THE BLOG
08/20/2013 03:45 pm ET | Updated Oct 20, 2013

The Price Is Righteous

This week's poll from the Lester & Charlie Institute of Forward Thinking!

Everybody loves game shows! Solve a puzzle. Answer trivia. Know the correct price of anything from a new dinette set to a six pack of Schlitz. If you're lucky, you win prizes. Money. A new car. A trip somewhere exotic!

Well, in the unlikely event that your exotic trip ends up being a one-way ticket to Pakistan, you might not want to go on a local game show to try to win your return-trip ticket.

Why is that? Because, though you might win a motorbike or washing machine, you might also win a baby.

That's right: a baby. And not necessarily because you wanted one. On the crazy-popular game show Aman Ramazan -- sometimes called the Islamic Price is Right. -- the megastar host, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, regarded at once as both a religious scholar and a sex symbol, has been astonishing contestants by handing them, as game prizes, abandoned infants found by Pakistan's Chhipa Welfare Association. "Our team finds babies abandoned on the street, in garbage bins -- some of them dead, others mauled by animals," says the association's Ramzan Chhipa. "So why not ensure the baby is kept alive and gets a good home?"

Well, that's nice. Still, call us crazy, but it would seem that the first criterion of "a good home" would be making sure the baby is wanted. And planned for. Heck, even unwed teenage mothers have something close to nine months to get used to the idea. And, presumably, they don't discover their impending parenthood on live television. Handing a couple a free baby on TV just doesn't seem sane.

But what's sanity when there's an abandoned baby to consider? Or, for that matter, ratings? Competition is fierce in Pakistan during the month of Ramadan, and Hussain's show has to compete with shows featuring exorcisms, models who have posed nude, and live broadcasts of Hindus converting to Islam.

Not everyone, however, is buying Hussain's contention that his sole aim is to unify a fractured nation. "Giving away the baby stunt on television was the worst violation of media ethics I can think of," says one writer based in the same city where the show is filmed. And, though the show claims to have its own (undisclosed) "vetting process," no paperwork appears to be in place before the unsuspecting couples are presented with infants. Making things more complicated, adoption isn't officially recognized in Pakistan. Even if one of these couples falls in love with their surprise baby, they'll still have to appear in family court and apply for guardianship.

All of this seems remarkably cruel. So, of course, we're pretty sure that American conservatives would approve.

Why? Well, what could possibly be more to a Republican's liking than taking away someone's choice of when to be a parent? Even better, everyone can pretend that they're working that family-values magic while doing nothing at all to help parents raise a baby even minutes after they can call themselves parents. Isn't that what "compassionate conservatism" is all about? And it's all faith-based, no less!

Republicans eat this kind of crap for breakfast. So that's got us wondering: What's going to happen when American conservatives get wind of that awesome game show in Pakistan that's giving away babies? They'll want their own show in America, of course! But we have a feeling they're not going to stop at giving away free kids that no one wants. What else might they give away? What do YOU think?


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