Tuesday, September 02, 2008

No, seriously, let's leave her alone.

Reading this post on the Rev. Debra Haffner's blog has made me fully think this Bristol Palin matter through.

And I'm really, really appalled.

Guys, Bristol is seventeen. Bristol is pregnant. And Bristol probably feels like the whole country is making fun of her. And Bristol's momma is being attacked over and over by half the nation because Bristol was stupid enough to get knocked up*.

Imagine the damage we are doing to this kid. How much therapy is it going to take to fix the humiliation we're inflicting on her?

And keep in mind that while the age of consent is 16 in Alaska, she's still below the age of consent in several US states**.

Haffner's argument was that Palin had used her family as a positive example, so we should be able to use them as a negative one.

Ummm, no.

Not because Palin asked us not to. But because treating a minor like this is wrong.


*As a former teenage girl, I think I can safely assert that this is the way she is thinking of it.

**Though the father is too. I'm not saying she was raped, I'm saying that the legislatures of several states (including McCain's home state of Arizona and Biden's home state of Delaware) think she isn't mature enough to make the decision to have sex. This is a minor we're talking about, and likely a quite sheltered one. Let's not take out our anger on her.


Robin Edgar said...

"And Bristol's momma is being attacked over and over by half the nation because Bristol was stupid enough to get knocked up*."

To say nothing of half the U*U World (or more) if one can judge from what is posted on U*U blogs CC. . . BTW Isn't the Daily Kos blog hosted by an U*U?

Anonymous said...

"Gov. Palin, according to MSNBC, has said that this was her daughter's own decision. Really?"

I think this point is the crux of the issue ... if Palin insists that abortion be absolutely illegal in ALL situations, and if abstinence before marriage is her absolute stand -- it doesn't sound like there's much choice in her daughter's decision. Her daughter chose to violate the abstinence rule, and she could choose an abortion, but in the world Palin et al would create, the second choice would be unavailable and the first choice all the more life-threatening.

I hear your concern about politicizing the children of politicians, and I share the concern. I would hope, however, that our leaders see the hypocrisy and irony in the models they present, and perhaps even reconsider their message. I don't have the statistics about UU & UCC teen pregnancy rates, but I expect they are much lower because of our commitment to comprehensive sexuality education. CSE can greatly reduce the need to be faced with the heart-wrenching choice a woman faces with an unplanned pregnancy.

Chalicechick said...


Not as far as I know.


Chalicechick said...

Hey Jan!


I get what you're saying about choice and I do agree with the basic principle. What I don't get is why using Palin's daughter to make the point is necessary.

I don't know the statistics either, but I think it's safe to say teen pregnancy is pretty low among UUs because it's pretty low among upper middle class white people and that's a big portion of our membership.

I think comprehensive sex ed is a good idea and any theoretical kids of mine would have it, but I had it as a high school kid and I still knew kids who got pregnant.

Drawing a line from Bristol to this issue is, at best, an oversimplification.

At worst, it's playing a really cynical game that casts a nasty shadow on our claims that we want CSE because it protects young people.

always slightly mildly creeped out when her IRL life touches her online life, but glad to have you here anyway.

Ps. Various people you know post here from time to time, though usually not under their real names.

PG said...

I don't think people who are discussing this story perceive themselves to be attacking Bristol Palin. However, we (I'll put myself in this category) probably are dehumanizing her, treating her as merely an object rather than as a human being with feelings to get hurt. I don't think anyone wants to humiliate Miss Palin; rather, people are using her situation to attack Gov. Palin's politics.

Again, I don't think this would be happening to the same degree if Palin didn't regularly make so much of her own parenting as a sign of her managerial abilities. It is difficult to resist the temptation to question how wonderful that parenting necessarily was -- even though the inherent consequence of such questioning is to imply that there is something wrong with the Palin kids, which is an awful thing to imply.

However, I don't think it's horrible to Miss Palin for her to realize that her actions will have consequences not only for herself, but also for others, including her mother. I grew up in a socially conservative area (East Texas) and an even more socially conservative subculture (middle to upper class South Asian immigrants). I was aware from an early age that people would judge my parents based on my behavior. I didn't like it and I thought the people who enforced the social codes were gossipy old biddies, but I never pretended that the world was any other way.

Miss Palin is learning something about the world through hard experience, as teenagers often do. What kind of worries me is that Sarah Palin acts as though this sad fact about life is news to her as well. Her rhetoric about how she thought people would of course leave her family alone indicates that she too has forgotten McCain's cracks about Chelsea -- which were far more gratuitous, given that the Clintons never claimed anything about themselves based on the beauty of their daughter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. As a father of daughters who had struggles of their own, I completely agree. All lefty bloggers--UUs included--keep you opportunistic paws off of this girl. I am really glad the Obama came out early and strong in complete denunciation of the whole smear mama through daughter thing.

That being said, there is plenty of red meat to go after Gov. Palin on her own pitiful merits. How about her membership in the Alaska Independence Party, which literally calls for the secession of Alaska from the union? Or her history of using her positions as Mayor and Governor to bully subordinates and take revenge on former in-laws?

PG said...

The allegation in TIME magazine (supported by contemporaneous news stories) that as mayor, Palin tried to have books banned from the town library and sought to fire the librarian for being insufficiently supportive of that agenda is currently my favorite possible reason why Gov. Palin is a bit more of a scary right-winger than she seems.

CeeJay said...

I feel sad for Bristol and her boyfriend that this has become national news. For me, it calls into question the judgement and the family values of Gov. Palin regardless of her stand on the abortion and sex ed. issues.

As a mom, the last thing I would want to do to a pregnant teenage kid would be get her situation out there for all the crack pots and scandal mongers to discuss. Now you can say it is a personal matter and condemn all the people who are talking about it. But... Any sane and responsible parent would know that in our scandal crazed, drama filled political system it is going to get ugly when the news comes out while Mom is running for VP.

I wonder if providing help and support to her daughter's young family was at the top of her list of concerns when she chose to accept this nomination. Not that you have to consider your family when you run for VP, but when you run on a family values platform??
Then there is consideration for moving a family used to living in Alaska to D.C. or commuting from D.C. to Alaska?? I don't think it is wrong of the American public to ask how Sarah Palin and her family are going to deal with all of this.
Both Obama and Biden talked about the difficulty of taking care of family and dealing with a career in national politics. Michelle Obama has expressed her appreciation for her Mother's help in caring for their family and keeping things sane for her two young daughters. I think it says a lot about judgement when we learn that Biden commutated
back and fourth to be with his sons and that the Obama's have tried to avoid disrupting their children's lives during the campaign. Maybe Palin and her husband will share their plans for dealing with the tremendous changes that will take place in their lives if she wins the election. I don't think that it is wrong for us to expect that. I am trying really hard not to be judgemental, but in all honesty, I can't help but ask, "What were you thinking when you accepted this nomination?"

ejgejg said...

I completely agree, CC that she should be off limits. I am sad that people use her to make political points and then justify it with, "We her mom started it," as if that somehow makes it okay.

Anonymous said...

I think it's to be expected, but not condoned or encouraged. Teenage pregnancy is nothing new, and regardless of her mother's decisions, Bristol Palin is not an issue.

At the same time, candidates do want to hold their families up as examples of "how well they have done" and how family oriented they are, etc. It's a double edged sword.

Maybe one day we'll once again get a candidate who just doesn't have any kids. But as it stands, it seems like the public prefers their politicians to have a spouse and offspring. I have no idea why.

Anonymous said...

it seems like the public prefers their politicians to have a spouse and offspring. I have no idea why.

I think the American public thinks one is a bit weird if one doesn't have a spouse (opposite sex) and kids.

Robin Edgar said...

Your good friend Rev. Victoria Weinstein aka Peacebang really put her foot in it here CC.

Here is my no punches pulled response to Peacebang's outrageously hypocritical U*U BS about Bristol Palin, or any other minor who finds herself to be pregnant for that matter -

Let’s see now Rev. Weinstein. . .

If your convicted rapist parishioner Richard Buell had managed to impregnate the preteen girls (dare I say children?) that he was convicted of forcibly raping, one of whom was reported to be “a female family member”. . . and would have been “between 6 and 10 years of age” at the time of the “incident”, they would no longer be children?

Who knows? Perhaps you’re right. . .

Who the hell are you to tell Senator Joe Biden, or anybody else, to “be careful of our rhetoric”?!

Chalicechick said...

Yup, Robin, she and I disagree.

Luckily one can disagree with someone and still remain friends, which is good because if you couldn't, I'd be out of friends.


Robin Edgar said...

Well I am sure you will be happy to know that you and I largely agree when it comes to this particular issue. I did not comment here just to let you know that Peacebang, like many other U*U bloggers, decided not to leave Bristol Palin alone. My comment was intended to underline the foolishness and hypocrisy of her assertion that a minor who gets pregnant is not a child. No doubt Peacebang believes that all those underage girls who are kidnapped, raped, and impregnated by *child soldiers* aren't children either. . . I take note of the fact that she has covered her U*U in typical U*U fashion by "memory-holing" the hard-hitting critical comments that left on her Peacebang blog last night.