The Christian Science Monitor‘s ‘Modest Proposal’

Swiftian logic. (
Swiftian logic. (

The Christian Science Monitor, a publication not really known for their piercing satirical coverage, was forced to clarify their headline and opener from an article about baby smells.

“Why do people want to eat babies? Scientists explain,” crowed the headline, which then boasted a picture of a succulant newborn with the caption “This delicious-looking infant is wearing a onesie from J. Crew’s new baby collection.” And then if you still hadn’t gotten it, the story started with the led: “If you’re like most normal people, you’ve briefly considered eating a baby or two.”

Now, this wasn’t a Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” or anything, but it was about how women’s brains turn into mush after they smell an infant.

But after what we can only imagine was the immense amount of blowback from people who still think The Christian Science Monitor is a religious publication, the editors were forced to add this qualifier:

Story updated

Based on responses to this story, I should probably make something absolutely clear: You should never attempt to actually eat a baby.

The headline, subhead, and lead to this story are not meant be taken seriously. Together they are, in the parlance of journalism, “the thing that gets people to read the article.”

There is never any excuse to harm a child. The impulse that I described in this article does not take the form of an urge to literally bite, chew, and digest a small infant.

Rather, in my experience at least, it arises in utterances such as, “Your baby is so cute I could just eat him all up!” and in behaviors such as placing the baby’s toes against the lips and repeatedly uttering the syllable “nom,” in an attempt to elicit a giggle from the baby.

I realize now that such phrases and actions are not actually very common. Or normal.

Still, I hope that you will not only stand firm with me in refraining from infant cannibalism, but that you will also urge your friends, family members, and neighbors to do the same.

— Eoin O’Carroll, September 24, 2013

GOOD TO KNOW! <em>The Christian Science Monitor</em>‘s ‘Modest Proposal’