Apparently, media company iHeart Media, previously known as Clear Channel, has been erecting some “controversial billboards.” There have been a couple of stories about this already, particularly concerning billboards that proclaim that “voter fraud is a felony” – which it is. I’m a bit baffled that merely proclaiming what’s written into the black-letter law should be controversial, but our Gentle Readers know I’m an out-of-touch old dinosaur. However, the billboard I recently glimpsed is not one of those:
Controversial? That’s a prescription that’s been well verified, supported by a great deal of research. He who finishes high school, gets and keeps a job, gets married – before producing any kids, thank you very much – and stays married will, in the absence of addiction problems, escape poverty. That is: he and his spouse will become self-supporting, no longer dependent on government largesse. Charles Murray wrote about it four decades ago in Losing Ground, which is hardly a treatise reserved to the attention of professional scholars.
So the prescription itself can’t reasonably be called controversial. But that black woman’s face next to it…could that be the focus of the controversy?
That’s where I’m placing my bet.
Blacks in these United States receive government handouts disproportionately to their numbers. The disproportion is closely tied to the rate of black illegitimacy, which hovers around 70% and has done so for several decades. Black children from female-headed single-parent homes are also closely tied to other social pathologies, such as drug use, crime rates, and incarceration rates. Male black offspring of such homes have a probability of spending time in prison that approaches 100%.
Some say it’s “culture.” Others focus on the incentives. Our Gentle Readers know my opinion. But that billboard…
No one actually likes to be criticized. No one actually wants to be told that his choices are the reason for his condition in life. And no one actually wants to have a face representative of his “people” staring at him from a plainly critical billboard. So I suppose the controversy stands explained.
But the message it purveys is correct: factually accurate. And American blacks are the demographic that could most benefit from it.
Note that I said could rather than would. But possibility does not dictate eventuality. There’s that old saw about “none so blind as those that will not see,” and all the rest of it. Decade after decade of indoctrination into the cult of victimism and consequent entitlement have done their work well.
Worse, as I must have written a hundred times by now, success breeds emulators. Those emulators need not be of the same skin color as those they seek to emulate.
Perhaps that’s a side issue. My principal reason for setting my fingers to the keys is that billboard. Controversial? I suppose it depends on your tastes in breakfast cereal. But it remains accurate – and the people who most need to accept its wisdom, American blacks, are staunchly resistant to its message.
The bronze-sheathed doors of the Directorate gave with a crash that no one heard. People pressed and trampled toward them to get to shelter, out from under the metal rain. They pushed by hundreds into the high halls of marble, some cowering down to hide in the first refuge they saw, others pushing on to find a way through the building and out the back, others staying to wreck what they could until the soldiers came. When they came, marching in their neat black coats up the steps among dead and dying men and women, they found on the high, grey, polished wall of the great foyer a word written at the height of a man’s eyes, in broad smears of blood: DOWN
They shot the dead man who lay nearest the word, and later on when the Directorate was restored to order the word was washed off the wall with water, soap, and rags, but it remained; it had been spoken; it had meaning.
[Ursula LeGuin, The Dispossessed]