Necessary for Evolutionary Advancement

The thing about evolutionary advancement: the dinosaurs may have been toast, but you can bet that sponges, frogs, and mice weren’t going to triumph on their survivability alone.

The print and tv media may indeed be sinking, but if the blogs want to enter into this vacating ecological niche, they are going to need to polish up their reading comprehension. Even my journalism-experienced friend Lee may have been snooked by a gotcha! quote from Justice Ginsburg on Roe v Wade. Was it really her quote? I didn’t think so. My impression of the NY Times interview was that she was reporting her assessment of what the GOP Supreme Court of 1973 was thinking. Granted, the edited transcript leaves some room for doubt. But the Times interviewer did write that this piece was boiled down from a ninety-minute interview.

Thanks in part to the blogosphere, we have a partisan-saturated culture in which it’s as likely if somebody doesn’t like someone who states that: People who advocate for pedophilia as a sound and healthy sexual preference are wrong, an enterprising up-and-comer would just edit out the first two and the last two words and claim someone is really an “advocate for pedophilia as a sound and healthy sexual preference.” See what I mean?

Like many bloggers, I think the print and tv media are in a long slide down. But there are enough smart writers out there in the blogofield to muscle aside the weak. The Ginsburg tale seems to be getting more traction than I thought it would. I’m really surprised, though given the mutation vector in media, we’re bound to see some pretenders vying for the fading niche of Our Corporate Broadcast Masters. 

When a blogger leads off with a line like this:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments about using abortion as population control raised a lot of eyebrows in the blogosphere. Over 9,236 to be precise, according to Google blog search.

I think the sharks in the media tank can consider themselves safe for one more day. “Over 9,236” is far from precision. I can read between the lines on this, and I don’t think the Ginsburg story has legs. But then, the mosasaurs and whales didn’t either.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to Necessary for Evolutionary Advancement

  1. Kevin in Texas says:

    Two comments, Todd:

    1) I’ve heard from newspaper people that any articles printed in a big paper like the NY Times are read over with a fine-toothed comb by at least 8-9 people, sometimes more, before being published. The quote is deeply ambiguous, at best, and even if the reporter didn’t pick up on its eugenics-tinged possible interpretation in the midst of the interview, it’s simply terrible journalism and editing work to let such a potentially deeply offensive remark stand without context. Much better had they told the reporter to call Ginsburg back and verify/ask for further clarification of her meaning before even printing that.

    2) While I don’t believe Ginsburg is eugenics-minded herself, it’s crystal clear that she is deeply pro-choice and pro-contraception and fails to even pay any heed at all to powerful intellectual arguments demonstrating that abortion is devastating for women both psychologically and too often physically. For her to give any credence to the evidence counter to her opinion would fundamentally undermine the pro-choice belief (a self-deluding one, at that) that abortion is ethically neutral as a “right”, if not indeed a positive action in the majority of cases.

    Much prayer is needed for those who are “none so blind…”

  2. Liam says:


    I think your interpretation of what Ginsburg intended is correct. Need we remember President Nixon’s statements revealed last month about situations where abortion was necessary (like the situation that begat our current President)? The utilitarian mindset Ginsburg alludes to is hardly novel to our own era, but existed no less in that time, especially among medical professionals, and I have no doubt Ginsburg was very aware of attitudes about abortion among those professonals at that time. Remember, it was the medical profession – the AMA was perhaps the most reliably Republican professional guild there was in those days – that had been strongly lobbying for reforms in abortion laws.

  3. Gavin says:

    The blogs are just picking up on what print and visual media have been doing for a loooong time. The news is whatever you get someone to read.

  4. Todd says:

    Kevin, thanks for commenting. Agreement with you this little snippet was poorly edited.

    With respect to your newspaper people, I will say the threshold of good editing in both newsprint and books has eroded drastically in the past ten years. Too much reliance on computers; any number of errors of common sense, not to mention “correct” words incorrectly applied. To expand on Gavin’s point: not only is the news what you read, but what you can sell. Journalists have left the building; the media is now run by corporations.

  5. Lee says:


    The quote was ambiguous, but it was a quote. Are you saying the reporter made it up? Grounds for firing.

    Either the statement represented her view, or she deemed the view one that she did not seemed concerned about objecting to. Certainly the rest of her statements followed a pro-choice line.

    I tend to trust the NY Times as being factual and accuate (even if baised) more than most other newspapers.

  6. Todd says:

    Lee, I think you interpreted it wrongly, as has most of the conservative blogosphere. Ginsburg wasn’t referring to her own opinion, and in the edited version we read (remember, this was a ninety-minute interview) I could see how some qualifier was missed by a “biased” editing department that wouldn’t have imagined a progressive Jewish jurist would be in favor of eugenics.

    As long as you and other bloggers continue this obsession with discrediting people, you’ll continue to get snooked. One saying seems apt: when the only tool in your box is a hammer, you start seeing every problem as a nail.

  7. Jim McK says:

    The quote includes a remark about the possibility that the decision as Ginsberg understood it might lead to forcing women to have abortions. That sounds like an objection to the decision as she understood it, so one really cannot say she did not object.

    I think the rest of the post showed a similar off target gotcha thinking. (I don’t play snooker so I am not sure what snooked means) Ginsberg obviously means a woman with the means would be able to travel to a state where abortion is available, not that abortions enable poor women to become “women of means”.

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