Birth video and photo debate has this man scratching his head

January 03, 2011

I don’t know when “petty gossip” got itself promoted to “social media,” but it has to be one of the greatest PR coups of all time. Matter of fact, gossip might be too kind a word for it, considering that gossip, at least, is usually interesting.

That’s why it worries me when serious issues end up in Facebook or someplace else online, because it trivializes the important and importantizes the trivial.

Or something like that. Clearly, my thoughts on this matter have not quite jelled, but I had to get them out on the table because a Very Serious Issue has raised its head at Meritus Medical Center, which has just announced a ban on still and video photos of women — I guess there is no civilized way to say this — giving birth.

Birth photography is one of those cases where I know what I should think and I know what I do think and they are not one in the same.

On my right shoulder sits sensitive Tim; the New Age, in touch with my feelings Tim; the always puts the toilet seat down and pretends to be interested in Oprah Tim.

He says: “What a glorious way to celebrate a new life. In a world where so much is artificial and reality is scripted and emotion is manipulated, this is a way to document the real essence of the world and of humanity, the ultimate celebration of the confluence of the rivers of man, God and nature coming together in harmony.”

On my left shoulder sits the normal, average, pretty much like every other guy in America, scratches his head with his fork Tim.

And he says: “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! Not ever ever ever ever in a million, trillion, corn-grinding, teeth-chattering, gosh-all-hemlock years, what are you, NUTS?”

I’m really trying to be cool and hip about this, but as of this writing, I have to admit that left-shoulder Tim is winning the argument.

Of course I’m so far removed from the whole children and family scene — I didn’t even know people did this.

Photos? Of that? Really? I saw one comment that without a camera “the mother misses so much.” Yeah, and the father will, too, if he’s smart, because he’ll be across the street in a bar.

Look, I know things have changed. I know it’s 2011. But if you want to knock me straight back to 1952, just offer to show me a couple of 8-by-10 glossies of Little Chauncy falling from Grace, so to speak.

As usual, however, I am severely in the minority, and this is where the social media part comes in. Through Facebook, people who oppose the Meritus policy have distributed a link to an online petition to “Allow Birth Video and Photography at Meritus Medical Center.”

On a hunch, I visited the site and there it was, right along with petitions to “Stop Illegal Ivory Imports” and “Stop Violence Against Opponents of Canadian Owned Mine.” (For a second, I thought very seriously about creating a “Make Gorgonzola the State Cheese of Maryland” petition, but when I saw you needed something called an “embedded petition widget,” I gave up on the project.)

It had more than 700 signatures, and I was curious to see how many of the signers were men. Put it this way — if you want to do your own count, you won’t have to bring the fingers of your second hand to the party, if you know what I’m saying.

So once again, it appears we have a classic male vs. female dilemma on our hands. It’s just that, unlike me, other guys are smart enough not to say anything at all.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under, on or on Antietam Cable’s WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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