To Stop Being the Party of Stupid You Must Stop Being Stupid

It's not enough to pay a political price or be shamed into silence. You have to come to believe sincerity is not the same as accuracy.
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My label-mate David Graham finds the GOP saying dumb things about women, pregnancy, and rape again:

"Before, when my friends on the left side of the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject -- because, you know, the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low," Franks said.

Franks continued: "But when you make that exception, there's usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case that's impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation. And that's what completely negates and vitiates the purpose of such an amendment."
In fact, as Garance Franke-Ruta has pointed out, the incidence of pregnancy from rape is not low:
STUDY DESIGN: A national probability sample of 4008 adult American women took part in a 3-year longitudinal survey that assessed the prevalence and incidence of rape and related physical and mental health outcomes. 

RESULTS: The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion. 

CONCLUSIONS: Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization.
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Each year in the US, 10,000-15,000 abortions occur among women whose pregnancies are a result of reported rape or incest. An unknown number of pregnancies resulting from rape are carried to term. There is absolutely no veracity to the claim that "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down." A woman who is raped has no control over ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg (ie, pregnancy). To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths.
I've said this before but conservatives often perceive liberal attachment to diversity as a kind of "everyone's a winner" cuddle party, where we sit around exchanging rice-cakes and hating on the military. But the great strength of diversity is it forces you into a room with people who have experiences very different from your own. It's all fine and good to laugh at Sherrod Brown dancing to Jay-Z. But dude is outside his lane and he's learning something. M.C. Rove should be so lucky.

If you are not around people who will look at you like you are crazy when you make stupid claims about other people's experiences, then you tend to keep saying stupid things about other people's experiences. It is not enough to pay a political price, or even to be shamed into silence. You have to come to believe -- in your heart -- that sincerity itself is not the same as accurate information. It is not enough for you to not be "the party of stupid" or to "stop saying stupid things" you must show some active commitment toward being less stupid.

That commitment is never comfortable. And you might find yourself the next contestant on that Summer-Jam screen. But your going to be on that screen anyway. Better to be awkward than stupid.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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