Sunday, March 18, 2012

So Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya'

As I write this posting, I have 324 friends on Facebook. But, considering it's an election year, and I tend to be quite open with my strong opinions on things political, the folks over at the Pew Internet Project would like to warn me that I can expect to have only 262 Facebook friends by November 7.

That's because 9% of users of social networking sites "have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone because they posted something about politics or issues that the user disagreed with or found offensive," and another 10% of those on Twitter and Facebook, "have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone because they post too frequently on politics."

I don't believe I would ever fall into the second group; de-friending just because the person likes to talk about politics. I would also never de-friend simply because I disagree with the person's politics. If that were true, I'd have long ago dumped several of my Facebook circle who post daily reminders of why they're voting for Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul. (Thankfully, I don't have any Rick Santorum voters in my circles. Or, maybe I did, but they already dumped my liberal ass? More likely, they're just too embarrassed to admit who they're voting for in public.)

Actually, I quite like seeing posts on my newsfeed from all over the political spectrum. I enjoy reading things from different points of view, even when I find them dangerously stupid. Of course, I try to be polite in my commenting, and not just come right out and tell them they're being stupid. And I'm usually successful at that.

And then there have been times when I'm afraid I've gone too far in my commenting, and been surprised when the person was still on my friends list the next morning. I'd like to take this moment here to thank them for that (you know who you are).

But the "found offensive" thing... I'd like to say that I'm not easily offended, and that I have a high tolerance for questionable humor. But there are some areas where I have to draw the line.

If I find your ideas politically offensive (see example)  I will argue with you, but I will not be the one to click the "unfriend" button. I will also remain your friend, no matter how pious, self-righteous, and pig-headed you are in declaring your beliefs to be morally, ethically, or intellectually superior to mine (I've done a bit of grandstanding myself, this post included).

But, if you resort to overt racism or sexism or other hate speech to try and make your point, where you have no legitimate point to begin with, I will remove you from my view. That's it. You've been warned.

Now, the Pew study has a bright side too. Although I may lose up to 19% of my friends for either being too political (10%), or just not the right type of political (9%), they also point out that 16% of users have "followed or friended someone because that person shared the user’s political views."

So, my net loss may only be 3%, dropping me from 324 to 314. But it will be a much more civilized and intelligent 314. I'm looking forward to that.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Rush Still Doesn't Get It

Thanks to pressure from a few Republican leaders and the loss of at least half-a-dozen sponsors, Rush Limbaugh has issued an apology to Sandra Fluke for calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute." And, in that apology, manages to once again ignore the point of her testimony before Congress, lie about the purpose of the hearing, and make her out to be a self-absorbed sexual adventurer.

"I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke," Rush's apology states, after three days of on-air attacks that included the above remarks, as well as repeatedly stating that she is "having so much sex she can't pay for her birth control," and suggesting that if she's going to force others to pay for her sexual activities she should videotape them and post them online for us all to see.

The "apology" continues:
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.
A few points for those who may be tempted to agree with the above statements, or anything else Rush has said on the topic:
  • Ms. Fluke's testimony had nothing whatsoever to do with her sex life. She was speaking on behalf of a friend who lost an ovary. The friend had been prescribed birth control pills to help control ovarian cysts, but because her health insurance did not cover "contraception" she could not take the medication, and she lost the ovary. Yes, "birth control" is prescribed for a number of reasons beyond the desire for "guiltless sex."
  • The hearing was not about whether or not American citizens should pay for the "sexual recreation" of others. The topic before Congress last week was whether or not private employers should be allowed "moral exemptions" from new requirements that birth control be included under preventive health care coverage. As stated, this is not about "sexual recreation," it's about family planning and access to prescriptions for a number of health concerns.
  • Rush repeatedly suggested that if somebody has trouble affording birth control pills, it must be related to the amount of sexual activity they are having. I have trouble believing that a man over 60, who has had four wives, does not know how the pill works, but one takes the same number of pills, regardless of how often they have sex, or how many partners they have, or whether they are a single college student or a married person.
This non-apology may appease a few of his advertisers and take the heat off Republican leaders to call him out, but it perpetuates the misinformation that was behind his insulting, sexist tirades.

Insurance that includes contraception adds no additional cost to the premium, and may actually reduce premiums. Insurance is all about risk, and insurers prefer a known, relatively low cost to the risk of a much higher cost. In other words, paying for birth control pills at about $900-1,200/year is better for the insurance company than the risk of paying for a pregnancy, including prenatal check-ups, hospital delivery, risks of complications... (a minimum of $10,000+).

And let's not forget that most pregnancies end by adding a new dependent to the policy; a new dependent who will require much expensive attention in those first few years. Contraception is a bargain to insurance companies compared to the risk of pregnancy.

It's not the insurance industry that's trying to get contraception removed from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. It's religious zealots and right wing clowns like Rush, who have to resort to misrepresentation, insults, and outright lies to score political points. Apology not accepted.

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