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DIP #1 – Legitimately Bonkers

Today I am inspired to start a new series of posts highlighting some of our own, peculiarly American “confederacy of dunces.”[1] What better way to begin than with co-recipients: two distinguished members of our federal government’s House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Dunce in public #1

#1a. Representative Todd Akin, R-Missouri

This moron won his dunce cap in August when he explained in a televised interview that in cases of “legitimate rape,” the female body aborts the pregnancy. Just kidding! He didn’t say “abort,” of course, he said “shut[s] that whole thing down.”

Here are the first two paragraphs of a piece from The Atlantic on this nonsense. His quote is included. The full article is well-worth reading.

Here we go again. Trotting out the contemporary equivalent of the early American belief that only witches float, Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, told a local Missouri station in an interview that “legitimate rape” does not lead to pregnancy.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin said in an interview with KTVI-TV that caused a furor online Sunday afternoon after being posted on TPM. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

As the article’s history of this lie makes clear, Akin’s claim that women’s bodies “shut down that stuff”[2] does not come from medical science.

Further, unless the implications of Deuteronomy 22 include the idea that the only legitimate rapes are those of virgins, carried out in locations so remote that all possible help is too far away to hear their cries for help, then I don’t know where in the Bible the congressman finds support for his classification scheme. And it is pretty clear the Bible is the only place he would look for guidance here.[3]

#1b. Representative Paul Broun, R-Georgia

In the following video, Broun says “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.” He states that “as a scientist I saw a lot of evidence that the earth is young,” and he goes on state that he believes it is about 9,000 years old and it was created in six days (“days as we know them,” he reiterates).[4]

So he believes some irrational things. People do. From Flat-Earthers, Area-51 conspiracists, astrologers, people who think chakras are real (not merely useful-to-some metaphors), faith healers (from any tradition), real estate moguls who think President Obama was born in Kenya, etc. Ad infinitum. But here in America, at least, Biblical literalists are a special case. How so?

Because they believe they have the moral right, the God-given right, and the duty to dictate to the majority of Christians who do not subscribe to their narrow literal interpretation of the Bible, to adherents of other faiths, and to poor heathens who do not (gasp!) believe in any supernatural being. They would dictate and define morality, interpret the Constitution through the lens of their interpretation of their holy books, and subsume scientific facts to their “inerrant” ancient scriptures.[5]

They are dunces in public service, and members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.


  1. Thanks for this ever-more-useful phrase go to John Kennedy Toole, whose posthumously-publish novel A Confederacy of Dunces won a Pulitzer Prize. It is hilarious. [^]
  2. His use of “shut down that stuff” here (I can almost see his shiver of disgust) makes me think he probably is not a person we want making decisions about women’s healthcare needs. [^]
  3. No, I don’t really believe these verses from Deuteronomy are really the source of his “legitimate rape” distinction. The Bible does have quite a bit to say about rape, and much of it is lamentable. A subject for another time.
    One thing I will say about Rep Akin’s views on abortion: I do respect his stance against exceptions in cases of rape and incest. Yes, these should be unsupportable to those who believe that human life begins at conception, and that these smaller-than-a-pinhead humans deserve the same rights and protections as any other human being. In fact I am waiting for this to be extended to cases where the mother’s life is in danger. Why not a coin flip?
    The Bible has very little to say about abortion. What it does say is not quite what the frothing-at-the-mouth defenders of unborn life think it does. This is certainly a topic for another day. [^]
  4. A scientist? He is a medical doctor. A general practitioner. He thinks evolution is a lie from hell. Much of medicine is based on this lie, so I guess he uses mostly leeches, urine, and stewed prunes in his practice. [^]
  5. This is where I should admit that I am painting with too broad a brush when I claim, or at least imply, that all Christian literalists (fundamentalists is the usual term) want to dictate their beliefs to society as a whole. But having come from their tradition, I have some familiarity with their thinking and I believe that a mandate to transform society is in their DNA. Not every single fundamentalist, perhaps, but the exceptions must be rare and confused individuals. [^]

Dunces in publicDunces in Public — Collect them all!
11/17/2019 #5 – Pray for America
02/22/2017 #4 – Was Dick Cheney Involved?
07/27/2016 #3 – Great America’s Historian
06/19/2015 #2 – You Must be Kidd-ing!
10/24/2012 #1 – Legitimately Bonkers

See also about Dunces in Public


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