For Those Days When a Hunger Games Reference Is Just Too Lazy

Much like I did with The Return of the King and The Dark Knight, I did not make it through the full run-time of last night's GOP debate. In the former two cases, I missed the end because I had to pee; in the latter, because I had better things to do with my life. I made it through the opening slap-fights with Trump, noting Bush's discomfort, Fiorina's readiness (the only candidate to best Trump in a one-on-one petty insult showdown, so far as I saw), and Rubio's wisdom in staying away from the whole glorified drinking game, not to mention Carson's bedroom eyes. The strategies there were interesting, if the content was impossibly tedious.

Then I watched with alarm as the candidates stoked the fires of Islamaphobia -- decrying, without a shred of irony, the "fall of Western civilization" -- on the very same day that the nation came together resoundingly in support of Ahmed Mohamed. Eventually, they actually got to some issues. I don't mean to rehash the debate, but I do want to make my positions clear on a few of the hotter debate points:

  • Vaccines do not cause autism. This is a fact.
  • Climate change is real, and requires real action. This is a fact.
  • Immigrants, even illegal ones, are people. This is a fact.
  • Muslims are people. This is a fact.
  • Women are people. This is also a fact.
  • The ways all of these groups are treated and cared for are human rights issues.
  • Planned Parenthood is a vitally important organization that saves lives and needs support.
  • Secondarily to that, abortions are good. They improve the overall quality of life for women and for children, and would be good regardless because they represent the rights of women to control their own bodies.
  • Taxes are good. They fund things that our quality of life cannot exist without, areas of infrastructure that are so normalized to our everyday lives we don't even think about them. They also fund things like, oh, education.
  • A tax system that takes lower percentages from people who can better afford to pay higher ones is bad. This is math.
  • War is bad. We should not be doing it. Offensive assaults are not deterrents to combat. They are, in fact, combat.
  • Guns are bad. Gun violence in this country is out of control. Typically, when something is out of control, a good solution is control.
  • Therefore, gun control is good.

Most of this, I hope, is self-explanatory. Most of this, I hope, is obvious. As it relates to the candidates, well, I have been saying from the start that whichever candidate I support when I have the opportunity to vote will be the one whose policies will harm or kill the fewest women, people of color, and other marginalized groups -- not just in the US, but globally. This is because I value human rights above any of the other issues. That admittedly makes the Republican field rather bleak, and nearly dystopic. Democrat policies do better about these things in general at home (women's health, social welfare, etc.), but start to blur a lot more internationally, so it's not a totally cut and dry decision for me. There seem to be very few if any third party candidates worth taking seriously. I need time though to see who takes control of the races over the next several months and to really do more homework on not just their platforms, but also their records.

I want to take an extra moment, though, to say something about Planned Parenthood, which received a disproportionate amount of attention last night, and which has been the victim of an ongoing and heinous crusade from these candidates and like-minded people, one that has fueled actual domestic terror attacks against the organization (who is burning black churches!? who is burning planned parenthood!? not Muslims!).

Planned Parenthood provides vital health services to people who would have no access otherwise, and to women whose rights to their own bodies are still being litigated to this day. I want to be very clear: supporting Planned Parenthood is supporting women's health, and women's rights to autonomy. It's been pointed out that people who claim to be pro-life, but don't support programs which allow young or poor mothers to do much more than survive after the child is born are not in fact worried about the child. Concern for the child necessitates supporting the child's -- and therefore the mother's -- prosperity after birth. But if that brand of being pro-life is better termed pro-birth, there's something worse going on with people, like these candidates, who claim to be pro-life, but oppose Planned Parenthood.

Because taking away Planned Parenthood will end more pregnancies for women who have no other access to pre-natal care than the organization will ever perform necessary abortions. If you are against Planned Parenthood, you are not pro-life, and you are not even pro-birth; you are pro-miscarriage. And the truth is, all you want to do is control women and strip them of their rights, their autonomy, their social mobility, and their personhood.

But I also want to tell a story. About a year and a half ago, I had no health insurance and no disposable money. During a routine self-exam, I found an irregularity on my testicle. Here's the thing: my mom died of cancer, her dad died of cancer, her cousin died of cancer, my paternal grandfather died of cancer, my aunt was recently diagnosed with (and survived!) cancer. Cancer is a fact of life for me. So when I suspected that I had cancer but also had no insurance and virtually no means of receiving care, my entire life became a minute-to-minute cycle of fear, anxiety, and depression.

I eventually found a Planned Parenthood location that provided the men's health services I needed. They provided me with a free exam. It turns out I was fine -- the irregularity was a burst something or other (you'll excuse me for not hearing clearly over the sound of my brain exhaling in relief) that healed in another couple of weeks. But I think about those few extra weeks of fear and anxiety -- weeks of my literally confronting the probability of my own impending death -- and what they would have meant to me. Planned Parenthood served me when literally nobody else would or could, and saved me from the hell that was that uncertainty over a potentially terminal illness.

So, support Planned Parenthood. If you can, donate to your local Planned Parenthood. If you can, donate to the Planned Parenthood that was burned by an arsonist in Pullman. These services need your support again, especially now.