Friday, March 13, 2009

UK Life League jumps on gore bandwagon

Comment: not for the first time, the fringe pro-life organisation UK Life League has attempted to associate itself with the half-witted stunts of the campaigner Ted Atkinson, despite the fact that Atkinson has nothing to do with their organisation.

They are not deterred by the fact that Atkinson's latest exploit is so idiotic as to be completely incomprehensible. Not content with bringing the pro-life movement into disrepute by sending gory pictures of dead babies to hospital staff, he is now sending them to a bed manufacturer. The man has lost his marbles.

The UK Life League however wants a share of his publicity, and who are we to gainsay them? Yes, we can all acknowledge the the UK Life League, which periodically attempts to garner donations from Catholics through full-page adverts in the Catholic press, sometimes under the name 'Pro-Life Care',* though it is in no sense a Catholic organisation, are just as mad as Atkinson, and just as dangerous to the pro-life cause. Their perpetually half-finished website (to which we will NOT link) is decorated by the same images of dead babies that Atkinson so likes.

Why do the UKLL think that pictures of dead babies will help the pro-life cause? Gory pictures of animals in labs have done nothing to convert the country to the anti-vivisection cause; horrible pictures of starving Africans have done nothing to make people consistent donors to development charities; gut-wrenching pictures of warfare have failed to make us all pacificists. These picutures all pack the same emotional punch, but ultimately they DON'T WORK. Instead, they put people off both the cause and the people who promote it.

As Joanna Jepson wrote, 'abortion is wrong not because of what it looks like, but because of what it does.'

From Life Site News (via CFNews): Pro-life campaigner Edward (Ted) Atkinson was sentenced to jail for 12 weeks last Wednesday after he sent graphic images of aborted and disfigured babies to a bed company in Wales, Lynn News has reported.

This is not the first time that Atkinson has been criminally charged for sending such materials through the mail. On 4th May 2006 he was convicted at Swaffham Magistrates Court, Norfolk under the 'Malicious Communications Act' for sending pro-life material through the post to Mrs. Ruth May, Chief Executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn.

Atkinson was also handed an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) that forbade him from ever again sending out graphic pro-life materials.

On 12th December 2007, he was again arrested for the crime of sending pro-life material through the post. This time, he was charged with both breaching his ASBO and violating the Malicious Communications Act.

Judges in Lynn Magistrates' Court heard that Mr. Atkinson had sent pictures of aborted children, with a sticker containing the words 'abortion is murder' and a warning message which stated 'graphic material for mature adults,' to the Adjustomatic bed company along with some other paperwork. It is unclear why Atkinson chose to send the materials to that particular company.

The court was told that the disturbing images left a manager and secretary with 'severe anxiety and distress.'

Mr. Atkinson admitted that by sending the material to the company he was in breach of the ASBO. However, he told investigating police that he believed the ASBO had no binding force, since no-one can be prohibited from exposing mass murder.

Michael Phillips, the lawyer representing Atkinson, told Lynn News, 'Legally he is guilty of this offence but he does not feel morally guilty.'

The UK pro-life action group LifeLeague praised Mr. Atkinson's actions in standing up for the lives of the unborn.

'We are honoured to stand with Ted in this his latest crusade for the unborn child. He is one of our finest heroes in the fight to end abortion. His fearless dedication should serve as an inspiration to us all,' a LifeLeague spokesman said in statement. [LSN]

*Here's a funny thing. In the Catholic Herald (6/4/04), on page 2 ('A Note about our Advertisements') editor Luke Coppen 'commended' to his readers 'the advert on page seven UK Life League'. Why he should do such a thing is a mystery; was it just because full page adverts are expensive? Well, readers who turned to page 7 saw not an advert for the UKLL at all, but one for Pro-Life Care. An embarassing slip by Coppen not realising that the UKLL wanted to milk his readers for money they might hesistate to give to them if they knew who they really were.


Don McGovern said...

This has to be one of the daftest arguments that I have every read. And its sad to read it on an otherwise superb blog.

The Church has taught the faith for 2000 years using visual images. Pulitzer picture of Kim Phuc fleeing naked from Napalm in Trang Bang, South Vietnam 1972 put the last nail in the coffin of American support for the Vietnam war. One could give a dozen examples of the visual image changing the course of history.


Hercules said...

Graham, try thinking of a SINGLE example of the Church using shock images to persuade non-believers of ANYTHING.

If you succeed, let us know!

Don McGovern said...

How about a crucifix?


Hercules said...

Directed to unbelievers?

Do missionaries to the pagans say: look at what your sins have done to Our Lord? Of course not.

Don McGovern said...

You are splitting really hairs now my friend.

I can assure you that many of us where deeply moved my the the horrific pictures to come out of Nazi concentration camps after WW2.

However, I am content to leave you to your strangly gnostic like disinbodied spiritual existance. You are clearly on a higher plane than the rest of us mere mortals who sometime need messy things that we can see and indeed grasp.


Hercules said...

Splitting hairs?? Tearing them out might be more accurate.

These guys are doing damage to the pro-life cause. The Church has never done anything like this. And in any case it doesn't work - it's counter productive. Images, yes: images of babies in the womb have a powerful effect, they are great. Images of dead and mutilated ones get across the message that we are aggressive and have no arguments. They play right up to the stereotype.

Don McGovern said...

I believe that there are legitimate differences of opinion and approaches within the pro-life movement, but that when people go out of their way to set out to sow divisions as you are doing, then you are dancing to the Devil's drum beat.

I can only add that I have used such images when talking to 6th formers on scores of occasions and the response has been overwhelmingly positive - especially from young women. I would have thought that showing a picture of an aborted child would underline the aggression of the abortionist, not of the person displaying the picture - leastways it would for anyone moderately intelligent.

There have been numerous saints who have used the crucifix in their missionary activities, and a crucifix is an aggressive image of a mutilated body.

On the basis of your argument, Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ would have to be condemned as a disgusting anti-Catholic work. After all, we all know that killing God is wrong; we don't need pictures of it. Showing such pictures surely suggest that we do not have any arguments to support out belief that killing God was wrong.

In any case, why do you feel that the UK Life League should be restricted to what Catholic approve or don't approve?


Hercules said...

On the last point UKLL can do what it like and I can criticise them as a I like.

Your examples are all of images directed to believers. Gibson's film famously horrified non-believers: have you forgotten already?

The differences of tactics between pro-lifers need to be aired and thrashed out if the movement is not to remained fractured and ineffective.

pennance said...

"Why do the UKLL think that pictures of dead babies will help the pro-life cause?"

Perhaps because organizations such as the
Center for Bioethical Reform,
Vida Humana International,
Priests for Life,
Human Life International
have all used them successfully for many years and in many countries. The relative weakness of the pro-life movement in the UK may well be due to its lukewarmness in this respect.

Hercules said...

Oh yes great! And haven't they done well. After all they've abolished abortion in their countries, haven't they? Er, no. On the contrary, in the US they've just elected the most anti-life President in history.

Do we want to bring the poisoned and polarised debate over here? No thanks!

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen