Thursday, January 22, 2009

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, anti-choice group targets...Krispy Kreme?

What is more American than a big, beautiful, toasty, tasty Krispy Kreme doughnut? Not much I can think of. However, that’s probably because all that I can think about now is getting a doughnut. The chain store is one of many that sought to show its patriotism on Inauguration Day by offering one free doughnut to each customer. Another All American doughnut franchise, Dunkin’ Donuts, chose to celebrate the day as well, featuring a limited time only, red white and blue frosted “Stars and Stripes” doughnut. What a great day to be an American, right?

So why is Krispy Kreme now facing a litany of protests for their generous offer? Who are these protesters? I mean who has a problem with FREE doughnuts? That is just crazy to me. Well, apparently, the American Choice League does. Their problem is not the doughnuts themselves, but rather, Krispy Kreme’s promotional ad for the event. Here is the catalyst of their objection:

“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.”

The American Choice League’s problem with the ad has nothing to do with the idea of pride or freedom, but the word “choice.” Apparently, in their minds, “choice” is now synonymous with access to abortion. There goes most franchises featuring “your choice of…” on their menus and in their campaigns.

“Choice” doesn’t have four letters, but at this rate it is well on its way to being known as the “Ch-word”. This is the problem with fanatics of any kind. They take seemingly harmless situations and contort them into something they can build a platform on. In doing so, they strive to ruin simple things like words. Words that the Constitution guaranteed to be used by all. I understand not wanting to offend others, but I like to think Choice is a great word. Our country is run on choice. The choice to decide what to eat in the morning, what to do for a living, where to live, and to make one’s own decisions and ideas. Maybe Krispy Kreme was celebrating the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade a couple of days early, or maybe they were celebrating the fact that we freely elected another president, or maybe they were just celebrating the ability to eat the doughnut of your choice for free. We just don’t know what they were trying to convey. It is an individual’s decision to decide how they perceive such a vague statement. It is their prerogative if the far-right chooses to see this as an abortion issue, but it does not make it true.

Despite the groundless nature of their claims, members of the American Choice League are allowed to exercise their constitutional right to choose not to purchase from the franchise. They should, however, realize that the constitution grants Krispy Kreme the right to free speech and may say what they wish. The franchise has issued a statement on their website announcing, “The Inauguration Day promotion was not about any social or political issue.” While this may abate some, the real fanatics will probably still complain. They will do what they do best; contorting words, issues, and situations, to better support their cause. It is the strategy of a weakly established institution, and one that only exacerbates social animosity. I am sorry they choose to do so.

While we can make fun of incidents such as this one, it is a sobering reminder of just how far we still have to go since the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade 36 years ago today. Before abortion was made legal many women died as a result of botched back-alley operations. The founder of the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project, Linn Duvall Harwell, was the daughter of one such woman. Clara Bell Duvall, a married woman and mother of five, lost her life because she was unable to obtain a safe surgery and had to resort to an unsafe, self-induced abortion. Had the laws been different Linn could have enjoyed growing up with her mother by her side, but instead she lived most of her life motherless. It is a tragic story but a good reminder as to how important Roe v. Wade is to women’s rights. On the anniversary of such an important judicial ruling we should celebrate but also remember to remain vigilant in the face of continued opposition to women’s reproductive rights.

Cassidy in Philadelphia

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