Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow kicks off an interesting debate: Is the Super Bowl an appropriate place to discuss abortion?
Until the last week or so, the most controversial thing squeaky-clean University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow ever faced was the moment he began crying at the end of a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in the SEC Championships.
But now Tebow is front and center in a culture war skirmish focused on a single question: Is a Super Bowl advertisement an appropriate place to spark a discussion about abortion?
The issue arises because Tebow stars in an advertisement crafted by the conservative advocacy group Focus on the Family planned to air during this year's Super Bowl Feb. 7.
(UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times says CBS now acknowledges that it accepts Super Bowl ads with a political message. Why and how that position changed is not addressed; whether they will accept other advocacy ads in the future is also an interesting question.)
According to The Associated Press, the spot will feature Tim and his mother Pam Tebow talking about her decision to resist aborting him when she fell ill during her pregnancy, against doctors orders.
Today, a coalition of advocacy groups on women's issues released a statement asking CBS not to air the ad, calling it an "anti choice advertisement," which represents a subtle argument against abortion rights.
The statement released by the Women's Media Center says, in part: "CBS has a well-documented history of prohibiting advocacy ads it deems controversial, rejecting ads from organizations such as PETA, MoveOn.org, United Church of Christ, and even ones that carry only an “implicit” endorsement for a side in a public debate. Last year, NBC made the prudent decision to not air anti-choice messages during the Super Bowl. CBS executives have indicated in the past that they would not air Super Bowl ads where “substantial elements of the community (are) in opposition to one another.”
“An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year – an event designed to bring Americans together regardless of background, faith, ideology or political affiliation,” says Jehmu Greene, President of the Women’s Media Center.
The conservative Media Research Center has rushed to Focus on the Family's defense, with president L. Brent Bozell saying, in part: "“Radical leftist groups like the National Organization for Women have the gall to claim that this life-affirming ad is ‘extraordinarily offensive and demeaning.’ I wonder, what is so offensive about celebrating the decision of a mother to have her baby? Apparently this is too much for these radicals to handle, so they are unabashedly pressuring CBS to censor the message. They are disgraceful."
Seems odd to me that CBS would turn down an ad supporting vegetarianism but take an ad which might be construed as anti-choice from an organization known for controversial views opposing abortion rights and homosexuality.
But, then again, McDonald's or Wendy's probably wouldn't drop a billion-dollar ad campaign over Focus on the Family's message.
What do you think? Given CBS' plans to air the spot, are you ready for some football -- and a message about keeping pregnancies?