by Charles Moncrief
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
“MEDITATION XVII” (Jon Donne, 1572-1631)
Following the recent shooting death of one large, muscular seventeen-year-old, activists have exploited the event to feed their own selfish ambitions.
These opportunists have made themselves both judge and prosecution in the court of public opinion, and they have lied through their teeth to convict their defendant with false evidence which they present to us, the jury. The deceased, a sizable and strong adversary in the altercation that led to his death, is presented by the prosecution as a sweet and gentle twelve-year-old. While none of the accusers are saying that the deceased was a pre-teen, this is the conclusion that the jury (you and I) are expected to draw. In the five years since this picture was taken, many other photos have also been generated which show the deceased in much less favorable settings and poses. The pictures showing unfavorable poses and settings have been reserved for use against the other party in this drama. With relish the prosecution shows a lopsided view of the two parties, counting on the jury (you and me) to draw the conclusions which have been predetermined.
It is unfortunate that in the court of public opinion the accuser is exempt from perjury. I'll not take issue here with the ends that these activists are seeking. Rather, I object to the methods and tactics they are using. In its raw form it is blatant child abuse.
Exploiting children, using them as pawns to play on emotions of the vulnerable, is not a new tactic.
· The politician who says “If you don’t vote for me (or for my bill), children will not get milk with their school lunches.”
· CBS News’ featuring of some worthwhile project that does wonderful things for children, with the obligatory comment that government funding cuts may diminish the benefit -- to the children, of course.
· News coverage of tragedies or natural disasters get more audience attention when the reporters can insert images of suffering children. (A dog reunited with its owner is not quite as effective, but it still plays a tune on the viewers’ heart strings.)
· When Texas campaigned for the state lottery, they presented verbal and visual images of schools and -- get this -- of children. The imagery was that lottery proceeds would go directly to school funding. Technically, since all fine print and presentations were accompanied by some sort of disclaimer that the receipts would go to the general fund (or some similar deception), Texas didn’t lie. But there were not enough thousand-word offsets to their pictures.
While it’s not bad in itself to support a cause by appealing to emotion, it’s a relatively new strategy to drag in the kids when the cause cannot stand on its own merits. And it’s incredibly effective, an adaptation of the truism “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” And who doesn’t care about children?
Let me be clear. There is a difference between campaigning for children, and pimping children to advance your cause. Children’s advocacy groups are a thousand times more honest than those who abuse children by making posters out of them. This is indefensible, and it speaks to the new lows to which propagandists are sinking. Moreover, this child trafficking damages the uses of poster children for worthy causes. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, for example, is at risk when this cheap and dishonest tactic is used for political and social opportunism.
The movers and shakers who head these unconscionable misuses of children have yet to demonstrate that they even care about our younger humans. Many years ago in a conversation with a socialite, I was appalled to hear her say “My parents didn’t even want to see us in the morning until after they’d finished their second cup of coffee!” What added to my dismay was when I checked this out with another socialite, who fully agreed. To make matters worse, this is the course both of them were on if and when they married or had children. But this class of elitists will attend society balls, banquets, and fundraising events to get others to support their causes. And they’ll take plenty of hand-wipes to the sickening photo-ops so they can be seen “caring about” the little hellions.
Meanwhile, they’ll make sure the real child endangerments -- misuse of behavior-altering drugs, violent video games and movies, television programs that promote self-destructive lifestyles -- remain alive and even flourish. In her book White Ghetto Star Parker was quite explicit in the intentional mischaracterization of victim groups, including the trafficking of children for purposes that destroy the moral fabric of our society. She even named an ivy-league professor who suggested the killing of unviable infants any time during the first year of the little creatures’ lives! And it would seem that the administration of the university agrees with the professor, or lacks the spine to stand up to him.
Young or old, human life is precious. When a child dies, whether of a childhood disease or a gunshot wound in an altercation, that child’s death diminishes you and me. And when an adult dies of a disease or a gunshot wound in an altercation, that adult’s death diminishes you and me. But please do not allow our society to be further diminished by the blatant and unabashed lying about the facts of any of these tragedies. As a people we have enough to worry about, without sacrificing the truth on the altar of personal ambition.
Grace and Peace,
Anglican Priest, Charles Moncrief, serves up the issues of the day on a platter mixed with scripture, seriousness, and a sense of humor to create a ministry founded in love for his fellow man.
“I’m an Anglican Priest, disguised as a geek during the week. It’s REALLY tough to change my costume, since phone booths are getting hard to find!”