Houston Chronicle Saturday/ February 28,1581
The lie that won't die
Rumors continue to
THE LIE THAT won't die is circulating in Houston again, causing
frustration for the local office of the
Federal Communications Commission.
"It's picking up again/' says Allen
Cantrell, engineer-in-charge of the
Houstonofficeof the FCC.
It's a very simple, interesting story,
except for one problem: It isn't true.
The lie goes like this: Famed atheist
Madalyn Murray O'Hair has filed a
petition with the"FCC seeking to force
religious broadcasting off the airwaves.
As hundreds of other FCC employees
around the country have been saying
for years, Cantrell again this week
said the story isn't true. Ms. O'Hair
has not, (repeat, has not) filed any
The genesis of the rumor is well
known. How to stop it isn't.
It got started in 1974 when two California men. Jeremy D. Lansman and
Lorenzo W. Milam sought to keep new-
religious programming off the airwaves reserved for education. They
did not ask to eliminate current religious programming in any way and
did not ask to limit new programming
on commercial stations.
The FCC turned down the Lansman-
Miiam petition, and that was that, so
the FCC thought.
Ms. O'Hair, of Austin, has been in-
by Austin atheist
volved in a number of petitions and
law suits seeking to remove religion
from the government and schools, but.
she was never involved in the
Lansman-Milam petition. In fact, she
didn't even support it.
But somehow as the story spread
Ms. O'Hair's name got attached to
the exaggerated petition. Today, the
rumor does not bear the names of
Lansman and Milam, and the two men
would likely not even recognize their
own petition in the rumor because it
has grown to such proportions.
It would all be hilariously funny, except for the problems the rumor is
causing the FCC. Millions and millions
of petitions and phone calls have pour-,
ed into FCC offices, requiring millions
of federal dollars to sort and answer
the calls and petitions. They corner
from concerned people wanting to;
fight Ms. O'Hair Vpetition. Thousands
of churches across the country, including Houston, have printed false statements that the petition exists, thus
adding credence to the lie.
This week the local FCC office began
calling the Houston media to say that
the petitions and phone calls are picking up again. "It's heavier than it was
a year ago," said Cantrell.
Said Martha Wiiliford of the local
FCC office: "Please help us stop this
rumor/' — LOUIS MOORE
Ctaaf. «9£f ^
Sunday, March 1,1981
Leaping into the flay
£ 1981, Chicago Sun-Times
NOBODY but a hermit has to be told that child abuse is a terrible
problem. Not long ago. aa Illinois couple was charged with
murder when a 5-year-oid child was beaten beyond description.
There are so many suspected cases that law enforcement agencies
can't keep up with them.
There's nothing new about child abuse. It's not something thai
came along in modern times It's been going on as long as there have
b< ' on defenseless
children. years has society
recognized the problem and stepped in with laws to protect these
Getting the laws through hasn't been easy since it was long accept
ed that parents pretty well 1
their own children, includini
state can step in and pr
will be safe.
what they chose with
aching bags. Children
se is bad enough; the
I put the child where it
Most people wouldn't argue with that concept. If anything, mord
enforcement is needed. More children die of abuse than of many
cmkihood diseases for which we've found medical cures. People who
work in the child-abuse field are constantly frustrated by the hit-or-
miss process of uncovering the abuse before it is too fate, and by
judges who return children to homes where it is just a matter of time1
before they'U be pounded again. I
But progress has been made, and most people would agree that it'd
a good thing. Most people, but not all.
There is one group that would like to see the child-abuse law^
softened to the point where a parent could whip a child without it
being anybody's business but the wielder of the whip. J
And what organization would be this cold-hearted?
None other than the Moral Majority, that grim-lipped network o£
It seems that the Moral Majority was upset when it learned that af
social worker in Indianapolis had taken a child away from a divorced
father when the child's maternal grandparents complained that thej
father was whipping the child so severely that he was raising welts. '
The Moral Majority did not think that welts on the child's body
w^re a sufficient reason to take it from its natural father.
A preacher who is the leader of the Indiana branch of the Morar
Majority said the Bible tells parents to whip their children to discW
pline them. The father who raised welts on a little child was just!
following the Good Book's teachings.
So in order to prevent social workers from interfering with those
parents who would follow the teachings of the Bible by beating the
living hell out of a defenseless child, the Moral Majority is going to
lobby to get Indiana's child- abuse laws changed.
If it gets the changes that it wants, a parent will be able to whip an
infant in its crib without any godless social workers doing the work of
the oP devil and snatching the child away, hallelujah!
Fortunately, most people don't think the way the Moral Majority
does. Even in so conservative a state as Indiana, it's not likelv that
the child-abuse laws will be weakened to the point of permitting the
whipping of infants. But it gives us a warning as to the kind of weird
ideas we can expect from the Moral Majority, which intends to
become a social and political power during these "conservative times.
These people are going to try to stick their noses into the nation's
bedrooms and forbid* anything that offends them I or, in their own
secret dreams, titillates them). They are going to peek in our clothes
hampers and brood about what we are doing that might be fun when
they ain't looking.
Some of them are concerned about motels along interstate highways renting to couples that can't prove they are married. Others
are frantic about a bakery that, as a tcngue-in-cheek" stunt, sells
The thing to remember about the Moral Majority is that their
areas of "reform" have nothing to do with morality — they have to
do wi:h their personal hangups.
Their attitude is that if they don't like it, or if they like it but are
afraid of being struck by lightning, or if they like it but can't find
anybody to do it with — then nobodv else should do il. „
So we have people who can't think of any other way to reason with
a small child than by whipping it wanting whips snapping off hunks
of babies' hides all over the country. We have people who can't see
the ribald humor in sexy cookies wanting the rest of th^ country
forbidden from buying them. We have people who can't pass a motel
without having dirty thoughts about what must be going on in those
rooms rx I anybody they don't approve of checking in.
l-': ' st a
ers do in a motel room or their own bedroom, or what t^nd of cookies
other people buy.
And - pie don't think the Lord really wants parents whip-
sadistic hearts' content
ty is going to pursu<
.o have a catch;.
Sot ke:*'Families that fiay together, pr"u> together/'
a bumper sticker, preacher?