Fahrenheit 4 Under 5′s Won
It’s come to this:
Over the years as the culture has changed, along with many laws, I have re-evaluated the quality of my childhood. I see now that what seemed like a perfectly normal middle-American church-going Midwestern family, was actually fraught by patterns of neglect and abuse.
I can see now that my salt-of-the-earth schoolteacher mother and father were sorely lacking in basic parenting skills.
Let’s examine the evidence…
On the surface these images look like the portrait of a normal middle American childhood: a girl playing with toys, riding a bike, etc. But look closer and you can see traces of a dangerous and destructive environment.
See that in my hand? THAT is a cookie that my grandmother made with REAL BUTTER and undoubtedly with PROCESSED SUGAR. And there I am riding my bike without the training wheels for the first time: WITHOUT A HELMET! Well, why bother protecting a brain that was being destroyed by an environment saturated in asbestos and lead and mercury and DDT and Barbie and The Partridge Family?
A wee child surrounded by lead-painted predators.
So small and helpless.
So easily charmed by bright shiny colors.
And worst of all: the books.
I have scoffed at people who warn us about the way that books can warp young minds with their seditious messages.
Well it turns out that this threat is literal: the inks used in books can contain lead.
All books prior to 1985 could legally use lead-based inks.
All my life I have considered books my refuge.
I now realize that this is a sick addiction — one that was created by my parents, who were pushers dosing me with these poison-penned killers on a daily basis.
But I can’t blame them entirely. After all, patterns of abuse are handed down from generation to generation.
But it gets worse: as soon as I could read my parents regularly took me to the library. I know. The library! In my innocence I thought this was heaven. In reality it was a tower of toxin.
It is amazing I survived. (In fact, I must be a bloody genius because despite the handicap of being brain-damaged by a childhood of intensive reading I was still able to get a Ph.D. in English.)
Help has arrived.
Not to worry, though: we will soon be safe from the menace of vintage books and other child-endangering items. Congress has addressed the threat with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA):
“[U]nder a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute.” (Walter Olson “The New Book Banning” Feb. 12, 2009. city-journal.org)
This includes thrift stores, garage sales and ebay. Anyone found to sell the contraband risks jail time and a $100,000 fine.
Congress passed this bill in the midst of the hysteria over the Chinese toxic toys. Congress was encouraged by the support from retail giants, who are always such bastions of concern for consumer safety. As a result we are now free to only shop for new consumer items at large retailers because they are the only ones that can afford the expensive tests that prove the safety of their products. (For this bill we also owe a debt of thanks to the support from Ralph Nader, the stalwart consumer rights advocate and racist with an attention-craving disorder.)
The new law will make us safe from all of those evil shops that sell used clothes, toys and books as well as any small retailer or crafter of children’s toys, clothing, or books.
No more handmade wooden toys from New England carpenters,
No more handmade frocks from Midwestern seamstresses.
As for the nation’s current stockpiles of dangerous toxic books?
Readers will no doubt be relieved to know that the CPSC commissioner Thomas Moore has called for pre-1985 books to be “sequestered” until more is known about their dangers.
Emily Sheketoff, associate executive director of the American Library Association has described the choice that libraries must make under the current law:
It is such a relief to know that the new law will protect the children of today from the terrible hazards that I had to endure.
Further information about the work being done to protect children from the book menace can be found at : overlawyered.com.
Also: a petition for handmakers (Yay! Save the hands!?)
Child Safety Experts Call for Restrictions on Childhood Imagination (theonion.com) (Note: another of my favorite Onion headlines is “Your child’s health: is it really that important?”)
“…Somebody’s gotta tell you for your own good: your children are overrated and overvalued, and
you’ve turned them into little cult objects. You have a child fetish, and it’s not healthy.”
– George Carlin: fuck the children