Machan's Musings - Wanting but Reproducing

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Submitted by removed on Wed, 2006-02-01 21:43

Machan's Musings - Wanting but Reproducing

Tibor R. Machan

At the Dallas/Forth Worth Airport I had to wait for two ours to board my flight back home so I sat before a TV set beaming forth CNN’s various scary stories. (Even as the traffic there was quite calm, and even as my two days of lectures in New Orleans proceeded amidst a city now showing mostly evidence of human resilience, the “news” came to nothing but scary stories!)

Included in the bad news viewers were being offered there was story of a family’s financial struggles, one in which both parents worked, earning about $55k per year, voicing drawn out complaints about how strapped they are. They had children already, in their early thirties, plus “one on the way.” Which brought up the issue, at least for me, if they believe they are so strapped, what business do they have bringing yet another child into their home?

Of course, the reporter covering this heart-wrenching scene did not pose such a question. That would have been heresy. No, instead the reporter got sympathetically on board with the drift of the couple’s laments, suggesting nothing about the possibility of parental malpractice involved in bringing a new child into the world when by their own understanding they are economically unprepared for this. Never mind that having children in 21st century America surely is something over which people have considerable control. A simple question like, “If you are so strapped financially, why did you decided to have another child?” could have focused the issue quite nicely, but no such luck.

Instead the CNN reporter and the anchor both looked reproachfully not upon the parents with the financial woes but upon “American society” that on their view failed to do justice to the helpless, victimized couple.

Exactly when have journalists decided that children just pop into existence for couples who then must be seen as victims of various economic contingencies? OK, so in some cases the couple’s religion will not permit family planning of some type but surely if that’s so, one can deploy some alternative methods, maybe even abstinence. Yes, Virginia, you are free to say “no” if the other options are ruled out by your convictions. And that, indeed, would be the responsible thing to do, by all appearances, if it doesn’t seem like you can care for another child in your home.

Granted, one is rarely in the position to pass moral judgment based on a mere news report, although the producers and reporters giving us the information certainly do not hesitate to indicate their own moral views, if only by their facial expressions and head shaking and turns of phrases. (All one needs is to watch a bit of Lou Dobbs, who has replaced Peter Jennings as the frowning, head-shaking, dog-faced commentator on domestic and world economic affairs, what with his intimation that the answer to everyone’s problems must be yet another protectionist measure by the federal government.)

It would be one thing if reporters and those who write their scripts would discipline themselves and remain really neutral as they report on various aspects of American society, on the lives of citizens, leaving viewers to come to their own assessments, if that’s at all possible from the information they dig up. But all too many of these media celebs have decided that they must make their lop-sided moral views evident, mostly of the “Oh, so you are yet another victim of the nasty forces that rule American society” variety. So it is not as if they refused to inject their evaluations into their reports—they do it good and hard most of the time.

If so, then, why not inject a little of the spirit of personal responsibility? Why not note, now and then, that individuals have the responsibility to heed their own situations and act accordingly? Why not a few shakes of the head when people act with evident lack of care and prudence and thus create circumstances for themselves they could clearly have avoided?

Journalists often claim they are independent of any moral position as they present the news to us in their well-trained non-partisan mode. This is rarely the case. Most often journalists—especially the celebrities among them—have anointed themselves as moral watchdogs, spouting the message of modern liberals that people are all victims of various insidious forces that oppress them and have no say about how their lives turn out.

Frankly, I don’t buy it.

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