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« Who needs God when you’ve got Dr. Phil? | Main | Shortchanging teen girls »

April 27, 2007

Channeling Helen Lovejoy

In her latest column in the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan writes, "I would hate to be a child now." Why? Because "we are scaring our children to death" and "we're doing it more and more."

Now, to paraphrase a character from what my buddy Alex Wainer calls Star Trek: The Motionless Picture, my objection to what the late Henry Fairlie called the "fear of living" is on the record. And I agree with Noonan when she writes that

We are not giving the children of our country a stable platform. We are instead giving them soul-shaking sense that life is unsafe, incoherent, full of random dread . . .

Affluence buys protection. You can afford to make your children safe. You can afford the constant vigilance needed to protect your children from the culture you produce, from the magazine and the TV and the CD and the radio. You can afford the doctors and tutors and nannies and mannies and therapists, the people who put off the TV and the Internet and offer conversation . . .

And I certainly agree with this:

If you have money in America, you can hire people who compose the human chrysalis that protect the butterflies of the upper classes as they grow. The lacking, the poor, the working and middle class--they have no protection. Their kids are on their own. And they're scared.

Too bad no one cares in this big sensitive country of ours.

Still, I found her argument unpersuasive, despite my, for lack of a better phrase, cultural affinity with Ms. Noonan. First, when she insists that "they're scared," I can't but wonder if Noonan, like the liberal adults she criticizes, isn't projecting her concerns unto the kids.

In other words, are they really scared by things Noonan cites in her column? Sure, the "Waterworld" scenarios that people invoke in the global warming "debate" are irresponsible and are meant to frighten. But is there are any evidence that our kids are wetting their beds out of fear of the seas rising? I mean, aside from sticking microphones in the face of every fifth-grader in Arlington, Virginia, and recording the one kid who says that he's scared?

Then there's some of her other examples, such as "Don Imus' face" and "Rosie O'Donnell." What? Sure, they both have faces that might scare small children but I don't think that's what Noonan meant.

As for the mural depicting "the rape, slaughter and enslavement of North America's indigenous people by genocidal Europeans" on the wall of a high school in Los Angeles, there's lots to object to here but the people most likely to be frightened by it are those who get the vapors at the merest whiff of what they regard as "political correctness." The idea of East Los high school students being frightened by said mural is, well, funny.

As for NBC's showing of the Cho videotapes: I don't want David seeing the tapes; I don't want the image of someone that disturbed and forever associated with a heinous act to be part of David's consciousness, so I didn't let him watch it. (I didn't watch it, either.)

Now, there are arguments on both sides of that issue. Given the ease with which our leaders, both elected and soi dissant, have lied, do lie and will lie to us, I err on the side of getting it all out there and letting people make up their minds. Many reasonable people disagree and with good reason. But, let's not go around around like Helen Lovejoy yelling "what about the children?" Leave them out of this.

Like I said, Noonan is right when she says that we haven't created a "stable platform" for our kids. But that has nothing to do with repeated viewings of The Day After Tomorrow -- it's about not providing our kids with stability where it matters: at home.

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