Jonah Goldberg

Todd Akin's idiocy appears to be infectious.

The evil genius of the Missouri congressman's comments is that they lend themselves to such broad interpretations -- and misinterpretations.

By now his remarks are familiar, but just in case ...

Akin told a local TV interviewer: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare." He continued: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

My own take is that there's a dual-core of asininity here. First, Akin's formulation makes it sound like if an "alleged" rape victim is pregnant, it must mean that she wasn't really raped, like she was either asking for it or lying. After all, real rape victims don't get pregnant. I cannot imagine how infuriating it would be for a rape victim to have her rape claim dismissed by her pregnancy.

But even here, Akin couldn't stick the landing of his own buffoonery. Because he doesn't claim this is a universal scientific truth, just a rule of thumb. It's "really rare" -- he says -- for "legitimate" rape victims to get pregnant.

I'll let the doctors and statisticians debate that one. But let's say it's true. What's Akin's point then? We already knew that abortions stemming from rape are statistically rare. People have been talking about pro-life exceptions for the "rare instances of rape and incest" since Roe v. Wade was decided. But the rareness of such instances doesn't change the moral questions one iota.

To bring up frequency makes it sound like it's all a numbers game, which is wholly contrary to the principled pro-life argument. If the argument is that a fetus is an independent being deserving of life, rareness is a red herring. Conversely, if it's cruel to force a woman to carry a rapist's child to term, rareness is a red herring.

And besides, whatever the absolute numbers might be, if you're a woman who's been raped and impregnated, 100 percent of you has been affected.

But these are just my biggest objections to Akin's comments. Such is the Rorschach nature of Akin's jackassery that they apparently lend credence to countless other interpretations.

I was one of the millions of Americans on the receiving end of an email from Sandra Fluke, the feminist activist who parlayed a non-invitation to a congressional hearing into full-blown feminist martyr status. Freed from the requirement of using logic, Ms. Fluke insists that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are in "lockstep" with Akin, despite the fact that both of them publicly repudiated the man and pleaded with him to drop out of his race for the Senate.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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