Re­mark gar­nered na­tional at­ten­tion


Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - Con­tin­ued from B

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.)

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