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February 20, 2009

"Imagine" Viewpoint Discrimination?

CNN follows NBC in rejecting pro-life ad for prime time.

Brian Burch of CatholicVote.com says CNN has rejected the group's "Imagine" ad for broadcast during the president's State of the Union address next Tuesday. Previously NBC rejected the video, which links the pro-choice Barack Obama with a strong pro-life message, for airing during the Super Bowl. Executives at both networks cited concerns with the content of the ad: NBC that it doesn't run issue ads during the Super Bowl, and CNN because the ad suggests that Obama is pro-life. In an e-mail today to supporters, Burch disputes CNN's conclusion:

This is absurd. Our ad does not suggest that Barack Obama is pro-life. Instead, our ad presents nothing but facts. President Obama, like every human being, began as an unborn child. Because he was born, he was able to become the President of the United States.

CNN and others simply don't like the obvious conclusion of our ad - there was no ‘choice' for abortion back in 1961. Thankfully, we had laws then safeguarding unborn children -- laws that protected the life of a future president who tragically is unwilling to fight for those same protections today.

Comments

As a Christian and an opponent of abortion on demand, I object to the ad because it will do nothing to change a single mind on the important issue of abortion. The implicit message is obvious: "If you liberals like abortion so much, have you considered that you might not have this left-wing 'pro-abort' President if his single mother had aborted him?" Such a message is not persuasive advocacy; it is a petty effort to poke a finger in the eye of one's political opponents.

This kind of pettiness has become all too typical of pro-life advocacy. Such ads probably help with fundraising among those already committed to the cause. But their pettiness leads many moderates to conclude that pro-life folks are nothing more than "carnival barkers" who must resort to populist, sensationalistic appeals to reach an audience.

In the US, social conservatism has generally taken a populist stance, and set itself against so-called elites. But need this be so ingrained that we have no ability to speak persuasively in the culture without resorting to populist sensationalism? Apparently so.

Bob,

Your reading of the ad seems cramped and ungenerous. An alternative reading of the ad's implicit message might be: "Difficult circumstances surrounding a birth should not blind us to the potential inherent in every unborn human life. Think before you abort." Yes, it is an arresting ad, but not at all petty (at least to me). If this tasteful, powerful ad is petty, then you leave me wondering what would pass your impossibly high standards.

You also present a false choice: Either an ad must, all by itself, change a mind immediately, or it is worthless. This ad may or may not change some minds, but it will definitely get people to think, and it will perhaps move some people to consider the issue in a new way. With other types of persuasion, it might even help change some minds. Such changes often come cumulatively, little by little, over time.

And now some questions for you: If you agree that abortion is an important issue, what is your alternative if you don't like this ad? It's hard to say a lot in 40 seconds. Can you do better? Or do you think Christians and pro-lifers should just abandon this medium altogether, leaving its persuasive powers in the hands of the pro-choice movement?

Stan

Bob,

Your reading of the ad seems cramped and ungenerous. An alternative reading of the ad's implicit message might be: "Difficult circumstances surrounding a birth should not blind us to the potential inherent in every unborn human life. Think before you abort." Yes, it is an arresting ad, but not at all petty (at least to me). If this tasteful, powerful ad is petty, then you leave me wondering what would pass your impossibly high standards.

You also present a false choice: Either an ad must, all by itself, change a mind immediately, or it is worthless. This ad may or may not change some minds, but it will definitely get people to think, and it will perhaps move some people to consider the issue in a new way. With other types of persuasion, it might even help change some minds. Such changes often come cumulatively, little by little, over time.

And now some questions for you: If you agree that abortion is an important issue, what is your alternative if you don't like this ad? It's hard to say a lot in 40 seconds. Can you do better? Or do you think Christians and pro-lifers should just abandon this medium altogether, leaving its persuasive powers in the hands of the pro-choice movement?

Stan

How interesting a delemma. When your argument is made by the opposing side, quite articulately, why be upset?

So, tell me Bob, what kind of ad would YOU run that would be effect and would raise the awareness of the long-term outcome of abortion?

Sometimes one must confront on familiar territory to make a statement and use examples that will cause people to think "what if". In today's society President Obama's mother would have been a prime candidate for abortion and with the government's blessing. What better way would you choose to clarify this?

I would not run and ad. Ads don't change people's minds. If you want to change people's minds, then do something. Take the money and publicly pledge to support people that don't have abortions. Do a campaign to raise volunteers to work with abstinence programs or other programs for at risk children.

Issue ads like this are all about encouraging the base, not about changing minds.

I think it's a beautiful and powerful ad.In very few words it shows the impact every unborn child can make in this world without even approaching it from a religious aspect. I think it could change people's minds and even if it's just one...is it not worth it?

If ads don't change minds, why are billions of dollars spent annually on advertising? Obviously someone thinks ads do change minds.

Dear "Christian Lawyer,"

I did not mean to insult women and in fact don't think I did. It was a shorthand way of saying, "Think about the humanity of the fetus before the abortion, because that fetus could grow up to do great things--even become president." But of course you twisted my words to suit your own ends.

In fact, I wasn't referring only to women as those who abort. As we all know, many abortion doctors are men, and many men pressure women to undergo abortions.

If you don't like my reading of the ad, do you feel it is OK to attack my integrity? That may be how some lawyers approach their profession, but I don't find it particularly Christian.

Stan

P.S. - And the practical help that you wonder about is definitely available through hundreds of pregnancy care centers throughout the country. I'm surprised you don't know this.

Christian Lawyer,

Please accept my apology for my heated reply to your message. Since I don't know you, I shouldn't have questioned your motives, as you did mine. Your suggested ad is actually a pretty good idea. I like it almost as much as the "Imagine" ad! ; )

Peace,

Stan

Christian Lawyer,

Thank you for correcting my inadvertent error on the other post, and let's both hope that the Obama administration doesn't find a way to strip away that 30-year protection of conscience. In any event, it's not good news to me that Obama stripped away the Bush rule, however recent; that shows where his priorities are on this issue.

Regarding what else pro-lifers ought to be doing to support women and children, certainly that is fodder for a good discussion. While I believe we do much, we can certainly do more, although I doubt it is possible to do all you suggest. We can help and take over in extreme cases, but if our commitment to early childhood education is a non-negotiable requirement in testing our sincerity, well that's a pretty exacting standard! I wonder if the president will fund us half as well as he does Planned Parenthood? Then perhaps we could do more.

But regardless of what activities we deem worthy in being consistent in our pro-life commitment, we can't allow that discussion to distract us from the fact that the unborn are nascent human life who deserve legal protection. Abortion is a moral evil that must be opposed. We can't simply support people who choose life, but we must protect all human beings, wanted or unwanted.

Stan