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December 2017

Facebook And Israel Officially Announce Collaboration To Censor Social Media Content

 

www.activistpost.com

By Whitney Webb

Following Facebook’s censorship controversy over a world famous photograph of the Vietnam War, Facebook has agreed to “work together” with Israel’s government to censor content Israeli officials deem to be improper. Facebook officially announced the “cooperative” arrangement after a meeting took place between Israeli government ministers and top Facebook officials on September 11th. The Israeli government’s frenzied push to monitor and censor Facebook content it deems inappropriate follows the viral success of BDS, or Boycott, Divest, Sanctions, a global non-violent movement that works to expose Israeli human rights violations.

The success of BDS has struck a nerve with Israel, leading its government to pass legislation allowing it to spy on and deport foreign activists operating within Israel and Palestine. Israel has also threatened the lives of BDS supporters and has lobbied for legislative measures against BDS around the world. They are now seeking to curtail any further BDS success by directly controlling the content of Facebook users.

However, Facebook’s formal acknowledgement of its relationship with Israel’s government is only the latest step in an accord that has been in the works for months. In June of this year, Facebook’s Israel office hired Jordana Cutler as head of policy and communications. Cutler is a longtime adviser to Netanyahu and, before her recent hire at Facebook, was Chief of Staff at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC. Facebook may have been intimidated into the arrangement by Gilad Erdan, Israeli Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs, and Information, who threatened to enact legislation, in Israel and abroad, that would place responsibility on Facebook for attacks “incited” by its social media content. Erdan has previously said that Facebook “has a responsibility to monitor is platform and remove content.”

In addition, as the Intercept reported in June, Israel actively reviews the content of Palestinian Facebook posts and has even arrested some Palestinians for posts on the social media site. They then forward the requests for censorship to Facebook, who accepts the requests 95% of the time.

How to Disappear Off the Grid Completely (Ad)

An Israeli Soldier with “Revenge” written across his chest took to Facebook to incite retaliation against Palestinians after 3 Israeli teenagers were killed. His post was not censored by Facebook and was praised by the Times of Israel.

In what is an obvious and troubling disparity, Facebook posts inciting violence against Palestinians are surprisingly common and Facebook rarely censors these posts. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Glenn Greenwald, this disparity underscores “the severe dangers of having our public discourse overtaken, regulated, and controlled by a tiny number of unaccountable teach giants.”

With Facebook arguably functioning as the most dominant force in journalism, its control over the flow of information is significant. The fact that a private company with such enormous influence has partnered with a government to censor its opponents is an undeniable step towards social media fascism. Though social media was once heralded as a revolutionary opportunity to allow regular people to share information globally and to politically organize for grassroots change, allowing governments to censor their opposition threatens to transform it into something else entirely.

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Top Image Credit – http://www.wb7.hk

 

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First Christmas abroad ;-(

source

 

 

Like many others, we were filled with excitement and expectation about our first Christmas abroad. Neither of us could have imagined that this simple dream would turn into our worst nightmare.

On Christmas Eve in a local pub at Durham, Durham, my Palestinian friend and I were harassed, insulted, and physically assaulted for by a group of British men we had never met before.

At around 8pm on Christmas Eve, we went to the local pub called ‘The Happy Wanderer’. As soon as we entered into the pub we became aware of being stared at by some men standing at the counter which made us very uneasy.

Soon after we sat down at a table, a man around 40s stepped out his group and made his way towards us. Without any invitation or introduction whatsoever, he took a seat next to us and blurted out: “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” Not knowing what his intention was, we told him that we’re from Egypt and Palestine, to which he instantly replied: “EGYPT, PALESTINE. SO, YOU ARE ALL MUSLIMS… ARE YOU SUICIDE BOMBERS?”

Within the next half an hour, this strange man hurled at us all sorts of horrible insults without any provocation. For example, he asked us what you are doing here. We mentioned that we are postgraduate students at Durham University He replied you must be so rich then! At one point he stood in the middle of the bar and repeatedly shouted at us to ‘GET OUT OF THE PUB!’. While the man was insulting us for no reason at all nobody in the pub did or said anything to stop him. Not wanting to cause any disturbances, all I did was smiling at home and said: ‘Okay, thank you.’
We were so humiliated and helpless at the same time. It got to the point that we realized that we could not stay in the pub any longer for fear that something bad would happen, and still no one (including the people working at the bar) cared enough to interfere.

When the young girl bartender finally seemed to be approaching us, we felt a sense of hope surging over us, but she stopped at the next table and started collecting the empty glasses without looking at us. No words of comfort, no apology, nothing.

Only one young man from that group came to us and apologized. He told us that the man insulting us was ‘a good man, but jut had couple of drinks’ as if that could justify all the harassment and insults we had endured helplessly.

As we stepped out of the pub we immediately became apprehensive because the same man and his mates were standing outside. All we wanted was to get out of that place and away from these people. It was Christmas after all and we just wanted to have a good time. However as soon as we walked past that man he screamed at us: “Fuck Allah, Fuck Mohammed, and Fuck Islam”.

My friend walking a few steps behind me responded to him by smiling and saying “Merry Christmas to you and I hope you enjoy your night.” The next thing I knew another man from the group hurled his pint glass with all the force he had into my face. With a split second I tilted my head which miraculously saved me from getting struck.

After this violent act which took us by great surprise I told them that “I am calling the police now” and shouted at them to “STAY AWAY” again and again while they were chasing after us. My friend took out his phone and told them he was going to film them.

They followed us to the other side of the road and it was then we both sensed that we were in danger but with no way to escape. I shouted to my friend who was behind me to watch out and it was at that moment I saw the same young man who apologized to us in the pub on behalf of his friend attacking my friend. He sprang forward and punched my friend hard in the face. I saw my friend falling backwards onto the ground with a thump. I saw the men kicking him over and over all over his body.

It was dark but I could see people walking by. I screamed at them to ask for help. I shouted “please somebody call the police!” while running towards my friend who was lying on his back, badly wounded.

When he finally managed to get away from them, my friend was no longer able to walk and fell down and lost consciousness. I stood next to him, appalled and shaking with outrage. The only woman who stopped to help took my phone and called the police. These people who assaulted us still tried to spring at us. I screamed at them to back off. Eventually they went back to the bar and had fled before the police arrived.

It was like I was living my worst nightmare. And the hardest part is witnessing my friend being beaten to death in front of my eyes. We went to the pub to celebrate our first Christmas and left with injuries, pain, tears and rage. Why and how did it happen to us?!

It was a very long and sleepless night. After the outrageously violent attack, my friend and I spent the rest of the Christmas Eve moving back and forth between the police station and the hospital. My friend was left with terrible injuries and bruises all over his body and suffered a concussion (I’ve included here a picture of his leg and a picture of the pub).

This is not what we expected for our first Christmas in the UK. This is not what we expected for being international students in Durham. This is not what we expected at any point in our lives. Who deserves to get almost beaten to death for doing nothing, for just being who we are, or in this case, for wishing you a merry Christmas???

We will not be silenced. We will not give up our rights, and we will proceed with legal action and hold them accountable for what they have done in every possible way. Most importantly, what’s been done to us could have happened to any other international students here in Durham. That’s why we believe that awareness must be raised, our voices must be heard, and justice must be served.

We will not tolerate racist and religious hate crime.
Durham will stay a safe place and one of the most students’ friendly cities in the UK.
#hatecrimeindurhum
Photo Credits: Newcastle Chronicle

The Guardian view on Putin in Syria: victory and desolation

www.theguardian.com

Vladimir Putin went on a victory lap of Syria and the Middle East this week, intent on showcasing his ability to secure the upper hand against the US in the region. On a surprise visit to a Russian airbase on the Syrian coast, he demonstratively embraced the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whose hold on power Russia’s military intervention has all but saved. “Friends, the motherland is waiting for you,” Mr Putin told a detachment of Russian soldiers. “You are coming back home with victory.”

Meanwhile, in eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus where Russia had announced earlier this year that a ceasefire would take hold, children living under siege are starving. Despite the “de-escalation” deal, Syrian government forces continue to pound the area, backed by Iranian and Russian allies in an attempt to score a decisive victory. These two scenes spoke volumes about Russia’s calculus, and about the realities it has helped create on the ground. That the Russian president has now announced a substantial troop withdrawal must be taken with a barrel of salt. Similar pledges have been made before and remain unfulfilled. On Tuesday a Kremlin spokesperson said Russia would retain a sizable force in Syria to fight “terrorists”. Russia’s definition of “terrorism” in Syria is like that of the Assad regime, which equates it to political opposition.

Mr Putin is keen to speak of victory. In Moscow he has announced that he will run for re-election next year. Bringing back some of the Russian forces – who are reportedly deployed alongside thousands of Kremlin-connected private contractors – can only be good for his political prospects. Russian casualties in Syria are a closely guarded secret, as are the financial costs of the operation. In geopolitical terms Mr Putin’s war in Syria has been a profitable investment for the Kremlin. He has capitalised on western strategic disarray and America’s reluctance to get drawn deeper into the conflict, an instinct that predated the volatile Donald Trump. After Syria, Mr Putin travelled on to Cairo, where he met Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, demonstrating Russia’s new clout in a country that since the 1970s has had privileged ties with the US. There is now talk of Russian military aircraft being able to use Egyptian bases.

It is no small irony that Mr Putin has claimed victory over Islamic State: the bluster does little to hide the fact that his forces focused much more on targeting the anti-Assad opposition than they did the jihadi insurgency. The retaking of Raqqa was not a Russian accomplishment, but the result of a Kurdish-Arab ground offensive, supported by US-led coalition airstrikes.
None of this has prevented Russia from claiming the diplomatic high ground. By changing the balance of forces and catching the west off guard when he sent forces in 2015, Mr Putin has built up his leverage. Whether he can deliver a peace plan is, however, a different question. The signs are that the Russian president would prefer to sideline, if not entirely obstruct, UN-sponsored talks in Geneva. It helps that these discussions have been convened in the hope, rather than the expectation, of peace. He has explored other formats, alongside Iran and Turkey, but these are complex partners. Iranian-controlled forces have grown more dominant in Syria than Mr Putin perhaps initially anticipated. It is also true that UN resources will be needed when – and if – Syria’s reconstruction is one day contemplated.

Geopolitical power games have not ended in Syria, nor has the fighting. In eastern Ghouta, according to the UN, 137 children, including babies, are in urgent need of medical evacuation. By propping up a dictator who starves and massacres his own population, Mr Putin surely owns the desolation in Syria, as much as he controls military bases. Russia has returned to the Middle East, but its responsibilities in the bloodbath are equally on display.

How will US Jerusalem move affect Israel’s far right?

by Jonathan Cook

Trump’s seal of approval for Israel’s takeover of Jerusalem is likely to intensify the city’s religious symbolism for Jews – and the importance of Israeli sovereignty over al-Aqsa Mosque compound [Ronny Hartmann/Photothek via Getty Images]

Analysts fear Trump’s rubber-stamping of the right’s political goals will further radicalise both sides of the divide.

Jerusalem – Trump’s recognition this week of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, overturning seven decades of US policy in the region and effectively ending hopes of a two-state solution, has provoked dire warnings.

But the focus by commentators on Palestinian reactions, rather than the effect on the Israeli public and leadership, might have underestimated the longer-term fallout from Trump’s move, analysts say.

Predictions have included the threat of renewed violence – even an uprising – from Palestinians; the possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting, and its diplomatic strategy for two states; and the demise of Washington’s claim to be serving as a credible peacemaker.

But according to analysts, more far-reaching – and disruptive – undercurrents will likely be set in motion by Trump’s decision.

Few have factored in the likely effect of Trump’s new Jerusalem policy on the Israeli public, which has been shifting steadily to the right for most of the past two decades. The city and its contested holy sites have gained an increasingly powerful religious and national symbolism for many Israeli Jews.

The fear is that Trump’s effective rubber-stamping of the right’s political goals in Jerusalem will further radicalise both sides of the divide – and accelerate processes that have been turning a long-standing national conflict into a more openly religious one.

‘Tipping point’

“We may remember this date as the tipping point, as the moment when a new consensus emerged in Israel behind the idea of total Jewish supremacy,” journalist David Sheen, an expert on Israel’s far-right movements, told Al Jazeera.

Similar concerns were expressed by Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament.

“We can expect to see a move rightwards across Israeli society,” he told Al Jazeera. “The centre-left parties were already tacking much closer to the right. They will now want to align themselves with Trump’s position. Meanwhile, the right will be encouraged to move to the extreme right.”

Both noted that Avi Gabbay – the recently elected leader of the Zionist Union, the official opposition and the party that was once the backbone of the Israeli peace camp – had begun espousing positions little different from those of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last week, Gabbay backed Trump’s announcement, saying that recognition of Jerusalem was more important than a peace deal with the Palestinians.

WATCH: ‘Dangerous and unacceptable’ – Arab League condemns US move

Sheen said that traditionally, the centre-left had been restrained in its political positions by concerns about alienating the United States: “Netanyahu has shown that he can bring the US round to his way of thinking by staying the course. In many Israelis’ eyes, he has now been proved right. The centrists may decide it is time to come onboard. Allying with the Republican right and the Christian evangelicals in the US may now look like a much safer bet.”

The possible effects of Trump’s announcement on Israelis have been largely overlooked, even though previous turning points in the conflict have consistently resulted in dramatic lurches rightwards by the Israeli public.

Given Israel’s power over the Palestinians, these changes have played a decisive role in leading to the current impasse between Israel and the Palestinians, analysts note.

Most obviously, Israel’s seemingly “miraculous” victory in the 1967 war, defeating the armies of neighbouring Arab states in six days, unleashed a wave of Messianic Judaism that spawned the settler movement.

A new religious nationalism swept parts of the Israeli public, driving them into the occupied Palestinian territories to claim a supposed Biblical birthright.

Other major events have had a decisive effect too. Unexpectedly, the Oslo peace process, launched in the mid-1990s, persuaded many non-religious Israeli Jews to move into settlements in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, doubling the numbers there in a few years.

Into the arms of the far right

Alan Baker, a legal adviser to the Israeli foreign ministry in that period, explained Israelis’ peculiar reading of the Oslo Accords. In their view, Oslo meant Israel was “present in the territories with their [the Palestinians’] consent and subject to the outcome of negotiations”.

In other words, many Israelis believed that the Oslo process had conferred an international legitimacy on the settlements.

Later, in 2000, after the Camp David summit collapsed without the sides agreeing to a two-state solution, Ehud Barak, Israel’s then-prime minister, blamed Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. He said they were “no partner” for peace.

As a result, Israelis deserted the peace camp and drifted into the arms of the right and far-right. Netanyahu has reaped the benefits, leading a series of ultra-nationalist governments since 2009.

Now Trump’s decision on Jerusalem effectively gives Washington’s blessing to Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem and five decades of creating facts on the ground there, said Jabareen.

“Trump has legitimised the far-right’s argument that Israel can control all of Jerusalem by sheer force, by denying Palestinians their rights and by creating facts on the ground,” he said.

With their policy of aggressive unilateralism now paying dividends in the US, the settlers and the ultra-nationalists were unlikely to be satisfied with that success alone, he added. “The danger is that the religious right’s narrative will now seem persuasive at other sites in the occupied territories they demand, such as Hebron and Nablus.”

Since Trump’s election a year ago, Naftali Bennett, the Israeli education minister and the leader of the main settler party, has begun calling for Israel to seize the opportunity to annex West Bank settlements.

Pressure is likely now to mount rapidly on Netanyahu to shift even further to the right.

On the 972 website, Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli analyst, observed that Trump’s declaration had boosted the settlers’ position that “in the long run ‘facts on the ground’ are more important than diplomacy and politics, and that Israel will eventually win legitimacy for its actions”

Effects in Jerusalem

The most immediate effects, according to Ir Amim, an IsraeIi human rights organisation, will be felt in Jerusalem itself. Government ministers have already drafted legislation to bring large West Bank settlements under Jerusalem’s municipal authority, as a way covertly to annex them.

There are also plans to strip large numbers of Palestinians of their Israeli-issued Jerusalem residency papers because they live outside the separation wall Israel built through the city more than a decade ago. That would cement a new, unassailable right-wing Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

Last week, Ir Amim warned in a statement that Trump’s move would be certain to “embolden” such actions by the Israeli right and provide a “tailwind” to those determined to pre-empt a two-state solution.

Assad Ghanem, a politics professor at Haifa University, told Al Jazeera: “Trump has given a legitimacy to the right’s Messianic agenda. He has adopted the language of the extreme right on Jerusalem – that it is Israel’s eternal, united capital. The far-right will declare this a victory.”

In parallel, Trump’s seal of approval for Israel’s takeover of Jerusalem is likely to intensify the city’s religious symbolism for Jews – and the importance of Israeli sovereignty over al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Ghanem noted.

In recent years, a growing number of rabbis have been overturning a centuries-old consensus that al-Aqsa compound is off-limits to Jews because it was not known where the ruins of an earlier Jewish temple lay. In Jewish tradition, it is forbidden to walk over an inner sanctum, known as the Holy of Holies.

Today, Jews regularly enter the compound and some even pray there. Settler rabbis and far-right government ministers have called for dividing the compound between Israelis and Palestinians, creating huge tensions with Palestinians.

Temple movements

Meanwhile, a once-fringe movement of Jewish supporters who wish to destroy the mosque to rebuild the ancient Jewish temple in its place, are gradually moving into the mainstream. Trump’s move will be a shot in the arm to their ambitions and their credibility, said Sheen, who has studied the temple movements.

He pointed out that immediately after Trump’s declaration, these groups had uploaded a cartoon of Trump standing in al-Aqsa compound, in front of the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, imagining the Jewish temple in its place. Trump is shown saying in Hebrew: “This is the perfect spot!”

Sheen said: “This will be treated as a call to arms by these groups.”

WATCH: Trump’s Jerusalem move roundly condemned at UN

Will the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have similarly dramatic long-term effect on Palestinians’ public opinion? Analysts believe it will. The lack of an outpouring of significant anger – even after Palestinian leaders called for three days of rage last week – could be deceptive.

Israeli analysts have suggested that there is often what they term an “incubation period” – a delay between a major change in Israel’s favour and a popular reaction from Palestinians. That was true of the second Intifada, which came months after the collapse of the Camp David summit.

An expectation of knee-jerk anger to Trump’s decision may be misplaced, say analysts. The decision may result in a slower and much deeper process of adjustment to the new reality.

“Palestinians will now have to abandon the old tools of national struggle, because they have been shown to be ineffective. We need new tools of resistance, and that will require a grassroots struggle. We need a return to mass protests,” Jabareen said.

Ghanem noted the danger that, with the likely growth of a Jewish religious extremism in Israel and among the settlers, some Palestinians might drift towards violence.

But he expected that a more significant trend would be Palestinians reassessing the end goal of their struggle and opting for mass civil disobedience.

“The two-state solution is obviously now finished, and that is likely to mobilise a new generation to struggle for a single state,” he said. “Activists and the leadership will need to rebuild Palestinian nationalism.”

Republicans on Rape

A list purportedly offers controversial and embarrassing statements about rape made by Republican politicians.

CLAIM

A list collects statements about rape made by Republican politicians.

RATING

TRUE

ORIGIN

A “Republicans on Rape” graphic widely circulated online since 2014 collects various comments about that crime supposedly made by GOP politicians in recent years:

The remarks collected in that graphic were indeed all uttered by the persons to whom they have been attributed; below we offer the context in which those statements were made and any clarifying remarks subsequently offered by their speakers.


“Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”

On 24 March 1990, Texas oilman Clayton Williams, the Republican nominee in the Lone Star State’s upcoming gubernatorial election, was preparing for a cattle roundup at his West Texas ranch while undesirable weather conditions threatened to spoil the event. As he sat around a campfire with ranch hands, campaign workers, and reporters, Williams likened that day’s cold, foggy weather to rape, saying, “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”

Later that day Williams asserted that his comment had been a joke, and a few days later his campaign offered an apologetic statement about it:

Mr. Williams said it was merely a joke and apologized “if anyone’s offended.”

“That’s not a Republican women’s club that we were having this morning,” he said. “It’s a working cow camp, a tough world where you can get kicked in the testicles if you’re not careful.”

Asked if some people might be offended, Mr. Williams said: “I’m not going to give you a serious answer. It wasn’t a serious deal. It wasn’t a serious statement.”

But his campaign issued a statement in which Mr. Williams said: “I feel just terrible about this. I had no intention in my heart to hurt anyone, especially those women who have been traumatized by rape.

“Looking back, I realize it was insensitive and had no place at the campfire or in any setting.”

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down.”

On 19 August 2012, U.S. Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, a Republican who was challenging incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill for her seat in the U.S. Senate, was interviewed by St. Louis television station KTVI. During that interview, Akin was asked whether he believed abortion was justified in cases of rape, and he responded by asserting that “legitimate rapes” rarely resulted in pregnancy: “It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

After his words touched off widespread outrage, Akin then issued a statement maintaining that his remarks were “off-the-cuff” and that he “misspoke in this interview”:

As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.

I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.

Two years later, while appearing in another television interview with MSNBC to promote his new book Firing Back, Akin asserted that “legitimate rape” was a law enforcement term and that his original remark had been “intentionally misunderstood”:

“Legitimate rape is a law enforcement term, it’s an abbreviation for ‘legitimate case of rape,’” he told Chuck Todd. “A woman calls a police station, the police investigate, she says ‘I’ve been raped,’ they investigate that. So before any of the facts are in, they call it a legitimate case of rape,” explained Aiken.

Akin believes that everyone took what he said out of context. “This was intentionally misunderstood and twisted for political purposes. It doesn’t make any sense to say ‘a conservative is saying that rape is legitimate,’ that doesn’t even add up.”

Time magazine noted that they were unable to find a law enforcement official familiar with the term “legitimate rape”:

But is “legitimate rape” really a law enforcement term? We asked some experts.

“I’ve taught police officers, and worked with police officers on every continent in the world, and that’s something I’ve never heard in my 50 years in law enforcement,” says Dr. James A. Williams, former Chief of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces for the U.S Department of Justice, who also worked in municipal law enforcement in New Jersey. “I’ve never heard of that. Never.”

Richard Lichten, a veteran of the LA County Sheriff’s Department and expert on sexual assault investigations agrees:

“I have 30 years of experience, I’m qualified to testify in federal court on the way to investigate sexual assault crimes, and I’ve never heard of that,” said Lichten. “In all my life I’ve never heard of that.”

“Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.”

On 20 January 2012, Rick Santorum, a former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania who was then campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight program and was asked by that show’s host about his stance on abortion and whether he believed abortion was wrong even in cases of incest and rape. Santorum responded by saying that although a pregnancy resulting from a rape might be “horrible,” it was nonetheless a “gift of human life” and that “we have to make the best out of a bad situation”:

MORGAN: On abortion, you did harden your position on that as you got older. Why was that?

SANTORUM: Life. You know, when I decided to run for public life, I was informed very quickly people wanted to know what my position on that was. So I went through the process of trying to better understand the facts.

It became very clear to me that life begins at conception and persons are covered by the Constitution and since life — people, a human life is the same as a person, to me it was a pretty simple deduction to make. That’s what the Constitution clearly intended to protect.

MORGAN: But do you really — do you really — let me ask you this. Do you really believe, in every case, it should be totally wrong, in the sense that — I know that you believe, even in cases of rape and incest — and you’ve got two daughters. You know, if you have a daughter that came to you who had been raped.

SANTORUM: Yes.

MORGAN: And was pregnant and was begging you to let her have an abortion, would you really be able to look her in the eye and say, no, as her father?

SANTORUM: I would do what every father must do, is to try to counsel your daughter to do the right thing.

MORGAN: And they are looking at their daughter, saying, how can I deal with this, because if I make her have this baby, isn’t it going to just ruin her life?

SANTORUM: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.

As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

“Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

On 23 October 2012, Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for one of Indiana’s U.S. Senate seats, was engaged in a debate with his Democratic and Libertarian rivals when he expressed his view that “life begins at conception” and that he would only allow abortions in circumstances in which the mother’s life was in danger:

I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

After the debate, Mourdock explained that when he said “it is something that God intended to happen,” he was referring to the creation of life and not the act of rape itself:

Mourdock, seeking to clarify his comments in a press conference following the debate, said he had intended to say that “God creates life,” and that any interpretation of his comments to mean God “pre-ordained rape” were “sick” and “twisted.”

“What I said was, in answering the question form my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life,” Mourdock said. “Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think that God pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that. That’s sick. Twisted. That’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.”

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.”

On 23 June 2013, Jodie Laubenberg, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, was debating a measure she had introduced to the House that included a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When Rep. Senfronia Thompson proposed an exemption for victims of rape and incest, Laubenberg argued against that exemption, saying that when a victim seeks medical care after a rape, “they have what’s called rape kits, that the woman can get cleaned out, basically like” [a procedure known as D and C that is often performed after a miscarriage]. She also noted that emergency contraception is available.

A few days later, after she was mocked over her remark, Laubenberg said she was “confused by Democrats’ questions and misspoke” and meant to say that rape victims could “obtain emergency contraception and other treatment” at medical facilities:

Rape kits are used to collect evidence in hopes of prosecuting the perpetrator. They play no role in preventing pregnancy or serving as an abortion.

Laubenberg was widely mocked on social media, and opponents of the bill called her comments evidence of the misguided science behind Laubenberg’s proposal.

Laubenberg told North Texas talk radio host Mark Davis that she was momentarily confused by Democrats’ questions and misspoke. “What I was trying to say is, when a woman goes to the hospital, that they have the procedures there” to help her obtain emergency contraception and other treatment, she said. “No, rape kits do not cause an abortion.” As for the reaction, Laubenberg added: “If that’s the worst that you can complain about me, go ahead.”

“If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”

In February 2014, the Maine Democratic Party called for the resignation of Lawrence Lockman, a Republican member of the Maine House of Representatives, when a liberal activist made a blog post detailing negative public statements about gays, abortion and rape that Lockman had made years earlier:

The post by Maine People’s Alliance activist Mike Tipping mined press clippings to unearth several offensive comments. In one, Lockman implied that HIV and AIDS could be spread by bed sheets and mosquitoes. In another, he said that the progressive movement assisted the AIDS epidemic by assuring “the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted and depraved crime against humanity.” In a 1995 letter in the Sun Journal in Lewiston, a reader quoted a press statement by Lockman, then part of the Pro Life Education Association, saying, “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”

Lockman responded to the controversy by issuing a statement affirming that he regretted his previous remarks:

Most of the comments were made during the 1980s and 1990s, but Maine Democratic Party chairman Ben Grant issued a statement calling for Lockman’s resignation. Grant said the comments were “hateful, vicious and offensive” and he called Lockman a “disturbed individual who holds some of the most abhorrent beliefs ever heard from a public official in Maine.”

Lockman released a written statement.

“I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret. I hold no animosity toward anyone by virtue of their gender or sexual orientation, and today I am focused on ensuring freedom and economic prosperity for all Mainers,” he said.

Sources:Alter, Charlotte.   “Todd Akin Still Doesn’t Get What’s Wrong with Saying ‘Legitimate Rape.’”
Time.   17 July 2014.Graff, Amy.   “Rick Santorum: Rape Babies Are Gifts from God”
San Francisco Chronicle.   24 January 2012.Jaco, Charles.   “Jaco Report: Full Interview with Todd Akin.”
KTVI-TV [St. Louis].   19 August 2012.Madison, Lucy.   “Richard Mourdock: Even Pregnancy from Rape Something ‘God Intended.’”
CBS News.   24 October 2012.

Mistler, Steve.   “Maine Lawmaker Says He Regrets Comments on Rape, Gays.”
Portland Press Herald.   27 February 2014.

Mohammed, Ravelle.   “Santorum: Rape Victims Should ‘Make Best of a Bad Situation’ and Choose Life.”
The Christian Post.   24 January 2012.

Moore, Lori.   “Rep. Todd Akin: The Statement and the Reaction.”
The New York Times.   20 August 2012.

Associated Press.   “Texas Candidate’s Comment About Rape Causes a Furor.”
The New York Times.   26 March 1990.

The Dallas Morning News.   “Rape-Kit Remarks Put Rep. Jodie Laubenberg in Spotlight.”
25 June 2013.

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