Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written a handful of blog posts that are based primarily on the local news in the Twin Cities or Minnesota. Either we have stranger news than other places (which I think is true), we are going through a strange period (which I think is true) or I’ve got some sort of strange personal psychotic thing going on so that whenever I see a news story like “Combine runs over, kills black bear” or a web site that says “Help us Decide, Should we Have an Abortion or Not” I think it’s odd (which I do).
The “Do we have an abortion?” web site, representing the situation of a Twin Cities couple Pete and Alisha Arnold who are now pregnant and trying to make a choice, is not a poll to see what people’s opinion is about having an abortion (generally or for the specific couple involved). No. The poll is specifically to make the decision for them. They claim that if he majority of votes say “yes” then they will have an abortion. If the majority of votes say “no” they won’t.
An interesting and rather disturbing complication is this: PZ Myers has pharyngulated the poll. For those of you who don’t know, this means that PZ has mentioned the poll on his blog and now thousands of his loyal readers, the Pharyngulistas, will now go there and vote. Usually polls that receive this treatment are about religion, evolution, or related topics, set up in right wing environments where the assumption is that the results will end up saying something like this:
Is there a god?
Yes 88% (1645 votes)
No 12% (244 votes)
But then PZ pharyngulates the poll and instead you get this:
Yes 12% (1645 votes)
No 88% (14450 votes)
PZ has made some interesting points about the poll and I think he is essentially right: These people are nuts to have asked everyone who happens to bump into their site on to make an important decision for them. PZ has concluded that they should probably not be raising kids and expressed the opinion that yeah, they should probably abort.
But what is disturbing is this: What is quite possibly going to happen now is that the Pharyngulistas will flock to the poll, which currently leans heavily to “give birth” and throw it over to the “abort” side, they will have the abortion as promised, and a battalion of nut bags will blame PZ for killing a human child and he’ll be on the hit list along with the abortion doctors slated for assassination but without the usual protections such doctors get.
So PZ, I love you and all, and imma let you be as harsh as you want on religion, but this may have been a dumb-ass thing to do. Very little benefit for you or the relevant causes, but depending on how the vote goes and how strong the Pharyngulista footprint appears to be, you may be in serious trouble. After all, I hear tell you can see both South and North Dakota from your living room window.
At the very least, Bill Donohue is going to cream in his jeans over this one. I can already hear him tittering. See how he reacts may be worth the risks, actually.
In the end it may not matter. The numbers on this poll are huge, and it may be that the Cathoics and the Fundies are going to hit this one hard and force these people to have the baby, assuming they are serious about doing whatever they are told to do by the widget they installed on their web page. There simply may not be enough pharyngulistas to make a difference.
On the other hand, with numbers that big, it also could be the case that the hapless couple are rigging them. I am of the opinion that they are faking this at some level, trying to make a point. In fact, I have a hunch they are not really pregnant at all.
In the end, I don’t know what I want to see happen. All choices are bad. Ultimately the most important thing may be that Pete and Alisha are humiliated for being such idiots. I checked their facebook pages (here and here) and noted that we have no overlapping friends, which makes them very uncool. I mean, you don’t have to be my friend to be cool on facebook of course, but you do have to be somebody‘s friend to be cool (somebody cool, that is). Like the mayor (he’s pretty cool) or Gary Schiff or Al Franken, for instance. These people’s friends look like a NASCAR convention with all the white faces, the confederate flags, and the cars. That tells me something.
Uffda. This may get interesting.