Difference of Opinion vs. Dangerously Wrong “Facts”

I’m a pretty liberal-minded person, but I tend to at least grudgingly accept that other people have entitled to their own opinions… Even if I will blog about how misguided I believe they are. Still, there’s a very real difference between having a difference of opinion, and spouting off completely wrong “facts” that align with your values but not with science.

This past week has just been astounding to me, in terms of how blatantly (and dangerously) wrong two major politicians’ comments have been about matters of science.

By now you’ve probably heard of Rep. Todd Akin’s now-infamous remarks about rape… but if you haven’t, let me give you a sample of what he had to share about abortion in the case of rape:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something… You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be in the rapist.”

Just for kicks, let’s watch him actually say this:

That’s right, ladies. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’d better be careful about any kinky role-play involving power dynamics, because your body might “shut that whole thing down” thinking you were being legitimately raped.

His statement about punishing the rapist, rather than having an abortion (which in his view punishes the fetus) is a statement of opinion. I disagree, but grown adults are allowed to disagree. His statement about the female body shutting down reproductive functions in the case of “legitimate rape”? That’s absurd, it’s factually inaccurate, and it’s offensive. And no, his later statement that he meant to say “forcible” rape, not “legitimate”, in no way makes his idiotic statements any less outrageous.

Now we’ve got Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield speaking on SiriusXM about homosexuality, and sharing some completely inaccurate and really dangerous statements. You can listen to the entire interview online, but here are some highlights from the host of the program:

On bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) teenagers:

“That bullying thing is the biggest lark out there. … There are sexually confused children who could be pushed into a lifestyle that I don’t think is appropriate with them and it’s not for the norm for society, and they don’t know how they can get back from that. I think a lot of times these young teens and young children, they find it very hard on themselves and unfortunately some of them commit suicide.”

On the “glorification” of homosexuality in the media:

“Homosexuals represent about 2 to 3 percent of the population yet you look at television and plays and theaters, it’s 50 percent of the theaters, probably more than that, 50 percent of the theaters based on something about homosexuality.”

On AIDS:

“Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community — it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.”

“My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex…very rarely [transmitted].”

I don’t have time to fully express how horrifying wrong (on a factual level, not just on an emotional/moral level) these statements are… And hopefully, I don’t have to. (Besides, the host does a good job of it already… read the follow-up article he wrote after the interview.)

It’s okay to have a difference of opinion… but these statements from both politicians are beyond absurd and offensive; they are flat-out dangerous. If people listen to these statements and actually believe them, the consequences could be disastrous for people who don’t know any better.

These guys should be ashamed of themselves for putting their ideology above the health and safety of American citizens.

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