Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On Tim Tebow

There's been a lot of buzz lately about the next round of Super Bowl ads. If you haven't heard, CBS agreed to air a pro-life advertisement during the Super Bowl, starring conservative Christians Tim Tebow and his mother. Their story? Tebow's mother was working as a missionary in the Philippines when she came down with amoebic dysentery, and later suffered placental abruption due to the medications used to treat the dysentary. Her doctors supposedly urged her to get an abortion (I say "supposedly" because of the wee little fact that abortion is illegal in the Philippines), as many cases of placental abruption lead to deformed babies, death of the mother, or child, or both. She (also supposedly) chose not to get an abortion-- low and behold, we now have Tebow. Very nice story, I suppose.

You know what else would be a nice story? A story about the United Church of Christ welcoming diverse members, including homosexuals, into their community.

Oh, that was going to be an ad in 2004, you say? And CBS rejected it? Oh.

CBS rejected the ad because, at least at the time, their policy was to prohibit advocacy ads during the Super Bowl. That's fine with me. However, when it comes to an important issue like this, I'd like to see a little consistency, and CBS is no longer being consistent.

The Tebow ad is not only pro-life and pro-Christian, but put it is funded by Focus on the Family. FOF is an extremely conservative institution. I mean....

James Dobson on Gay Marriage: “Most gays and lesbians do not want to marry each other…the intention here is to destroy marriage altogether.”

He believes that same-sex marriage will plunge the entire "institution" into "a state of turmoil unlike any other in human history." Unlike any other in human history? War, genocide, and slavery obviously don't plunge institutions into turmoil.

Oh and by the way...

"50% of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri."

Right, a sacred institution.

I'm getting off track, though. I have a problem with CBS promoting any advocacy ad, but especially one that represents such a hateful and extremist viewpoint. Not to mention that the Tebows' story is so fishy that it's clear that someone at CBS didn't do their job fact checking. It seems unlikely that events unfolded as Tebow's mother claims, for one. And then what about other mothers who are having serious complications, ones that could mean the death of both her and her child? The ad encourages even women in such dire straights to choose life instead of abort and live to bear a child someday. I think William Saleton does a great job of discussing the issue in this article from Slate-- what about those women, like Tebow's mother, who chose life and died? It's unlikely that we'll see them in this ad. Sure, Tebow came out fine, but there are plenty of other babies that died, mothers that died, babies that are severely disabled, fathers that are now alone who are languishing in the shadows. Even if the story behind this ad is true, it's the story of a pretty unwise decision.

No decision is going to be right for everyone. There are many pro-choice people who will surely choose life, while others will choose abortion (because, you see, pro-choice is different than pro-life because it comes with options). I don't believe you can place judgment on these people if you haven't been in their shoes-- and I don't just mean going through a similar situation. Every pregnancy is unique, as are the situations surrounding it. No one should be damned for making a choice they felt they needed to make. What we need is for people-- and especially women-- to be educated about what it means to decide either way, not to be told that there is only one "good" choice. There is nothing more personal than your body and what goes on within it, and everyone should be educated about how to take care of it in a way that's best suited to their own needs and desires.

An ad like the Tebows' tells women that there is only once choice that is moral, and I disagree with that entirely. In fact, I find it disgusting. I hope that if the ad actually does air come Super Bowl time, there will be a pro-choice ad running alongside it.

I know this isn't the most comprehensive, enlightening review of this whole thing that's out there, but I did hope it could start some conversation among us. So.

What do you think of the Tebow ad? What do you think about how CBS has handled themselves? Will you be watching the Super Bowl and/or Super Bowl ads this year?

EDIT: check out this article on how the Tebow ad reinforces misogynist ideas, much in the way other ads do.


amanda said...

I haven't had a chance to really chew over this and formulate a thoughtful, eloquent response, so I'll probably be back with a better comment (GET EXCITED) but:

Mrs. Tebow was offered a choice: to have an abortion or to go through with her very dangerous, medically inadvisable pregnancy. She was offered a choice. The fact that she chose to have her son despite the odds is significant. If the Tebows, Focus on the Family, other conservative Christians had their way there would be no choice at all. There will be no options for women, which sends the message that women are incapable of making any decisions, especially when it comes to their bodies and the fetuses they carry.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, since I haven't had my coffee yet, but really: she had a choice. She chose to keep her baby. If she was not presented with options, I have no doubt in my mind that the Tebows would be in a commercial demanding "uterus freedom" or some such nonsense.

....not that pro-choice movements are nonsense. I'm obviously very much pro-choice. Eh, forget it -- I'm getting coffee.

ben said... just conducted a study with 602 viewers of a news clip regarding the Focus on the Family organizations’ Super Bowl ad. Results found that while the majority of viewers (62%) reported that the ad should not be pulled, pro-choice viewers were split on whether it should be aired. The majority of pro-life viewers (75%) indicated that the Super Bowl was an appropriate platform for controversial ads regarding social issues, while the majority of pro-choice viewers (66%) reported that the Super Bowl was not an appropriate platform.
More in-depth results can be seen at:

Vanessa said...

Amanda: I can't wait to hear your better comment, but I hear what you're saying. I wrote this early this morning and just kinda went with it, so I don't know if it was entirely clear that one of the issues with the whole thing is that it's not clear if Mrs. Tebow actually DID have a choice, seeing as, if she's telling the truth about being in the Philippines in 1987, it would have been almost impossible for her to abort anyway.

Of course, if she really was offered a choice, technically, yes, she made a choice, and it's pretty incredible that she and her son are alive to tell the story. What you're alluding to is important, too, though: as far as groups like Focus on Family are concerned, this ad is supposed to be a big DON'T GET AN ABORTION HAVE FAITH IN GOD sort of ad. Which, if that's what you want, fine. Just don't push your agenda on me, you know?

I don't know if I know where I'm going with this, either. Sigh.

Vanessa said...

Ben: thanks for those stats! I'll check out the site you got 'em from.

The Naked Redhead said...

Love this post.

Part of what I hate about what the ad is implying is that choosing "life" means big things for you and your kid. I think it's insulting to suggest that Tim Tebow is in any way more special than anyone else because his mom chose (thank you, Amanda...CHOSE) to have her baby. Sure, he's a big-ass football star and will probably make more money this year than I'll ever see in a lifetime, but I think it's really shitty to suggest that popping out a kid means super-stardom for that kid...OR, even worse, that if you choose to terminate a pregnancy, you've killed the next Heisman Trophy winner.

And now I'm getting all riled up. :)


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