Msnowe's Blog

What you see is what you…

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on September 11, 2007

Usually, the blog stays national, but a local story from a newspaper upstate caught some attention, and deserves some attention:

This story talks of a mother who, passing the local Planned Parenthood, sees anti-abortion protesters holding signs with images that are gruesome, distorted, and enlarged many times over, so those in passing cars can see them. This mother, who has young children, was disgusted by the images, and lead her own campaign to try and block them from innocent eyes.

The question at the center of this story isn’t whether you believe in abortion or not, but about our freedoms of speech and protest. The fact that most women who go to planned parenthood are not necessarily getting abortions, and are just receiving affordable sexual health care and prenatal care, or the fact that some young girls also go to planned parenthood for health care or various different services and have to be subjected to rathful protests, and often damaging, psychologically abusive language is another story altogether. The real question of this story is: where does freedom of speech end, and the illegal, obscene exposure of unconscionable images begin?

This country is wonderful because of its choices and the ability of people to freely express themselves. We can protest practically anything, and say anything, within limits (remember the old yelling fire in the crowded theatre exception). But as a country we also regulate the general public’s access to gruesome or obscene images. Adults can still have the ability to view whatever they choose, but the legislation to protect children from the access to certain images is also an accepted societal good. There are reasons that we have regulations that control the access to certain motion pictures, websites, radio programs, etc. We have rules regulating what can be said on television, and the airwaves. We have age-requirements for buying or renting certain products. All these rules, while they inevitably take away certain freedoms, the overarching philosophy is that the protection of children trumps the ability of children to have the same freedoms as adults. It is easily reasoned that children and adolescents do not deserve the benefit of the doubt as an age group.

The anti-abortion protesters outside the Schenectady Planned Parenthood were part of a conservative religious group that organizes rallies all over the country, using pictures like the ones they held up at this event. If you would like to see the interesting website of this group, go here: If anyone could please explain this website’s “abortion buster,” which randomly quotes scripture and shows an attack airplane (probably used to dive-bomb women who use birth control), please enlighten. Now, I’m sure, given this group’s conservative bent, that they would also be in support of the government’s regulation of images unfit for children’s consumption. I’m sure they wouldn’t want their young children watching overtly explicit sexual content, or extremely violent programing. Heck, they might not even want their children watching Jurassic Park, or reading a bit of The Origin of Species. But seriously, what is the difference between one crude image, and the next? Would it be equally acceptable to these protesters if children and anyone passing were shown images of fetuses that had been miscarried naturally – and to enlarge these images, make them appear even more gruesome by cleverly photoshopping them, and placing them in prominently lit shop windows? I think if they had to walk past them everyday, they might think twice. Or perhaps not.

That brings up this final problem – never mind that these images were obscene, they were actually inaccurate, according to medical officials would viewed them. It is ironic to think that the people who claim to be protesting in the hopes of enlightening people and showing the ills of certain procedures, are themselves being untruthful, or downright deceitful to try and achieve their goals.

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