Mollie Hemingway notices that the media really can’t stand fertility. Well, some people’s fertility. Excerpt:

Last week Deadspin ran six sentences and a picture under the headline “Philip Rivers Is An Intense Weirdo.” The final two sentences about the San Diego Charger quarterback were blunt:

And he’s also about to have his seventh kid. There are going to be eight people with Rivers DNA running around this world.

Ah yes. How “intensely weird” it is for an NFL player to be having his seventh kid. Except that it isn’t weird at all for an NFL player to have his seventh kid. It’s only weird for an NFL player to have seven kids with his one wife.

Take former Charger and current New York Jet Antonio Cromartie. He’s fathered at least 12 children with eight different women. In fact, when the Jets picked the cornerback up from the Chargers, they provided him with a $500,000 advance so he could make outstanding child support payments. (You can watch him struggle to name some of his children here.)

Or what about Travis Henry, a former running back who last played for the Denver Broncos? He’s fathered at least eleven children to ten different women. But yes. Philip Rivers is the weirdo.

I don’t watch pro football. I don’t know Philip Rivers from Phil Ramone. But I read this and thought, “He must be some kind of Christian.”  Ten seconds of Googling shows that yes, Rivers and his wife are faithful Catholics.  Worse, from a MSM point of view, Rivers endorsed Rick Santorum for president. History’s worst monster, this athlete!

So, why is it that the disordered fertility of black pro football players is fine by the media, but let a married Catholic man father a large family, and he’s a big weirdo? I mean, we all know the answer, but still, the question is worth thinking about because it reveals that the media don’t really care about making lots of babies, even if you make them outside of marriage, as long as you are not making babies within the framework of traditional family and religious fidelity. I’m sure Rivers’s race has something to do with it too.

This is not, by the way, what Hemingway’s piece is about. It’s about how much our culture is coming to hate fertility. Excerpt:

The media remind us regularly that the most important cultural value relative to family life is what’s euphemistically called “choice.” The choice of whether to have kids or not is held so sacrosanct that our laws permit the decision to be made many months after a new human life begins. Some even advocate extending the choice to a period of time after birth. So why the weird reaction to people receiving children as a blessing instead of fighting them tooth and nail with hormones, chemicals, surgery andscissors? Do we need some remedial courses in how babies are made? It’s entirely natural, of course, for babies to be conceived when men and women have sex. Treating the entirely expected procreation of children as something to be avoided at all costs — and an unspeakable atrocity if one has, say, three children already — would be weird even if our culture weren’t obsessed with sex at all times, in all places, in every context, at every moment.

It’s schizophrenic. The moral panic of white elites when confronted by fertile white religious people — Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Orthodox Jews — is bizarre. But the kind of cultural liberals who get all wound up against fertility when it applies to white people like themselves don’t dare say a thing to African-American people. I remember once about 12 years ago, pushing a stroller down Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, past a card table set up by a crazy old white lady who was an animal rights activists. She screamed, “Breeder! You’re killing the animals!” at every mom or couple who walked by pushing a stroller. Every white couple. I saw a young black woman coming along pushing her baby in a stroller, and I was hoping and praying that nut would get in her face about her baby, because the black woman would have slapped the pee-yoddy out of the old bag. And I would have cheered for her, too.

But the old woman didn’t say a peep. She knew. The whole fertility thing, in the sense that Hemingway writes about, is entirely about status competition among bourgeois professional class whites. Philip Rivers unnerves them because his very existence challenges them in ways they hate to consider. Antonio Cromartie, Travis Henry — they either don’t notice men (and women) like them, or like the crazy Brooklyn Heights woman, they train themselves not to see them, or to keep their mouths shut.

UPDATE: Mark Oppenheimer is a coastal liberal and the happy father of four children. Good for him! Excerpt from his piece about the joy of four:

 I hear that Italians and Spanish and Germans and Japanese are all having 1.2 children or something like that. They are becoming countries of old people. If you don’t think that’s sad, you’re some sort of zealot. What kind, I am not yet sure. I’ll let you know when I meet you.

UPDATE.2: Got a really nice letter from a reader who says he loves my stuff, but … not this post. Excerpt:

That said, your post about Phil Rivers’ “fertility” — as juxtaposed with Antonio Cromartie’s — is, well, weird. Here are just a few examples of media attention to Cromartie’s ridiculous irresponsibility:

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/years-epic-irresponsibility-antonio-cromartie-figures-life-level-041622621.html

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/new-york-jets-antonio-cromartie-wife-expecting-twins-total-of-12-kids-8-different-women-041712

http://nypost.com/2012/04/15/its-1st-and-10-children-for-jets-cromartie/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDpWzK9c25c

In fact, Deadspin — the outfit that published the piece on Rivers — has written just a TON on the topic: http://deadspin.com/tag/antonio-cromartie

So you can’t really say that his behavior is “fine by the media.” I know you don’t watch football, and that the initial error was another writer’s, but just try googling his name — “antonio cromartie kids” is the top suggestion!

I actually agree, very much, with Hemingway’s point that Christian fertility — because of the sexual ethic it points to — is much feared and reviled by the media. (But only insofar as the media is one member of the body that is the world, whose hatred Christ warned of all those years ago — and should therefore be old news for us, no?)

What I guess puzzles me is what race has to do with any of it. Even Hemingway (who, again, was just dead wrong about the Cromartie thing) didn’t take it quite there. I only flag this because it’s instances like these that less charitable folks sometimes cherry-pick and use to label you negatively (let’s use your recent combox spat with Win Bassett as an example).

There’s more than enough to be said about the hypersensitivity of the current moment, and I’m glad you always speak your mind. But this guy, who’d like other folks like me (I’m black) to hear the wonderful things you’ve often got to say, wishes you’d swing at pitches like this a little less often.

I appreciate this letter very much, and stand corrected. I’m not a regular reader of sports media, so I didn’t realize what a big deal Cromartie’s behavior was. And to be perfectly clear, I brought race into it not to criticize minorities, but to talk about how a certain class of white person rides herd on other white people, holding them to standards that they do not hold people of other races to. Like I said, so much conversation about diversity in our culture is really about status competition among whites. This is not the fault of minorities. I saw a lot of this in newsrooms in my newspaper career, so I am hypersensitive to it, and at risk of reading it into media situations (as this story is) where it may not exist. Like I said, I appreciate this reader’s correction, especially the generous spirit in which it was issued.

UPDATE.3: Wait a minute — it just occurred to me that some of you think I’m bashing black people in this post. Umm, no; I’m bashing (some) white people for their double standards on fecundity. And I’m bashing white Brooklyn Heights people for accepting this insane abuse from a white woman standing on the street screaming at them and their babies. They ought to have slapped her for saying those horrible things. My guess was that the working-class black woman pushing her stroller up the street wouldn’t have accepted that kind of vicious disrespect — not because, as some of you seem to think, blacks are inherently violent, but because no person with a sense of honor would just walk on by and accept being demeaned in that capacity, if they could effectively protest it. You forget that I come from a shame/honor culture. A woman restraining herself in the face of another woman’s hysterical abuse is not necessarily something to be proud of, at least not in my culture. Of course, a man laying a finger on the screaming harridan would have brought shame on himself for having done so.

I’m not saying it’s Christian or anything. I’m saying it’s what I wanted to see happen.

UPDATE.4: This from an NYU student is illuminating:

I’m writing in response to your recent post about fertility in the media. Your comments making fertility about class and culture aren’t entirely off the mark, but I was disappointed that you made this about “status competition among bourgeois professional class whites.” For one thing, you imply “white elites” don’t shame people of color for having lots of children — but they do all the time! (See also the “welfare queen” stereotype.) But more importantly, I think you’ve missed the mark on what roles race and class play in the politics of fertility. It’s not about white liberals being scared of offending black women (although that might be part of it), it’s the fact that fertility and religiosity aren’t monolithic among each of the cultures you’re describing.

Recently in my journalism 101 we finished reading Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, which hits at exactly this tension. LeBlanc is a white liberal reporter who moved in with a minority family in the South Bronx for ten years, resulting in this book. Most of the women she writes about have four or five children over the course of the book, and entire chapters are dedicated to the medical and financial struggles associated with that motherhood. The book’s a must-read for insight into the culture of urban poverty, but the chapters that discuss the main subject Coco’s decisions regarding parenting are invaluable in this particular conversation. Coco has many children for a lot of reasons — first, simply because she wants to and loves her kids; secondly, because having kids with her man increases her credibility and importance in his eyes, as well as her claim on his love and his resources (not so different from ages past in all social strata); and thirdly, because she does not have access to birth control or sex education.

But there is plenty of criticism of Coco. It doesn’t come from white liberals, like LeBlanc, because they don’t have to deal with the struggles she does and don’t feel it’s their place. And they’re damn right. The criticism comes instead from Coco’s man Cesar, as well as her sisters and neighbors, who ask how she’s going to afford all those kids — especially her youngest daughter, whose medical troubles bring nothing but debt and anxiety to the family — while her man is in jail and welfare only goes so far. She makes do, and she never regrets having any of her kids. Her decisions don’t exist in a religious vacuum; the family is implied to be Catholic, but the book unfortunately doesn’t explore that. Her “smug fecundity” is criticized plenty, it just doesn’t come from the same people who criticize Philip Rivers’ family.

I suppose my point is that criticism of fertility isn’t exclusive to any social group, it is just informed by different factors. Making this an explicit cultural-class struggle is inappropriate because it doesn’t imagine these different families’ situations complexly enough, and it certainly doesn’t lend any agency to the women of color or poor women whose children’s value is not based at all on their “choice” either. And of course, this discussion ignores the fact that families who embrace fertility for religious reasons aren’t always white.

For what it’s worth, Random Family is an excellent read even if you aren’t convinced by this particular facet of the book. LeBlanc’s exploration of what it’s like for women to come of age in one of the nation’s most poor and troubled neighborhoods is an important read not just for journalism students who want to know how to write that sort of thing, it’s important for anyone who intends to make policy for — or more importantly preach the Gospel to! — those who don’t share the privileges above the poverty line.

I appreciate this response. In my experience, I have heard the “welfare queen” insult many times, but never from a white liberal, always from white conservatives. I don’t believe there is necessarily anything wrong with criticizing people who choose to have more children than they can support without government assistance. My concern in this whole post was people — and in my experience, they’re almost always white, and liberal — who criticize people from solid two-parent families who can afford to have big families. I’ve known more than a few families like this, and they all have to put up with random rude comments from people who are offended by their large families. When my wife was 24 years old, she was pregnant with our first, and we lived in Manhattan. She got scowls all the time from white women. A white woman walked up to her in Bloomingdales, looked down at her belly, and spat, “Babies having babies!” and stalked off. Without fail, the *only* people who would offer their seats to her in the subway were black men. I think there’s a lot to be critical of in the way poor black women tend to have more babies than they can afford, but I much prefer to openness to life of black American culture to the bizarre stinginess so many materially successful whites have toward people of their own class and culture who wish to have more than two or three kids. — RD]

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77 Responses to Your Smug Fecundity

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  1. Darth Thulhu says:

    The unnecessary and inexplicable digression of this piece into black-bashing is disappointing. There is not one other writer I read, on any of seven news sites, who so constantly tangents into tirades about black fecundity and black irresponsibilty.

    At least all the gay-marriage posts actually derive from specific instances of the inexorible legal advance of gay-marriage approval – I can see the train of logic. I simply cannot do that here, or in most of these posts where we suddenly leap at the chance to lump all blacks into a hive mass and collectively shame their parenting inadequacies for no discernable reason (or reminiscing about hoping a black person will get explosive with someone we disliked so that we could vicariously approve of them being explosive where we were restrained).

    I see that M_Young has, naturally, been happy to take this bait and run with it.

    I guess I just seriously have to ask: why is 15% of everything a launching point for broadly backhanding contemporary black parenting? I know M_Young’s answer, but am given to understand that M_Young’s answer is not yours. Why does this blog so frequently shoehorn in the subject matter?

    [NFR: Good lord, I’m not black-bashing here! I’m white-bashing. This is about the weird white-people thing about bitching about other people having “too many kids,” but only other white people. I guarantee you it would never occur to a black sports journalist to make a thing about the number of kids Philip Rivers has. Black people, as far as I can tell, don’t criticize other people for having “too many” children. As for the black woman in Brooklyn Heights, honestly, some of y’all just live to be offended. I watched to see if the nasty white woman would treat the black woman the way she treated every white parent who walked by, and she did not do it. Why not? I think it’s because she knew that she couldn’t get away with treating a black woman like that, because the black woman would not stand for her and her child being so disrespected. In a saner world, one of those skinny little white mamas would have slapped the screamer hard across the cheek. Do you not find it interesting that the only time this abusive white woman withheld her screaming condemnation was when a young black mother passed? — RD].

  2. Richard Parker says:

    My White sister has 8 kids from the same White husband. More than once in a restaurant sitting, coming, or leaving some self righteous white chickester will come out of nowhere out of the blue to make some snarky comment.

    I’m pretty sure the offending party would not approach a non-white mother like that. Well, maybe an Asian or India Indian, but certainly not a Hispanic or Black.

  3. Rod Dreher says:

    Wait a minute — it just occurred to me that some of you think I’m bashing black people in this post. Umm, no; I’m bashing (some) white people for their double standards on fecundity. And I’m bashing white Brooklyn Heights people for accepting this insane abuse from a white woman standing on the street screaming at them and their babies. They ought to have slapped her for saying those horrible things. My guess was that the working-class black woman pushing her stroller up the street wouldn’t have accepted that kind of vicious disrespect — not because, as some of you seem to think, blacks are inherently violent, but because no person with a sense of honor would just walk on by and accept being demeaned in that capacity, if they could effectively protest it. You forget that I come from a shame/honor culture. A woman restraining herself in the face of another woman’s hysterical abuse is not necessarily something to be proud of, at least not in my culture. Of course, a man laying a finger on the screaming harridan would have brought shame on himself for having done so.

    I’m not saying it’s Christian or anything. I’m saying it’s what I wanted to see happen.

  4. I brought race into it not to criticize minorities, but to talk about how a certain class of white person rides herd on other white people, holding them to standards that they do not hold people of other races to.

    Thank you for highlighting that a lot of this stuff is different brands of people who think of themselves as “white” talking to other people who think of themselves as “white” about what their attitude should be toward people who have been told for generations that they are “black” — and many have come to believe it.

    Spend time in an AMEZ church, or a Holiness Church, and you will find plenty of the same criticisms you make here, along with a fair number of single mothers, who know its true, but aren’t perfect.

    By the way, I’m waiting to hear that a man had eight children by twelve different women.

  5. John E_o says:

    You forget that I come from a shame/honor culture. A woman restraining herself in the face of another woman’s hysterical abuse is not necessarily something to be proud of, at least not in my culture.

    You might want to look at the pro/cons of taking that action.

    Pros: At best, a pleasing emotional response.

    Cons: Risk of getting arrested for slapping a crazy lady. Risk of getting stabbed by a crazy lady.

    Also note that the only Pro entry is contingent on the premise that one is insulted by the ravings of a crazy lady.

    In order to be insulted by a raving looney, one has to care about the opinion of that crazy looney.

    For those who don’t care about that, her insults are nothing more than background noise and certainly nothing worth risking arrest or injury over.

  6. Aaron Gross says:

    “Status competition” is a non-explanation. I think it might have been Steve Sailer who started talking like that, and everybody else copied it. (Maybe as a form of status competition, I don’t know.)

    Of course lots of beliefs and opinions among all different classes and races are bound up with status games. That doesn’t explain the content of the beliefs at all. Why are some opinions about fertility assigned high status and others assigned low status? In another time and place, the opinion “children are a blessing” might have been common among upper classes, and Dreher (and Sailer) could just as well have explained that as status competition.

  7. Richard Parker says:

    “By the way, I’m waiting to hear that a man had eight children by twelve different women.”

    I’d like to try.

  8. John E_o says:

    [If the old woman would have been a man, I would have confronted her. — RD]

    Well there is no shortage of people doing things about which one might want to confront them.

    Perhaps the next time you encounter such a situation, you might take heart from the totemic example you’ve made up about what you thought the black woman would have done and actually engage in the sort of confrontation that you now only write about as a one-person-removed-hypothetical, and then report back on the results.

  9. J says:

    Well, I see Rod has managed to once again try to do mind-reading of Left-liberalish people and missed the mark by several miles.

    The way I’ve heard it is that around 30% of black American men don’t have and never will have children due to various kinds of disability. (Incarceration, drugs, the stresses and restrictions imposed by gang life, learning disability, mental and physical disorders, etc.) (For whites this number is iirc under 15%. Of which half is due to infertility.) Given the relatively closed nature of black society, this makes for a relatively badly imbalanced gender ratio of socially competent adults. The pool of relatively wealthy, at least somewhat available, and accomplished black men is quite small to begin with. Combine that with an unduly large but not very upwardly mobile pool of black American women competing desperately for these men, and the result is the chaotic and often irresponsible condition we see at present.

    It should be pointed out that black Americans are slowly decreasing as percentage of the population- down from a very consistent 14% from the 1850s to about 1990 to 13% around 2007. Probably hitting 12% by 2025. No one sensible thinks that there’s a political scheme or design or desire to achieve anything with black American numbers.

    For a sad story somehow illustrative of the grandiose yet tragic muddles in which many famous black athletes end up living, have a close look into the reports of the recent death of Adrian Peterson’s son.

  10. surly says:

    I’m solidly in the demographic that you demonize and I can’t for the life of me understand why it is anybody else’s business whether you have zero kids, one kid, or a million kids.
    This is a concern or click troll article–you should be more capable of sorting out whether it’s worth fulminating about, but since you seem to be lure coursing today, I have another link to troll:

    http://dailycurrant.com/2013/10/23/sarah-palin-claims-jesus-celebrated-easter/

    Unlike the Onion, these people are subtle.

  11. J says:

    For the part about white people, I have to join the people who have already pointed out that it isn’t about status competition.

    No one nonconservative or nonreligious I am aware of is worried that the Duggars, or somewhat more upscale local equivalents, are going to significantly squeeze out their own kids or grandkids from Stuyvesant, Groton, Columbia, or Harvard Law. Let alone Ohio State or Louisiana State. Or any desirable trophies, certificates, jobs, mates, or places for that matter.

    The truth is ugly. It’s not envy at all. Basically, overly large families are suspected- from significant basis in experience- of representing dysgenics. If the parents are aberrantly religious, doubly so. These parents rarely have the financial means to sufficiently support one, let alone several, children with significant mental disorders as adults. Or the means to rectify the higher order problems created. More prudent parts of society ultimately have to provide both.

  12. Darth Thulhu says:

    Wait a minute — it just occurred to me that some of you think I’m bashing black people in this post. Umm, no; I’m bashing (some) white people for their double standards on fecundity.

    There has been a consistent pattern of asides in posts that openly lament the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad “black culture” and use it to overexplain why no decent, self-respecting person would want to live anywhere near them or interact with them even once in their own homes ever. It is not a rare theme … 15% overstates it, but it’s well above 5%. It certainly feels like double digit percentages on bad weeks.

    As someone who grew up around virtually no blacks at all, knowing them as a kid primarily through Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, and G.I. Joe, every single such digression constantly strikes me as utterly bizarre. The black people I know don’t have a dysfunctional culture and more than anyone else; heck, the black people I deeply know are mostly academics or immigrants or active military, all of which trend toward imbalanced overachievers. Every time you randomly bring up some supposed refusal to shame some irresponsible, fertile black person, I honestly do a double take of incomprehension … how is this topic even coming up?!?!? It’s just completely out of left field, but it’s being posted like it is some obvious, universal truth that doesn’t even have to be explained.

    Black people of my experience are nowhere remotely near such an oversexed, hyperfecund monolith, every race of people of my experience has horrible parasites and humble hard workers and arrogantly “successful” judgers, and those three classes of people almost always count the same individual human beings at different times in their lives.

    So I completely reject the assertion that there is a clear, logical progression justifying the leap from your paragraph where you knew that Rivers had to be a Christian to be getting hounded for being so fertile … to a paragraph about how liberals refuse to appropriately hound black people for being so irresponsibly fertile.

    Why is this “double standard” … (which I think you are badly misreading, which I will address separately) … even coming up in relation to the original linked post about mocking a professed Christian? Deadspin mocks an athlete, throws in a dig about his big family, and … “double standard about not mocking blacks” is the next logical step in any analysis how?

    Your crazy ranter in Manhattan has anything to do with the Deadspin article how?

    How do highly fertile black people relate to the Deadspin story at all? The paragraph transition just throws me seriously off every single time I reread over it. I accept that you sincerely do not wish to bash on black people in this post, but how do blacks even become a focal point of the post in the first place? That transition is a complete disconnect for me, and I think no small fraction of your other readers.

    [NFR: Well, two things. First, I didn’t grow up around middle-class black people, but poor rural black people, who suffered (and do suffer) from all the stereotypical problems. I live now near a city in which nearly all the violent crime — and the rate there is high — is caused by underclass black males. There is overwhelming social breakdown and dysfunction in the black community there, notwithstanding the fact that there are a significant number of middle-class African-Americans who aren’t part of it. You’d have to be blind not to see that the culture of the black urban underclass in the city is deeply dysfunctional, in a way that (among other things) sabotages the life prospects of future generations. I spoke just this week to a pastor who does charity work among the black urban underclass, and he told me that he’d met a beautiful six year old boy, and asked the child what he wanted to be when he grew up. The child said, “I’m gonna get me a bitch and go to Angola.” The pastor was understandably shocked, but said this made sense: the boy’s mom was treated like a “bitch” by that culture, and every male in the kid’s life was in prison. This was that poor child’s normal. You don’t live in a part of this country where this kind of thing is common, but I do. It’s a serious social problem here. I talk to teacher friends all over my state who are seeing the effects of radical social dysfunction in their classe and are driven to despair over it. It massively affects their black students, and is more and more affecting their white working class students. Just like Charles Murray said.

    But more importantly, for the sake of this post, you are apparently looking to find racial offense. I don’t care if the media focuses on the disordered fertility of black professional athletes or not. What I find revealing is that a certain kind of white person is made anxious by fertility among other whites (esp religiously conservative whites), even when the whites in question can afford their kids and are raising them within an intact family, but these same anxious whites are not bothered by the same phenomenon among minority populations. Why is that? This is not, and never was, a post about Those Awful Black People; it’s about identifying a double standard among SWPL-type whites. I appreciate the other reader pointing out to me that the media have not been silent on Antonio Cromartie’s tomcatting — a point that undermines the main one I wanted to make, but I’m grateful for the additional information to help me adjust my perspective. — RD]

  13. La Lubu says:

    Do you not find it interesting that the only time this abusive white woman withheld her screaming condemnation was when a young black mother passed?

    Nope. I don’t think the screaming white woman at the card table thought of her as human. I doubt she would have screamed at a working class white woman either, for similar reasons (not one of her “tribe”, meaning: not as human as she is, therefore not of her concern).

    Rod, you have a really strange view of the dynamics of the situation. I come from a shame/honor culture as well (or as I like to put it, “Sicilians! the people who brought you the word, vendetta!”), but had she said anything to me (highly unlikely), I wouldn’t have slapped her. I’d have said something nasty, and if I was close enough to knock over her card table with enough plausible deniability for it to have been an accident if the cops showed up, I’d’a done that.

    But fight? Are you kidding me? Do you know what happens to a working class woman who start a fight with another woman, particularly if that woman is older and/or of higher social class? She gets arrested, that’s what. And if her child is with her? And she’s a single parent? That child gets whisked into the foster care system lickety-split. It’ll be a couple-three weeks before she even gets to see her child again, and several months before they get to live together again. And that’s assuming she doesn’t lose her job from the arrest procedure (gets out of jail in time to make it to work). Noooo…..working class women are really aware of this, and won’t usually swing unless attacked first.

    The middle class women you were observing were adhering to their own cultural notions about women’s behavior. It had nothing to do with where they fell on the conservative-liberal spectrum and everything to do with making sure no one mistook them for a lower-rent version of woman (like me, LOL!). Norms of social class (and ethnicity) are strikingly different among women; not so much so among men. I can be mouthy and even fight without losing “face” among my own people (and within my own self-identity); that isn’t true for middle-class WASPs.

    FWIW, white (especially WASP) conservatives are the only people who’ve ever policed my own “fecundity” (I have one child)—being single and non-Christian is enough to trigger that response.

  14. EliteCommInc. says:

    ” My guess was that the working-class black woman pushing her stroller up the street wouldn’t have accepted that kind of vicious disrespect — not because, as some of you seem to think, blacks are inherently violent, but because no person with a sense of honor would just walk on by and accept being demeaned in that capacity, if they could effectively protest it. You forget that I come from a shame/honor culture.”

    Mmmmm . . .

    I think it is the default assumption about blacks and and aggression. It may not have been intentional but it seemed obvious. About black bashing — laughing.

    Anyone who has multiple children with multiple women none of whom they have been married to is cause to be knocked.

    Any black person, especially one in the public eye — who doesn’t get the message their behavior is sending
    has caused to be bashed.

    bash away . . .

  15. EliteCommInc. says:

    “Really? I know plenty of black people who get the brunt of many offensive comments and yet they continue to go on about their business without bothering to slap the offending party.
    I suspect most black people you know are no different, yet you’re convinced a black person would have responded with violence in that circumstance. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

    That is my experience but the default assumption has incredible force such black people themselves get boxed into unreal expectations and their credibility on any dispute rests on the false assumption that any act of force was initiated by them —-

    — the scary black men played with conscious and unconscious ease by whites.

  16. La Lubu says:

    A young black woman who physically attacked an older (“crazy”) white woman for merely saying something rude would not be treated kindly by police or the courts. Moreso if the white woman was middle-class and the black woman working class. A working class white woman would also not be treated kindly by the police or courts, but not as badly as a black woman.

    We all learn certain rules for behavior; the only person in the scenario you describe who wasn’t following the “rules” was the woman at the card table; the woman you identified as “crazy”. We all learn rule for dealing with “crazy”, too.

    It’s unkind/ungenerous of you to cast aspersions on the characters of the people walking by and ignoring this woman, when they all (for reasons relating to their own upbringing and well as racial, ethnic, gender, and class dynamics) were behaving according to “the rules”.

    What you were wanting from the black woman would have put her in jail, given her a record for violence that would have continued ramifications for her over the decades, and possibly destroyed her family (if her child ended up in foster care). Did you even think about that?

    Why didn’t you say anything? Are men not allowed to respond verbally to rudeness from a woman in your culture?

    [NFR: I did say something. I was the only one. I could not get over the fact that all these people who were being shockingly insulted by this crazy woman said nothing. Then again, you know how wound up I get about kids. If she had just insulted me, I would have laughed it off. But she was calling children vermin. BTW, when I call this woman “crazy,” I don’t mean “mentally ill.” Everybody who lives in a city knows that some homeless people are often mentally ill, and stand on the street corner and rant. You walk on by. This woman wasn’t obviously mentally ill. She was some kind of political nut. — RD]

  17. Ned says:

    I a white, professional, middle-class, in my mid-thirties and I can tell you that none of my friends are considering having more than two kids. And they (or I guess I should say we) absolutely look down on people who have lots of kids, though I don’t think it’s a proxy for looking down on the religious. Instead, there’s an unspoken conviction among us that in a two-income household it’s not possible to be a good parent to more than two kids. There’s too little time and too few resources to do the job adequately, and parents who nonetheless have three or four or more children are thus viewed as selfish. I’m not defending this point of view, but it’s very real. I don’t know anyone, for instance, who doesn’t feel extremely uncomfortable at the thought that one’s children would have to share a room growing up, and believe that in such a case, one would be failing one’s children, providing them less than they deserve.

  18. Michelle says:

    Everybody who lives in a city knows that some homeless people are often mentally ill, and stand on the street corner and rant. You walk on by. This woman wasn’t obviously mentally ill. She was some kind of political nut.

    Not all mentally ill people are obviously ill. But a ranting woman calling children vermin? That strikes me as being pretty off and not worthy of a response. She was clearly out to provoke people. By ignoring her, they refused to give her the attention she wanted. She was just another crazy in the big city. Nothing to see there.

    Your reaction amuses me given how bent out of shape you get when some liberal-type overreacts to a perceived insult. Your recent post on the college co-ed who had a PC hissy over a pro-Palestinian flyer shoved under her door comes to mind. I guess we all have our areas of sensitivity. This woman clearly got your goat if you can still get so worked up about the incident several years later.

  19. Glaivester says:

    The black people I know don’t have a dysfunctional culture and more than anyone else; heck, the black people I deeply know are mostly academics or immigrants or active military, all of which trend toward imbalanced overachievers.

    Has it ever occurred to you that you are looking at a very unrepresentative slice of the population? I went to Colby College, and I didn’t see the dysfunctional culture often referred to – but, the, Colby is mostly for people in the top 5%.

    As someone who grew up around virtually no blacks at all, knowing them as a kid primarily through Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, and G.I. Joe, every single such digression constantly strikes me as utterly bizarre.

    As someone who watches Law & Order, I am baffled by the constant fears of poor and minority crime, when TV tells us that most of the time the murderer is a middle-class to wealthy white person.

  20. A DC Wonk says:

    My concern in this whole post was people — and in my experience, they’re almost always white, and liberal — who criticize people from solid two-parent families who can afford to have big families.

    Conversely, I have heard, too often, from white conservatives, criticisms of those who either don’t want children, or only want one — calling those parents self-absorbed and selfish.

    Perhaps we all need to be a bit less judgmental of others.

  21. mrscracker says:

    “I don’t know anyone, for instance, who doesn’t feel extremely uncomfortable at the thought that one’s children would have to share a room growing up, and believe that in such a case, one would be failing one’s children, providing them less than they deserve.”
    **************************************
    I like to study family history & I ran across an account about one of my great-grandmothers who was widowed & shared a one room,dirt floored 14×14 foot cabin with six of her younger children.The older three children had married & moved on.
    I’m trying to imagine what she might have thought about the hardships of two children having to share a bedroom the size of her house.

  22. David J. White says:

    As someone who watches Law & Order, I am baffled by the constant fears of poor and minority crime, when TV tells us that most of the time the murderer is a middle-class to wealthy white person.

    Well, even people who watch a lot of TV know that you can’t believe everything you see on TV. 😉

  23. mwing says:

    “but because no person with a sense of honor would just walk on by and accept being demeaned in that capacity, if they could effectively protest it. You forget that I come from a shame/honor culture….”

    Um, I don’t get this? How is being insulted in passing by a random, otherwise harmless, and rather mental stranger demeaning? They probably just felt sorry for her. I guess you’re right this is a cultural thing, if I were one of those women I’d not see that this situation demanded a response. I also don’t bark at dogs. ;-P

    There totally is a sub-set of liberals who take the attitude of “no-one should have more than two kids for the good of the planet.” And they are just as annoying as described, and I say that having been once almost one of them.
    But I hear this far less now then back when I was in college. I think that’s for two reasons, first just because people grow up, and become less ideologically rigid with more experience.
    Also because world fertility rates are in fact dropping far faster than was predicted 25 years ago So the “Seven kids! What if everybody did that?!” line doesn’t really make sense when we know that everyone *isn’t* doing it.

  24. Church Lady says:

    What the C.O.D. (Culture of Death) pods really fear is, given that the future really does belong to the fertile, they are sterilizing themselves out of existence. Ergo…. the meek (Gasp!!!!!!!!! the weirdo breeders, proles and peasants) shall inherit the earth!

    And yet, all those people were the children of fertile parents! How does that happen? Well, somehow, the children of breeders don’t always wind up as breeders themselves. A word of caution to those parents who assume that their own children will turn out just like themselves. Life and reproduction doesn’t work that way.

  25. M_Young says:

    “I see that M_Young has, naturally, been happy to take this bait and run with it.”

    Actually no. Just like our host, I was directing my comments at the primarily white media, and primarily white society. At this point banging on about the disfunction so rampant in the black community is beating a dead horse.

  26. Glaivester says:

    It should be pointed out that black Americans are slowly decreasing as percentage of the population- down from a very consistent 14% from the 1850s to about 1990 to 13% around 2007. Probably hitting 12% by 2025.

    Actually, blacks hit a low point in 1930 at about 9.7% and have been increasing slowly ever since, with about 12.6% in 2010, according to Wikipedia.

  27. Maxi says:

    I’ve re-read the original post and all of the comments and I think what’s truly bothersome is the prejudice that seems to constrain your understanding of both the Deadspin writer and the anecdote about the crazy lady. I don’t mean prejudice in a malicious or bigoted way. I mean it in the sense that, based on your individual experiences alone, you formed conclusions that are not substantiated by the few facts that were available to you.

    Based on the location and the ages and races of the individuals involved and your own personal circumstances growing up, you formed an entire set of conclusions about what the middle class white women and the black lady believed, the values they possessed and the reactions they should have had. At most, you can only speculate on these things – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    The problem is that you don’t proffer your conclusions as mere speculation that is filtered through your very personal perspective. You come across as knowing with certainty why the white women didn’t respond. You’re certain that you know why the black lady didn’t respond, and you’re certain that her reason for not responding differs from the reasons of the white women. You’re certain that the Deadspin writer is piqued at Phillip Rivers’ religion. And you’re certain that the opinion of an obscure writer at Deadspin is representative of the “media” as a whole.

    On an intellectual level, I’m sure you recognize there is a possibility that your conclusions are wrong, but I wonder what kinds of arguments (not necessarily new details, but just arguments) could persuade you that you simply don’t know enough about the Deadspin writer, Phillip Rivers, those particular middle-class white women or that black woman that you perceived as working-class to use these two anecdotes to make any kind of larger point about fecundity, religion, class or race.

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