Republicans: shut the front door!
It can be hard to get your head around what rightwingers in the US actually believe. On the one hand, they claim to love babies; on the other hand, they’re against government funds going towards helping to feed babies. They claim to love freedom and hate government meddling, but then they’re frenetically trying to pass bills that would take away a woman’s freedom over her own body and allow the government to meddle in intimate reproductive choices. Like I said, they’re a complex bunch! Still, I’ve mapped their moral compass as best I can, and compiled this handy cheatsheet to help understand where conservatives stand on various issues. Here you go.
Essential to life, liberty and the pursuit of freedom; should remain freely available and shouldn’t be controlled:
Highly dangerous and must be banned or tightly controlled:
Yep, you read that last item right: it seems doors are the newest enemy of the Republican party. In the wake of the horrific elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas – where 19 children and two teachers were killed by a teenager with military-grade weapons – some Republicans are choosing to channel their energy towards the important question of door control.
“You want to talk about how we could have prevented the horror that played out across the street?” the Texas senator Ted Cruz said on Wednesday, while standing outside Robb elementary school. “Having one door that goes in and out of the school, having armed police officers at that one door.”
An ordinary person would have paused for a second after saying something so patently ridiculous and then, hit by the realization that they had just blamed the massacre of school children on the problem of “too many doors and not enough guns”, curled up into a little ball of shame. Not Cancún Cruz, though. Cruz has demonstrated time and time again that he is incapable of shame. No, instead of realizing he’d said something inane, Cruz just doubled down on it; he was so pleased with the concept of door reform that he repeated the idea later that day on Fox News.
Cruz isn’t the only Republican waging a war on doors: the issue has long been a favourite talking point among conservatives trying to deflect from the idea of gun reform. After a 2018 shooting at a high school in Houston, for example, the Texas lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, blamed the massacre on doors. “From what we know, [the shooter] walked in … with a long coat and a shotgun under his coat,” Patrick said during a news conference. “It’s 90 degrees. Had there been one single entrance possibly for every student, maybe he would have been stopped … There are too many entrances and too many exits to our over 8,000 campuses in Texas.”
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that the National Rifle Association (NRA), who bankroll a long list of Republican politicians, including Cruz, are the ones responsible for coming up with the too-many-doors talking point. In 2013, in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, the NRA assembled a taskforce to come up with a school safety proposal that didn’t involve meaningful gun control. The result was a dystopian 225-page report that included recommendations like: arm teachers; build bigger fences; get rid of trees; “design windows, framing, and anchoring systems to minimize the effects of explosive blasts, gunfire and forced entry”. These are recommendations, let me remind you, for schools. Not for maximum security prisons – for schools. The report also contains pages and pages of recommendations about doors, including the idea that there should be a single, controlled entry point and that doors should have ballistic protective glass.
Many of the NRA’s recommendations, it should be said, had been implemented by Robb elementary. In 2020, the Uvalde school district received $69,000 in state grants to enhance physical security in Texas public schools, which included installing “exterior doors with push bars” and “door-locking systems”. None of that stopped the shooter. It shouldn’t need to be said, but doors are not responsible for school massacres. Guns are.
To be clear: Cruz and his buddies in the NRA may be morally bankrupt but they are not entirely stupid. They know very well that guns are dangerous. That’s why guns were banned from Donald Trump’s speech at the NRA conference on Friday. It seems that they decided door control wouldn’t quite cut it in that particular situation.
Chile government apologizes to woman for forced sterilization
Perhaps you saw this headline and thought it probably referred to something that happened a very, very long time ago? Nope. The Chilean state has just apologized to a woman who was forcibly sterilized by doctors in 2002 because she was HIV positive. This wasn’t a one-off: according to a 2004 study of the 23 women who were sterilized after learning they were HIV-positive, 50% did so under pressure or had been sterilized without their knowledge. There’s also, of course, a very long history of sterilization being forced on Indigenous women around the world. Rather than being a thing of the past, it still happens in places like Canada today.
British surgeon mutilated over 203 women with unnecessary operation
For years Anthony Dixon was considered Britain’s most influential pelvic surgeon. Now a government inquiry has found that more than 200 women were harmed after he carried out unnecessary procedures on them.
Is it all over for the underwired bra?
Spain approves ‘only yes means yes’ consent bill
The bill makes it clear that silence or passivity don’t equal consent.
Woman cleared of witchcraft 300 years later
Three hundred and twenty-nine years ago a woman called Elizabeth Johnson Jr was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death. By some sort of witchery she managed to escape being hanged but was still branded as a witch. And she’d still be considered a witch to this day if it weren’t for a bunch of meddling kids: in 2021 a group of middle-schoolers in Massachusetts took on her case and have finally cleared her name. She’s the last of the Salem witch trials convicted to be cleared.
Ellen DeGeneres walks away from her talkshow empire
After 19 years on air, Ellen DeGeneres has walked away from her famous talkshow. The last few years haven’t been great for DeGeneres: she’s faced accusations of being “one of the meanest people alive” and presiding over a toxic workplace. Still, while she’s very far from perfect, it’s important to remember that Ellen has done an enormous amount for the LGBTQ+ community. As a gay woman, I’ll never forget the impact of her bravely coming out in 1997.
The week in plot-triarchy
In a plot twist that everyone could have seen coming the romance novelist who wrote an essay titled How to Murder Your Husband has been found guilty of murdering her husband. You might be wondering if he was murdered with a door – seeing as how deadly those things are? No, weirdly enough, it was a gun.
Arwa Mahdawi’s new book, Strong Female Lead, is available for order