Sally Jenkins is a sports columnist for the Washington Post, and today she throws to touchdown as she comments on the brouhaha that has erupted around Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl ad. Her point is dead on: those so loudly complaining (NOW, NARAL, and the odious Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) are demonstrating beyond question that they are not only intolerant of dissent from pro-choice orthodoxy, but in fact profoundly pro-abortion:
I’m pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I’ve heard in the past week, I’ll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the “National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time.” For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.
Tebow’s 30-second ad hasn’t even run yet, but it already has provoked “The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us” to reveal something important about themselves: They aren’t actually “pro-choice” so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.
Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn’t be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn’t.
By all means, read it all. The way she describes Tebow should warm the heart of any Christian, and I love her conclusion:
Tebow’s ad, by the way, never mentions abortion; like the player himself, it’s apparently soft-spoken. It simply has the theme “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.” This is what NOW has labeled “extraordinarily offensive and demeaning.” But if there is any demeaning here, it’s coming from NOW, via the suggestion that these aren’t real questions, and that we as a Super Bowl audience are too stupid or too disinterested to handle them on game day.
(Via Hot Air.)
UPDATE: The panel question at the “On Faith” column at the Post today is about whether the Tebow ad should be run by CBS. Here’s a sampling of the negative responses:
CBS would not accept an advertisement from the United Church of Christ for broadcast during a previous Super Bowl. And now they are prepared to broadcast an ad from Focus on Family.
I object to the message of the ad and its placement. Yet this strikes me as a free speech issue. If it was unfair of CBS to deny the UCC ad, then people of conscience should have raised a hue and cry then — not seek a quid pro quo by asking the network to squelch free expression again, just because some folks disagree with the message. (Rabbi Jack Moline, former chair of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Alliance.)
The UCC ad was rejected because it clumsily and without subtlety criticized other churches that don’t possess the UCC’s particular brand of moral rectitude. Maybe it should have been run as a matter of free speech, but you can understand why a company such as CBS preferred to avoid complaints from tens of millions of less morally advanced Christians.
I support free speech and don’t like to see ads censored. I would still prefer no advocacy ads. But if CBS allows the Focus ad, it should allow controversial ads with opposing messages. Perhaps Super Bowl commercials will evolve from arguments about “Tastes great! No, less filling!” to “Jesus is Lord! No, Jesus is myth!” I’ve participated in debates on the latter topic, but there’s a time and place for such discussions. The Super Bowl is neither the time nor the place. (Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America.)
Herb’s just jealous because atheists couldn’t come up with enough scratch to run one of their “There’s Probably No God” ads.
CBS is certainly within its legal rights to broadcast an anti-choice ad during the Super Bowl, but the network, under current Federal Communications Commission fairness rules, would certainly have to broadcast a pro-choice ad, if an organization could pay for it. There’s the catch: pro-choice organizations don’t have anything like the money that an outfit like Focus on the Family does. (Susan Jacoby, professional author and atheist.)
Ditto, except that Jacoby’s more explicit about it.
Should CBS allow Focus on Family to air its message is also a wrong question to ask. The key question is should CBS be allowed to allow or disallow advocacy messages. Should they have the authority to make a value based assessment on which of the many richly endowed messages is worthy of airtime and which is not? I think that given the track record of the corporate sector, it is safer and wiser to assume that they cannot be trusted with this responsibility. Entities for whom the bottom line is the driving force morality and public goods are of secondary significance. (Muqtedar Khan, director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware.)
This is a different approach. Khan is essentially arguing that, because broadcasting messages on public issues costs money that some can’t afford, no such messages should be broadcast. Presumably, this also applies to political candidates. It’s a bizarre notion–unless there is equality in the distribution of the means of free speech, no one should have any.
This survey wouldn’t be complete without a word from the Center for American Progress (read: Center for the Advancement of the Democratic Party and Liberal Politics) scholar and former UCC seminary president Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite. She mostly whines about the UCC ad and the unfairness of it all:
This Super Bowl ad featuring Ted Tebow plays politics with faith. I have no doubt that Tebow is a person of faith, and he is entitled to his beliefs. Others are entitled to their beliefs. So, show everybody’s faith-based ad, or don’t show any. Otherwise, CBS is allowing ad time during the Super Bowl to become a political football.
CBS specifically refused to show the United Church of Christ’s ad for our “God is Still Speaking” campaign that portrayed the UCC belief that the exclusion of gays and lesbians from the church was wrong. Two men holding hands are turned away from a church, while others are allowed in. “Jesus didn’t turn people away…neither do we,” the voice over states.
Thistlethwaite, of course, hasn’t seen the ad, and so doesn’t know whether it “plays politics with faith” or not. The interesting thing that has been said about the ad by FOTF, however, is that it doesn’t address public policy or mention abortion. The UCC ad, on the other, explicitly showed not just gays but also people of color being turned away from a church by guys that looked like bouncers. In case you don’t remember it, here it is:
Again, CBS is distinguishing between an ad that in effect slanders hundreds of thousands of non-UCC churches and one that sounds like it is a simple affirmation of making a loving choice to have a child against the odds. I can see why Thistlethwaite would be upset about that.