Abortion debate b/w rationality and fanaticism...

Even before the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down (34 years ago today), mass media was fond of presenting the abortion issue as a dichotomy of absolutes. For years the shtick was to present two (and only two) viewpoints from the opposite ends of the opinion spectrum. Editorial pages would "balance" an op ed calling for the criminalization of abortion against one advocating no legal restriction whatsoever, for example. On television and radio, advocates of criminalization (let's call them "crims" for short) would be pitted against advocates of legalization and given eight minutes to shout each other down before the commercial break. [*] As a result, Americans have not had the rational and dispassionate debate we need to have if we're ever going to reach a consensus.

But this picture is skewed, and it's becoming more skewed every day. Increasingly, the real debate -- not the debate staged by mass media, but the debate the rest of us are having on the web and among our acquaintances -- is not between two groups of absolutists. It's between rational people and foaming-at-the-mouth fanatics.


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