"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Newspeak is not fantasy

In abortion politics, language is everything. Not even the good, grey New York Times can sustain the pretense of objectivity in reporting about the topic. And you don't have to take that as just another "propaganda" thrust from the "pro-life crowd." No less a balanced, veteran religion journalist than Newsweek's Kenneth Woodward says that the way the Times treats the topic of partial-birth abortion is irrefragable evidence for this conclusion about its halls and cubicles: It is a strange world where “women” carry “fetuses” but where it is forbidden to ever write that “mothers” carry “babies.”

Such is one outcome of documented, across-the-board efforts at the Times to maintain fairness and objectivity in how it reports on controversial issues. On many issues such efforts bear fruit, but not on this one. Try as they might, they just can't bring themselves to make the slightest concession to ways of speaking about abortion that might humanize the conceived child in the womb. That is why, says Woodward, when legislation on abortion is the news, it is almost always depicted in the media as “restricting” abortion rights, when in fact such legislation could, with equal justice, be described as “protecting” unborn life. In the MSM generally, it apparently won't do to acknowledge that there could be a life objectively worth protecting whether or not the mother sees it that way. An unborn child is only a person if its mother, for reasons of her own, chooses so to regard it; if she doesn't, it isn't. (Gee, there's a whole bunch of things I wish I could make so just by wishin' and believin'. Anybody in favor of equal rights for men in that department?)

Coverage of partial-birth abortion has made such ideological use of language particularly clear. Proponents and opponents are speaking different languages. The language of the opponents is closer to the physical reality. All across the larger abortion debate, it is closer to the spiritual reality as well. Which is why the proponents of abortion won't use such langauge themselves.

Similar tactics by pro-life groups are considered evidence of "fundamentalism." Tu quoque?
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