It is fairly common that a mass email will reach me like the one below. This one was a list of things (perceived contradictions in policy) that concluded, if they were true, that “you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.”
I’m sure that there are some idiots in government, but the laundry list of reasons documented in the email fail to make any real points. These kinds of things circulate en masse and I imagine that it’s because they strike a chord with many citizens who feel that it represents what is wrong with America, but, false rhetoric is not a true platform.
Before I bloviate too much here myself, I’d like to address each of the statements in this email. I give part of the statements and then offer my response to each.
1) “…you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally…”
There is this thing about being a free nation that operates contrary to fascism and implies that we don’t have to carry citizenship papers wherever we go within our borders. Or are we going to designate only certain ethnicities? Can I assume that Scandinavian looking people will be exempt?
Illegal immigrants, when caught, are arrested, charged and deported. If they continue to immigrate illegally they can face up to 7 years in prison. But, because this is a country where some founding fathers thought that impartial justice would be a good idea, illegal immigrants still retain Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure and Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.
2) “…you have to get your parent’s permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion…”
Most states require one of two types of parental involvement– consent or notification, or both. 35 states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion, with 22 demanding consent. Based on a national study, 61% of young women voluntarily notified at least one parent when seeking an abortion; those who do not are often the victims of sexual abuse, incest or domestic violence. Among those that chose not to inform their parents or guardians, all chose to consult an adult.
Studies from “Pediatricians for Reproductive Choice and Health” also indicate that parental consent laws do not reduce the rate of unwanted teen pregnancies, nor do they deter determined young women from seeking abortion, and they can increase the number of second trimester and illegal abortions by deterring pregnant teens from seeking safe, timely abortion. (For example, after a parental notification law was passed in Minnesota, second trimester abortions increased by 27%).
This is an emotional subject and I am not making a political statement here; I am seeking to clarify a reality that contradicts the email.
3) “…you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check…buy liquor…but NOT when you go to vote…”
These are completely different issues. We show an ID on a plane to verify that we are the holder of the ticket for security reasons. Not that long ago, it wasn’t required. ID to buy liquor is to confirm that you are old enough.
Boarding airplanes and buying liquor, however, are not rights guaranteed by our citizenship, as is the right to vote. Without the requirement of proof of age, would anyone like to guess how many minors would purchase alcohol illegally? Too many.
Who would like to get on a plane these days not knowing if the person next to you is the person who bought the ticket? I wouldn’t. Would anyone like to guess the percentage of documented voter fraud? It’s .0002%. Not really worth the trouble and cost to create and enforce voter identification.
So…what is voter ID really about? Well, I’ll leave that for another post.
4) “…the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines…but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the new crazy leaders in Egypt…”
This one would make me laugh if I didn’t know that to many people it’s a “right on!” statement. The answer is pretty simple: Gun regulations are designed to discourage citizens who are NOT stable and law abiding. And if gun magazines over 10 rounds are not sufficient force for you, then perhaps, you aren’t the “stable, law abiding citizen” you think you are.
This is not a foreign policy post, but, like it or not, Egypt is a strategic ally, and after the transition to democracy during the Arab Spring, the strategic importance of Egypt is even more relevant. For the record, the Bush Administration gave $2 billion annually to Egypt, more than half of which went to their military. There is a long history of US aid to Egypt, especially since Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat (1970-81). In fact, they are second, only to Israel, in the receipt of American aid.
5) “…an 80 year old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA, but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched…”
This one is too ludicrous to spend a whole lot of time on. First of all the woman in the hijab went through an X-Ray just like everyone else. The case where an “80 year old woman” was searched at JFK was because she was observed to have an unusual bump under her dress.
Unfortunate and embarrassing to be sure, but not a double standard. Muslim women in hijabs are patted down or searched, if necessary, just like everyone else.
I offer this article to clarify the myth: http://www.examiner.com/article/are-muslim-women-exempt-from-screening-other-tsa-myths
6) “…a 7 year old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is ‘cute’ but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable…”
I must have missed Sexual Exploration and Diversity class in Grade School. There were Sex Education classes at my High School that were designed to teach puberty-busting teenagers responsibility, and understanding of the most basic and fundamental part of being human.
As for a boy being thrown out of school for calling his teacher “cute”….I don’t know if that’s a true story, but I will assume that it is. I think that’s ludicrous, if it happened, but if it did, it was the result of our societal awareness of appropriate behavior, and perhaps, in this case, a school thought a lesson was to be learned. What it isn’t is a rational comparison to reveal loose standards regarding sex education.
The final entry in this already too long email diatribe was:
7) “If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to incentivize them NOT to work with 99 weeks of unemployment checks….you might be in a country run by idiots!”
In 2008, the United States was mired in what was a bottomless recession. Unemployment from that recession grew 2.3% from the end of 2007 to 2008 and steadily rose until it hit its ceiling in October of 2009 at 10%. The extension (up to 99 weeks) occurred in November of 2009 at the peak of unemployment and can be directly associated with creating sustenance and extending opportunities for out of work families to find jobs. The unemployment rate has been dropping since.
In summary…the email that circulated was, as are many documents, websites, blogs, and news channels, an erroneous collection of shortsighted, incomplete, and dangerous pseudo-facts, that do nothing to improve our arguments or our legislation. They serve only to fan the flames of political bias, obstinacy, and ignorance, and are contrary to progress.