Monday, June 19, 2017

A Law Against Stupidity Is a Good Idea But Possibly Not Constitutional

I'm just going to climb up on this soapbox for a moment, you guys.

But not in those shoes, uh-uh.
Here's a story from called "Colorado Dad Aims to Ban Smartphone Sales to Preteens."

Here's why:

"One of my sons, I took [his smartphone] away, and it was a pretty dramatic, very violent outburst," said Dr. Timothy J. Farnum, a father of five who is an anesthesiologist by training. "He was very addicted to this little machine. It kind of scared me, and that's really how it started."

To sum up:

1. Dad buys smartphones for 10- and 11-year-old boys.
2. Dad fails to lay down guidelines for appropriate use of smartphones.
3. Boys become glued to smartphones because no one is telling them to put the damn things down and go outside.
4. Dad confiscates smartphones.
5. Ten-year-old has temper tantrum because Dad has no balls and has raised him to be an entitled little shit.
6. Dad wants to ban smartphones for children in an entire state, because overcompensation.

Dad, Dad, Dad.

Let's talk.

I'm not saying your first mistake was reproducing. That seems slightly harsh, and also somewhat presumptuous on my part; for all I know you've been saying and doing dumb shit for much longer than you've been a parent.

Seems likely.

So let's break down the stupidity in question. You bought smartphones for your 10-year-old and 11-year-old sons. Why? Because they're child geniuses who work for the CIA and need a secure connection to the Agency to receive mission briefings? Or because they asked and you lacked the aforementioned cojones to say no?

Sir. Even in Trump's America, children are not required to have smartphones. 

My own Precocious Daughter, who is 17, didn't have a cell phone of any kind until she was in middle school. And then she carried around a plain-vanilla dumb phone for a few years before I bought her a smartphone, at which point she was in her teens.

Did she want one (and complain about not having one) for a long time before I actually gave it to her? Of course she did.

But here's what I did: I said "no." This is a word that parents are allowed to use. Try it, it's a lot of fun. There's nothing like eliciting a good pout to make one feel drunk with parental power.

The salt from children's tears gives flavor to life.

Mr. Dad, I don't know you, but I get the feeling you haven't made a habit of saying "no" to your kids. Because "no" is a great boundary-setter. And it seems to me that a 10-year-old who has a "violent outburst" when his electronic device is taken away hasn't seen many boundaries in his young life.

But that's neither here nor there, really. This isn't about your kids. This is about your peculiar decision-making process. You know, like the decision to buy smartphones for elementary schoolchildren. The decision to not monitor or supervise their use of technology. And finally, the decision to stump for a statewide ban on kids holding smartphones because of YOUR bad decisions.

Dude. Come on.

Let's forget for a moment that the problem isn't with smartphones - apps and games and social media can be accessed via tablets, laptops, and even damn refrigerators. Good luck trying to ban refrigerators. The fridge lobby is vast and powerful, man.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Let's also forget that you're suggesting the government should take over the responsibility of determining which consumer products sovereign citizens are allowed to purchase and how they can be used. I'm no Gadsden-flag-waving nutbag patriot, but I just don't believe this is how the Founding Fathers envisioned the role of state legislatures.

Not even this bleeding-heart bastard. (Love you, @Lin_Manuel).
No, let's focus instead on one important fact: The last time I checked, minors couldn't sign contracts. Not to lease a Porsche, not to purchase cellphone service. No one is selling smartphones to children. Grown-ass adults are buying smartphones and giving them to their kids, who maybe are old enough and mature enough to use them responsibly, or maybe are spoiled brats with feckless parents.

You, Dad-Man, want to introduce a law that would require wireless carriers to determine why someone is buying a smartphone. That's a little like holding a hardware store responsible for selling a hammer to someone who ends up using it to bash in their neighbor's skull because he mows his lawn before 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. That's just not on Home Depot, you know?

But sure, let's say your little law gets passed. And the police spot a kid using a smartphone in the food court at the mall. Who gets arrested? Little Jimmy? Jimmy's mom, who possibly was just letting him use her phone to keep him amused while waiting for his Burger King meal? Sprint? Donald Trump?

I mean, arresting Donald Trump seems like a good idea on general principle. But I digress.

Sir. Man up. Admit you made a mistake - as a parent, I readily admit to hundreds, if not thousands, of screw-ups big and small. My goal as a mom has never been perfection, or blamelessness. I just want to raise a happy, responsible, self-reliant human. Sometimes that means being the bad guy. Sometimes that means weathering outbursts and working through them.

For me, at least, so far it hasn't meant pushing to change the law to prevent me from doing stupid shit.

Colorado Dad, put on your big-boy pants and be a parent. It's not too late. You can do this.

Love, Chuck

P.S. What the heck is an "anesthesiologist by training"? Do you really want to direct? Have you lost hospital privileges for huffing Propofol? I'm concerned. Self-care is important. Hugs.


  1. 'What the heck is an "anesthesiologist by training"?'

    It means he didn't pass the final exam.

  2. I can't speak to how difficult it is to be a parent. Heck, even if I were a parent I could only speak to how difficult it was for me. Anyway I have friends who tell me that it's so tough they're doing great if they get things right half the time. And it may be decades before they know if some of their decisions, like getting one of those Amazon thingies for their home, were right.
    I do know I'm no longer allowed around the kids ever since I taught them to say "Alexa, order 2000 gallons of mayonnaise."

  3. That's weird. "I gave my kid a phone and shouldn't have and the government should have stopped me."


    That's like banning people from letting their kids stick a fork into an electric socket. Does it take a law to make you make good parenting decisions?



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