Accuracy in Media

Calling someone campaigning against abortion a “forced birth activist” is be a little extreme, even for Jezebel.

But that’ sexactly what Jezebel does here, saying Tennessee “Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Forced Birth Activist…” nothing like an inflammatory headline to gain the clicks.

However, what steps over into bias and error here is this: “But it’s wildly hypocritical to support women’s freedom in another nation while actively introducing and supporting legislation that has ended women’s rights to bodily autonomy in the United States. “

But it’s not.

The specific subject under discussion is that of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was beaten to death by the religious police in Iran for the crime of not wearing a headscarf to cover her hair – the hijab. It is in fact possible – is not hypocritical – to defend the right of women to dress themselves, to not be beaten to death by the religious police, and also oppose abortion on demand. It’s not necessary to agree with both those positions – although we’d hope the one about the hijab is agreed upon – but they are very different.

But that’s the claim that Jezebel makes there. As so often with extreme claims, it’s possible to examine the statement by reversing it – Jezebel is claiming that opposition to abortion is equivalent to supporting the beating to death of women for not wearing a scarf. This could be said to be a somewhat extreme, even biased, reading. But they really are insisting upon moral equivalence. Their statement is that it is hypocritical to be against both:

“As Jezebel’s Susan Rinkunas wrote, during hearings to confirm Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court — its first Black woman justice ever — Blackburn railed against trans women’s rights in a truly vile speech. With her massive power and platform, Blackburn has done a lot more than most people in this country to support and uphold the white patriarchy, while giving Republicans the nice optics of having a woman behind many of these efforts.

“We can see the actions and the effects of the patriarchy in one of these stories and it’s not the one where a politician makes an arguable (either way) case, it’s the one where – well, actually, it’s the one where no one is allowed to disagree with, let alone in print, what the men say should be happening.”

Jezebel ranks, by one of the systems, as No. 68 among U.S. media outlets. It gains some 5.4 million visits a month from that position. It’s proudly, fiercely, both liberal and progressive feminist. That’s fine; free speech does indeed mean that people get to put their ideas forward.

But the insistence that being against people being beaten to death and opposing abortion is hypocrisy is displaying a large amount of bias on one or other of those two subjects. They’re really not the same thing and to equate them is more than just a little extremist.




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