Is anybody out there besides me beginning to have an overwhelming urge to give most of those profiled in the New York Times “Neediest Cases” feature a swift kick in the derriere?

In today’s installment Oscar Gonzalez is “On His Feet, After Many Battles with an Unseen Foe.” The foe is heroin, which I had not known to be invisible, but there you have it. What bugs me about the NYT Neediest piece is that nowhere is there a hint of any moral turpitude on Mr. Gonzalez’s part.

Unlike many right of center folks, I concede that the disease talk in the addiction field is useful. Unlike those in the treatment industry, however, I regard it merely as a way to say that the addicted person, like the person stricken with cancer or diabetes, must seek help.

But there is a moral dimension, and in ignoring this, the New York Times seems to have given Mr. Gonzalez a free pass. The Manhattan Institute’s prophetic Heather Mac Donald noted this tendency in an article several years ago on the New York Times Neediest stories. The newspaper’s Neediest feature began as an annual appeal early in this century. But the nature of what the New York Times regards as deserving seems to have changed over the years:

“The prototypical need case in the first decades of the appeal,” wrote Mac Donald, “was a struggling widow or plucky orphan; today’s is more likely to be a single welfare mother of five who finds her welfare check inadequate.”

Why the change? As usual with the New Class, it’s a form of snobbery: “The elite,” writes Mac Donald, “once held the poor to the same standard of behavior it set up for itself.”