Photo: Campus Party BrasilWhile the mainstream media is all aflutter over Al Gore criticizing Obama for inaction on climate, the right-wing media is all aflutter over Al Gore saying that we should educate girls, keep kids from dying, and make birth control available to women. Talk about a radical agenda.
Here’s what Gore said on Monday at the Games for Change Festival in New York City:
One of the things we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principal ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women. You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children to have, the spacing of the children. You have to lift child-survival rates so that parents feel comfortable having small families. And most important, you have to educate girls and empower women. And that’s the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices.
That’s about the most mild and noncontroversial statement anyone could make about population. He didn’t blame human numbers for our environmental problems. He didn’t fret about the world population heading toward 7 billion this year, or 9 billion by 2050. He didn’t say we need to get our fertility rates down. He didn’t say governments should make people have fewer children. He didn’t say people ought to decide on their own to have fewer children. He didn’t mention a single number.
But the ‘wingers are up in arms:
- “Al Gore branches out into population control theory,” writes climate denier Anthony Watts on his Watts Up With That? blog. Where’s the “control” in Gore’s statement? Well, he does want women to be able to control their own fertility, but that’s hardly an oppressive Chinese-style population-control policy.
- “Al Gore promotes having fewer children to curb pollution,” writes Joe Newby at Examiner.com. Not a bad idea, but not what Gore said.
- “Gore said that couples need to learn to ‘feel comfortable having small families’ so that pollution can be curbed,” writes Billy Hallowell at The Blaze. Actually he said that parents might “feel comfortable having small families” if they were confident their kids wouldn’t die young.
So what is it that has conservatives’ panties in such a twist? Surely they don’t object to saving babies’ lives and sending girls to school. They do, however, need to maintain their favorite stereotype of greens as fascist quasi-eugenicists who want to control population via tyranny. They do need to keep the focus on their favorite bete noir, Al Gore. And they do — at least some of them — need to find plausible-sounding excuses to go after contraception.
It’s almost hard to believe that there are still Americans who object to birth control, other than a few decrepit Catholic archbishops (whose time would be better spent purging child molesters from their ranks). More than 99 percent of American women who’ve had intercourse have used contraception, including 98 percent of Catholic women. Eighty-six percent of Americans say the availability of the Pill has been a good thing for society. Birth control is about as mainstream as it gets.
And here’s where the hard-core right-wingers are really out of step with America: They actually want to stop women from using birth control. Most of the extremist conservatives won’t say it out loud — they’ll just fulminate about abortion while pushing policies that have nothing to do with the a-word and everything to do with limiting access to contraception. Watch as Texas state Rep. Wayne Christian (R), in a rare moment of candor, really does say it out loud: “Well of course it’s a war on birth control.” (h/t Phillip Martin)
So tell me again: Who’s got the radical agenda?