Thursday, February 2, 2012

Komen v. Planned Parenthood: Unintended Consequences


Of course the Susan G. Komen v. Planned Parenthood situation has become a battle of morality. That was bound to happen. On Facebook, the exchanges begin normally but then quickly turn to things such as "didn't you know that Planned Parenthood's founder believed in eugenics?" Yep, it's true. You can look it up on Wikipedia. Now, if I could just find out the email address for the Planned Parenthood Department of Eugenics, I'd send them a wicked nasty email. Those monsters!

I think what we all need to do is to stop writing back to things on Facebook and instead wait for the cooler heads of our nation to deal with this situation. Of course I'm talking about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. If ever there was a time when we needed these heroes, it is now. There is absolutely no room left in this discussion for serious or impassioned rhetoric. What we need is ball-busting, irony, and sarcasm. They are the only lights that can lead us through the darkness.

Until those lights come on (around 11pm Eastern) we will have to muddle through on the mere facts of the situation. Komen has withdrawn funding because they believe that abortions are bad and because Planned Parenthood is the face of abortions in this country. They are trying to cover this up now that the funding situation has proven to be so impressively bad for them. The PR people at Komen must be going nutty right about now trying to figure out a way to turn this thing around. The problem is that they can't. The leadership of the organization is largely right-wing pro-life folks who don't give a rat's ass about much of anything other than sticking it to Planned Parenthood and then sticking to their guns.

Reminds me of a line Colbert used to describe President Bush. He believes on Wednesday whatever he believed on Monday no matter what happened on Tuesday. These folks believe what they believe and that's all that they believe and there's no changing them even if the world isn't flat.

But like Colbert and his SuperPAC, it turns out that extreme moves by the right are turning into dollars for the left. Planned Parenthood received a $250,000 investment yesterday from a Texas philanthropist. Mayor Bloomberg guaranteed matching funds up to a quarter of a million dollars today. And people have been flooding the organization with donations for two days straight. It looks as though Komen's withdrawl of funding should net Planned Parenthood at least a million dollars this year. So it goes.

All of this is, for me a reminder of the laws of unintended consequences which is to say that we really have no idea what is going to happen when we do things. The Komen foundation's motivations are whatever they are and don't really matter to me. One consequence of their move, however, is that I became actively involved with Planned Parenthood for the first time in my life. I mean, I've always supported them in the way people support the troops by putting a bumper sticker on their car, but that kind of support doesn't mean anything. Now, today, because of Susan G. Komen, I'm informed about Planned Parenthood, financially invested in it, and supporting it on social media and through writings like this and yesterday's post.

It's unlikely that the board at Komen considered that they were basically setting up a Planned Parenthood pledge drive, but that's exactly what they have done. Planned Parenthood ought to send them a thank you note.

I'm thinking about consequences in my own life over the things I say and do. I can be pretty snarky on social media and I have, in the past, been very sarcastic in the classroom. I've learned the ill effects of sarcasm in the classroom and I'm trying to learn to be just a tad more compassionate online. Mostly though, I'm trying to think about the people who are pro-life as carefully as I consider the people who are pro-choice. It's not easy for me to do. I want to demonize the other side. That makes my life simpler and clearer cut. But they aren't evil people as a whole. Sure, some of them are nasty sons of bitches, but then so are some of the people sharing my beliefs.

It's a more interesting world when I consider that there are others in it besides me, that they have some good ideas even if I don't believe in them, and that I can listen and accept them as people even as I might reject their views. I don't have any reason to hate or villify people just because they come down on one side of an issue and I come down on the other. The consequences of me hating them are too difficult to predict and would likely bite me in the ass. So I might as well play nice.

Write on.