The debate over abortion in this country, and around the world, has raged since the first miscarriage. In the main, the debate has been characterized by an overabundance of emotive outbursts, handwringing, ad hominem attacks, and a paucity of facts, balance, and clear, rational thought.
One of the manifest expressions of the former list of attributes is the rise of hard-right “Christian” groups such as the American Family Association and Focus on the Family. As a part of their overall fundamentalist diet of exhortations to donate money, condemnation of everyone who “ain’t like us,” and rampant, cynical fear-mongering for profit, these “faith-based” organizations routinely seek out hot-button issues like gay marriage, free expression, and abortion with which to stir up their marks and generate donations.
The Super Bowl 2009 advertisement featuring football star Tim Tebow and his mom making vague statements about family has stirred up some debate, but for me it’s not about the abortion issue. The abortion issue was settled long ago for me; I don’t like them, I wish they weren’t necessary, but until steps are taken to ensure that there is never a valid reason to terminate a pregnancy (steps that are currently well beyond the capability of our technology and our social evolution), they are. Since they are necessary, the solution is to reduce their necessity while also providing a safe and reliable means of abortion for women who need it. As need decreases, so will incidence. Period. There is no other logical solution to the “problem of abortion.” So that argument’s done.
My issues with the Tebow ad are not with his, his mother’s, or anyone else’s opinion about abortion. I want that made clear.
My issue is, first and foremost, with a group like FotF insinuating themselves into national discourse in the first place and secondarily with the stealthy way they’ve gone about it. Frankly, I’d have had less problem with the ad if Tebow and his mom just walked onscreen and said “This man almost didn’t exist because I seriously considered terminating my pregnancy with him. I’m glad I didn’t, and I believe you will feel the same way if you make the same choice. Thank you.” This heartwarming and light-hearted little diversion leads you to FotF’s website…where the indoctrination process begins. “Oh, look honey, they don’t like abortion! We don’t like abortion either! We should sign up for their mailing list!” And next thing you know FotF has a few hundred thousand more “members” that they can use to bully the media into covering them, and you as a member are suddenly being regaled with tales of doom and woe in which a vote for Barack Obama is a vote for mandatory gay marriage, mandatory gender education in first grade, the end of adoption agencies, nuclear war in the middle east, terrorist attacks in the US, a new Russian imperialism unchecked by a weakened and apathetic US military, and all manner of other Terrible Things including a massive series of job openings when every good-thinking Christian quits their jobs and shuts down their business because they’re now being “forced” to act “against their morals” by (for instance) helping a gay couple adopt a child.
Focus’ tactics and methods are execrable and well-known. Any reasonably sentient mind can read the letter I linked to in the above paragraph and quickly note how often subtexts of pedophilia and homosexuality are both invoked and conflated. In paragraph after paragraph we are told that the evil liberals, the gays, the ACLU, and of course that old standby the Commies, are just waiting for President Barry to welcome them in the door and transform America into a nation of roving homosexual pedophiles, anti-religious violence, and a new pot-smoking effete bourgeoisie that revels in the sight of Evul.
Organizations like Focus on the Family are brutal and terrorizing manipulators of public ignorance. They rely on YOUR inability to separate your emotions from objective facts in order to push their dream theocratic totalitarianism on the rest of us. “Dr.” James Dobson and his ilk, each and every one of them, wants to be Nehemiah Scudder when they grow up. This is the method behind their madness of the seemingly silly and naive attempts to influence education in this country; if we get ‘em while they’re young, they’re WAY easier to keep when they grow up.
I appreciate anyone standing up for what they believe in, but I think anyone who chooses to do so ensures that they are fully aware of the implications of who they’re standing with. I’m sorry, but if an organization like Focus on the Family came out hard in favor of anything I agreed with, I’d have to take a hard look at what I’m agreeing with.
I’d respectfully suggest that those of you who are applauding Tebow here, or who think that your “support” for this advertisement or for Focus on the Family is going to prevent ONE abortion in the world today, tomorrow, or ever, may want to reconsider who you’re hanging out with. Those groups are sick, endlessly focused on sexuality (and that often with a specific focus on children – EVERYTHING is a “threat” to “innocence” WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?! gimme money…) and ultimately existing for the sole purpose of enriching themselves at the expense of the credulous, the frightened, the ignorant, the superstitious, and the confused…every one of whom are good people with kind hearts and the best of intentions, just like you.