Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cosmetic Battles

"I got some real honest to God battles to fight, Leo. I don't have time for the cosmetic ones."*

Domestic_violence : Woman shielding her face while stopping the cameraWhen was the last time a political battle began as a matter of principle and...stayed that way? One of my friends observed recently that our political system has become one of dueling bumper stickers. I could not agree more.

The recent scrum involving Catholicism, Obamacare and the stellar Republican candidates is a perfect example. It began as the Obama Administration's effort to create an insurance rule, and ended with a discussion of the societal benefit, or lack thereof, of contraception.

An examination of the constitutional arguments about this rule would be silly. The constitutionality of Obamacare and its mandates awaits not just this year's hearing, but many to come. The law in this area is largley uncharted territory. Johnny R and the Supremes will wade through the mess, rule however they rule and then there might be clarity. Or not. Right now, even seasoned constitutional scholars are scrambling for anything other than educated guesses.

So the discussion evolves into an argument over Catholic doctine (opposed to its members using contraception) and - I hope I'm getting this right - whether adherence to that position represents a "war on women."

You can believe whatever you want about contraception (which, I'm sure, sets your mind at ease). It's a tremedously peripheral discussion. But...a "war on women?"

Tonight, according to statistics compiled by the National Organization for Women, approximately a thousand women will climb into bed with the man who will murder them this year. One in five college-aged women will be the victim of a sexually-related crime before they graduate. Six hundred women were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted...today. In 2006 nearly five million women experienced assaults at the hands of an intimate partner. Thirty nine thousand will die of breast cancer and seven thousand of uterine cancer. More than ten thousand women file EEOC complaints of sexual discrimination in the workplace every year.

The fastest growing category of homeless - women with two or three children.

I've seen a woman's exposed skull, with little pieces of the brick her husband hit her with buried in the bone. A woman came into the station a few months ago looking like she'd lost an especially vicious hockey fight. One punch from her boyfriend. The number of women calling our police department every day to report violence against them numbers in the dozens. Imagine how many others are so afraid to call they suffer their dangerous lives in silence.

I understand superficial, election-year sloganeering. Everyone is doing whatever they think is right to get their person elected. The entirely dated fight over contraceptives becomes a catchphrase too clever to resist. Got it.

I'm a police patrol supervisor who sees the real war, the real casualties. I've got no patience for games.

*Admiral Percy Fitzwallace (John Amos), "A Proportional Response," The West Wing, 1999.

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