It’s a time for frothy beer commercials and girls dancing in bikinis. A time for bulldogs riding skateboards and wardrobe malfunctions to rock your television set in between plays of actual football. It’s time for the Super Bowl. But apparently it’s also a time to think about where you stand on the issue of abortion.
A few days ago it was announced that after years of refusing to air advocacy related ads CBS has agreed to run an anti-abortion commercial during the upcoming Super Bowl, paid for by the Colorado based conservative group Focus on the Family. Many are outraged by the sudden change in policy, and petitions are already circulating. And others complain that the movement to stop the ad is an example of pro-choice hypocrisy, an attempt to stifle any debate or opposing viewpoints on the issue. But who exactly is doing the stifling?
On Jan. 29, just a few days before CBS made the sudden leap from its policy against advocacy ads to one that allowed them, the network refused to run a commercial for a gay dating web site, which depicted two men discovering each other while reaching for a potato chip bowl and then kissing passionately. CBS rejected the ad on the grounds that it "is not within the Network's broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday,” this according to CREDOAction.com. CBS also rejected a 2004 ad by MoveOn.org and another from the United Church of Christ, the first calling into question the fiscal responsibility of then-President George W. Bush and the latter showing a same-sex couple being welcomed into the United Church of Christ after being cast out from another church.
Focus on the Family’s ad, which the group claims doesn't carry a political agenda but merely centers around the theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” shows college football star Tim Tebow and his mother discussing an incident where Mrs. Tebow was urged to terminate her pregnancy (she was carrying little Tim) due to medical reasons but refused. But despite Focus on the Family’s claim, the intention of this ad is clear, as it is in all of them.
All of these ads have an obvious political viewpoint behind them, and just as obvious are the biases behind CBS’s decision to reject one advocacy related ad and then a few days later agree to run another. The hypocrisy comes not from efforts to get Focus on the Family’s ad off the air before the Super Bow, but rather from the original stance CBS took on keeping all ads of this nature off the air to begin with and then turning around and making an exception just in time for one group to have its say during one of the most widely viewed events of the year.
If an open conversation is to be had on the issue of abortion, then both sides need to be heard from — rather than allowing exposure to one while ignoring the other.