3.23.2007

Alison on the News

Alison is still away on her trip to a conference, and is probably unable to blog. Besides, due to her well-developed sense of decorum, she's not really able to talk about what needs talkin' about, viz her appearance on the news the other night. That's where I--with no sense of decorum--can step in....there's so many things, though, i don't know where to start...

First things first: That sure was brave of her! Alison has gotten to see first hand what a nasty bunch the protestors can be when she's acted as an escort for the abortion clinic here in Charleston. And then we've also gotten to see the (unpublished) comments here on the blog
promising special-places-in-hell, we-know-where-you-lives and other oldies but goodies. She knew this stuff, but she did it anyway. Way to go Alison!

Lemme tell you what's really great about what she did: Although it wasn't mentioned in the story, ABC contacted Alison as "the expert." They wanted her opinion on the ultrasound legislation as a member of the establishment. In between their call to her and the actual interview, however, she called me and said "i think i'm going to talk about my own abortion on television."

So not only was she not acting "the expert," but it was Alison herself who suggested the change in focus for the interview. (Unfortunately, at that point, the story for some reason became "a random woman and her abortion" and not "college professor talks about new legislation and her own abortion." I don't know why--maybe it has something to do with what i mention below--but they only threw the "women' studies professor" part in there like an afterthought.)

Anyway, let's break down this bravery:

1: talked about her own abortion on television when she's learned, firsthand, the opposition often behaves like irrational fools.
2: voluntarily changed the course of the interview.
3: talked about something deeply personal on television.
4: did not take the perfectly acceptable course of "being the expert."

___________________________

Now, as for my two cents, I want to parse the bravery contained in #4:

There is, what i consider, an easily critiqued rift between the college professor and the average american. (Or, as the vast, right-wing conspiracy has been able to so effectively spin it: a rift between the "academic elitists" and Godly, Loving, Human Beings Like You.

This artificial rift between education and true Americanism has come in handy for folks that want to curtail any meaningful dialogue when it interferes with their agenda. It has been used, for example, to downplay suspicions of an unjust war, deny ecological dangers, and encourage feelings of hatred around issues like the one which alison was speaking.

While this rift has been handy at keeping people who don't usually ask questions from waking up and asking questions, it has, of most importance here, been very effective at encouraging the educated and the question-askers to actually play that role of elitist.

And the rift likes it this way.

It isn't popular for the educated to get their hands dirty these days. Currently, academics like to leave the work in the trenches for Hollywood and people like Al Gore and Michael Moore. It's too difficult and dangerous to make an actual stand.

Alison, however, did not play that game. In a rare, but true, mix of academia and social responsibility, she put her own personal experience and beliefs out there for people to see.
I hope i act as courageous if i'm ever put in a similar situation.

6 comments:

Deborah Siegel said...

Alison: You are my HERO! Kudos, and I agree with Biffle about your bravery. Do you yet know about SheSource, btw? A database of women experts - I want to tell them about you. Will tell you more... xoDeborah

Catherine said...

Nice tribute to A, Walter. Enjoyed reading it and I agree with your disscetion of point #4.

Much love,
C

Alison said...

Wow, baby--that's really cool. Thank you so much! This is incredibly moving.

And for everyone reading this who's not Biffle, I'm still in Chattanooga and haven't seen Biffle yet. I talked to him this morning, and he said, "Read the blog," but wouldn't tell me what it said.

Miss Meghann said...

Alison is never unable to blog.

In addition to the raucous round of applause Charleston SEWSA-ers offered AP upon viewing the news piece (La Quinta, Spanish for "woo-hoo Piepmeier") I just want to say CONGRATULATIONS, AGAIN! This is seriously such an[other] awesome service you are providing Charleston/South Carolina with :)

joan said...

What a lovely entry and yes, she was brave. Thanks - to both of you.

b said...

Nicely said, Walter - what a great way to show your support for your wife. :)

May we all find the courage and bravery to walk the walk we claim to.

- b