“You’re Entitled To Your Own Opinion, But Not Your Own Facts”
Stats can be technically correct and yet misleading when appropriated out of context by some partisan hack to convey an impression that is actually contrary to fact. Sadly, this has become the norm. The following argument is illustrative. Disreagarding the political or ideological issues, let’s narrowly focus on the dynamics of the communication:
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation founded by geniuses but run by idiots. Common sense has been thrown out the window. Only 5 states require notification and consent: Oklahoma, Texas, Utah,Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. All other states allow consent or notification only usually by one give parent only (some both). PLUS, there is a judicial bypass in ALL states. In other words, the government claims jurisdiction over our children. That’s the liberal agenda.
The above statement gives the impression that parental involvement is the exception rather than the rule. Now let’s reframe it with a response representing a differing viewpoint:
Just 7 states don’t have consent/notification laws: Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, California, Vermont, Washington – plus Washington, D.C. Most states require one of two types of parental involvement– consent or notification, or both. 22 states require one or both parents to consent to the procedure, 11 require one or both parents be notified and 2 require both consent and notification before an elective abortion. Representing this as some governmental claim of jurisdiction doesn’t make sense because, to the contrary, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the right of state legislatures to require parental involvement.
What Just Happened?
According to the writer of the first statement, the source was the Guttmacher Institute, which was named in memory of Dr. Alan Guttmacher, past president of Planned Parenthood. The slight of hand here is an interesting variant of the appeal to authority – citing a source generally regarded as liberal to make a purportedly conservative argument.
However, reading the report, it becomes clear that the source was obviously appropriated out of context by some partisan writer to convey the impression that parental involvement is the exception rather than the rule. Partisan ideological sources misinform. The actual report starts out as follows:
A majority of states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. Most of these states require the consent or notification of only one parent, usually 24 or 48 hours before the procedure, but a handful of states require the involvement of both parents… HIGHLIGHTS:
- 38 states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion.
- 21 states require parental consent only, 3 of which require both parents to consent.
- 12 states require parental notification only, 1 of which requires that both parents be notified.
- 5 states require both parental consent and notification.
- 8 states require the parental consent documentation to be notarized.
News Vs. Slant
Given that a free society needs to accommodate a broad spectrum of differing opinions and beliefs on any number of subjects, one has to learn to both expect and allow for differing viewpoints. The 4th estate was therefore considered to be an integral part of the democratic process. Yet, today it has been corrupted to the point that instead of facts, people are fed manipulative propaganda and infotainment that dumbs down public awareness.
Beyond Partisan Frameworks
Regarding slant, the liberal/conservative framework doesn’t mean much to me; I am particuarly suspicious of partisan talking points of any kind, as they tend to hinge on circular logic, and become inconsistent and self-contradictory. For instance, the conservative/libertarian talking point that government shouldn’t be too intrusive doesn’t square with cries like the above for more restrictive abortion laws. Ideological rigidity is just too complicated for me. Life is complicated enough without having to buy into predefined political memes and feel angry and upset all the time just because somebody out there happens to disagree with me.
So given that people are going to disagree, we ought to all be provided accurate rather than distorted data to enable them to make informed judgments and engage in constructive, rather than divisive dialogue. Sadly, this is not the case.