Saturday, April 29, 2006

Answer Lady/Ranter Lady

Okay, I've been fairly quiet because I wanted some time to recover from my cranky mood. Said mood is not perfect even still, but it better than it was on Tuesday.

Anyway, I was in the midst of writing responses to the very thoughtful people and mischievous scalawags (yes, Tory darlin', that means you) who left me responses to Tuesday's post. But my response was getting too ridiculously long to fit into that little box, so I'm making it a new post.

Disclaimer: I'm still a bit cranky, so in the end, my writing went a little rant-y. Note in advance that nothing I say, or no tone you might read in, is personally related to anyone's specific comment, but just expresses frustration with things in the world in general. All of you who commented rock my universe, and I'll give each of you a full-on tongue bath if I ever see you. So, now, be a dear and put up with this big ol' rant from little ol' me. Kisses all 'round.

I'm going to respond to general themes from the comments, not respond to specific people ('cept in one case, heh heh), since a few people said similar things, or talked on a variety of the same issues. So, on to my commentary.

Comment 1, on "just keep speaking out/using your blog as a forum/voting":
Many of you have said the only thing to do is to keep speaking out, using our blogs, etc. As this is the only solution I currently have, I do continue to do that. However, this doesn't feel like very much anymore. I've been speaking up for years, and things are getting worse. My ability to make my own, informed health (and other) decisions based on medical fact and scientific development are waning, despite myself and even large organizations screaming for people to pay attention.

As I said in my post, identifying the problem is not the same as creating a venue for change, or even a concerted attempt at one. The vast apathy of those who know these things are happening and say, "Just wait it out" or even those who, like me, just keep saying to others "Isn't this awful? Look how awful!" Simply isn't enough. It's a sad but true fact about humans that most people will not act simply because they heard a disquieting fact, even if they disagree strongly with it. Most people are lazy and don't want to think up a solution on their own to combat the problem. They want someone to say, "HERE is the fact, and HERE is what you have to do to change that fact." They wait for their Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, or whom- or whatever. Until then, they all talk to each other about how awful it is and sit around wondering who's going to do something about it. A bunch of us running around just saying "HERE is the problem, LOOK!" may build paranoia and less positive opinion polls, but it doesn't do shit in terms of change.

Ergh, I know my tone sounds like I'm angry at the people who said "just keep talking." I'm not. I'm just frustrated at the general malaise of the people in this country (and everywhere). And frustrated that the only solution that's ever given to me is to write my congressperson.

Comment 2, on religion/conservative religious convictions:
Though not particularly religious myself, I do align myself with a religious group--I am Jewish. I have absolutely no problem with people holding whatever religious convictions they have, and exercising those convictions for THEMSELVES in THEIR daily life, so long as they don't try to put them on me or into my government. This expectation I have for others is the same one I have for myself. I am able to understand my faith is not appropriate governance for others.

I am highly suspicious of any public official (or candidate) who feels the need to emphasize how his or her faith influences his or her political views--whether that person is of another faith than mine, or shares a similar religious faith to mine. This is why I would have never voted for George W. Bush. It is also one of many reasons why I didn't vote for Joseph Lieberman in the Democratic primary he ran in, and was very disappointed when Al Gore chose him as a running mate.

(And just for the record, despite having voted in the Democratic primary, I do not consider myself a Democrat. The state I live in does not require you to register with a particular party and also allows you to vote in any party primary if you want to.)

This country's founders, despite being both religious and mostly all of the same religious faith, understood the vast importance of the need for separation of church and state, and why emphasizing that couldn't just be lip service, but needed to be written in as a basic tenet of our constitution. If they could see it, at a time when religion played a far greater role in daily life than it does for most people now, and when they really didn't have any motivation to notice or be considerate of the needs of the tiny minority of people of other religions that existed in their world, it really ought to be even more evident to people in the modern day, with a greater amount of religious diversity in greater numbers around them.

Comment 3, on Tory:
Tory is a naughty, naughty little scamp of a troublemaker who is quite aware of what he was doing and the reactions he would get when he used the specific words he used, and for this he needs a good spanking. ;-P

Yes, Tory, I could feel you laughing when you wrote the first post. Be cognizant, though, that often for many people tone doesn't come across in print. Though I suspect you're well aware of that, and this is exactly why you wrote it the way you did. Now bend over and drop 'em.

Comment 4, on deceivers and the deceived:
However, Tory's point is well taken about the example I chose to excerpt from the Planned Parenthood action alert. This example was an extreme case, and whether you want to argue that the people who went in the wrong door were "stupid," "naive," "confused," or whatever, the more important point I wanted to make got lost by using that particular example. The real point is that these clinics do use more insidious, less obvious confusion tactics to lure women in, and which would make it hard for anyone to understand the center's agenda walking in the door. The names of the clinics imply they are health care centers, when in fact there are no health care professionals there. They often list themselves in phone books and other resources under faulty headings, like "women's health services" or "abortion services." They often claim to provide a full list of medical services that they do not provide. So, if, for example, you are a young woman with not a lot of experience or money who doesn't want her parents to know she's considering getting birth control or having an abortion or whatever, and you look in the phone book under "women's health" and see a center called something innocuous like "The Women's Center" that says it offers free medical and contraceptive services to women, you might just call that place and think it's legit.

The point is not who got fooled, and if they deserved to be fooled, but the deliberate use of behavior designed to mislead and get women to hear their point of view under false pretenses. If these people want to label themselves as an "abortion alternative center" or whatever, then I have no problem with them existing. Okay, I have a problem with them existing, but I recognize their right to exist. I just don't think they have a right to try to deliberately TRY to fool people with completely false information, even if those people happen to be the types naive enough to fall for it. That's like saying the mastermind behind a pyramid scheme, due to his/her brilliant ability to deceive, and despite breaking the law, shouldn't be prosecuted if he/she gets caught because he/she was smart enough to fool enough people. If being smart enough to fool or harm people invalidates crime, than there is no crime.

There's just simply no validity ever to saying if the person is a GOOD enough liar that someone believes him/her, that this then renders the lie acceptable.

Comment 5, on HPV:
Commenters made a number of both correct and incorrect assertions about HPV. I think I'll do an individual post on this topic, so won't go into great detail now. However, I will point out a couple of misconceptions or unclarified points that were made:
  • The only widely used method for detecting the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer is the PAP test; however, this test does not always effectively detect HPV in women, as HPV can be latent for many years. Any woman who goes for a gynecological appointment gets a Pap. So they would not be "stupidly not asking for the test"--everyone gets one.
  • There is another test that has come out recently that in some cases can confirm pre-cancerous HPV infection. It is not regularly used in examinations. Doctors will usually not conduct this test unless the Pap results come back as irregular, indicating there is a need for further confirmation. See above re effectiveness of Pap as detection. Most women would not ask for this test, because doctors tell them that if the Pap looks okay, there is no need for follow up. Asking for this test would be like randomly asking for a chlamydia test, "just because." Of course, sometimes people will ask for random STD testing, but in general most women--and men--don't ask for it unless they are experiencing symptoms or, if they're responsible types, are about to begin having sex with a new partner. And even if they do take the latter preemptive approach, they certainly don't ask for a new round of testing every time they go to the doctor.
  • Both of these tests for women can only test for infection--the tests can not be used to proactively prevent HPV infection. So whether the woman was "smart" enough to ask for a test or not, all that test can confirm for her is whether she doesn't, may possibly be on the way to having, or has cervical cancer. So, therefore, though many strains of HPV do not cause cancer and may go away on their own, IF a woman takes the test and finds a particular strain of HPV has created cancer in her body, the test is not of much help. Therefore, a vaccination would be the only proactive way to successfully prevent infection. Right now the only potential vaccination that could be available for women is one that must be given pre-infection for it to be effective. In short: the pre-infection vaccination, as of now, would be the ONLY "cure" available--if it were available. Which it is not. Because religious lobbys are affecting the ability of the vaccination to get quickly tested and approved by the FDA.
  • Even if a man wants to be responsible in STD testing, there is no publicly used test for detecting HPV in men. The only way HPV is diagnosed in men is if their lesions or warts are visible to the human eye. Many strains of HPV are not visible to the human eye. As such, many, many men are infected with HPV and have no idea, no symptoms, and no visible signs. Therefore, in most cases there is no reliable way for a woman to verify if her male partner might transmit HPV to her until after the fact. It's a total crapshoot.
  • Penile cancer as a result of HPV is extremely rare. Men are more likely to get anal cancer as a result of HPV. But overall, the dangers of contracting cancer via HPV are far higher for women than for men. (Which, in this blogger's personal, paranoid opinion is one signficant reason that fuck all gets done about this STD in the medical community, and when something does get done that can help, it's so easy for certain groups to try to get it suppressed. If men were getting penile cancer from it in ANY percentage, even a tiny percentage, I think the response to preventing it and finding cures for it would be FAR different, financial pluses or minuses be damned.)
Comment 6, on money, hippies, and voting
  • Money is certainly a prime motivator for policy. But as another commenter pointed out, it is not the only one. Along with Kochanie, I also would like to see the evidence that abortion is a "billion dollar industry." (I have heard other rationales for why it is beneficial for the right-wing to NOT de-legislate abortion, despite always pretending to want to, but I'm not sure I've ever heard that one as being one of them.)
  • I am not a hippie, and I will bitch slap the living daylights out of whomever calls me one (so much for your "peace-and-love" theory, Mr. T)
  • You don't have to be a hippie to hate hypocrisy, stupidity, and extremism
  • I voted

Comment 7, on playing the Nazi card

I knew referring to the "Would you have been a Nazi" test was a danger of diluting my point; I was not specifically trying to call the current administration Nazis, because I also agree that gets people's backs up and nothing gets done. You'll not find anywhere in my post a phrase that in any way says the Bush administration, or right-wing fundamentalists who are trying to control the government are Nazis. You will, however, see me saying that I think right-wing fundamentalists ARE trying to control the government, and that the Bush administration seems disturbingly non-averse to this, which I think is an extremely dangerous thing, and indicative of things that have happened prior to the inception of other scary government regimes.

However, I realize that mentioning the "Would you have been a Nazi" test may have implied that I was saying these people were Nazis. This is not why I mentioned the test. That test was mentioned specifically to make my point about people who might choose to leave the country rather than fight the measures that were being used to change their country and limit their freedom.

And though I will not call anyone a Nazi, I DO feel perfectly fine in pointing out things that are happening that are similar to the political developments, legislative control, and disinformation campaigns that happened at the early stages of (to quote myself) "the Nazi era and other repressive regimes." If the word Nazi is the issue, well then, fine, delete that word. Replace it with fascist or totalitarian or just "other repressive." The one thing we've learned from historical analysis of the rise of these regimes is what the early warning signs were, and the importance of putting those early warning signs together and noticing what is happening EARLY, before it is too late to do anything. I see my civil liberties being taken away in a slow, quiet stream. I see my right to informed, unbiased medical information being taken away. I see my right to have control over my own body, health, choices, and voice to be in grave danger of being taken away. And, though I know this was not implied in the comments, I am not going to be concilliatory about having those things taken from me in any degree.

I don't believe in name-calling. I do believe in the power of calm, rational discussion. But I also believe in saying something when I see extremism beginning to get dangerously indistinguishable from government policy.

It may be true the "other side" sees me as an extremist. They are wrong. An extremist tries to block people's right to express any view or take any action that disagrees with theirs. An extremist tries to legally deny others personal choices and options that do not affect the extremist in any way, except for offending his/her personal religious or moral grounds. An extremist believes in limiting options.

I am not an extremist. My belief is that options, wherever possible, should be as open as possible, for people to exercise as their own lives dictate. I fully support an anti-abortionists right not to have an abortion, and to practice AND preach whatever religion she (or he) feels the need to practice or preach. I expect anti-abortionists to respect my right to have an abortion if I want or need one, and to practice AND preach whatever I feel the need to. And I expect ALL of us to not deliberately subvert and distribute deliberately erroneous public health or education information to serve our own personal agendas.

Comment 8, on Democrats, Republicans, whatever...they're all the same anyway
Okay, first let me indulge myself for a minute, as this thought reminds me of a joke that I heard Jon Stewart say once when I saw him doing the standup in his pre-Daily Show days:
You know, there's really no point in voting anymore. I mean, let's face it, the Democrats and the Republicans are pretty much the same these days.

...Except for the Republicans are evil.

...But other than that, eh, not much difference.

DISCLAIMER: Note this is a JOKE that once made me laugh (and still does), not my personal opinion. No one write me emails or comments saying the problem with the world is people like me who throw around words like "evil" in a political debate. If you need to get that off your chest, by all means, write to Jon Stewart.

Now, onto our regularly scheduled rant.

I understand the impulse that inspires people to make this comment. I hear it all the time. In recent years, the lines on both sides have certainly gotten blurred. Old-school Republicanism is no longer the prime directive of the Republican party. Old-school Democratic liberalism is disappearing from the Democratic party in support of more middle-ground candidates who won't seem "too extreme" to the moderates out there on both sides, and who might pull in more mainstream voters (good god, how I hate that rationale; show some fucking backbone--despite how much I hate the Bush administration, you can never say they don't have some major cojones.)

However, I don't think the statement is quite true. There are certain policy platforms you can still be certain one or the other party is going to keep solidly in their court.

Nonetheless, I don't think when people say this comment they REALLY mean there's no difference between the parties. What they're really saying is they're both letting us down. We're unhappy with how little they are paying attention to the REAL needs of the REAL person-on-the-street. We're sick of how incredibly partisan they've become so that nothing constructive can ever be accomplished. We're tired of all the corruption getting exposed all the time. We're tired of hearing the same old spin bullshit to cover for what's really going on. I think both parties are guilty of all these things. And I think it's no wonder that people are bitter and want to throw up their hands and say, "Who cares? They all suck, anyway."

Which brings me right on back to my original comment in the original post. If we think this is true--that our political options are so limited as to not guarantee us any satisfaction either way, why do we keep saying it and not DOING anything about it. And what should we be doing?

Comment 9, on my brilliant, gorgeous, sexy, luscious readers:
I adore you all. Reading your comments, and watching you engage in discussion with each other instead of only talking straight to me, makes my day. Thanks for being the, smart, expressive, thoughtful, opinionated, exceptional individuals you are. May we always live in a country that allows us to remain so

With all the evol in my heart,


Rant over. Someone c'mere and gimme a massage.


Anonymous Kochanie said...

Miss Syl:
Thank you for this post which clarifies your views of these issues. This post, the Tuesday rant, as well as the related articles you linked to, were excellent.

I will have more to say later, but for now, I agree with your observation about tone to Tory. Unless I am familiar with someone's writing, I will be "tone-deaf" and not recognize hyperbole or irony. When I initially read Tory's comments, I assumed that he was a young man experiencing the long-term effects of harsh toilet training, so I had no intention of adding to his distress. However, since he has been outed as a scalawag, I recommend the following: arrange for his spanking to be a public event, a fundraiser if you will (I'll gladly sell tickets) and Miss Syl et al will donate the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.

4/29/2006 5:11 PM  
Blogger Shon Richards said...

I totally agree with the feelings in point number one. In the bdsm community I am in, I am always stunned by how many of them vote against their interests. They like being ignorant, and they like not having to really notice the horrors around them. I wish there was a way to enlighten them but in the meantime I take some small solace in being there to educate them when they want to be.

Anyhoo, I really enjoy your posts and I take comfort from knowing someone out there is thinking like me :)

4/29/2006 8:29 PM  
Blogger spcknght said...

Warming the massage oil up now. It's the least I can do for someone who's far less soul-weary than I am who isn't afraid to take up the fight for sanity and human decency.

4/29/2006 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Tory said...

now that my narcissitic need has been fed, i can better enjoy the day. thank you all.

Just because you are cranky doesnt mean you shouldnt blog. It would be another perspective and that my dear is refreshing in itself.

Me know what i am doing? no, i am just some dumb schmuck. i think you are giving me to much credit. Spanking huh? where is the compassion when my ass is literally on the line? screw it, i will try anything once and twice if i like it. I dont know about that whole audience thing though. maybe we could just video tape it and sell the video.

I hear what you are saying about the whole fake clinic thing. I just simply have a hustler's mentality. I can appreciate the act of trickery and find it even a little amusing. Stupidity only has one thing to give to the world and this is entertainment.

The hippie comment was directed towards you Syl but rather the hippies who didnt vote. Plus i was in need of a clincher and i remembered seeing that line on a shirt. I thought it fit quite well.

I looked around for the abortion figures. It seems the real number is closer to 400 million rather than a billion. I shot from the hip and missed. it happens.

Kochanie, you are a regular dr. phil. with that kind of crap theory you are bound to have your own tv show too. I will have you know I potty trained myself. One day I saw my pops pissing. Thought to myself, seems easy enough. Got on my tippy toes and pissed all over the front of the toilet bowl and back of the seat. self taught, among other things.

I would also like to point out my first comment on your blog Syl. It will seem more and more fitting.

4/29/2006 9:52 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

I expect anti-abortionists to respect my right to have an abortion if I want or need one, and to practice AND preach whatever I feel the need to.

You're never going to get this in your lifetime, because life, indeed the everyday world is complex and if you keep on expecting this, you'll only be walking from one disappointment to the next. That's all I'll say on the matter.

4/29/2006 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Kochanie said...

The remark about the toilet training was my attempt at humor, which I think you already know, being the resourceful auto-didact that you are.

Thanks for the verifying the statistics. (source?).

I have no interest in having my own tv show, since I don't watch tv. I would prefer to read Miss Syl's blog and engage in repartee with you.

4/30/2006 1:25 AM  
Anonymous Tory said...

I would just like to say WOW. that other post above this one was real and intimate.

now, i found this blog that stated that abortions were around 2 billion a year but she didnt cite anything.

This website NRLC is where i got the 400 million from.

I dont have a witty come back Kochanie. It is 530 in the morning me head is pounding from getting in a brawl and drinking excessively. manana i will demoralize you. until then.

4/30/2006 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Kochanie said...


Thank you for the sources for the statistics.

It is 530 in the morning me head is pounding from getting in a brawl and drinking excessively.

If you had a head injury, get thee to an emergency room. Go! If it's only a hangover, hope it's short-lived.

4/30/2006 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Tory said...

Last night was awesome. The head injury wasnt anything but some golf ball pop knots on the back of my head. When it is 4 on 10 you are bound to take some shots in the back of the head. They were all a bunch of vaginas though. Me and 3 of my friends rolled up 10 guys while another 10 of their friends just stood and watched.

What a great night. the best part was when i was on top of this guy pounding his face in. There was so much blood the guy yelled out "I got stabbed." I had to actually stop mid punch in a drunken blur and look in my hand to remember if I had a knife or not. Nope just a good fashion fist. lol. good times.

And round 2 in next weekend. so i should have an even better story then.

4/30/2006 3:44 PM  

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