A simple ad with the theme "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life" has now been deemed by the National Organization for Women "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning." The Women's Media Center says an ad that uses sports to "divide rather than unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year."
The groups are demanding that CBS pull the ad, which is paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family. CBS is defending its decision and says it has changed its mind about airing advocacy ads, which it had rejected in the past.
In the ad, Pam Tebow is expected to talk about how she decided to ignore doctors' advice to abort her fifth child when she suffered complications during a 1987 mission trip to the Philippines. Tim Tebow, a beloved figure in Florida and around the country, told reporters this week he was happy to do the ad, because "that's the reason I'm here, because my mom was a very courageous woman."
In my circles, Tebow, of course, is best known for crying on the sidelines during the SEC Championship Game, when my Alabama Crimson Tide whipped up on his Florida Gators. But the 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback also is well known for wearing, in every football game, eye black that's inscribed with Bible verse citations. The Bible verses on his eye black are the most often searched item on Google after a Florida game.
Tebow's an outspoken Christian, and he's continually irking critics who don't like seeing him take his "religious faith onto the playing field" and who've slammed his "far-right theology" and "exclusionary" religious beliefs.
But talking about your religious beliefs in public apparently is nothing compared to talking about abortion.
According to the women's rights groups, Pam Tebow shouldn't be able to talk about her choice. They won't even allow the discussion. And that shows just how much the issue of abortion has been taken out of public discourse. Because of the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade, you can't even talk about it. That point of view is not allowed to exist.
There are any number of reasons why that's stunning—to silence discussion of society's most contentious issue, one that produces the most deeply held beliefs and passions. Just to put it in context, though, consider this: It's not okay to "Celebrate Life," but apparently no one seems to have a problem with ads that glorify death.
I watch a lot of football, usually with my four children, who are under the ages of 13. You want me to talk about "extraordinarily offensive?" Extraordinarily offensive?
The promos that networks air during games—or even during shows like Amazing Race—for their upcoming crime shows are "extraordinarily offensive." (Amazing Race is my family's favorite, but you can see the same standards—or lack of standards—on every network.)
Week after week, in the middle of the so-called "family hours," I am covering up my kids faces and singing "don't watch, don't watch" as some promotional advertisement for an upcoming crime show airs picturing a dead woman, her face smashed on the ground, with a knife in her back. Or an ashen corpse with bulging eyeballs and blood trickling out of its skull. And remember, these ads are airing not at 10 p.m., when the shows air, but at 5 p.m. or at 8:15 p.m.
The networks are rife with these grotesquely violent ads for their crime series (and also for gory video games), and you may not even notice them—until you start watching television with kids under 13.
One of my daughters has started to chant, when these bloody ads appear, "that's just a whole lot of makeup. Just makeup. Just make up."
But there's no outrage over these ads that glorify death and violence, that depict women brutalized by crazed psychopaths on the run. No uproar. That's reserved, instead, for ads that "Celebrate Life," while images of guts and gore continue to seep into our living rooms without protest.
Here's the great irony of all this: Whether or not the "Celebrate Life" ad ever sees the light of day, the women's groups that made it an issue have played right into Focus on the Family's focus. They've gotten the abortion debate out in the public.