None Of Us Are Perfect

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard those words. When I worked in prisons, both with youth and adult offenders, medium and maximum security, every single time I had to discipline an inmate who got out of line would say that to me. It has become the mantra of criminals the world over: the Bible says we’re all sinners, so you are no more perfect than I am, motherf**ker.

Reading through the last statements of death row inmates before they were executed by the State of Texas, the trend of “you’re not perfect, so don’t you dare judge me” continues. Many try to say that their death, even when they admit to their crimes, is wrong.

In my experience, those are the last fighting words of dying men and women hoping to be spared at the last second.

It’s human nature to want to live. That’s why suicide has such a stigma surrounding it. Every species on this planet does what they can to survive. Human beings are no different. The big difference between people and animals is that we have a conscience. We can make our own decisions. We do not go out into public and randomly murder other people because it’s in our nature to do so; we are taught early that stealing, hurting, and committing murder are wrong. Even if we’re not taught these things at home, it’s in the culture. We know that it’s not acceptable.

So when convicts – from the lowliest white-collar criminal who knows no violence to the monster who kills five people and then blames it on his hatred for another race – look you in the eye and tell you, “none of us are perfect,” they are lying by omission. They lie just as much to themselves as they do to you.

They lie by casting the spotlight away from themselves. They lie by pointing a finger at you so they don’t have to take responsibility for their own actions. They lie by belittling their crimes and the impact those crimes had on the victims (and, in murder cases, those left behind by their victims). They do it as easily as one would speak their own name; for sociopaths and psychopaths it is always easy, but for convicts who have a conscience and simply choose to ignore it, lying in this manner assuages their guilt for a short while. Eventually it doesn’t bother them at all.

I can’t work in corrections anymore because I don’t have the patience for that lie. I’ve been asked to come back – I simply won’t. Convicts are convicts whether they’re in Texas or Arizona, California or Maine. As I watch certain trials play out in the media, I can tell by watching the accused whether they’re guilty or innocent. You can see it in the way they respond and how the witnesses describe their responses in the days after their arrest.

We live in a culture that claims to want both justice and mercy. Liberals scream that the death penalty needs to be stopped, yet the same people who are against the death penalty are okay with abortions after the second trimester – and they set up websites and threads calling for men like George Zimmerman to be killed, whether he’s found guilty or acquitted. The media reports certain crimes in certain ways to get a lot of attention. Others, they practically ignore…then when the accused in those cases face the death chamber, they call for clemency, right after climbing down from their soapbox where they passionately cried for justice against an innocent soul.

This is what happens when we let our emotions rule us unchecked. It is compounded when there is a lack of education. In a day and age when the average twentysomething has developed the attention span of a gnat and a fantastic ability to process stories no longer than the average Twitter post, it’s not surprising. It is embarrassing, though, that this is what my country has become. I’m aware that none of us are perfect. That is not an excuse to behave like an animal, even if the atheists among us would have you believe that’s all you are.

Strategy

It never ceases to amaze me how many conservatives don’t understand political strategy.

I recently wrote a post about the outrageous assertions by Democrats in the Texas legislature that a GOP-led bill to place new restrictions on abortion. In it, I detailed the process of reporting a rape and how it is investigated. I said that once a forensic nurse finishes her exam, the victim is given several prescriptions, one of them for the morning-after pill. This process tells the truth about the Democrat claims that SB5 would “virtually ban” abortion in Texas because the GOP refused to add an exception for cases of rape and incest. Whether by ignorance or on purpose, Democrats preyed heavily on the emotions of those who believe women should have the right to have an abortion if they are raped. The claim was outrageous on its face, but the GOP missed a crucial opportunity.

The Texas GOP adamantly refused to add exceptions to the bill for instances of rape and incest. As previously mentioned, the argument falls flat when you know what really happens, but that matters none. A lie, repeated often enough, becomes truth – and the Democrats had not only their followers but those on the fence and the independent voters in their pocket as well because they kept beating the same drum over and over again.

They had an opportunity to shut them up by adding such exceptions. SB5’s author, Jodie Laubenberg, made a major faux pas when she claimed that a rape kit contained a procedure that would “clean you out”, thus avoiding pregnancy – while on the right track, she was still off the mark and the mistake was an embarrassing one. The Democrats ended up using it in their favor. Wendy Davis, representing the Fort Worth area, announced, planned, and carried out an 11-hour filibuster to avoid the vote taking place before the end of the special session.

Even people I know who are more conservative than anything else in their political views held up her actions as nothing short of heroic. They didn’t know the truth about her claims, but they knew what she and Senfronia Thompson were claiming. This bill wouldn’t have come anywhere close to “virtually banning” abortion in Texas, but the Democrats led everyone to believe it, all because the GOP refused to budge on the issue of making exceptions for rape and incest in the bill.

Will the bill pass in the next special session? As long as Wendy Davis doesn’t hold out for another 11 hours, it likely will. It is absolutely criminal that the Democrats in Texas are so ardently against a bill that would enact stringent requirements for abortion clinics, safety measures that are badly needed. They wailed and moaned about an abortion ban forcing women to choose unsafe methods for terminating pregnancies, but none of them are willing to face the reality that a lot of abortion clinics are already very unsafe – with unsanitary conditions, unsterilized instruments and untrained staff that are acceptable because there are almost no requirements at all for abortion clinics. The Democrats, however, will oppose any such bill on principle alone because they can’t stand the idea of there being any limits on what they call “a woman’s right to choose.”

What the GOP did in their stalwart refusal, however, is far worse than just stand their ground. They couldn’t properly articulate their stance on the rape exception and as a result fell flat on their collective face. In so doing they gift-wrapped an amazing opportunity and practically hand-delivered it to Wendy Davis.

Davis has ambition to go much further than the State Senate. With this moment in her pocket, she stands a very good chance of one day landing a stint as governor. That’s not something I’m sure I want to live with. The conservatives in Texas seem to think that their majority can never be broken. Conservatives in Colorado once believed the same thing, and now their state has passed among the toughest gun control laws in the country. In short, the Texas GOP set her up for future victory. All because they can’t stand the thought of giving an inch of ground in one simple battle.

Was the Democrat argument silly? Yes. Were they wrong in their claims? Yes. Those two facts have not stopped the Democrats from gaining a foothold, however small it may be. Fellow conservatives from my home state are mad at me right now, calling me an “underground moderate” and telling me, “we’re conservatives, Mel. We don’t play games.” Unfortunately, the liberals in this case ARE playing games. Because they’re better at strategizing, they’re winning that game.

Adding an exception wouldn’t have been appeasement. It wouldn’t have even been the “moderate” thing to do. It would have taken the wind out of the Democrats’ sails. Now, if the bill doesn’t pass in the next special session without making that exception, it will still be seen as a loss. They have no choice but to make certain they pass it as is. As time goes on, Wendy Davis will be waiting for the next moment of stubborn weakness so she can play the game some more. The GOP needs to learn how to play this game or we’ll all be sent home.

This Isn’t What You Think It Is

My home state, Texas, is currently considering a major abortion bill. It passed the State House overwhelmingly yesterday and is being voted on by the State Senate as I type. The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks – it would also require abortion clinics to be licensed surgical centers.

I don’t see a problem with this. 20 weeks is five months – a fetus born after only five months’ gestation would have a tough time surviving and need delicate care for a few weeks in a NICU, but it is still a viable fetus. It is still a life. I have a serious problem with the ease with which anyone can get an abortion – rather than using it as a last resort, it is used as birth control. That should never have been acceptable. Never mind adoption or the fact that most states allow you to give up a baby safely within a certain period of time after it is born without having to fear criminal reprisal.

As for the requirement that all abortion clinics obtain certification as surgical centers, I believe this is extremely important. Not having such a requirement leaves women vulnerable to unsanitary conditions and unsafe practices. One already has to be a licensed doctor to practice in an abortion clinic, but there are doctors like Kermit Gosnell lurking in every state – animals willing to hire untrained medical techs in lieu of nurses and won’t hire a cleaning staff, won’t use sterilized instruments, and engages in peddling narcotic analgesics (and allowing the staff to do so as well) to make a little extra money. Those types of people tend to prey on the poor and often operate in neighborhoods full of uneducated minorities who are desperate to avoid having a child.

Nearly half of all states have had to raid and close abortion clinics within their borders, but you don’t hear about them on the news. Why? Abortion-rights advocates don’t want the truth getting out. Before the Texas House debate on the current bill, Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) gave an impassioned speech against the bill, asking, “do you wanna return back to the coat hanger? Or do you wanna give them an option to be able to terminate their pregnancy because they have been raped?”

Mrs. Thompson completely skips over reality with her statement. She, like many liberals, uses hysteria and misinformation to drum up opposition for the bill. She also completely ignores the fact that using a coat hanger is actually probably safer than going to a clinic like the one run by Kermit Gosnell; a woman is far less likely to end up with MRSA that way.

The way nearly every major municipality in America works, when you are raped, the first thing you should do – whether or not you require immediate medical attention – is call 911. Don’t call your friends or your parents, you should call 911, tell the dispatcher where you are, tell them you’ve been raped and they will send police and paramedics. Don’t eat or drink anything, don’t shower, don’t brush your hair – if you must, wrap yourself in a blanket, but don’t discard your clothing. Don’t allow anyone to touch you. If you do require medical attention for life-threatening injuries, you’ll go to the hospital and a forensic nurse will meet you there. If your injuries are not life-threatening, you’ll go to a family advocacy center or something similar; a police officer will have to stay with you at all times. A forensic nurse will collect what is famously referred to as a “rape kit” – it is a pre-packaged kit that directs the collection of vital evidence (like bodily fluids containing DNA) and take pictures of your injuries (cameras can often capture injuries that the naked eye cannot). When the exam is over, the nurse will give you a packet of information on getting tested for HIV and other STDs along with prescriptions for several drugs that will help ward off the initial symptoms of any STDs your attacker may have had.

Among those prescriptions will be one for the morning-after pill. It will be your decision whether to take it. A rape kit is not meant to be paid for by you, nor are the prescriptions.

What happens following a rape is fairly simple. It’s easy to obtain a morning-after pill and I have no problem with that in cases of rape and incest. A coat hanger is a solution that would not become a viable one until at least 12 weeks following a rape. Generally, victims have time to do something well before that point. Unless you’re being held captive by your attacker, there is no excuse not to report a rape and get help to make sure you’re taken care of.

And, quite contrary to what shills like Senfronia Thompson would have you believe, the overwhelming majority of women trying to get an abortion at a clinic aren’t there because they were raped. They’re there because of their own choices. They don’t want to live with the consequences of their own actions. They either didn’t have enough respect for themselves to say no or they knew how easy it was to get an abortion and decided to have a night of fun because it felt good at the moment. Our prisons are full of men and women who did things for the latter reason, yet we allow abortions for this reason. We turn around and dress it up as “a woman’s right to choose”.

I’m sorry, but you made your choice when you jumped into the back seat of your lover’s car and went to town. If THAT was your choice, then there should be another consequence that doesn’t involve ending a life. Since I’m certain that abortion will never be illegal again in the modern age, I think it’s important to have limits on it and require “providers” (if that’s what you can call them) to keep a sanitary, safe environment for their “patients”. The fact that anyone can excuse opposing those kinds of common-sense rules is appalling to me.

I am aware of what Rep. Jodie Laubenberg said in defense of the bill. Yes, she actually did say that a rape kit performed in an ER would “clean you out”. That is incorrect, and I’m not willing to excuse her ignorance on the subject – she is not, however, anywhere near as ignorant as Todd Akin was (he was unforgivably stupid and he was rightly called out by most of the very embarrassed GOP). I am also not willing to call her completely stupid about it. She was on the right track even if she wasn’t prepared to properly articulate the reason for the bill. Yes, I wish she had been a little more educated on the subject, but she is not anywhere near the same ball park as Akin.