February 8, 2016
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It’s Monday, February 8, 2016. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
NARAL's outrage over Doritos ultrasound ad reveals that pro-choice means anti-baby
Super Bowl 50 is now history and the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers. But the big issue from a Christian worldview wasn’t the game, but, once again, as has happened before in connection with the Super Bowl, the big issue from a worldview perspective is the entertainment connected with the game, and in particular, the advertising. Front-and-center in terms of worldview issues last night was an ad by Doritos. It was a commercial packaged as entertainment featuring a mother and a father and the ultrasound image of their unborn child. The corny ad basically depicted the unborn child as eventually becoming a competitor to the father for snacks. The candidly ludicrous plotline of the advertisement is not the main issue. No, the main issue from a Christian worldview perspective was a tweet in response to the ad that came from NARAL Pro-Choice America. That’s an organization, the primary pro-abortion lobbying organization in the United States, that was previously known as the National Abortion Rights Action League; it changed its name to NARAL Pro-Choice America in an attempt to rebrand not only the organization, but the entire abortion-rights movement, labeling it and rebranding it as pro-choice rather than pro-abortion.
It has not succeeded in terms of the effort behind that rebranding, and one of the reasons why is what we saw in the tweet from NARAL last night. Their verbatim tweet was issued almost immediately after the Doritos ad says this,Show Full Transcript
“#NotBuyingIt – that Doritos ad using #antichoice tactics of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight.”
It ended with the hashtag for the Super Bowl that was #SB50. What we see in this particular tweet is the audacity of the pro-abortion movement. It is as I just said the pro-abortion lobby baring its teeth. The Doritos ad featured the ultrasound image of the unborn child, and indeed the unborn child was a character in the ad. That’s why NARAL accused the ad of,
“Using anti-choice tactics of humanizing fetuses.”
Let’s just imagine that for just a moment. Step back and look at the language. They have now accused Doritos of humanizing fetuses. What could that possibly mean? Well, what it means is something we’ve encountered over and over again. The pro-abortion movement can’t deal with the humanity of the fetus. It denies, by and large, the humanity of the fetus even as a concept. It can’t treat the fetus as a person, as a human being; otherwise it would have to deal with that human being’s right to life. Therefore, at the very center of the pro-abortion movement and the pro-abortion logic is the dehumanization of the unborn child. Now what we also need to see is that it is impossible to limit that de-humanizing merely to the unborn child. Eventually, that same dehumanizing is extended to at least some members of the human family outside the womb. That would include, in particular, what we see is the rise of euthanasia and assisted suicide at the end of life and what we also see in other practices around the world, including infanticide. There is no way that one can begin the process of so-called partial dehumanization without moving into dehumanizing all of humanity at every stage of development.
The Christian worldview grounded in Scripture reminds us that every life is sacred, every human life, because every single human life is the result of God’s creative act in creating a human being in his image. Therefore every human life, at every stage of development, under every condition, is worthy of our protection, because it has inherent dignity and sanctity, not because of who we are but because of who our Creator is; and, of course, when you look behind the larger movement, it is a denial of the Creator and the fact that we are creatures, not just beings, that also underlies the logic of this movement; that in this tweet last night in responding to a television advertisement during the Super Bowl shows the pro-abortion movement in its deadly reality. The very fact that in this tweet NARAL referred to humanizing fetuses reveals virtually everything about their worldview. And it also reveals the great challenge we face in terms of our confrontation in this age with the culture of death. We’re talking about people who can use a phrase like humanizing fetuses not only with a straight face and not only in public, but in their Twitter feed for the organization responding to an advertisement during the Super Bowl. Just let that sink in a bit.
The tweet was not even offered in some kind of cultural controversy or debate, it was intended to incite the base of NARAL to action and combine joint, shared outrage in terms of this Doritos ad. Now an organization that is so threatened by an ad such as this is an organization that must know at its heart it is based upon a lie. An organization that has to refer to an advertisement featuring the ultrasound of an unborn baby as humanizing fetuses is an organization with death at its heart and the stench of death on its breath.
Feminist laments lack of sympathy from feminist friends after miscarriage, mourns child
But this focus on the dignity of the unborn child leads me to an article that appeared in recent weeks in Toronto’s most influential newspaper, The Globe and Mail. The author of the article is an avowed feminist, Alexandra Kimball, but she’s an avowed feminist who experienced a miscarriage, and the experience of having that miscarriage and the response of her feminist friends, or the lack of response, informed her at least in part about what is really going on here.
“Feminism was my religion,”
she wrote in The Globe and Mail. But as she described her miscarriage, she said,
“Feminism had nothing to say to me.”
“The more I considered it, the more I became convinced that the silence around miscarriage was connected to feminism’s work around abortion.”
She then explains,
“How could I grieve a thing that didn’t exist? If a fetus is not meaningfully alive, [she asked the question] if it is just a collection of cells [—the cornerstone claim of the pro-choice movement—] what does it mean to miscarry one?”
Her article in The Globe and Mail, a very lengthy article, was entitled,
“Unpregnant: The silent, secret grief of miscarriage.”
So many women throughout the ages have experienced this grief—not only women, but couples, and now there is the reality that this woman who, as she said, for whom feminism was her religion, she sees, at least, there is a massive problem in the fact that her feminist friends did not and really could not grieve with her about her miscarriage because given their advocacy for abortion and the extent to which they had bought into the culture of death and to the ideology of abortion, they really couldn’t grieve over something they didn’t believe had ever existed. They couldn’t grieve a child they didn’t believe had ever been. In the most important section of her essay, she wrote,
“The more I considered it, the more I became convinced that the silence around miscarriage was connected to feminism’s work around abortion.”
And then as we had read, she said,
“If a fetus is not meaningfully alive, if it is just a collection of cells.”
And she says that’s,
“…the cornerstone claim of the pro-choice movement – what does it mean to miscarry one?”
And then later, she wrote,
“Some feminist thinkers have posited a way out of this paradox, by admitting the personhood of the fetus as they champion a woman’s right to abort it. In other words, [she writes chillingly] abortion is murder, but a justified one.”
“This didn’t feel quite right to me, either. I began to wonder if the personhood of the prawns we carry…”
—just consider that word for a moment—
“…is a result of our relationship with our own pregnancies. Unlike the aborted fetus, the miscarried child has been spoken to, fantasized about, maybe even greeted on an ultrasound or named. My precious angel.”
Now this displays the fact that this author has not moved to anything like a consistent pro-life position. She still, according to this article, basically has feminism as her religion. She still, according to this article, apparently is to some degree still pro-abortion or she might take pro-choice, but she does recognize something that is revealed in this article. She understands and is at least here talking publicly about the fact that her feminist religion and her feminist friends could not really grieve with her in her miscarriage because they could not acknowledge the personhood of the fetus. A life that has never been cannot be grieved. The confusion inherent in this woman and her essay is clear just a few paragraphs later, when she writes,
“I’d had an abortion myself, when I was 26, living on a graduate student’s stipend in an illegal sublet infested with brown bats. I didn’t think much about it afterward; I knew then, as I know now, that it was the right decision. There was no question in my mind that the fetus I aborted was a fetus, and the child I lost was a child. It struck me that, in its work toward abortion rights, feminism had denied women’s right to define pregnancy however we want.”
Now here we see a worldview going mad. We see a woman who writes of the fact that she grieved the child she miscarried and she was fundamentally frustrated by the fact that her feminist religion and her feminist friends, the entire pro-choice movement as she calls it, could not grieve with her because they saw nothing basically to grieve. But she is not moving to a pro-life position; instead, she says two things in the following paragraphs that are absolutely chilling. She says that she had an abortion when she was 26 and, to use her words again, she says,
“I knew then as I know now that it was the right decision.”
That’s chilling. It’s even more chilling when she says,
“There was no question in my mind that the fetus I aborted was a fetus and the child I lost was a child.”
Notice the verbal sleight-of-hand that she engages in here. She speaks about the child that she aborted as a fetus, that was a fetus, but she says the child she lost in the miscarriage to use her own words,
“…was a child.”
Well, how can one unborn child be merely a fetus and the other be a child? How can it be a matter of her subjective evaluation whether or not she wanted the child? Then it gets even more chilling. She writes, as you recall,
“It struck me that, in its work toward abortion rights, feminism had denied women’s right to define pregnancy however we want.”
Now what kind of worldview would allow women—or anyone else for that matter—to define pregnancy however we want? That means that she claims the right to say that the unborn child at this point in her life is merely a fetus, the other is a child. The one is not to be grieved at all, because to use her words,
“I knew then as I know now that it was the right decision.”
The other she does grieve and she longs for others to grieve because it was a child that she wanted and she recognizes, to use her own words,
“The child I lost was a child.”
Later in the article the author speaks about sitting after the miscarriage at her dining room table where she,
“…lit the candles in a crystal candelabra we’d been given for our wedding, and spoke out loud for a while to the baby I’d lost. I gave her a name and addressed her by it. I told her I was sorry: that my body couldn’t house her; that I couldn’t let her go.”
So here we have the juxtaposition. We have a woman who says she had an abortion at age 26, and she knows now as she knew then that it was the right decision. That unborn child she says was merely a fetus. Meanwhile, the child she lost by a miscarriage she says was truly a child, so much so that she lights candles and she cries out to the child, giving her a name and telling her she was sorry and that she couldn’t let her go. The article by Alexandra Kimball in Toronto’s Globe and Mail is really important for what it reveals about not only the illogic, but the deadliness at the very heart of the pro-abortion movement. We also see the absolute moral confusion in the heart of a woman who will describe two pregnancies, one she aborted and one she lost by miscarriage, speaking of the first merely as a fetus, the second as a child, and suggesting that feminism failed her, because it couldn’t grieve with her the child she miscarried.
But she goes on to say that feminism failed her by not affirming a woman’s right to define every pregnancy as she wills. That is moral insanity. And that’s at the very heart of the pro-abortion movement. Here’s the thing biblically-minded Christians have to always remember: Every single child, every single child unborn or born, every single human being at every stage of development, every elderly person, every disabled person, every human being who has ever been or who will ever be is a creature made in God’s image, a creation of a holy and omnipotent God who alone has the right to define life even as he alone can give life. And we also have to keep in mind the basic logic that comes down to this, an unborn child can’t be merely a fetus in one pregnancy and a genuine child in another. Every single inhabitant of the womb is a human being made in God’s image.
Necco candy chooses gay couple for Valentine's ad, attempts to capitalize on moral revolution
Next, looking specifically at the issue of morality, worldview, and advertising, an article that appeared last Thursday in the Boston Globe by Katie Johnston demonstrates all of this simultaneously, the intersection of worldview and advertising. As she writes,
“The ad, for Necco Sweethearts candy, features two 80-something men on a couch, plucking conversation hearts out of a box as they discuss their 55 years together.”
She goes on to write,
“How a newly married gay couple from Texas became the spokesmen for an iconic New England brand involves a one-of-a-kind convergence of history, romance and candy — 150 years’ worth of tiny, heart-shaped confections.”
She writes about the fact that the 150th anniversary of the sweetheart candy by Necco is coming up, and to celebrate the Massachusetts company hired Hill Holliday, a major advertising firm based in Boston, to create a new ad campaign, primarily digital,
“…inviting people to share their love stories.”
The reporter then writes,
“All roads lead to Valentine’s Day for Sweethearts [meaning the candy] and a member of Hill Holliday’s creative team, Steve Callan, quickly realized that this will be the first Valentine’s Day in history in which all couples, gay or straight, across the United States are allowed to be married.”
So she writes that the,
“Team members read news reports about the two Texans, Jack Evans and George Harris — the first same-sex couple to get married in Dallas on the day the Supreme Court decision was announced last June — and they knew they had found the perfect way to introduce the campaign.”
So what she goes on to write,
“Hill Holliday sent a three-person crew to the couple’s home and filmed them talking about how they met, in 1961, and what they meant to each other.”
Katie Johnston, the reporter then goes on to explain that,
“Having a gay couple as the face of the brand is perhaps more controversial, but chief executive Michael McGee considers Jack and George a ‘sweet, innocent story’ at a time when same-sex marriage has become widely accepted.”
This gets to the great intersection of worldview, cultural change, and advertising when Johnston writes,
“‘Indeed, this is the moment that advertisers will get the most out of featuring gay families,’ said Boston University advertising professor Edward Boches.
“‘It’s a bandwagon that everyone can jump on now because it’s legal, but it’s still fresh enough that it’s going to generate buzz.’”
He went on to say that all kinds of companies had,
“…a rainbow version of something online the day after the Supreme Court decision.”
He then explained—and this is where thinking Christians need to listen and watch very carefully— the professor of advertising at Boston University in this article in the Boston Globe explained and I quote,
“Brands want to be part of the cultural conversation. They want to appear to be topical, but they play it safe.”
What does that tell us? It tells us that this Massachusetts-based confectioner who has been making sweetheart candy now for 150 years considers it both fresh and safe to come out in favor of same-sex marriage by featuring as the supposedly iconic couple for their 2016 Valentine’s Day campaign, an octogenarian gay couple from Dallas, Texas. And so we find ourselves the morning after the Super Bowl looking at the fact that repeatedly, over the course of the past several days, we’ve seen how worldview and moral change are driven by and reflected by advertising campaigns: Doritos that, by the way, recently had a controversial ad campaign with rainbow colored Doritos, and then we’re looking at NARAL’s response, then we see this story about Sweethearts by Necco and the fact that they’ve chosen the two 80-year-olds who are now legally married in Texas, two men as the featured couple for their current sweethearts advertising campaign. And then we see the professor at Boston University explaining why this is so timely and she says it’s because companies want to be a part of the topical conversation. They want to be part of the cultural conversation, but not just that, they want to be seen, here’s that phrase we’ve seen over and over again, on the right side of history.
Advertisers act in order to gain market. They do so because they believe the messages they send will build their brand and lead to better brand success. This is not by Necco considered to be an extremely brave and edgy act in 2016. That’s what we really need to watch. This tells us that the company thinks it can be both fresh and safe, to use the language of the professor at Boston University, in going so far as to feature two 80-year-old married men, that are legally married in Texas, as the symbols for their Valentine’s Day campaign for 2016. Now just imagine what that tells us about how the world around us has changed. It would be inconceivable that that same couple would be featured in the advertising campaign in 2015, that’s just 12 months ago. Why would it be inconceivable then, but actual now? Well, there again we see the importance of the United States Supreme Court handing down its decision, legalizing by judicial fiat same-sex marriage in all 50 states. And so now we have confectioners hiring an advertising campaign feeling that they have political cover by the United States Supreme Court to feature two 80-year-old men as their sweetheart couple for 2016.
The pace of the moral change all around us, the velocity of this change and the seismic significance of this change are here pictured in an advertising campaign from a Massachusetts candy maker making the little sweetheart candy that most of us knew from elementary school onward. Think about something else for just a moment. Every one of those candies, those little sweetheart candies, is known for bearing a message, generally an innocuous message that wouldn’t even be offensive to elementary school students. But the message that is sent by this advertisement is very different. It’s not just that kind of general and banal message that is printed on the candy. No, imprinted in the advertising campaign is an entire moral revolution turning Western civilization on its head, a direct contradiction of what God created marriage to be and alone has the right to declare marriage to be. A moral revolution that will eventually touch every aspect of this society, right down, we should note, not only to what happens in the courts, not only what happens in the schools, not only what happens in economics and politics, and on the American college campus, but what happens to candy, or what happens to advertisements for a candy marking its 150th anniversary.
$4.5 billion: cost of the battle for our eyeballs over 50 years of Super Bowl advertising
Finally, just another note about the impact of advertising at the intersection of worldview and what’s going on in the so-called battle for our eyeballs. That has to do with the battle among advertisers for the attention of consumers. Adweek’s Bradley Johnson reported yesterday that the total advertising income for the first 50 Super Bowl’s now amounts to 4.5 billion, that’s with a “b,” dollars. Advertising for Super Bowl 50 alone is going to be for CBS alone $377 million. Advertisers, we need to note, have spent $4.5 billion over the 50 years of the Super Bowl, and they spent $377 million toward CBS just in terms of ad time for Super Bowl 50. And why did they do that? It is because advertisers in that battle for our eyeballs and for our ears do understand that most fundamentally, it is not only a battle for consumer choices, it is in the end a battle for hearts. $377 million spent to CBS this year, $4.5 billion over 50 years, not spent in vain, but spent in an effort to build brands, to reach minds and to reach hearts. And we need to note that as we’ve seen just in these examples considered today on The Briefing, these advertisements are not just about selling a product; they are also about selling a worldview, selling a moral revolution, and both reflecting and driving that moral revolution right down to every advertisement we see, not only in Super Bowl 50 yesterday, but every advertisement on every medium the comes to us virtually every second of every day. This reminds Christians of the great challenge we face in terms of the Christian worldview, not only in our lives and in our ears, but also in our hearts.