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24 January 2008

Bad, Bad Piggy!

A late submission to the ridiculous headline derby:

Three Pigs Story Judged 'Offensive to Muslims' - The Times of London, January 24th, 2008

Seems the do-gooders at Becta, the UK Government’s technology agency for schools thinks that Muslim's would get offended by the use of pigs in the classic children's tale of the 3 Little Pigs. Really? Really?????

But wait. There's more. They also rejected a book called The Three Little Cowboy Builders because it implied - are you ready for this - that all builders are cowboys. Egad, the horror! How blinkered are those Brits at Becta?

Newsflash: Muslims are called that because of their religious belief in Islam. It is a descriptive label, just like Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Mormons and Atheists. And lest we forget, there are radical, narrow minded zealots in those religions too. To simplify, Muslims are not afraid or offended of children's books about pigs.....narrow minded, zealot Muslims are afraid and offended by children's books about pigs.

IFAM #3: I abhor the misuse of common sense.

Would you lend me a hand whilst I climb on my soap box, please?

By giving everyone rights, pretty soon none of us have rights. Let's all ponder that for a moment. Society needs Green AND Red lights. If they were all green (free flow of rights) - just imagine the anarchy!

Ever had to take a leak in New York City? It is a tall order unless you are patronizing a store or can convince a doorman to let you in (yeah, right). Well, many moons ago (1991) a forward thinker named Joan Davidson, with the backing of a private foundation, sought to remedy that. At their expense, they wanted to install portable, self cleaning pay toilets on sidewalk intersections around the city. It would cost NYC nothing. The city's response? "Discrimination in it's purest form" because the prototype (already successfully in use in Paris) would not accommodate wheelchairs. But because the size, cost and operation of a wheelchair accessible potty was prohibitive for a pedestrian walkway, the plan went down the crapper, literally; and to this day people are still peeing down the subway grates. Including the occasional wheelchair bound citizen with a screaming bladder.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects over 43 million people living with a disability. Of those, less than 2 percent are confined to a wheelchair....and most of those are in a nursing home. Hmmm. Yet the ADA requires that virtually every public building provide wheelchair accessibility. If we could twitch our nose and create that access for free, that would be swell. But building and retrofitting buildings to meet ADA standards is costing communities billions and billions of real dollars. What is not getting funded in your community that could benefit from receiving that kind of money? Teacher salaries? Improved Public Safety? Improved roadway and bridge and water runoff infrastructure?

Where is the common ground? The common sense?

In the case of the Big Apple Loo's, how does one justifiably measure the rights of the minuscule number of wheelchair occupants with the rights of the millions upon millions of able bodies folks that need to take a whizz also?

If any of this resonates with you, then grab The Death of Common Sense - How Law is Suffocating America from the Amazon bar on the right panel. It is not preachy or high brow, and it's a quick read. Like it did for me, I'm sure it will open your eyes also to how our ability to use our own discretion is dying a slow death right under our permissive little noses.

So this is the world in which we live. And Ethan Thunder Pants and his big sis Emily will have to eventually navigate these waters themselves. Is resistance to the aforementioned insanity futile? Am I setting my kids up for a lifetime of failure, ridicule and condemnation for telling them to keep common sense alive and to stiff-arm the rising tide of idiocy?

Perhaps. But perhaps not.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
- Alexander Hamilton

I do know that when Ethan gets home from Baby Camp today, we're reading "The 3 Little Pigs" though!


Dana said...

I would like to step up on that soapbox with you. Seems this country has gotten a bit too focused on special interest and has lost the view of the forest. I'm hoping it will swing back the other direction, but it is not looking promising!

Michael M. said...

Hop aboard! Do you need any special accomodations, language interpretation, etc.?? :)

Sadly, the people that genuinely need (and deserve) accomodation are used as pawns. In their desire to be 'mainstreamed', they are being singled out instead.

Tismee2 said...

One more ticket for the soapbox please! You wouldn't believe some of the crap we get here in the UK.

Some people have been banned by the local council from displaying our national flag because some ethnic groups may find it offensive!!! I'm all for mixed cultures and Im sure most people from ethnic groups couldn't care less if we fly the national flag or not. But just incase there may be one or two who have a problem with's not allowed.

Scandalous..better not say too much, Big Brother may be listening.

Like a blackboard is offensive but a whiteboard isn't???

How about the BBC bleeping out the word faggot in "fairytale of New York" by the Pogues and Kirsty McCall this Christmas? - people protested in their droves, and none more so than those the BBC felt would find it offensive.

Common sense???? where?

Michael M. said...

It would be funny if it weren't so pitiful...

Damselfly said...

The funny thing about this is that I think many times, animals are the characters in children's books so no one is singled out. If you have a pig, or a worm, or rabbit as a character, then no one can say, "But my ethnic background/religion/skin color/etc. wasn't included in that book!" A pig can be anybody.

Michael M. said...

Good point Damselfly. Alot of good that did, huh? To folks with thin skin, a flair for entitlement (and a side order of martyrdom) absolutely nothing is out of reach.

Great blog by the way...

Kat Wilder said...

An important thing to remember about the ADA and those it protects is this: Not all disabilities are visible. Any parent who has a child with learning differences or autism can tell you that.

As I blogged about a while ago, I once had to spend some time in a wheelchair. Getting around, going to the bathroom, the little everyday things we take for granted were monumental tasks. I learned a very valuable lesson from that.

Society must take care of its neediest or we lose our humanness.

Michael M. said...

Kat...thanks for chiming in! And great post about your wheelchair experience. Very insightful.

Yes, ADA is supposed to vigorously protect, but not create rights. (a fine, but important distinction).

"Society must take care of its neediest or we lose our humanness."

Couldn't agree with you more (including the unseen disabilities)....and society must ALSO balance the needs of ALL citizens or we lose all our remaining common sense....