Names and labels matter

The Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad is creating an interesting stir in the mainstream media. The type of coverage delivered by ABC's Diane Sawyer is typical of what TV is offering up, while talk radio has provided commentary about the ad from conservative guru Rush Limbaugh and sports talk-show host Mike Francesa on the FAN.  Getting names and labels right may be the first order of business.

While Sawyer used the older pro-abortion vs. anti-abortion labels to characterize the opposing sides, Rush, who does not often discuss abortion, sorted out for his audience that those who call themselves pro-choice are really "pro-aborts" who don't want women to have any other choice but abortion.  Focus on the Family, the group sponsoring the ad, calls the message neither anti-abortion nor pro-life, but rather an ad that celebrates life and family, and it is reported that the word abortion is never mentioned in the ad.

Names and labels do matter.  The pro-life community rejected the other side's claim to the pro-choice label years ago, recognizing that re-casting the moral issue underlying abortion as simply a woman's right to choose is sophistry.  Pro-lifers, of course, also reject the anti-abortion label assigned to them by others.

As Princeton University Jurisprudence professor Robert George points out in this piece at Public Discourse, if we were to shift the topic from abortion to slavery, would our ancestors who advocated slavery have been labeled pro-choice on the matter of owning slaves? When our forebears promoted slavery as an acceptable (or distasteful-but-tolerable) social institution necessary to the well-being of the nation, with the proviso that if you think slavery is wrong then don't own any, would we have called them pro-choice? We would, as George says, most certainly have called such people simply pro-slavery, just as we label as pro-abortion those who euphemistically call themselves pro-choice.

Mike Francesa avoided labels altogether saying that CBS most likely made the decision to air the ad for financial reasons rather than for the purpose of supporting a particular political position.  Francesa's attitude seems best summarized by saying that the Tebow spot will be one more fancy Super Bowl ad to get worked up about this season, that CBS should air the ads it wants to air, and people should think whatever they want about them.

Last year, CatholicVote.org tried to air their pro-life ad (shown here) during the Super Bowl but the effort failed.  It appears that this year CBS is going to go ahead with the spot featuring Tebow and his pro-family, pro-life message.  Abortion, perhaps more than any other issue, defines the culture divide in our country, and, regardless of the labels and names we select, Tebow himself is obviously for life and against abortion. Nonetheless, maybe the ad will resonate with American football fans and others ready to see that the controversy surrounding abortion can come right into our living rooms in a positive way, without setting off a firestorm of hate and without upsetting the party on Super Bowl Sunday.

Abortion, perhaps more than any other issue, defines the culture divide in our country, and, regardless of the labels and names we select, Tebow himself is obviously for life and against abortion. Nonetheless, maybe the ad will resonate with American football fans and others ready to see that the controversy surrounding abortion can come right into our living rooms in a positive way, without setting off a firestorm of hate and without upsetting the party on Super Bowl Sunday. 


Amy De Rosa blogs about the culture wars and other issues at anlsinthewhirlwind.blogspot.com
The Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad is creating an interesting stir in the mainstream media. The type of coverage delivered by ABC's Diane Sawyer is typical of what TV is offering up, while talk radio has provided commentary about the ad from conservative guru Rush Limbaugh and sports talk-show host Mike Francesa on the FAN.  Getting names and labels right may be the first order of business.

While Sawyer used the older pro-abortion vs. anti-abortion labels to characterize the opposing sides, Rush, who does not often discuss abortion, sorted out for his audience that those who call themselves pro-choice are really "pro-aborts" who don't want women to have any other choice but abortion.  Focus on the Family, the group sponsoring the ad, calls the message neither anti-abortion nor pro-life, but rather an ad that celebrates life and family, and it is reported that the word abortion is never mentioned in the ad.

Names and labels do matter.  The pro-life community rejected the other side's claim to the pro-choice label years ago, recognizing that re-casting the moral issue underlying abortion as simply a woman's right to choose is sophistry.  Pro-lifers, of course, also reject the anti-abortion label assigned to them by others.

As Princeton University Jurisprudence professor Robert George points out in this piece at Public Discourse, if we were to shift the topic from abortion to slavery, would our ancestors who advocated slavery have been labeled pro-choice on the matter of owning slaves? When our forebears promoted slavery as an acceptable (or distasteful-but-tolerable) social institution necessary to the well-being of the nation, with the proviso that if you think slavery is wrong then don't own any, would we have called them pro-choice? We would, as George says, most certainly have called such people simply pro-slavery, just as we label as pro-abortion those who euphemistically call themselves pro-choice.

Mike Francesa avoided labels altogether saying that CBS most likely made the decision to air the ad for financial reasons rather than for the purpose of supporting a particular political position.  Francesa's attitude seems best summarized by saying that the Tebow spot will be one more fancy Super Bowl ad to get worked up about this season, that CBS should air the ads it wants to air, and people should think whatever they want about them.

Last year, CatholicVote.org tried to air their pro-life ad (shown here) during the Super Bowl but the effort failed.  It appears that this year CBS is going to go ahead with the spot featuring Tebow and his pro-family, pro-life message.  Abortion, perhaps more than any other issue, defines the culture divide in our country, and, regardless of the labels and names we select, Tebow himself is obviously for life and against abortion. Nonetheless, maybe the ad will resonate with American football fans and others ready to see that the controversy surrounding abortion can come right into our living rooms in a positive way, without setting off a firestorm of hate and without upsetting the party on Super Bowl Sunday.

Abortion, perhaps more than any other issue, defines the culture divide in our country, and, regardless of the labels and names we select, Tebow himself is obviously for life and against abortion. Nonetheless, maybe the ad will resonate with American football fans and others ready to see that the controversy surrounding abortion can come right into our living rooms in a positive way, without setting off a firestorm of hate and without upsetting the party on Super Bowl Sunday. 


Amy De Rosa blogs about the culture wars and other issues at anlsinthewhirlwind.blogspot.com

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