On Oct. 25, an unknown group passed out DVDs on campus entitled 180 labeled with nothing more than “Award-Winning Documentary.” Some students who received the video were told it was a historical documentary.
To the surprise of many viewers, the video, which began its first half in discussion about the Holocaust, turned quickly and unexpectedly to the subject of abortion.
It is the clearly intentional misleading of viewers, and particularly students of UC Davis, that we find deplorable.
Many organizations come to campus every week to share their views with willing listeners. Bibles are often passed out around campus to those wishing to take one. In these situations students are aware of the product or idea being sold and are able to make the conscious decision to be exposed to the material or not.
The people who created and distributed 180, however, did so with the purpose of confronting an audience who may or may not be aware of the film’s anti-abortion message. Thus, viewers who spent the first 15 minutes hearing about the Holocaust may have been caught completely off-guard by the film’s rapid shift to abortion.
The extremity of the comparison, combined with the exceedingly graphic nature of the film’s images and content, could be psychologically injurious to an unprepared viewer. Though a hidden agenda is a lamentable, and unfortunately a common, aspect of propaganda, it is particularly reprehensible in subjects of such a personal nature.
Given that its label as “award-winning” came from an organization that passes out thousands of awards a year and requires winners to pay for their own statue, 180 is an example of the misuse of language and information to achieve an end.
Knowing the power of language, as all college students should, we believe that positions one argues for and is convinced by should be made using direct language and persuasive evidence –– not misleading rhetorical tactics.