Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fact-Free Texas

The inimitable Gail Collins writes about abortion and the reproductive rights debate in Texas and how untethered from the world of evidence and reasonableness the anti-abortion forces in the Lonestar State have become. The experience of one State Legislator, Mike Villarreal, is instructive. When he proposed that information communicated under the State's abstinence-only sex education program be medically accurate, his suggestion failed to progress to the full legislature when a pediatrician, who represented the swing vote, said no.

This is what Collins refers to as the fact-free zone. She adds that "We’re currently stuck with a politics of reproduction in which emotion is so strong that actual information becomes irrelevant." Her best example: Senator Cornyn's apparent endorsement of Senator Kyl's staff follow-up to his remark that nine-tenths of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions. When this claim was shown to be utterly baseless, Kyl's staff answered that the Senator never intended to make "a factual statement." Senator Cornyn, for his part, who had a chance to denounce such anti-intellectual claptrap, defended Senator Kyl and asserted that he wasn't so sure his colleague had "screwed up."

Which means what exactly? That in spite of all the factual evidence, we should perpetuate lies so that ignorant people will continue to believe them? Remind you of anything? Like maybe the 25% of the population that continues to think, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Mr. Obama was born somewhere other than Hawaii?

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