Monday, October 6, 2014

"pro-life" gimmickry

As the Supreme Court begins its new term this week, pro-life advocates hold a prayer vigil on the plaza of the high court in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. The group, Bound 4 Life, has come to the court for ten years to make a silent appeal against abortion. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)  
The designation "pro-life" is generally held at arm's length in serious journalistic circles because the term implies, as its backers would applaud, that any other stance is "pro-death." That the Associated Press, the biggest news organization in the world, should fall prey to this gimmickry (as in the above cutline), is ... well, I suppose it's the new normal.

 No one is "pro-death," so decent news stories generally prefer "anti-abortion" which more accurately describes such demonstrations. But like the word "terrorism," language morphs over time and news reporting slumps and surrenders to "everyone knows what that means."

Serious conversation about serious topics deserves some effort to define terms, but seriousness is too often held in contempt and the agile snakes of solemnity enter with increasing ease.

"Terrorism," "pro-life," pick your poison -- I guess individuals are left to their own devices and "consensus" is more blurry than it is meaningful.

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