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The Other Super Bowl: Speech vs. Speech

Louise Melling,
Deputy Legal Director and Director of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Center for Liberty,
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February 5, 2010

By now, you’ve caught wind of the fact that, during this weekend’s Super Bowl, CBS plans to air an ad featuring University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother talking about the circumstances of Tim’s birth. Focus on the Family has sponsored the ad, and the underlying message is reported to be anti-abortion (no one has actually seen the ad).

Pundits and advocates of many stripes have been weighing in. Some criticize CBS for its last minute game change — in prior years CBS’s policy was supposedly not to air “issue ads” during the big game; that’s apparently why, in 2004, they rejected a United Church of Christ ad promoting its open-door policy for gays and lesbians. Others give CBS credit for opening up the airways (if you have a few million dollars, that is) and making room for something other than over-produced beer and car commercials. How open this policy is, however, is up for discussion: the press also reports that while CBS accepted the Focus on the Family ad, it closed the door on a gay dating service spot.

Our colleagues at Planned Parenthood have taken a different approach. They decided to go head to head with Focus on the Family and put out their own issue ad featuring two athletes — Sean James and Al Joyner — celebrating sports and family. They speak respectfully of Mrs. Tebow and the decisions she’s made for her family, and they honor the women in their lives who have taught them that “women can make the best decisions about their health and their future.”

planned parenthood super bowl ad

Now, that’s meeting speech with some powerful speech. Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood’s ad won’t be broadcast during the Super Bowl, but with a little help, as many people could watch it as will watch Focus on the Family’s. Share the link with your loved one’s and Go Saints! Go Colts! Go Women!

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