Religious Right as Liars

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There’s a lot of support from the Religious Right regarding a video Live Action released, entitled “Caught on Tape: Planned Parenthood Aids Pimp’s Underage Sex Ring.”

Here is what Tony Perkins, my personal favorite had to say:

“Planned Parenthood has again proven that they are nothing more than a money-grabbing and highly corrupt abortion organization that will hide a crime as disgusting as child prostitution — and make sure that it quietly continues. Americans work too hard for their dollars to fund an organization this devoid of concern for young women and basic decency, much less to the tune of $350 million a year.”

(via Right Wing Watch).

The problem, of course is that Planned Parenthood already contacted the FBI requesting an investigation for a possible sex ring.

“Last week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder summarizing the visits and requesting an FBI investigation. If the man’s assertions were true, she wrote, they would indicate possible violations of federal laws dealing with interstate sex trafficking of minors.

However, Richards said the visits could be part of a hoax resembling some past actions by anti-abortion activists.

“Once inside, these people have recorded ‘undercover’ videos of their conversations with our clinic staff and then selectively and maliciously edited the videos,” she wrote. “This may be happening once again. If so, this kind of activity should be firmly condemned.”

(via Deseret News).

So, I cannot tell whether the Religious Right are willing to lie to prove their own opposition to Planned Parenthood or whether they want Planned Parenthood to go away so much that they are willing to believe Live Action. We know Live Action’s video is a farce. We know that Live Action edited together those videos. We know that James O’Keffe edited together the ACORN videos he had to make the organization look guilty of a crime it didn’t commit.

Regardless, someone, somewhere, is willing to lie for their own political agenda. Now, I find slander in the political landscape contentious. The contention I have with the lying and the slander is twofold. First, I contend that we will continue to live in a culture of violence so as long as our rhetoric only seeks to delegitimize with which we disagree. Lying about Planned Parenthood, ACORN, Queers, Muslims, etc. is to prevent genuine discourse and discussion from occurring. It is easier to get rid of opposition by slandering them, delegitimizing them and effectively dehumanizing them. The cultural intelligibility of such groups is effectively hindered by such statements. In my own theory, or at least what my theory is beginning to articulate is that a culture of life must include the cultural agency all minorities within our society, even if we disagree with them. In my own work, it means both that more queer voices need to be represented in the media as well as the fact that more queer voices of color need to be represented as leaders within the queer community itself.

Second, is not lying contrary to the Decalogue? Is not bearing false witness one of the commandments? For such a large stink the Religious Right makes about the taking down of the Decalogue and how much it represents a blueprint for morality, they sure are terrible at following that blueprint. In which case, why should they continue to represent the moral compass that many in our country make them out as?

For some people, the ends justifies the means. However, when the means of obtaining the ends fundamentally conflicts with the moral framework of those seeking those ends, does this not represent a fundamental flaw? In other words, would it not be more effective for the Religious Right, and not slander and lie, simply tell the truth? Why should we even be convinced of their religiosity when it is clear that they are unable to follow the moral frameworks that they consider to be the best for American society?

Update:

I’ve received a bit of criticism from various commenters about this post. The reoccurring criticism is that Amy Woodruff, the clinician depicted in Live Action’s video was indeed covering up a sex ring operation. Woodruff’s actions were certainly gross and inappropriate and I am glad that Planned Parenthood took the appropriate actions in firing her and ensuring that no one is aiding in the trafficking of underage persons.

Nevertheless, I do not think that absolves Lila Rose and Live Action. My contention with Live Action’s video is that it, in effect is saying that Woodruff’s actions are the general sentiment of not only Planned Parenthood as a whole but also those who consider themselves to be pro-choice.

Moreover, I think many people who argue that I am treating Lila Rose unfairly or saying that I hate her are mistaking hate for irresponsibility and integrity. I hate the way that the Religious Right and groups like Live Action behave, to be sure. However, I also have a Dual undergraduate degree and Jewish Studies and Religious Studies and I do not find their actions particularly fitting, given that they are beginning to determine what constitutes true religiosity in the United States. The majority of the time, they’re willing to deliberately muddy the waters is order to achieve their agenda. Again, I don’t think that constitutes religiosity. I think that constitutes political expediency and slander (let’s remember that slandering is one of those sins Paul lists in Romans 1 as well). If I were to ever take them seriously, intellectually or morally, they would have to be willing to stand by truth without lying about it. What I am, in effect calling the Religious Right out on is their presumed claim that they represent the moral beacon in the United States.

Associated Press sent out an article on January 24th saying that at least 12 of its clinics had been visited by a man who requested a private meeting with a clinic employee and then requested information about health services for sex workers, including some who he said were minors and in the U.S. illegally. Rather than admitting that Live Action was responsibly, Lila Rose’s official response was that Planned Parenthood’s claims were ‘very interesting.’ Live Action’s unwillingness to immediately come clean about the matter immediately is extremely problematic and an obstruction of justice.

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4 thoughts on “Religious Right as Liars

  1. I’m sympathetic to your views, but there’s a gaping hole in Planned Parenthood’s response to the video, as well as your own. Other than the unsupported response of “selective and malicious editing”, no one seems to be addressing what the clinic manager, Amy Woodruff, actually states in the video, which is downright disgusting, not to mention unlawful.

    Is it the contention that Ms. Woodruff didn’t actually say the things she appears to be saying? Let’s see the evidence.

    • Chance

      I will contend with you that Ms. Woodruff did commit a crime in saying what she did. The unedited video proves it and I stand corrected. Nevertheless, I will not contend that the video’s existence still represents problematic aspects of our political culture. Planned Parenthood also reported to the FBI that there was a man going from state to state doing asking about underground sex traficking. Even so, the video was not released until yesterday and in response to that video, Amy Woodruff was fired. It sounds to me that Planned Parenthood took the appropriate measures in every instance. In this case, I think we need to focus on the individual and not the organization itself.

      Live Action is claiming that this video proves something about Planned Parenthood. At best, it only says something about the individual and something even worse about Live Action. Lila Rose’s response to all that Planned Parenthood has done was, “very interesting”, ignoring the fact that her organization concealed this information as well. They didn’t turn this information immediately. In other words, I do not think this absolves Live Action from criticism.

      Equating Woodruff’s actions with that of Planned Parenthood is still tantamount to slander, as rotten people exist in every group. Refusal to make that distinction still engages in the violence of delegitimization. Rose still essentializes Planned Parenthood, refusing to make a distinction between Planned Parenthood’s policy, the actions of Amy Woodruff, and the actions of persons in Planned Parenthood who clearly did the correct thing.

  2. Scott

    Still, Planned Parenthood *did* fire Woodruff. If it was all true, why say the hateful stuff about Lila Rose and her “malicious” editing? If it was false, why fire Woodruff?

    Why not just suck up the pride and say ‘thanks for pointing out a bad seed, we want to be the best at what we do.’

    • Chance

      Scott, if you read my reply to Robert, you would see that I did contend that he was correct and that we should be weeding bad apples out of a program that does a good thing for women. I am sorry I did not make that more explicit and I will re-edit the post to that effect.

      However, I do not think that absolves Lila Rose and Live Action. Live Action, in effect is saying that Woodruff’s actions are the general sentiment of not only Planned Parenthood as a whole but also those who consider themselves to be pro-choice. Moreover, I think you’re mistaking hate for irresponsibility and integrity. I hate the way that the Religious Right and groups like Live Action behave. I think the majority of the time, they’re willing to deliberately muddy the waters is order to achieve their agenda. I don’t think that constitutes religiosity. I think that constitutes political expediency and slander (let’s remember that slandering is one of those sins Paul lists in Romans 1 as well). If I were to ever take them seriously, intellectually or morally, they would have to be willing to stand by truth without lying about it.

      Associated Press sent out an article on January 24th saying that at least 12 of its clinics had been visited by a man who requested a private meeting with a clinic employee and then requested information about health services for sex workers, including some who he said were minors and in the U.S. illegally. Rather than admitting that Live Action was responsibly, Lila Rose’s official response was that Planned Parenthood’s claims were ‘very interesting.’ Live Action’s unwillingness to immediately come clean about the matter immediately is extremely problematic and an obstruction of justice.

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