Tahlequah Daily Press

Columns

July 7, 2014

‘Different’ situations aren’t so very different, after all

TAHLEQUAH — “Well, that’s different!” It’s the favorite phrase of the hypocrite, when confronted with his glaring flaw.

Back in 1985, I interviewed a woman who worked for Planned Parenthood of Tulsa. She said, “You’d be surprised how many publicly vocal opponents of abortion bring their daughters in to get one.” She couldn’t share names, but she remarked on how such folks (usually men) had their backs up before they ever walked in the door, erroneously expecting the clinic employees to sit in judgment of them. The crusaders always said something like: “I know what you’re thinking – that I’m against abortion, and I am! – but why am I bringing my own daughter in. Well, this is different. See, my daughter’s not using abortion as birth control, like these other women, and this is a one-time thing; it’ll never happen again!”

Sometimes, the daughters had supposedly been raped; on a few occasions, incest was blamed. More often, the daughters were “too young to know what they were doing,” or had “made a mistake.” But the opening statement was always, “This is different,” and the closing argument was always, “It will never happen again.” The counselors were not only precluded from publicly revealing the identities of these sanctimonious citizens, but they were also restricted from asking what made them think other women weren’t in the same predicament as their own daughters. The woman also mentioned a man who, not even a month after his kid was in the stirrups, was on the radio saying women who had abortions would “come to” in the afterlife with the stench of brimstone in their nostrils. Presumably his own daughter would spent eternity in cooler climes since, after all, her situation was “different.”

There’s been a lot of buzz on social media about the Supreme Court’s decision allowing Hobby Lobby to deny its employees health insurance coverage for certain contraceptive methods deemed to cause abortion. The court wasn’t defining abortion, but was leaning on the First Amendment’s protection of religious beliefs. The distinction matters little to detractors, who are rightly commenting on the irony that Hobby Lobby will cover vasectomies and Viagra. The Green family isn’t saying much, but if it did, its response to the outcry might be, “Well, that’s different!” It will be interesting when some company owned by a devout Muslim tries to impose Shariah law on its employee health insurance. What the justices will do is anybody’s guess, but we can be fairly confident a good number of Americans will raise the hue and cry of “That’s different!” and stubbornly insist this is a Christian nation, ignoring the First Amendment’s clear rebuttal of that claim.

A friend told me via private Facebook message that he was happy about the SCOTUS decision – not because it was a blow against the heavy hand of the government, but because, “If a woman gets pregnant, it’s God’s will.” I could have pointed out a number of problems, since this very conservative fellow is unmarried, on disability, and a regular beneficiary of Viagra on the taxpayer dime. But I merely said: “Why are you taking Viagra? Clearly it’s God’s will that you be impotent.” The thread immediately went silent, and hasn’t been picked up since, although I think it’s safe to assume he considers his situation “different.”

Speaking of disability, I have several friends who are on it, and many are very deserving. But paradoxically, a disturbing number of them are on the far right politically, and they spend a lot of time on Facebook railing against government spending, “welfare moms,” and entitlements in general. Some of the men also get Viagra, male hormone cream and other costly health care treatments on the taxpayer teat. I confronted one a few years ago on a private thread, asking why he condemned government assistance when he himself got it. “THAT’S DIFFERENT! I’M LEGIT!” he screamed (digital screams are signified by typing in all-caps). It seemed to matter little that many other folks on disability, who are far less judgmental than he is, might also be “legit.” I also speculated on just how “disabled” he really is, when he’s healthy enough to have sex every night – as he had bragged he was doing. “THAT’S NONE OF YOUR D*MN BUSINESS!” he type-shrieked, and promptly unfriended me.

I get a kick out of friends who rant about the evils of homosexuality, and use the Old Testament as props, but ignore that same tome’s condemnation against 600-odd other sins. At one time or another, they’ve all been guilty of mixing two types of fabric, working on Saturday, lying with a menstruating wife, going to church while inflicted with a disability, or eating the meat of unclean animals that may or may not have been strangled. But they have it on good authority that homosexuality is “different.”

Many people who get busted by local law enforcement officers, and who suddenly realize their names are about to appear in print, are also “different.” They will call me and insist we withhold their names because, unlike millions of other miscreants who marked time in the hoosegow before them, they didn’t do the crime, and while they might do the time, they don’t want anyone to know about it. And even the admittedly guilty still angle for suppression, because they “won’t do it again,” or it will “just kill” their ailing moms to read the news. Whatever the excuse, their circumstances are “different,” and we ought to respect that.

I’ve had “different” employees, too. They’ll gripe about their co-workers who miss deadlines or who show up late for work, but when they commit the same infraction, and I point it out, the response is, “Well, that’s different!” I’ve stood behind people in lines at stores who insist that their overdrawn checking account is “different” than others, or people who demand their money back on well-worn products, again because they’re “different.”

Spouses also fall under the umbrella. Recently my husband yelled at me for leaving something out of the refrigerator, and then a few days later, he did the same thing. “Hey, how come you didn’t put back the jam? You got mad at me when I left the cheese out,” I said. He avoided eye contact, and mumbled, “Well, that’s different.” I didn’t bother asking for a distinction.

kpoindexter@cnhi.com

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