The "New York Times" recently ran a front-page story dripping with

sympathy for a multiple murderer who is now very old and who, on

some days, "cannot remember" why he is in prison. His victims,

however, cannot remember anything on any days.

There are also photographs of him and other prisoners. One

prisoner is described as having a disease that "brings mental

deterioration." Another, with his legs amputated, is shown trying

to catch a baseball on his knees. Yet another prisoner is shown in

a wheelchair.

All sorts of heart-tugging stories are told about elderly

inmates who are succumbing to various diseases and infirmities of

age. There are, however, no stories at all about their victims, or

their victims' widows or orphans, or how tough their lives have

been.

Although the Times runs this as a "news" story, it is in effect

a long editorial on how terrible it is to keep these prisoners

locked up, years after they have ceased to be dangerous to society.

This one-sided presentation includes the views of the American

Civil Liberties Union and prison officials who would like to use

the space taken up by these elderly prisoners. But there is not one

word from a victim or from police who have had to deal with these

killers.

Bias shades off into propaganda when the Times quotes ACLU

figures that there are more than 30,000 prisoners who are 50 or

older in the nation's prisons. Note that we started out with

stories about people so old and infirm that they are supposedly no

danger to anyone. Now we get statistics that are not about such

people at all but about people "50 or older."

I don't know what would make the New York Times or the American

Snivel Liberties Union suggest that people cease to be dangerous at

50. I am older than that and I fired a rifle and a shotgun just a

few days ago. We old codgers can still pull a trigger.

One of the murderers featured in the Times' own story was 74

years old when he began serving his life sentence. What a shame he

did not realize how harmless he was after age 50.

The propaganda game of talking about one thing and citing

statistics about something else has been used in many other

contexts. Stories about violence against women often begin with

terrible individual tragedies and then move on to numbers about

"abuse," which include such things as a husband's stomping out of

the room after an argument. Statistics about serious violence

against women are less than one-tenth as large as the numbers that

are thrown around in the media by feminist activists. Moreover,

serious violence against men is about twice as high.

In technique, as well as in bias, the Times story about

criminals is classic liberal propaganda for one of their mascot

groups. But this is not something peculiar to the New York Times.

You can find the same kinds of stories in the Washington Post or

the Los Angeles Times, or on any of the leading television networks.

Criminals are just one of the groups adopted as mascots of the

media. All sorts of parasites and predators have been displayed as

if they were ocelots or other exotic creatures that adorn the world

of the anointed. The deeper question is: Why is it necessary for

the anointed to have human mascots? And why do they choose the kind

of people that they do?

Whoever is condemned by society at large -- criminals, bums,

illegal aliens, AIDS-carriers, etc. -- are eligible to become

mascots of the anointed, symbols of their superior wisdom and

virtue. By lavishing concern on those we condemn, the anointed

become morally one-up on the rest of us.

Is that important? To some it is paramount. A quarter of a

century before the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said in a

speech in Springfield, Ill., that the greatest danger to the future

of the United States would come, not from foreign enemies, but from

that class of people that "thirsts and burns for distinction."

These people could not find that distinction "in supporting and

maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others," according

to Lincoln. In other words, there is not nearly as much ego

satisfaction in building up this country as in tearing it down.

Our schools and colleges are today turning out more and more

people who have been taught to want to "make a difference," "save

the planet" or "reinvent government" -- in short, to treat

policy-making as an ego trip.

Journalism is just one of the professions being prostituted to

this self-indulgence.