Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Lila Rose?

Lila Rose and her Live Action undercover investigative videos of Planned Parenthood have created a firestorm of media coverage lately.

In the videos a man and a woman pretend to be a pimp and prostitute running an underage sex trafficking ring. Planned Parenthood does the predictable thing: aids and abets the pimp under the mistaken guise of "helping" the women get "needed" services.

The result has been a huge backlash against PP with several calls to defund them (about time!) from the millions they receive in public dollars.  Here's the problem: As much as I want it to, I don't think it will stick.

Here's why in a nutshell -- it's all based on a lie. Not the kind of lie that is against the law, but the kind of lie that our enemies tell. It's the "ends justifies the means" tactic that is the hallmark of the Father of Lies. They can and do tell those types of falsehoods all day, every day. Theirs is the tactic that says "if you just repeat the lie long enough and loud enough, people will believe you". It's the necessary lie.

But that tactic can't and won't work for us. We can't overlook it for the "greater good". One may not do evil so that good may result from it. Doesn't work. Ours is definitely the harder path; ours is the way of love and truth. It's so much harder to do things the right way that sometimes it is tempting to borrow a page from the forces that oppress us. That's why God fights for us: because we can't do it on our own. To attempt it on our own is an act of pride and hubris. Note that I am not ascribing any such motives to Lila Rose or Live Action -- the motive was good, but the motive was flawed.

The excellent site Public Discourse: Ethics, Law, and the Common Good has an article by Christopher O. Tollefsen that puts it succinctly:
Yet for all the good that may come of these videos, the way in which Live Action has made its mark is itself extremely troubling, for it is predicated on a form of falsity, which is exercised in an unloving way. Promising and welcome as the effects of these videos might be, they represent a real and dangerous corruption of the pro-life movement itself by endangering the pro-life movement’s commitment to its ideals of love and truth.

It is tempting to refer to the “pimp” character in Live Action’s videos as an “actor.” But this is misleading. Actors perform for willing and aware audiences who realize they are watching a fiction. The “pimp,” rather, lied, repeatedly and pervasively, in his conversation with the Planned Parenthood worker: he presented himself as other than he truly was, and his purpose in doing so was clearly to deceive.

In so presenting himself, the “pimp,” and all those who abetted him, did damage to his own integrity, creating for himself an appearance in the world deliberately at odds with his inner self. But integrity—a unity of one’s acting self in all its aspects—is a great good, and we destroy that unity in a lie only at a great cost to our wellbeing[.]
So we have the task of constantly evaluating ourselves and examining our motives in this fight against the scourge of abortion. But we have to fight clean, and we have to trust God to deliver us from evil because He is Truth and Love itself -- and Love conquers all.


LarryD said...

I'm in your camp on this one. The more I think about the tactics, the less proud I am of the group's actions. As I've read elsewhere, and concur - LiveAction is not a sanctioned body authorized to perform undercover work.

It comes down to this: we are not permitted to do evil in order to bring about a greater good. It's the same principle that applies to ESCR. As much as I abhor the things going on at Planned Parenthood, and as much as the deck seems to be stacked against the pro-life movement when it comes to gov't, the media and the like - we can't resort to tactics that are written in the enemy's playbook.

aka the Mom said...

I'm with you. The deceptions make me uneasy. Can you use deception to achieve a greater good?

I don't know the answer to that. In the Bible, Judith asked God to bless her deception in order to save her people...and God did. So, maybe the answer is "sometimes." I just think it's tricky to assume the approval of God on such things.

LarryD said...

There's a good discussion going at Mark Shea's column in the National Catholic Register (no, not the bad one! This is the good one!)

Nod said...

There's another good discussion on the merits at CatholicVote.org here: http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=13848

LarryD said...

I think what this goes to show is that walking the narrow path ain't easy - which is why I'm inclined to believe that LiveAction's methods are deceptive and, while quite possibly very effective, are still immoral.


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