And They Will Answer for It

An illustration of journalism and media propaganda, by Henry Van Dyke:

“Suppose I undertake to prove the wickedness of marriage as it exists in the city of New York.

“In this discussion, suppose the Bible is excluded, or at least that it is not recognized as having exclusive jurisdiction in the decision of the question.

“My first appeal is to the statute law of the State. I show there enactments which nullify the law of God and make divorce a marketable and cheap commodity. I collect the advertisements of your daily papers, in which lawyers offer to procure the legal separation of man and wife for a stipulated price, to say nothing in this sacred place of other advertisements which decency forbids me to quote.

“Then I turn to the records of our criminal courts, and find that every day some cruel husband beats his wife, or some unnatural parent murders his child, or some discontented wife or husband seeks the dissolution of the marriage bond.

“In the next place, I turn to the orphan asylums and hospitals, and show there the miserable wrecks of domestic tyranny in wives deserted, and children maimed by drunken parents.

“In the last place, I go through our streets and into our tenement houses, and count the thousands of ragged children who, amid ignorance and filth, are training for the prison and gallows.

“Summing all these facts together, I put them forth as the fruits of marriage in the city of New York, and a proof that the relation itself is sinful. If I were a novelist, and had written a book to illustrate this same doctrine, I would call this array of facts a “Key.”

“In this key I say nothing about the sweet charities and affections that flourish in ten thousand homes, not a word about the multitude of loving kindnesses that characterize the daily life of honest people, about the instruction and discipline that are training children at ten thousand firesides for usefulness here and glory hereafter; all this I ignore, and quote only the statute book, the newspapers, the records of criminal courts, and the miseries of the abodes of poverty.

“Now, what have I done? I have not misstated or exaggerated a single fact. And yet, am I not a falsifier and slanderer of the deepest die ? Is there a virtuous woman or an honest man in this city whose cheeks would not burn with indignation at my one-sided and injurious statements?”


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