Friday, July 11, 2008

News . . . Through Kids' Eyes

As the national newscasts -- and nearly every news radio station to which I've tuned in in recent days -- have been full of stories about Rev. Jesse Jackson's "threat" to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's nether regions, my kids couldn't help but overhear snippets (no pun intended) of conversations about it. So it was of little surprise to me, when my 6-year-old son asked me in the middle of lunch this week, "What happens when somebody threatens to hurt the privates of the president?"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Don't they go to jail?"

"Well, uh . . ." I stumbled, trying to think of a clear way to explain real threats versus figures of speech.

"Don't we have free speech? You said we have free speech," chimed in my 9-year-old boy.

"Well, it depends. Not always."

"So you CAN say you're going to hurt a president's privates?" the 6-year-old asked.

"Well, Barack Obama isn't the president. He wants to be the president. (*giant pause*) . . . The people protecting him have to decide if someone is really threatening him and whether they think the person would actually do something to hurt him. THEN you could get arrested, if the security people really think you're a danger."

"So there ISN'T free speech?" the black-and-white thinking 9-year-old son asked.

"There is, but you just can't threaten like you mean it."

Okay, I'll admit, at that point, I was struggling with explaining that Jesse Jackson really didn't mean that he wanted to literally castrate Obama, and that if he really was serious about it, he'd be arrested. Bet my mother didn't have to have discussions like this with me 30+ years ago . . . at least politicians knew not to say idiotic things while wearing microphones in a television studio.


Dawn on MDI said...

Nay, nay! The press were complicit in covering up the gaffes and rude remarks of politicians back then. How many snide remarks have we heard about JFK's legendary philandering, but nothing was ever mentioned in the media? America never saw FDR in a wheelchair or with his legs in braces.

The media has changed. The politicians are as stupid and human as ever.

Meredith said...

Excellent points Dawn.