Specifically, the use of language in political debate.
A brief, explanatory digression to begin: me younger sis told me about driving one day, tuning the radio to what she thought was NPR, and realizing with a shock that this was definitely not the case when the announcer calmly used the word "abortionist" in a story.
Yep, Christian radio station, hiding out at the lower end of the dial along with the public and college ones. You can usually spot 'em within a few minutes because of little things like that.
So, because I am a glutton for punishment, I searched Google News for the word abortionist, today of all days. Among the results?
You Say Choice, I Say Murder, from Christianity Today. It's actually a blast from the past,
This article originally appeared in the June 24, 1991 issue of Christianity Today.
But if they see fit to repeat it. . .
It is time for prolife advocates to understand the power of words and to go on the offensive. We have got to make our appeal for life, not just to the courts and legislatures, but to the hearts and minds of the American people. We have got to reach that 60 percent in the middle, those who are either uninformed, misinformed, unmoved, or undecided.
We are taking part in a great historic battlea cultural battlea social war to define what America is and what human life is as we enter the next millennium. And this battle is being fought not just with legislation and legal argumentation, but with words flowing to and from the public at large.
Why do I always worry when I see the phrase "hearts and minds" used like that?
From 1965 to the present, proabortion communicators have also worked at integrating the right to abortion with the aspirations of the women's movement. Again, they have worked at soliciting public support by using the most inclusive public vocabulary possible. Equal rights and discrimination now pepper the discussion. The newly created concept of "women's reproductive rights" has quickly gained popularity and usurped the fetus's right to life.
I didn't add any emphasis to that. And the sneer quotes are in the original.
There's more, like the usual comparison of abortion with slavery/segregation and "unborn children" with black people -- which is probably quilte illustrative of something, but I'd really prefer not to think about what -- as well as a call from the (presumably, are there women named Guy?) male author that "it must be women who voice the new vision in the public arena," along with this bit:
Meanwhile, prolife advocates have failed to capture public imagination as we make our plea on behalf of the unborn. The Gideon Project abortion-clinic bombings in Pensacola, Florida, on Christmas morning, 1984, show why. Their impact on public memory, as exploited by the rhetoric of abortion advocates, has lasted to this day.
The bombers described their action as being in accord with "God's will" and "a gift to Jesus on his birthday." Such language reinforced the activists' own commitment, but projected a public image of extremism and violence.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that blowing shit up "projected a public image of extremism and violence" more than the language used to justify having done so, but I'm just wacky that way.
There's a bit more info on Pensacola and the extremists in this AP story, in case anyone is masochistic enough to want to know more.
Sorry, don't have a decent conclusion for this. It happens when I get particularly disgusted. You should see the things I don't bother posting at all. . . any road up, another result from that Google News search points to a profile of Dr. Mildred Hanson from the Star-Tribune.
When Dr. Mildred Hanson started practicing medicine in Minneapolis in the 1950s, abortion "wasn't something that was talked about." But she remembers how women would show up in the emergency room, "bleeding like crazy" or feverish from infection, and a nurse would call her for help.
That experience, treating the casualties of illegal abortions, helped transform Hanson's life and career. Today, she's one of the few doctors in Minnesota who perform abortions -- and she campaigns tirelessly to keep the procedure legal.
At 79, Hanson has been thrust into the national spotlight. Her story is featured in a forthcoming documentary, book and traveling exhibition.
Her story -- of bending the law before Roe vs. Wade, and championing abortion rights ever since -- is one of 22 in the multimedia project "Voices of Choice: Physicians Who Provided Abortions Prior to Roe v. Wade."
Link added, obviously. There was another article about Dr. Hanson in City Pages a few years back.