THERE'S A STRANGER IN YOUR HOUSE
by Jerry McGuire
On an average of six times a day, there's a stranger in your house, a
stranger who has free access to your children and unlimited influence
on their lives. The task of the stranger is simple. Its goal is to
limit our ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. After all,
that's what the stranger is all about.
The stranger often teaches our children things we would detest. It
uses language which is gross and offensive. It shows our children
things which are shocking and repulsive. This stranger has no concern
for the age, experience or vulnerability of its victims. The stranger
comes visiting at all hours without warning and is devious regarding
its true intent. Its messages are often deceptive and appealing to
young, innocent minds.
This stranger is cunning and has learned through years of practice
and billions of dollars in research, how to enter the very soul of
its prisoners. It has become an expert at exploiting audiences and
trains them to go seek new participants. Recently the stranger has
been "transformed" into a plastic cartridge which allows it to enter
your home anytime and deliver its message of demand without time
The stranger has become so accepted in our homes that it has been
given a place of honor in most of our rooms. It has even been allowed
to join us during meals, as long as the meals do not disturb its
message. Ironically, whenever the stranger joins us, it usually
becomes the center of attention, rather than a stranger. At our
dining tables we allow it to talk about things which would not be
allowed during most family discussions.
Although this stranger can be crude, obscene and vulgar, we have
decided that it can explain some things better than parents. We have
given it permission to explain life, sex, family values, ethics and
love. We depend upon it to define our values and priorities. We've
turned over child care and family entertainment to its expertise.
We've determined that we cannot live without its stimulation,
motivation and sublimation. We have submitted ourselves, the lives of
our children, to this stranger.
We spend untold hours telling our children of the dangers of
strangers. We teach them not to talk to strangers, walk with
strangers, ride with strangers or take things from strangers.
However, with this special stranger, anything goes.
Everyday for an average of six hours, we give our children to the
"stranger of the tube." Everyday the stranger talks to our children
more than most parents do in a month. We allow the stranger to teach
them things and use language for which we would have a real stranger
arrested. We allow the stranger to cheat, lie, demonstrate how to
commit crimes and how to avoid, and beat, our judicial system.
Without hesitation, the stranger mocks parents, belittles people of
honor, makes fun of moral values, denies honorable beliefs, and
scoffs at family and cultural traditions.
The stranger is powerful. It has thousands of employees who further
its causes and develop its sophistication. It is so powerful that if
it stops performing, we will use any means to acquire a new one
immediately -- usually bigger, better, louder, and more detailed and
preferably with attachable appendages to assist the stranger in
accomplishing its purpose.
Recently some interested groups are advocating that the stranger
should become a regular part of the daily curriculum in our schools.
It would be allowed to visit our children without censorship or a
preview of its presentation or contents. It would also be allowed to
advertise its supporters and special interests.
Fortunately, the stranger is not entirely evil. Like any visitor, it
has characteristics of value and interest. However, its behavior and
influence on the lives of our children must be monitored. Parents
must determine how much influence they want to turn over to the
stranger when it is visiting.
There's a stranger in your house. It's keeping our children from
doing their homework. It's preventing parents and children from
talking together. The stranger is coming between members of the
family. It has become the center of our society. We might consider
scheduling its visits, and determining what we will allow the
stranger to discuss and demonstrates when it visits our family.
Jerry McGuire Superintendent, Butte County Schools