Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Only you can prevent Bill Napoli

Normally I try to stay away from politics these days, not because I worry about offending people, but because that's not the purpose of this blog and because frankly, it totally hoovers my energy. One day I hope to get Seething in the Wilderness up and running, as soon as my Redi-Klone arrives from Acme.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the mission, should you choose to accept it.

You're probably all aware that the South Dakota legislature has passed a bill banning abortion even in the case of rape and incest. What you may not have heard yet are the remarks of State Senator Bill Napoli, on what kind of rape victim might qualify for an abortion:
A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
I have no comment on his remarks, due to the fact that they struck me speechless. But it's good to know that I, as a non-virgin (sorry, Mom!), won't be messed up, physically and psychologically, in the event of a brutal sexual assault.

So the gals at Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels (SBs for short) decided to do to Bill Napoli what columnist Dan Savage did to PA Senator Rick Santorum, which was to redefine his name to mean, er, something nasty.

The SBs are using a Google bomb, which simply involves having tons of sites linking to a desired page using specific anchor text, so that when someone types Bill Napoli into Google's search engine, the page with this new definition comes up.

At last count on Blogsnow, the SB Bill Napoli page was the eighth most-linked-to page on all of the Internets.

I encourage all bloggers reading this to join us in spreading the word about just how vile Bill Napoli and his type really are. Simply link to this page:

using the words "Bill Napoli" (without the quote marks) as your anchor text. "Anchor text," if you don't know (and I didn't until just now), is the term for the words you highlight before you click on the "make link" button.

BTW, it doesn't really help to type it several times; I only did it for humorous effect. However, I plan to cross-post on Seething in the Wilderness momentarily, to double the fun.


I am probably the last person who should comment on this. I wouldn't be able to keep out the expletives. He has no idea what rape is. I hope his state ousts him but good!!!

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/08/2006 6:46 PM

Oh, Kathy, it gets better/worse. Now a group of men's rights activists want to have the right not to financially support their children, because they want the same size menu of choices that women have.

If women can have an abortion, they want the equivalent. It turns out that the male version of an abortion isn't a painful, humiliating operation that gets you spit upon by fetus-worshipping maniacs--rather, it's a bigger bank account!

So now I've got a hankering for the female equivalent of a kick in the nuts. Which is, um, a two-week spa vacation, yeah!

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/09/2006 8:01 AM

AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!! In the abortion debate I've often said, "A pox on both your houses!" I think the pro-abortion side makes the whole thing sound too simple, utterly lacking in emotional content or context. But the anti-abortion side I think is completly nuts, and certainly Bill Napoli is a shinning example of such madness. Of course I'll do the Google thing. Can't either side take sanity pills when discussing such a sensitive issue? But I'd want a whole truck load of the pills for Napoli and his cohorts, ie/e., the state legislature of South dakota, a place I hope never to be.


Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 3/09/2006 3:04 PM

Oh, and guys who want out of child support! I can't say what I think of them.


Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 3/09/2006 3:05 PM

Well I have another idea. If they don't want to have to pay child support then they should have a vasectomy. That's fair I think since an abortion is surgery for women, therefore men should have a "surgical" option too. That's your option guys. Don't wanna pay for dropping your pants without protection? Then have a little snip snip done to Mr. Happy. Simple.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/09/2006 4:16 PM

P.S. I won't be commenting on this topic anymore. No offense, but both subjects hit a little too close to home for me.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/09/2006 4:18 PM

(Oh, this is gonna make me a lot of friends...)

While the vasectomy idea has some poetic justice to it, it doesn’t really solve the problem at hand. They’re not retroactive, after all, so its just revenge.

I’m of two minds about this. My liberal knees jerk toward the “of course the man should pay child support” side of the argument. And the court’s argument, that society is better served by a child supported by two sets of incomes, makes sense. (Although I’d argue that if the parents don’t love each other and have no intention of raising the child together, society may in fact be better served by there not being a child at all.)

But after a night of consensual sex, a woman can make the decision to have or not to have an abortion. It’s entirely her decision, and I believe it should be. But a solo decision should be made with the awareness that it may mean solo responsibility.

Realistically, I think the proposal is a rotten idea. I think too many guys would be scumbags and leave women in the lurch; too many do that now, for god’s sake. I’d make it more immediately difficult to opt-out, certainly. Signing the statement would require money for the procedure and several months of counseling, if need be, to give to woman the complete option to take it. There’d also be a restraining order involved. In order to sign, the man would be giving up any option of seeing or contacting the woman or the potential baby again. You get no warm and fuzzy dad moments, no tearful reunion, because you don’t deserve them. You opted out. You're burning your bridges, once and for all.

But I do think the situation as it stands is unfair. That doesn’t mean it has to change – life isn’t fair, and biology prevents men and women from sharing equally in childbearing. And certainly many more things break unfairly in favor of my gender, so any whining about this particular instance comes off as (and is) ungentlemanly. But as much as I’d like to agree with you guys, I don’t think he’s entirely wrong.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/09/2006 5:26 PM

But after a night of consensual sex, a woman can make the decision to have or not to have an abortion. It’s entirely her decision, and I believe it should be. But a solo decision should be made with the awareness that it may mean solo responsibility.

Rob, your argument has its appeal on pure principle, for sure, and I appreciate you wading into what must seem like treacherous waters. Ya got some gumption.

The problem I have is drawing any sort of equivalency between having an abortion and getting off scot-free (or should that be Scott-free--is it an ethnic jab at Scottish people?) financially. The first is a bad thing; the second, a good thing. Hence my equally absurd comparison of a kick in the nuts and two weeks at a spa.

Yeah, it sucks that that guy's girlfriend lied to him (or maybe was misinformed) about being unable to get pregnant. But I hate Policy by Anecdote: where people take a few isolated, worst-case scenarios and make out like the system needs to be radically changed. Like there are spooky succubi lurking behind every corner, waiting to steal men's precious sperm for the "profit" of raising a child alone in a nation where single mothers have the highest rate of poverty of any group.

How are men's choices supposedly restricted? If a guy doesn't want a kid, he should wear a condom. Period. If a woman is lying about being on the pill or being sterile, she could be lying about STD's as well.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/09/2006 9:01 PM

First of all, from Michael Quinion's

"As with the word hopscotch, scot free has no connection with Scotsmen, frugal or otherwise. It’s a Scandinavian word meaning “payment”. The expression derives from a medieval municipal tax levied in proportional shares on inhabitants, often for poor relief. This was called a scot, as an abbreviation of the full term scot and lot, where scot was the sum to be paid and lot was one’s allotted share. (This tax lasted a long time, in some places such as Westminster down to the electoral reforms of 1832, with only those paying scot and lot being allowed to vote.) So somebody who avoided paying his share of the town’s expenses for some reason got off scot free. It was also used for a payment or reckoning, especially one’s share of the cost of an entertainment; when one settled up, one “paid for one’s scot”. Again, someone who evaded paying their share of the tab got off scot free. It’s been suggested that this usage may have come from the old habit of noting purchases of drinks and the like by making marks on a slate, or scotching it, but the evidence suggests this is just a popular etymology, and that the usage comes from the same idea of a sum due to be paid."

Just so's we all learn.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/09/2006 11:16 PM

Oh, Jer, I went back and forth all day about whether I should post or not. The vasectomy kinda was the tipping point.

I don’t want to get into the specifics of Dubay’s case. Like you say, one anecdote shouldn’t make policy. And certainly, a system like the one they’re proposing will certainly be gamed. I don’t think it’s the solution (although I do like my restraining order addition to it).

I want to make clear that I’m assuming consensual sex here. Everything else is a whole can o’ worms that would just cloud matters. I’m not going to argue for a rapist’s right to anything.

As reality goes, though, I have to argue there is a restriction of men’s choices. The two people mutually decided to have sex – and to do it in such a way that could risk pregnancy. That’s one (or two) decisions each. Maybe it was the reached after careful consideration, or maybe they both asked Johnny Walker and he said, “Go for it.” Whatever. Drunk, depressed, elated, stoned or sober, this is the guy’s one chance to get it right. Spur of the moment or not, this is the only chance the “wear a condom” answer gives him.

So, she gets pregnant. And she thinks it over, and decides she want to keep it. She decides what she’s doing with her body for the next nine months, and also decides what he’ll be doing with his paycheck for the next 18 years.

Yes, he should’ve thought more up front. She should have, too. But she gets the luxury of considering the facts and weighing her options after the deed’s been done. He’s subject to her choice. She gets the final word for the both of them.

So yes, I think his choices are restricted. He has one chance to act. She can both act and react.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 12:02 AM

Ok I wasn't gonna comment but I have to. Rob said it was the word "vasectomy" that tipped him over the edge. Good. I'm not being mean but if that word alone makes guys think about protection ahead of time, it's a good thing. I know from my own family's experiences just how unwise it is to believe someone who says they are safe or on the pill. That's how my brother became a dad at the age of 14. But he learned. Oh boy he learned. He got saddled with having to deal with a woman he hates for the rest of his life because he was stupid. No they aren't married but they do have to deal with each other because of the child.

As for men having no choice after pregnancy happens, also good. If it makes anyone think twice about having unprotected sex it's a good thing. I mean, it's not just an unwanted pregnancy you have to worry about anymore. There are far worse things from unprotected sex.

And Rob, while I highly disagree with your opinions, I do have to give it to you for being willing to comment on a subject that is so highly volatile. And, even though I don't agree with you, I do respect your opinions. As I said earlier, I am uncomfortably close to these topics. It's a sore spot for me.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/10/2006 12:36 AM

Kathy, I don't think it was Rob's discomfort with the idea of vasectomy so much as it was the logic of the argument. You can't terminate a pregnancy by vasectomizing the guy. Horse, out, status of barn door irrelevant. Whereas abortion can terminate a pregnancy.

Which gets back to my point about there really being no male equivalent to abortion.

So yes, I think his choices are restricted. He has one chance to act. She can both act and react.

Very good point, and one I really can't argue with (at least not in my 6:30 AM pre-pancake-and-coffee state). The principle you put forth is sound (and remember what Sunshine taught us about the importance of principle over at Sharon's blog :-).

But changing policy over this seems like it would just tip the balance of power and general life-suckiness even more. Single mothers face a greater risk of poverty than any other demographic group. If the dude won't be around to help with child care so that the mother can get a job, the least he can do is pay for it.

Responsibility is responsibility, I'm afraid, and sometimes it screws up people's lives. But I think there is a social good here (keeping women and children out of poverty) that trumps the rights of men to have two chances to reverse their one moment of irresponsibility. Women deserve two chances, frankly, because they're the ones shouldering the burden of childcare forever.

And as Prince reminded us, "That's a mighty long time."

Thanks to everyone for their civil and thoughtful comments.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/10/2006 6:44 AM

P.S.: Yes, "general life-suckiness" is a term I learned in policy school. Only there it was spelled "utility."

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/10/2006 6:46 AM

The underlying issue is how to get fathers to act responsibly. Yes, I understand that, in some probably rare cases, a woman can trick a guy into thinking she's used birth control when she hasn't, thereby bringing about an unintended (on his part) pregnancy. But that canard has been aimed at women from time immomorial. And, yes, I do think fathers should have rights, though I'm a little hazy on how far that should go. But history, and not anecdotal history, shows that the pattern has been for men to duck responsibility for child care and support. Now anyone who knows me knows how I feel about htat. It does, indeed, take two to tango.


Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 3/10/2006 9:57 AM

Thanks to both of you for your comments – especially you, Kathy, who don’t know me from Adam. (I’m not Adam, by the way.)

I think most of our disagreement stems from my belief that a fetus is not a child. The man and woman have not made a baby, they made a fetus. It’s the woman’s decision to turn that fetus into a baby. And since it is her decision, then the consequences are her responsibility too.

Yes, the option to terminate a pregnancy is invasive and often humiliating and emotionally damaging. But I’d argue that that means we need to improve the quality of and culture surrounding abortion. (Morning-after pills, for example, should be as available as mints at a diner.)

I do agree, however, that these adverse consequences do indeed have the positive effect of getting some guys to wrap it. When I was in high school and college, getting someone pregnant was my worst nightmare. (Not a nightmare with any foundation in reality, at least in high school, but still…) Whenever a condom broke or slipped off, I would spend weeks in whiteknuckle terror. But condoms do break, and do slip off (well, I hope they do occasionally for other guys, or this is actually a really embarrassing admission), which makes the “he should have worn a condom” answer an even harder pill to swallow.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 10:07 AM

One more thing I should make clear: I’m not talking about anyone “tricking” someone else into fathering their child. I’m sure it happens, but I’m also sure it’s nowhere near the majority of cases where the issue is in dispute. I’m talking about two honorable people who have a difference of opinion on what to do with their fetus.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 10:09 AM

Rob, I agree that a fetus is not a child. It's a life form of some sort, IMO, but it doesn't have the same moral standing as a human who's already on the planet. So for me at least, that's not where the disagreement lies.

And I totally agree about the morning-after pill. It's not an abstract issue for me. If that mythical condom-breaking thing ;-) ever happened to us, I'd be camped out at the pharmacy first thing in the morning waiting for the doors to open. (Oh but wait, I can't get it without a prescription because of the Far-Right Freakazoids, so if it's on a weekend, too bad.)

You might not be talking about female trickery, but that's what this guy Dubay is touting as an example of what can happen. He's using his sob story to try to change policy.

Cecilia, I don't think the underlying issue is necessarily about men taking responsibility. It's about society, through its laws, taking responsibility for children. Our legal system is designed in part to protect the innocent and the helpless. Unwanted kids get screwed even more with this proposal. Should Junior starve because his dad didn't want him and his mother thought (incorrectly) that she could afford to raise him on her own?

I sympathize with the terrible position this puts men in, especially when it's not their fault and not their choice. But ultimately it's about making sure kids stay out of poverty. Besides being morally awful, poverty means crime and social instability. Not just bad for the starving kid, but bad for all of us.

It's a classic clash of the rights of the individual vs. the good of society. We have to constantly weigh and balance these conflicting values, and that's what democracy, with its checks and balances, is for.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/10/2006 10:49 AM

Should Junior starve because his dad didn't want him and his mother thought (incorrectly) that she could afford to raise him on her own?

You hit the nail on the head. Junior shouldn't starve. Ideally, Junior shouldn't exist.

Abortion needs better PR.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 11:07 AM

Rob, for once I agree with you. But unfortunately, its getting harder, not easier to obtain an abortion. Tennesee's senate just passed an anti-abortion bill. My greatest fear is we will head back to the dark days of back alley abortions that quite often resulted in either death for the mother or damage preventing them from ever getting pregnant again. When will people learn that banning abortion won't stop it?

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/10/2006 11:12 AM

But situations change, Rob. What if the mother had a good job before having a kid but later lost it (which unfortunately often happens because of the kid)? Should she and her child be penalized for her lack of clairvoyance?

And not everyone (including me, who supports choice for other women) is comfortable with abortion. I do see it as killing in self-defense in the case of serious financial instability or health issues, but I don't think it should be treated casually.

People tout adoption as some kind of panacea, but those women I know who have done it say it is agony.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/10/2006 11:20 AM

In my case I am 100% pro-choice but I would personally only choose that path under one circumstance. The case of rape. Oh and Bill have no idea what rape is. In every other instance I think condoms and the morning after pill are the best choices. Not to mention the safest.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/10/2006 11:33 AM

Yeah! Let's pile on Bill Napoli again! What a cretin.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 11:40 AM

Cretin is too mild a word...but probably appropriate for a blog.:-)

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/10/2006 11:42 AM

Well, Jeri's mom reads her blog. So I try to tone it down a little. On my blog, I'm a little freer with the ol' F-bomb. And therefore my mom tends not to read it.

(But yikes, that means Jeri's mom might have read bout my condom mishaps. Avert your eyes, Gloria! Too late, I guess.)

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 11:55 AM

Hehehe that is too funny. Luckily for me absolutely nothing shocks my mom. I have stories!!!

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/10/2006 11:59 AM

All I can say is I hope S. Dakota votes him out. He's a dangerous man.

Posted by: Blogger Unknown at 3/10/2006 12:13 PM

Fuggin' A!

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 12:13 PM

So Rob, you're not worried about Christian's mother reading this blog? Or yours? :-)

Christian's Mother

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 3/10/2006 4:32 PM

My mom doesn't read MY blog; I doubt she reads Jeri's. And I know you've heard worse.

(Do the names Lettie and Eustace ring a bell?)

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 4:46 PM

(And now poor Chris goes into another month of therapy.)

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 3/10/2006 4:47 PM

Wow, that's amazing. The comments have come full circle. I started the post with regard to the Smart Bitches, who review, discuss, and snark upon romance novels as a genre, and we somehow ended up with Lettie and Eustace, the heroine and hero of a 1998 round-robin romance novel.

It all feels so...whole.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/10/2006 4:56 PM

Just wanted to pop in and say, yes, it worked- the smart bitches link is tops on a google search for Bill Napoli.

Everyone's made a whole lot of good points here. I wish there was a national debate on abortion and the issues surrounding it, not the national screaming match and labeling game that we have now.

Posted by: Blogger Sharon GR at 3/11/2006 7:29 AM

Amen to that, Sharon! But it's hard to speak softly when the other side is screaming. It's time for pro-choice (and fence-sitters like me) to start talking about the real-life consequences of an abortion ban. A "rape victim litmus test" is one of them.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/11/2006 7:40 AM

Yet again, I'm just catching up, but thought I'd chime in.

When it comes to pregnancy, men have it easy in so many ways, so I have little sympathy for the unexpected father's lack of morning-after control. This is one of a few situations that affords some control to the woman. Ideally the father's opinions should be considered. But when the decision is made, he needs to take responsibility.

As for abortion.... I agree with Cecilia's criticism of the pro-choice movement. Having rejoiced at the heartbeat of a six-week pregnency, I cringe at arguments that minimize their signifigance. Moreover, I think such arguments do harm to the pro-choice movement by alienating parents with similar experiences, especially those to whom pregnancy did not come easily.

Now, like everyone here, I am firmly pro-choice. I will never, ever vote for an anti-choice candidate. Yet I am equally firm in my belief that abortion is a horrible decision. It is a choice I wish no one would ever have to face.

That, by the way, is the argument I think the pro-choice movement needs to embrace - making abortions rare, not because people aren't allowed to have them, but because they never need them in the first place. This is not new - we've heard the phrase, "safe, legal, and rare." I think this is a goal that more Americans can embrace.

In short: I don't want abortion to have better PR. I want safe-sex and prevention to have better PR.

Posted by: Blogger Andrew at 3/14/2006 6:42 PM

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