Thursday, August 18, 2005

NARAL: Pro-Choice, Anti-Speech

[Editor's note: The following guest post was sent in by the Raving Atheist and is most welcome. Please don't be daunted by its length; it leads to an important point.]

Contributed by guest blogger The Raving Atheist, a/k/a The Unaborted Atheist:

Did you ever imagine you'd come to a Christian blog to find an nasty, faith-bashing atheist complain about being banned from a pro-choice site?

Well, here I am.

Earlier this week I was rubber-necking at NARAL Pro-Choice America's site and discovered a link to something called the Bush v Choice Blog. My expectations before clicking weren't particularly high. No matter how "hip" or spontaneous they try to seem, official corporate or organizationally-sponsored blogs are expected to follow the party line and sell the message rather than invite open discussion and debate. I doubted NARAL would risk linking to someone whom it didn't control.

At first glance, BvC confirmed my suspicions: immediately beneath the blog title was NARAL's trademarked logo (did you know that the Statue of Liberty is pro-choice?) But a half-inch below that was a link to this disclaimer: "The views expressed on the blog represent the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or position of NARAL Pro-Choice America . . . [a]ny opinions, recommendations, statements, or other information or content presented or disseminated are those of the respective authors, who are solely responsible for their content." So I thought that perhaps "Jessica," the apparent sole proprietress, might not be on such a short leash.

What's more, the blog had a comment section. Would all points of view be welcomed? It wasn't clear. On the one hand, the disclaimer section declared the blog to be "a place for pro-choice activists to come together and discuss news and actions related to the right to choose" (emphasis supplied). On the other hand, the comment guidelines seemed to impose only limited restriction and implied that dissenters might be granted some leeway. Specifically, they stated that only the following types of comments would be subject to deletion:

  • Personal insults to Jessica, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and other commenters.

  • Any comment deemed to be irrelevant, especially copied, lengthy information from websites.

  • Comments reposted in multiple entries of the blog.

  • Anti-choice comments that only serve to announce that they do not agree with our pro-choice stance.

  • Pro-choice comments that only serve to insult those who are anti-choice.
From the two last rules I gathered that anti-choice comments that involved more than mere naysaying would be permitted, and that perhaps even an effort would be made to provide pro-lifers with a forum free from unnecessary abuse.
So I chimed in. My first two entries replied to Jessica's question: "Is there such a thing as an anti-choice feminist?" Those comments still remain, presumably because (unless the question was rhetorical), it would be bad form to delete the very responses you invited.

But that's as far as I got. Jessica's next post, reprinted in full below with links, was an attack on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts (boldface in original):

Roberts' memos reveal more disturbing news

Wow. The fact that Roberts is anti-choice and anti-privacy isn't news. But today's Washington Post reveals some pretty shocking stuff. The article details memos that not only further prove Roberts' commitment to anti-choice nonsense, but also show his straight-up disdain for women's rights in general:
The memo about the Los Angeles service for aborted fetuses is part of a pattern in the documents issued yesterday by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: During his tenure from 1982 to 1986 in the Reagan White House, Roberts staked out conservative positions on a broader array of issues than has previously been known.

He called a federal court decision that sought to guarantee women equal pay to men "a radical redistributive concept." He wrote that a Supreme Court case prohibiting silent prayer in public school "seems indefensible."
What? Equal pay for women is radical?! That's just lovely.
Perceiving a certain level of hypocrisy and inaccuracy, I commented as follows (link included):

(1) The late Rev. George Gardner routinely performed funeral services for aborted late-term fetuses as an employee of Women's Health Care Services P.A. in Kansas, so I can hardly see how Roberts can be faulted for this.

(2) Roberts was opposing the controversial "comparable worth" theory, not "equal pay." They're completely different theories. The Equal Pay Act prohibits paying women less for doing work IDENTICAL to that performed by men; comparable worth attempts to compare the job responsibilities of DIFFERENT jobs (e.g., undertaker vs secretary) and make adjustments for disparities between traditionally "male" and "female" jobs. Comparable worth works where there is evidence that "female" jobs were deliberately devalued due to gender considerations, but ultimately becomes unworkable because formerly "female" job categories can become male-dominated over time and vice versa.

Ideally, all jobs involving equal work should receive equal pay, regardless of the gender of who holds them. I dare say that certain bloggers deserve more than movie stars, but I think you'd agree that that would be a "radical redistributive concept."

(3) When it comes to religion, I have no doubt that Roberts is an ass.
Sorry about point #3, but I am, after all, a Raving Atheist. Also (believe or not) I put that crack in to sugarcoat my response. NARAL, after all, was founded by the atheist Bernard Nathanson (now a pro-life convert to Catholicism) and I figured a little anti-clericalism might disarm Jessica and perhaps even lighten things up.

Nope: the comment had vanished a few hours later when I dropped by to see if there were any responses. At first, I thought I might have merely previewed the comment without pressing the "post" button, so I sent it again. It didn't take; instead I got a message saying that because it was my first comment (??) it was being reviewed for content. I figured this was just some computer glitch until the next morning, when I saw a comment from a "Deine Liebchen" wondering where the response from the "Radical Atheist" had gone. So I knew it had been posted and deleted. An accident? Hardly: a short while later, Deine's comment disappeared as well. My subsequent attempts to repost were futile.

Why have I been banned? I have a few theories. Possibly Jessica felt foolish over the equal pay/comparable worth gaffe. But I think that in a odd way it ultimately all comes down to religion. There is something especially sickening about that link to Rev. Gardner, abortion-financed blesser of late-term abortion clinic fetuses. However secular NARAL may be, and however must it resents religion being used in opposition to its agenda, it is still more ashamed to see religion put in the service of its cause. More ashamed, strangely, than is this Christian blog to put an atheist in the service of its own.