Robert Cox

Writing on the Wall

Robert Cox is a reporter and page designer for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CCNnews@cox-internet.com.


Just my opinion

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

I have many opinions. I’m not afraid to share them.

I try to make sure my opinions are formed by facts, but like everyone else, sometimes I get it wrong. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I’m also not scared to point out the fallacies in someone else’s opinion, especially if that opinion is counter to my own.

I have also been known to share an opinion — as one astute Facebook commenter pointed out — just to stir the pot. I prefer the phrase “to start a discussion,” but whatever. I’ll own it.

These tendencies often land me in the middle of some epic arguments, both in person and online.

Not too long ago, I found myself in a Facebook “discussion” about the respective merits of Captain America and the Punisher, comic book characters with rather diametrically opposed views to justice.

“One of these men was shot full of steroids by the U.S. Army to become a super soldier. The other was trained by the Marines,” reads a meme posted, naturally, by a Marine.

As the self-crowned king of the nerds (I once won a superhero trivia night contest as a one-man team), I felt I had to jump in.

“One follows a fairly strict code of conduct,” I wrote. “The other shoots jaywalkers.”

What followed is only of interest to comic book fans and pop culture addicts, but you can guess which side I favored.

In the past few weeks, I’ve seen a few things happen in the real world — more specifically, the state legislature — that have sparked my need to start a few other discussions.

I was extremely disappointed to see Gov. Asa Hutchinson sign a trio of bills including two that, to me, are poorly thought-out gut reactions to complicated issues and a third that’s just plain wrong.

I’m speaking of Senate Bill 6, which bans all abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger; SB 354, which bans transgender women and girls from competing in women’s sports; and SB 289, the so-called “Medical Ethics and Diversity Act,” which makes it legal for healthcare professionals to deny care if they have “conscience-based objections.”

Aside from the bigger problems of the state legislating things that should be a private matter between physicians and their patients and their families, SB 6 makes no provisions for cases involving rape or incest.

Missouri passed a similar piece of legislation last year, and the same problem was immediately evident. In that case, when I confronted state legislators with a simple question — “Do you plan on forcing a 12-year-old rape victim to carry the child of her rapist, thereby extending her trauma?” — they had no solid answer, offering instead the hollow assurance, “That won’t happen.”

Sad as it is, it will happen and it won’t be pretty.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion, abortion is a weighty issue. Blanket decisions just don’t work and shouldn’t be attempted. It requires far more discussion, thought — and prayer — than any government can provide. It should also be a private matter.

As for SB 354, the ideology is simple. The law is meant to address the idea that trans athletes have an unfair advantage in competition against athletes born female.

That may be true in some cases, but the idea that anyone would choose to be trans just to compete in a sport is — to put it plainly — ridiculous. Based on conversations with friends — both parents of trans teens and trans people themselves — the decision can be among the most difficult someone can make and is definitely not one made on a whim.

At the same time, it’s important to ensure that all athletes get a fair chance to compete in their respective sports. Proponents of SB 354 say it’s just meant to level the playing field.

If that’s the case, how come it contains no language preventing trans men and boys from competing in men’s sports? I can think of several instances where female athletes have proved more — or at least as — skilled as their male counterparts.

Then again, there aren’t any rules preventing biological females from competing in men’s sports anyway.

I’m sure that’s of great comfort to the young men who lose their spot on the wrestling, golf, baseball or some other team to a female classmate.

As for the “Medical Ethics and Diversity Act,” the best thing I can say is that I’ve never seen a more inappropriately titled piece of legislation. SB 289 flies directly in the face of accepted medical ethics, allowing physicians and other healthcare professionals to deny care to someone because they object to the patient’s religion or lifestyle.

Such things have no place in healthcare. Hutchinson, who opposed a similar measure in 2017, at least made sure this new version exempted emergency care, but the aim of the bill is fairly transparent. It provides a means to legally discriminate.

Sure, the politicians all say that’s not the case, but come on — it’s plain as day.

I’m disappointed in our legislators, but I’m not surprised. I can only hope they come to their senses at some point and put a little more thought into their work.

In any case, these are just my opinions. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.