Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh horrors, oh horrors, oh horrors ! I heard the first Christmas carol of the radio today while driving about. Come on guys. It's not even Advent yet (Catholic in-joke). As you stare at all the dreck on the store shelves you might want to come armed with the 'Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment' (TRUCE)recently released 'Toy Action Guide'. You can download a pdf of this at . More than the usual wimpy social worker hand wringing about "violent toys", though that is contained as well. In this guide you will find a list of toys that "promote positive play", TRUCE's 2007-2008 recommendations for "toys for healthy and creative play" and a list of "toys to avoid" such as those "that lead children to spend more time with TV or other media and/or let the screen take control of their play". Full stop here. Molly cannot express how much she thinks that children should be free to be the little savages that they are. I had the advantage of growing up out in the boondocks where parental supervision (let along that of other busybodies) was minimal to non-existent. Yeah, I fell through the ice a few times and gave myself the usual set of concussions and lacerations. Better that than being an animal in a cage that is too small. If I could sum up present day childhood in one word, the word that would come to my mind would be "prison". No wonder the little buggers blow up occasionally. The use of the television in childhood is very much like the use of television in prison. It is a safety valve for the benefit of the caretakers/guards and little else. Any sane parent should discourage the habit of viewing the TV as much as possible- but not, at the same time, becoming a clinging,cloying,needy parasite looking to have their children as an exploited source of "family time" that some external source has convinced them is a duty and a benefit. Fun with the parents come naturally if you act natural. It doesn't come with stress and strain and over-supervising the young'uns.
Ok, enough rant. This guide also contains tips for making toys more environmentally friendly, resources for people concerned about the never-ending series of toy recalls and-most importantly in Molly's opinion- suggestions for "shoe-box gifts", ways to have fun with common objects around the home rather than overpriced commodity fetishes from the mall. One of Molly's favourite "toys" when she was young was a collection of pop-bottle caps with which she used to wage wars. It was always interesting to see what coalition of forces could defeat the mass Coke army. Firecrackers were also very neat,and, yes, I burned my fingers a few times. Better a few burned fingers than our present world where such things are verboten to children who are forced to endure almost constant supervision and organization by both parents and a bureaucracy that would make the Prussian Army seem pale in comparison.
It probably won't happen, but Molly would like to be able to live long enough to see the present set of do-gooders and controllers made to answer for their crimes in the same way that the child-devouring priests, nuns and ministers who administered residential schools have been made to do. Is there a reason why childhood suicide is increasing ? The concept of "iatrogenic disease"-doctor (or medical system) caused disease is well known in real medicine. The primitive state of the minds of those who believe that they have a right to "correct" behavioral rather than physical "problems" is more than evident in the delusion that they share that their efforts can never do any harm. The thuggish Christian missionaries of days past have been replaced by a new set of equally self-righteous and ignorant controllers today, at least, or more so, convinced of their essential good and inability to do harm.
Molly doesn't doubt that some of the "alternatives" proposed by seemingly well meaning people to the "commercial invasion of childhood" are at least equally malevolent as the mind control exercised by the media. Still, that doesn't negate the fact that allowing children to be trained in passive consumption is not a good idea. The real goal is to find a way between two equally undesirable alternatives. If you want an historical analogy, in the 30 years war it was entirely possible that neither the Catholics nor the Protestants were right, decent and all-over clean. Both sides were pretty well filthy bastards in an all around way. That is easy to see 400 years later. Today the same sort of scepticism should be applied to not just a "problem" but also to the proposed ways to correct it.

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