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Feb 11, 2010

The Tebow Ad.

We are unfortunately becoming used to seeing the sort of report that follows, in this case it is from “Rasmussen Reports,” and blandly covers an issue which is becoming all too frequent in this age, the denial or attempted denial of free speech. It seems that as governments have become bigger and with better technology have been able to intrude into more aspects of our private lives, the public have tended to become more politically motivated and doctrinaire in their views.

The result is that where in the past issues were debated intelligently, there is an increasing tendency to pursue the idea that views, dissenting from the ‘current truth’ be banned. This is not entirely new, the KKK, fascists, comos, religious extremists, and such like were supporters of this line but now it has unfortunately, become mainstream. The current controversy is about the following advertisement:

The ad was prepared by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family and features Tebow, a star footballer and his mother, who talks about the difficulty she had when she was pregnant with Tim and how a doctor advised her to consider an abortion. The pro-life message then notes that the child she chose not to abort went on to win the Heisman in 2007 and lead his team at Florida to two national championships.

It is difficult to fault this ad. If anything it is simply an effort to persuade the pregnant to consider other options to abortion. We are all entitled to present our views peacefully in any forum where people listen. Authoritarians however disagree.

Liberal activists and pro-choice (but only one choice) groups including Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women have strongly protested CBS’ decision to run the advertisement. At least one activist has threatened the network with legal action. The controversy has generated a great deal of attention for the ad.

Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women have a right to disagree with the content of this ad even though it is essentially none of their business, being simply a commercial transaction between consenting parties. They are not in any way denied the right to present their own views on the same forum if they are prepared to pay for it. The idea of legal action is bizarre.

Advertisements seem to be a favorite target of the more extreme elements in society who seem to imagine that the rest of us are putty in the hands of unscrupulous manipulators who force us to eat unhealthy foods and engage in other activities which offend their puritanical tastes. As result we are increasingly seeing attempts to ban them.

Apparently owing to an increasing incidence of obesity it is argued that after a fourteen hour day, it is not in my interests to be aware that I can get a seven and three quarter pound mactripple bypass burger with large fries and a supersized thick shake for $6.99 on the way home. I feel I should have the right to know what’s on offer and make my own decisions.

Attacks on free speech are harmful to all of us. The denial of the right to present certain views skews thinking in the direction of those who for whatever reason are able to acquire the political pull to have their bigotry and stupidity enforced. The fact is that the need to ban debate on an opinion probably indicates that such an opinion is a stupid one which cannot stand up to the cold light of reason.

There were calls for the banning of statements by Sheikh Hilaly after his ridiculous rant about women being to blame for being raped. The man has by his own statements been thoroughly discredited and is now seen as a laughing stock. Were he unable to make those statements he would still be considered credible owing to his idiocy not being exposed.

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