Jewish World Review Dec. 16, 2002 / 11 Teves, 5763

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reiley
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The Houston lesson | As usual, the media has missed the main point about Whitney Houston. The distressed diva's story is not that she is skinny, or drug-involved, or married to some loon. The importance of Ms. Houston's story is the impact that her life is having on her 9-year-old daughter.

In case you didn't see Ms. Houston making a fool of herself on national television, the highlights of the interview are these: She admitted abusing alcohol, pills, pot and cocaine. But she insisted no addiction was involved, she just had a "bad habit." She also reserves the right to get blasted in the future, and if you don't like it, well, tough.

Then, Whitney's husband, a singer named Bobby Brown, was called in from the bullpen and promptly told Diane Sawyer that he is bipolar and uses pot "every other day" to smooth himself out.

At this point, I was about to change the channel because I have seen dysfunctional adults before, and having them intrude on my leisure time is not a good thing. But then, Ms. Houston allowed her little daughter, who apparently had been listening to the whole pitiful interview, to sit before the camera. I was stunned. The poor child looked frightened and insecure. Was it the TV camera or just being in the same room with her nutty parents?

I went on television the next day and said I thought Whitney Houston's lifestyle and conduct could be seen as child abuse. I interviewed a few child-care experts, and they all agreed that a parent abusing drugs and alcohol in front of a child is committing abuse. They all agreed that becoming intoxicated in a place where little kids are living is damaging to children almost every time.

And they all agreed on one more thing: That no action should be taken against Whitney Houston.

The experts hemmed and hawed, but the consensus was that Ms. Houston and her husband probably loved the little girl, and that was enough to override any emotional damage the child might sustain living in a home with two parents who embrace intoxication.

The child-care people pointed out that removing any kid from his or her parents is usually more traumatic for the child than continuing to live in a chaotic household.

It is hard to argue with that thinking. The Department of Health and Human Services says that more than half a million American children are under the supervision of various states right now. The numbers are so great that social services systems cannot adequately monitor the children, and abuse in foster homes and state facilities is rampant. Child protection agencies are overwhelmed with violent abuse cases, so passive abuse like parental drug and alcohol involvement is often overlooked.

The result is that millions of American kids are growing up in homes where intoxication is on display. And those children are being harmed.

I know of an Irish-American family in Charlestown, Mass., just across the bridge from Boston, where a functioning alcoholic father and his saintly wife raised 12 children on a longshoreman's salary. This father carried a flask and a thirst every day of his life.

Nine out of the 12 kids grew up to become alcoholics. The pain those people endured and inflicted on others was enormous.

The only solution to this problem is a societal condemnation of parents who are substance abusers, but in America today, that is impossible. Just three days after Whitney Houston's embarrassing admissions, thousands turned out to cheer her in a New York performance.

We have become a nation that refuses to make judgments about bad behavior, even when that behavior hurts innocent children. If we lived in a righteous society, Whitney Houston would be singing to herself, as decent people concerned for her daughter would make a statement by shunning the diva.

But no, we aren't willing to make that kind of stand. It really is none of our business, you see. What Whitney Houston or any other parent does is not for us to judge.

Hillary Clinton was right, it does take a village to raise a child. But right now there are so many idiots in the village that is modern America, that many kids don't have a chance. Groove on that thought for a while, Whitney.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.


12/09/02: Somewhere Santa is weeping
12/02/02: A taxing situation
11/26/02: Talk is expensive when it comes to Bill Moyers
11/18/02: Sanity has left the building
11/11/02: The right stuff
11/04/02: The Attorney General blues
10/28/02: This ain't no game
10/21/02: It's only rock and roll, but it's brutal
10/14/02: The root of all evil
10/07/02: When children murder
09/23/02: The death of outrage
09/17/02: Singing a different tune
09/09/02: Answering my critics about the Roush case
09/03/02: Let's misbehave
08/26/02: Money makes the world go 'round
08/19/02: Long live the King
08/12/02: A friendly reminder
08/05/02: Heaven only knows
07/29/02: Blood money
07/22/02: Suffer the children
07/15/02: Reaching critical mass
07/08/02: Believe it or not
07/01/02: Charity begins at home
06/24/02: Spinning a tale and the case for "Stupid White Men"
06/17/02: Blank those Europeans!
06/10/02: What does Bono want from us?
06/03/02: On fighting evil
05/28/02: A Tale of Two Churches
05/20/02: Crimes against humanity
05/13/02: Silence of the lambs
05/06/02: Hide the children
04/29/02: 'Paul, Paul, Paul!'
04/22/02: Barbarians in the Church
04/15/02: Pray for peace, polish the weapons
03/11/02: Do no harm? Time to spank "Dr. Phil"
03/04/02: Promoting the general welfare
02/25/02: Who's responsible?
02/19/02: Lay it on them
02/11/02: Buy dope, fund terror
02/04/02: Back room deals
01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
12/03/01: How things have changed
11/26/01: Waiting in the Bushes
11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
11/06/01: The fear factor
10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate