Pregnancy Resource Services, a crisis pregnancy clinic in Bremerton, WA, held a banquet this past week which featured nationally known, pro-life speaker, Scott Klusendorf of the Life Training Institute. Scott gave a fantastic talk on how pro-lifers can make a clear and convincing case for life. You can watch similar talks on YouTube.
Afterward, ACP Directors, Tom Herring and Andrew St.Hilaire got to meet Scott and tell him a bit about the ACP.
|ACP Directors, Tom Herring (Left) and Andrew St.Hilaire (Right) with Scott Klusendorf|
What Scott Klusendorf has to say about the use of graphic images in the fight against abortion:
When it comes to moral persuasion, many times images of death work better than images of life.
To cite a parallel example, the modern environmental movement got its start with graphic pictures in the late 1960’s. As activist Jerry Mander points out in his book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, initial attempts to mobilize public support for preservation of the giant redwoods produced a giant public yawn. Breathtaking photographs of majestic trees, though inspiring, did little to incite public anger at the timber industry. So, activists took a lesson from the Vietnam War. Instead of showing pictures of pre-cut trees in all their glory, environmentalists began circulating before and after photos. ‘We started carrying around photos of acres of stumps where hundreds of redwoods had been cut down. I don’t know if you have ever seen a field of tree stumps, but it is a horrific sight, not unlike a battlefield.’
The public outcry was immediate. ‘At that moment,’ Mander concludes, ‘I realized that death is a much better subject for television than life. Images of life—whether of trees themselves or the finely-tuned Vietnamese culture—accomplished nothing. They only put people to sleep.’
The same can be said of abortion. The use of graphic pictures is not manipulative, but consistent with other mainstream campaigns of social reform. Shocking pictures have traditionally been used by social reformers to dramatize the injustices of child labor, racial violence against African-Americans, U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, etc. What has changed is that for the first time in recent history, political conservatives are using this tactic in an effort to reform an abortion-tolerating public.
This tactic is appropriate, given we live in a culture that thinks and learns visually. As Neil Postman points out in Amusing Ourselves to Death, with the advent of television, America shifted from a word-based culture—with an emphasis on coherent linear thought—to an image-based one where thinking is dominated by feeling, intuition, and images.
Postman’s point (and mine) is that visual learners have short attention spans. They make decisions based on intuition, feeling, and images. That doesn’t rule out the presentation of facts and arguments, but it does change how they are communicated. It means we must change how people feel as a predicate to changing how they think. Disturbing images change feelings in ways that words cannot.
Thank you PRS and Scott for the great work you are doing on behalf of women in crisis pregnancy and their unborn children!