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      Listening to Hannity today and the rest of the Rightwing Echo Machine, it's pretty clear they are going to try to keep this all about "ending the separation of church and state" and using YOUR money so people you don't like can have sexy time whenever they want. They're going to keep screaming about the constitution being violated. (By 'violated', do they mean in the unprotected sex sense of the word?)

       Try to talk to them about this, try to debate them, and they'll just keep going back to these talking points. They will try to stay on the offensive and will concede nothing. They will ask leading questions to trap you into statements they can demolish. It's a rigged game and they're masters at framing. Otherwise, we wouldn't find ourselves fighting 50 and 100 year old battles again.

      Well, it doesn't have to be one-sided. Past the Orange Omnilepticon, five questions for them to answer before going any farther.


    No benefit of the doubt for these people; no assuming they'll play fair or engage in honest debate. Let's start with a question right at the center of this storm Limbaugh has stirred up. Don't let them twist away, don't let them try to make you answer a question first. Nail them down on this before anything else.

1) Do YOU believe that any woman who has sex for any reason except to make a baby within a church-sanctioned marriage with a person of the opposite sex is a slut? A prostitute? And if you say yes - what do you believe about the person having sex with that woman? What standard do you hold them to?
Don't let them sidetrack you with questions about contraception, or abortion, or who pays for what. Do they believe she's a slut or not? If they say yes, there's no point - or need - to go any farther.

   If they can get past question #1, try this one next. Let's talk about contraception - and other things.

2) Have YOU and/or your sexual partners (if any) ever used any form of contraception? How do YOU justify that? Does that make YOU or your partner a slut? Have YOU or any of your sexual partners ever used a drug to combat Erectile Dysfunction for the purpose of sex NOT intended to make a baby within a church-sanctioned marriage with a person of the opposite sex?
     If you can get a straight answer out of them, this will give you an idea of where they fall on the hypocrisy index. If they're willing to drag the most personal aspects of a stranger's life into public, they shouldn't expect to be spared scrutiny of their own. Now let's talk about the money.
3) Do YOU support inclusion of contraception for women as part of health insurance, either private, employer provided, or government-based, even though this means there will be people within that coverage paying for other people to get services they will never need or may object to on the grounds of conscience? If a woman becomes pregnant for lack of contraception, will YOU be willing to pay for pre-natal care for the sake of the child? School taxes to support their education? Will you deny that child fire or police protection or other government services?
     This one has all kinds of implications.  As in, do people you don't even know get veto power over your life? Do women get out of paying for other people to get prostate surgery? Rogaine? Viagra? Treatment for STDs? How far do objections on the grounds of conscience go? And what about third parties like doctors or pharmacists and whether or not they can object to providing services for any of these? Ready for one on intrusive Big Government now?
4) Do YOU object to government telling you what to do, and what you can or can't have in the most private and personal aspects of your life - especially if it's a government YOU did not vote for but still have to pay for? If so, can YOU explain why it is different when a church tries to do the same to people who do not even belong to it - and it's a church that also happens to be getting YOUR taxpayer money (Medicare, medicaid) while also enjoying tax exemptions?
   While the wingnuts are trying to make this all about religious freedom, it's worth mentioning the Roman Catholic Church is not exactly disinterested in the financial side of this debate. The RCC has a huge healthcare business empire; a monopoly in many areas.  (pdf file) You deal with them, you don't necessarily get the best health care or the care you want - you only get Catholic health care. And now to the last question. It's a nice little booby trap they've laid for themselves.
5) If YOU believe separation of Church and State means the State has no role in restricting the exercise of Religion, do YOU now think the government should have done nothing to block the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque? Do YOU now think the government should have never investigated the fraud in the PTL Club of Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker? Do YOU now think the government should have never intervened for traditional marriage in the case of the original LDS Church and polygamy?
       It shouldn't be necessary at this time to have to argue about the separation of church and state, or why it's a good thing for both of them (and us) - but here we are. These people don't really give a damn about religion of freedom - it's all about power.

      The five questions above start simple and get more complicated - but they're all framed so that you can demand a yes or no answer, and they're framed to demolish the talking points on this issue the right wing is trying to push. If you want to put them to use, keep a few things in mind.

• Don't let your target weasel out of answering the questions with quibbles and qualifications - keep demanding yes or no.
• Don't let them deflect you with questions designed to trap you in their frames; turn them around into the questions laid out here.
• Don't let them drag in irrelevancies or distractions.
• This is the most important thing to remember: have your own answers ready for each of these questions, and be prepared to defend them in your own words. Relate your answers to personal experiences, things other people can connect with emotionally.

       You can tell you're getting to them if they start shouting, try to keep you from getting a word in edgewise, or refuse to answer.  

        The right has settled on their talking points - we need to be able to counter them. If you can come up with better ones, or find problems with these, spell it out in comments.  Hey - these are free and may be worth exactly that. (It's not like the Koch brothers are paying me thousands of dollars to come up with this stuff, after all.)

       Limbaugh has become a wedge that can be used to force the GOP to defend the indefensible - and be seen doing so. Let's use it.


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