Saturday, December 12, 2009

Family Values Burning Bright

Tiger tiger, burning dim
What an awful man is him:
Betrayed his wife, cause for censure,
And even worse, betrayed his sponsor.

Tiger Woods played golf like an angel. He also advertised shaving products, promoted a few good causes with a little of his billions, and is a father (probably good) and a husband (very bad), And, oh yes, he was a spokesman for 'family values'. This I learn from the Irish media, via the UK media, from the US media, who seem to draw it from the very air they breath. There is no doubt: Tiger Woods represented 'family values'. He ran on that ticket, stood on that platform, espoused that cause, so now he deserves to be driven from that office which, since it's one he won by popular acclamation, involves a process of popular denigration. 'Family values' will not be cheapened by association with this wretch, say the divorced, part-time parent spokespeople for the abortion promoting, porno providing US media networks. 'Family values' are too important.

Let's unpick this conceptual knot. Sure, he appeared in public with his wife and appeared affectionate towards her. But so does every adulterous hound. Does walking across a golf-course with a woman say at every step, 'I am being faithful to this my bride'. No. Marriage has an inside and a outside, everyone who's been married knows that. And the media people have nearly all been married - lots of times. So why was it imputed? And why, once imputed, so valueable?

If family values exist in any workable way, they must be values that make family life viable - things like charity, constancy, selflessness, honesty, thrift, stamina, humour - each of us would put them in different order, in our own family's special recipe. Balzac, in Cousin Bette, said 'family life would be impossible without a great deal of forgiving'. Truth is, 'family' values cannot exist independently of moral values. And the media widely holds moral values to be relative. I mean, if Woods had announced he was gay or about to undergo a sex change they media would have supported him, the sponsors not dare drop him. But would his wife have been any less heart-broken?

America is a land of broken families. And it's a land bewitched by illicit sex. Seems to me it treats the concept of family values like a sort of crown jewels - they're really valueable, too valueable to be used, in fact, but they're pretty to look at when locked safely in a glass case in a maximum security palace. Poor Tiger found out that palace was his own luxury Floridian mansion.

No comments: