Devout anti-choice blogger Dr. Stolinsky reads a nondescript headline from an unnamed, unlinked, undated newspaper article and goes all DaVinci Code. Where we see a sad but tragically common story, he sees nothing but encrypted media bias against the preconceived, the preborn, and the recently postborn.
Some time ago, a newspaper began a report on a terrible accident with the headline, ‘Ten People, Baby Die When Van Hits Truck.’
Stolinsky is outraged. No, no, no -- not that 11 people were instantly wiped off the face of the earth, but that the headline, in Stolinsky’s warped view, downgrades the dead baby’s personhood.
Stolinsky is divinely convinced that the baby’s being singled out and tallied separately from the “ten people” means the headline writer (and by extension the evil liberal media) views the child as less than a full human being.
Have to admit, that was not my first thought. Or my last.
Well, yes, babies are counted differently in articles about tragic events. In emotional currency, they have more value than adults, not less. That’s why the headline writer worked the baby’s demise into the headline.
Had the van and truck gone up in flames, the headline writer probably would have played up the flames: Van Hits Truck, 11 Perish in Fireball.
When space is tight, fireballs always trump babies in vehicle crash headlines.
We might think this is all farkin’ obvious, but Stolinsky is blind. As further proof of the evil liberal media’s bias against the full personhood of the preconceived, the preborn, and the recently postborn, he snags and grills an anonymous editor* who’s conveniently vague and shruggy about everything yet nonetheless adamant that babies are not persons.
When I questioned an editor, he saw no reason to reword this as ‘Eleven People Including Baby Die,’ or ‘Ten Adults and Baby Die.’ To him a one-year-old was not a “person.”
When I asked at what age a child becomes a “person,” he was unable to reply. Nor did he express an opinion about when an elderly or disabled individual ceases to be a “person.”
What an incredibly useful tool that anonymous editor proves to be, assuming he actually exists. The rest of us sort of know that individuals pretty much cease to exist once the death certificate is signed. Only gods and corporations are immortal. And maybe Dick Cheney.
*Is he the editor of the newspaper that generated the headline? Apparently not. Is he the editor of Journalism for Dummies? Not specified. Is he the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association? Probably not. Regardless of his particular area of expertise, if any, the anonymous editor, like all the anonymous waiters and cab drivers that populate opinion writing in America, is readily available for comment at a moment's notice.
First Things First - Thanks to John and Adam for asking me to join the distinguished group of key-holders. I feel at home already, having had John step on one of my guest posts...