guys stay on point, John McCain becomes Bob Dole. Who was his running mate, anyway?
To Frodo, a "maverick" is a "cowboy" with a hot temper.

bbj said...

I was left feeling a little sick last night following Palin's speech. Yes, she is beautiful, and yes, her delivery and teleprompter reading was "flawless," as one commentator remarked.

But, naive as I am, I was hoping after 8 years of divisiveness, both parties would emerge from their conventions with a changed political tone. The Democrats did; Palin's sarcasm and mocking remarks, which led the 99% white audience to boo and jeer, did not.

The negative comments this week coming from the Democratic "side" about Bristol Palin's pregnancy and other Republican downers aren't coming from Obama-Biden. Obama's words on the matter were clear.

No candidate can control bloggers and "talkers." Obama and Biden will continue to try, I think, and will keep their speeches and interviews on a higher level than Palin did last night.

I'm anxious to see if tonight McCain continues the nasty one-liners that Republicans relish . . .

And maybe I've vented enough.

B.J. said...

There is no need to send me articles about Sarah Palin. I’ve read everything I can about her, including the well-documented Progress Report of the Center for American Progress (“An Extreme Choice,” 3 September 2008).

Do not misinterpret this post and my comments as support for Sarah Palin. Essentially, her political stance is the opposite of mine. I had hoped to convey the power of her delivery not its content, and the necessity of knowing your enemy (The Art of War by Sun Tzu). Same thing I did, to no avail, throughout 2003 when my colleagues assumed Kerry was a shoo-in – with all that had been revealed about the Bush administration - and refused to listen about the power of propanda and the threat of a Fox News. Never believe we are the “chosen,” can sit back on our ideological laurels and refuse to find out what the other guy is up to. The re-election of George W. Bush should have been lesson enough.


bbj said...

Good comments, BJ. Negative attacks do work, unfortunately.

FYI: There's another disgusting e-mail making the rounds. I've gotten it 3 times this morning. Concerns (supposedly) a letter written by a "member of Billy Graham's team - Bill Brown" about Obama.

A check at snopes.com revealed that Bill Brown says he did not write the letter and doesn't know who did. "Ignore it," he said.


Snopes said it's a mixture of some truth, misinformation (lies), half-truths and opinions.

B.J. said...

Thanks, BBJ! What would we do without snopes.com and factcheck.org? I never delete such emails – always respond to them with snopes! BJ

Athena said...

Hi BJ,

Lookin good....

I am afraid I am too biased to have an opinion on Palin. The Republicans foist on the public, people who lack substance. The Democrats should have Brad Pitt run for mayor of Hollywood and then for president of the United States. Then we will make a big deal out of him and how his prewritten speeches "have perfect populist pitch." The Republicans have so little respect for Americans that their next 2012 candidate will probably be an alien from Mars. Obama has proven himself with his campaign, why would McCain, choose an unknown at the last minute?

We must never forget that McCain is our feudal lord who doesn't know how many castles he has and we are his peasant serfs.

peace to you BJ!

Eowyn said...

Just a tiny comment, BJ, but I don't think any of us really expect Obama to move mountains--just to start out in a new direction.

I didn't get to listen to Palin's speech, so I'm looking for a text. But, you know, I may have heard enough right here. God it's depressing to think we may listen to 4-8 years of this s###.