Posts Tagged rape

Today in The Deluded Christian: Thanking God For Rape and Kidnapping

A godsent

A godsent

God sure does work in assholish ways…

A woman who claims to have been kidnapped by Isidro Garcia 10 years ago has escaped and is now telling her story, being especially grateful that God has been with her and her family, even though she has been through hell in the past 10 years.

He worked hard for me and my daughter and he bought everything I want, but I need love of my family – not things. I’m happyi [now]. God is everything“, she said.  

The young girl was raped and forced to give birth to Garcia’s daughter, who is now three years old. The two have been reunited with her family and give thanks to God for the reunion and for never leaving their side, even when things looked their worst. 

I’m so happy and God-blessed to be with my family. That’s what I want all the time. All the time, I cry for them, more for my mom and my sisters,” the unnamed girl said.

Yes, God, thanks for sitting on your ass for ten years. You dick!

 

 

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Pearls of the Profound: Wanna Get Married? Feeling Lonely? Rape Someone, the Bible Says

rape for marriage

 

If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Beautiful. Just beautiful. And divine.

We have established now that the god of the old testament is a genocidal murderer, a sadist, a sexist, a supporter of pedophilia and incest and now also of rape. You rape someone, no worries, just pay her patriarch who clearly has ownership of and authority over the girl’s vagina, a few bucks and make her your own – that way you’ll not only have a servant for life but also a receptacle for your penis whom you can violate legally as much as you like and make bear you children and clean up after you. But only if you are discovered, of course. The hidden message for young, pious rapists or rapists-to-be is “dont get caught, boys. But if you do, just marry her and make her your servant for life.

Isn’t it great just all the mysterious ways with which god works? Subtext layered upon subtext…

Where can I please sign up to worship such an excellent decisions maker? Oh yes, the church down the street.

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Today in Misogyny and Rape Apologia

steubenville

Two members of the high school football team that is the pride and joy of Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Rust Belt city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community’s athletes.

Naturally.

God and misogyny forbid that a 16 year old girl who was raped stand in the way of a long established and beloved football tradition in a town filled with righteous townsfolk and faithful church goers.

As it is the case with rape trials, rape apologia and victim blaming followed the case almost immediately because this is how the rape culture we have created operates: go after the victim, question her and her integrity and make it look like she was responsible for her assault in one way or another. Or go after her parents, friends, teachers and everyone for the rape. All but the actual rapists.

The two juveniles, who I am sure will grow up to be formidable misogynists and rapists, got off the hook easy with the verdict, as both Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were tried as juveniles, receiving merely delinquent verdicts on all three charges. Delinquent is the guilty equivalent for juveniles. They were both convicted of digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, and Mays was also found guilty of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

If they had engaged in copyright violation no doubt they would have been tried as adults.

The “boys” will serve their sentence at a juvenile detention facility until they turn 21, which effectively means they’ll probably be out in six months and welcomed back to the warm bosom of the Steubenville community that will treat them like long, lost sons that were unlawfully sent to the front but are finally returning to their rightful place on top of the football team throne, while their nameless victim will be traumatized and has to go into hiding for ever having dared to accuse her tormentors.

A guilty verdict in a juvenile case also means little given because their records will be  sealed after they serve their sentence. Erased. Invisible to the outside world. If they move in your neighborhood or seek employment in your company or non profit, no one will know what they did. In other words, there will be no real consequences for them as a sealed document for a juvenile case may as well not exist.

And that is the problem isn’t it? As long as we allow such actions to remain without consequences, we will only add to the problem and encourage it or at the least send the message that there is little consequence to committing such a huge crime.

As it is to be expected, after the verdict was announced, message boards and commenting sections of news articles and blogs were inundated with comments by people, some of whom think they are acting in good-will, lecturing the girl on how she needs to be more careful in the future and that hopefully she learned her lesson to “not get drunk” again so as to avoid getting raped, as clearly, she not only invited the rape but she is also the one person who needs to learn a lesson from this, namely to not get drunk or engage in other behavior that might prompt otherwise stand up young men like these to rape and assault her.

Some even wondered why parental supervision was missing.

Very few comments, if any at all, were criticizing the rape culture we live in and the values we raise young boys with. No one commented on the culture problem with young men or with bystanders not stepping in. No one commented on the fact that we need greater socialization of young men to appropriate masculinity so that honorable behavior and mutual respect are encouraged.

Instead everyone engaged in a cover up and burst into tears when the two men got what they deserved.

When these boys see that an entire community charges to their rescue, tries to cover up their crime and then bursts out in a hail fire of tears and sobs after they get their well deserved guilty verdict, how will they ever internalize the truly horrendous act they committed?

If I was one of the boys sitting on that chair, watching everyone cry for me and defend me after I did such a horrible thing to someone else, I would not think what I did was all that bad.  I would just be bitter at the justice system that has come after me in the first place and failed me.

Note how the socialization works even at this stage: these boys are being treated as unfairly judged, misunderstood. Not as truly guilty. Sure the law says so, but just look at the support they are getting from their community.

I must say I was and remain very appalled and disturbed by all the rape apologia comments.

Instead of Asking “How can we create a culture in which men stop abusing and raping women?”,We Are Striving to Create a Culture in Which We Teach Women How to Not Get Abused and Raped

As if it was on them to not be violated, as opposed to those committing the crimes.

Telling a woman that if she had not been drinking, she wouldn’t have been raped – no matter how well meant (it is not) – shifts the blame to the woman “see, this wouldn’t have happened if only you had behaved.” Such attitudes and notions are destructive and callous and once again shift the burden onto the victim instead of to the perpetrator. As if some men just couldn’t help but raping and abusing (and thus as if it was somehow their natural birth right or something the world and their victims had to just deal with, like thunderstorms and earthquakes),  so it was up to women to make sure a man doesn’t t get to engage in both or either behavior.

Let’s be clear on this, rape apologists and victim blamers:

1)  Who brought alcohol to the event is irrelevant as that doesn’t make it ok or understandable to rape someone.

2) Lack of parental supervision doesn’t make it ok or understandable to rape someone.

3) The victim having been inebriated, dressing a certain way, behaving a certain way and talking a certain way is neither an invitation to rape nor does it make rape understandable and/or acceptable.

4) That these were 16 year olds as opposed to 26 year olds, doesn’t make the crime less heinous and it doesn’t mean their punishment is to just sit one out as opposed to seriously pay for their cruelty – which means being tried as adults as well as receiving counseling and an education vis a vis their actions.

Nothing makes rape ok, understandable, acceptable or invitational. “Oh sorry ma’am, I saw you dressed in this sexy outfit so naturally I thought you enjoy a little raping, no?”

There is nothing this girl  – or any rape and sexual violence victim – did to cause, justify, excuse or make more understable the assault on her person. Period. It is not even a matter of opinion.

We do not accuse murder victims of having brought it on themselves, asserting that they, after all, behaved in a way that invited murder and then dismiss the case.  Why is doing the same with rape ok? Again, I point to our rape culture where sexual assaults are far more forgivable offenses than other acts.

See Mike Tyson and his revival onto the grand hall of fame of legends for something or other ( I mean what is Tyson good for anyway?) and promising return despite being a convicted rapist. Cast members of The Hangover 2  – most notably Zach Galifianakis – wanted Gibson’s Hangover 2 cameo cancelled, but did not ask the same when Mike Tyson got to have a super duper cameo in the first Hangover. On the contrary, he ended up being portrayed as the sensitive, cool dude everyone was honored to meet. I mean MIKE TYSON. Yeah!!

This is the rape culture I am talking about.

Mel Gibson bad (for hating blacks) Mike Tyson redeemable (after raping and assaulting women).

I wish instead of trying to engage in the same old victim blaming and gas lighting rhetoric,  people would just admit that what these two did was hideous and wrong instead of sitting here trying to assign blame to everyone but the rapists.

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Today in Misogyny: Mike Tyson, Convicted Rapist, Cast in Law &Order: SVU

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I am not even going to comment on the irony of casting a violent, convicted rapist in a show that claims to be all about condemning heinous, sexual violence.

Instead, what I am going to comment on is the fact that we live in a culture in which a sex offender is being treated like some fallen-from-grace-knight who allegedly served his time and is now finally getting to return to his rightful position on the throne of fame, wealth and luxury  – which he and everyone around him believe he’s totally entitled to and deserving of after the brief “hiccup” that was his trial and conviction for rape.

Mike Tyson is untouchable. He cannot ever be asked to talk about or even reflect upon his heinous crimes. Instead, everyone is working diligently to have his reputation rehabilitated, while his victims remain forgotten and the veracity of their testimonies questioned to this day.

Clearly, in the rape culture we are fostering – from lawmakers who believe that there is such a thing as legitimate rape and the House GOP attempting to redefine rape altogether so as to apparently make it easier for the perpetrators to navigate the murky waters of the legal system after having committed such an act, to rape jokes that signal to and encourage male sexual aggression and support violence against women, to those who believe that a pregnancy resulting from rape is something god intended – it’s the accused, the criminals, and not the victims, who need looking after and given second chances. That is especially the case when those accused are “legends” and famous and especially if the second chance means not actually doing three of the sixty years you were supposed to  – which I call a huge second chance – but the return to fame and fortune instead.

Mike Tyson is a man who was convicted of rape, has a history of violently beating and abusing his wife, is someone who assaulted and bit off part of another boxer’s ear during a boxing match and who possesses so little integrity, compassion and just dignity that he got married a mere two weeks after the death of his 4 year old daughter.

Speak of your terrible human being.

Yet, to the world, those things are beside the point apparently.

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Tyson on The View? Isn’t it great? Such a sensitive guy…

He is being graciously invited to talk shows,  was invited by a major network to have his own show, he has been offered cameos in highly marketed box office hits; in 2008, a documentary painting him in a sympathetic light was released and he has been asked  to give his opinion and expertise on domestic violence. Heck, he was even asked to participate in what they think is a skit filled with hilarity at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards, where he gave Joe Jonas a haircut and was, once again, painted as this really cool guy for an audience of children who aren’t old enough to know how horribly violent this man is.

His come back has included receiving top representation in the industry and a management team that’s been working hard to fix his brittle image to insure a swift return to fame and fortune – which he is clearly entitled to.

The Culture of Victim Blaming

The mechanisms of the rape culture we live in work in subtle, yet effective ways. Putting Tyson on stage with the Jonas Brothers, for example, makes him cool as hell to a certain young, female as well as male demographic who see this guy palling around with the likes of Joe Jonas and think that’s cool because you gotta be cool to be hanging around with the Jonas brothers.

When those kids, who are not old enough to remember what he did, then go looking up Tyson on Wikipedia and find out that he was a convicted rapist, wife-beater and just overall violent piece of shit abuser who thinks that women are nothing but fuck-holes to be “boned”  – as he once eloquently put – the message inevitable get is that rape is no big deal; that violence against women is no a big deal because, hey, look at Tyson: this guy is still famous and cool hanging around with the likes of Joe Jonas. What he did was no big deal. In fact, he must be ok and what he did must be ok too.

tyson iii

A message that prompts the kid to not only not see anything wrong with this picture, since clearly Tyson – despite prison sentence and conviction   – still managed to come out on top – but to also subsequently rationalize that stuff away as “everyone makes mistakes” and “such is life”, ultimately leading to narratives that make excuses for the perpetrators and trivialize their acts while simultaneously creating a culture that blames victims and engages in rape apologia.

Doing Three of the Ten Years You Were Supposed To Is A Second Chance

To be clear, I am all for giving people a second chance, although – as mentioned above – it can be argued that facing 60 years in prison, actually getting sentenced to 10, and only serving 3 out of those 10 is a second chance in and of itself. But still. Everyone has a right to find a way to feed, clothe and shelter themselves, a right to bodily safety and autonomy as well as a means of maintaining their health.

However, no one is entitled to fame and fortune and a place in the spotlight.

tyson 4

Speak of the blind leading the blind. Mike Tyson was asked to comment ans give his expertise in Chris Brown’s domestic abuse case

Putting a violent sexual offender  – who doesn’t even have any remorse for what he did as he still denies it and who fifteen years after the first time he raped Desiree Washington talked about wanting to rape her again and who still maintains his innocence despite all the evidence to the contrary – back in the spotlight just normalizes, if not trivializes his crimes – treating the restitution he was forced to make as if it was some bureaucratic checklist one had to  go through to no longer be considered an outlaw under the law. As if there weren’t actual victims who are seriously damaged and harmed by the abuses and which is the reason that “restitution” had to be made in the first place.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that tends to exactly do that, trivialize crimes that involve violence against women by rewarding the perpetrators with the kind of empathy and understanding they never granted the victims.

Man of the People

I have noticed that over the years, and especially after the trial and his conviction, the tone and direction of  the news outlets discussing Tyson’s comeback have been overall accommodating, warm and sympathetic; like some long, lost hero had finally found his way home after he had been unjustly made to stand trial and pay for his crimes. As if some great injustice had been done to this grand man who had to give up a promising career as a violent miscreant getting his skull smashed in for craploads of money but now was finally returning to take his rightful place in the spotlight, just like he had always deserved but was robbed off with that pesky lawsuit.

As the New York Post put it

Tyson served three years for rape in the mid-’90s and effectively ended his fight career two years later by biting Evander Holyfield during a bout. But he is now well on his way to remaking himself into a sensitive guy. He cried on Oprah’s show last year and starred in a stunningly candid documentary about his life, “Tyson” (which many in Hollywood believe was robbed of an Oscar nomination). 

Notice how he is being described as having been robbed of an Oscar nomination, as if he was entitled to being nominated for the Oscar and instead was robbed off that opportunity that rightfully belonged to him by that damn slut who was raped.

And then we are supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy when he declares that “I never hurt anybody until somebody hurt one of my birds.”

Yeah, sensitive guy my ass.

A baby made to look like Tyson  tattoo and aggressive look included. You can never Indoctrinate too early...

A baby dressed up like Tyson tattoo and unhinged, unadulterated rage included. You can never indoctrinate and brainwash too early…

I Was Just Depressed I Couldn’t Bone Her No More

During an interview this past April, Tyson discussed the day he walked into ex-wife Robin Givens’ house to find her in bed with Brad Pitt. As Tyson put it with the delicate sensibilities only a sensitive guy like him can:

One day, I’m going to her house to bone her again and no one’s home, and I’m leaving and she’s pulling up with Brad Pitt, and I’m sad. He wasn’t Brad Pitt back then. He was just some little beach-bum-looking dude. […] “I wasn’t thinking about attacking him,” Tyson told Global Grind. “I was just depressed I couldn’t bone her no more.”

Sensitive guy my ass.

During the notorious Mike Tyson/Robin Givens interview some twenty years ago, the majority of people sympathized with Tyson, not Givens, who was being accused of being a lying gold digger who had no right to talk about their personal life to the public with him sitting right next to her.  Apparently having the living shit beaten out of you is personal dirty laundry that ought not to be shared with the world. It took a freaking rape conviction to take her seriously and even then, the victim blaming continued.

"Ha ha. Look, we got this crazy, scary violent abuser and rapist on the show. It's so funny if we make one of our guy emulate it and crack jokes about how fun it is to be a rapist". Ha ha"

“Ha ha. Look, we got this crazy, scary violent abuser and rapist on the show. It’s so funny if we make one of our guys emulate it and crack jokes about how fun it is to be a rapist”. Ha ha”

When Tyson was tried in Indiana, his accuser, Desiree Washington, was also called names – from a filthy lying whore to a gold digger who was falsely accusing this pillar of a man and was after his wealth. She was being shredded through the press as someone who was just crying wolf with a “history of at least one false accusation of rape“.

And here we are, over twenty years later, and still no one is asking about either Washington or Givens or any of the people Tyson has hurt.

On the contrary, in countless magazines, interviews and all staples of the entertainment business, including Wikipedia, all sorts of doubts are being cast on their reputations and motives  just so that Tyson’s can be rehabilitated.

One look at the commenting section of any article concerning Tyson’s come back and it is abundantly clear who people empathize with and pity. Either that or they see a commercial opportunity to exploit the situation, giggling that putting a freak like Tyson in their movie would be just so much fun and hilarious. Hardi har har har. 

Never mind that he doesn’t have any remorse for what he did and in fact in an interview in 2006- while lamenting the “hard life” he faced after his conviction and incarceration for the rape of Desiree Washginton – not only still denied that he raped Washington in 1991 in an Indianapolis hotel room, he also said that the burden of being labeled a convicted rapist made him want to do it now even more.

I just hate her guts. She put me in that state, where I don’t know,” Tyson said. “I really wish I did now. But now I really do want to rape her.”

Sensitive guy my ass.

He cannot even admit to having committed a crime.  How can people think he paid his dues and made amends and then
forget about it altogether celebrating him as if he was a war veteran on the return?

Should he be able to make a living? Sure. But making him famous and rich? Some kind of a public figure people inevitably look up to?

robin

All such behavior does is sweep a history of violence under the rug rather than confront how well that violence is abetted and normalized by the wider culture that tells women and other victims, over and over again, that violence against them is tolerated and will be fought even if it means dismissing their rape claims as mostly a result of “miscommunication” or a sex act gone wrong, as opposed to a serious crime.

Entertainment Value Continues to Trump Appropriate Human Behavior

We’ve heard the story before when Michael Vick strolled out of prison right into a new multi-million dollar contract  and thus back to that high status with all the privileges therein.  He couldn’t even be bothered to serve as a messenger to all those kids that look up to him explaining why it’s wrong to torment and abuse weak, defenseless and innocent creatures.

Instead, he just went back to the high life signaling once again to society that there really are no serious consequences to your crimes against women as long as you have the privilege of maleness, wealth and fame behind you.

You Can’t Rehabilitate Someone Who Denies Any Wrong Doing

Ultimately, if there is a chance for Tyson to be truly rehabilitated, with which I definitely don’t mean the rehabilitation of his career but of his person as a human being – it is doubtful that rewarding him with wealth, power, entitlement and with it unlimited privilege would accomplish that. In fact, those are the very things that give credence to his behavior and are likely to exacerbate it.

Being famous inevitably puts one in a leadership position as people, in one way or another, look up to the famous person. While I’m not suggesting Tyson wear a scarlet letter,  I must point out how reprehensible it is to use his image and persona in such a way as to suggest that his violent past, including rape, is no big deal. When Tyson realized that the world was welcoming him back with open arms, the message that was sent to him, all males, kids who admire him and the whole world as such was that Hey, what you did was no biggie. We’ll understand. Life throws you a curve ball every now and then. We get it. Note that if he had murdered someone, like OJ Simpson, it is highly unlikely that he would have been welcomed back.  But rape – we can work around that as no sexual offense is heinous enough that fame and fortune would not take you back.

Is it then any wonder that our very own legislators dismiss and trivialize sexual violence against women with a straight face, trying to redefine rape, even going so far as to believe there is such a thing as legitimate rape? Judge for yourself.

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Stupid Things People Do: Eric and Ruth Brown Accept Daughter’s Birth Defect as God’s Will

Self determination and autonomy have rarely, if ever, been touched upon really in terms of actual policy formulation aimed at granting and protecting and enforcing those rights until the second half of the twentieth century when notions of human rights were formulated after World War II.

Even the Founding Fathers of this nation did not believe in human autonomy for all, which is why women got to vote some 150 years after the foundation of this nation and thus after the Declaration of Independence. When that document reads “all men are created equal“,  it really does mean all males. The Founding Fathers, in all their wisdom notwithstanding, did not recognize that women were part of mankind.

One of our – as human kind – most fundamental rights – which is a human right and something inalienable, irrespective of culture and country of origin – is the freedom to be autonomous and make decisions based on that autonomy. This is a very fundamental and important right that often does not get the important attention it deserves. Way too many people are comfortable with having that autonomy diminished or taken away from them.

Most, if not all, conflicts throughout human history leading up to today, in not only this very country but all around the world really, have been about controlling others by taking away their autonomy to choose for themselves how to live their lives, what to believe in and subsequently what choices to make.

Eric and Ruth Brown were not those people. They had a choice and the freedom to exercise that autonomy to make a choice.

Deformity and Suffering as the Creator’s Will

The couple from Nashville, Tennessee, believe that the genetic disorder that created a cleft in their daughter Pearl Joy’s upper lip and caused her brain’s development to stall in the first weeks in the womb, to be god’s will.

Things didn’t go wrong,” an apparently delusional Eric Brown said. “God has designed Pearl the way he wanted, for his glory and our good”.

This delusion has sustained the Browns ever since ultrasound revealed that the couple’s third child has alobar holoprosencephaly, a rare genetic condition that’s almost always fatal. The Browns never considered abortion. They believe that Pearl is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139 puts it, and god alone should decide when she lives and when she dies.

Pearl’s  brain never divided into two hemispheres during her development in the womb, which means she is basically a crawling vegetable. “We don’t care about those things. She is here, and her brain is telling her how to live“, says Eric Brown.

The Browns are holding on to dear life, literally, as they delude themselves into believing that as long as their girl is basically still warm she should live and that her life is wonderful and a blessing, even though she has seizures on a daily basis, has a weakened immune system and has been back to the hospital at least five times in the past three months. A simple cold could kill her but “that day hasn’t come yet“, her mother says.  The Browns not only insist she is god’s gift, they also think Pearl is actually fighting.

Fighting for what is unclear. Is she fighting for a miracle? Is she  fighting for growing up being normal after all with this disease poofing out of existence much the same way this Earth poofed into existence according to the Bible?

Even skeptical neighbors, friends and acquaintance have bought into the delusion, applauding the Brown’s decision.

Kristina Guisler, a friend from the MOMS Club of East Nashville, met the Browns in 2009. When she first heard about Pearl’s condition, she said she wasn’t sure the Browns had made the right decision by continuing with the pregnancy. She wondered what kind of life Pearl would have.

But seeing the love that the Browns have for Pearl has changed her mind and strengthened her own faith.

It’s reaffirmed my faith in humanity and in the power of prayer,” she said.

The Browns aren’t the only ones suffering from serious delusions,  Nancy and David Guthrie of Nashville faced the ordeal twice: in 1998 and 2002 when their son and daughter both died in infancy from a fatal genetic condition called Zellweger syndrome. In Gabriel’s case, the Guthries learned he had Zellweger while he was still in the womb.

One of the things we learned is that great sorrow and great joy can coexist,” she said. “Because life in the image of God is so precious, there is great joy in having this one you love with you, even while there is great sorrow in knowing that this child might not grow old with you.”

I have read and seen religious people talk themselves into a whole lot of bullshit and delusions to make it through their lives, but this sure takes the height. What I find particularly disturbing is this:

“God has designed Pearl the way he wanted, for his glory and our good.”

So god, in all his wisdom and love, would afflict a child with disease, deformity and suffering? And being born with a horrible genetic disease that renders you nothing but an animated doll trapped in a painful and torturous existence at the verge of death is something god did for his glory? There is glory to be had from this? And said disease and deformity is for the good of the parents.

All the credit, but none of the blame, huh?  Hmmm maybe god is a Republican after all

But there is a broader canvas here. The above statement by the Browns is disturbing and akin to Indiana Tea Party Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s comments that pregnancies stemming from rape, however horrible, are “something that God intended to happen” – as if rape wasn’t a crime and heinous act but just something in god’s secret and elaborate plan for all of us lemmings and for “his glory and the victim’s good.”

Does that mean rape itself is part of god’s plan? And genocide? And mass killing and child rape? Most religious people would say “no” (or maybe yes), which creates all sorts of contradictions because what they are saying is that the act of rape is not god’s will but the resulting child is. In other words, god would never orchestrate a rape, but would definitely exploit a rape to impregnate a woman.

That is amazing.  Where do I sign up to worship this excellent decision-maker?

It is great that believing that there is a higher purpose to their suffering has allowed the Brown’s to not only justify their choice but also live with it this long.

Remember people believe in all sorts of stories and even lies for self preservation and to make it through the day and their lives. That is why we have religion in the first place. It is called cognitive dissonance, which is the term used in modern psychology to describe the state of “holding two or more conflicting ideasbeliefsvalues and emotional reactions simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.”

The Brown’s are engaging in precisely that. They are people of faith who believe that the deity they believe in does all things for a reason. Such a notion is an especially opportune world view when good things happen.  When something horrible, such as the birth defect of their child happens, on the other hand, said believers are suddenly left in shock, asking themselves where the good is in having their own child be afflicted with such a condition. Suddenly, painful reality and the tenets of their faith are at odds. If god is all loving and all caring, how can he let this happen? That is where “filling in the gaps” comes in becasue the Browns are human beings who can only take so much pain before losing it.

How do they cope with it? They cope with it by attempts to reconcile the reality of their situation with what they have been taught god to be. Thus, they tell a lie to themselves. But they do not know it is a lie. It cannot be. If it was, that would bring down their entirely worldview and the reality they have created for themselves. Their self delusion in that regard is quite sincere. The Browns have to believe that this is all part of a grander scheme. This, in turn enables them to go through life without feeling hopeless and without loosing their faith and feeling let down by their grand and loving creator.

Delusion is a wonderful thing and nothing deludes more than religion.

The truth, of course, is that this baby will be confronted with a myriad of painful medical procedures that she will have to endure but not understand the need for. There are limits to the amount of painkiller an infant can be given.  The question really is whether the child is having a quality of life that satisfies the child’s nature, or whether being kept alive on IVs, feeding  tubes, oxygen and other meds is the truly loving and wonderful alternative.

And can you say this is what the divine intended when the only thing keeping the child alive is medical technology, not god? The parents might enjoy the love and care they are giving, but what about the infant?

Ultimately, the Browns are doing this to make themselves feel better. They think they are doing this child a favor, but they aren’t, they are only doing themselves a favor and justify their decision by making appeals to the grand schemes of a higher power.

The only victim in this process is Pearl. Her family is holding on to delusions to prolong the life of a vegetable. For Pearl living or not living does not make a difference.  She doesn’t even know what and who and if she is. Her brain didn’t part into two hemispheres for cryin’ out loud.  She is nothing but an animated doll and for her there is no difference between living and dying, becasue there is no “her” there. She is just a breathing shell.

The idea that you have emergency oxygen standing by makes one wonder about whose will we are talking about, god’s or the ego’s.  Her family’s understandable efforts to cope with her condition by putting a pretty spin on it only trivializes her suffering. And theirs.

 Not Just Faith But Choice

The delusion of the Brown’s view on this aside, the bigger question here is that of choice. The beauty of freedom is that people, including the Browns, can choose to believe in any number of lies to make it through  the day and their lives. And their decision, whether I agree with it or not, is ok.

As long as the Browns do not say to someone else that this is why their child has been blessed with a deformity and death. they can believe in hob goblins as far as I – and reality – are concerned. Sure it is naive and ignorant to attribute any condition onto god, and I mean naive in the sense of immature, unknowing as it relates, but if that is what they need to make it through their lives, who am I, or anyone, to argue with that?

Only that the delusions of religious people are rarely confined to their own personal realm

And therein lies the fundamental problem with letting faith guide your decisions. Religious people place their emotions before their intelligence. The problem is that when people make important decisions based on a fantastical belief system rather than facing unpleasant realities that they’d rather pretend don’t exist, it can leave a lot of collateral damage that affects others. Just look at the recent assault on women’s reproductive rights callously championed by Republicans and conservatives based on their religious beliefs.

The Browns – for better or worse – had a choice with respect to keeping this child alive and caring for it. Ruth Brown could have gotten an abortion, but due to her personal beliefs she decided not to. She had a choice.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the kinds of policies Republicans push for and have partially succeeded in when  it comes to granting women autonomy and the freedom to choose what they believe to be the best decision for them. The Browns were lucky that they were able to make the decision to have their the child without threats and pressure to obtain an abortion.

At the same time, remember that simply becasue it worked for the Browns and was the best decision they could make based on their lives, it does not mean it is the only right and honorable answer. A couple choosing to get an abortion should be able to do so without facing obstacles and judgment and shame just as the Browns. In short, the Brown’s decision to keep the child is not more admirable than the decision of someone else in the same situation to abort it.

In the end, it is all about choice and giving people the freedom to make that choice. In this day and age, it’s a true luxury to have one’s autonomy respected and your choices be your own. I wish lawmakers everywhere would make note of this because nothing diminishes an individual more than stripping them off autonomy.

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