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Jewish World Review Jan. 18, 2000 /11 Shevat, 5760

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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Socially responsible nonsense -- THERE IT WAS again. The promise to be "socially conscious."

This time it was repeatedly made by top executives of America Online and the Time Warner company (the folks who once gave us the violent "gangsta rap") during their recent news conference describing the blockbuster merger of the two companies into a mega media and entertainment empire. Apparently the new company, America Online Time Warner, will be especially "socially conscious."

It's not a surprise. This term and its sister, "socially responsible," are regularly and glowingly used in our popular culture to describe the best aspects of certain movie stars, musicians, authors and other celebrities, books and films. We hear it a lot when it comes to money management. According to several recent news reports, the trend toward "socially responsible" investing is at an all time high and growing. The moniker is even used to describe certain toys which are deemed especially worthwhile.

If some one or some thing is "socially conscious," our elite have decreed, it's always a good thing. So what does it actually mean? Well the definition and the emphasis may vary slightly, but almost inevitably it includes a commitment to environmental activism, population control and blaming youth violence on everything but youthful offenders. If you are socially conscious, you favor limiting violence in entertainment (but not sex), feeling a lot of guilt -- and coming up with feel good solutions to assuage it -- over the complaints of feminists, the poor and minorities. And of course it means tolerance. Always tolerance. Tolerance of every and all points of view as having equal merit -- except of course the point of view that not all points of view have equal merit.

In fact, to be "socially responsible" has been ordained in our culture as inherently meaning something or someone who is morally superior. So much so that the executives of the new AOL Time Warner, announcing the largest business merger in American history, apparently felt it would be particularly advantageous to them to repeatedly assure news and financial reporters from around the world that they would be an especially "socially conscious" company.

Well I'm just not impressed. You see, socially responsible folks like me are just not "socially conscious" at all according to our leading lights. For starters, I care a lot more about saving unborn human babies than unborn trees. I see that many things done in the name of the environment, like assuming recycling always makes environmental and economic sense, is a view based more on emotion than science. And I believe that people are the ultimate resource, to borrow a book title from the late Dr. Julian Simon. That means, based on current population trends, we are going to have too few people in the world -- not too many -- in the years to come.

I see gratuitous sex in entertainment as just as big a problem, if not bigger, than gratuitous violence. Nor do I think that the problem of youth violence can be magically stopped by the emotional response -- and unconstitutional one -- of taking guns away from law abiding citizens. I don't think that I'm somehow responsible for all the problems of the poor and minorities, and I think people who preach such a message have hurt them more than they've helped.

I certainly see that feminists have brought more problems than solutions into the lives of many American woman. I believe there really is a G-d of the universe who demands certain things of us, including the keeping of a particular moral code, meaning we are not free to make up God as we go along. That, of course, is one idea the "tolerant" folks really can't tolerate. Who knows where I could go from here? Why, with these kinds of "socially irresponsible" ideas, I might raise children who are just, compassionate, thoughtful and responsible, who know right from wrong, respect authority, and worship the Creator, not the creation or, worse, themselves.

That's a problem, according to our elites. You see if there is one thing they find socially irresponsible, it's such traditional thinking and family-centered values. In fact the very term "family values" has been so denigrated and derided by our popular culture it has become the stuff of sitcom jokes.

Well, I guess I'm just behind the times. Because I'd still rather do what's right and be socially responsible, than do what's "correct" and be "socially conscious."

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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