Is CBR’s Use of Graphic Pictures “Sensationalism”?
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 12:06 PM
To: Gregg Cunningham
Subject: I’m @ USF
Dear AbortionNo.org Representatives.
I’m a mature man with two grown children. I consider myself moderate politically, am a Catholic with an interest in Buddhism, and am proud that I’ve been a flower child and hippie during all of my sixty years. I’m just 100 feet away from the signage and representatives at USF. I didn’t bother to listen or get involved at all, and I wouldn’t anyway.
What I feel is that although the graphics displayed are real, I feel their purpose is for sensationalism. As a writer and communicator that isn’t necessary to broadcast those images right outside the windows where the students eat their lunch.
It – just – is – not – necessary – to – make – the – point.
What I so feel is that abortion or not to have an abortion is a woman’s personal choice according to her beliefs, concerns, and health decisions. Hers and hers alone, and also the father’s if one is involved.
I do not agree with the visual and graphic sensationalism, the outspoken-ness on the issue, and the intrusion into people’s private lives and their personal decisions. Each woman and couple should make this decision privately with their health professionals and whomever they choose to include. As far as the government is concerned, it should be their duty to their citizens to support them in their decision making process and stay out of it beyond that. As long as everything id done according to accepted medical standards and safe.
From: Gregg Cunningham
You say you are “interested in Buddhism.” Buddha taught “Do not harm anyone. Recognize that the highest Dharma is non-violence (Ahimsa).” The reason you find our abortion photos disturbing is because they depict an indefensible act of violence which kills a real baby. That makes it impossible for you to credibly maintain the convenient fiction that abortion is a morally inconsequential matter which is best left to individual discretion – “personal choice.” Would Buddha endorse death by torture of defenseless children? A fetus isn’t a child? Then why would our photos be problematic when displayed where “students eat their lunch.”
You say you are a Catholic. Jesus said “You know the commandments: Do not kill ….” (Mark 10:19). Pope John Paul spoke the consistent position of the Holy See when he said in Feb. 2002, “Every human being, from his conception to his natural death, has the inviolable right to life and deserves all respect due the human person.” Would Jesus endorse death by torture of defenseless children? A fetus isn’t a child? Then why would our photos be problematic when displayed where “students eat their lunch.”
You say you consider yourself “moderate” politically. How can your support for contemporary abortion law be fairly considered a “moderate” political position when current abortion law permits any woman to torture to death any baby at any stage of pregnancy for any reason or no reason at all? Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade, ruled that no abortion can ever be prohibited when the pregnancy sought to be terminated imperils a woman’s “health.” The Court then defined “health” in terms of “… all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.” That means, at a practical level, that no abortion can ever be prohibited. Please don’t attempt to dispute that characterization, because the law you love and the pictures you deplore bear indisputable witness to these awkward truths.
You say you are a life-long “flower child and hippie.” The Age of Aquarius was about peace and love. If abortion were a “peaceful act of love,” abortion pictures obviously wouldn’t distress you so.
You say our abortion pictures are “sensationalistic.” Martin Luther King said there would have been no civil rights movement without shocking pictures used to dramatize injustice, change public opinion and ultimately reform the law. Richard B. Speed’s review of Mark Kurlansky’s book, 1968: The Year That Rocked The World, describes the imperative of horrifying imagery:
In discussing the impact of civil disobedience, Kurlansky relates a telling incident that took place during a 1965 march in Selma, Alabama. Martin Luther King apparently noticed that Life Magazine photographer, Flip Schulke, had put down his camera in order to help a demonstrator injured by the police. Afterward, according to Kurlansky, King rebuked Schulke, telling him that ‘Your job is to photograph what is happening to us.’
Was Martin Luther King being “sensationalistic” when he used similarly sickening pictures to confront a culture which was indifferent to injustice? Then neither are we.
You say that as a “writer and communicator” you do not believe that it is necessary for us to make our point with pictures. Then tell me what words convey the horror of abortion as fully as do our pictures.
You say that the decision to have or not have an abortion should be the “woman’s personal choice” and hers alone. Do you also believe that the decision to have or not have a slave should be the plantation owner’s personal choice and his alone? And please don’t say the humanity of the slave was less fairly disputable than that of an unborn baby. If you really believed that, you have hardly noticed our abortion photos.
You say that it is the obligation of the government to “support” each “couple” in their “decision-making process” and “stay out of it beyond that.” Do you also believe that it is the obligation of the government to support each couple in their decision-making process where child abuse is concerned? If you really believed that an unborn child can be meaningfully distinguished from a born child where abuse is concerned, you would have ignored our pictures.
You say that you are “a mature man.” With all due respect, I don’t see that.
May the Lord (the real Lord) bless you,
The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform
From: Gregg Cunningham
Dear Mr. P,
I am not surprised that you won’t read past the first paragraph of my reply to your message. You revealed that you are not an intellectually honest person when you said of our staff on your campus, “I didn’t bother to listen or get involved at all ….” If you wouldn’t risk the public embarrassment of our staff exposing the factual inaccuracies and logical inconsistencies of your position on abortion, it is not likely that you will risk the private embarrassment of having me expose these same deficiencies in an email exchange. But your position is going to be dissected whether you read my reply or not. This discussion isn’t even about you. It is about the problem you have come to symbolize.
You say you don’t want to “debate the finer points of Buddhism?” Do you really believe that violence against defenseless children is “a fine point?” The way we treat an innocent child goes to the very heart of Buddhism and Catholicism and all the world’s great religions. I don’t think Buddha is who you think he is. I am certain that Jesus isn’t Who you think He is.
I addressed my reply to you but as noted above, it wasn’t really you to whom I was speaking then and it isn’t really you to whom I am speaking now. I am actually talking to the many thousands of people who will read this exchange in the years following its posting as a permanent fixture on our website and elsewhere. But you have unwittingly given us the answer to the oft-asked question, “Why do you take these terrible pictures to college campuses?” You, Mr. Piervincenti, are “why.” You and every professor who lies about abortion behind closed classroom doors but won’t debate abortion in a public forum.
For years I travelled to college campuses to challenge faculty members (especially law and med school professors) to debate this issue. My goal was to use these debates to attract large numbers of students to whom I could show the horror of abortion. I couldn’t get access to students in their closed classrooms and they wouldn’t attend my optional evening lectures. But I reasoned that the prospect of a “progressive” professor debating some hapless, anti-choice idiot would fill auditoriums with crowds eager to enjoy a humiliating smackdown. And I was right! The promise of such a spectacle proved a bigger draw than bread and circuses. But on those few occasions when I was able persuade a professor to engage me, she would invariably condition her participation on my agreement to hide the pictures which would expose the lies which were the essence of her presentation. Some of these people wouldn’t even allow audio recordings of fetal heartbeats.
They did have a point. Why should they help me to draw a crowd of students before whom I could embarrass them by exposing the falsity of every lie they were telling their students about abortion? So I decided that instead of granting them a veto over my access to students in the classrooms they controlled or the public forums they boycotted, I would make the faculty irrelevant by ambushing their students on their way to the classrooms from which I had been barred. If their students wouldn’t come to me, I would go to them. If the professors wouldn’t debate me in an auditorium, I would display an outdoor exhibit of huge abortion photo. I would force a debate and I would engage all comers on the lawn outside the student union and the library and countless classroom complexes. I would reach more students in a day than the average professor reached in a tenured career! And long after their students had forgotten every word of every professorial lecture, they would remember the most obscure details of my pictures.
You don’t matter anymore Mr. Piervincenti. You no longer control the narrative because you no longer control the terms of the debate. We now decide when, where and how the debate will occur and I can assure it will be often and it will be ugly. What you call “sensationalistic,” we call irrefutable evidence that you are a liar and a coward. We are going to force students to ask themselves whether they are going to believe your lies or their own eyes. You say that “abortion is a private matter?” No more Mr. Piervincenti. We are going to make it very public indeed. When something is so horrifying that you can’t stand to look at it, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it, or even permitting it.Many students are coming to exactly those conclusions because unlike you Mr. Piervincenti, they still have functioning consciences. I don’t have to be a woman to discuss this issue any more than I would have had to be a plantation owner to have had a moral obligation to discuss slavery. That is sophistry and if that is your best shot, I am not surprised that you would remain “100 feet from our signs” and refuse to read past the first paragraph of my reply to your incoherent email message.
I am praying for two things Mr. Piervincenti: The first is for your very confused soul and the second is for the academic wellbeing of your students. It is the height of arrogance for you to fancy yourself so gifted a rhetorician as to be capable of adequately describing indescribable horror. If we had stood on UCF sidewalks giving speeches where we instead showed our pictures, you and everyone else on campus would have ignored us as though we had been invisible and inaudible. But because we showed pictures, we couldn’t be ignored. The pictures attracted tens of thousands of students and television cameras and newspaper reporters and even you, Mr. Pievincenti, couldn’t resist engaging us, albeit from a distance.
Opponents of child labor made exactly no progress in effecting reform when they relied solely on speeches. I asked you to tell me the words which are adequate to describe the horror of children being tortured to death in the womb.You ignored my request because there are none. Nor are any words adequate to describe the horror of children being tortured to death in mines and factories. It was only after child labor activists began to shock the culture with sickening photos of abused children that public opinion began to coalesce behind reform and employment atrocities were finally banned. Social reform is always about the pictures because real injustice always defies description.Thank God most Americans are more ignorant than evil. Show them the truth and many will change their minds.
You have now seen the truth. You can no longer blame ignorance for your indifference to the plight of butchered children. A conscious refusal to reject known evil is a spiritually dangerous place to be. I am not sure if you are a Catholic Buddhist or a Buddhist Catholic but Buddha can’t save you and Jesus won’t — unless you will humble yourself and repent of the terrible darkness which is so obvious in your heart.
Praying fervently for your spiritual safety,
The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform