Texas would seem far removed from the ancient Greek conflict between the states of Athens and Sparta, by both 6,400 geographic miles and over 2,400 years of calendar time, but history does have a way of repeating itself. The Peloponnesian War was both an ideological and power struggle, just a drop in the bucket of similar clashes that have occurred since Homo sapiens’ preferred dwellings were dank caves.
In 411 BC, well into that lengthy battle, the Athenian comic playwright, Aristophanes, put on his satirical theater show, “Lysistrata”, offering a way to stop the fighting. The premise was a novel one, where the women of the country would withhold sexual privileges from husbands and lovers until hostilities were ended. It was notable as the first exposé on gender relations in a male dominated society.
Fast forward more than two millennium and yet another war over philosophy and authority is once again playing out. Texas passed a new restrictive law on women’s reproductive choice that weakened the previous 1973 Supreme Court decision. It also added a bizarre proviso that authorizes any citizen to sue a family member, friend, or stranger and collect $10,000 as an “abortion snitch”.
The majority ruling of the current Supreme Court upheld these draconian regulations although not all were pleased. Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated that Texas had now “deputized the states citizens as bounty hunters offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors’ medical procedures”. This, of course, smacks of Nazi Germany when the populace was ordered to turn over anyone who spoke out against Hitler’s regime or was of the Jewish persuasion.
Aristophanes isn’t around to help us put these human travesties into perspective but someone of a similar bent is: Bette Midler. Unlike some people who have only a singular defining word after their name, such as “politician” or “preacher”, Midler’s surname is followed by “singer, songwriter, actress, author, and comedian”. Much more impressive. And her recent suggestion, similar to that found in “Lysistrata”, is “that all women refuse to have sex with men until they are guaranteed the right to choose by Congress.” Unfortunately, logic is not something compatible with people of certain mindsets.
Control freak. This is a colloquial term that first popped up in the 1970s although the type of person it refers to has always been with us. Psychologists tell us that fear is the basis of humans attempting to control situations, people, or other animals. Gynophobia, the abnormal fear of women, supposedly brought on by humiliation or emasculation at their hands, seems to be alive and well in the “Friendship” state of Texas. And on the Supreme Court. Psychiatrists are on call.
World religions, foreign and domestic governments, and individuals in any position of command over others have historically been guilty of abusing their control over the masses. Spineless political and moral “leaders” are quite often mute when faced with such dilemmas.
Apparently, the bravest of us are those of satirical and comedic disposition who aren’t afraid to point out when things are going wrong. The late, great stand-up comic George Carlin had plenty to say about these contemporary shenanigans. His type of rational honesty is desperately needed yet sorely lacking in our society today. Luckily, his shows may still be seen on the Internet.
Dexter K. Oliver is a freelance writer, wildlife consultant, and monitor of the human condition from Duncan, AZ.