Remark garnered national attention
Resources put me on track, but the Internet offered no immediate clues.
So I headed downstairs to the dark cage where we store old clippings. It’s scary down there. There should be eerie organ music.
I found this in a Feb. 27, 1979, Associated Press story: “The chairman of the Texas Board of Human Resources says a person should lose the right to have children if he or she can’t support them – much as a prisoner loses rights by breaking society’s rules.”
“I’ve always felt when you cannot support yourself or your family that you give up certain rights,” Moore had told reporters. “One of these is bringing in more children. ... I think it’s a right you give up and if you don’t want to give that up, get a job and get off of welfare.”
Subsequent articles quoted Moore saying, “If I were in complete charge, I would tell welfare clients they should practice birth control. If they had another child then I would favor mandatory sterilization.”
Moore eventually said it was just a concept, something he knew never could become law. Nevertheless, howls of protest ensued. And, because we are Texas, there also was support for Moore’s idea, noted back then by Joseph Fiorenza, then San Angelo’s Catholic bishop.
“There are evidently many people writing letters to editors and to Mr. Moore agreeing with him,” Fiorenza said at the time. “We felt that we had an obligation to speak on behalf of poor people whose human rights would be violated if his suggestion became public policy.”
In the Legislative Reference Library’s computerized newspaper archives, I found a March 5, 1980, story in which Moore told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Judith Curtis he’d fielded 50 letters and calls about his comments, with 12 or so in support of his idea.
“I’ve always been free with an opinion, which is what it may be worth,” he told Curtis, adding, “sooner or later there has to be a stop to this whole welfare picture.”
Moore also noted he wasn’t “seeking powers to implement what I said.”
“I can see where it’d stir up a flap,” he said, “Anything that’s constructive stirs up a flap.”
As flaps often do, this one died down, but not before it went viral, or as viral as things could go back then. It garnered national attention, including on NBC’s “Today” show.
“He was candid and plain-spoken,” Moore’s official obit said, “never leaving anyone in doubt as to where he stood on just about anything.”
There can be nobody around today who agrees with Moore’s noxious, long-ago comments on this particular thing. (If you’re reading this online, please feel free to use the comments section below to prove me wrong.)