April 11, 2006


I really like these new AFN commercials where a talking computer compares military benefits to the civilian world. I've seen ones about pay raises, vacation days, and medical care. I think it's important for soldiers to know how their benefits compare to the outside world because it's easy to gripe about the Army, but another job might not be any better.

But what I don't like on TV is being lectured to, especially by an ex-stripper. My husband and I watched the "Secrets and Flies" episode of CSI last night. The story revolved around an organization that finds mothers for abandoned embryos. The woman who was killed was a single Christian mother who adopted a leftover fertilized egg from a fertility clinic because she believed that every embryo is a baby from the minute it's fertilized in a laboratory dish. And the CSI cast openly rolled their eyes and scoffed at this organization. Catherine, the ex-stripper, pulled out all these quotes about papal precedent to argue with the head of this organization. The beat-us-over-the-head Message on the show was that pro-lifers are complete nutjobs, and all the CSI characters agreed. There was no inter-office discussion of the matter; it was just settled and blatantly woven into the script that this was insane.

Cop dramas have been doing this for a while. I wrote a while back about similar propaganda in Law & Order. I'm tired of shows painting right-wing ideas as looney. I honestly don't think this "embryo adoption" thing is that weird. If a couple is willing to give away their extra embryos and someone is willing to take them, then everybody's happy. But you should've seen these CSIs' faces: they were completely disgusted by the whole thing. I don't understand why.

I'm not 100% sure what my view is on abortion. I struggle with one fundamental paradox: If an unwed teen gets pregnant, then we start talking about "at what day is it actually a baby", but if a happily married couple gets pregnant, it's obviously a baby from day one. I know when I get pregnant that it will be a baby from the beginning, and I don't care what day the heart starts beating or the blood starts circulating. So if it's a baby for me, I should see it as a baby for everyone. But I still can't say that abortion is absolutely murder. My thoughts on the topic are kind of messy, and thank goodness I've never had to really work through them.

That said, I respect people who do think that it's murder, and I admire someone who might consider adopting an embryo to give every baby a chance. I certainly would never roll my eyes at her or argue with her about what the pope said in the 16th century (which is what the CSI did). All other things being equal, I respect the right-wing position on abortion more than I do the left-wing position, even though I fall somewhere in between. So why is it obvious that the message on TV is that the right-wingers are nuts?

Posted by: Sarah at 02:09 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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1 Sarah, I actually kind of disagree with you on this one (even though I'll save most of my comments for a real conversation with you). I think in comparison to adopting a live baby (one that has already been created, born, and neglected), adopting embryos is a little nutty. I'm not quite sure how I feel about abortion either...and yes, if and when I get pregnant, the embryo inside of me will always be referred to as "the baby." Having said that, I think scientifically, I can understand why the characters of CSI scoffed at adopting embryos. If we imagine that these characters are real people, then we can understand that they are around DNA, micro-organisms, and all kinds of teeny-tiny blobs of goop all the time. They are probably more capable of lumping embryos into the "teeny-tiny blobs of goop" category than you and I are. But...I do agree with you that more and more, tv shows are making fun of righties...sometimes justifiably (there are a lot of righty crazies out there), but a lot of times it's just over the top.

Posted by: Erin at April 11, 2006 05:17 AM (7oVGv)

2 Hey, if Erin disagreed, do I have to agree now? I don't really watch this new spate of cop shows, but from what I've seen I actually find them kind of right wing, in a different respect. The prime suspects are always really guilty; the cops and DAs never go after the wrong people. That hardly sends a message about the importance of civil rights. If the shows were liberal agitprop, half of the cops would belong to the KKK, and the DAs would sit around laughing about how they were sending innocent people to prison. In fact, it seems like his character is constantly lecturing the audience, from the little bits of the show I've seen. (And his co-star Angie Harmon spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention.)

Posted by: Pericles at April 11, 2006 06:34 AM (eKf5G)

3 Oh, I forgot to say... I don't think that it is quite true to say that couples thnk of embryos just like they do babies. I've had family members suffer miscarriages, and while this was upsetting and sad, it was still nothing like the loss of a baby would have been. They may have called it "the baby," but the attachment wasn't that strong yet. In fact, a pretty high percentage of pregnancies end in very early spontaneous miscarriages, for no apparent reason. I never hear about anyone regarding this as any kind of tragedy, or even like a public health problem comparable to SIDS.

Posted by: Pericles at April 11, 2006 06:40 AM (eKf5G)

4 Erin -- OK, maybe the idea of adopting embryos is not mainstream, but I don't think it's nearly as weird as some of the other right-wing stuff on these shows: they often feature fanatic pro-lifers who kill abortion doctors or extreme religions where the dads impregnate teenage daughters and stuff. I think this one isn't quite so "out there", but the CSIs acted like they were in the same camp with cult types. I think there's at least room for discussion about adopting embryos, which is in a completely different realm than killing Planned Parenthood workers. But CSI seemed to treat them like they're the same. Catherine was overly pissed off at the woman, barking about stem cell research and pro-choice stuff. I just thought it was too much. Pericles -- Hmm, never thought about that. They do always solve the crime and rarely does some "innocent black man go to jail for a crime a rich white kid committed", or some other "liberal" idea like that.

Posted by: Sarah at April 11, 2006 06:49 AM (uJOsU)

5 I quit watching CSI a while ago - too gruesome and tawdry. I loved them for the science and whodunnit aspect problem solving stuff. But the gratuitous flesh and sex-oriented stuff was just too much. How did the treatment of the organization compare to say, the furries - where people dressed up as animals and had orgies? They were pretty much, well, weird to me, but ok. Certainly didn't call them stupid or debate the leader.

Posted by: PhilS at April 11, 2006 02:00 PM (aeR5+)

6 PhilS -- Good call, I forgot about that one. With all the sex stuff on that show, no one ever moralizes. Remember the dominatrix one, where Grissom talks to the "madam" like they're both scientists? I just think it's a double standard.

Posted by: Sarah at April 11, 2006 03:11 PM (uJOsU)

7 Part of becoming a human being is growing and evolving in your mother's womb, so I don't think an embryo in a petri dish can be called a baby. Adopting an embryo is about the same as adopting the stain on Lewinsky's dress.

Posted by: Will at April 11, 2006 07:14 PM (eIQfa)

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