Cognitive Dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change. For example I smoke cigarettes. I know that this is an unhealthy behavior that will harm me. However, I continue to smoke. This behavior only hurts me. I am very deliberate about not smoking around other people. I would never smoke around someone who does not want to be around smoke for health or personal reasons. Although I am a smoker, I recognize that my personal freedom to smoke ends when my behavior infringes on someone else’s freedom to not smoke or be around smoke. Keep this in the back of your mind while reading this article.
The picture on this article is taken from a recent article in Slate. Try to suppress your political allegiance for a moment and just think about the sign that the woman in the picture is holding,”My body. My choice”. Accompanied with a slash through a drawing of a face mask, this woman is telling the world you can’t force her to wear a mask because she has autonomy over her body, or the right or condition of self-government or independence or freedom, as of her will or her actions.
This is a deceptively complex subject that can lull you into a place of thinking that this is a foregone conclusion. Society can’t tell people what to do with their bodies. I can decide if I want to get a tattoo or a body piercing. I can get elective surgery and augment one part of my body or remove another. I can cut all of my hair off, or I can let it grow as long as I want. We enjoy this level of autonomy in this country because one of its founding principles is freedom.
In principle I completely agree with this concept and believe that it is incontrovertible. Well, almost. In the age of Coronavirus we have to consider a relatively new word in our collective lexicon. Asymptomatic.
Asymptomatic simply means showing no evidence of disease. If you listen to any of the doctors or politicians discussing Coronavirus for more than five minutes, you will hear this word. This simply means that you can test positive for the virus meaning that you have the virus in your body. However, for some reason (and scientists are still trying to figure out why) you don’t get sick. The human body is truly amazing.
One person can contract this virus and die within days. Another person can contract the virus and get very sick, and then recover. Yet a third person will contact the virus and experience mild symptoms. Finally, some people will contact the virus and have someone whatsoever. They will be a carrier of the virus, and that’s when this gets complicated.
Let’s go back to the woman. If she is a carrier for the virus, she can spread it to other people. One of the people who contacts it from her might die or get violently ill. So the question becomes does this woman have the right to knowingly or unknowingly infect other people with whom she comes in contact? How is this different from someone waking into a crowd and firing a gun indiscriminately? Some people will die immediately, some will get hurt, and others will escape harm. We would as a society arrest and charge that person with murder and attempted murder.
But there is a far more insidious hypocrisy afoot here. This woman is a Republican asserting that she and she alone can make decisions about her body. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? This woman is pro-life, but this has a very specific definition in Republican circles. When Republicans discuss being pro-life, they still support the death penalty, killing people in war, defending one’s home with deadly force, even Christian Scientists believe in prayer over medicine for their young children and have allowed their children to die even when medical science has cures for the maladies from which their children are suffering. But there is one circumstance of death that Republicans cannot abide.
In the Collins Dictionary pro-life is defined as someone who thinks that women do not have a right to choose whether or not to continue their pregnancy and give birth to a child and that abortion is wrong in most or all circumstances. But why do they believe abortion is wrong? Their conviction comes down to two arguments: morality and science.
This is not a discussion about abortion. Let me repeat that for the inevitable far right wing Republicans who on occasion read my blog. This article is NOT about abortion. I am not asserting the morality of abortion pro not con. This is about Republican hypocrisy. If you want to know an excellent strategy on how to deal with arguing with Republicans, please read this.
There is an entire cottage industry built around the protection of unborn life in the Republican party going back to the Reagan years. The Republican party has attempted to overturn the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade since the 80s. Their first attempt was to elect a President who would overturn it, and they quickly learned that a president doesn’t have that authority. Then they tried winning state majorities in 38 state legislatures so they could attempt an amendment to the Constitution. Progressives responded and started taking those houses back especially in 2018. Their final attempt is to go back to the same court who made the ruling in the first place, and Trump’s nominations to the SCOTUS had given them their closest chance yet to overturn it.
All that said Republicans are hypocrites. Remember that someone can be an asymptomatic carrier of Covid-19. If the woman in the picture interacts in society without a mask, doesn’t socially distance, refuses to shelter-in-place, and infects and kills dozens of scores of people the Republican party calls that freedom. Because it’s her body and her choice. But if that same woman decides to exercise her right afforded her by the Supreme Court of the United States to not carry her pregnancy to term, the Republican party will move heaven and Earth to save that one life.
Again, I know it’s difficult, but try not to let your emotions cloud your logic. This is not a discussion about abortion. This is a discussion about Republican women sanctioning behavior that causes death in one case, and ignoring those convictions in another. This is Republicans telling people that they should die for their country as long as billionaires continue to make money. This is Trump desperately clinging to the last point about which he has bragged since his inauguration. The strong economy. This is the Republican party trying to retain power in November 2020.
If they have to contort themselves into a pretzel, and beguile Americans into vacillating allegiances that contradict their positions from one moment to the next, they don’t care. Their positions lack logic and strain credulity. This November we must tell Republicans that we will no longer abide their hypocrisies. We must vote out Trump and the entire party.