Nope, Francine, I don't think so.

This is not an anti-abortion post. And this is not an anti-anti-Bush post. This is an anti-bullshit post. I hate to be manipulated. Don't lie to me and don't try to feed me bullshit. So because I just read something that did these things, I'm going to write something that might piss you off.

In the May edition of LJ, Francine Fialkoff has this editorial that begins with these words:

A stealth attack on U.S. freedoms—intellectual, academic, and personal—came to a halt in early April,...

I don't use POPLINE, and from what I can see, as an international database, I don't see how any changes could affect any American's freedoms, so yes, my bullshit meter went on alert. If she meant a "stealth attack" in that POPLINE is a database she'd never heard of before this story, then yeah, I'll agree with her.

And she finishes with:

"...until this administration and its abhorrent politics are long gone. It’s not about abortion, it’s about freedom."

You can applaud her if you want. And I certainly could because I'm no fan of the current President, but the level of bullshit from that line of overstatement about two completely unrelated events has my anger targeting Francine and not Dubya.

According to the POPLINE pages, this service began in 1973, the same year that Roe v. Wade made abortion legal (or reversed any laws against abortion). And a search on POPLINE returns over 25,000 articles with "abortion" as a keyword.

So the database that began with Nixon and has survived through Reagan and the first Bush AND even seven years into little Bush's administration, continues to collect and index and distribute lots of information on abortion.

The editorial explains:

Apparently, according to Dean Klag in an update April 8, POPLINE staff had been contacted in February by USAID officials, who pointed out two abortion advocacy articles. Under the Bush (and Reagan) administration, USAID guidelines are anti-abortion, and, said Klag, USAID has refused funds "for abortion activities or supplies." The POPLINE folks took it upon themselves, however, without even being asked to by USAID officials, to delete seven articles from the database and pull abortion as a search term. The articles were all from the Winter 2008 issue of A: The Abortion Magazine. (Klag’s statement cites the title as Abortion Magazine.) The block on the term abortion purportedly was put in place "while the database was examined for other information that might not have been consistent with USAID guidelines."

So there was no "stealth attack." This has been policy under two (or more) Republican administrations. What this tells me is that POPLINE has been omitting articles on abortion advocacy for years. In fact, it may have been leaving them out since day one. And I don't even know how you could tell if USAID under the Carter and Clinton administrations included everything unless you got some health or women's studies bibliographies from ten or twenty years ago and compared them to the database to see what might be missing.

Don't tell me that the current Bush just got around to noticing and sent word that he wanted the abortion searching blocked. And don't tell me that he decides national policy based on what letters he eats from a bowl of alphabet soup and he always leaves the vowels for last; because he scooped up "O" (oil) and "I" (Iraq, Iran) years ago. And even he knows that Afghanistan begins with "A," so don't tell me he's just getting around to wanting to do something about Abortion.

So how can you tie a decision made by a manager at Johns Hopkins who says, "Yes, we did make a change in POPLINE. We recently made all abortion terms stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now" with some plot by Bush to destroy freedom? And if he is trying to destroy freedom by withholding abortion information, he missed one:

Title: Global progress in abortion advocacy and policy: an assessment of the decade since ICPD. Author: Hessini LSource: Reproductive Health Matters.

If you have a beef with Bush, then pick a real argument. If you want to pick any of the 5,000 other screw-ups he's made, again, I'm with you. But Francine, don't just hear about a 35-year-old problem and get mad about it now.

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But it's still censorship. Making the argument to blame Bush is a bit much, but since it's a federally funded database, such partisan censorship is disturbing. how much of this happens that people don't notice?

"And a search on POPLINE returns over 25,000 articles with "abortion" as a keyword"
Only if you backdoored the system and dealt with advanced search methods (unless you did it after the hullaballoo was over). By making "abortion" a stopword in a general search, you're ensuring that the general public won't be able to find it, because let's face it, most of the general public are not advanced users of search technology.

My three cents, for what it's worth...

All you had to do was put a plus sign in front of abortion.

Still it was a silly thing to do to make abortion a stop word, but to suggest that there was some grand conspiracy when it was most probably someone who felt they were making sure the USAID funding continued.

It was probably someone apolitical who felt that the administration bogeyman would not be pleased if factual information were returned. This request was never made by USAID or anyone else.

Someone made a mistake and their boss told them to correct it, nothing more.

A command takes on the characteristics of its commander. The Bush adminstration is censorial, anti-intellectual, and arrogantly unilateral and this action is a reflection of that.

There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

I have no idea what you're writing about because your language got in the way.

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