Commentary on social and moral issues of the day

The Culture of Death

Peggy Noonan

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A classic editorial worth a second read written a few days after the shooting at Columbine High School.

The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 1999.

"I know it's an amendment. I know it's in the Constitution. But you know what? Enough is enough." Rosie O'Donnell

What walked into Columbine High School Tuesday was the culture of death. This time it wore black trench coats. Last time it was children's hunting gear. Next time it will be some other costume, but it will still be the culture of death. That is the Pope's phrase; it is how he describes the world we live in.

The boys who did the killing, the famous Trench Coat Mafia, inhaled too deep the ocean in which they swam.

Think of it this way. Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of sound and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar; they go through him again and again, from this direction and that. The sound from the television is a wave, and the sound from the radio; the headlines on the newsstand, on the magazines, on the ad on the bus as it whizzes by--all are waves. The fish--your child--is bombarded and barely knows it. But the waves contain words like this, which I'll limit to only one source, the news:

. . . was found strangled and is believed to have been sexually molested . . . had her breast implants removed . . . took the stand to say the killer was smiling the day the show aired . . . said the procedure is, in fact, legal infanticide . . . is thought to be connected to earlier sexual activity among teens . . . court battle over who owns the frozen sperm . . . contains songs that call for dominating and even imprisoning women . . . died of lethal injection . . . had threatened to kill her children . . . said that he turned and said, "You better put some ice on that" . . . had asked Kevorkian for help in killing himself . . . protested the game, which they said has gone beyond violence to sadism . . . showed no remorse . . . which is about a wager over whether he could sleep with another student . . . which is about her attempts to balance three lovers and a watchful fiancé . . .

This is the ocean in which our children swim. This is the sound of our culture. It comes from all parts of our culture and reaches all parts of our culture, and all the people in it, which is everybody...

And there's more. We forget, those of us who are middle-aged, that we grew up in a time of saner, less sick-making images and sounds.

For instance, the culture of crime only began to explode in the 1960s. We have lived in it for 30 years, and most of us turned out OK. So we think our children will be OK too. But they never had a normal culture against which to balance the newer, sicker one. They have no reference points to the old, boring normality. We assume they know what we know: "This is not right." But why would they know that? The water in which they swim is the only water they've known...

A man called into Christian radio this morning and said a true thing. He said, and I am paraphrasing: Those kids were sick and sad, and if a teacher had talked to one of them and said, "Listen, there's a way out, there really is love out there that will never stop loving you, there's a real God and I want to be able to talk to you about him"--if that teacher had intervened that way, he would have been hauled into court.

Yes, he would have. It occurs to me at the moment that a gun and a Bible have a few things in common. Both are small, black, have an immediate heft and are dangerous--the first to life, the second to the culture of death...

One more thing: I think every intelligent person I know has been having thoughts like this for years, and they don't want to, and they're right not to want to, because it just may be true that this is one problem our resourceful and brilliant country cannot solve. The dark genie is out of the bottle, and swims in the seas.

I'll tell you who could make some progress though, maybe. Hillary Clinton. All the big media people, the owners and anchors, the studio heads and producers, the creators and disseminators, they all admire her. They support her. She could talk to them, She could ignite a "national conversation." She could get tough. She could take names. It might cost her--they give her money. But she's an important member of the community. And you know, it takes a village.

This article appeared on The Drudge Report.

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Copyright © 2001-2018 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. See OrthodoxyToday.org for details.

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