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Why The Big Lead is wrong about the Tim Tebow pro-life ad.

The Big Lead compares Tim Tebow to al Qaeda.

MITCH BLATT

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: Giving birth to a baby is not the same as killing 30 people in a suicide bombing.

One act gives life and the other takes life.

Now let me tell you what I’m talking about: Female liberalism groups are trying to get CBS to ban an ad starring Tim Tebow from airing on Super Bowl Sunday because it features her mother advocating for giving birth rather than having an abortion.

The political implications aside (Full disclosure: I support abortion.), this is an argument about CBS’s right to air ads, not about abortion.

I post about it now only because Tyler Duffy at TheBigLead.com wrote a post in which he compared Tim Tebow to al Qaeda.

The network would not grant every advocacy group a 30-second spot. There’s the obvious slippery slope argument. CBS won’t be granting Al Qaeda or Neo-Nazi groups a forum, but some realistic organizations would still have difficulty.

To be sure, Duffy was simply making a point that CBS does have some standards to ban ads. If so, what are their standards?

Forget for a moment what moral or ethical standards CBS should have about what they air: The decision is purely a business decision.

Let me say again:

The decision about what ads a network airs is purely a business decision.

When an ad is in front of a business for approval, they may be thinking, “Is what this ad advocates legal? Is it ethical? Is it right?” but what they are really thinking is “Will this ad piss off enough viewers that we face significant losses due to lost viewers?”

Duffy says in his post:

But, that’s the trouble. CBS is defining what’s tasteful and whose voice is permissible.

Not CBS, per se, but the American people. We all have opinions, and apparently CBS made the decision that most Americans aren’t offended by a women talking about her choice to give birth.

If CBS was airing an ad calling for the destruction of American (al Qaeda), I’m sure that just enough Americans would stop watching CBS to make a significant business impact.

Or, more to the point, if Focus on the Family (the group sponsoring this ad) ran an ad on CBS advocating for abortion to be banned, there would probably be some level of financial backlash against CBS. (As it is, the ad only calls for women to voluntarily give birth, not for abortion to be banned.)

Duffy’s post uses one of the biggest logical fallacies in argument: the fraudulent use of the “slippery slope” theory.

The slippery slope theory posits that alcohol should be banned, because if people are allowed to drink alcohol, what would stop people from drinking way too many beers, say 22 beers at once, and dying of alcohol intoxication? Or if people are allowed to drink beer, what would stop people from selling beer? And if they sell beer, what would stop people from driving in their car to buy it? And if they drive to a beer store and buy beer, what would stop them from drinking it while driving and crashing?

(By the same token, if the government bans drugs, what would stop the government from banning beer, and what would stop them from banning fast-food, and what would stop them from banning dangerous activities like skiing?)

What obviously stops people from going down a “slippery slope” is the fact that people have judgments.

Duffy’s argument is that CBS shouldn’t allow ANY advocacy ads, but doesn’t every ad advocate for you to buy a certain product? Here’s where Duffy’s argument (if it has any standing left) falls flat.

He asks, why doesn’t CBS air advertising for tobacco companies:

How about Tobacco companies? CBS censors ads.

(He’s wrong on the facts for one thing: CBS doesn’t censor tobacco ads; the federal government banned tobacco advertising on TV in the 90′s–but CBS certainly would ban them if they weren’t already federally banned.)

His argument at first centered on political advocacy ads, but now he’s saying CBS shouldn’t allow tobacco advertising–commercial advertising. (The reason they wouldn’t, if they had the opportunity, is because it would anger a lot of their audience members.)

Where does it stop? It stops at CBS and at the American people.

Perhaps there is someone so thin-skinned that they will be angry about an ad extolling the virtues of life. They can boycott CBS if they want, but CBS will be the only loser. If the ad is offensive, CBS ultimately pays.

UPDATE: Watch the ad here! See what activists have been sooooo “offended” by.

About the Author

mhblatt

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4 Responses to “Why The Big Lead is wrong about the Tim Tebow pro-life ad.”

  1. I’m trying to figure out which claim is more stupid: that I compared Tim Tebow to Al Queda or that I used a slippery slope argument. Or, perhaps it’s that you lopped off the quote from an end of a paragraph to make it look as though I was questioning why CBS censored tobacco ads.

  2. I’m glad that I could elicit the angry feedback of someone with an irrational position.

    If you knew how to read, you could see that you did in fact compare Tebow to al Qaeda and that I did in fact put your quote in context.

    From my post:

    “The network would not grant every advocacy group a 30-second spot. There’s the obvious slippery slope argument. CBS won’t be granting Al Qaeda or Neo-Nazi groups a forum, but some realistic organizations would still have difficulty.”

    To be sure, Duffy was simply making a point that CBS does have some standards to ban ads. If so, what are their standards?

    And to see if you used the slippery slope argument.

    Well, you yourself admitted to using the slippery slope argument:

    The network would not grant every advocacy group a 30-second spot. There’s the obvious slippery slope argument.

    You might want to fact check your own posts before you respond to mine.

  3. CBS has to be loving all this attention and controversy. People are talking more about this ad than they are the game.

  4. I agree. But I also think CBS should be consistent and air that gay dating ad that they rejected for the Superbowl.

    http://www.tvweek.com/blogs/tvbizwire/2010/02/cbs-rejects-gay-dating-ad-for.php

    (By the way, I would like to plug my blog here – I just posted a list of suggestions to improve sports: http://daisybrain.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/how-to-improve-sports/)

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