My first question when it comes to controversy is, “Who paid for it?” This question and the answer are at the center of my anger about an advertisement set to appear on the Super Bowl, starring Florida Gator football legend Tim Tebow and his mother. Notice I’m not calling the ad anti-abortion or anti-choice. On the surface, the ad actually sounds like a celebration of life; I can get behind that. No, the happy shiny message tarnishes the instant I get the answer to who paid for it: Focus on the Family.
Focus on the Family uses that kind of Bush administration, Karl Rovian evil genius language we were numbed by for so many years. You remember, stuff like the Clean Air Act that actually relaxed pollution controls or the Patriot Act that actually took away more freedoms than it preserved. Focus on the Family would have you believe they exist to strengthen our nation’s families, to promote love and community. Annnngh (buzzer sound), thank you for playing. Focus on the Family only wants to support families consisting of one man and one woman (preferably at home & pregnant) with children, all of whom Bible thump in an exclusive way. Their definition of love is narrow and dangerous. Now if they just stopped at supporting their kind of family, I would be less vocal in my opposition to them. No, this organization-this cyclops of love-engages in buckets of hatred.
For a look at this in action, I encourage you to rent the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So. You’ll see how a focus on their kind of family actively rips apart actual living breathing families with gay children. You’ll see their brand of love in action. The word ‘brand’ reminds me–this ad is going to be played on the Super Bowl on CBS–a branding bonanza. Times must be tough for CBS to interrupt the ad beer pong long enough for a public service message. Free speech advocates get their panties in a bunch (mine included) when you suggest that this might not be the appropriate venue. Again, I’m not even calling this an anti-abortion ad, but I am calling the organization who paid for it some choice names. I also have to raise an eyebrow at CBS who conveniently changed their “no advocacy commercials during the Super Bowl” rule AFTER this commercial came their way. They just want to make a buck you say? Well, due to the timing of their decision, they made sure it would be next to impossible for a counter organization to raise the funds to pay for a response. In other words, they could’ve made even more money, but for some reason (read: politics), they chose not to rake in any extra cash.
The NPR story I linked to in the first paragraph drives home the fact that most people do not want to watch any kind of advocacy messages during the big game. It is the one time of year when people actually enjoy watching commercials, when the ad agencies put forth their most creative work in the hopes of selling more cheese powdered, carbonated goodness. Clearly, Focus on the Family wants to take advantage of the broad audience and of their great pawn, Tim Tebow. Many of you know I’m a vocal Florida Gator football fan; my parents met and married at the university. Even non-fans are aware of Tebow’s missionary zeal, a characteristic well covered in the press.
Until this incident, I supported his unusually mature and seemingly loving devotion off the field. Of course, I supported his unprecedented performance in the shot gun at the Swamp, too. How sad for me personally then that the man they dubbed Superman, #15, has aligned himself with one of the most wicked organizations on the planet. I’m glad Tebow’s mom gave birth to him, as is the rest of Gator Nation no doubt. I just wish I could be ignorant of this unfortunate detail. In a sort of reverse Tiger Woods, I long for my sports heroes to keep it on the field.