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Prof. Jeff McCall '76 Sees "Irony" in Controversy Over Super Bowl Ad

February 7, 2010

DSC_5799.JPGFebruary 7, 2010, Greencastle, Ind. — "Although most Americans profess strong belief in the notion of free speech, the First Amendment gets messy in application," writes Jeffrey M. McCall, professor of communication at DePauw University, in today's Indianapolis Star. Dr. McCall's "First Thoughts" column offers the professor's take on complaints being made about an advertisement which is scheduled to air during tonight's Super Bowl telecast.

"The controversy surrounding CBS' decision to air a commercial during the Super Bowl featuring football star Tim Tebow once again confirms that there are no absolutists when it comes to free speech," opines McCall. "The commercial, sponsored by the religious organization Focus on the Family, will feature Tebow and his mom, Pam. Although the commercial has not been publicly displayed, reports indicate the commercial will have Mrs. Tebow discussing her decision to carry her pregnancy to term, even after doctors warned that medicine she had taken might cause birth defects to her unborn child. That child turned out to be record-setting quarterback Tim."

The network's decision to accept the ad has come under fire, notes McCall. "Whatever one's position on abortion, it is hard to miss the irony that pro-choice groups want to stifle the right of CBS to choose to sell commercial time as it likes. The Women's Media Center has criticized CBS for throwing women 'under the bus' by airing the Tebow message. Interestingly, the center had little to say when CBS aired other programming that should concern women, such as fashion shows featuring women's underwear, sitcoms featuring strip clubs, and so on."

Professor McCall, author of the book Viewer Discretion Advised: McCall Book Viewer Discretion.jpgTaking Control of Mass Media Influences, concludes, "Just about all people would like to see some messages squelched. Luckily for our democracy, the First Amendment allows for communication problems to be addressed with more communication. The Women's Media Center has used this controversy to get its message out. That's how free speech works. Too bad their message was to try to stifle others."

You'll find the column, "When free speech gets messy," at College News.org.

A 1976 graduate of DePauw, Jeff McCall is regularly quoted by some of the nation's largest media outlets.  On January 16, he offered analysis to the Los Angeles Times on NBC's Jay Leno/Conan O'Brien dilemma. Three days before, stories by both the Christian Science Monitor and Medill News Service cited the DePauw professor. McCall has also recently been in reports by Advertising Age, USA Today, ABC News, Canada's National Post and the Dallas Morning News.

Read more about the professor in this recent article.

Source: Indianapolis Star

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