Your kids should not be watching the brain-damaging swill that now forms a substantial portion of programming.
Not just badly written, badly acted cliche comedies. They probably shouldn't imbibe too much of those, either.
But I'm talking about the shows portrayed in these strips, the programs that promote idiotic delusions, that not only portray foolish beliefs, but then cloak them in "proof" and suggest that they are every bit as credible as any other belief system.
Programs which promote the idea that believing in what few others believe makes you smarter than those others. And that there is secret, mysterious knowledge that backs up these little-known phenomena.
There is apparently no belief system so moronic that a reality show will not be built around it, even if they have to falsify the footage.
And here's the deal: Whether your kids are watching it or not, plenty of kids are.
You can say "I don't let my kids carry plutonium in their pockets," and you can even follow up on that by making sure your kids don't carry plutonium in their pockets. And you should.
But if they spend eight or ten hours a day in the company of children who do carry plutonium, they're also gonna start glowing in the dark.
And those other kids are packed full of plutonium these days.
Idiocracy is just around the corner. That movie was (okay, hilariously) wrong to blame genetics, but quite correct to point out that it's not easy, being the only intelligent person in a society of morons.
As my father, who loved deadpan sarcasm, would say, "I blame the parents."
Everything is the fault of the parents, isn't it?
When it comes to educational reform, I'm not much in sympathy with those who talk about getting parents involved.
Of course, we should. And parental involvement is a key strategy for any educator or, really, anyone who works with kids.
But you have to approach it knowing that you're bailing water with a pitchfork.
Respect the people and welcome them. But no system that depends on their involvement will ever work.
When I was coaching rec league soccer, I held an informational meeting before each season with parents and kids and I would tell parents that it was critical that they come to the games.
And the ones who probably would have anyway came to the games and the ones who probably wouldn't have didn't. As much as it might have disappointed me, however, it didn't shock me.
I wasn't naive enough to base my system on the assumption that all the parents were going to attend all the games.
Nor have I ever met a good teacher who does not factor several forms of futility into the lesson plans.
Granted, the degree varies. If you teach in the inner city, 80 percent of your students will not have done the reading, so your lesson plans have to include telling them things they should have learned before class.
If you teach in the suburbs, the majority of your students will have done the reading. Probably. Most days.
But what you are now facing -- in either case -- is the fact that, not only are they not likely to be any more knowledgable this morning than they were when you sent them home yesterday afternoon, but a good number of them have, overnight, become even more foolish and ignorant, thanks to reality TV.
I've said it before:
1. Charter schools are a scam. Charter schools are a way to get the children of involved parents into one place so you can keep them satisfied while you continue to duck the cost of educating the children of uninvolved parents, who greatly outnumber the kids whose parents raise hell.
And, yes, we'd rather pay to build prisons than pay to adequately fund our schools.
(Historic I-am-not-making-this-up example: Gov. George Pataki's administration once argued against additional funds for schools on the legal theory that the "basic education" guaranteed to children in New York's constitution only meant the chance to complete eighth grade. The court disagreed. But the ruling surprised observers.)
2. I don't know why nobody protests vulgar Morning Zoo radio programming and other insults to society, among which I would include the swill being projectily vomitted into livingrooms in the form of reality TV.
Shortly after the Newtown shootings, I saw a TV show on the schedule about "preppers," the paranoid people who stockpile arms against the complete collapse of the electromagnetic infrastructure. Word was that the shooter's mother was a prepper and this is why she owned all those guns.
And I thought, well, this is really good! They moved fast to give us a look inside this subculture and a chance to see how their insane delusions operate and what leads them to such a complete break with reality.
But it was an already-made show basically praising and promoting preppers; a how-to.
This family went through a drill where they snuck out of their house in the dark and made their way from food cache to food cache through the woods until they came to where they had their boat tied up.
Even when someone pointed out that, in the couple of days of sneaking and hiding and sleeping in the brush that it took them to get there, someone else would probably have stolen the boat, this obvious and fatal flaw in their cunning plan only got a shrug.
"Reality" has, after all, no place in reality TV.
Because, as Thatababy points out, Bigfoot is probably only one more exciting episode away.
And you can prove it, Gil knows, with a simple stud finder.
If some other country were putting the effort into making Americans stupid that these networks spend in exploiting the gullibility and ignorance of viewers, we'd be furious and we'd take action to stop them.
Sure we would.
And all the parents would start showing up for the soccer games, too.
And now, here's your moment of zen: