Some newspaper columnists chronicle appalling injustices in faraway places. Others find them right under their noses.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore called attention to a home-grown outrage that the rest of the press has all but ignored.
“Diving boards are disappearing across America,” reported Moore in a Weekend Journal column.
Moore appeared yesterday morning on Fox & Friends First to talk about the cruel trend and how it came to his attention.
Explained Moore: “This story began at our local club in Fairfax, Virginia, where I belong to a club that for 30 years, we’ve had a high diving board and this summer our club opened up for the swimming season and there was no high diving board.” Being a journalist, Moore “got to inquiring” and was told that “liability insurance had gotten too high for us to afford to have a high diving board.” Moore “did some [more] inquiring” and, “it turns out, that high diving boards across the country are being taken down. In fact, there are very few clubs left that have high diving boards…” There are very few clubs left that have high diving boards. If you aren’t feeling outraged by now …
Yes, we know the Weekend Journal is “devoted to the leisure pursuits of the affluent American.” Yes, we understand that Moore’s column was really a seasonally appropriate means of grumbling about trial lawyers (the column’s sub-head tipped us off: “Lawyers took our diving board”) — and grumbling also about our “risk averse” culture (“We now see unacceptable dangers from even the most routine activities” and “have created peanut-butter-free school zones, ‘soft’ baseballs, army figures without guns, parks without seesaws, and full body armor for bike riding”).
But that doesn’t mean we can’t poke fun at it — and at Fox’s treatment of the story (as Moore talked about swim club kids unable to do “flying cannonballs” and Fox’s Steve Doocy wondered how often people “get hurt diving off a high board?” Fox rolled footage of drunken spring breakers belly-diving into a pool).
So once you’ve bemoaned the removal of the diving board at your swim club, bashed kids with peanut allergies and mocked protective bike-riding gear, where do you go next? How do you wind that column down?
Cue the hyperbolic reminiscence. Moore’s final four sentences: “When I was in college, I lived in a two-story apartment complex with a pool in the middle. There was no diving board, so we climbed on the roof — sometimes drunk — took a running start, leaped across 10 or 15 feet of cement walkway and plunged into the pool. It was incredibly dangerous and incredibly exhilarating. And we did it not even knowing that, if we undershot and broke our necks, we would have had grounds for a million-dollar lawsuit.”
But back to the pressing present-day issue: With “very few clubs left that have high dives,” what’s a Fox-watching, Wall Street Journal-reading thrill-seeker to do?
“You’re better off with your own pool with your own high dive,” observed Fox’s Doocy.
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.
Why didn’t we think of that?