L. Neil Smith's
Number 199, November 18, 2002


Hey, You! Get Off of My Tube!

by Mark Lamoree

Special to TLE

I had thought that television could get no more banal or insipid, that it could not insult the intelligence of its viewers any more egregiously. I was wrong. I failed to account for the efforts of our favorite people, the nannies. Over the past several months, the airwaves have become indundated with public service announcements "educating" us on all facets of life. The latest crop shows us an encounter group type of setting, in which a man addresses the effigy of a young boy. "I'm proud of you son, you did well on that test," he intones. Cut to an actor wearing the doe-eyed visage of the typical "sensitive" twit. He begins clapping, clearly overcome with pride in his charge. The rest of the group follows suit, and our hero's eyes moisten with pride. We are left with an imprecation to talk to our children, or some such twaddle.

I have a question: just who in the hell do these people think they are? What gives them the idea that the rest of the world needs them to provide guidance on child-rearing? What gives them the right to imply that people will not talk to their children unless they are prompted to do so by smug, smarmy nitwits? Just where in the hell do these putrid, pusillanimous, pedantic and presumptuous poltroons get off? And do they really think that poor parenting can be undone by a thirty-second television ad?

The ads, I believe, reveal something significant about their creators, and about the attitudes that have us hurtling headlong into a tyranny of self-righteous, touchy-feely twits, of Mary Poppinses in jackboots. Human beings are stupid, the rationale goes, and without the guidance of the more enlightened - guidance expressed through condescension and haranguing - all would be lost. They self-appointed saviors of the culture have absolute proof of their goodness: they are sensitive, and they care about things. They care so much that they must be given the reigns of legislative authority, so that they can lead society to utopia.

If these people were confined to making self-serving PSAs, they would be relatively harmless. They are not, however, satisfied to annoy millions of Americans. One can picture them quoting Hank Reardon's inquisitors, "We're after power, and me mean it." Although the nannies are not monolithic, their goals are remarkably consistent. First, they destroy the evil tobacco peddlers. Next, the fast food joints must be exterminated. Finally, when a state-trained nurturing professional is installed in every home to screen for appropriate child-rearing behavior, nirvana will exist right here on earth!

If there are any doubts about what sort of a threat this attitude presents, or that the threat is real, consider last Tuesday. Another state has chosen to forbid smoking in public establishments, two ballot initiatives to decriminalize cannabis, and a Constitutional Amendment allowing juries to refuse to enforce absurd laws was defeated. All of these elections demonstrate that the idea that people cannot be trusted to look after their own well-being is still held by at least fifty-one percent of the population.

As a libertarian, I object on principle to the initiation of force. In this case of the perpetrators of these ads, and of all the other self- appointed nannies, I am willing to make an exception. These people must be rounded up, and interred somewhere where they may pester only each other. This is not, however, enough. There must be justice. Vengeance must be had. Every day, they should be strapped one by one into chairs resembling the one in A Clockwork Orange, and subjected, for at least four hours, to the ministrations of Barney the dinosaur.


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