CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Pro-Life, for Dolphins

Nov 1, 2007

Many would have seen on the evening news last night stirring scenes of protesters surfing out into the ocean to thwart Japanese whalers who were killing dolphins. A number of protestors, including US and Australian actors, surfed out to where the activities were taking place in the hopes of stopping the killing.

The newscast story featured the camera lingering on American actress Hayden Panettiere who was sobbing uncontrollably upon returning to shore. In what seemed like an eternity, the cameras zoomed in on this distraught young Hollywood starlet, capturing her grief for these poor dolphins.

All in all it was a very moving and emotive news item, and one certainly felt concern for those dolphins, and admired the activism of these celebrities. Yet while it is always a good thing to be a compassionate people, and to show concern for helpless animals being harmed or killed, can I suggest that I am not fully swayed by all this. Indeed, call me cynical if you like, but I can smell some double standards and hypocrisy here big time.

What these Hollywood heartthrobs are doing of course is taking a strong pro-life stand. Yet one wonders where their activism is when it comes to the most important pro-life cause, the plight of unborn humans. Are they also putting their lives on the line, complete with megamedia presence, to save the unborn child from the horrible slaughter that awaits them at an abortion mill?

I do not know anything about the star of Heroes, but if Hayden Panettiere is like most Hollywood types, it is quite possible that she may even have had an abortion or two herself. Even if not, she may well be firmly in the pro-abortion camp, as most of the left-leaning, secular Hollywood folk are.

Hey, I don’t necessarily begrudge her concerns to curb dolphin culling. But I would like to know what she is doing to curb the human baby culling which – with all due respect – seems to me to be a much more urgent and pressing moral issue today.

Does she weep uncontrollably – and in front of the TV cameras – outside of an abortion clinic? Does she do all she can to stop the slaughter there? Does she recruit fellow Hollywood heavyweights to stop this carnage? Unless I have missed something, I do not recall seeing her or many other Hollywoodians showing the slightest concern about our abortion holocaust.

Australian actress Isabel Lucas, who was also involved in the protest, said “We couldn’t save these whales, but hopefully shining the light on their deaths will save others.” Again, stirring words and lofty ideals. But until I see the same rhetoric and action applied to unborn babies, I just will remain doubtful about this crusade, and about just how serious these celebs really are.

Consider this incredible remark from Australian professional surfer Dave Rastovich: “The reason we surfers were there was to share the blood-stained waters at eye-level with our ocean kin awaiting their execution”. OK, let me see if I have this straight. Dolphins are our “kin,” our blood brothers, evidently. Yet our own unborn children are not? Why are dolphins part of our family, but our own children in the womb are regarded as strangers, aliens, indeed, intruders? So are we to applaud the execution of babies, yet condemn the execution of dolphins?

And consider more moral outrage from Rastovich: “With many nets and kill boats waiting beyond the cove, the fishermen’s intense desire to kill left no room for escape”. Just change a few words in that statement and you have a perfectly fitting description of the abortion mill. Abortionists are about one thing: killing babies (and making a lot of money doing it). Why no outrage from the surfer over this atrocity? Why whales, but not babies?

Media Complicity

The media of course does not help much here. In fact, it is part of the problem. The item on last night’s TV news was one big piece of emotive, guilt-manipulating propaganda, to be frank. And today’s newspaper articles are little better. Consider some of the headlines that have appeared:

“Surfers make daring mission to protest dolphin killings.” Why is it a “daring mission” when dolphin pro-lifers do their thing, but when human pro-lifers seek to undertake similar actions, they are called religious zealots, the moral Taliban, intolerant bigots, and nutcases who are seeking to impose their morality on others?

Why is it OK to impose your anti-whaling morality on others, with complete media complicity, yet when an anti-abortion campaigner does the identical thing concerning an even more deserving victim, the media ignores it or condemns it? Why the double standards here?

Consider another headline (predictably, from the Melbourne Age): “I couldn’t believe how red the water was, whale kill witness says”. Very emotive indeed. I await the day when a similar Age headline shouts out, “I couldn’t believe how bloody the room was, baby kill witness says”.

The truth is, pictures of bloody whales are featured in the media all the time. Why? Because they know darn well that public exposure to such bloody images will sway public opinion against whale killing. Indeed, Rastovich made this quite clear: “Despite the fishermen taking great pains to hide their acts of cruelty, we seized an opportunity to bring this travesty to the world’s attention.”

And this is exactly why you will never see bloody images of the abortionists’ work featured in the mainstream media. Why? Because the MSM is overwhelmingly leftist, secular and pro-abortion. They know darn well if they start being honest with the public, and show the bloody aftermath of a “woman’s right to choose” that the public will quickly and decisively turn against the killing fields of the abortion industry. Or to paraphrase Rastovich, the abortionists are taking great pains to hide their acts of cruelty. Pro-lifers merely seek to seize an opportunity to bring this travesty to the world’s attention.

Much of the media has effectively been lying to the public by refusing to tell it like it is concerning abortion. It is quite happy to tell it like it is concerning whaling or dolphin hunting, because that issue is the trendy, lefty flavour of the month, and because it gives young starlets a chance to prove they are more than blonde bimbos, but may in fact have a conscience, and are willing to be involved in social issues of the day.

But can I suggest that if they really want to prove how conscientious they are, and really want to make a lasting difference to the moral and social fabric of our nation, that they start taking on the really important cause, and be a real hero, by standing up for the unborn – the most defenceless, the most innocent, and the most abused and exploited group on planet earth.

[1139 words]

12 Responses to Pro-Life, for Dolphins

  • Excellent work Bill.

    An aside – I wonder what Dolphin steaks taste like?

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Good on you Bill. This is some of your best work Bill. It is a shame how hypocritical the media and these celebrities are.
    Matthew Mulvaney

  • Please don’t say the media will never show true reports of the truly important issues.

    We must not despair (it is, as Chuck Colsen said, ‘a sin, because it denies the sovereignty of God’) instead we should hope and pray and lobby and even litigate to pursuade them to actually do their job, which is to bring order by exposing the wickedness in our society.

    Dale Flannery

  • Thanks Dale

    Yes, your point is well taken. There is always hope, even for a recalcitrant media!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Great article Bill. Funny how we (e.g. animal activists) tend to show bloody pictures of suffering dolphins to one another and lament on our human condition but shy away from pictures of human abortions etc. I think often pics of human abortions etc are horrific to such an extent we can’t bring ourselves to look at them. I suppose this reaction by most has contributed to the lack of awareness that many abortions take place when the foetus is in an advanced stage of development, capable of sensing pain etc – just like us. If only…
    Francis Tay

  • Hi Bill,

    23 years ago Randy Stonehill wrote a song called “Stop The World” in which the first line is:
    “Well it’s OK to murder babies but we really oughta save the whale”

    I actually found myself looking at some anti-smacking sites yesterday (I had forgotten that such ideas existed) and in the midst of one Australian blog,
    http://www.philosophyblog.com.au/arguments-against-corporal-punishment/
    I found these pearlers:

    “If we’re going to talk about damage to children, let’s see what we’re talking about. More information can only be good.”
    and
    “the counter-assertion of the “rights” of the child against the “rights” of the parent.”
    I found myself amazed by the familiarity and irony of it…

    This blog showed ridiculously obvious examples of extreme child abuse and used them as an argument against smacking – even when limited to at most a few open-hand smacks to hands and bums as last-resort discipline. You simply can’t inflict the kind of injuries shown that way. But I’d venture a guess that many of the very same people (not necessarily the blogger) who are anti-choice on so-called violence perpetrated on the “small and fragile” are also ‘pro-choice’ about abortion.

    It seems to me that many increasingly popular modern ideas are marked by the inability to modify personal philosophies in the light of clear logical inconsistencies. Why are people not aware that they are being taught what to think rather than how to think? I couldn’t help but wonder how the same people would react to pictures of post-aborted fetuses, not even remotely an exaggeration (unlike the images on that blog) and far, far worse a travesty. It would be interesting to juxtapose those images with the dolphin-savers to try to get the point across.
    Sure, save animals and stop violence against children, but don’t try and simultaneously sell me abortion as civilized. It’s backward and selfish and barbaric.

    Mark Rabich

  • I’ve always been annoyed about pro-choice vegans. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

    (Do pro-choice animal rights activists argue that abortion is OK because it doesn’t involve a “sentient being” or one with a fully developed consciousness, or something like that? I would honestly love to know the reasoning there.)

    Amanda Fairweather

  • Great stuff Bill, once again.

    My guess is that the double standard stems from selfishness. To acknowledge that killing the unborn is wrong is to acknowledge that you must then continue with an unwanted pregnancy, and either raise or adopt out the child. And, sadly, many people are unwilling to change their lives to accommodate the new life they have created.

    Tim Baker

  • Bill, thank you for a provocative post! There are so many issues raised by both your post and the responses to it… Here are some of the thoughts I thunk:

    — If I react with horror to a picture of a torn dolphin, or to a picture of a torn foetus, should that emotional reaction count for anything, morally speaking?

    If so, how much should it count? Are emotions good moral reasons, or reliable moral indicators?

    Or should it count for nothing?

    — If one thinks that emotional reactions do count, does that open the door to relativism? Can Hayden Panettiere say that she’s not being inconsistent in caring more about dolphins than foetuses because she’s more horrified by damage done to dolphins?

    — If one thinks that emotions don’t count, then on what basis should one care about either dolphins or foetuses?

    — Amanda writes, “Do pro-choice animal rights activists argue that abortion is OK because it doesn’t involve a ‘sentient being’ or one with a fully developed consciousness, or something like that?” The Peter Singer answer is “yes”. He wants to claim that, up until a certain point, a foetus can’t feel anything; and up to another point, it’s not self-aware and doesn’t have any future-directed interests. On this basis he thinks that an adult chimp has more rights than a newly-born human child.

    Of course, I don’t think most animal activists believe the same thing.

    — Maybe an important issue is potentiality. If Hayden Panettiere thinks that dolphins are more developed than foetuses, and she gives that a reason why she cares more about the former than the latter, maybe that’s consistent.

    But what if you asked her: “Do they have the same potentiality?”.

    — How much should potentiality dictate how much we care anyway? Should we care less about beings that have less potential? Should we care less about old people at the end of their lives, or handicapped people?

    Ken Masterman, Alberta, Canada

  • Thanks Ken

    A few quick responses. Having an emotional reaction to something may not be amiss, as long as it does not stand alone, but is informed by, and grounded in, fact and rationality. I would think, for example, that if a person is not emotionally moved by, say, Auschwitz, then there might be something awry with that person, or with his moral compass.

    The point here is why some people get so emotionally moved by the destruction of baby seals or dolphins, but don’t seem to give a rip about the killing of unborn babies.

    As to potentiality, the issue here is whether the fetus is a human being, or simply a potential human being. (A human fetus is both alive, and human, so those are not the issues.) The short and simple answer is that the fetus is not a potential human being, but a human being with great potential. I expound on this more fully in other articles in this section.

    So I obviously greatly disagree with Singer and his definition of what it is to be human, and/or how he defines personhood. Whether it is such a thing as sentience or some other arbitrary marker of personhood, this becomes a slippery slope wherein we can relegate certain classes of people to non-personhood, simply based on various functional or utilitarian criteria.

    Better to assume the inherent worth and dignity of all people, based on who they are (a theist would say they are made in the image of God and of great worth), than to make artificial designations of who qualifies as a person.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I know this is a little untimely, but here goes anyway…

    Bill, your comments about media complicity were killer. I couldn’t agree more. But your blog’s tag line says that you’re concerned about “… the decline of civility, the denial of truth and the elevation of unreason.” Don’t you think that you’re being a) hypocritical, and b) judgmental with statements like the following?

    “I do not know anything about the star of Heroes, but if Hayden Panettiere is like most Hollywood types, it is quite possible that she may even have had an abortion or two herself. Even if not, she may well be firmly in the pro-abortion camp, as most of the left-leaning, secular Hollywood folk are.”

    Surely it would be far more civil, truthful, and reasonable to do 5 minutes of research on Google to find out whether this is even close to the mark, rather than publish suppositions.

    Ditto this: “… because that issue is the trendy, lefty flavour of the month, and because it gives young starlets a chance to prove they are more than blonde bimbos, but may in fact have a conscience, and are willing to be involved in social issues of the day.” Once again, would it not be more civil, truthful, and reasonable to give these “young starlets” the benefit of the doubt before labeling them conscienceless bimbos? It may be that you are completely accurate in your suppositions, but that is all they are: suppositions, and prejudiced ones at that. Inclusion of such statements in your article weakens the point and makes all Christians targets for being called bigots.

    I speak as a hypocrite myself – someone who is still learning this lesson (the hard way) – but that doesn’t mean that we as Christians shouldn’t strive our hardest to be squeaky clean when it comes to giving other people the benefit of the doubt before casting judgment.

    Paul Gear

  • Thanks Paul

    I will be the first to admit that I can always improve in all sorts of areas. Thus I hope your concerns about me are backed up by prayer for me, which would in fact be most helpful, and is indeed something I always covet.

    As to your two complaints, it seems in both cases I did not say this was certainly the case, but I merely surmised, and asked questions. In that sense, is there really any difference with what you are doing here to me: asking questions and making speculative accusations, wondering if I am guilty of being hypocritical and judgemental? Isn’t that, well, being judgmental as well as hypocritical? Are you not “casting judgment” – as you put it – on me right now?

    And we may differ on the issue of judging anyway. But I have written that topic up elsewhere, eg.: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/10/08/thou-shalt-judge/

    And how exactly do you think one can do “5 minutes of research on Google” on this topic? Do you actually believe there is a website devoted to starlets’ abortions, complete with info on how many, when they were done, what method was used, what trimester, and so on? Sorry, but this is just not something most Hollywood types – or anyone for that matter – splash around on websites for the entire world to see and do reserach on!

    But thanks for the comment. As I say, I can always do things better, and your criticisms have been noted. Keep praying for me.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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