Thursday, October 19, 2006

Moral panic on Madonna

Adoption is a noble act. Giving a family to a child with none is just about the best thing that can be given. It is a great commitment and sacrifice. Rewarding, yes, but a noble act beyond what most of us will ever achieve.

It is not something I have done and I will not criticise anybody who does. It would be mean spirited to say to any adopter - you could have done it differently; you should have adopted somebody else; I impute shallow motives to you.

Madonna attracts this kind of attention because of her celebrity, and a little notoriety. We like our celebrities to be shallow. What a disappointment when they are not.

Lifting a child out of extreme poverty into extreme wealth is a good thing to do. Why does it make us uncomfortable? If we fail to praise the good when we see it, due to some inarticulable discomfort, it is our own motives we should be examining.

Due process? Give me a break! Get some perspective! There are miscarriages of justice, people's lives ruined by lack of due process. One life is being unruined. Is that your priority?

The child will lose contact with his culture? Perhaps. I take the view that people own cultures, cultures do not own people. When he develops interests in his origins he will be able to explore them. But he is not the property of his origins, he is a baby who needs a family.

If you or I were adopting a child and were subject to this media circus and moralistic indignation, we would be outraged. Adoption is a personal family matter, where celebrities should be shown the same respect as anyone else. Butt out, people.



Tristan said...

Here here.

The complaints are ridiculous, many seem steeped in an anti-western, anti-progress attitude which harks back to the noble savage mythology.

I believe they contacted the child's father, who had to put the child in an orphanage because he couldn't afford milk for the baby. His reaction is to thank Madonna (he didn't know who she was) for giving his son a home and opportunities he never could have given him.

Karen said...

There is more to providing for a child than just feeding and clothing them. You should do a bit of research and speak and work with people who have been adopted or fostered. This would allow you to have a better perspective. Some of the people who have criticised this adoption have this perspective. Sometimes when you think you are doing a "good" thing it is actually the wrong thing.
Progress is helping people to help themselves to be strong and independent.

Joe Otten said...

But Karen, why this presumption that Madonna will be a bad parent? What normal person would be treated like this?

Sharon J said...

I do think this is a difficult subject because there's more than one facet, but isn't there always? Personally, I'm of the belief that more good could be done by helping children in their own environments than by giving one child extreme riches.

I'm not entirely convinced that it's Madonna's celebrity status that's caused people to react so strongly (although that's obviously what caused the original media circus) but the kind of money she has available and the good she has the means to do for more than just this one child.

Joe Otten said...


I think almost everybody could do a lot more good with the money they have than they actually do. And Madonna has given over $1million to Malawi childrens work. So I don't see what grounds we have to criticise.

And I have a great deal of sympathy for the desire to give something of yourself, and not just your money.