tive to medical treatment. Medical testimonynpresented by the prosecutionnrevealed not only that Robyn’s ailmentncould have been detected by an X-raynand corrected by surgery, but that hencould also have been resuscitated up tonthirty minutes after he fell into cardiacnarrest. According to the prosecution,nRobyn had been dead for at least thirtynminutes and possibly for as long asnseveral hours by the time he wasnbrought to Boston’s Carney Hospital.nA similar scene is being played outnin Hamilton County, Indiana, wherenlast April 15 six-month-old SeannWoodrum died of untreated bronchialnpneumonia. His parents are membersnof a religious sect called Faith Assembly,nwhich shuns any use of medicinenand requires physical healing by prayernalone. As of this writing, the parentsnare awaiting trial on charges of recklessnhomicide. The parents’ defense? Freedomnof religion.nSuch cases are not uncommon. Innfact, the organization CHILD — Children’snHealthcare Is a Legal Duty —nhas identified 140 cases of religiouslynbased medical neglect in which childrenndied. Started in 1983 by ex-nChristian Scientist Rita Swan, whosenown 16-month-old son died in 1977nwhen she and her husband and ChristiannScience practitioners attempted toncure his meningitis solely with prayer,nthe organization has been at the forefrontnof the movement to repeal thenstate immunity laws that condonenmedical neglect in the name of freedomnof religion. (Forty-three states andnthe District of Columbia have laws thatnshield medical neglect cases from childnabuse charges and six states have exemptionsnallowing for “nonmedical remedialntreatment.” Only one state,nSouth Dakota, has repealed all suchnexemptions and immunity laws.) Hernorganization’s philosophy is simple:nthat the First Amendment is not withoutnits limits and responsibilities, thatnfreedom of religion does not allownindividuals to deprive their children ofnnecessary medical care. (More informationnabout this organization can benobtained by writing CHILD, Inc.,nP.O. Box 2604, Sioux City, Iowa,n51106.)nFreedom of religion, however, is butnone of many specious arguments currentiynin vogue to explain and justifynthe death of children. The successfulninsanity defense of 18-year-old ClairenHilary Moritt of Hollywood is as offensivenin its absurdity as it is gruesome innits detail. A college student at HillsboroughnCommunity College in Tampa,nFlorida, Ms. Moritt was charged withnfirst-degree murder in October 1989nfor drowning in a dormitory bathroomnthe six-pound, nine-ounce boy she hadnjust given birth to moments before.nRoommates found the dead newbornnstuffed headfirst in a toilet. Although itnis clear that Ms. Moritt committed thenact, she was acquitted of all charges lastnApril. Her successful defense? A “dissociativendisorder” had caused her tonforget that she was pregnant and thatnshe had given birth and to kill the babynduring a bout of temporary insanity.nMs. Moritt’s sanity miraculouslynreappeared with news of the acquittal.nShe told the press that shenplanned to continue her collegeneducation so that she could “studynlaw and be able to help other people”—nother wrongly accused “victims,”nno doubt.nThe deaths of these children exposenmany paradoxes. Just as we forbid asninsensitive the public display of Nativitynscenes while funding a crucifixnsubmerged in urine, we encouragensocial service agencies to intervene innfamilies that spank their children whilendeeming the life of a newborn to be nonmore important than that of the unborn.nFathers are allowed no say innabortion decisions, but they are given antax break for making decisions that leadnto the death of their children (federalntax law considers faith healing a deductiblenmedical expense). And withnmany of the children who are dyingnfrom medical neglect dying amid greatnsuffering and pain (Robyn Twitchellnwas reportedly vomiting, dehydrated,nand in a near comatose state before hendied), we can only wonder about thenmeaning and worth of our laws againstncruel and unusual punishment.nIn other words, responsibility for thendeaths of these children should ofncourse be laid at their parents’ door,nbut some of the blame must also fall onnthe kinder and gentler and more sensitivensociety we have fashioned andnfussed over for decades — one thatnmeasures the virtue of its culture by thendegree to which rights and newfangledninterpretations of rights can be furtherednat the expense of such old-nnnfashioned principles as moral responsibilitynand individual accountability.nFreedom of religion once meant thenright to worship in public, until thengovernment began telling us wherenand how we can worship. Now itnmeans the right to kill children. Perhapsnit’s time to give the continent backnto the Aztecs.n— Theodore PappasnTHE SIMPSONS is both the hottestnand the most controversial program onntelevision. At first sight, a cartoon shownfor children and adults is not promisingnmaterial for “equality” TV (remembernThe Flintstones? The ]etsons?). Worse,nthe graphic style of the show is asndisturbing as any drawing we have evernprinted in Chronicles: the Simpsonsnthemselves are only grotesque, butnother characters, like the bartenderjnhave sinister, bestial faces.nThe most controversial aspect of thenshow is not the graphics, but the portrayalnof a family of chronic underachievers.nThere are Simpsons T-shirtsnthat bear the slogan: “I’M AN UN-nDERACHIEVER AND PROUDnOF IT.” Drug Czar William Bennettntakes this seriously enough to lash outnat patients in a Pittsburgh drug-treatmentncenter. According to the APnstory, when Bennett spied a poster ofnBart Simpson, he exclaimed: “Younguys aren’t watching the Simpsons, arenyou? That’s not going to help younany.” A spokesman for the show confinednhimself to a dry rejoinder: “I amnnot aware of any one TV program thatnwill help teenagers kick the drug habit.”nBut, considering the impact ofntelevision on its young viewers, Mr.nBennett had raised a legitimate question.nThe trouble is. The Simpsons maynbe among the most moral TV programsnever offered to family audiences.nBy “moral,” I mean concerned withnquestions of right and wrong. Onenepisode found Bart asking his father ifnpopularity was really important. Informednthat it was the most importantnthing in the world, the boy goes outnand decapitates the statue of the town’snfounder, as his friends had pressurednhim to do. When the town goes intonshock and mourning, the boy eventuallynconfesses to his parents. His fathernwillingly assumes responsibility andnAUGUST 1990/9n