Anti-abortionists jump on censorship bandwagon

Responding to a couple of speeches at this week’s Royal College of Nursing annual congress (see below), UK Anti-abortion charity Life is reported in The Times as saying,

The Government has a responsibility to monitor the media, particularly TV and magazines, for inappropriate content for children. Magazines aimed at children as young as 12 often contain sexually explicit information and TV soaps are no better.

The press release concludes,

The Government owes it to our young people to stop throwing condoms at the problem and to deal with it in a life-enhancing way that really works.

Censorship being a life-enhancing step in the right direction.


40 Responses to “Anti-abortionists jump on censorship bandwagon”

  1. Dan Factor says:

    The anti abortionists who go around harrasing frightened young pregnant girls arn’t much help in this debate!

  2. tom p says:

    are they saying that the government are throwing condoms at magazines like Just 17?
    fantastic!
    I’d pay a premium to watch John Reid lobbing prophylactics at their offices

  3. Christopher Shell says:

    Are Life accurate or inaccurate in what they say?

  4. Ezekiel 23:20 says:

    Inaccurate. The government does not, in fact, have a responsibility to monitor the media, while the phrase “Magazines aimed at children as young as 12 often contain sexually explicit information” is so weaselish as to be meaningless (hell, school textbooks aimed at ‘children as young as twelve’ often contain sexually explicit information, as do most dictionaries.

  5. Christopher Shell says:

    OK. Raises the issue of whether the media have too much power. Are we a medi-ocracy? The media is money-driven and sometimes unscrupulous or lacking in conscience. The other candidate for the power behind the throne is big businesses. So if in fact our country (or any other country) is in fact to a great extent run not by our elected representative but by unelected media and unelected big businesses then we are not a democracy. I would see this as something worrying, to be addressed. Your approach so far is simply to point out the situation that there unelected influential bodies. But it would be more fruitful to suggest ways in which their anti-democratic influence could be addressed.
    Of course, big businesses and the media also stand or fall by what the people want. But the fact that they are both essentially money-driven means that they will not always (or even generally) have people’s best long-term interest at heart.
    I agree on the info, but that’s not the whole picture. (1) Dictionaries and textbooks are not their reading of choice. (2) Nor are they packed full of info on their favourite hobbies and things that occupy the leisure hours of qirls their age.

  6. Stuart says:

    I think there’s a simpler explanation for Life jumping on the bandwagon – they’re so strapped for cash they will say anything to try and attract anyone as a member – even if they’re barking mad.
    Just after the Oklahoma bombing the FBI asked Special Branch and the Charities Commission for help tracing the source of foreign funds to violent US pro-lifers. One side-effect was that the Charities Commission tightened up their rules on presenting public accounts and defining a charitable purpose, following which most UK pro-life groups lost charitable status or broke into splinter groups – or even tried to move abroad. I find it sad that they are now so desperate that they still refuse to categorically condemn violence against medical workers for fear of losing the more extreme lunatics they now seem to have to appeal to.

  7. Christopher Shell says:

    It’s true. Wanting to save the lives of innocent young babies is definitely barking mad. They ought to be sectioned.

  8. Dan Factor says:

    Innocent young babies? Yes a two week old foetus is really a baby!

  9. Stuart says:

    Christopher, while I disagree with you over the point at which a foetus becomes a person and has rights, I always accept your right to put your case using means within the law. The problem is that the folk I refer to as ‘barking mad’ aren’t so civil – they’re happy to see people shot or nail-bombed.
    At the point when the FBI asked the British authorities and finance community for help they were trying to stop people who stoop to murder, bombing and arson. Subsequent joint investigations which put away fanatics like Eric Rudolph and James Kopp also revealed a network of supporters in the UK and Ireland. I was happy to play my part in stopping that. What worries me is that there are now sections of the UK religious right who will not. Incidentally, I have little time for extreme pornographers either, and have, in the course of my work, helped put several out of business or behind bars in the last few years. However, the content of the UK mainstream media bears no resemblance to that, and attempting to link the two phenomena seems either naive or a deliberate attempt to introduce another agenda – possibly political and undemocratic.

  10. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Dan-
    Great! At last Ive found the man who knows the biology textbook that is unsure whether life begins at conception or not. Could you let me know the author and title – thanks!
    Stuart-
    You are so right that we should distance ourselves from such unchristian, counterproductive and stooping-to-their-opponents’-own-level actions.

  11. Joe says:

    And off we go again. For a supposed PhD – and I notice you still don’t seem to have told us what it’s in, or where it’s from – you seem to have an immense difficulty when it comes to reading extremely plain English. Again and again, you seem to reply to points that no-one has actually made before settling down into your cloud of smugness once again. The previous poster did not claim that life does not begin at conception. He said that a two-week old foetus is not a baby; whatever one’s particular opinion on the matter, this is a very different proposition indeed. (It also happens to be objectively true, which fact appears to have been lost on you.)

    And as for your claim that pro-life terrorists are somehow “stooping to their opponents’ own level” – Great! At last I’ve found the man who knows the doctors who fire-bomb evangelical churches, shoot ministers and incite their supporters to campaigns of violence against decorators employed by clinics. Could you let me know some of their names?

  12. Tania says:

    Hear hear.
    I’ve had enough of these ‘arguments’ I’ve been reading from you Chris…actually no do continue it’s hilairious.
    Can someone else please comment on the ongoing argument about the Da Vinci Code a few posts below…

  13. Christopher Shell says:

    Some interesting points here:
    One language might choose to have a different vocab word for an unborn baby than for a born baby. Another language might choose to have the same word for both. In English one can use either ‘foetus’ or ‘unborn baby’ – both are correct English. But the English language is not the be-all and end-all. Other langugages will express in different ways the continuity between the same being at 0-9 months and at 9 months plus. It depends on which language one is speaking. Ie it’s just a matter of semantic convention. What you say is ‘objectively true’ is not, precisely, objectively true. To an extent it may be semantically true (which is a more trivial matter, given the fluidity of semantics) – but I doubt whether it is even semantically true in English, since the foetus is often referred to as a ‘baby’ or even a ‘child’.
    Also, the ‘baby’ becomes a ‘child’ later – but the newborn baby (and the unborn baby) are still a ‘child’. These stages overlap. That is, there is no day when he/she goes to sleep a ‘baby’ and wakes up a ‘child’. For quite a while, s/he is both.
    The fact that the ‘baby’ becomes a ‘child’ has no implications for its status or value. He/she doesnt become more important when he/she is a child. Harming him/her in the slightest way at any time would (in normal circumstances) be unjustified. So how much less justified is going the whole way and killing him/her? (The words ‘yeah’ and ‘right’ spring to mind.)

    Why would anyone make the point that a foetus is not a baby unless to claim a difference of status? I was just assuming that this was the reason why he was making the point. The natural counter-argument is that life is a continuum, and by definition begins at conception (which is what the word ‘conception’ means). To claim otherwise (let alone to claim that life all of a sudden ‘begins’ at some gradual point along the continuum line) is unscientific, as you probably already agree.

    Joe-
    Not true. I mentioned on another post (in correspondence with Tom) that it is from Cambridge in ecstasy and altered states of consciousness.

    Pro-life terrorists are indeed stooping to their opponents’ own level, ie killing other ppl without their consent. Tho’ no prizes for guessing which side has killed more (by millions of percent….)

    Tania-
    Pls point out any incorrect point I make individually, then we can discuss it together and see if it is indeed correct or incorrect. That’s proper debate, whereas generalisation isnt.
    The reason you find it ‘hilarious’ is taht there are not a lot of ppl in the world who stand up for what they believe in whether or not it makes them unpopular. If it’s hilarious, you’ll be able to explain what the joke is and why it’s funny. So fire away! :o)

    Best wishes

  14. Christopher Shell says:

    Joe-
    Whatever my grasp of English, yours is of a high order. ‘Settling down into your cloud of smugness’ is a peach: beautiful visual imagination – it ought to have a cartoon representation.

  15. G. Tingey says:

    NO-ONE seems to be able to define an abortion correctly, never mind anything else.
    An abortion is when a fertilised egg, which has become zygote, is not carried to term to produce a live offspring, whatever the circumstances.
    Natural abortions have always outnumbered live births in Humans. Anyone who tries to define “life” as beginning at fertilisation, as the “Pro-lifers” and RC’s and others do are onto a loser from the word go, if only more people knew about this.
    The usual reasons for the natural abortions are the mothers’ icompatibility, failure to implant, or a malformation so serious, that the egg stops dividing within two weeks of the fertilisation.
    It is then aborted naturally.
    These are facts which are very carefully ignored by the “anti-abortion” brigade, and I have certainly never heard a serious discussion of the genuine issues which should be raised by this knowledge

  16. tom p says:

    G. Tingey – you raise a very important and relevant point. well said. I have a sneaking suspicion that most late periods are in fact early spontaneous abortions. I can’t remember if it was in a textbook I read as an undergraduate or not though

  17. tom p says:

    Joe – Dr Shell did say precisely those things a few comments sections earlier when i pressed him on the matter. I think it had something to do with him taking ecstasy

  18. tom p says:

    Doc – the difference is that a post-partum baby is viable, that is to say that they don’t need an umbilical cord for survival. They may need feeding, but anyone can do that.
    A foetus post-6 months(ish) could pretty much survive if born prematurely, although they generally have reduced life spans and higher levels of serious illnesses/disability.
    Before about 6 months(ish), a foetus is entirely and utterly dependent on the mother. It is not an independent living being.
    The fact that people are often lazy with language does not mean that a recently fertilised embryo is a proper baby.

  19. Christopher Shell says:

    Tom-
    A newborn baby is not independent either. Independence is progressive, a sliding scale.
    What arguments would there be in favour of making survivability the key criterion?
    Most people already dont see the umbilical cord as relevant, as 6-9months babies/foetuses still have an umbilical cord, and few would suggest that they should be ‘bumped off’.
    The spontaneous abortion point I have heard a couple of times before, and I am surprised that it doesnt figure more in discussions of the topic. The normal medical ‘thing’ is to try to improve on nature. The time when it would be most appropriate of all to try and improve on nature is when human life is at stake. Doesnt your argument amount to: ‘Some babies are naturally aborted anyway, so let’s abort some of those that would not be naturally aborted’? How does that add up?

    LOL @ Tom. I doubt I would recognise an ecstasy pill if I saw it. In fact I know I wouldnt.

  20. tom p says:

    Doc – I specifically didn’t say independent, I said viable. There’s an enormous difference in meaning between the two, and formed the basis of my point.
    You should probably read my comment again because your argument specifically fails to deal with the points I raised.
    What I failed to state is that I used the 6ish months level because (a) it’s medically relevant, (b) it’s around the legal limit and (c) I happen to agree with that limit. Currently there doesn’t seem to be any side that wishes for an extension of the abortion limit, so your point about 6-9 month old foetuses being aborted is not relevant to the discussion.
    And no, you were not examining any underlying assumptions in my argument.

  21. Christopher Shell says:

    A question I raised earlier: what would be the arguments for making ‘viability’ the key criterion? There are any number of other criteria: ability to feel pain; potential; intricacy; innate value.

    ‘Viability’ seems only to be cited as a criterion because killing has already been accepted as an option. It is this step in the argument which seems so questionable. Any kind of harm is ruled out; how much more is killing ruled out? It seems like the ppl concerned have no idea of the value or intricacy of a human life.

  22. tom p says:

    Surely any argument about the relevant criteria accepts abortion as an option, ipso facto.
    Viability is used as the key criterion because when a foetus is viable, that means that it would survive outside the womb (obviously with feeding etc), whereas otherwise it would just die. Seems a pretty sensible means of deciding when the foetus should be considered as an independent being and not just a subsection of the mother

  23. Christopher Shell says:

    No! Some criteria might come to the answer ‘Never’, and these particular criteria might (on independent grounds, e.g. grounds of scale, or grounds of covering/including/being more fuindamental than the other criteria) turn out to be the most important ones.

    It’s an excellent way of deciding when the foetus could survive physically separated from the mother. And a rotten way of deciding (as though such a decision made sense in the first place) whether or not to kill him/her.

  24. tom p says:

    So, what you’re saying is that although there’s no such thing as human rights (other comments sections passim), there is such a thing as foetus rights?
    I’d much prefer it if there was no need for abortions, they’re horrible traumatitisng events for the parents, and not much better for the foetus, either, however they are a necessary evil (as it were)

  25. Christopher Shell says:

    When did I say there was no such thing as human rights? It is fiendishly difficult to prove that rights exist (as opposed to being created by -guess whom- humans themselves, which leads to the danger that they would be arbitrarily created). But just imagine what the world would be like without any human rights.

    ‘Necessary’? Why?

  26. tom p says:

    Not all abortions are necessarily necessary, however that abortions exist is necessary, eg when having the baby would kill the mother, especially when there are other children already in the family
    .
    Oh, and I was paraphrasing aboot human rights. What you said was more like ‘there should be no such thing as human rights, because society can take care of everything’, although this isn’t precisely it either, it’s about right

  27. Christopher Shell says:

    Tom-
    True – but as you know that accounts for less than 1% of abortions. What about the other 99%+? It’s an awful lot.

  28. tom p says:

    I was just giving one example. However, it clearly proved my point that abortion, although undesirable, is necessary.
    Frankly, legal abortion has prevented a whole lot of lives from being ruined. It’s also prevented a whole lot of unfortunate girls from dying via botched back street abortions.
    Give ‘em an inch…
    Very many anti-abortionists are also anti-contraception (the catholics, for one enormous group). If we give in to you gullibles on this then you’ll try and steal our condoms and pills. It’s just the first step in an attempt to create a theocracy.

  29. Christopher Shell says:

    Exactly – give ‘em an inch. You know how the saying finishes.
    They have taken a mile, & that is how we have got our own very own perpetual holocaust.

    Now, Tom – Ive never referred to you as ‘you gullibles’. Debate is better than slanging match.
    You have no idea of my views on contraception.

  30. tom p says:

    Doc – I’ve reverted to the term gullibles because you have said that you don’t know what religious means and said it was too vague a word and excluded certain religions.
    A gullible (in the sense that I’m using it) is a person who believes that a fairy story is true.
    Not knowing your views on contraception, I’m quite happy to retract the phrase ‘you’ll try and steal our condoms and pills’ and replace it with ‘they’ll try and steal our condoms and pills’, thus not implying that you steal condoms. Or any other groceries for that matter. You might, but I’m not suggesting that you do.

  31. Christopher Shell says:

    Everybody believes some fairy stories. Some people believe the one entitled: ‘All the universe came from a dot smaller than a full-stop which was just there for no particular reason’.

  32. Joe says:

    The key difference here is that the Big Bang theory is derived from actual study of the universe, rather than being something that a nomadic desert tribe who thought the sun went around the earth (Joshua 10) came up with.

  33. Andrew Nixon says:

    Could you tell me which scientist has ever said that Christopher?

  34. Andrew Nixon says:

    Also I don’t think anyone “believes” in the Big Bang, they accept it as the best possible explanation.

    To clarify my last point…. no scientist would say anything like your almost-straw man, as size is a function of the universe, and therefore the universe could not have come from something smaller than a full stop.

  35. tom p says:

    Also, nobody has ever said that it was there for no particular reason, just that we don’t know how it came to be there. Yet. That is an honest position. ‘I know that God is behind it all’ is a dishonest position because you have no evidence for it, merely belief.
    your claim that the big bang theory is invalid because we don’t know what came before the big bang is matched by your inability to tell us who created god, thus discrediting your belief.

  36. Christopher Shell says:

    It may for all I know be valid. But all that demonstrates is that some things which seem like fairy stories to us may actually be true. ‘There are more things in heaven and earth’ and all that.

    Joe-
    as I said earlier I hold no particular brief for the Old Testament, being a New Testament buff.

    Questions of origins I can approach only as a logician, certainly not as a scientist. B. Russell reckoned that the universe was ‘just there, and that’s all’ – too question-begging for most ppl’s liking.

  37. Monitor says:

    And a Christian says much the same about their “god” – which seems to raise at least as many questions, if not more.
    BTW, how unusual that a self-described “logician” should misuse the term question-begging. Logicians are usually so irritated by that common mistake.
    Anyone would think you were full of shit.

  38. Christopher Shell says:

    To say that God is ‘just there and that’s all’ raises more questions in one way: God is presumably more complex – or at least clever- than the universe. It raises fewer questions in other ways: the universe has no power of creativity, or of eternity, or of necessity, which may mean that we are forced to postulate someone or something that does have these 3 attributes.
    Why is it that you say the term ‘question-begging’ is being misused?

  39. tom p says:

    To beg the question is to assume precisely what is being contested.
    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/badmovesprint.php?num=43
    Russell was answering the question of what came before specifically by saying there was no before

  40. Christopher Shell says:

    How would you characterise Russell’s point? I see him as being evasive – ducking the question – and also as question-begging in a sense similar to the sense given. The existence of the world is simultaneously (a) the puzzle which is up for debate and (b) Russell’s unargued assumption. It’s bad enough for assumptions to be unargued; but if they are identical to the topic of debate, one might just as well not have the debate at all.
    To reduce it down: The topic being debated at this point by Copleston & Russell was: How is it that anything exists in the first place? and Russell is claiming that there is no ‘how’ about it. This tends to break the laws of debate. Although Russell could argue that an exception can be made when the topic is everything-but-everything.
    Russell’s answer seems to ‘invite’ or ‘beg’ a specific question arising directly from the inadequacy of his assumptions: namely, what sort of universe is it (given that the whole of science is to do with causation and assumes that questions are answerable) that (a) is entirely uncaused and (b) consists entirely of an unanswered question?