Kissing a lady’s hand recalls days long gone. The gesture grew out of northern Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries as a polite means of a gentleman to greet a woman, and is perhaps slightly more dignified than its modern cousin, the wolf whistle. It’s respectful. Deferential. Gallant.
It was, anyway. In post-chivarous America, it’s not enough any longer to show esteem towards a “fairer” sex. It’s less chivalry, and more sexism. Sexual harassment, even. At least it was for one Hunter Yelton, age six. In the most egregious case of legitimate sexual harassment in over three generations–or something–young Hunter had the sheer gall to lean over to his little gal pal in school and plant one on her hand. That’s it. Incident over. I’ll pause while Congress convenes the yet another committee, this one on Careless Childhood Chauvinism.
In addition to his harassment charge, he was suspended from school. Because that’s exactly how one instructs a six year old who lacks even the faintest shred of judgement and inhibition about boundaries: be gone with you. We doth punish you. We won’t explain why to the child who’s never heard of sexual harassment. Do the crime, do the time. Teachable moment be damned.
Tis just the latest case of patented lunacy brought to you by the educational brain trust. In October, Weber Middle School in New York banned most balls during recess on the theory that kids will do what they’ve been doing since antiquity: get hurt. They’ve even banned cartwheels without adult supervision. “We want to make sure our children have fun but are also protected,” says superintendent Kathleen Mooney. She goes on the say that playground injuries can “unintentionally” become very serious. Golly, that is brand new information! How did the human race ever survive the Coming of the Playground Equipment? We might have filed class action lawsuits against Spalding and Wilson for contributing to the genocide of a minor, had we just known. There won’t be many gymnasts–or baseball players– coming out of that school.
If these examples are instructive of anything–besides that schools should abandon ball confiscation and instead teach kids to duck–is that people just aren’t capable of policing themselves anymore. They instead need the omniscient, omnipresent Nanny State to save them from themselves. Why learn to keep your head down in dodgeball to avoid your face meeting turf if we can just ban the ball? You’ll be much safer. Or Michael Bloomberg’s failed soft drink initiative. Why allow the citizen to drink that Ultra-Large-Sippy-McBig Gulp with thirty-six ounces of fizzy awesomeness? Don’t they know they could gain weight that way? Give ’em to me!
Without much fanfare, Nanny Staters are slowly winnowing away at personal initiative in favor of the cookie cutter: a prefabricated mold that removes any semblance of creativity or self-realized control and replaces it with a bland, sterilized robot that toes the line and bends to its will. You won’t need your own sense of good judgement; one will be provided for you. Common sense out. Our sense in. Goodbye, imagination. Hello, group think.
A group think that says any suggestion of weapons, even if imagined, must be squashed and lifted out of the social lexicon. The people don’t need them. Certainly not Johnny Jones. The mind struggles to remember the last time a bow and arrow was a weapon that struck fear into the masses. One must exert himself harder to remember any imaginary arrows inflicting death on anyone, but no matter. Little Johnny violated State Decree 223-M4, using one’s creativity while young. Or alive, I forget. He was suspended for shooting his classmate with a figment of his imagination. The victim survived, of course. Just in time to get suspended as well, for initiating the conflict with an imaginary gun. No room for arms running in school, children. Leave that for Attorney General Holder and the Fast and Furious gang. They hate competition.
Notice that the one’s running afoul of the Nanny Project–no, not the show–are usually school-age boys. Unsurprising. As we pointed out here, boys from a young age already have a budding sense of right and wrong, and in their school yard wars, they learn to “uphold their own idea of a benevolent social order,” often time with values they’ve gleaned from their parents. They begin to give stock to their growing masculinity and leadership. Which is exactly what Nannies don’t need. Strong, independent boys and men aren’t needed if the Nanny State assumes for itself the responsibility of protection.
For the Nannies rig du jour is equality. Not the equality of opportunity that eats, sleeps and reeks of individuality, but rather equality of outcome. The collective is always seeking out that which puts everyone on equal footing. Wealth isn’t positive, it’s greedy. Masculinity isn’t positive, it’s misogynistic. Outcome, not opportunity, is far easier to realize therefore if boys can be made as much like girls as possible. One homogenized gender is easier to conscript than two.
Kiss a woman’s hand? Pish-posh. Keep it to a hand shake. Better yet, so as not to offend one’s sensibilities, don’t even bother with eye contact. Just stare straight ahead and go about your business. Which is to say, really our business. We’re from the Nanny State, and your own good sense of whats-what is no longer required.