At the end of Camelot, a despondent King Arthur, on the eve of a terrible battle he is loathe to fight, encounters a cheerful young boy bent on joining his majesty’s forces for the fray.
Arthur is impressed with the boy’s moxy, but “Suppose,” he asks, “they kill you?”
“Then I shall be dead, Milord,” the boy allows. “But I don't intend to be dead. I intend to be a knight.”
The remembrance of that conversation came one recent afternoon on the heels of two reports. One was the latest publication of the American Freshman Survey, which has been taking the pulse of the nation’s newest college students since 1966. Over nine million students have taken that survey, in the course of a crowded near-half-century, but none of them felt as confident of themselves and their dreams as the current crop.
To a significantly higher degree than ever before, according to those compiling the survey, this year’s freshmen describe themselves as “above average” in terms of their academic prowess, their driving ambition, their math skills, and their general sense of being—like Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way.”
In short, these young people, like King Arthur’s boy before them, are eager and ready to wade into whatever the world has waiting, with every intention of winning whatever passes for knighthood in our very unCamelot culture.
These oh-so-confident freshmen, of course, have one distinct advantage, going in: no one killed them.
Which brings to mind the second report of that recent afternoon: the one that announced Planned Parenthood’s latest recordbreaking financial success. The organization says, with not a little pride, that it accomplished the execution of 334,000 babies in 2011—the most ever in a single year. Between 2009 and 2011, the group killed close to a million.
And they made a handsome profit at this ugly business, securing nearly $1.2 billion in revenue in 2010 alone—more than $542 million (a little less than half) of it from government funding. That government funding has increased by 167 percent over the last 10 years.
Many will protest that Planned Parenthood does a lot more than kill babies, or even facilitate the killing of babies (they gave out nearly one-and-a-half million “emergency contraception kits” in 2010). They also screen for cancer … though screenings are down 29 percent. And they make abortion referrals … 2,300 that same banner year (about 145 per abortion).
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.