Thursday, March 15, 2012

Freedom of religion

A quick note on rhetoric.

The US Conference of Bishops issued a statement: “This dispute is not about access to contraceptives but about the government’s forcing the church to provide them.” Similarly, Darrell Issa, when refusing to let Sandra Fluke testify, said his hearing was “not about reproductive rights but instead about the administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience”. Really, guys, this is not even a little bit about contraception and reproductive rights? We’re pretending that the actual content of this so-called freedom of religion is not relevant? That’s like saying that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery because it was about states’ rights. They could make the claim that the freedom of religion of Catholics not to be involved with anything they find icky trumps the right of women to control their bodies, but they don’t do that; they insist that “freedom of religion” is the only issue under discussion here. As a rhetorical device, it’s similar to the refusal of many social conservatives to talk about gay marriage when objecting to gay marriage. Instead, it’s all about “preserving traditional marriage,” as they try to marginalize gays even from the discussion of gay marriage.

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