Light on the Sacred, Heavy on the Profane
Monday, March 14, 2005

Selective Quoting

What follows is my interview with Peggy Hamill, state director of Wisconsin Pro-Life in regards to her being selectively quoted by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel But first, the background…

This morning Instapundit wrote this bit about this article about a pro-life group protesting an ad for emergency contraception:
You'd think that anti-abortion folks would approve, unless they just don't like the idea of people having sex, which certainly seems to be the issue in the article.

Then he publishes Clayton Cramer’s email criticism:
Is that it isn't a contraceptive. It works by preventing implantation AFTER conception. If you believe that life begins at conception (a position that even the Catholic Church didn't take until pretty recently--the medieval Church believed that life began 40 days afterwards), then opposing the morning after pill is completely consistent.

To which the good professor replies:
That's true, but there's nothing along those lines in the article. Instead there's stuff like this: ""an insult to women. It trivializes the marriage act to begin with, and I think it's insulting to the self-esteem and dignity of women."

Now it seems clear to me that the reporter left out the substance of Ms. Fleming’s argument, that is, the abortifacient nature of the emergency “contraception” pill, in favor of using the most unreasonable sounding quotes she could use. So I emailed Instapundit and told him thusly:

I'm shocked!, shocked! that a newspaper would selectively quote someone from a pro-life group and possibly leave out the rational argument in their statement.

I'm guessing you've been interviewed by the MSM and the reporter and/or editor left out the substance of your remarks.

Why would you assume that what's in the article is all that was said?

After which he posted this update: :
Could they have left out the part where she says "it's abortion!" and kept the rest? Maybe, but even for Big Media that seems rather extreme.

Well, apparently the big media is extreme. I called Pro-Life Wisconsin and asked to speak with Ms. Hamill. She confirmed the accuracy of the quotes and also confirmed my theory that she had told the reporter that the emergency “contraception” pill is not contraception but an abortifacient. The reporter just didn’t feel inclined to use them. Why not? It is, after all, the substance of the argument. Ms. Hamill also told me that the reporter repeatedly tried to corner her into saying that Pro-Life Wisconsin would also object to an ad exhorting students to take condoms with them on Spring Break. She declined to do so, stating that one could not equate a prescription drug with a condom.

Now, make no mistake. Professor Reynolds is absolutely right that Pro-Life Wisconsin frowns on the “marriage act,” as Ms. Hamill put it, taking place outside of marriage. Perhaps they are the anti-sex zealots that he would like them to portray them as. But my point is that the reporter who interviewed Ms. Hamill, or the editor who checked the article, removed the substance of her argument. By his own admission, this is “extreme.” I would think he would know by now that the MSM is nothing if not extreme.