Monday, January 2, 2012

Everything That is Wrong With America in Two Articles

I read a couple of articles online this weekend that, for me, summed up most/all of what is wrong with America today. And as my children did nothing print-worthy this past weekend, I'll write about the offending reads instead....

Article 1: Fans Angry That Cee Lo Changed 'Imagine' Lyrics

The jist of this story is that entertainer Cee Lo Green sang the John Lennon song Imagine on New Year's Eve and changed the line "Nothing to kill or die for and no religion too." to "Nothing to kill or die for and all religion's true." This was, in the eyes of the average American Twitterer, just too much. He was described as "blasphemous" and people chaffed at Mr. Green singing "no possessions too" in a fur coat. At the bottom of the page, there is a link to Facebook where you're invited to discuss your feelings about his lyric alteration. While he has some defenders, most comments are harsh and angry.

So why does this represent all that is wrong with America? Here we have a group of people who want to protect the idea of "no religion too" but what have they done? Turned John Lennon into a sort of god, so much so that changing his lyrics is "blasphemy." For those folks, the Merriam-Webster definition is:

blas-phe-my: 1a. the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God. 1b. the act of claiming the attributes of a deity. 2. irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable.

By this, we can assume Cee Lo either insulted these people's god or altered something so sacred that it should not be touched. In addition to putting the bar pretty low, if I'm finding a new god, I'm going to aim higher than John Lennon, they are taking a song that is pretty much about Communism and saying it can never be touched. Saying that it is ok for Lennon to insult the billions of people in the world who believe in one god or another and say we should aspire to do away with all that, but it is not ok to say religion is true.

Not to mention, they're getting up in arms about what Mr. Green wore while he sang Imagine but utterly failing to take into consideration how Mr. Lennon lived when he wrote it. He might have imagined no possessions but last time I checked, he was chilling in a pretty posh Manhattan apartment at the time of his death. Let's face it, it is as hypocritical as those Bono ads where he is rolling into Africa with his Louis Vuitton luggage.

Americans lack the power of critical thinking. They can't see the irony of casting off religion only to replace it new, better dressed, pop gods or that their new gods sing to them of simplicity while leaving behind estates with apartments with tens of millions of dollars.

But my disagreements with pop culture as a philosophical foundation pale in comparison to the rest of what is wrong with America, as highlighted in

Article 2: Across California, Parents Face Collective Wail of 'Big Kids'

California passed a new law that requires children, regardless of size, to be in booster or car seats up to and including age eight. Previously, kids were free of the onerous things at age six, meaning there are kids who last sat in a car seat at five who will get to enjoy them again until their ninth birthday. The article details how this is not being well received by the children.

So first, let's talk about an intrusive nanny state. The new California law keeps kids in car seats until nine. I know a half dozen kids who were taller than me by age nine. Shoot, Mags is eight and she is as tall as one of my more diminutive friends (and might weigh as much too.) These kinds of laws are arbitrary and undercut (once again) critical thinking and common sense. Sorry legislators, not all kids, cars and kid-car combinations are the same. My kids, in seat belt alone, in a gigantic Suburban, are safer than booster seat-restrained kids in a Festiva or Aspire. Not to mention, newer cars of all sizes tend to have better safety features than some older models.

And that nanny state is also a bully. After setting rules that can't be proven to increase positive outcome, the laws are accompanied with unbelievable fines and punishment - $475 fine and a point on your license! Are they really keeping people and kids safe or just executing control, seeking money and/or bowing to lobbyists from the car seat manufacturers, insurance companies or some toxic combination of all of the above? Classic over-reaching government.

But it gets worse. There was the parents' reaction.

The children were understandably unhappy. They have to revert from the relative freedom of a seat belt to boosters that, at worst, resemble four point restraints and are at best, not as comfy as the seat of a car. I feel their pain. I would be unhappy too - either as the kid in the seat or the parent that has to fool with the darned things again. But let me tell you how it would go down in our house:

(For argument's sake, let's go with the unlikely scenario that I would follow the law. My car seat record is spotty at best.) 

Me: Kids, you have to use booster seats again.
Kids: Noooooo! We don't waaant to!
Me: Too damn bad. Get in them before I really give you something to complain about.

That's about it. Maybe we could have a nice discussion about how we hate The Man telling us what to do, the evils of bureaucracy, and the over-reach of government but in the end, I would be issuing an order, not a request. The parents of California, at least based on this article, instead went with step by step plans to get them back into their car seats and luring them with rewards. One 44 year old mother came up with the "strategy" of letting her 7 year old practice riding in the booster over the holidays because "it makes Mom feel better."One kid got a trip to Disneyland.

Parents of California - you suck. Really. I hate to be so blunt but stop being such a bunch of pantywaists and remember that you are the parent and, theoretically, in charge.

But therein lies the real problem nationwide. We have a whole generation of parents who have decided that kids know what is best for themselves and, as their friends, we parents need to listen. That we need to reward them for doing that which is freaking required by (albeit a very stupid) law. Not to mention how hard these weak parents make it for those of us who actually want to raise well behaved kids when our kids look at us and ask, "Why don't I get a pony for having brushed my teeth?"

How do we fix what is wrong? A good start would be some serious training in critical thinking. The Cee Lo detractors might realize how silly their objections are. The legislators of California might realize how oppressive their regulations are and that they don't really make anyone safer (providing that was their actual goal. Sorry, ever the cynic.) And the parents of California, and the rest of the nation, might realize they are in charge at home. And that their efforts might be better used in fighting a state (or national) government, which is funded by them and responsible to them, that feels it is their duty and right to so impose on the governed.

A girl can dream. And teach critical thinking at home.

[Wow, I am feeling rant-o-rific today! If you haven't ejected by now, thanks for coming along.]

1 comment:

  1. I think I disagree with your Suburban/Festiva argument re: booster safety. My understanding is that booster seats address not restraining ability, but concern about points of restraint on the child's anatomy; i.e., the child sits higher so the belts function as they would on a taller person. A seatbelt hitting a kid diagonally across the neck is something I cringe when I see, because the high-speed physics are just plain problematic. In town, low speeds, I'm not so concerned.

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