Just last week I got another email from Time magazine. “We want you back,” the subject line says. No thanks!
I canceled my subscription after Time ran a story last May about breastfeeding, with the provocative cover headline “Are You MOM ENOUGH?” and an obscene cover photo of a 3-year-old standing on a chair, with his mother's left breast in his mouth. The mom had a defiant smirk on her face as if daring anyone to object.
The story was about how long children should be breast-fed but the cover generated another, entirely different story. Whether you object to, or endorse, the practice of nursing a 3-year-old is a matter of opinion; in some societies it's perfectly normal. But this practice is meant for private places, not open to viewing by millions of people of every age, especially in a country where we are so pathetically uneducated about the sacred value of the human body.
That cover photo bordered on child pornography. And I wasn't alone, judging from the comments I read on the Web. One writer asked how to delete the image from his computer, lest he face arrest for possession of child porn.
Time's photo didn't serve its readers. It was meant to provoke controversy and thus boost sales, without regard to the potential long-term consequences for a child who will most likely become an object of ridicule. Some enterprising editor in search of a quick story a decade from now is certain to go looking for that lad when he's 13 and ask if he would have wanted to be depicted in that way. And one can only imagine what his classmates will say if they ever find out.
My question: Do we have so much freedom today that parents are now “free” to lead vulnerable children into virtually any kind of behavior, without restraint? And what message do subscribers convey when they refuse to cancel their subscriptions?