Friday, 21 December 2012

Todd Akin: Winner of the 2012 Bad Faith Award

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Over 3,000 readers stopped by the New Humanist blog to place their vote to decide the winner of the 2012 Bad Faith Award, and following a very open contest we can announce that a deserving individual has joined the roster of past winners, which includes Nadine Dorries, Pope Benedict XVI and Sarah Palin.

In August 2012, Todd Akin, who represents Missouri’s second district in the United States Congress, caused a storm when he appeared on a local news station to discuss his anti-abortion position. Asked for his view on whether women who become pregnant as a result of rape should have access to abortion, Akin said:

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Akin later apologised, but his comments have been widely cited during the US election campaign as an example of the so-called Republican “war on women”. They cost him his run at a Senate seat for Missouri in November, and some have even suggested they helped cost Mitt Romney the Presidential election. Still, at least he has the consolation prize of our Bad Faith Award.

Honourable mentions must also go to to some of this year’s runners-up. In second place was Prince Charles, who was able to secure a medal position thanks to some frankly outstanding electioneering by New Humanist reader John Hind, who took to our blog in an effort to try to persuade voters that the heir to the throne deserved to usurp the Bad Faith crown as a special “lifetime achievement” award for his services to irrationalism.

In third place were the Catholic authorities in Mumbai, who have played a key role in ensuring that India’s leading rationalist, Sanal Edamaruku, has had to leave the country in order to avoid imprisonment for blasphemy, after he committed the shameful offence of pointing out that the supposed “holy water” dripping from a crucifix statue in fact originated from a blocked toilet.

So, with Todd Akin deemed 2012’s leading enemy of reason, that’s it for the 2012 Bad Faith Award. But that’s no reason to lower your guard – nominations for 2013 are open now, so if you think of anyone to put forward, leave a comment here or email us at editor@newhumanist.org.uk.
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