Friday, December 5, 2008

When I Grow Up, I Will Beat My Wife AND Be an Astronaut

I hate liberal blogs. I have no idea why I read them.

God, where do I even begin with this one? I guess I'll show you the advertisements first.

Numero Uno
Numero Dos
(There is a third advertisement, not getting as much media attention. You can see that here.)

These ads are appearing on buses in Dallas, and, as you probably already guessed, were produced by a domestic violence organization. I can't say that I like them.

Judging it both as an advertisement and a message, I don't find it very effective. It is meant to shock, and in the worst way possible. The goal is not to shock you via disgusting image or taboo, but just to horrify you. I don't even see how it serves as a PSA very well. The target audience is, I suppose, perpetrators of domestic violence. Will this curb that behavior? I don't see that happening.

You could argue that it's for the victims of domestic violence though, and in that case, the message being sent is the wrong one. What you should be saying is, "Hey, we're here to help if you've been hurt." Not, "Well, you're probably going to be messed up for the rest of your life."

The only logical conclusion left is that the ads are meant for society as a whole, for people to see these ads and realize that domestic violence is a problem. I don't feel that way when I look at these ads though. I consider myself to have a pretty strong stomach regarding cultural taboos, but something about associating children (particularly a strong association with the innocence of childhood) with things like murder and prostitution, it only churns my stomach. But then, I think this was their intent.

Regardless, if you've heard this story lately, you've probably heard about it in context of a certain Glenn Sack's protesting of it. Sacks' argument is that the ads are "anti-father," whatever that means. Claiming that the ads are bigoted against fathers as a group is the most ridiculous thing imaginable to me. I don't think that if you walked up to a person on the street and said, "Hey, I'm a father" they automatically assume you're a wife-beater. He's protesting a problem that simply does not exist.

Yes, there is a distrust of fathers in our society. I won't argue that. But there are good reasons for that, as not all fathers are equal, obviously. Not all mothers are equal either, but I'm happy knowing that some people are at least worried about how fathers treat their children. At least there is a portion of society being watched and held responsible for. In short, saying, "Make sure your husband doesn't beat you," is not necessarily a bad message in my eyes, although "Make sure your husband or wife doesn't beat you," would be arguably better.

I don't know much about Glenn Sacks; this is the first time I've heard his name. He is a "radio commentator" so I can only assume he's a conservative douche. I don't think he's handling the situation poorly though, and I'll even hand this over to his opponent to demonstrate.

The complaint being lodged against Sacks is twofold, as best I can tell. The first is that people called The Family Place (the domestic violence organization behind the ads) and said rude things to them. Of course this is inappropriate, and it's impossible to condone. Sacks claims that his people didn't make those calls. It's also impossible to prove or disprove this (Well, not impossible, but the effort-to-caring ratio is too high for me.)

The second complaint is the one I want to get to, the one Sacks owns up to, that his people called the donors to The Family Place and asked them if they knew what kind of ads the organization was running. This makes Barry Deutsch upset, and I don't know why.

Without getting on a soapbox about free speech, let me say that it's important that everyone be held accountable for their words. I would love for everyone to say what they want but not haphazardly. That is, you can't go around saying whatever you want and not be expected to face the consequences. Censorship is unthinkable, but accountability is necessarily in a democratic society. Why shouldn't the donors to The Family Place know what their money is being used for? Deutsch argues that it would take money away from the domestic violence services. I would argue that running ads designed to shock as opposed to ads providing information on how to get help are already taking money away from domestic violence services.

By running these ads, The Family Place has decided to not just be a service organization, but also one that makes a statement. The people who donate to them have the right to agree or disagree with that statement, while still supporting the service. If I were donating to The Family Place, would I withdraw my money because of these ads? Definitely not, but I would at least want to be informed that they occurred, since I bought them.

Breaking down his argument, Deutsch is apparently claiming that this organization shouldn't be held accountable to its donors, because it provides a good and needed service. Should charities receive a free pass on saying whatever they want just because they're charities?
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