You can only make the world so safe for children

Greg Jerrett

Watching the Today show completely by accident, I happened to see Katie Couric talking to some frazzled, hyper-concerned advocate for children’s safety from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission addressing the latest toy recalls.

Now, on the face of it, who can argue with recalling products that could kill children? No one who isn’t evil could be in favor of dousing the market with products that kill.

But have you looked at some of the products that get recalled? It’s like a witchhunt.

Stuffed animals with any small parts that could conceivably be swallowed by a child eventually get recalled.

Little pompoms are just the right size for a child to choke on.

I’ve got news for you. If a kid wants to swallow a baseball, he could probably manage it, somehow.

When I was a kid, I accidentally swallowed a container of fuel oil.

It’s a mystery how a 3-year-old was allowed to get his hands on an open container of this highly poisonous substance but that is an issue between my parents, myself and the authorities.

I didn’t die. I should have. It would have served my parents right to suffer the trauma for their stupidity if I had, but I didn’t.

As a result, I never get heartburn. I can eat Indian, Mexican, Thai or huge mold forms and not get sick.

Nietzche was right on this point. Life is designed to weed out the stupid and weak for a reason. We may only be hurting the human race as a whole by being over protective.

Another product to soon be recalled is silly string. If lit on fire, silly string will burn. So now it must be recalled so no one dies from a horrible silly string/napalm incident.

You know, if you actually light a kid’s hair on fire, it will burn, too.

Maybe we should start shaving these kids until they turn 18 just in case one of the dipsticks decides to see just how flammable his or her hairdo is.

You can’t protect kids from everything, and you can’t make the world childproof at the expense of the adults who have to live in it, either.

When I was a kid we had all sorts of incredibly dangerous toys: big metal dumptrucks by Tonka, Easy Bake Ovens and lawn darts.

You can’t even get lawn darts any more unless you go to Mexico or Canada for them. Playing lawn darts was one of the few yard games I could ever get into. Croquet is too effete and badminton is just too silly. But lawn darts, now that takes some skill.

Then some jackass goes and gets himself stuck with one horsing around, and the rest of the country has to suffer.

I call it a witchhunt, and that is exactly what we are in the middle of. TV, movies, music, schools, the Internet — everywhere you turn, somebody is doing his or her level best to make sure that kids can’t get hurt.

Beyond recalling faulty products, this society really needs to calm down when it comes to changing the way things are done to make sure kids don’t get hurt in the process.

Kids go looking for trouble. It’s what they do. You tell kids not to do something, and we all know what they do — IT!

Tell kids not to touch fire because it’s hot and three seconds later they will have their hands in it. It’s their nature to test every single theory, hypothesis and dictum handed down to them.

I went back to my old high school a couple of years ago and was surprised to find security guards who had to escort me, after hours, to see my old teacher.

I guess it makes sense. I could have been a freak.

But if I really wanted to wreak havoc, would an unarmed guard be anything but my first victim? Maybe that’s enough.

I asked him if they had a lot of problems, and he told me they never did anything. It was just like when I went there.

There are hardly any fights, and you could still buy weed in the parking lot if you really wanted it.

I do like the Internet software that allows parents to monitor what their kids are looking at and block porn sites.

Anyone looking for information about African American women will see that porn sites target innocent requests as well as those seeking the hardcore.

But any attempt to regulate the Internet for the sake of children is just plain bad.

You cannot expect the world to pretend that everything is as safe and happy, sweet and innocent as a Disney flick.

Those television ratings they put right on the screen are still something of an annoyance.

Does anyone really send his or her kids packing when “NYPD Blue” comes on? And if that show never got the old TV-M rating, then what does deserve it? No one, not even Dennis Franz, should have to look at Dennis Franz’s naked ass.

Attempts to place warnings on albums containing explicit lyrics only increased their sales.

If they banned warning labels, record companies would still use them to increase sales.

People like to point their fingers at the movies, too.

A movie shows some stupid people eating razor blades, and then some mutant kid tries it, and suddenly, we need to have another round of congressional hearing about violence in the movies.

You just cannot protect people from themselves.

Evolution likes it like this. Really stupid people are meant to die. It’s cruel but true.

If some dude electrocutes himself taking a leak on an electric fence, do the rest of us really need to mourn his passing?

In the end, the race is better for it.

Greg Jerrett is a graduate student in English from Council Bluffs. He is opinion editor of the Daily.