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
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
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
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