Equivocation on human life

One accuses Fox News host Bill O’Reilly of intellectual dishonesty cautiously and only with substantial reasoning. But for the third time, I think it’s warranted.

This week, he once again referred to unborn children in the womb as “potential human life,” which is just flat wrong.

It was in his ‘Talking Points’ Monday, captured here on The Blaze.

O’Reilly hammered the president’s secular progressivism, claiming that Obama is “the poster guy” for the anti-traditionalist movement.  After showcasing statistics and information surrounding births out of wedlock, abortion and other societal issues, the host noted that secular progressives have done little to curb these phenomena.

“Abortion is settled law in the USA, but it should be discouraged, because human DNA is present upon conception,” O’Reilly said. “Thus the situation becomes a human rights issue.”

The host asked if Americans want to live in a nation “where potential human life…is terminated for convenience.”

This fails the test of reason, which struck me immediately and other bloggers have noted.

What on earth is he talking about here? There are a lot of problems in what he is saying.

First, abortion is not “settled law” any more than the Dred Scott decision “settled” the slavery issue.

(Good point.)

Secondly, O’Reilly says abortion “should be discouraged, because human DNA is present upon conception.” “Thus the situation becomes a human rights issue.” Notice he avoids the use of the word “person.” He seems to be making the case that we are not talking about a full “person” here but a partial person because “human DNA is present” and that there is no just argument for banning abortion completely. The “human DNA is present” idea he has come up with to describe the new person in the womb reminds me of the “3/5 person” in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. The Constitution, in the Fourteenth Amendment, protects the rights of every “person,” and presumably O’Reilly knows that. So he’s come up with a “human DNA is present” characterization so that he can argue that abortion should be “discouraged” while offering no legal protection for what we pro-lifers know to be a person in the womb. O’Reilly’s position, then, is closer to the “3/5 person” argument than to any other legal argument that I’m aware of.

O’Reilly then switched to marijuana and rightly pointed out that “legalizing marijuana sends a message that it’s fine to use it.” It makes no sense that he does not apply this same reasoning to the legalization of abortion. Legal abortion encourages abortion just as legal marijuana encourages the use of marijuana. How can O’Reilly say that abortion should be “legal” but “discouraged” and then, in the  next breath, say that legalizing marijuana encourages people to use it? He is not applying his reasoning equally to both subjects. Why?

The “folks at home,” as O’Reilly refers to his audience, should know that this is an example of incompetence on making one’s case regarding abortion law.

Just as with the slavery issue, either we are talking about a “person” here (with the rights of every other person) or we are not. There is no such thing as a partial person. You’re either a person or you’re not. We all now see that the Constitution was tragically flawed in referring to some as “three-fifths” of a person. So, why would anyone accept that flawed reasoning in regard to abortion? Further, if you understand that legalizing something acts as an encouragement, as O’Reilly notes in regard to marijuana, then how can you say with a straight face that something should be both legal and discouraged, as O’Reilly claims in regard to abortion?

It’s more of the same in terms of capitulating for the sake of staying in the discussion. If this election taught us anything, it’s that instead of equivocating on values for the sake of acceptance, people who see the essential values of human life and dignity and universal human rights as inalienable have to hold that line. And instead of talking about it less, or in culturally diluted terms, we have to talk about it more. With clarity and truth.

Santorum on O’Reilly

Actually it was the reverse. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly really got on Republican candidate Rick Santorum about his campaign and views and likelihood of success going forward. The day after he was victorious in Iowa.

It’s one thing to ask the tough questions, Santorum and the rest of the field should be used to that or get used to it fast from now on. It’s another to step outside the ‘No Spin Zone’ and pitch the zingers O’Reilly snapped off at Santorum to elicit the responses he was looking for, sometimes without letting the candidate finish his answer. It was O’Reilly-like, and I listened to it again before saying anything.

Here’s what I saw and heard…

O’Reilly was testy from the start. Fair enough to say that’s an impression rather than a fact, but that’s my impression, and I’m neutral on the candidates at this point. It was just a surprisingly terse host in this interview.

O’Reilly starts by asking Santorum: ‘Who are you going to take from in New Hampshire? You’ve got 10 percent now, who are you going to take from?’ in order to rise in the polls. Santorum did his best responding about raising support and resources.

O’Reilly: ‘Are you ready to be demonized? Now it’s a national race, and you’re going to be portrayed as an extremist. And some of your positions are out of the mainstream. You know, 98 percent of Americans think contraception is fine, that states have the right to legislate that.’

Santorum: ‘As you know as a Catholic…’ and he starts to refer to that shared understanding of birth control. 

O’Reilly interrupts: ‘But the majority of Catholics don’t follow that, it’s like the meat on Fridays thing, it’s not that Jesus said it, it’s not a dogma, it’s a doctrine made by man. I’m not justifying it or and I’m not giving my opinion about it one way or the other. I’m just pointing out they’re going to come after you on that, and they’re going to come after you on gays in the military. And they’re going to come after you on gay marriage, on a marriage license that’s already given. You would have them rescind it. All I’m saying is I’m not debating the issue with you. I’m not debating the issue with you, I’m not saying you’re right or wrong. I’m just saying this is going to be put to you, that you’re an extremist, out of the mainstream. How are you going to reply to that? You want to rescind a license that’s already given? That’s a big deal.’

Santorum says defining marriage as between a man and a woman is not extreme.

O’Reilly asks if passing a constitutional amendment defining marraige would be in the forefront of a Santorum administration.

Santorum: ‘As you know Bill, if you’ve been following me out on the trail, I haven’t been talking a lot about this although I strongly believe in it. What I’ve been talking about as I did last night in my acceptance speech, where I didn’t talk about this issue, I talked about getting this economy going. I talked about my grandfather, and coming here for freedom. This is the fundamental issue in this campaign, whether government is going to be big and obtrusive and telling people how to manage their lives, or they’re going to support the values of faith and family that allow government to be limited, that allow our economy to be strong. Those are things I talked about. I did across Iowa and I will here in New Hampshire and…’

O’Reilly interrupts: ‘Alright you’re going to de-emphasize the controversial social stuff, and then get into the smaller government stuff, more self-reliance and the economy stuff. Okay.’ Santorum shakes his head.

After some questions about judges and the Ninth Circuit, O’Reilly wraps up saying: ‘We hope you’ll come on again, and congratulations on the Iowa deal…’

Wherever this goes from here, it may have been a high point last night in Santorum’s candidacy. But it was one of the less than high points in O’Reilly’s professional reign.

That interview was poorly handled. ‘Word of the Day’? Don’t be tendentious, Mr. O’Reilly.

Dear Bill O’Reilly…

It took all of three seconds after hearing Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly respond to one particular viewer’s email to know I had to write…something.

I’m not given to writing letters or email to show hosts or celebrities or well-known personalities ever about anything. I might talk back to the radio or tv, but I just write here. Or in my radio commentaries. Which is why this is here and will wind up there. I’ll follow up with Mr. O’Reilly, but my instinct is to address my readers and listeners about media handling of fundamental issues of life.

At the end of the O’Reilly Factor on Fox, Bill O’Reilly always runs through a handful of emails from viewers, culling from what is no doubt a glut of mail with viewpoints across the spectrum. He does a good job, fitting quite a few into a short time, giving a cross-section of views. Someone is probably always provoked by something, but this did it for me.

Referring to an appearance on his show this week by regular contributor Margaret Hoover, a viewer took O’Reilly to task for agreeing with her statement that a fetus is a “potential human being” instead of making the correction that a fetus is an already existing human being. Though O’Reilly doesn’t respond to most emails, he did stop and address this one.

Mr. O’Reilly said the position the viewer stated in the email was ‘the pro-life position’, which, he acknowledged, was indeed the position he took. But he said ‘we can’t argue with people who are pro-abortion unless we can find common ground’, and the statement “that this is a potential human being takes away all the doubt.” We can all agree on that, he said.

Let’s go back to what prompted this, Ms. Hoover’s appearance on the O’Reilly Factor on December 2 about a couple conducting a poll on their blog about whether or not the wife should have an abortion. Here’s the transcript:

BILL O’REILLY, HOST: …Thirty-year-old Alisha Arnold, 19 weeks pregnant, is thinking about terminating her fetus because she’s in a bad emotional state, according to her blog. Husband Pete Arnold disputes some of this. But there is no disputing the fact the couple has asked Americans to vote on whether the abortion should take place, and two million people have….

No. 1, this is disgusting. This is a human life we’re talking about, is it not?

MARGARET HOOVER, FOX NEWS ANALYST: This is a potential human life.

O’REILLY: I don’t mind your description there. It’s a potential human being containing human DNA right at this moment.

HOOVER: Correct.

O’REILLY: So it’s disgusting that you would put this up for a vote on whether to execute it. Am I wrong?

HOOVER: The decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, her God; not her government, and not the public at large.

O’REILLY: OK. So you’re with me on that.

What seems clear to me (or at least how I see it) is that Bill O’Reilly is trying to establish that common ground he spoke of (to the emailer), in order to gain some currency with Margaret Hoover in the larger argument (as he may possibly see it) that the decision about terminating nascent human life is not open for public debate or polling.

Okay, two things.

One, I think that from the top, O’Reilly made the mistake (if he is pro-life) of using the language of the abortion movement by saying a woman who is 19 weeks pregnant is “thinking about terminating her fetus.” Referring to a child in the womb, an unborn child, a developing child, a baby in the womb of a pregnant woman as a fetus dehumanizes the baby, making the abortion argument easier to market and promote as a ‘choice’ without making conscious the reality of what the choice is about.

Two, he was right the first time around when he stated the central debate was over a human life. And wrong when he backpedaled to agree with Ms. Hoover saying:

It’s a potential human being containing human DNA right at this moment.

Mr. O’Reilly is extremely intelligent. He’s also admirable in working hard to keep arguments grounded in facts and not hypotheses or speculation or euphemism or political agenda. So he surely should know that statement plays right into the whole abortion argument, one which has inflicted tremendous pain and trauma on post-abortive women and frankly, death on their children in the womb. It’s the scientific and medical truth, available in any major textbook, that when a doctor has a pregnant woman before him he is treating two patients. That when a woman becomes pregnant, from the moment of conception, what she is carrying is already a whole, unique, separate and living human being.

The South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion crafted an exhaustive 71 page report detailing this issue better than anything like it before. Frankly, there wasn’t anything like it before. Which led to the state’s informed consent law merely requiring abortion clinics to inform women seeking abortion what the procedure would do, as in any other medical procedure, which the abortion movement fought vigorously to stop. Because it informs women that the human life is already present, and the procedure would terminate it.

See, what even a lot of pro-lifers don’t realize is that many, many women who seek abortions have the misperception (aided by abortion clinic workers or abortionists themselves) that what they are removing is a ‘blob of tissue’ that will later become a baby. And when they do learn that it already was a human baby in development, they’re even more traumatized that they ended that life.

Two high profile legal cases made their way through the appeals process until we had, for the first time, two major courts and constitutions in conflict over the definition of human life and the obligation to inform pregnant women of a baby’s existence. The story, in summary, is here.

Look at the argument abortionist Dr. Sheldon Turkish foisted on Rosa Acuna, and the consequences of her lack of understanding of what she was doing at the time (through his procedure). That scenario is played out thousands of times over, millions, when the truth continues to be covered up or the terminology soft-pedaled so we can believe we’re finding ‘common ground.’

I agree with O’Reilly that the two sides aren’t generally making headway convincing each other of their arguments, and some new breakthrough has to be found. But the post-abortive women in Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More, among others, are the new breakthrough voices telling us that dialogue has to be based on truth.

It’s uncharacteristic of Bill O’Reilly to shy away from that. He’ll take on governments and nations and global bodies. But back down to what amounts to political correctness on the body they’re all built upon?

Bill….that doesn’t factor in to sound reasoning. Nor to your reputation for it.

When you’re just not correct enough

We’re in an extremely touchy social/political climate right now. But is it really Americans in general, or big media and politicians and powerful interest groups who are generating such sensitivity to how we express ourselves?

It’s the latter. There was the blowup on The View earlier this week when Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly spoke about Muslims and the cultural center/mosque planned for the neighborhood of Ground Zero. That started a round of talk show debates over how far is too far when talking about Muslims in just about any way.

NPR revealed their limits of tolerance (funny word, that)….by firing Juan Williams for his comments on the O’Reilly Factor. That was a jaw-dropper, because Williams has been politically liberal and racially sensitive throughout his career, sometimes going out of his way to criticize anyone who holds conservate views on issues like immigration, among many others.

Now he’s being accused of bigotry? That’s preposterous and offensive to the sensibilities of Americans who have already tolerated enough verbal engineering and political posturing in our media. Williams is one of the many regular Fox News contributors who presents a consistently liberal counterbalance to the conservative analysts there, which allows the network to claim the ‘Fair and Balanced’ motto.

This should come as no surprise from an outlet that continues to go through semantic gymnastics to fine tune their effort to shape public opinion. But it is.

And NPR is getting swift backlash from other members of big media for this ridiculous move. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Congress should investigate NPR (it is public radio) and people ought to boycott the organization for this outrageous excuse to censor Williams. He also mentioned one of Williams’ remarks that wasn’t getting much attention, the court documented statement by a would-be terrorist.

Williams also commented on remarks by Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad warning Americans that the fight is coming to the U.S. 

“He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts,” Williams said.

NPR does. Puts all their other work in perspective.