Friday, July 31, 2009
At the beginning of the series set in 1915, we see Maria, an illiterate day laborer who is a lover of a rich mill-owner and a mother of his illegitimate child. One day, the mill-owner and his buddies are making fun of Maria because of her marginalized social status. The mill-owner tells his friends that Maria loves him so much that he can make her do anything for him. To prove this point, he comes up to Maria and says: "If you go into the woods right now, armed with nothing but this small knife, and kill a bear for me and bring me his skin, I will finally marry you and give you my mill."
So Maria goes into the woods and reemerges after a while with a huge bear skin. "I'm so sorry for doing this, my dear," says the mill-owner. "Don't worry, now I'll marry you and you will be a co-owner of my mill." "I don't want your marriage, I don't want your mill, and I don't want you," responds Maria proudly. She leaves the village to become a factory worker in a big city and provide for her child. Later, she becomes politically active and turns into an inspirational leader. The mill-owner keeps following her around, begging her to give him a second chance.
In the rest of the mini-series, one can observe a curious ideological consistency: positive female characters are assertive, powerful, and head-strong. Negative female characters allow men to walk all over them.
This mini-series was one of the last examples of the long line of Soviet films that presented images of strong, assertive women as positive. By the end of the 70ies, characters like Maria started disappearing from the Soviet movie and TV screens to give way to sad, pathetic, weepy women, who feel that they have to deserve male attention at any cost.
P.S. In the episode I'm watching right now, a female character suspects that her neighbor is having an affair with her husband. She confronts her neighbor aggressively but the sisterhood wins almost immediately and both women ask each other for forgiveness and have a nice bonding moment. It's such a pleasure to watch a film that shows female solidarity as being way more important than fighting for a man's affection.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
When I first came to Canada and started attending university, I remember one of my professors asking a largely female class who among the students considered themselves feminists. I was shocked to see that nobody raised their hands. Now that I teach, I sometimes ask my students the same question. The best response I get is embarrassed giggling. The worst is a loud denial.
The most popular reason for this and one that we all have heard a billion times is that feminism has lost its relevance since it failed to address the interests and concerns of underprivileged social and racial groups. Tirado Gilligan talks about this too and immediately proceeds to lament the chauvinism encountered by Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign. Apparently, Clinton is the only example of a socially and racially marginalized woman that Tirado Giligan could think of.
Nobody argues with the obvious reality of a horrible chauvinism that followed Clinton throughout her public career. Nobody disagrees that feminism has to learn to address the concerns of underprivileged groups. Still, the idea that my students (who until now have been preponderantly white and middle class) reject feminism because they are upset over feminism's incapacity to address the issues of marginalized group is nothing other than inane. This explanation is comforting in its political correctness. But it is inadequate if we want to understand what is really going on.
Tirado Gilligan is right when she says that "choice feminism" that is willing to "accept" and celebrate pretty much anything if it can be presented as a woman's choice is largely (although not exclusively) to blame for this: "To make feminism more appealing and less dogmatic, "choice feminism" arose as a defining element of the third wave, defined by Linda Hirschman in The American Prospect as: 'Abandon[ing] the judgmental starting point of the movement in favor of offering women 'choices'… A woman could work, stay home, have 10 children or one, marry or stay single. It all counted as 'feminist' as long as she chose it.' Choice feminism, also called lifestyle feminism, marked a transition from addressing social inequity to a celebration of the individual, focusing so much on personal choices that first-person narrative defines much of third wave writing." As a result of this attitude, it has become a feminist cause to defend women's "right" to fake an orgasm and women's "right" to wear a burqa. Instead of having the courage to analyze the reasons why these and other things take place, we hide behind the empty slogans of tolerance and inclusion.
It is so easy to dismiss the complex reality of a woman who "chooses" not to work, "chooses" to be economically and socially dependent on a man, "chooses" to cover her face, "chooses" to not have sexual fulfillment. Who cares why she chose all these things? We can just dismiss her by celebrating her choice and congratulate ourselves for our tolerance. Thank God, women's suffrage movement didn't decide that women simply "chose" the right not to have a vote, so nobody should contest that right.
Along with the vapid "choice feminism", there is another variety of feminism that survived as a legacy of previous generations of feminists. Its main interest resides in coming up with lists of grievances women can address to men. Once again, nobody argues that men have historically and still do oppress women. At a certain point in the movement's history it was, indeed, important to understand all of the instances of oppression. Still, this brand of feminism cannot be practiced indefinitely. The movement needs to evolve, otherwise it dies. This desire to see women as constant miserable pathetic victims of bad horrible men serves no useful purpose today. The time has come to accept that patriarchy hurts both men and women. It is not a system that benefits all men all the time while hurting all women all the time. It is much more complex than that. Until we are ready to acknodwledge and analyze this complexity, we will retain our one-dimensional view of this system and this is what will prevent us from destroying it.
In my opinion, in order to revive feminism we need to abandon our blind respect for anything that can be called "a choice." We need to stop being afraid of analyzing these choices, we need to start asking ourselves and others hard painful questions, we need to learn to face the answers. We also need to leave behind this "men are bad, women are good" rhetoric and look at ways patriarchy hurts men and women.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I hate racism but I would never tell an African-American person that their understanding of racism is less profound than mine. I hate ableism with a passion but I would never declare to a disabled person that their vision of ableism is flawed compared to mine. Racism and ableism hurt me too, but not nearly as much as it hurts them.
Just now in a discussion on Hugo Schwyzer's great blog, I had this interesting moment where I got accused of being a victim-blaming proponent of male rights activist agenda. In the fiercely patriarchal society where I was born, I heard this "you-aren't-really-a-woman-you-sound-just-like-a-man" line a lot, so this is nothing new. What's interesting, though, is the reason why Mr. Schwyzer dislikes my kind of feminism. It's because I suggested that the idea that men reject women because of their weight is false. It's what the patriarchal society wants us to believe as part of its fat-shaming agenda. Everybody has heard the statistics that the majority of American women wear size 12 and higher. So what, are we all single? Or is the suggestion here that our partners tolerate us because there aren't enough thin women for everybody? Simple logic tells us that this can't be true.
What I find disturbing is that this condescending stance of "You poor fat chicks, you must feel so rejected by men" is proposed as male feminism. As many times as I repeat that I feel neither poor, nor fat, nor rejected, I get the response that a man knows best and I must be a bad feminist, anyways.
Mr. Schwyzer's post is titled '“More to Love” and the tentative broadening of male heterosexual desire." As a woman, I believe I have more experience with being an object of male heterosexual desire than the author of the post. And I'm sure there are tons of women of my size and bigger whose only problem in this area is attracting too much desire. Sometimes, you want to be able to walk down the street and not be approached by men all the time. Men who worry (with the best possible intentions, of course) about how difficult our love lives are do nothing other than perpetuate this myth of our lack of attraction for men.
"Finally, a show that will prove that it is possible for size 12-18 women to find love, too," people on those sites say. My only question when I read this kind of responses to the show is: has everybody suddenly gone insane? Since when do we need to "prove" something that is an obvious fact of reality? Have we reached a point where television has suddenly become more real than what we observe around us every single day? How is it possible for people to forget that nobody in real life looks like the characters on TV shows? Even the actors who play them don't look like that in life.
I love television as much (or even more) than the next person. But if the moment has come when you need televised reassurance that it is in no way more difficult for a woman who wears size 16 to find love than a woman who wears size 4, then you need to step away from that remote control right now. Go outside, walk around the block, go into a bar or a coffee-shop. That's where the real people are. Reality television isn't actually based on reality. It's entertainment, it's finctionalized, it isn't real.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
To make matters worse, the makers of the product have no idea how (or even if) this quasi-scientific goop works: "LATISSE® is believed to affect the growth (anagen) phase of the eyelash hair cycle in two ways: first, it increases the length of this phase; and second, it increases the number of hairs in this growth phase. The exact way it works is unknown." Notice the "Latisse is believed" part. Believed by whom? The crooks trying to sell this junk as medication? The women who are duped into thinking that having "not enough" lashes is a disease?
Since there are still honest doctors who will be unwilling to prescribe this junk to their patients, Latisse's website offers a Find-a-Doctor tool that gives you an address of a doctor who will prescribe this "medication" to you.
The website gives you advice on "how to make the most of your treatment" (treatment again, reinforcing the idea that women with short lashes are not only "inadequate" but also sick). Part of the advice goes as follows: "When you start using LATISSE® solution, be sure to mark your calendar and take pictures throughout weeks (0, 4, 8, 12, 16), so you can have your own "Before & After Gallery." And then do what with the gallery, I wonder? Put it up on your wall and show it off to guests? Carry it around with you in your wallet? Post it on a website as a monument to how you allowed another dishonest pharmaceutical company to dupe you into thinking that looking the way you do is a disease that needs yet another prescription?
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Many mothers of today's adult men do not have a rich and fulfilling professional and social lives. They also belong to the generations that did not encourage women to pursue sexual realization as an important goal. They are unaccustomed to the idea that they can leave a relationship "just because" it doesn't fulfill them sexually. They don't have a professional sphere where they could sublimate some of these perennially repressed feelings. As a result, the affection and the energy that they could have spread between their sexual partners and their jobs is showered upon their sons. A relationship between a son and his unsatisfied mother often acquires sexual undertones. This type of mother-in-law feels deep jealousy towards the "ther women" in her son's life.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
1. The most important thing, of course, is choosing the topic that's right for you (and that your thesis director doesn't absolutely hate). There is always a temptation to choose a subject that is fashionable right now, will look good to a hiring committee, or will be easier to turn into a book. You need to remember, however, that before the hiring committee or the publishers even get to hear about it, you will have to spend months of your life living and breathing this topic. If it doesn't inspire you a lot before you begin wiritng, there is a danger that your enthusiasm for it will peter out pretty soon.
2. Decide how many months you give yourself to do pure research before you start writing. Remember, you most definitely don't need to read every source available on your topic before you begin to write. When you start writing, you will find out that the process of writing will always lead you to look for more specific sources.
3. Every time you read what might become a primary or a secondary source, I suggest that you copy the quotes that seem like they could be useful onto a cue card. Don't leave it for sometime later on, or you will find yourself in this unpleasant situation (known to every researcher) where you have a nagging feeling that you read something somewhere about something important but cannot remember where it was. I always carried a stack of cue cards with quotes on a key chain and went through them regularly. Eventually, I arrived at a point where I knew my sources so well that I didn't need to stop and rummage around in articles and books every time I wanted to quote something. This allows for a much faster and more seamless writing pace.4. One of my professors once told me that the best pace to write is 3 pages a day 5 days a week. I found it to be a great suggestion. This writing schedule leaves you with 10 good pages a week (after revisions) and plenty of time to explore more primary and secondary sources. I know there is always a temptation to produce 8 pages in a row on a good day when you feel inspired. In my experience, however, this feat would leave me pretty useless the next day and those 8 pages would turn out to be pretty bad anyways. Besides, you always need some distance from your writing, so there should be at least one day a week when you don't work on the dissertation at all. Otherwise, you might start hating it pretty soon.
5. Learn to let go. As hard as it is to accept it, there will always be more relevant sources, critical theories, and primary texts that can be added to the dissertation. So at some point it's ok to just leave it the way it is. There will always be time to add more when you are transforming it into a book or a set of articles.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The people of Baltimore are incredible. I've lived in many places but I have never met such warm, nice, and welcoming people as here. You literally can't go outside without passersby smiling at you, greeting you, and telling you how wonderful you look.
There are tons of places to have fun in the downtown and Mount Vernon areas. A great place to go and relax is the Baltimore Comedy Factory. After your first visit, all drinks are free, so all you have to pay is the $17 entrance fee. For those who are fed up with the inane kind of entertainment offered by Hollywood movies, a comedy club is a great alternative.
Another great thing to do is to walk around the Baltimore harbor. There are bars, resataurants, sidewalk musicians, and all kinds of fun activities going on at night and during the day. We often walk from our house in Mount Vernon straight to the port and it's the most enjoyable walk you can imagine.
The city isn't huge. As of 2008, the population of Baltimore was around 636,919. This gives Baltimore a nice, cozy, yet happening and fun atmosphere.
I'm hoping to return here many times in the coming years. This is a great city and if you get a chance to travel here, I know you won't be sorry.
Let's look at Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, for example. Recently, Bill Clinton revealed that his position on gay marriage is "evolving." He also expressed hope that the military’s 'don’t ask, don’t tell policy' (which as we all remember he helped institute) would be abolished and gay members of the military would be able to serve openly. It sounds great, of course, but one can't help wondering why he didn't have this epiphany while he was still in office and could do something about it.
Now, thanks to Echidne's blog, I have discovered I great article by the former President Jimmy Carter who comes out as a great champion of women's rights in "The words of God do not justify cruelty to women" published in UK's Guardian. In the article, Carter states that he decided to leave the Southern Baptist Convention because of its chauvinistic rhetoric: "My decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God." If only we could have more political leaders saying and doing the same. So many of our politicians give pretty speeches about their support of the feminist agenda while beelining for the church to listen to a sermon that presents women as inferior by nature.
The best thing about Carter's article is that he isn't afraid of making a direct connection between religion and violations of women's rights: "Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries. The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses." Carter even recognizes that the gender gap in pay in the US has a lot to do with the discriminatory thinking instilled by religious teachings. All in all, Carter's article is a beautiful and inspirational piece of writing.
When I look at the recent statements by these former presidents, I have to ask myself why they didn't do more (or at least something) about these issues when they were in office. In spite of our constant hopes that Clinton would do something for gay rights, he never delivered. As for Carter, as far as I remember, his record on women's rights was always pretty poor. He used to say that he opposed abortion and after he was elected President failed to support increased federal funding for abortion services.
Still, it's great to know that it's possible for former presidents to evolve and adopt more progressive ways of thinking. Who knows, maybe one day we'll see George W. promoting comprehensive sex ed classes, campaigning against the death penalty, or supporting a woman's right to her own body.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Me: He's doing the dishes.
My mother: This is so wrong! You should do that instead of him. What did he get his PhD for? To do the dishes?
Me: But, Mom, I also have a PhD.
(A long pause).
In spite of the seemingly feminist rhetoric about reducing sexual violence, the real goal of the project is to create a "purity drive" similar to the one that has been inundating public education in the US. The Canadian government feels somehow threatened by young women being in charge of the manifestations of their own sexuality and wants to exercise control over female sexuality. Here is the definition of the concept of hypersexuality provided by governmental aggencies: "Mansour [director of communications for Guergis, minister of state for the status of women] defined hypersexualization as a social phenomenon in which adolescents adopt attitudes and bearing that are too sexual for their years. Examples are young girls who wear clothes emphasizing the shape of their bodies or very young, immature adolescent couples who become sexually active in response to the influence of peer pressure, the Internet and mass media." Note how nobody cares about controlling the way men dress.
The idea that dating violence has anything to do with the way women dress is extremely offensive. After they make such statements, any attempt by the government to deny that they engage in victim-blaming cannot be believed.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
When I see such things, I always want to ask the following questions:
1) Why isn't any one saying that this is child abuse, pure and simple?
2) How is what "Kate" says different from what any pedophile says (it's what the child wants, the child seduced me, the child needed it more than I do, I can't say no to a child who's asking for it)?
3) Where are the social services? Why doesn't any one care about the profound psychological damage this woman is inflicting on the poor children by shoving her breasts into the grown kids mouths?
4) What would happen if we saw images of a daddy putting parts of his body into his 7-year-old's mouth on television and claiming that "this is what she wants"?
5) Why should people be exposed to watching scenes of pedophilia like this one on daytime television? Hearing about it is bad enough but seeing the actual images literally turns your stomach.
6) Why is there such a permissive attitude towards pedophilia and child abuse in our society? Nobody cares about Michael Jackson confessing that he sleeps in the same bed with boys, nobody gives a damn that this woman abuses her children in front of millions of people. How is this all ok?
For years, I've been very unhappy with the way Isarel is discussed in liberal circles. I hate the "yeah-sure-the-Holocaust-happened-but-that's-not-the-point" attitude. I hate the ease with which some journalists churn out miles of articles on Israel without mentioning the word "anti-semitism" once. I'm disgusted with how the conservatives adopted as their own the "we-love-Israel" routine. And I'm annoyed that the liberals let them do that and can only respond with an equally inane "and-we-love-the-Palestinians" agenda.
I hate it when politicians pretend that "the two-state solution" will stop the terrorism instead of realizing that the day the Palestinians receive their well-deserved sovereignty the number of terror attacks against Israel will grow exponentially. I'm annoyed beyond belief with literary critics who - instead of doing their job of analyzing works of literature - go to Isarel to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers. I find it unbelievable that people would actually expect the leaders of an organization that accuses the Israelis of "attempting to "destroy" the young generation by distributing libido-boosting chewing gum in the Gaza area" will walk peacefully into the sunset after they are granted their independence.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
All enthusiasm that I had about moving to Illinois just evaporated completely. And don't even start me on what's happening with abortion laws in Arizona. Compared to Arizona, Illinois is a progressive haven.
Why are there still so many woman-haters around? Why are there so many people who would want to destroy the lives of young women they don't even know? Why do we allow these disgusting freaks of nature to call themselves "pro-life", if all they are is anti-life, anti-choice, anti-reason, anti-enlightenment, anti-simple-human-compassion?
When I imagine a 17-year-old woman in Illinois, who finds herself pregnant and terrified, and who cannot receive a medical service she is guaranteed by law without informing her parents, I feel angry beyond belief. I have a suggestion: to make things more fair, let's introduce a law forcing any man who seeks a Viagra prescription to notify his neighbors. Then we will see how fast these lawmakers will appreciate what it feels like to involve other people in the most intimate matters concerning your body.
As somebody said, the virtue that needs to be guarded isn't worth guarding.
Here is one of my previous posts on Jessica's great book The Purity Myth.
Just consider the following sentence: "Many states have abundant coal, whose technology is continuously making it into a cleaner energy source." Whose technology? The coal's? Then what does "it" refer to? Also the coal? Then again, cleaner than what? Which states have this clean coal? What kind of technology are we discussing? What is the word "continuously" doing here? No clarification from Palin. And not a single fact presented to support anything.
Obama's energy plan, she says, is very dangerous. Why? (Besides the fact that anything Obama does is inherently bad, dangerous, and ugly, of course). "Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs" says Palin. The people who will lose jobs under this plan will be provided with new employment. How can that be bad? Because the plan doesn't create new jobs, Palin claims. Well, this was never the plan's goal. It's a plan to cap emissions, it can't be expected to cure all of the world's evils. And since when does a Republican care about people losing jobs, anyways?
Now let's look at the next statement: "We have an important choice to make. Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, Russia and Saudi Arabia? Make no mistake: President Obama's plan will result in the latter." Sounds bad, doesn't it? Of course, nobody wants to outsource to other countries. The only problem: there is no evidence of how Obama's plan will do that. The cap and trade plan is aimed at reducing the emissions created by burning fossil fuel. The idea behind the plan is simply to burn less fuel. Not less domestic as opposed to imported fuel. But simply: less fuel. I must be stupid but I fail to understand how this plan will result in America losing control over anything. My only consolation is that Sarah Palin, the author of the statement, has no idea either. She never stops to explain how she arrived at her daring conclusion. Well, she isn't Sarah Palin for nothing.
Here is the conclusion to the article: "Can America produce more of its own energy through strategic investments that protect the environment, revive our economy and secure our nation? Yes, we can. Just not with Barack Obama's energy cap-and-tax plan." OK, the readers might think. Now we are getting to it. Obama's plan is bad but now Palin will give us the alternative, a plan of her own that will achieve all of these good things (protecting the environment, reviving the economy and "securing the nation", whatever that is). But wait, these are actually the last words of the article. After I read them, I kept sitting there, staring stupidly at the web-page. There must be a continuation to the article, I thought. You are saying that all these things can be done, just not with Obama's plan. Isn't this the point where you tell us what the alternative is?
I imagined what would happen if Sarah Palin were to walk into my apartment right now and observe me blogging. "The way you blog is silly and inefficient," she would say. "There is a way to blog faster, better, and more productively. I know how to do it." And then she would just walk out without ever revealing her new and improved blogging strategy to me.
I wonder why more people don't write articles for The Washington Post? It seems so easy. Here are some ideas for future articles:
1. The way heart surgeons operate on patients is wrong. I know a better, cheaper, healthier way to operate. End of article.
2. Writers are stupid. I know how to write more engaging, stylistically beautiful, and artistically valuable novels. End of article.
3. Teachers are all idiots. I know how to tach kids better and faster. End of article.
See how easy it is to become an expert on almost anything? Just tell people how stupid they are and that you know a better way. Remember, no proof of this better way will ever be required from you.
Why should women engage in this king of masochistic practices? Because without experiencing pain, they wouldn't be able to become good mothers: "Because anaesthetic drugs undermine the mother’s bond with her baby, an expert said yesterday. Dr Denis Walsh said the agony of labour should be considered a ‘rite of passage’ and a ‘purposeful, useful thing’. The pain prepared women for the demands of motherhood, he argued." Once again, there is no discussion of how to prepare men for the demands of fatherhood. Either the suggestion is that men don't need a bond with their children (childrearing being part of the lowly female realm), or Walsh believes that men have a different, pain-free way of establishing such a bond.
Monday, July 13, 2009
American politics has become very disappointing, says Douthat. The Republicans are despised and "Barack Obama’s agenda looks like the same old Democratic laundry list, rewritten in a sleeker, Internet-era font." Douthat's answer to the problem? Radical thinking: "The governing party is mistrusted, the minority party despised. Yet there’s remarkably little radical thinking taking place." Good, huh? I'm the first person to agree that we need new, fresh, often even radical approaches to the problems we face. Of course, the question arises immediately of where we should look for the radical thinkers and politicians who would be able to offer strikingly new solutions. While the answer to the question has been eluding me for a while, Douthat has the response: the Pope, of course. Here is the radical new thinker whose political agenda will allow the Americans to embrace a new, progressive, non-partisan way of thinking.
Catholic or not, says Douthat, we should all read and feel inspired by Pope Benedicts third encyclical: " Catholics are obliged to take seriously the underlying provocation of the papal message. . . So should all people of good will. For liberals and conservatives alike, “Caritas in Veritate” is an invitation to think anew about their alliances and litmus tests." After this statement, Douthat proceeds to show us how he accomplishes this in practice. He poses a series of questions on important political issues one might expect from a third-grader. Since Douthat has apparently been unable to find answers to these questions on his own, I will provide him with answers.
1) Why should being pro-environment preclude being pro-life?
It doesn't. I'm very pro-environment and at the same time I firmly believe in the right of every woman to be in charge of her own life. I'm pro-life since, surely, being pro-life has to mean being against the death penalty, against war-mongering, and in favor of every individual having access to basic things (clean water, food, medical care) that will make life possible.
2) Why can’t Republicans worry about economic inequality?
Because they are Republicans, dummy. It's like asking why turtles can't fly. The answer is because it's not in their nature. Besides, the whole tone of the question aside from being childish is plain weird. What does Douthat mean by "worry about"? Do the Republicans worry that there is too little economic inequality? Does "worrying" about it include doing anything to change it? Even if they did worry about it, how would that help anybody? Worrying is hardly a very practical occupation for politicians.
3) Why can't Democrats consider devolving more power to localities and states?
Once again, this is hardly a serious question. More power than what? Which "localities" currently suffer from having too little power? What does this whole question mean?
4) Does opposing the Iraq war mean that you have to endorse an anything-goes approach to bioethics?
This is an example of a question the purpose of which is not to seek information. Rather, the point is to make baseless accusations. What's "an anything-goes approach to bioethics"? Why does Douthat accuse people who are against the Iraq war (as opposed to the Afghanistan war or any other war, I guess) of it? If I favor cloning, I have very specific reasons for it. Douthat, who endorses an anything-goes approach to journalism, would never be able to understand that, of course.
5) Does supporting free trade require supporting the death penalty?
Yes, it does, pumpkin. What you are coy enough to call "free trade" destroys so many people that a little death penalty here and there is nothing.
To conclude his article, Douthat laments the absence of such disscussions in Washington: "These questions, and many others like them, are the kind that a healthy political system would allow voters and politicians to explore. But for now, at least, you’re more likely to find them being raised in Benedict XVI’s Vatican than in Barack Obama’s Washington." What Douthat doesn't seem to realize is that a healthy educational system allows people to find answers to these question by the age of ten. Obama's Washington has more serious things to do.
Douthat laments the fact that the Pope's concerns and proposals aren't echoed in Washington: “Caritas in Veritate” promotes a vision of economic solidarity rooted in moral conservatism. It links the dignity of labor to the sanctity of marriage. It praises the redistribution of wealth while emphasizing the importance of decentralized governance. It connects the despoiling of the environment to the mass destruction of human embryos. This is not a message you’re likely to hear in Barack Obama’s next State of the Union, or in the Republican Party’s response." Of course, you aren't likely to hear this arrant nonsense in a President's State of the Union address. This sounds like ramblings of a maniac, or as an attempt of a religious leader to craft an ideology that would cover the obsolete nature of the teachings he has to follow (which is what it is). It will be a sad moment in American politics when we see elected a president dishing out this kind of insanity.