Monday, January 25, 2016

Turnabout: Grand Jury Indicts Video Hoaxers

This is pretty amazing news. A grand jury was looking into the allegations that Planned Parenthood does some nefarious thing like selling baby parts, based on the videos that were going around last year. And in the end, the jury indicted the people who made the videos.

The NYT:
HOUSTON — A county grand jury here that was investigating allegations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who made videos of the organization.

In a statement, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said Monday that the director of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, had been indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs.

Another center employee, Sandra Merritt, was indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record. 2 Abortion Foes Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Are Indicted
So these hoaxers thought they were going to bring down Planned Parenthood by posting a series of edited, faked videotapes. Conservative Congresspeople jumped on board, we even heard a Presidential candidate describing what she had seen -- well, she was lying, what she described wasn't even in the videos -- and various states as well as the federal government had hearings to find out just how diabolical these women's health clinics really are.

In all cases, Planned Parenthood was found not to have done anything wrong. Funding of Planned Parenthood remains a basic wedge issue for conservatives, driving their base into a lather. It's good for business but if you expect the government to enforce the law you will have to look somewhere else for your example.

Which seems weird, because as far as I know nearly every woman in America has gone to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life. It is one of the most good-guy organizations in the country, providing a service that is very much appreciated by millions and millions of people in this country, men and women. But you know, if women would stop having sex there would be no need for contraceptives or abortions, so Planned Parenthood is only enabling women to make this country a place that conservatives consider sinful.

Honestly, I don't see the logic. One third of American women have had an abortion. That includes lots of conservative women as well as whatever the stereotype is supposed to be, probably poor minority women of some type. This is a relatively new orthodoxy for the Christian Right, just a couple of decades ago they did not think it was a big deal -- it certainly does not come from the Bible, which defines life as beginning with the first breath. I'm not going to argue about it, but my sense is that this is a movement formed to keep women subservient. There is no scriptural tradition behind the anti-abortion movement, and in reality a woman, even a conservative, religious woman, who knows she needs an abortion is going to try to get one.

Farther down:
Mr. Daleiden has been praised as a hero by some religious opponents of abortion. On Thursday, Mr. Daleiden was a featured guest at an Evangelicals for Life conference and was interviewed by Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family.

Asked by Mr. Moore whether it was morally consistent to engage in lies and deception to obtain information, Mr. Daleiden said that undercover work is “fundamentally different from lying,” according to, because its underlying purpose “is actually to serve the truth.”
Oddly, "truth" is one of those terms, like "liberty," "morality," and "support the troops," that are picked up as slogans by conservatives and then used to mean just the opposite of what they mean to everybody else. Truth, to most of us, is some kind of statement that corresponds with reality. It may be a valid inference based on well-established facts or it may be a report of a phenomenon that the speaker has observed directly. In any case, "Planned Parenthood sells baby parts" is not true by ordinary standards. But that statement is consistent with a way of thinking, a belief system that some subscribe to, and this consistency allows them to attribute the quality of "truth" to it. It is like saying "Obama wants the terrorists to win," it does not correspond with any aspect of reality but it fits the preconceived schema and so is labeled truth and is repeated as such.

Not to go all elitist on you, but that isn't what truth is to a sane, rational person.

I have never heard of a grand jury turning around and indicting the accuser, but apparently their job was to untangle the facts and determine what was actually going on, and when you do that you find that these people with the videos were breaking the law on several levels, both felonies and misdemeanors.