People, don’t make me defend Jason Mumpower. I should be able to enjoy him slinking off the stage of history without a pang of regret.
But no, some asshole has to pull this shit and ask Mumpower if maybe it isn’t time for him to start a family?!
How about that’s none of your goddamn business? What kind of tool would even ask that question? Mumpower answered “almost shyly”?! He should have answered with a double bird.
What an asshole question.
I have heard asshole questions in my life, but this just about tops is.
Unless it affects state business in some way, who Mumpower fucks and when and to what end is not our business. It is incredibly rude and intrusive to ask someone about their reproductive status. And the Mumpowers don’t owe anyone an explanation for why they do or don’t have kids or when or if they’re going to.
How is this an appropriate line of questioning for a political reporter?
And, here’s the thing, since it’s not your business, you don’t know. You ask a question like that, you risk forcing someone to talk about miscarriages or infertility or how they have put off having kids because they’re practically raising their sister’s kids or whatever. Personal family shit that is not your business.
And yet reporters still want to talk shit about bloggers.
Pingback: Mumpower’s Seed : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee
In defense of our friends at WPLN, the interviewer may have read that Casasa said “He wants a child. They would like a child. They want to start a family.” and this reporter was just attempting to verify it.
Asking someone if they are looking to expand their family is not akin to asking them if they prefer missionary or doggy-style.
You make a very good point. People don’t know the details of someone’s private life like that – as you pointed out, there could be pregnancy issues, previous miscarriages… it’s really not an appropriate question for a political reporter.
Well, Sean, it’s well-established that Casada’s pretty accustomed to tasting foot – is it unreasonable that he’d have said something to a reporter that Mumpower thought would stay private?
Damn it, #IAgreeWithMatt
All well and good, but if its going around the Capitol that Mumpower is dropping in order to focus on starting (expanding upon) a family, is it all that unreasonable a question for a reporter to ask?
If that were my beat, and Mumpower didn’t say it himself, I’d file it away but I wouldn’t ask.
If the reporter had focused more on the background, the article would have benefitted. For example, if Mumpower did get re-elected but did not become Speaker, Tennessee law would have prohibited him from resigning to take a position in the Governor’s Cabinet during the two years of his term.
Since members of the Cabinet make well over $100,000, losing that opportunity to be a backbencher would be a big risk.
Asking about a family’s intentions to have children is absolutely not polite conversation. I remember sitting in front of two women at church who were chatting, and one asked the other (with totally innocent intentions) when she and her husband were planning on having kids. The woman burst into tears. They’d been trying for the entire four years they’d been married, with miscarriage after miscarriage, so of course the question caused this woman some pain. This is a subject that deals with the very most intimate details of a person’s life, and is therefore off-limits if you don’t want to be considered an asshole.
Then again, I’m not really surprised that a political reporter thinks this question is in-bounds. The problem with the conservative political trend lately, particularly in relationship to the pro-life movement, is the politicization of babies. No longer is family planning someone’s personal business, something almost sacred outside the realm of government and politics and therefore off-limits. Indeed, women and men alike must prove their legitimacy in the political arena by pointing to their families. “See? I’ve reproduced! I love babies! I’m not some heartless liberal who uses birth control and abortion and kills as many of them as they can!”
In that sense, I’m not really embarrassed for Jason Mumpower. If he wants his right to family privacy, then I hope he’ll remember that the next time he crafts a political platform. As it stands, as a member of the TN GOP, he opened the door to having his personal reproductive choices scrutinized. I hope that question caused him every bit of awkwardness and pain he’s caused for his constituents who have to live with Republican reproductive policies in their schools and doctors offices and ultimately their families. What goes around comes around.
What goes around does indeed come around.
But if you believe that the society has a right to tell me who I must hire for my business or what I can grow on my farm or that I can be drafted into the military and very possibly get killed, all for reasons of the general welfare, then don’t be so shocked and appalled when others think that they have a right to regulate your body for reasons of the general welfare.
Sometimes I think that there is much more common ground between pro-choice and pro-market groups that either would like to admit. Because, at the end of the day, both are simply arguing that there must be limits to what the ‘general welfare’ can justify.
Similarly, pro-life and some progressive groups both operate under the belief that the general welfare trumps the most basic rights of individuals.
I am against the draft, for the same reasons I support the right to privacy: I do not believe the State has the right to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body, or more to the point, it does not have the legitimate power to force me to do things with my body that are against my will, particularly those things that have lifelong consequences. Frankly, I don’t know any progressives who support the draft, so I’m not sure why you’d cite that as an issue they would typically support.
As for property rights, I think you’re comparing apples to oranges. Life and property (or “the pursuit of happiness” as Jefferson called it) are two completely different things, and must be treated differently under the law. I consider the right to control my body sacrosanct, and to a lesser extent, the right to control the fruits of my labor, but I do not believe in a strong individual right over property (particularly land), because labor, production, and land use are held in common trust. It would be impossible for you to profit from your business without the varied protections of a free market, largely provided by our government, therefore you owe taxes to support that government and must follow the basic ground rules that allow the continued existence of a free market.
“Freedom isn’t free,” as they like to say. It takes a certain amount of cooperation. When our government is doing what it’s supposed to do, it sets the basic guidelines for that cooperation and penalizes those who do not follow them. This isn’t to say I support every single business regulation by our government. Some of them are unjust, and actually hurt the free market. For instance, farm subsidies artificially control prices to keep American farmers in business and keep the Third World hungry. We continue raising cattle instead of using that land to farm energy, and the oil companies get richer while our national security is compromised (not that importing food instead of oil would be much better, but I digress). That is not a free market. My point is this: if our farmers start growing nothing but tobacco and corn for ethanol, Americans will starve. That makes the regulation of property everybody’s business. If I start using birth control, that is not an issue of national security…but for some inexplicable reason Republicans want to make it one anyway.
Your analogy is built on shifting sands, Mr. Rogers. ‘Pro-life’ groups operate under a revolving constellation of dishonest justifications. In short, there is no conceivable (pun not intended) benefit to the general welfare for nullifying women’s reproductive autonomy. ‘Pro-lifers’ wish to control women and their sexuality, full stop. That aim in turn services a conservative desire to reinforce artificial social hierarchies that are anathema to a free, open, and equal society.
Likewise, affirmative action (which is all but dead now) and legal prohibitions against discrimination do not ‘tell you who you must hire,’ but they do (ostensibly) aim to discourage you from refusing to hire someone for arbitrary reasons. I’m with you on the draft and the farm thing, but the draft is essentially a dead letter due to the Vietnam experience, and I don’t see too many ‘pro-lifers’ trying to strike down drug prohibitions.
In other words, this–
— is so vague it is meaningless. What “basic rights”? Again, it is common knowledge that our draconian drug prohibitions are contrary to the general welfare and to the basic rights of individuals, but I don’t know that any progressive groups have a mission to cheer on the drug war. On the other hand, ‘pro-lifers’ make it their mission to place restrictions on the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” of half the population. What progressive groups do that?
Regarding the draft, lots of people on the left support the draft because it makes the military more representative of the larger society. If the upper classes have children at risk, they will be less inclined to advocate for war, or so goes the argument.
From my perspective, the flaw in your argument over the supremacy of your right to control your ‘life’ or your ‘body’ is that you have no real rock upon which to claim that right as greater than the right to property. You may think that your right to control your body is greater than my right to control my property but reasonable people would disagree.
While you and I may oppose the draft (although my opposition is practical rather than philosophical), the idea that the lives of citizens are expendable in the interest of the society goes back to ancient Greece. Even Alexander had to take into account the views of his Macedonian phalangites (the core of the infantry) which had a tradition of being consulted on major decisions.
America has used the draft since the Civil War with considerable success. While some provisions have been made for those with religious or philosophical grounds, we have jailed many draft resisters.
At the same time, there are those who would argue that any freedom you enjoy for your body exists only because of the political impact of the existence of economic freedom. Without the middle classes, they would suggest, there could be no effective limits on the power of large special interests.
Let me ask you this, which has the greater impact on the larger society, my decision to not hire someone because I do not like their religion or you fathering five children that you do not pay child support for?
My decision may hurt one person or a few but the impact of your actions will impact many. While more people making hiring decisions for similar reasons would increase the impact, consider what the implications are as more people father children who will grow up poor.
Which is not to say that I think we should sterilize people who don’t pay child support, But it is unrealistic to say that your view of the primacy of your rights over your body do not have harmful implications for others.
I agree with you AuntB, though a little less demonstratively. And someone needs to be willing to put a little heat on journalists.
But wow, anarchival, a reporter feeling the freedom to ask (on behalf of readers) about “starting a family” is the (recent) result of pro-life political ascendancy? Politicians throughout the media age have almost literally used children as props (yes, even Democrats). You seem pretty hell-bent on hijacking this post to “Pro-choice” ends.
And to imply, Sam Holloway, that I care one wit about “women’s reproductive autonomy” in my view that innocent human life is innocent and human is asshattery.
Nice. Assume that your position is right, offer no axiomatic justification, and just say that anyone who disagrees must be unreasonable. No, that’s not intellectually dishonest at all.
If there is any natural right to property, it can *only* exist as an *extension* of the right to one’s body. One has a right to one’s body and therefore owns the exertions of that body. There is no other way to get there.
But those exertions must act upon something in order to create something to own. And that something is the land and natural resources of the earth, to which no person has any greater natural right than any other.
So your “right to property” is entirely dependent first on the supremacy of the right to one’s own body and second on just and equal access to those natural resources.
The latter does not exist in our society.
At such time that it does, and we properly recognize that land and natural resources are not themselves property, then we can call the right to property sacrosanct. Until then, it is a subordinate and conditional societal convention.
“…there is no conceivable (pun not intended) benefit to the general welfare for nullifying women’s reproductive autonomy.”
Sadly, that is not your choice to make. No Constitutional Right is absolute. Free speech comes as close as one can get but even that is recognized to have limits. The constitutionality of the draft has for years given the interest of the society a claim that overrides the right of men (and later women) to control their bodies getting killed in war.
Now if you want to say that God grants men and women an absolute control over their bodies, that is different. I am big on inalienable rights granted by our Creator.
If I can be punished for refusing to hire someone for certain reasons, that is not ‘discouraging.’
“On the other hand, ‘pro-lifers’ make it their mission to place restrictions on the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” of half the population. What progressive groups do that?”
How about the progressives that think the state has a right to any percentage of my income that they want? It is hard to pursue happiness when you work half of the year for others.
Or the progressives who want to censor entertainment because, in their opinions, it encourages incorrect views of various groups? Whither free speech in the arts?
Or the progressives who interpret most other amendments very broadly but then insist that only the 2nd Amendment should be read literally so that my right to own guns does not exist.
“. . . [progressives] insist that only the 2nd Amendment should be read literally so that my right to own guns does not exist.”
I’d say they want the 2nd Amendment read narrowly more than literally.
“Assume that your position is right, offer no axiomatic justification, and just say that anyone who disagrees must be unreasonable.”
Except that my point was that there are reasonable people who would disagree not that all reasonable people would disagree. Sorry for the lack of clarity.
“If there is any natural right to property, it can *only* exist as an *extension* of the right to one’s body. One has a right to one’s body and therefore owns the exertions of that body. There is no other way to get there.”
But my point is that neither is absolute. At least not under our Constitution. And I even agree that rights in this sense are meaningless outside the framework of a society. That is the fatal flaw of the libertarians, a failure to understand that their freedoms are dependent on society and its values.
“And that something is the land and natural resources of the earth, to which no person has any greater natural right than any other.”
Happily, under the Constitution I do have a right to land and natural resources through law.
“At such time that it does, and we properly recognize that land and natural resources are not themselves property, then we can call the right to property sacrosanct. Until then, it is a subordinate and conditional societal convention.”
I am going to mull on that because it is a genuinely interesting perspective. I tend to think I disagree because land and resources are not people but it merits greater thought.
There are two different kinds of rights. Natural rights exist, well, naturally — objectively, as the complement to the set of “rights” which do not exist. My right to kill you cannot be axiomatically proven to exist, therefore you have a natural right not to be killed by me. The Constitution or other societal frameworks are required to defend these natural rights, but they do not create them.
Then there are “positive” rights which are created when the same framework is used to guarantee something over and above — and usually, in conflict with — the above natural rights, in accordance with the subjective values and wishes of those with the power to influence that framework.
The right to one’s body is of the former, the right to property (as it exists now) is the latter.
Both may carry the same weight of the law, but they do not carry the same weight as foundations for principled arguments.
Please show me where there is proof of a natural right? Or, at least one that does not rely on God or some other higher power.
And do all cultures accept this? If not, how can they be truly ‘natural’ rights?
As I said, they are the natural complement to the set of all that *cannot* be proven. Your natural right not to be killed by me is nothing but a restatement of the fact that I cannot prove I have a natural right to kill you. A person’s right to control their own body is just a restatement of the fact that you cannot prove you have a natural right to control their body.
What any culture does or does not accept has absolutely nothing to do with it; in fact that’s precisely the point. It is about that which is objective versus what is subjective. What a culture accepts is based on the values of that culture. Values are subjective and ALWAYS land smack upon the rocks of Hume’s is-ought dichotomy.
1. When a reporter interviews a politician, it is not a polite conversation. The same rules do not apply. Both parties to the interview understand this. That’s why reporters ask questions that would not be asked in polite conversation, and why politicians give answers they wouldn’t give in polite conversation.
2. A politician is a public figure who has voluntarily “thrust himself into the limelight,” as the privacy cases say. He does not have the same right to privacy as does a private citizen.
3. There is no such thing as a rude question in a political interview by a journalist.
Example: In polite conversation, most people wouldn’t ask, “Are you screwing that intern?” However, in an interview with Pres. Bill Clinton or Sen. Paul Stanley, the question may not only be appropriate, but entirely necessary, because it’s news when a politician lies under oath about a sexual encounter, or when he is subjected to blackmail because of an affair which contradicts all his public statements and positions.
If it isn’t universal, it isn’t a natural right.
The idea of natural rights is that they exist as part of the larger workings of creation.
As such, even members of cultures that reject such rights are still governed by them. Otherwise you would have no claim to support efforts at, for example, ending apartheid in South Africa since the whites there rejected natural rights and you would have no grounds to challenge their position.
There is no such thing as a rude question in a political interview by a journalist.
As a trained journalist, I’m going to disagree with you there.
>If it isn’t universal, it isn’t a natural right.
What do you think “natural” means? It means it exists in nature. Not created by men. It has nothing to do with whatever arbitrary thing you want it to mean.
Now you’re not even making sense. I have perfect claim to support efforts at, for example, ending apartheid in South Africa, precisely *because* natural rights exist whether or not a culture accepts them.
Samantha: I was a trained journalist too, before I acquired the disability of a legal education. Perhaps I should have said, “In 20 years of doing interviews, I never heard a question that I considered rude.”
I hope you’ll agree that the ground rules for an interview and the ground rules for polite conversation have no relationship to each other. In polite conversation, when someone obviously looks uncomfortable with the topic, you change the topic. In an interview, when someone doesn’t want to answer the question, you ask it again.
So you have the right to impose your view of natural rights on those who have different beliefs.
Very neo-liberal of you.
I thought that is what you meant but I wanted to see you say it.
On a totally unrelated subject, Aunt B., have you seen that MSNBC video from Chattanooga of the pit bull mix dismantling the police car?
I honestly think this conversation may have made me stupider. I can’t for the life of me understand how “very neo-liberal of you” is supposed to be some great “a ha” moment.
I also can’t understand, and you know I love you Mark Rogers, but I really don’t get this–how you can come some place run by and frequented by people who every day have to live under the conditions you speak about as if they’re philosophical constructs we can just argue rationally about and then you act all confused when we take notions of owning oneself personally.
I mean, I get that you have never been in a situation or had to view people like you in situations in which they literally could not be autonomous people, except in situations of war, but I know you have a sense of history.
Mark, I would imagine that it’s true that you’ve never heard a question that you considered rude. That doesn’t mean there aren’t questions that are usually off-limits unless it directly pertains to a politician’s governing ability–such as family.
It’s especially problematic in this case because it reinforces heteronormative ideas about what a proper marriage looks like and implies that there’s something fucked up or incomplete about the Mumpowers’ marriage because they don’t have kids.
It’s reporters’ jobs to ask questions. It’s not their jobs to reinforce patriarchal notions of family upon politicians who, for whatever reasons, don’t seem to publicly line up with it.
And it’s tacky. I’d have more respect if the reporter just came out and asked whether he was going home to fuck his wife.
Let’s not play like that wasn’t the implication.
In an interview, when someone doesn’t want to answer the question, you ask it again.
But you’re conflating asking someone if they’re having sex an intern with asking someone about the intimate details of his marriage.
I really, really, really hate to even go here – but Mumpower and his wife are in their mid-thirties? And he’s saying he goes home every week as it is? And the reporter hears that he wants to go home to start a family? Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they might not have had a lot of luck so far, and that – in addition to not being anyone’s business – might be a sore subject. Which makes it a rude question.
Damn it, stop making me feel all protective of Jason Mumpower, you’re messing with my mind.
Mark, if you don’t understand the difference between objective and subjective, I don’t know how to explain it to you. And if you don’t understand the difference between forcing someone to do something and forcing someone not to do something to someone else, I don’t know how to explain that to you either.
Betsy: I’m not sure what heteronormative means; I was the fourth husband of my first wife and am the first husband of my second wife; one of my sons is gay and the other just gave us a granddaughter. My son’s favorite grandmother is a lady who is the third wife of a man who is no blood relation to any of us. It’s a kudzu vine, not a family tree.
It isn’t that I thought that the question to Mr. Mumpower was particularly insightful. I, myself, would not have asked it. I simply reject the idea that any question of a public official is off-limits. You and I will just have to disagree about this, I suspect.
Questions have no moral weight in and of themselves. They are neither right nor wrong. They are simply successful at eliciting information, or they are not. It is at the stage when one decides what to do with the information that moral issues arise. The media need not have published the exchange with Mr. Mumpower, just as Mumpower need not have answered. That does not mean it was morally wrong to ask the question.
If you want to get into the whole discussion of whether the mass media are what Stephen King calls “agents of the norm,” who are always “watching out for the mutant,” I think we might agree on that.
In polite conversation, most people wouldn’t ask, “Are you screwing that intern?”
If they were the employer of the askee, they most likely would. And reporters in some sense are representing the employers of politicians in so far as they should be asking the questions the rest of us would ask if we had the opportunity (they are, in effect, asking for us).
I think you’re right that there is a difference between a political interview and polite conversation, but that doesn’t means all is fair game in a political interview.
I suppose my problem is that I believe that these issues are, first and foremost, philosophical constructs. Without the underlying philosophy (including law), we have nothing to cling to except I have no problem with you ‘owning’ yourself. I like owning myself.
What I object to is people who want to impose limits on me to serve some general good but then claiming that their status exempts them from having themselves limited when others think it serves a societal good. I would support you in the same way.
Part of this whole problem is that there is no easy solution to how to balance rights unless we agree that all rights have limits. That is why I favor more use of public policy arguments and less focus on rights.
Be sure to check out the MSNBC pit bull coverage. You will love it,
“Mark Rogers, on March 26, 2010 at 9:30 am Said:
… For example, if Mumpower did get re-elected but did not become Speaker, Tennessee law would have prohibited him from resigning to take a position in the Governor’s Cabinet during the two years of his term.
Since members of the Cabinet make well over $100,000, losing that opportunity to be a backbencher would be a big risk.”
Backbencher in what — the Tennessee Department of Comic Books?
Wow!, I’m dizzy.
Mike, if you ignore the parts that make you dizzy, the whole thing makes a lot more sense. For example, this–
–makes absolutely no sense because Mr. Rogers omits the specifics. If he were to add in the specifics, his argument would fall apart. For example, from the context of your arguments, Mr. Rogers, I think you are comparing taxation with the prohibition of abortion. In other words, you paying taxes is in the same ballpark as a woman being denied the right to make medical decisions about her own body. I must ask you: are you a) an incorrigible misogynist; b) a ‘libertarian’ with no sense of irony or proportion; or c) all of the above?
Since I can’t advise you to try living with a uterus, Mr. Rogers, I can recommend that you spend a little time living in a nation that doesn’t collect taxes.
I’m only halfway down the page, but this is a really badass discussion so far.
I had to refill my coffee cup twice reading this thread, RCM.
My observation, and maybe it is a question, of the Mumpower issue is which office was he promised a job at in Nashville?
And how will it impact the state as a whole because we all know that it will be more powerful than the one he has now.