This sudden, unbidden realization came to me as I was reading a National Post report with the heading: Parents should lose custody of obese kids. For reasons that I had to mine deeply for, my automatic response was, No, they shouldn’t.
Maybe I’m wrong. Protect the little children. That’s what everyone says. At least, that’s what the media says that everyone says. Well, the media says it. So it must be true…
In any case, this assertion was made by esteemed Harvard man, Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist. “Put ’em in foster care,” he shouts, from the steps of the Capitol Building, arms aloft piously. (Okay, I made up the “steps” bit, but still…) “Improper feeding practices” and failing to provide a “physically active lifestyle” amount to neglect and child abuse, says he.
And he’s right, to a point. By the codified standards of our society, these things could be judged as abuse. But abuse comes in many forms. What do you call it when a parent exceeds the speed limit in the Caravan while little Johnny is strapped in the back seat? Attempted abuse? I mean, it’s a fiery accident waiting to happen, man. What do you call it when a parent won’t permit a child to play in the yard because the media tells him the child will probably be abducted by some bearded deviant in a trench coat if he does? Abuse? What do you call it when a parent takes no interest whatsoever in his child’s life, at school, in the playground, behind the arena? Abuse? Neglect? Does doing nothing constitute abuse? When my grandmother babysat my sisters and me, we were forced to watch Lawrence Welk on the only television set in our house. Definitely abuse. Brussels sprouts on the plate? Might as well give me the strap. Oh yeah, in grade four, I got the strap because another boy beat me up in the hallway. I should have sued someone. If they’re still alive, maybe I’ll Google them, sick my lawyer on them. Or just slag them on Facebook.
Yes, the world is full of dangers for a child, and thanks to a set of arbitrary (or media-driven) rules and laws and ideas, set down by a hodgepodge of mildly retarded bureaucrats, politicians and celebrity doctors, everyone snitches on everyone.
Little known fact: The German organization called Gestapo was, in terms of numbers, a relatively small group that relied mostly on the public to do its dirty work; which is to say, neighbours snitching on neighbours, friends against friends, that guy you work alongside, the one who never says much but always looks a little shifty, well…next thing you know, the paddy wagon pulls up and someone gets taken for a ride.
Remember the mom who got arrested for smacking her child’s behind in the K-Mart parking lot? Probably not, unless you’re old, like me. But it happened, and someone snitched, and the cops came and arrested her, and took her child away, at least temporarily. Gestapo tactics, clear as day.
Anarchists seek to diminish or abolish authority in the conduct of human relations. If you read it twice, it starts to sound less like a threat and more like good common sense. Go ahead, read it again.
Parents are imperfect beings, and, like snowflakes, are utterly unique. Which means, every other parent, plus all those annoying people who have not procreated successfully yet, thinks you are doing it wrong. And the problems arise when a specific law picks on a specific flaw in the parenting technique. Where are the lines drawn, and should there be lines anyway? That’s where anarchy comes into it.
Don’t tell me how to raise my child. I’m doing the best I can, with what I’ve got, so please just leave me alone.
I don’t want bedlam in the streets. (I leave that to hockey fans.) The same fundamental rules should apply to any person, man or child. No child should be physically assaulted or molested. No human should be physically assaulted or molested. The wrongness in that is clear, by any civilized standards. But when they (and, by they I mean, the mildly retarded bureaucrats, politicians and celebrity doctors) start plucking random threads out of the fabric, and then call it justice, the whole thing starts to fall apart and look tatty.
Fat kids are fat for more reasons than the parents who give them junk food. Public schools no longer require gym class in the elementary years. They’ve reduced extra-curricular sports to a watered down goo. They don’t even let the punters run in the hallways, which at least would have been good for them. Public recreation centers are shutting down, due to lack of funds. Pools have closed. Rinks have closed. Parks have been corrupted by “concerned” groups who fear little Johnny might crack his skull if he climbs something, so it’s all rubberized and roped off, and boring boring boring. Little league sports are for the rich, these days. Hundred bucks for a hockey stick? Fohgettaboudit. Doctors cram kids with pills because it’s easier than giving them something to do with all that energy. And, yes, there are all those screens to distract them from the real world. No argument there.
Taking a child out of the family home because he’s fat, and putting him in foster care until his parents graduate some parent-training classes, is wrong. As a witness to the horrors perpetrated by the Children’s Aid Society, I can safely say you will be merely dumping little Johnny out of the proverbial frying pan. Might as well lock him in a closet with a Catholic priest. (sorry…currently ducking bolts of lightning—ed.)
Why single out the fat kids? Because obesity is the most current “issue” in the media. And we have a right to be concerned, for all the reasons the media repeats ad nauseam. But the parents, for all their perceived faults, are too far down the chain to take sole blame for Johnny’s condition. They’re probably fat, too, because of all the outside societal factors that contribute to and encourage obesity.
As a newly minted anarchist, I believe that humans and families have a right to be left alone to succeed or fail on their own merits—physical assault and molestation notwithstanding. That’s the way of the natural world. Some fish swim faster than others. Too much plankton for lunch, Charlie? Shark is gonna get ya.
I grew up in a world where I could ride a bicycle without a helmet and climb a tree and make the merry-go-round spin so fast that we all went flying off, willy-nilly. I survived that hazardous childhood relatively unscathed; a few didn’t. That’s the natural order of things. And there were fewer fat kids in my school, which is why we picked on them. As far as I know, none of them got placed in foster care because of their size. I’m sure their parents were doing the best they could, with what they had.
Maybe it’s time to leave parents alone, and perhaps target the real culprits of this obesity epidemic. For the sake of arbitrariness, lets start with Denny’s restaurant. Can anyone say Super Grand Slamwich (calorie count: 3050 per serving)? Not that hungry? Settle for the Hashbrowns with onions, cheese & gravy (3820 per). Go ahead. Abuse yourself. But leave little Johnny at home. Remember, the people are watching you.