By J. DeVoy
The big story in my own little slice of hell law school yesterday — other than some ill-planned “joke” by tasteless imbeciles to bring Jersey Shore cast members to commencement — was CBS’s tentative decision to run a pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl. The ad, sponsored by openly Christian group Focus on the Family, features Heisman Trophy-winner Timothy Tebow and his parents, discussing their decision not to abort the child who became the most dominant quarterback in the SEC. (Source.)
But, enter the censorshipistas who think this message undermines abortion rights.
The Women’s Media Center and over 30 other liberal and women’s advocacy groups sent a letter to CBS, the TV network to air the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, saying: “… we urge you to immediately cancel this ad and refuse any other advertisement promoting Focus on the Family’s agenda.”
“We are calling on CBS to stick to their policy of not airing controversial advocacy ads … and this is clearly a controversial ad,” Jehmu Greene, the president of the Women’s Media Center, told Reuters.
How about no? Instead of offering a rebuttal message or rationale for how this personal vignette, the contents of which are yet unknown, harms abortion rights, they immediately reach for the bottomless slopbucket of shame.
If I were at the helm of CBS, my response would be exactly one finger long. One extended, defiant finger. Though not bound by law to do anything, CBS could heed the tenor of public debate shown in Citizens United, namely that money talks, no matter whose it is. And what kind of mush-minds are going to alter their world views based on a 30-second spot featuring the parents of a college athlete?
If people want to counter this message, they shouldn’t stamp their feet and wail like toddlers, but show how much support they have by raising the 2.6-3.2 million dollars necessary to run a counter ad. For how much the pro-choice elite like to trumpet their material success and superior intellects, surely coming up with that sum of money across 30 groups would be a trifling matter. The notion that speech should be fought with speech isn’t suspended merely because it carries a price tag.
It’s doubtful that pro-choice advocates think the act of abortion is a trivial matter. Sure, they’re scientifically accurate that a fetus is a clump of cells, and I admire the hardcore proponents’ desire to argue ad nauseam about when life truly begins in how-many-angels-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin fashion, but there seems to be consensus that abortion is a serious choice with drastic physical and emotional implications. Even then, not all pro-choicers are pro-abortion, recognizing the seriousness of the procedure and wanting to retain only the right for women to make the choice on their own — exactly what the term denotes. (Curiously, none of them support the right for men to make a similar decision and unilaterally truncate their economic liability for unwanted children.) Finally, only the most deluded of dumb shits think that Roe v. Wade will be overturned wholesale or even substantially; abortion is a reality we all live with, and those who seek to end it should consider the burden its cessation would place on our existing social welfare and criminal justice systems.
I’m with you 100% in theory, but I do recall CBS caving in to pressure in the past from right-wing censoristas as well. So, isn’t applying (or attempting to apply) political pressure a legitimate entry into the marketplace of ideas?
I’m “pro choice,” I suppose, and I think that anyone who listens to Tim Tebow’s opinion on anything aside from football is a dipshit prole. So, let the Focus on the Family fucktards spend their money. I’ll be getting a beer or taking a piss while Tebow gives us his moronic opinion, then we’ll all sit down and watch the rest of the game.
I got into a sparring match with a bunch of leftist “patriots” on Huffington Post the other day. It’s crazy how you can believe in free speech until you disagree with it (although I understand that Antonin Scalia suffers from this problem, too.)
I’m adopted and pro-choice, and more than confident to take on anyone in the marketplace of ideas. And, like Marco hinted, smart enough not to piss away money on a Super Bowl ad.
How is having to deal with idiots on Huffington Post (a private entity) related to “free speech” issues?
Beyond that, if CBS is ready to take money for “controversial” ads from one group then I don’t care. The catch being that they should be ready to take money for “controversial” ads from another group that disagrees with the first. I believe Marco is right that CBS has, in the past, run away from this topic as fast as possible when it was coming from the pro-choice side.
My only issue here is that the NFL err there broadcasting partners have in the past refused to air political and issue advocacy ads both from the left and the right and now all of a sudden they are allowing one. After this type of history if there was a sincere change in policy the NFL err there broadcasting partners should have reached to previous groups on the other side in the first year just to give a legitimacy to there new policy. Instead it looks like right wing pressure or access to Tebow is the reason for the shift.
That said, it does not change how bad groups like NOW have botched there response to this ad, but than that is par for the course with them. Instead of attacking the perceived change of policy for an interest group and bringing up the fairness that other ads where not allowed on they look like they are trying to censor anothers viewpoint.
Well put. Of course, if NOW actually represented the interests of women instead of the interests of a core group of shrill bitter harpies, they would know how to talk to people. That’s why they lose in the marketplace of ideas, their stall sucks.
Superbowl adds are supposed to be be about beer and trucks and should be showing a lot of scantily clad women for no apparent reason. I’m offended that this is no longer the case.
Lets have three cheers for GoDaddy!
What if it were an ad with a scantily clad Mrs. Tebow drinking a beer in the back of a truck, while advocating for the sanctity of life? I might be ok with that….
That I would love to see.
Agree with your whole post except for your last post, which is patently false. There’s no question whatsoever that we are one conservative justice away from revoking Roe v. Wade. Nor is there any question that at least 1/3 of states would promptly ban abortion if Roe was overturned.
Your off-topic suggestion to the contrary is sheer naivete.
Meant to say last POINT.
I think that the argument is the same one that the right wing lunatics say everytime they are trying to censor the left: I just want to watch the Super Bowl with my kids. That is all it is about. Why can I not just watch football with my kids without being bombarded by these messages? Now I will have to explain what abortion is to my little 7 year old. Let them run the ad. But the same logic that they would use if someone ran an ad in support of same sex marraige or something could easily be used to defeat this ad as well.
If your problem with the “censorshipistas” is one of free speech, well, doesn’t that run both ways?
Certainly, Focus on the Family has the right to offer their opinions through advertising during the Super Bowl.
Just as certainly, advocacy groups have the right to offer their opinions by requesting that CBS not accept the paid advertisement from Focus on the Family.
Both are examples of free speech. In the end, CBS, a corporation, makes their decision on what they believe best serves their bottom line; profit.
If both sides have the opportunity to make their case, that’s not censorship. It’s free speech.
Are they fighting it with something other than speech? It sounds like all they’ve done is send a letter making a request, and I’m not sure what to call that if not speech (even if it’s stupid speech).
My point being, I suppose, that even if their request for censorship is douchetastic, it’s not worth much more than a point-and-laugh unless CBS caves. And if CBS caves, they’re the ones who most deserve our disdain.
As others have pointed out, nobody is calling for a government ban on CBS running the ad; they’re just complaining about it. Speech versus speech, winner = First Amendment.
The main issue, though, isn’t even the substance of the ad; it’s the hypocrisy of CBS, which rejected an ad for the Unitarian Universalist Church in 2004 that described the UUC as inclusive and accepting of homosexual couples. I believe they may also have turned down an ad from MoveOn.org critical of President Bush.
CBS has apparently said they have moderated their stance on advocacy ads; it will be interesting to see if some pro-choice group puts together an ad (and $2.5 million) to express a different viewpoint during the game and if CBS accepts it. Maybe with a historical reenactment of Hitler’s mother being advised to have an abortion and refusing. (Godwin the Super Bowl!)
I still think CBS should flip them the bird and make them pay to air an opposition piece. Hypocrisy doesn’t bother me a lot at the corporate level, just because they exist to make profits and respond to changing market demographics and tastes. (My position on hypocritical individuals is different.) As for your last paragraph, a few friends and I were discussing how such an add would work, namely with a dramatic voice saying “Stalin. Pol Pot. Pinochet. None of their Mothers had abortions. Did you?” It would mostly appeal to the sense of lulz in the Flying Spaghetti Monster set.
It’s rarely good business to flip off any significant segment of your market. If CBS is willing to take advocacy ads now, so be it; but if CBS is taking only pro-life advocacy ads as a corporate policy, then it will probably find its audience shrinking.
CBS refused to air an ad from the United Church of Christ a few years back that was about how their church welcomes everyone (implicitly meaning gays but was in no way explicit.)
Money talks? REALLY??? I’d say it’s more about politics and who owns the media.