April 28, 2007

The Victims of Our Lack of Self Control

Justin Katz

Peggy Noonan gets it exactly right in her recent musing about modern media's effect on children:

For 50 years in America, whenever the subject has turned to what our culture presents, the bright response has been, "You don't like it? Change the channel." But there is no other channel to change to, no safe place to click to. Our culture is national. The terrorizing of children is all over.

We've been having discussions, on Anchor Rising, that are related to Noonan's point in their dealing with the fading distinction between censorship and the encouragement of self-control. There's so much talk about my right to speak, my right to know, my right to do whatever-the-hell-I-want-to-and-you-better-not-push-your-morals-on-me-buddy. Speak of responsibility, and the reply is likely to be either "don't you talk to me about responsibility" or "yeah, I wish people would be more responsible, but..." or "I know; I've written my legislators about that very issue." Noonan:

We are not giving the children of our country a stable platform. We are instead giving them a soul-shaking sense that life is unsafe, incoherent, full of random dread. And we are doing this, I think, for three reasons.

One is politics--our political views, our cultural views, so need to be expressed and are, God knows, so much more important than the peace of a child. Another is money--there's money in the sickness that is sold to us. Everyone who works at a TV network knew ratings would go up when the Cho tapes broke.

But another reason is that, for all our protestations about how sensitive we are, how interested in justice, how interested in the children, we are not. We are interested in politics. We are interested in money. We are interested in ourselves.

Do you get the sense that today's grown-ups are often chasing that tingly, exciting fear they got that pre-Halloween night watching a Disney special in grandma's basement? Perhaps that's too personal a representation to apply beyond myself, but perhaps this: Do you ever get the sense that a world of truncated innocence is one without true adults?

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Yeah, I get that nauseated feeling every time I see One Rhode Island, Ocean State Action and the Poverty Institute rolling our their version of the Children's Crusade on Smith Hill. Just like unionizing home daycare workers -- "it's all for the kids." Sure it is.

Posted by: John at April 28, 2007 10:26 PM

But there is no other channel to change to, no safe place to click to.

But- but- but- What about 7th Heaven?

Posted by: mrh at April 28, 2007 11:06 PM

Peg, the culture you scorn for being interested in money and in itselves is not any more evil than the presidential administration you were a functionary of. Changed the danged channel yourself, Peg. We (and I'm sure there's a number of conservatives who would agree) don't need you deciding what we can and cannot say, what we can and cannot watch.
I'd like to go back to 1962 sometimes, too, but 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq have pretty much scotched that.

Posted by: Rhody at April 29, 2007 12:13 PM

1962? 1962? Good grief, why would you pick such a horrid time?

Posted by: smmtheory at April 30, 2007 11:59 AM

Horrid, indeed. I wasn't even born yet!

Posted by: mrh at April 30, 2007 1:03 PM
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