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Saturday, July 22, 2006

William Napoli and Pictures of Widely Praised Medical Procedures (with a passing reference to the top technoweenie blog) 

The top technoweenie blog includes a discussion of the William Napoli Googlebombing case from a technical perspective. In this post, I'll take a look at what he actually said (emphasis mine).

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Just three-quarters of a million people share a lot of space in South Dakota. They share a single area code and a small capital. But lawmakers in Pierre have put South Dakota in the vanguard of a renewed campaign to outlaw abortion.

STATE SEN. JULIE BARTLING (D): There is a movement across this country on the wishes to save and protect the lives of unborn children. As you know, Justice Roberts and Justice Alito were just favorably placed on that board. There is still another chance that President Bush will have to place another justice on that bench. I think it's time to pass House Bill 1215 and protect the lives of the unborn.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Citing what they see as a more receptive or antiabortion high court, lawmakers easily approved a sweeping ban on the procedure, one that declares that life begins at conception.

South Dakota's law makes it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion unless the mother's life is endangered. There are no exceptions for cases in which a mother's health may be threatened or cases in which the pregnancy results from rape or incest.

STATE SEN. BILL NAPOLI (R): You know, I we are really think we're pushing the envelope on that issue. I'm not sure that the Supreme Court is ready for us yet, but what's that old saying, "There's no time like the present"?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Veteran State Senator Bill Napoli strongly backed the new ban.

BILL NAPOLI: The most important part of this bill is that, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, states' rights are returned to us to decide what to do about abortion....

BILL NAPOLI: My calls have been running 3-1 in favor of this bill.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

In other words, a rape or incest that does not threaten the mother's life is not grounds for abortion, but if the mother's life is threatened, "physically and psychologically," then abortion is OK. Some abortion proponents would take issue with this concept, but the true red flag occurred because of Napoli's terminology: brutally raped, savaged, sodomized. And there was probably some objection to inclusion of the terms "virgin" and "religious," with the subliminal understanding that a brutal sodomization of an agnostic woman "with experience" would be OK.

This statement promtped Stephanie McMillan to draw a cartoon which included the line, "He's a Senator in South Dakota who believes women can't make our own decisions."

Mikhaela B. Reid explains the rationale behind the cartoon, in which a woman calls Napoli at his work and home numbers, asking for cooking tips:

If anti-abortion politicians are so sure they can tell women what to do with their bodies, why not make them deal with the rest of women’s decisions? That was the premise of political cartoonist Stephanie McMillan’s response to South Dakota State Senator Bill Napoli’s comments that he could see an exception to the state’s near-total abortion ban for a raped and “brutalized” religious virgin, but not for “simple rape.”...

McMillan, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a “self syndicated” cartoonist: while she recently put out her first cartoon collection, Minimum Security, she says that her work is primarily published in magazines aimed at “radicals and dissenters.” But the “Call Bill” cartoon, published on her Web site, went viral with the help of supportive blogs and e-mails.

A more antiquated technique than Google bombing, but it did result in a number of phone calls to Napoli. Here's part of what McMillan said about the topic:

I’ve never had one of my cartoons go viral like this before. I’ve received hundreds of supportive and encouraging responses. They show me that the cartoon really tapped into a deep well of anger throughout society against attempts to ban abortion, and against Napoli in particular. His recent comments about rape are so offensive that many people are appalled that someone like him is attempting to control women’s lives.

I also received a few negative comments. One guy called me a bitch....

(How would you respond to his complaint that many of the phone calls he received were profane or obscene?)

After his creepy detailed description of rape, I suspect that his sensibilities are not very delicate—he can probably handle rough language. His righteous indignation sounds like a put-on.

What’s really obscene is his effort to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, even if they’re victims of rape or incest, even at the risk of their health, regardless of their desires or circumstances.

Well, to my knowledge Napoli didn't go to Harvard, but some Harvard students discussed ideas about abortion in the case of rape or incest (without distinguishing between non-brutal and brutal cases). Perhaps I should mention that these students were part of Harvard Right to Life:

In October, members of Harvard Right to Life (HRL) put up about 400 posters in student housing entitled "Women Deserve Better," one of which featuring a woman identified as "Candice." "I was raped and therefore 'justified' in my abortion, but it didn't change a thing," she said. "I suffered because I was led to believe that taking my child's life was okay. It was not, and I have been living with that for five years." The poster went on to give contact info for a local crisis pregnancy center, reminding readers that "there is help for unplanned pregnancies."

It was a message many people didn't want to hear. Within a few days half the posters had been torn down or defaced. A student quoted in the Harvard Crimson admitted tearing up one poster, complaining it was "coercive" and imposed on her "personal space." ("That's moral judgement I don't want to look at when I go into my room every day.") And though school officials at first spoke up for HRL's free-speech rights, after a few weeks of emotionally charged controversy — with some students claiming the posters committed "revictimization" by dredging up rape victims' memories — HRL ended up agreeing to submit future materials on the topic to Harvard's Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

Another thing that people don't want to see is aborted fetuses. Priests for Life has some views on that, which are cited in a "sample letter":

Letter 295

An abortion clinic director's letter last Tuesday blasted pro-lifers for passing out pictures of "stillbirths" outside her abortion mill.

First of all, where would these pro-lifers get stillborn babies to photograph? Stillborn babies would either be sent to a funeral home for embalming and burial, or they would be cremated in the hospital. There are, after all, legal and medical requirements to be met regarding stillbirths.

Additionally, if those dead babies are really stillborn children, not aborted children, how does the clinic director explain the wounds?

The best question, however, is this: If abortion is such a good thing that it should be a "fundamental constitutional right," why wouldn't those abortion photos be beautiful to her? Shouldn't they fill her with a sense of pride and satisfaction that the right thing is being done?

If abortions are a good thing, those photographs would be in abortion clinic ads. Planned Parenthood would distribute them door-to-door. The National Organization for Women would have posters of them in their offices.

If abortion isn't wrong, then there is no reason to oppose the photographs. If abortion isn't wrong, the photos should be used as evidence of what an enlightened and progressive society we are.

Of course, the reason pro-choice people are so disgusted by the photographs is that they show a reality they'd rather ignore: that abortion is killing babies, that it is brutal and violent, and that it is evil.

Which leaves me to wonder why pro-choicers condemn the pictures while applauding the reality.
Letter 296

Our mayor is calling for a ban on pictures of aborted babies being displayed in public. He claims that the pictures are a public nuisance.

Next time the mayor sees one of those dead-baby pictures, he ought to think. Those pictures show what abortionists do to babies right here in our city. If someone did the same thing to a dog, we'd be horrified.

The truth is, he and many other people don't want to be reminded that those pictures show a reality that happens every day. It is the height of hypocrisy to object to the pictures of dead babies, but not object to the dead babies.
Letter 297

This newspaper has been full of letters lately condemning the recent pro-life advertising insert. Most letters complain that the photographs of unborn babies are "misleading and emotional."

I'll let a pro-choicer respond:

In her recently released book, Naomi Wolf stated that "those photographs are in fact photographs of actual D&Cs; those footprints are in fact the footprints of a 10-week-old fetus; the pro-life slogan, 'Abortion stops a beating heart,' is incontrovertibly true. While images of violent fetal death work magnificently for pro-lifers as political polemic, the pictures are not polemical in themselves: they are biological facts. We know this." She also said, "How can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that the truth is in poor taste is the height of hypocrisy...And if we then claim that it is offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted by them, then we are making the judgment that women are too inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a grave decision."

In other words, if you can't take the reality--that abortion is chopping up a live baby--you have no business defending it.

If I were to state that the First Amendment supports the display of pictures of aborted fetuses, would that make me a sexist asshat? Well, there are defined sexist asshats in the administration of Western Washington University who are accused of tolerating hate speech.

Western Washington University student David Janus Zhang was so enraged by a “display showing pictures of aborted fetuses next to images of genocide” that he jumped over a fence and tried to destroy it....

[I]n response to the anti-abortion display, some students at Western Washington University are campaigning to ban so-called “hate speech” on campus. The “hate speech” in question appears to have consisted of the aborted fetus display itself....

Thankfully, the administration of Western Washington University doesn’t appear to want any part of this movement to censor controversial speech. As one administrator said:

“All I can do is explain what constitutes free speech,” Schuster said. “I’m not a lawyer, but I know based on Supreme Court decisions that it’s appropriate to have these dialogues on campus and we can’t restrict peoples’s ability to have them. We can set a time, place and manner although the entire campus is a free speech area.”

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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