The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

There was a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin played with a ball-attached-to-paddle toy for a bit, and then said "I resent the manufacturer's implicit assumption that this would entertain me." I get the same sort of feeling when I read the Mercury News letters page.

Here is a prime specimen of self-congratulatory ass-hattery, by one Annie Laurie Gaylor:

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote, turns 83 years old on Tuesday. People today take it for granted. But 155 years ago, in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton issued a call for women's suffrage, she was greeted by howls of derision and opprobrium.

She died in 1902, so she never got the chance to exercise her right to vote under the suffrage amendment, which she herself composed, and which finally passed in 1920. But Stanton, who once edited a feminist newspaper called The Revolution, surely ignited one for women.

Although winning the right to vote took almost four generations of labor by women, and much work is left to achieve full equality, the revolutionary changes for women since 1848 are undeniable.

Yes, those three paragraphs were a waste of your time. I'm not apologizing, because I had to read them too.

Stanton, despite her blazing intellect, was, as a woman, barred from enrolling in college during her youth. Today, women comprise the majority on college campuses.

Also, women, have, gained the, right to, use, commas.

Stanton believed in ``a definite purpose for girls.'' And she railed against the ethos that women had to ``self-sacrifice.'' She said, ``Put it down in capital letters, that self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.'' Today, a majority of girls and women in the United States seem to have a ``definite purpose.''

Let's imagine trying to support Gaylor's vague and unsupported statement via polling:

Q: Madam, do you have a definite purpose?

A: I seem to have a ``definite purpose.'' Is that close enough?

Q. I'm sorry, I forgot to put the question down in capital letters. Do you have ``a Definite Purpose''?

Still, Congress has refused to ratify the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted 24 years ago by the U.N. General Assembly to help ensure human rights for women. By not ratifying the treaty, the United States finds itself in the company of a handful of countries, including Afghanistan, Iran and the Sudan.

Oh, I see. Congress refused to ratify a meaningless document promulgated by a dictator's club. Therefore America's treatment of women lags behind all but a handful of countries.

What's more, our right to abortion hangs by a swing vote.

In the first place, that's an obvious falsehood. If the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, that would send the matter back to the states. Abortion would certainly be legal in liberal states like California, New York, and Massachussetts.

In the second place, Gaylor just praised most of the world's nations for ratifying the "Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women". And in most of the world's nations, abortion is illegal.

We have never had a woman president, and Congress and the judiciary remain predominantly male enclaves.

And what would our feminist foremothers who worked so hard for the right to vote make of an election process that brought us our current political mess? What would they think of President Bush's Orwellian suppression of civil liberties in the name of freedom, and his war without end in the name of peace?

Bush's "war without end" -- which has targeted two countries and killed a few thousand people -- liberated women in Afghanistan. Remember Afghanistan? Gaylor got all huffy comparing the US to that nation, back in paragraph six.

I realize you are finding it difficult to remain focussed on this drivel. That's okay; you're doing a better job than its author.

More than 100 years ago, Stanton's friend and fellow suffragist Susan B. Anthony lamented about public indifference toward unjust foreign policy. ``I wonder if when I am under the sod -- or cremated and floating up in the air -- I shall have to stir you and others up,'' Anthony wrote in a letter on Dec. 17, 1898. ``How can you not be all on fire? . . .''

The anniversary of the 19th Amendment is always worth celebrating. But along with casting our vote, we need to raise our voice in protest, as Stanton and Anthony taught us.

I protest this contradictory, illiterate crap.



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