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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

My rights are NOT negotiable

News item from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri Democrat Clay will switch vote, back abortion bill in House

The article begins with:

"Saying Democrats should be more flexible on hot-button social issues, Rep. William Lacy Clay said Tuesday he will switch his vote on a key abortion bill set for a House vote Wednesday that would make it a crime to help a minor evade a state parental notification law.

"Clay, a liberal Democrat from St. Louis, has opposed similar legislation in the past. But he said he would vote in favor of it Wednesday because 'the bill is good' and Democrats need to be more 'sensible' about some of the politically dicey issues that cost them support among rural and conservative voters in the last election.

"'I'm going to follow my church leadership and vote in favor of this bill,' said Clay, who is Roman Catholic."

In just a few short weeks we've gone from Hillary's pandering to the religious reich with her comments on abortion being a national "tragedy" to a buffoon like Clay switching sides to appease the Roman Catholic Church and its ex-Nazi/current pope and suggesting Democrats should be "sensible" on issues like abortion and gay rights.

The article goes on to quote Clay: "We have to start being flexible" on issues such as abortion and gay rights, Clay said. "Now, that's going to alienate some of my constituents in the pro-choice community. But look, it's time we start telling these constituency groups 'Hey, don't be so rigid in your stance and hold us to such a litmus test that it costs us seats. ...'"

After giving Clay's comments thoughtful consideration and a good deal of reflection, I'm prepared to give Clay a response:

Fuck you!

How dare a straight, white male like Clay - who by accident of birth and the random arrangement of some chomosomes is at the top of the privilege heap by virtue of being a straight, while male - suggest that the rights of women and gays are a trifle to be negotiated away! Or toss aside all together because other straight, white males or religious zealots think they know how best to control a woman's body or would rather see two men holding guns than holding hands.

My rights as a gay man to enjoy full and equal participation in society are not subject to negotiation.

A woman's right to make decisions regarding her own body and her personal privacy are not subject to negotiation.

Clay suggests Democrats need to "reframe" some of their core issues. Reframing is a reference to George Lakoff's ideas in the book, Don't Think of an Elephant. In that book, Lakoff says Democrats need to reframe issues to avoid using the language used by Republicans. He suggests reframing the issue of "gay marriage" along the lines of fairness and full equality under law and suggests reframing "abortion" as a woman's right to control her body.

Clay obviously knows only enough about Lakoff's work to throw around a buzzword like "reframing." Unfortunately, when he refers to reframing, the meaning he conveys comes closer to words like "appeasement" and "capitulation."