Email #307: “Staff does them”?

You must be outraged that your fellow House Pro-Life Caucus member Rep. Murphy pressured his mistress to have an abortion. Ms. Edwards, a woman half Murphy’s age, told him by text: you had “zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week.”

Murphy texted back that he was not responsible for his own anti-abortion messages: “I’ve never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more.”

Though Murphy has announced that he will not be running for reelection, he remains a voting member of the House. Like you, he voted for the recent so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

While I am shocked by Murphy’s hypocrisy, I am also disturbed by the fact that he took no responsibility for the messages released by his office under his own name. Is this common practice among Representatives? Did you, for instance, write the statement on your website that justifies your support of the “Pain-Capable” bill by citing a single researcher who concluded that 20-week fetuses can feel pain? Did you also write this sentence: “The scientific data provide unambiguous evidence that unborn children are living, feeling human beings”?

I ask because the statement is wincingly false. The scientific data is overwhelming ambiguous, and there is absolutely no scientific consensus at how many months of development a fetus is “feeling.” This not to argue that 20-week fetuses cannot feel pain. It is simply unknown. While I know that you believe life begins at conception, you harm your pro-life position by lying to support it.

But I assume you did not personally write the false statement, and I assume you also did not review all of the scientific data yourself. You must rely on your staff to do the majority of your research and drafting. While this seems reasonable, it leaves you vulnerable.

In this case, you may have been given false information because members of your staff thought the false information sounded rhetorically effective. Most lies do. When you signed-off on it, you made it your own regardless who originally drafted it. You presumably trusted that the statement was true. It was not, and so you now appear ignorant. Alternatively, you knew the statement was false, and you signed-off on it anyway, making yourself a liar.

Your colleague Rep. Murphy told his mistress he was ignorant. What would you like to tell your constituents?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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