Who was James Pouillon?

Does the name James Pouillon ring a bell to you?

How about George Tiller?

My guess is that far more people will recognize the name of Tiller, the Wichita abortion doctor, murdered at the end of May 2009 than that of Mr. Pouillon, the anti-abortion protestor murdered September 11, 2009. A Lexis-Nexis search for the two men’s names returned 422 hits for Tiller in major U.S. and world publications. How many for Pouillon? Can you believe 13?

I will grant that Tiller’s murder deserved somewhat more coverage. He was, after all, a medical doctor. Pouillon was a mere human being and therefore less worthy of the attention. Tiller was gunned down inside his church, while Pouillon was shot outside a school. (Oddly, Harland Drake, the killer of Pouillon, claimed to be motivated by the lurid signs the protester carried outside a school. Apparently the pair of bodies he left were preferable to graphic signs.) Perhaps most significantly, Tiller had gained previous notoriety as a target of anti-abortion protests. I truly do expect that his killing would gain more attention, but 32 times as much?

Scott Roeder, the convicted killer of Tiller, is mentioned in 233 articles. Harland Drake’s name shows up in not a single article. Granted, Drake was only sentenced a little over two months ago. Perhaps some of those major news outlets have not gotten around to the story just yet.

While one can spin this disparate coverage in any desired direction, the bottom line seems fairly obvious. By a gigantic margin, our journalism establishment finds the murder of an abortion provider to be more significant than that of an abortion protester. Or perhaps the press simply does not desire to cover a story that runs counter to the grand narrative they like to advance.

Regardless, if you don’t know who James Pouillon was, it’s really not your fault.

Yet Another Choice

A few days ago, I wrote an entry in which I suggested that the forces of “choice” aren’t quite as dedicated to civil liberties as they’d like us to believe. Now I find another example in the pages of a manifesto recently produced by the International Planned Parenthood Federation. This document calls for mandatory sex education for everyone aged 10-24 worldwide. Mandatory–that’s a great word for the freedom-loving folk at Planned Parenthood.

Of course, the organization knows best what sort of sex education should be provided to this fourteen-year swath of humanity: their sort of sex education, full of abortion-as-a-right, safe-sex, and a host of contraceptive choices (many of which, not coincidentally, provide Planned Parenthood with is revenue stream).

When I was twenty-four, I had two children and zero diseases. While I wouldn’t say that I had sex completely figured out by that time, it was clearly working for me. All of this despite having zero formal sex education. Planned Parenthood probably sees me as an abject failure.

What troubles me most about their proclamation is its attitude toward religious belief.

Young people’s sexuality is still contentious for many religious institutions. Fundamentalist and other religious groups — Catholic Church and madrasas (Islamic schools) for example — have imposed tremendous barriers that prevent young people, particularly, from obtaining information and services related to sex and reproduction. Currently, many religious teachings deny the pleasurable and positive aspects of sex and limited guidelines for sexual education often focus on abstinence before marriage (though evidence shows this strategy has been ineffective in many settings). The reality is, young people are sexual beings and many of them are religious we well. There is a need for pragmatism, to address life as it is and not as it might be in an ideal world.

In reality, of course, sexuality is contentious to the Planned Parenthood crowd as well. The difference is that they are contending for a different view of sexuality. Although Planned Parenthood would proudly wave a pro-choice flag, they apparently do not believe in a parent’s right to choose how to educate their children. They do not believe in the right of a religious community to choose traditional sexual morality or to pass that morality on to its young. They believe in choice so long as it is their choice, the right choice.

Planned Parenthood is simply another in a long line of would-be authoritarian surrogates. They do not really want to free the world from tyranny. They see traditionalists as the wrong tyrants and want to nominate themselves as the right tyrants. I’m pro-choice on this question, and I choose no tyrants at all.

Choices, Choices

Yesterday, during the Super Bowl, I watched the incredibly controversial, potentially civil-liberties-shaking Tim Tebow ad for Focus on the Family. This thirty-second spot, which had caused so much hand-wringing by the chattering classes on the left, committed the horrible sin of suggesting that people might visit the Focus on the Family website. Nobody complained that GoDaddy.com urged us to go to their website for a continuation of their sexist and tacky strip-show/bad-acting festival, but the very idea that people might take the message that Tim Tebow’s mom loves him and then peruse some message from FOTF has those critics shaking in their boots.

Just before the game, Penny and I hit the local grocery store. There, I saw the current cover of People magazine, where more hand-wringing is going on. As it turns out, the most fecund of Americans, the Duggers, are experiencing health problems with their nineteenth child. “How many children is too many?” the magazine asks.

Both of these stories put the lie to the falsehood of “choice.” The educated elite trumpet their notion of choice, yet they don’t extend that privilege to others. What they really mean is that we should all have the choice to hear the messages that they find appropriate. What they really mean is that women should have the right kill their children but not to choose to have an unlimited number of children.

I wish these types would be honest. Their message of choice is really one that says they know better. They know what Focus on the Family is really thinking and trying to accomplish. They know who should be allowed to procreate. They just know.