Ross Douthat relates a grisly tale of a time a truck spilled aborted babies on the road (and the compulsion of urbane abortion supporter to Not See it) to the current story of the Center for Medical Progress’ exposure of the gruesome lunchtime chat of PP reps about the “crunchiness” of the babies they gaily slaughter:
It’s a very specific disgust, informed by reason and experience — the reasoning that notes that it’s precisely a fetus’s humanity that makes its organs valuable, and the experience of recognizing one’s own children, on the ultrasound monitor and after, as something more than just “products of conception” or tissue for the knife. That’s why Planned Parenthood’s apologists have fallen back on complaints about “deceptive editing” (though full videos were released in both cases), or else simply asked people to look away. And it’s why many of my colleagues in the press seem uncomfortable reporting on the actual content of the videos.
Indeed, what the videos do is confront us with both the humanity of the victims and the inhumanity of the butchers. And Planned Parenthood knows this. That’s why they are spending so much time on the twin strategy of talking about the “tone” of the people discussing this and then hurrying on to calling the Center for Medical Progress “deceptive”.
What chatter about “tone” means is “We regret that our reps got caught saying clearly and without euphemism what it is we actually do–which is crushing the skulls of children and then gutting them for parts. Our whole livelihood depends on not speaking clearly of these things and so we are royally pissed at these idiot employees for bringing into the light of day the truth of what we do. We are taking steps to make sure that plain English will never be used again.”
After this non-apology, Planned Parenthood and its fellow travelers then begin the real work of denial and disinformation, which is to get our minds and churning stomachs off the camel of ghastly inhumanity we have just swallowed and to focus our attention on the gnat of legality. To that end, the very first move is for PP to call in a draconian judge to play a bit of smashmouth and crush the free speech right of the Center for Medical Progress by ordering them to release no further videos. I hope CMP tells the Court to go to hell and uses the interwebz to make the videos available from an off shore site a la Wikileaks, but we’ll see how that goes. Meanwhile, as they attempt to silence CMP, PP offers grotesque arguments are made that crushing the skulls of babies and gutting them for parts is just like donating blood. Coupled with this is the media blackout, which former PP member Camille Paglia has great fun shredding to bits. Because the main goal is that we NOT SEE.
More than this, the focus becomes white hot on the fact that the videos, alas, do not in fact document what they purport to document: that PP is turning, or even trying to turn, a profit off of this grisly work. On this point, it appears they are correct.
Here’s the deal: PP is not required to operate at a loss. They can recoup their costs for equipment, storage, transportation, etc. And, as even Abby Johnson has pointed out, that appears to be exactly what the videos actually show. Indeed, the only people pushing–and pushing hard–for PP to raise their prices are the CMP people themselves. Some people have argued that the third video succeeds where the other two have failed in establishing a felony but, if so, I’m not seeing it. Certainly, Stem Express is making a killing in more ways than one. (The most disturbing part of her story is this bit:
O’Donnell said she fainted the first time she was part of this process and was told by someone in the room, “some of us don’t ever get over it.”
But, again, apart from the horrifying nature of the monstrous work (all of which is legal in These United States) StemExpress appears to be a for profit company and not in violation of the law (though I could be wrong). Meanwhile, it appears that there is still no evidence that PP is turning a profit off their monstrous work–which was the point of the video.
Result: if that analysis is accurate, then PP has grist for claiming these videos–especially when CMP is urging them to charge more–are an entrapment sting and that, yes, the makers of the video are being dishonest. So, with brazen chutzpah, Pelosi tells the Go Big or Go Home lie that there *is* no controversy about baby part trafficking. Elsewhere, PP pulls out some good old-fashioned smashmouth threats to media to not so much as air the videos.
Further result: Instead of distancing themselves from PP, Dems are already starting to use the videos in order to fundraise on behalf of themselves and PP with the perfectly predictable claim–verified by the makers of the videos themselves–that the makers of the videos are liars and, that the videos do not at all establish the commission of felony. Left unmentioned, of course, is what they do establish: the grisly inhumanity of PP reps calloused souls and the crushing and rending of human beings they commit so casually.
The good news is that some real damage has been done to PP–for the moment. A measure of their panic and desperation is the flat out naked lies Cecile Richards is telling, claiming that murderers and abortion clinic bombers are making the videos. They’ve also hired a crisis-management PR firm, another indication of panic. Those who can stomach listening to this chatter cannot but be horrified. The bad news is that it is far from clear that the videos will have a good long-term effect. Congressional investigations will in all likelihood be emotionally satisfying political theatre for prolifers that will yield nothing in terms of actual punishment for PP for the very good reason that there is nothing illegal being documented here. Meanwhile, in the midst of the best political environment for defunding PP we’ve seen in years, the USCCB has called for defunding PP. After the GOP performed its customary feat of stabbing prolifers in the back and refusing to act, it then began making noises about fast-tracking a defunding bill. We’ll see. Long experience has taught that talk without action is the GOP game plan.
And, on the downside, the alacrity with which PP and the Dems are turning lemons into lemonade and using the video to raise money for themselves–just as they did in 2011 when they generated $650,000 dollars in donations and a big fat atonement gift of $7.5 million from Susan G. Komen for the sin of chickening out under pressure–is worrying. Likewise, MoveOn.org is thrilled and delighted at the fundraising opportunity handed them on a silver platter by geniuses who decided that hacking PP was a great idea. The Obama administration, likewise, appears delighted by the opportunity to use the sledgehammer of the law to go after people who appear to be acting illegally. Who could have predicted it? (By the way, a word about the prolife media’s horse race to provide reliably unreliable coverage of all this. Unfortunately, I have been burned so many times trusting the word of prolife media that I routinely have to verify their claims and headlines–another reason I think Lying for Jesus is such a corrosive and disastrous policy. So, for instance, we were breathlessly informed “Coca-Cola, Ford and Xerox: We No Longer Donate to Planned Parenthood Abortion Business” and likewise “American Express and American Cancer Society: We No Longer Donate to Planned Parenthood“. Both of these immediately got circulated around to me with notes to the effect of “So, Mr. Puritan! Still say that lying is always bad? Look at the awesome effect these videos are having!” Yeah. About that. Turns out these businesses either never funded PP or have not funded PP for years. Yet the headlines are worded in order to give the impression that they were eager contributors to PP till the videos came out. In short, there’s no There there. But this will continue to circulate like a bad penny–and provide more grist for the perfectly accurate PP charge that prolifers trade in lies and dishonesty. If PP are smart–and they are–they could easily parlay all this into yet another win for themselves as they did in 2011. I prefer that PP lose, not win. So I continue to urge prolife Catholics to fight with the weapons of the Spirit and not the weapons of this world. For my troubles, I am routinely charged with disloyalty and being a secret pro-abort. Whaddayagonnadoo?) Meanwhile, Fr. Robert Barron reflects on the death of God and the corresponding loss of human dignity on display in the recent videos of PP reps chatting casually over fava beans and a nice chianti of the crushing of baby skull and the gutting of children:
For the past two hundred years, atheists have been loudly asserting that the dismissal of God will lead to human liberation. I would strenuously argue precisely the contrary. Once the human being is untethered from God, he becomes, in very short order, an object among objects, and hence susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested. In the measure that people still speak of the irreducible dignity of the individual, they are, whether they know it or not, standing upon Biblical foundations. When those foundations are shaken—as they increasingly are today—a culture of death will follow just as surely as night follows day. If there is no God, then human beings are dispensable—so why not trade the organs of infants for a nice Lamborghini?
Ultimately, it is going to have to be here, and not on nine day wonder PR flaps that the battle must be fought. Revealing the horrors of an abortion culture and counting on turning stomachs to win only works if the majority of the culture is not innured to horrors. I see very little indication we are, as a culture, moving toward greater sensitivity to the suffering of the inconvenient. So I will not be terribly surprised if the footage that is currently making prolifers gasp in horror and pro-aborts squirm with discomfort is not used as grist for comedy in a year or two. Fallen man has an amazing capacity to numb himself to horrors he cannot bring himself to oppose. And 80% of Americans cannot bring themselves to oppose this. 20% are fanatically in favor or it and 60% dislike it, wish it would go away, and keep supporting it.
This kind does not come out but by prayer and fasting. We need to get serious.