Sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann poked fun at large families this week after U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney shared a Christmas photo of his children and grandchildren on social media.
Olbermann, 62, posted Romney’s photo on his Twitter feed, suggesting the pro-life Republican leader’s family is too large. Romney and his wife, Ann, have five children and 25 grandchildren, according to Ann’s Twitter profile. They are Mormon.
“Somebody gift these people some vasectomies,” Olbermann responded.
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Somebody gift these people some vasectomies pic.twitter.com/hp5RAUF3pk
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) December 29, 2021
Apparently, he never has experienced the joys and blessings of a large family. Olbermann has no children of his own.
His criticism met with a sharp backlash on Twitter as people defended Romney and others with large families.
“What a reprehensible, cruel thing to say about a kind man and his wonderful family,” commenter Stephen Simpson replied. “I feel so sorry for you. I sincerely hope you find love, grace and compassion.”
Others told Olbermann that he went too far by attacking Romney’s children, and urged him to recognize the joy that children bring to their families.
“I’m a moderate democrat but this hate, on both sides, over religious and political differences has to stop,” another commenter David Wallace wrote. “It’s tearing us all apart at a vulnerable time. We all need to do better.”
Commenter Hans Fiene added, “Having children can bring immense joy to your life. Consider giving it a try.” Another commented, “Really? A large, loving family is a blessing. Honestly media discourse in this country is in the gutter.”
Someone else pointed out how weird it is that “a big happy family would make [Olbermann] so upset.”
Catholic Answers posted a similar comment asking, “Why, Keith? Which of the people in this picture should not exist, and for what reason?”
Catholic author and pro-life advocate Charlie Camosy also questioned Olbermann’s reaction, writing, “The kind of anger that the mere existence of large families produces in certain people is just such an important sign of the times.”
Olbermann did not explain what his problem is with Romney’s large family, though some people suggested it may have something to do with environmental issues. Whatever the reason, his attitude is not uncommon. There is a social stigma about large families, and parents often face criticism for having more than two or three children.
This stigma is affecting society, too. Birth and marriage rates are declining, and more young adults are opting not to have children. Meanwhile, economists and sociologists are warning of potentially disastrous consequences if the trend continues, both for the economy and for individuals who will not have anyone to care for them in their old age.
Children are a blessing, even in difficult circumstances, and society needs to recognize this again.