Chris Woodworth responded to my challenges to his On the Fence (The Observer, Aug. 23) defining a “fair and just” society with a My Voice (The Observer, Sept 4). His male chauvinism is glaringly apparent by his frequent references to me as “Mary” rather than “McCracken.” What better window into Woodworth’s disrespect for women? 

Woodworth insinuates I misinterpreted him regarding American babies lacking unequal opportunity at birth. He says, “of course some are born smarter, more athletically gifted, more musically inclined.…” But my examples of inequality at birth were based on economics, gender and race, which Woodworth doesn’t touch on. Woodworth can’t admit that by being born a white male into a nuclear family of means paved the way to his outcome as a trauma surgeon. In his first article, he notes that women are underrepresented as surgeons, insinuating that females inherently possess lesser merit. In his time, acceptance into medical school was strongly gender-biased not merit-based. 

Yet Woodworth claims that merit should be the sole basis for opportunities leading to successful outcomes. 

In his My Voice piece, Woodworth changed the issue from “equal opportunity vs. outcome” to “equal justice vs. outcome” and says everyone in America is treated with equal justice and thus everyone is responsible for their own outcomes. However, he believes a child born to a low-income single mother does not warrant governmental help because of his mother’s “mistake.” How does that jive with equal value of life at conception? How about equal opportunity? U.S. mass incarceration accounts for more than $81 billion per year, which is more than $250 per U.S family. Now let’s examine America’s equal justice under the law. 

Look at our prison system. Our per capita incarceration far exceeds all other countries on earth. Don’t blame the prisoners. It’s systemic. Most prisoners end up in jail because they are poor, dark skinned, poorly educated, raised with little guidance or can’t make bail and are awaiting trial. That population gets jailed for petty nonviolent crimes of little threat to society. Meanwhile, powerful criminals avoid jail for bringing down entire economies, waging illegal wars, polluting the planet, extracting public natural resources for private gain and assassinating political enemies. Additionally, our prisons are mostly for profit. Profit for the wealthy. Equal justice?

Woodworth’s overarching labeling and stereotyping of people attests to his disrespect for those whose ideas differ from his. He starts by broadly slamming progressives under the guise of complimenting me. Later he accuses progressives of “exalting sexual freedom over personal responsibility.” In reality, progressives are folks who believe everyone deserves a fair shot at a decent, fulfilling and economically secure life. They believe that everyone should do his or her fair share to build this life through education and hard work and through active participation in public life and that everyone should play by the same set of rules. 

The central progressive message is one of fairness and equality with no special privileges for the well-connected or wealthy.

A local progressive group meets the last Thursday of every month in the basement of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 1001 O Ave., La Grande, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Socializing and enjoying snacks begins at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited to see what progressives really “exalt” in. 

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