I’ve been trying to decode what Akin was really trying to say. He apologized for bad word choice and the offense caused. But he stands behind the belief he was trying to articulate. I assume that he was being sincere in the original statement and to some extent in his apology.

There’s a taxonomy of rape involved.

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that [pregnancy in this category of rape] is really rare. If it’s [this category of] rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.” [cf. original quote]

Dr. and Mrs. John Willke “Why Can’t We Love Them Both” has been cited as a reference to the theory Akin is referring to and I can see the similarity. Akin changed “legitimate” to “forcible” in the apology, which is in line with Willkes’ “First it is important to define terms. This issue concerns assault, or forcible, rape, not consensual, not marital rape.” So I assume Akin is talking about the same taxonomy as the Willkes.

Next, they are both are clearly saying that consideration of law that forbids abortion in the case of rape has to involve this taxonomy. They claim that in “forcible, non-consensual rape”, pregnancy is very rare (the Willkes try to put numbers on it). They also claim that in those rare cases, something went wrong in the woman’s response that would normally prevent pregnancy. [Whether or not biology actually supports their factual claims is another thing.]

But those words “forcible, non-consensual” etc. are actually not at all clear. Far from it. What is really operative here is the woman’s emotion causing endocrine responses that prevent pregnancy. They are in fact claiming that, with very few exceptions, a woman is so emotionally disturbed by the kind of rape in question that she cannot become pregnant.

So if a woman presents herself as a pregnant rape victim then either A) she was not emotionally disturbed enough for the rape to be properly considered assault, forcible or non-consensual, or B) her body’s response to the rape was abnormal in a highly unusual way.

It’s not my category definition so it’s not my job to name it. But I need names so for now: cat 1: the kind akin was talking about, and cat 2: the other kind.

Their taxonomy serves various purposes. First they are saying that women pregnant from cat 2 rape don’t have a legitimate claim to a right to abortion because such women are (to at least some extent) responsible for the rape.

Second, since there are hardly any cat 1 rape pregnancies, very few women with a valid claim of cat 1 rape need abortion.

They’ve built a moral philosoply on a fairy tale biology theory in which pregnancy form rape is a very small problem.

Regardless what name they choose for it, this is horrifying in so many ways. If these people really believe this then it makes perfect sense that they distinguish legitimate rape, i.e. real rape, from not really real rape.

I don’t think enough people properly understand what these vile people are really saying or trying to do.

When he first appeared as a potential candidate, my impression of Obama was positive. He seemed intelligent, competent, decisive and ready to work hard. But soon enough my opinion started to change and I wasn’t really sure why. Eventually I noticed that I couldn’t accuse him of pandering (which is about all Mrs. Clinton does) because he hadn’t said anything substantive at all. Yet he was making Democratic partisans weak at the knees in stage performances in which he managed to avoid saying anything. He has the magical tongue. Listen to him and you risk falling in love.

And I was reminded of a passage from Aldous Huxley’s “The Devils of Loudun”, one of the most interesting books I read. This is from the first chapter in which Huxley is introducing the book’s central figure, Urbain Grandier.

The Good Fairy, who visits the cradles of the privileged, is often the Bad Fairy in a luminous disguise. She comes loaded with presents; but her bounty all too often, is fatal. To Urbain Grandier, for example, the Good Fairy had brought, along with solid talents, the most dazzling of all gifts, and the most dangerous – eloquence. Spoken by a good actor – and every great preacher, every successful advocate and politician is, among other things, a consummate actor – words can exercise an almost magical power over their hearers. Because of the essential irrationality of this power, even the best-intentioned of public speakers probably do more harm than good. When an orator, by the mere magic of words and a golden voice, persuades his audience of the rightness of a bad cause we are very properly shocked. We ought to feel the same dismay whenever we find the same irrelevant tricks being used to persuade people of the rightness of a good cause. The belief engendered may be desirable, but the grounds for it are intrinsically wrong, and those who use the devices of oratory for instilling even right beliefs are guilty of pandering to the least creditable elements in human nature. By exercising their disastrous gift of the gab, they deepen the quasi-hypnotic trance in which human beings live and from which it is the aim and purpose of all true philosophy, all genuinely spiritual religion to deliver them. Moreover, there cannot be effective oratory without over-simplification. But you cannot over-simplify without distorting the facts. Even when he is doing his best to tell the truth, the successful orator is ipso facto a liar. And most successful orators, it is hardly necessary to add, are not even trying to tell the truth; they are trying to evoke sympathy for their friends and antipathy for their opponents.