If you know me, you know that one of my pet peeves is pro-lifers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pro-choice advocate, either. I don’t really agree with abortion except in extreme cases, but the only thing that gets my goat more than abortion being used as a form of birth control is the methods by which its opponents try to push their agenda. Harassing vulnerable young girls at health clinics and waving pictures of dead fetuses at passing cars on the highway? Not the way to get my vote.
While I’d personally probably never consider having an abortion, I certainly don’t hold any feelings of animosity for someone that would – it’s a complicated, major life decision, and I don’t think it’s one that public policy should have a hand in, except in maintaining the safety of the public (which, as we've seen from the past, probably involves keeping it legal. Girls desperate for an abortion aren't going to keep a baby because doctors aren't doing them anymore- the practice will just move to back alleys, killing all-too-often both mother and child).
But this post isn’t really a post for or against abortion- we’ve all heard the rehash between Roe v. Wade a thousand times and it’s been done to death. My personal feelings on the topic are simply a preface for what I’m about to rant about: Randall Terry, and shock advertising.
I am about to share something about myself that many of my dear friends already know: I suffer from some sort of unexplained sensory issue where graphic, violent material onscreen results in either an immediate panic attack or a blackout. I'm not afraid of it: in fact, I love horror books and often read the scary movies that my friends eagerly watch. My brain simply won't accept the visual input. Graphic imagery? Off my brain goes. Let's hope I don't clunk my head on the way down.
At 23 years old, Macaulay Culkin's 'Home Alone' is still graphic enough to be completely out of the question for me. As a child, even a scene as tame as the hyenas in the Lion King falling into thorny brambles was too much to handle. As an adult, I can handle cartoons (usually), but live action is still another story. In order to watch Grey's Anatomy, I have to watch it with the sound off, a folder or my hand covering most of the screen for the gory parts, and only subtitles to avoid an attack, and even then it's dodgy. With this background information, you can see why Randall Terry and his criminal gang of goons' shock advertising campaign is making my life worse for the wear.
In case you're not aware of this creeper, he runs a pro-life campaign that employs 'shock advertising'. 'Shock advertising' is a nice way to phrase 'springing horrible graphic images on the unwilling and unsuspecting viewer'. For someone like me, it's not just an awful experience- on the highway, it's a very real safety concern. A bloody billboard of a baby is a likely blackout trigger- and while driving 55mph on the highway is not a good time to lose consciousness.The idea behind this cruel advertising method is to disgust and upset the target into agreement with one's point of view. Fortunately, no TV station would ever willingly pick up such an advertisement. Unfortunately, Mr. Terry recently came across a manipulative move that would extort a loophole in media law that allows any presidential candidate to run any content in an advertisement they choose, so long as they pay for the ad space. He just has to make a phony 'run' for President.
So where better to run a disgusting, gory, horrible national ad showing dismembered fetuses than the Superbowl, a time-honored family tradition? I can't imagine broadcasting this at a time when families want to spend time with their children. No child wants to be traumatized by a view of a dead, chopped up baby's body, and I'd reckon there are very few adults that are pleased about having their appetite for wings and sliders ruined by the imagery. It all begs the question: when does freedom of speech end, and where do the rights of others begin? Where does the line get drawn between 'peaceful protest' and assaulting the senses of others?
Thankfully, some states are denying his claim based on the lack of legitimacy of his 'running for President'. Since he hasn't technically qualified as a Democratic party candidate, some stations are simply telling him no. It remains to be seen how many states will air his propaganda, but consider yourselves fairly warned: there may be bloody babies on your screen this Superbowl Sunday.