The Annals of Asininity

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Just when you think the world can’t get any daffier than it already is, proof comes that you ain’t seen nothing yet.

In Great Britain, a kinder, gentler organization that goes by the name of Animal Aid, started a campaign to restrict the sales of two grand old British hunting and shooting magazines, The Field and Shooting Times, making them “age restricted” and available only to children over the age of fourteen. Their argument was that images or stories about the hunting of animals might be, “damaging not just to wildlife, but to the development of young people.” (emphasis mine)

From a personal point of view, I would like to state, for the record, that I was raised on the old, unexpurgated version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the turn-of-the-century edition gorily illustrated by Arthur Rackham, and I have not yet boiled anyone in a pot, or dragged anyone behind my horse in a barrel stuck with nails, or cooked anyone in a stove, or cut off anyone’s head, or… In all honesty, however, I do have to confess that when I read about organizations like Animal Aid, I long to do all of the above.

But in the interest of objectivity, let me relate a story told me by a mother of two young boys and a girl. She was flying somewhere and found herself seated next to a pediatric psychiatrist. They started talking, and eventually the conversation came around to the more sanguinary impulses of little boys compared to little girls. Boys like toy soldiers, girls like dolls. Boys like to wrestle, girls like to have doll tea parties. Boys like toy guns, girls like toy houses. You get the idea. The psychiatrist told her that he had a single boy, and that when the boy was born he—the psychiatrist—decided he was going to do what he could to change the world and make at least one little boy kinder and gentler and less bloodthirsty. His son not only was not allowed to play with toy guns, he didn’t even know such things existed. His son was not allowed to have toy soldiers or knights or anything aggressive. His son was not allowed to watch anything on television other than Sesame Street and Barney and similar gentle fare. His son was never read terrible, violence-inducing books like Grimm’s Fairy Tales or any of Maurice Sendak’s stories; instead, he was read loving and gentle yarns like The Little Fur Family and Good Dog Carl and Now We Are Six.

So the psychiatrist was delighted to look into his son’s room one day and see the boy playing with his Care Bears. It wasn’t until he had started to walk away that it occurred to him there was something odd about the arrangement of all the Care Bears. They were set up in a circle, with one Care Bear by himself in the middle. The psychiatrist turned back in time to see his son yell, “Care Bears, kill!” and proceed to use the group of bears to maul the solitary one. He said at that point he gave up and decided not to resist nature.

Personally, I think he was wrong to give up, and I’ll go even further: I think we should ban—not just restrict, but ban—the sales of magazines about sports, any kind of sports, because it might encourage young people to have unhealthily competitive desires. Magazines about boxing or wrestling or martial arts, out, out, out. We should ban home decorating magazines because they too inspire competition. We should ban all magazines about pets because it encourages unhealthy thinking about ownership of other species that should be allowed to run wild and free. Besides, think about all those germs! I think we should ban fashion magazines, because it might encourage young boys to look at the bodies of young girls with lust in their hearts. I think we should ban fitness magazines because it might encourage young girls to look at young boys with lust in their hearts. Or it might just encourage invidious comparisons, and since I’m now at the age where my chest is trying to migrate south to the mezzanine level, I want those magazine with offensively handsome guys on the covers off the shelves ASAP. Oh, hell. Let’s just ban everything.

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