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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2012 Tom Flannery
880 words


By: Tom Flannery

The question was a simple one.  Or at least it should have been.


Can the government force religious institutions to embrace, enact and fund policies which violate their most deeply-held faith convictions?  Say, by forcing religious institutions to make abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and birth control available to employees, even when these religions teach against such practices?


If we go by the Constitution, which is supposed to be the basis for all our nation’s laws, the answer is a clear and resounding no.


But what if our liberal elite establishment favors such policies, regardless of anyone’s religious beliefs?


Well, that’s where the media spin zone takes over.


The media, as they always do in such cases, go into deception overdrive to hide the truth, change the debate, and win the day emotionally rather than intellectually.  They don’t win the argument nearly as often as they win the public relations campaign.


Their first tactic was to focus almost exclusively on birth control, since most of the religious employers in this case are Catholic and a large majority of American women, including most Catholics, support and even use contraception.


By doing so, the media were able to fight on friendly ground by completely obscuring the essence of the entire matter — the attempt to subvert religious freedom and the question of whether the First Amendment, and the rest of the Constitution, would be left in tatters or not.  This also allowed them to avoid the far thornier issues of abortion and sterilization, and forcing people who are intrinsically opposed to such practices into supporting and even funding them.


Step Two was to turn this into a “women’s health issue” — as if pregnancy were somehow a disease and women across the country lacked access to the “cure” (contraception).  Never mind that the government provides free contraception to millions of women through thousands of Title X-funded clinics located in 75% of U.S. counties (the other 25% are so rural that few people reside in them).

Poor women also receive free contraceptives through Medicaid and community health centers.  Planned Parenthood hands the stuff out like candy, as do many universities.  Beyond that, contraception can be purchased rather cheaply and easily at pharmacies and other locations nationwide, for as little as $9 a month.


As Rich Lowry of National Review put it:  “By any reasonable standard, we are one of the most lavishly contracepted societies in the history of the planet.”


But no media spin campaign is complete without a “human face,” someone who can tug at the heart strings or frame the issue along purely emotional lines.  And so, right on cue, came Sandra Fluke.  Although she is attending one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Ms. Fluke told a Senate committee that she and other young women attending college simply cannot afford what she said was the $3,000 it costs them for contraception, and consequently their health and/or lives are in danger.

With that, the Constitutional argument was erased as if it never existed at all, and with it all discussion of our rights of religious freedom and personal conscience.  All that mattered was that Ms. Fluke couldn’t afford birth control, and something had to be done about it.


This became especially true when Rush Limbaugh suggested that spending $3,000 on contraception and asking everyone else (the taxpayers, through government fiat) to pay for it made her a “slut.”

Rush’s point, though poorly worded perhaps, was obvious:  What was this woman saying about herself?  After all, the $3,000 figure she cited was so astronomical, especially in light of all the facts about wide contraception availability, that it simply boggled the mind.


But all that mattered was that Rush called Ms. Fluke a “slut.”  Not that the liberal media made any kind of fuss when MSNBC's Ed Schultz blasted conservative radio host Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut” for the pure sport of it — Barbara Walters even laughed about that — or when any number of other conservative women have been pilloried in the most degrading terms imaginable.

The reprehensible Bill Maher calls Sarah Palin the C-word and it’s just another day at the office, but Rush tries to make an important point, however indelicately, and the whole liberal media establishment goes crazy.  It’s all they can talk about for days (and nights) on end!


Needless to say, this debate is no longer about truth or fairness or Constitutional principles or founding rights or any other substantive matter.  Instead, it is all about making Ms. Fluke look like a heroine and portraying Rush as the dastardly villain, and using that emotionally-charged narrative to win the much larger issue of government suppression of religion and personal conscience.


The media is making sure of that, by reframing the issue, recasting the play, and spinning, spinning, spinning.  Meanwhile, what is being lost in the process is nothing less than our God-given, blood-bought freedoms.


An inscription on the Liberty Bell, taken from the Bible, reads:  "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Leviticus 25:10).  But perhaps not for long.


If the media succeed in this particular public relations campaign, we'll have to scrub off that inscription and toss the Liberty Bell itself into the same dumpster where we deposit our Constitution.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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