I love words. I love playing with words. I respect words, and what they can do to uplift or bring down. Build or destroy. Comfort or agitate. Words should be treated with caution, I believe, because words are forever. Though invisible when spoken, they cling, worm their way into your subconscious. When written, they do the same, but they are more obvious, more readily reviewed in total, without variation.
Stating the obvious, I am now putting words on “paper” (digital though it may be), and those words will become part of me, part of my life, part of my identity. Because they are “out there”, for any who wish to read. To quote. To misquote. Which leads me to the purpose of this blog, my realization that words taken out of context, words distorted to represent what I want them to rather than the whole truth, pushes my buttons faster than anything else I can think of. I have found my pet peeve. I have found what wakens my passion, my indignation.
The other day, a friend showed me a petition she’d gotten at her church. In perfect innocence, without any idea a volcano was about to erupt. The petition itself was harmless, really, but the letter that accompanied it to explain its purpose, was, in my view, completely the opposite. Not innocent, not harmless.
The petition was protesting a recent bill passed by the state of Oregon – a bill explaining funding for the Oregon version of Planned Parenthood. The bill funds another bill that would “reimburse costs of services, drugs, devices, products and procedures related to reproductive health provided to individuals who can become pregnant and who would be eligible for medical assistance if not for certain federal requirements”. The bill also requires that insurers provide coverage for abortions for all women, regardless of “citizenship or gender identity”. There is allowance for exemptions for religious organizations.
To my way of thinking, we may or may not agree with the concept of abortion, but we are fortunate to have the freedom to make up our own minds. I believe that we should have the same freedom to choose whether to have an abortion. I may vehemently disagree with you about the morality of that decision, but it is not up to my beliefs to dictate your actions. Your actions are not harming me, they will have no effect whatsoever on my life, or the lives of those around me. I equate it to making choices about how I eat – I prefer vegetarianism, you like your red meat. Fine. It’s a matter of personal choice.
So back to the letter that came with the petition. The letter stated that this bill would enable people to have abortions to make gender choice – that is, they were told the fetus was a boy, but they wanted a girl = abortion. NO! That’s not what the health plan says – it says the patient should be allowed to have an abortion regardless of the patient’s “gender identity”. The letter emphasized, in a negative way, that our tax dollars would pay for non-citizens to have an abortion. That part is true – but the bill covers so much more. I resent the distortion of the words used in the description of the coverages the plan affords, I resent the obvious emphasis on the negative. I resent that they didn’t also explain the undeniably good parts of what it covers. The prenatal care, the postnatal care, the mammograms, regular checkups, all of those good things. Factually, in 2015, Oregon had a population of 4.025 million. Out of that number, there were 8,610 abortions performed. That’s .002%, which means a very very small portion of my tax dollars would have gone towards the cost.
Another irritant in all of this is that it took me quite a lot of digging to find out what those tax dollars for that funding would actually be covering. The petition and the letter referred to Oregon House Bill 2391, which is the number of the bill for funding, but does not explain coverages, the very thing the letter was emphasizing. Those coverages actually come under Oregon Chapter 414, where I found House Bill 3391 – finally! A description of the coverages.
My whole point here is that we need to arm ourselves with the facts before we make our decisions, but the groups supporting/not supporting certain positions do not make it easy to do that. Which brings me back to that thing that most quickly raises my ire – my pet peeve. The use of words to distort, to disfigure, to lead astray, to misinform. Yes, I know – that’s the job of those who are paid to write the speeches, write the text for convincing the public to buy their product or support their position. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. So – what I would ask is that you question, always question. Accepting things on face value is a luxury not often afforded these days. My friend asked me what she’s supposed to do – dig and read the text that was not meant for the average person’s consumption? My answer: Yes! Search. Google is a wonderful thing – there is much to be learned. Yes, you may spend some time, but that would probably be time wisely invested, right?