We watched most of the Superbowl (go cats!), the Downton hour excepted, and we thought the Doritos commercial was sorta funny. NARAL was mortified at the way the commercial “humanized” the baby on the ultrasound, and the counter-reaction seems to be missing something important in that protest: the Doritos.
Let’s take NARAL at their word, for a moment, and examine what it was about this ultrasound that was different from every other:
- The baby expressed clear personal preferences and acted on them.
- The baby was able to physically obtain and consume a Dorito.
- The baby was able, of his own volition, to go fetch more Doritos.
Babies in the womb usually don’t do these things. They will respond to pain, suck their thumbs, and even interact with the outside world, but not in the way the Doritos baby did. Ordinary babies will be some months older before they start grabbing your snacks from you.
When NARAL speaks of the commercial “humanizing” the baby, we can reasonably conclude that they object to the baby being shown as more capable than an ordinary baby of the same age.
This inference is consistent with the entire ethic of death. Those who are pro-infanticide (“post-birth abortion”) argue that a newborn is hardly more autonomous or capable than the same child just a bit younger (or the same age) living in the womb. Those who argue for euthanasia will cite the loss of “quality of life,” by which they mean loss of the ability to do things like eat Doritos. People, ones you know, perhaps even the person that you are, will openly express that they’d rather be dead than rely on some kind of alternate mode of nutrition that strictly precludes the eating of Doritos and other chewed-and-swallowed items.
Fundamentally, NARAL and a sad chunk of western society do in fact believe that the ability to consume Doritos is a distinguishing feature between those who possess the whole set of human rights and those who are disposable at best.
The Velveteen Baby
Another view of “humanization” espoused by NARAL is the wanted-and-loved test. The parents in the commercial obviously want this child, so it’s a real live human. Babies who aren’t, like my daughter’s stuffed hippo, doted upon by loving parents, are just so much fluff on the shelf. Donate ’em, sell ’em on eBay, toss ’em in the trash. Whatever you need to do to clear the clutter.
Syrupy children’s storybooks notwithstanding, stuffed animals don’t turn into real live animals because you love them. They are stuffed animals that you dearly love. Real animals don’t turn into pretend animals because you don’t love them. An unloved, unwanted pet still deserves humane treatment. Baby dolls aren’t real babies. Real live human babies aren’t any less human just because you find them intrusive. They don’t become less-human because you are less human in your love for them.
The Humanization of You
You, reader, are a human being. You might be a terrible one, but you’re human all the same. You possess intrinsic worth by the mere fact of your existence. But it’s possible you could be a better human than the one you are just now.
Part of the humor (childish though it was) of the Doritos commercial was the conflict between the wife so wholeheartedly invested in the arrival of her baby, and the husband who was more interested in his bag of chips than his own child. The Doritos company would like you to absorb the message that Doritos are such a fine product it’s understandable a man might find them so compelling.
Let’s consider a contrary message: You are more of a man if you are able to set aside the Doritos.
We humans become more fully what we were created to be when we learn to prioritize rightly. When we are more selfless, more giving, more kind, more generous, more patient, more industrious . . . we are more human. That is, we live out our human mission more completely. We become more of the person we were meant to be.
And thus an ironic edge to NARAL’s protest: It is precisely in caring for those who can’t grab their own chips that we become more human ourselves. The lie our culture wants you to swallow is that those who depend on you for help are somehow getting in the way of your leading a fulfilling life. They are supposedly dragging you down.
But it’s quite the opposite. In learning, through years of hard practice, how to behave like a mature human being, you become more yourself. Your friends and family and neighbors, with all their weaknesses and demands, are the instruments of your humanization.
Photo copyright Jon Fitz.