Jezebel’s Stassa Edwards is very, very unhappy with The New York Times. You see, it’s not enough that the paper has a long, audacious record of pro-abortion bias; they have apparently undermined their fealty to the cause by publishing a whopping two opinion pieces by members of the pro-life group Human Coalition… three months apart.
Never mind that we’re talking about a publication so hopelessly in the child-death tank that it won’t even call the March for Life “March for Life.” Never mind that the NYT still claims to be an independent news organization without a partisan agenda. Giving any space to pro-life views, no matter how outweighed that space is by the paper’s overall output, is apparently a scandal.
The two op-eds in question are this one by Lori Szala and this one by Lauren Enriquez (who also writes here at Live Action). Edwards makes it clear she would object to their publication no matter how they were written, but nevertheless takes the time for a little petty sniping at their content:
Szala’s arguments aren’t particularly unique. She presents a series of familiar anti-abortion arguments that, for whatever reason, national op-ed pages seem to be enthralled with: abortion is murder, abortion preys on vulnerable women who regret their decision, etc.
Yeah, it’s a real mystery why pro-life op-eds contain prominent arguments that millions of people find compelling and that abortion’s defenders have never successfully refuted. I suppose it should come as no surprise that that sort of thing doesn’t meet Edwards’s standards; when she makes an argument, she prefers to cite discredited studies and egregiously misquote politicians….
She also hits the pieces for advertising Human Coalition’s work (boy, good thing Planned Parenthood editorials never do anything like that!) and for including a story about a woman choosing life “after witnessing the regret of a woman who chose an abortion.” What’s wrong with that, aside from it being a “familiar” narrative device? Edwards doesn’t say.
It’s only natural that what passes for addressing pro-life arguments is even more paper-thin than usual in this case, because again, the arguments aren’t what bother her; the encroachment on abortionism’s perceived turf is. Edwards correctly concludes that printing them is “intended to further the op-ed section’s opinion of itself as a facilitator of smart debate and political conversation.” As for why the NYT shouldn’t facilitate debates that represent both sides of abortion?
In the coziness of the op-ed page, anti-abortion radicalism is presented as just another opinion, part of the diversity of voices that fill the political landscape. Facilitating an honest conversation about abortion is not the point. As Bret Stephens’s hiring indicated, the point seems to be the Times’s ability to signal its perception of itself as the embodiment of liberal values, particularly the free exchange of ideas. Be it climate change or abortion, it’s the mere articulation of a side that’s valued not the content of the arguments.
It’s a facile approach that treats the opinion pages as a place for conversation where every opinion—simply by virtue of existing—is worthy of inclusion. No doubt, the Times would point to blogs like this one as an example of that “conversation,” a buzzy and empty word that is often confused for intelligence or insight. But that, of course, is the point. If the Times’s op-ed page has to do the work of anti-choice activists to generate conversation, to produce tension or debate, then they are clearly happy to do so.
Ah, there’s the real source of Edwards’s rage: that the people selecting the Times’s op-eds don’t despise pro-lifers as much as the Jezebel crew does, that an enlightened, liberal publication is daring to give pro-lifers the time of day rather than subjecting us to the full Hester Prynne treatment.
Granted, the concept of a bare minimum quality threshold for participation in discussion is legitimate, but again, Edwards has not identified a single solitary factual error or logical fallacy in either of the offending editorials. More to the point, she shows no signs of grasping that you can’t have any debate on any issue without one side saying things the other considers illegitimate or beyond the pale, so any forum with a pretense of independence or neutrality obviously has to allow each side broad discretion to make the case they want in the way they want.
Of course, such a forum is only a problem when one doesn’t trust one’s own side to prove its case is better in a fair fight and direct comparison. It’s deeply telling that pro-lifers routinely welcome such challenges, whereas abortion proponents are so preoccupied with silencing the competition.
An abortion debate where only Jezebel-approved arguments can be represented is no debate at all. It’s a game rigged for a predetermined outcome… which is exactly what Stassa Edwards really wants.