'MSM bias against life and for abortion'

'MSM bias against life and for abortion'
'MSM bias against life and for abortion'

Had an interesting exchange of notes today with Barry P. Bruss, a new member of the P-B Editorial Advisory Board. (That not him, pictured above...that's Archibishop John Nienstedt.)

Here goes:

Mr. Furst,

I take strong issue with the piece below.  The body expresses the content and themes to be discussed, while the title and first line inflame, instigate and irritate using hot-button language to attract negative attention that does not comport with the advertised topics.  Abortion is not explicitly mentioned, merely implied commonsensically as one of many life issues.  The title intimates that this will be an anti-"choice" jeremiad, thereby eliciting negative reactions rather than the positive attention it should garner.  The operative phrase is "dignity of life", perhaps more broadly termed the "dignity of the human person", confusion therewith leading to all sorts of misinterpretation and misunderstanding.   Discussion concerning human dignity will hopefully lead to better understanding and, ultimately, less abortions.



Barry P. Bruss

Member, P-B Editorial Advisory Board

Here's the story he's referring to, with headline (or "title"):

Bishops to address anti-abortion issues


Catholic bishops will talk about anti-abortion

issues at 7 p.m. March 20 at


Divine Mercy Catholic Church.

Archbishop John Nienstedt of the

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

and Bishop John Quinn of the

Diocese of Winona will talk on the

topic, "The Sacredness of Life from

Beginning to End."

Quinn will talk about the dignity of


life from the first moment of conception,

while Nienstedt will discuss

end-of-life issues.

Admission is free.

Here's my response to Barry:

Thanks for the note, Barry. Guess I'd have to see the news release to see what exactly it said and how the event was billed. I did hear the event promoted in my Catholic church and it seemed pretty clearly focused on abortion, rather than "end of life," for example, and judging by the two presenters and their very strongly stated positions regarding abortion, there's not much doubt about the nature of the program.

Arguably, the headline could simply have said "abortion issues." We try not to use terms such as "pro-life," "dignity of life," etc., which are imprecise and can be politically loaded.

Our style is similar to Associated Press and other news organizations, which stick with "anti-abortion" rather than "pro-life" and "pro-abortion rights" rather than "pro-abortion."

Tough issue and we do our best to be precise without being inflammatory.

I might post this on my blog and use in a column -- OK if I identify you?

Thanks again for the note.


(I also get the dioscesan newspaper, which has plenty of material on the two bishops and their viewpoints on abortion. I believe the last issue also had an item on the Faribault event, so I have some awareness of what it was about.)

Barry's followup, in part:

I argue that the terms espoused by the AP are indeed the inflammatory ones, very politically loaded.  I believe that it is verbal manipulation such as this that causes people to contend MSM bias against life and for abortion.


I agree with your comment regarding the speakers: their beliefs are well known, but to pigeonhole them as being single-issue thinkers is rather constrictive.  I do believe that they deserve broader leeway regarding the full spectrum of life issues.

Again, to wrap up, I'll acknowledge we could have just said "will talk about abortion issues" or better yet, just reported the title of the program and leave it at that, without going into more detail. This was just a brief rewrite, not a full story, and that would have been enough.

That said, the rewrite and headline wasn't inaccurate as phrased, and wasn't meant to be provocative, and I couldn't disagree more with Barry's opinion on news style regarding abortion labels .

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