Paul Ryan: Rape Is A “Method Of Conception”
GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan made controversial comments about rape and abortion last week, which are just now getting national attention. Discussing embattled Senate candiadate Rep. Todd Akin with a Missouri news outlet, Ryan was asked if abortion should be legal in cases of rape. He responded:
“I’m very proud of my pro-life record, and I’ve always adopted the idea, the position, that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”
He then went on to say that Mitt Romney would of course have the final word on policy in a Romney administration.
However, due to the manner of the story’s reporting, this has turned into an examination of the media more than a criticism of Ryan. The Huffington Post’s Paul Slansky gave the story its first wider coverage, excoriating the major news outlets for passing over it:
There could be no greater testament to the utter abdication of responsibility by what passes for a “news” media in America in 2012 than that, despite the grotesquerie of this cavalierly callous comment, chances are better than good that this is the first you’re hearing of it.
Unfortunately, I have to join a number of liberals who disagree with Slansky’s over-the-top criticism and tone. As disgusting as Ryan’s beliefs are, his stance on abortion is already widely known, making this statement fairly un-newsworthy.
Comparisons to Akin’s stunning display of insensitivity and stupidity don’t hold up either. As I pointed out previously, Akin’s comments were shocking for two reasons: 1) his complete ignorance on basic female biology, and 2) his distinction between “legitimate rape” and something else. Ryan neither discusses biology, nor disputes rape.
The real question is: did Ryan mean “just another” method of conception?
These two additional words would completely change his meaning, and would indeed create a newsworthy statement that trivializes rape. But that’s not what he said, and the video does not support even a suggestion in that direction.
Of course, Ryan’s sentiment is terrible in its own right. And what he doesn’t say is almost worse than what he does: Ryan does not even bother saying that rape is, of course, a horrible act of violence, and doesn’t bother expressing sympathy for the victim.
Ryan’s comment is cold, unfeeling, and patriarchal- and he’s not even alone in that this week. But unfortunately, this is no surprise coming from the Romney-Ryan ticket, and would doubtfully change anyone’s mind about voting for or against him.
Slansky contributes to the failure of the media he so decries by trying to manufacture outrage with an out-of-context soundbite. And while the media may often overlook important stories, the constant barrage of manufactured outrage it produces (in concert with many politicians) may be even worse.
What do you think?