American Life League's press release of this past Thursday started a chain of events that is both heartwarming and instructive. And, if I may say, it was also an eye-opener for me, as never before in my 37 years of pro-life activity have I been described in so many unflattering ways. Practically every epithet, from “wing nut,” to “nut case,” was used, including a few I cannot repeat. It seems some people just didn’t appreciate the fact that we take our work seriously, especially when it comes to helping others see the power of words.
It should be clear by now that American Life League did not attack Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation; we simply pointed out that we were hoping that Krispy Kreme made an honest public relations gaffe. And as it turns out, that was indeed the case.
After communicating with Krispy Kreme staffers and explaining why we were so concerned about their poor choice of words, the company’s public statement went from this:
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies — just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet "free" can be.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts' Inauguration Day promotion on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, is offering one, free doughnut of a customer’s choice at participating Krispy Kreme locations nationwide. No purchase is necessary. The promotion allows customers to commemorate Inauguration Day by selecting one free doughnut of any variety at local participating stores. On Election Day, November 4, 2008, Krispy Kreme ran a promotion that provided customers with one free star-shaped doughnut at stores nationwide. The Inauguration Day promotion is not about any social or political issue.
We understand that Krispy Kreme is not nor has it ever been aligned with either side of the hotly debated "abortion issue," but that does not excuse it from inadvertently using a phrase that suggested to us that it was, in fact, very much in support of abortion rights in America.
During the course of our communications with the company, I pointed out to them,
The use of the phrase “freedom of choice” is unmistakably a pro-abortion phrase to pro-life Americans. It is a phrase used over and over again by those who favor abortion. Therefore, if your company truly did not intend for that phrase to be an endorsement of a pro-abortion agenda, it is only right that you say so publicly and apologize to pro-life Americans, who are among your customer base, for making a terrible public relations error.
While Krispy Kreme did not formally apologize to anyone, it is equally clear that the company took our request quite seriously and did in fact rewrite its statement. For that, each and every one of us should be most grateful.
But for those who do not understand why we took the company to task in the first place over this misuse of words, let me take a moment to explain the thought process that went into our decision to bring this to Krispy Kreme's attention in the first place.
First and most important, there is no doubt if one does a web search for the term freedom of choice, one finds that the phrase has become inextricably linked to the pro-abortion movement. It is one of those terms that has been co-opted by activists who argue repeatedly that nobody is “pro-abortion,” but everyone is in favor of “freedom of choice."
Part of the rhetorical arguments frequently used by those who foster the idea that everybody is in favor of their definition of "choice" is based on the proposition that abortion should be a "choice" that is no different than choosing the right color to wear. Or, as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice puts it,
We must move beyond the bitter abortion debate to ensure that every child is wanted; that every pregnant woman has quality, affordable health care; that all parents—male and female—understand their responsibilities and have the support they need; that children are educated about sexuality so they can make responsible choices; and that freedom of choice—basic to our way of life—is preserved.
Clearly, the simple word "choice" has been clandestinely high jacked in recent years; the word that once meant the ability every single human being has to make decisions has now morphed into a word that can also represent the alleged right of a mother to take her preborn baby's life. After all, they say, it is her "choice."
This is why all of us at American Life League are so conscious of the dubious ways in which the word and its attendant phrases are used. As one astute pro-life writer put it,
God gave man the gift of freedom. The freedom to choose what is right and wrong. However, when one's freedom of choice is exercised erroneously, it may result in regret, disappointment and failure. Choosing abortion presents countless dangers to women.
And we might add, is deadly to children. Nobody at American Life League is ridiculous enough to argue that nobody should have the ability to make choices; that would be silly. But what we are concerned about and will continue to monitor is the misuse of terms that can and do have something to do with the political activity of our nation’s pro-abortion movement. We felt that in Krispy Kreme's case, it was a simple oversight, a public relations nightmare, if you will, and so we communicated our concerns.
One of our supporters e-mailed American Life League’s communications director, Katie Walker, to ask why we took on Krispy Kreme. Katie explained American Life League's statement beautifully when she wrote,
We acted on Krispy Kreme's promotion and release for two reasons:
1) Out of concern that use of the phrase by a national company of Krispy Kreme's celebrity and popularity would contribute to social acceptance of a "freedom of choice" – thus making the work of those pushing the pro-abortion agenda and the "Freedom of Choice” Act in particular that much easier.
2) To showcase the importance of language in the cultural battle we are both fighting and to highlight the undeniable connection between the current meaning of “freedom of choice” and the culture of death. The diligent work of pro-aborts over the years has made abortion palatable precisely because they have been able to frame their case in terms like “freedom of choice.” We must not contribute to the pro-abortion PR campaign by advancing their talking points. It is high time to remind everyone that “freedom of choice” is nothing more than a benign, even noble, sounding name for genocide.
As we said in the original release, we hope Krispy Kreme just made an unfortunate choice of words.
Fortunately, for all of us who love those hot, sugary, glazed Krispy Kreme donuts that are particularly yummy when they are warm, we can eat them with a renewed sense of confidence in the wisdom of at least some corporate executives who will not intentionally take an action that overtly or otherwise advances the culture of death!