The Focus on the Family Super Bowl Ad: It's All About...

...the money. Over at Pandagon, Jesse Taylor, on the subject of the Focus on the Family anti-legal and safe abortion ad, asks (italics mine):

The question is instead this: if the anti-choice position is so true, so mainstream and so critical to the future of our nation, why did Focus on the Family spend $2.5 million to avoid saying anything whatsoever about it? Pam Tebow's lines were all oblique references to her choice not to have an abortion, but if FotF felt the need to couch her story in such coded and oblique terms that it could have been an ad for Wii Family, doesn't that say something incredibly telling about how weak and radical their position actually is?

This is why I think the ad won't be successful. I think the ad was never designed to change people's minds--the Super Bowl is the wrong place to run that kind of ad. So why run the ad?

Fundraising.

Focus on the Family had to lay off almost forty percent of its workforce last year (damn shame, that). What they were hoping is that the ad could convince 250,000 fucking morons (~0.25% of the U.S. audience) to give $50. That's around a ten million dollar profit.

One thing to remember about any non-profit group is that the most important mission is keeping the doors open.

That's what this ad was about.

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Actually, the cultural kung fu of FotF was quite strong. With no fanfare, not advance publicity, and no effort they got everyone from the cast of the View to NOW to PP to beclown themselves. From shrieks that the Tebows shouldn't be allowed to speak to lawyers attempting to demand legal disclaimers this simple little ad made a lot of people appear strident, close-minded, irrational, hostile, and kooky.

In another thread, I had cause to post this definition: Bigot - a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own.

There are other definitions; all are about the same: intolerance.

Pro-life people believe one way; pro-abortion people another. You are pro-abortion. No?

Mike, you wrote, "...250,000 fucking morons..." in reference to pro-life advocates.

So do you see yourself as a bigot?

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 09 Feb 2010 #permalink

Pro-life advocates don't seem to get the fact that if abortion is re-criminalized, then women will die getting them illegally. Pro-lifers do nothing to improve reproductive health for women; they are actually and unwittingly (?) on the side of increasing mortality rates for desperate women. No pro-life anywhere in that. Thus, the "fucking morons" label, which isn't bigoted; it's a fact. Rapidly multiplying embryonic cells attached to a woman's uterus do not equal baby, separate and hopefully wanted and with access to public health care.
Dear Mike, have you noticed that the fetal image is always ideally white and able bodied and rich? Do these pro-lifers give a rat's fucking ass for black embryonic cells?

@Aquinas Dad. I agree with you that this was at least part of what FoF was doing, but I'm not sure why you think that PP beclowned themselves. Their video response (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utcxpuHF7jg) didn't seem strident, close-minded, irrational or hostile to me. YMMV, I guess, but I found it classy, respectful, and focused on the important issue: the right of women to make their own medical decisions.

By Houdini's Ghost (not verified) on 09 Feb 2010 #permalink

The layoffs were reportedly due to Daddy Dobson blowing the Focus Family's budget on Prop Hate (i.e., fighting same-sex marriage in California). In any case, they were announced long before the ad was (earliest mention in my archive of anti-choice propaganda was 12/31/09).

The watering-down of the ad probably reflects the start-to-finish in-depth participation of CBS in writing the script, not (only) the recognition of the anti-choice propagandists that their cause has failed to win America's â¥.

However, FoF did successfully milk their ad's pre-game publicity, including pro-choice backlash, for maximum effect.

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 09 Feb 2010 #permalink

Generalize the last statement and it remains true the most important thing for any group is to ensure that the group endures. All else the mission and what ever are just ways to keep the organization going.

I saw the ad.

It says absolutely nothing that could be construed as 'antichoice'. It simply says they decided to have a baby, and hope viewers will consider having babies as well.

This is about as rational and ethical as a commercial can be when it comes to this issue, as far as I could see. They don't even mention abortion.

What is the issue here?

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 09 Feb 2010 #permalink

The "issue here" is that they frame it as "look, it all worked out for me, it'll all work out for you too. Don't listen to those kooky doctors with their medical mumbo-jumbo. Just choose life and everything will be just fine." They thereby make every woman who's acted on advice from her doc to have an abortion second- (third-, fourth-) guess that decision and feel like a bad person because she didn't just "choose life." The "issue" is that they pretend that every woman has a stable financial situation and strong family ties - just like they do. The "issue" is that Tim's Dad says (in the accompanying web site videos) "don't kill your baby." The "issue" is that just because someone is 6'11" and plays for the NBA, that doesn't mean everyone should be told "get tall, play for the NBA; I did it, you can too. Don't kill your chances to play pro basketball." They extrapolate their experience to the entire population of pregnant women and pretend that there are no other considerations than putting everything into god's hands.

#3 - "Thus, the 'fucking morons' label, which isn't bigoted; it's a fact."

Okay, as long as you "know" that your opinion is the "correct" opinion, you are free to disparage others, insult them, call them names, and engage in ad hominem attacks.

That still sounds like bigotry, but what do I know?

"...if abortion is re-criminalized, then women will die getting them illegally."

It is not society's responsibility to prevent people from breaking the law by making everything legal. It is society's responsibility to develop a consensuses (consensi ?) on important issues and to function in accordance with the consensus.

Thus individual responsibility implies obeying societal constraints, not changing those constraints for the convenience of the few objectors. This does not imply that there are no exceptions, which it is reasonable to expect society to accommodate.

"Pro-lifers do nothing to improve reproductive health for women; they are actually and unwittingly (?) on the side of increasing mortality rates for desperate women."

Pro-lifers are concerned primarily with the health of the baby, secondarily that of the mother. However, do not try to represent the pro-life movement as being unrealistic or unwilling to compromise in extraordinary circumstances.

"[a] baby, separate and hopefully wanted and with access to public health care."

So if society cannot guarantee that a baby will be wanted, it is justifiable to destroy it? Has any baby in this country ever had that guaranteed? Any baby in any society or country? Is there any way to guarantee that a baby will be wanted?

Unless the government provides public health care for the baby, destroy it?

Well, that's a stretch. However, I don't know of a state in the country that does not already provide basic healthcare for needy children. Charity healthcare has been available since the first doctor hung out his shingle on this continent, even before if you consider the customs of my ancestors.

Pardon me for mixing metaphors, but aren't you throwing out the baby with the bath water?

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 10 Feb 2010 #permalink

#6 - "Generalize the last statement and it remains true the most important thing for any group is to ensure that the group endures. All else the mission and what ever are just ways to keep the organization going."

This includes the US government, too. Right?

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 10 Feb 2010 #permalink

"The "issue here" is that they frame it as "look, it all worked out for me, it'll all work out for you too. Don't listen to those kooky doctors with their medical mumbo-jumbo. Just choose life and everything will be just fine." They thereby make every woman who's acted on advice from her doc to have an abortion second- (third-, fourth-) guess that decision and feel like a bad person because she didn't just "choose life." The "issue" is that they pretend that every woman has a stable financial situation and strong family ties - just like they do. The "issue" is that Tim's Dad says (in the accompanying web site videos) "don't kill your baby." The "issue" is that just because someone is 6'11" and plays for the NBA, that doesn't mean everyone should be told "get tall, play for the NBA; I did it, you can too. Don't kill your chances to play pro basketball." They extrapolate their experience to the entire population of pregnant women and pretend that there are no other considerations than putting everything into god's hands."

I think we need to separate the emotional baggage that can easily be associated with Focus on the Family or other anti-choice organizations, and what is actually in the television ad.

You are reading stuff into the commercial that just is not there. This commercial goes out of its way to frame this issue as an issue of choice, not as a moralistic castigation of abortion as child murder. As such, it is, IMO, a perfectly valid sentiment and easily the most ethical presentation of an actual pro-life position I have seen.

Can you even proffer a more acceptable message from the antiabortion side? I can't come up with anything more innocuous and appropriate to the whole debate than "Choose life".

This ad should be applauded.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 10 Feb 2010 #permalink

"Pro-lifers are concerned with the health of the baby" writes Charlie.
No, they are concerned with the fetus. There's a difference between an embryo, a fetus, a baby, the last of which exists outside the body of the mother. The first two are attached and thus part of her system.

So, to say the "mother's health is secondary" is to think of the fetus as something separate from her. It is not. It is, as always, to see women as secondary to a potential citizen (that you can what? send to Iraq?) It would be like me saying that I have the right to your testicles; they are not part of you. They are society's balls and you'd better do exactly what we think we should do to them. We have a separate law for your balls, so you'd better obey it. In fact, it is now the law to send one of your testicles to Iraq, so you'd better obey it.

Charlie, I have been studying abortion, embryology, pro-life/ pro-choice for 10 years: the history of it all, going back centuries, etc etc. It's a complex issue and requires a lot of careful, compassionate thinking. You seem merely to have an image of a baby (idealized at that) from which to make your points about intruding into women's bodies with "society's" law (a society of who? women?).

Deep down, pro-lifers don't consider the real, tangible suffering of women --and how that might get passed on to a child for whom she is unprepared to care. Their position is idealized, just as they idealize motherhood and the duty of women's bodies to the laws of a State.

Charlie Tall @ # 9: ... do not try to represent the pro-life movement as being unrealistic or unwilling to compromise in extraordinary circumstances.

You mean, like, no exceptions even to save the life of the pregnant woman "mother"? Such as the laws in place, and enforced, in the Philippines, Nicaragua, and other nations where the Roman Catholic Church "culture of life" has control?

Neither "realism" nor "willing to compromise" describes the anti-choice movement in any way whatsoever. "Superstitious, misogynistic, reactionary, theocratic bastards" comes a lot closer in terms of accuracy and honesty.

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 10 Feb 2010 #permalink

Thank you all for your replies. I disagree with the abortion-on-demand position of the pro-abortion culture.

I am over 60 years old. When I was young, the baby was referred to as a baby from the day the mother learned that she was pregnant.

For some reason, pro-abortion movement finds it necessary to demand many changes in our language, our society.

Abortion is not abortion, it is "choice."
Baby is no longer baby, it is "fetus."
Mother is no longer mother, it is "pregnant woman."

I cannot help but come to the conclusion that even pro-abortionists know that without careful wording, without pussy-footing around the issue, their position is brutal at best.

However, I still respect your right to hold such a position, to think and believe what you do, and to strive to make your philosophy transcendant. I won't call you names. I won't disparge you.

However, I will not agree with you. I will not surreneder to you, and I will not cease to oppose your position.

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 12 Feb 2010 #permalink

Mr. Tall:

If you do not believe in "abortion-on-demand", what do you propose instead?

Should a pregnant woman have to prove to a court of law that her abortion is medically necessary?

What about women who simply aren't pregnant? should they have to prove, once a month, that they didn't secretly have an abortion?

1/3 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, often before the mother even knows she is pregnant. Should thye have to come in to court and prove that they didn't get a secret abortion?

Should the Abortion Police be allowed to come into my home to watch my wife and I to make sure I'm not secretly performing the occasional D&C on her in the basement (God, I feel filthy typing that out)?

Mike has, in fact, given ample evidence of what various *traditional* views with respect to pregnancy actually were. Until fairly recently, the Catholics were the only major religion that considered life to begin at conception -- even other *CHRISTIANS* didn't consider life to begin until the fetus was recognizably human (Otherwise, they'd have to accept that for every three babies born, there's an unbaptized blastocyst burning in hell).

So okay, you think it's immoral for those slutty loose women to get dozens of abortions for the pleasure of it. You come up with a way to phrase that as a matter of public policy without doing one of these things:

1. Toss out the idea of "Equal Protection Under The Law"
2. Declare that eveyr woman of childbearing age has to make her medical history a matter of public record
3. Treat childbirth as punishment for behavior you disapprove of.
4. Kill or permanently injur lots of women by keeping them from having medically necessary abortions
5. Insult the families and sufferers of mental illness with one of those classicly snide 'pro-life' arguments along the lines of "Of course we'll make an exception where the health of the mother is at risk -- but only physical health, because mental illness doesn't count as a real illness"

Then, we can simply disagree -- until you can do that, though, you're arguing from a dishonest position, because you are claiming something that is provably and obviously false: that your position is in any way "pro-life"

you're *pro forced pregnancy*, but you're *ANTI LIFE* (which justifies my hate) -- you advocate policies which take lives and cause suffering. That's not opinion.

Mike isn't "pro-abortion" any more than I'm "pro-quadruple-bypass". An abortion is a medical procedure which resolves a medical *problem*.

You don't think pregnancy ought to be a problem. I don't either, which is why it would be dishonest to oppose a medical procedure which *solves* the problem.

I don't respect your position, because your position is dishonest.

Exactly charlie--about your age, which takes to the edge of abortion as a crime: this is an issue that requires historical specificity. What I've seen in my research was also the equation of abortion with infanticide by the obstetricians (who ascended to power in 1850s on the criminalization of birth control and midwifery), even when the poorest of women, desperate and on pregnancy number 9, just wanted a chance for their families and themselves. Imagine yourself in that position: you have 8 children, a low income, and you find yourself pregnant again and don't actually know how you'll feed it. In addition, you might just die in labor, leaving 8 kids motherless. You have got to think yourself into this untenable place.
So Ross is right: your position is dishonest because uninformed and thus cruel.

Ross, I find your post somewhat lacking in honesty itself. In particular, your strawman examples are for the most part simply silly. They do not represent my position. They represent what you would like to pretend is my position so that it becomes easy for you to argue against it.

Equal protection - who said anything about depriving anyone of their rights under the law? You, not me.
Public Record - Your very foolish idea, not mine.
"Childbirth as punishment" - What? What are you talking about?
Medically necessary abortions - Where do you get the idea that I oppose medically necessary abortion? Nowhere in my posts.
Mental illness - Ross, you had the audacity to quote something that I did not write.

Look, you want dishonesty? You've got it, but it's all yours. Ross, if you wish to criticize me for my beliefs, at least have the courtesy to let me tell you what they are, not the other way around.

So if in the future you wish to argue against my position, first learn what it is; ask, don't assume.

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 15 Feb 2010 #permalink

#16 - Addie, age means, among other things, experience. And with experience comes change. In 1972, the year I got out of the Army, I was in favor of strict gun control, abortion, large Federal government, affirmative action, and increased socialization of business and the economy. Today, I hold opposing views on all of those issues.

At that time, I voted almost strictly for Democratic candidates. Today, I find it difficult to vote for any candidate, but actually vote a mixed ticket based on personal associations and the candidate's history.

I lived through the Roe v. Wade decision and the changes it has made to our society. I was there for all of it. I've read the court's decision and carefully studied the references. I disagree with it.

I believe that my position is far more informed than yours. For example, your "research" has lead you to an erroneous conclusion. Abortion was not made illegal in the 1850s by obstetricians. It was considered a heinous act long before this country was founded, as far back as Hippocrates.

Abortion was made illegal in England around 1800, over thirty years before the British Empire made slavery illegal; various States began prohibiting all abortions around 1830. Before then, it was controlled, regulated, by the physicians although some localities had laws on the subject.

Historically, a baby was considered a human at the time of quickening, when the mother first felt movement. Prior to quickening, abortion was a misdemeanor, after it was a felony.

Four hundred years before Christ, the Hippocratic Oath was specific about abortion. Indeed, for political convenience, the following sentence has been removed from the current version: "Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts."

Improvements in medical knowledge have since shown that life begins at conception, not quickening.

Please, addie, return to your "research" and look a bit closer.

Now your example of a woman with nine children was very touching. How about a normally healthy woman with a supportive spouse, sufficient income, and no children, but who simply doesn't want to be bothered?

That describes the majority of abortions.

The question is not and should not be what is convenient for the mother, but is human life special? If you believe it is, then abortion is wrong. If you do not believe human life is special, you deny the foundation of humanity.

Put yourself in the position of the unborn child. As you say, "You have got to think yourself into this untenable place."

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 15 Feb 2010 #permalink

All men making rules about women, charlie. All men, going way back in time, making decisions about "life" so that they can guard the borders of the state and wage war.

"Life" begins at conception? So, you see a soul in there? or a rapid sequence of dividing cells?
Women who don't want to be bothered? You've talked to women about their private lives and the agony of their decisions? You know what it's like to be a pregnant woman?

Very nasty of you to put research in quotation marks, too. I've been studying all of this stuff for years and years.

I know all that stuff about the 19th century. I also know that black women were experimented on for these "advances in medical science" of which you speak so highly.
Their bodies were owned and bred --and this history is entwined with the "life" of which you speak.

The idealized "unborn child" is white--all the pictures in obstetric books reveal a white fetus.

You care about the "unborn child" but reveal such contempt for the lives and decisions of women. As if they go and have abortions all the time--just drive up to them in their nice cars. As if it's about "convenience." Try starting from a less angry position on this topic and you might understand it better.

So women have the power to undermine humanity's position, is that right? This is what is so upsetting to you? That even though they too are human, they are basically killers waiting to happen.

nice.

Now your example of a woman with nine children was very touching. How about a normally healthy woman with a supportive spouse, sufficient income, and no children, but who simply doesn't want to be bothered?

That describes the majority of abortions.

Could you provide some numbers on that? Because I am fairly sure it is not true.

#19 - Addie,
You may or may not have researched the entire history of abortion. However, when you wrote about it, you ignored the majority of that history, which just happened to disagree with you position. Ironically, both Ross and you accused me of being dishonest.

I'm not going to say that you are dishonest, only that you have a severe case of tunnel vision: you see only what you want to see, and ignore the parts you don't like.

Something that is obvious about your position are the twin facts that you are a racist and a feminist. You display a definite attitude, but little scholarship and even less logic.

"All men making rules about women..." That's nonsense. Both men and women are part of society; both participate in the process of developing the mores, customs, and values of society. As many women as men vote, so laws are and will represent both sexes.

I also know that black women were experimented on for these "advances in medical science" of which you speak so highly. Their bodies were owned and bred --and this history is entwined with the "life" of which you speak.

You "know" that do you? What are you talking about? Slavery? Slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. That has NOTHING to do with the fate of a baby today.

Not just in the US, but all over the world, females and blacks have historically been treated poorly, but the US is far and away the best place on Earth to be either female or black.

Sub-Saharan Africa certainly is not.

Addie, you have the wrong idea about history. History is useless if you are merely going to point to it as justification for your anger and resentments. History should be a guide, a roadmap to be followed to avoid making the same stupid errors over and over.

If there is a single message to be learned from history, it is that the devaluation of human life always leads to tragedy.

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 17 Feb 2010 #permalink

Not a racist at all. But: you: You speak in cliches, dude. About "human life" and "medical advances," etc --and the image you have in your head is of a little white fetus--and not the woman in the picture. What is human? not animal? destined for God? interesting stuff there. You haven't sorted it all the way through, have you? Or have you? It's God you're worried about, isn't it? You devalue women's lives in favour of some weird notion of "human" life that hasn't even come into the world-- where there are so many actual, living, breathing people suffering. Why isn't your focus on the reality of that? Why is it on some cells that may/may not suffer --when evidence of suffering's reality is in existence. So weird.
Yes, I know black women were experimented on. Read up on the "Father of Gynaenocology" Marion Sims. or Simms --can't remember right now if it's two m's. Oh, and the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment of the 1960s. Lots of suffering.

Addie,

My use of the term "medical advances" was in reference to the Founding Fathers belief that life began at the moment of quickening. Had they had the benefit of the "medical advances" we have today, they would have marked the beginning of life from conception.

See if you can hold that single thought in mind.

Medical experiments on women and blacks is irrelevant to this discussion. Because of that, your mention of these two issues is indicative of your preoccupation with sex and race. Save your personal prejudices for someone who cares about them.

Sims? Yes, indeed, he used slaves as medical subjects. Too bad, but irrelevant. Once again, slavery was abolished in the US in 1865.

Tuskegee experiments were about syphilis and were conducted on male subjects. More racism, and you're getting a bit far afield.

Now you've run religion into the mix.

Do you have any other old axes to grind?

To recap: when you were challenged you introduced sexism (feminism), racism, and now religious bigotry. What's next?

I know. Mind reading. You wrote, "...and the image you have in your head is of a little white fetus..."

Addie, save us all some time and frustration and rethink your position. Racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and mind reading do not a rational argument make. In fact, they make your position a joke, a bad joke in poor taste. I've enjoyed a good laugh at your expense, but, dude, you are getting tiresome.

Once again: If there is a single message to be learned from history, it is that the devaluation of human life always leads to tragedy.

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 18 Feb 2010 #permalink

Charlie
your words are the joke here
go find a blog that honors your testicles and small mind
this one is too smart for you

Addie, your surrender is accepted.

By Charlie Tall (not verified) on 23 Feb 2010 #permalink