America's Theater of the Absurd

Last month, a Michigan court ordered producers of the "Jenny Jones Show" to pay $25 million to the family of a homosexual who was murdered after he revealed his secret crush on a heterosexual man. Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell wants to add a new liability for cigarette manufacturers by suing them for fires caused by careless smoking. Several big city mayors have brought suits against gun manufacturers to recoup some of the costs stemming from the murder and mayhem in their cities. In the wake of the Littleton, Colorado massacre, the victims' parents are bringing suits against gun manufacturers, the school board and the parents of the murderers. In the wake of the Littleton tragedy, our political dim-wits are calling for more gun control laws, despite the fact that the Littleton murderers violated 19 gun laws already on the books. Does anyone think, one or two more gun laws would have prevented the tragedy?

The unfolding national moral decline, unappreciated by most Americans, is our inheritance from the nation's leftists. The most obvious signs of it are: family breakdown, illegitimacy, incivility, rampant crime, lack of integrity in private and public life. A recent example of the decline in integrity standards is the broad public support of a president who has been judged in a court of law as a perjurer, an adulterer and a miscreant.

A core element of the nation's moral decline is the attack on individual responsibilities and the establishment of a culture of victimhood. Leftists started this in the 1960s. Criminals weren't responsible for their crimes; society was. People who dropped out of school and refused to work weren't responsible for their plight. Society was responsible and owed them welfare and food stamps. The so-called homeless, really bums, men who lived on the streets were also victims and not responsible for their plight.

Our young people are increasingly becoming violent and decadent and people are calling for parents to be held responsible for their children's actions. Parents should be held responsible, but we forget that for close to four decades there has been systematic undermining of parental authority by courts and schools. Spanking a child might have a social worker at your door to charge you with child abuse and possibly take child custody away from you. A teenage girl must have signed parental permission slip to go on a school trip or have her ear lobes pierced. But for an abortion, in many jurisdictions, she needs neither parental permission nor is notification of her parents required. Schools issue condoms without regard to the wishes of the parent. High school students are given sex counseling with neither parental knowledge nor permission. Traditional values taught in the home are attacked and often held up to ridicule by teachers. As former Secretary of Education, William Bennett, remarked, something is drastically wrong when a school would discipline young people singing a prayer in school and ignores young people tattooed with swastikas and openly praising Hitler.

Everyone from the President to congressional leaders have called for research and conferences to find out why many of today's youth are violent and decadent. One thing for sure is that they'll probably invite the very people whose half-baked ideas are largely responsible for the corruption of today's youth: members of the education establishment, psychologists and sociologists, and people in the entertainment industry. Other than setting a good moral example, the best thing the President and Congress can do for the youth of America is to butt out.

Walter E. Williams
June 25, 1999
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