Many of you will remember instances in the past of your elected representatives saying some completely ridiculous things, while simultaneously advocating the limit or removal of your rights as a citizen (the source of the power they’re wielding against you). I’ll give a few specific examples:
1. A Series of Tubes
Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), while arguing 10 years ago against Net Neutrality (which recently seems to have finally passed in a meaningful way, after a decade of massive citizen outcry in favor of it) famously referred to the internet as a series of tubes. Here is the relevant quote.
“…They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.”
So while what he said isn’t technically inaccurate, it is an extremely hamfisted way of explaining a subject he was very much in charge of regulating, and he was widely derided for it. The comparison to “a big truck” really pushed it over the edge, and I’d be tempted to feel bad for the guy if he hadn’t been simultaneously trying to quite literally sell out the internet and the rest of us with it, so fuck him.
2. Duck Vaginas? That’s My Best Guess
As many of you will recall, 4 years ago Todd Akin(R-Missouri) made a single public statement that solidified two things:
1. That he knows nothing about his wife’s wedding tackle,
2. Using the qualification “legitimate rape” is a bad idea.
“If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down”
He implied that one needed to make sure the rape in question is indeed legitimate, which of course is a backhanded way of qualifying everything you’re saying with “But this might all be nonsense, because some women falsely accuse men of rape”. Clearly that’s a shitty thing to say, even moreso when you’re a lawmaker and this is a major issue for many of your constituents.
Beyond that though, is his hilariously erroneous claim that a human woman can manipulate herself in some mechanical, or possibly chemical fashion during, or immediately following the trauma of a sexual assault to reject the offending sperm. What’s even more hilarious is that he’s right about it, but only if we’re talking about most species of duck. Ducks, due to various evolutionary pressures, are aggressive rapists, and the females have evolved vaginal canals with many different potential endpoints, all but one of which are a dead end. So they actually can contract certain muscles and defeat unwanted fertilization. Neat, huh?
This isn’t limited to Republican Congressmen, by the way. We hear Democrats making total asses of themselves on a regular basis, particularly about guns, because all they need to know about guns to get votes, is that they’re bad. Carolyn McCarthy (D-New York) is famous for her embarrassing ignorance on the subject, despite being a major driver behind the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007.
The bill proposed to ban many features of “Assault weapons” including barrel shrouds. During an MSNBC interview, she was asked three times to explain to what exactly a barrel shroud is, and why it should be regulated, before she finally gave a straight answer and admitted that she had absolutely no idea what it was. Better yet, she then gave a surprisingly worse answer, “…I believe it’s a shoulder thing that goes up” which solidified her position in gun control ignorance history. What business have you threatening to imprison people over something you can’t even identify? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ospNRk2uM3U) For the record, a barrel shroud is a safety device that keeps you from burning your support hand, not a “shoulder thing”, and it’s immobile, so it definitely cannot “go up”. It’s not a “gotcha” moment so much as an illustration of how absurd the lawmaking process is in this country.
So did Rep. Aikin confuse human vaginas with duck vaginas? Was Ted Stevens repeating a description of the internet that some poor staffer had to dumb down for him? Did McCarthy have any idea what *any* of the things she was trying to regulate were, or what purpose they served on a firearm? We will never really know, but my point in all this is that when someone elected to a position of power and authority over you makes it clear they don’t have a single fucking clue of what they’re talking about, to the extreme that they begin talking about duck sex on accident, their opinion isn’t worth listening to, let alone valid.
Lastly, I’ll note that recently we saw a popular cry of “No vagina, no vote” regarding women's health issues. I personally agreed with this position 100%. If you cannot be affected by a proposed piece of medical legislation for the opposite gender, and are functionally ignorant on the topic, you clearly have no business telling a woman what to do with her reproductive organs, let alone a duck.
So the next time you hear people talking about Assault Weapons, ask them to define that term, because it’s got a different definition in almost every piece of legislation regulating them. Sometimes it includes handguns, sometimes it doesn’t. Bayonet lugs? 30 round magazines? Does the stock fold? Do they even know what they’re talking about? Do you? Are you informed enough to have a worthwhile opinion, or are you just repeating things you’ve heard that fit your preconceptions?
If you don’t know anything about guns, and won’t be personally impacted by legislation controlling them because you don’t want to own any, do you even deserve a voice in this debate? These often confusing, poorly worded, and contradictory laws written by people who can’t even explain them can put a person in jail for 10+ years. When life-destroying penalties are on the line, yes it’s incredibly important to have a functional level of subject matter education. When you advocate for laws restricting freedom, whether it’s to regulate tubes, vaginas, or guns, and you can’t actually determine what effects, if any, they will have, you are part of the problem. Information is free! Ask a friend, read a book, or take a class. If you want to make a change in the world, make sure it’s going to do what you think it will, rather than hoping your elected officials aren’t idiots, because I think we can all agree that that’s a losing bet.