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Caveat Emptor

By David Warren

There are some facts that are so politically incorrect, that people will be punished merely for mentioning them.

We saw a particularly crisp example of this last week, when Advertising Standards Canada ruled that a billboard advertisement by LifeCanada was "deceptive."

The billboard marked the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada's Morgentaler decision, which removed all legal restrictions on abortion in Canada. The ad stated, in full: "9 months. The length of time an abortion is allowed in Canada. Abortion. Have we gone too far?"

It doesn't get simpler than this. ASC ruled that it was "deceptive" to state this plain fact as a fact. The explanation that followed was that the billboard did not deal with "access" issues. The anonymous tribunal further contested, quite incoherently, references to Statistics Canada on the website that were themselves factually correct.

In other words, the LifeCanada ad was "deceptive" because it was outrageously true. Cf. George Orwell: "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

The feminist red herring about "access" is not something worthy of serious discussion. When a woman wants an abortion in this country, she gets it, pronto. That is indeed a very good reason why abortions in the third trimester are comparatively rare. And yet they do happen, and they are quite legal. The billboard wasn't discussing numbers, it was discussing law.

In Canada's socialist medical system, you can wait months, possibly years, for vital medical treatment; you can and will wait for hip or knee replacements, MRI scans, all kinds of clinical work and general surgery. In many parts of Canada you can wait for the rest of your life for access to a family doctor. If you go to emergency in a Canadian hospital towards midnight, you can wait all night to be seen by a nurse. Complaints about "access to abortion" are a very grim joke. If women had been similarly wait-listed for this service, the population of this country would by now be several million higher.

There remains one non-statistical "access" argument that should be faced squarely. Many doctors and nurses -- including many who would count themselves as "pro-choice" -- refuse to perform abortions on women in the third trimester. This is because they are morally repelled by an act that not only seems abstractly, but looks physically, indistinguishable from murder.

And yet, as the LifeCanada billboard accurately stated, it is a perfectly legal act. Only at the ambiguous moment of birth does the child magically become a "human being" -- thanks specifically to the Supreme Court's Morgentaler decision of 1988.

The paid advertisement that so offended Advertising Standards Canada ran on about 50 billboards. Compare, if you will, an advertisement from the feminist Canadian Women's Foundation, that has been running as a "public service" -- carpet-bombed across the country not only on billboards but in newspapers, with bank statements, and on the sides of buses. It is intended to "create awareness of domestic violence."

Under the headline, "Shelter from the Storm," it depicts "a sullen, rather menacing father, staring defiantly at the camera" from one end of a sofa, and "a waifish, stressed-looking mother shielding anxious children" at the other. (The descriptors are Barbara Kay's, and I cannot improve on them.) A dotted vertical line divides this father from the rest of his family.

The message of this advertisement is as unambiguously hateful as it is clichéd and slick. Without any further words it communicates a savage denunciation of "white males," and supports the feminist stereotype that they are violent, abusive, and tyrannical by nature. Women, by contrast, are peaceful, and nurturing, and if they have any flaw, it is perhaps that they have been too accommodating to men in the past. Children, too, are routinely abused by these white male reptiles, and thus side exclusively with their mothers.

It is inconceivable that any "advertising standards" authority would rule such an advertisement "deceptive" at the present day. Even had they the desire, none would have the courage to face down the inevitable feminist wrath. The (typically white male) corporate executives who agree to disseminate such obvious hate literature, do so in an expectation of what would happen if they refused. And yet if the stereotype were true, they would be quivering in fear of all the sullen, menacing, defiant male customers they had mortally offended.

This advertisement goes beyond deception. It presents the opposite of the truth. Not only -- according to Statistics Canada of all people -- is domestic violence perpetrated by both sexes, in roughly equal numbers, but when perpetrated by men it is overwhelmingly by common-law "partners" as opposed to properly married men in natural families. In other words, that dotted line, instructing us to break up families and cage the men, directly contributes to the phenomenon it is denouncing -- the proliferation of domestic violence, in broken homes.

A fact becomes a lie when it is politically incorrect. A lie becomes a fact when it is politically correct. When these become the prevailing advertising standards, let the buyer beware.

© Ottawa Citizen

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