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The owner of this Toyota Pious saw me in a parking lot with my kids. We were in the Stop and Shop lot in Pittsfield, MA. She saw my two kids with their heads out the window and stormed up to me in a chastened tone and reminded me that I could be put in jail for that. When I asked if she would like to see me in jail for raising my kids the way I see fit, she scampered off smugly.

I used to think folks like this did not exist, until a few days later when we were in s local pizza shop. My son as he is sometimes prone to doing had half his butt hanging off of a three foot high stool. Now, aside from the fact that I was standing right next to him with an eye on him and aside from the fact that he never falls and aside from the fact that he already disobeyed my request to sit up straight (for posture reasons and manners) … Did it ever occur to anyone that I might want him to fall out of that chair? What’s that old expression about experience being the best teacher?

So being in Pittsfield, what do you think happened? Another woman came charging over to help straighten him up because, “I just can’t bear to see him fall!”

I said nothing to her I think because I was stunned. I still am.

Like these tyrants really have my own children’s best interests at heart? Like they care about them anywhere near I do? That in one case one would relish a cop with guns taking away the kids’ father right in front of them for the heinous act of allowing them to feel what a breeze in their hair would feel like in an empty parking lot?

Without danger, there will be far less delight. Would these tyrants have prevented me from creek walking with my kids the week prior? That was after all far more dangerous? And if these tyrants want thugs with guns to deal with the way I raise my kids, just imagine how else they’d get a thrill at deploying the police power?

I will teach my children to stay far far far away from these sorts of people. They are pure evil, and they live next door. Pardon me.

8 Responses to “The Totalitarians in Our Midst”

  1. Alex says:

    I completely agree that such people are jerks. But what if your son was not on a 3-ft. stool but a 20 ft wall? And what if he was standing on one leg, rather than sitting on three? My point is that telling you how to raise your children “properly” seems rude and patronizing BECAUSE you are a caring and cautious parent who truly has your kids’ best interest in mind. If you were a terrible parent I would see such people as kind, caring individuals…sure, they think they know best, but in that case maybe they at least know better.

    There may be a time for Good Samaritanship, but how do you know– how does anyone know– when that is? And if we can’t know, when (if ever) is it morally permissible (or even morally required) to step in and do what you think is right, even if it means telling others how to live?

  2. jb says:

    I agree 100% Wintercow. Falling off a stool properly, moreover, is a skill young American men should master, and the earlier the better. Came in quite handy during my college years as I recall. Hell had I been there I there I might have even given him a little nudge…

  3. Speedmaster says:

    I could not possibly agree with you more. I regularly tell my kids that one very simple (and cheap) way to make the world a far far better place would be to convince people to mind their own business more often.

    As an aside, yesterday I saw a Prius in our motel’s parking lot with an Obama 2012 sticker. I wonder, isn’t that pretty much implied? Is a verbose sticker really necessary? I think it’s superfluous.

  4. Andrew says:

    Ok, I’m going to dissent here.

    First of all, I’m in no way sticking up for either of these people, and I would have been pretty offended if this happened to me. That being said, I find the first incident far more offensive than the second. At least the second woman in theory could have been doing this out of misguided concern, and she didn’t threaten the use of force. But that still doesn’t make it ok.

    In any case, I question the wisdom of using phrases like “totalitarian” and “pure evil” to describe people that are simply jerks, but nothing more, nothing less (at least from what can infer about them based on limited information). Rather than resort to name-calling, I think you build credibility if you rise above the whole thing. My suspicion is that most people like this are full of hot air and are unlikely to actually follow through on the threat to call the police. Perhaps I’m too willing to give people the benefit of the doubt here, but giving people the benefit of the doubt isn’t always bad. Of course, I’m not saying that their conduct is acceptable.

    I’m presuming that by posting the picture of the vehicle, with its bumper sticker displayed prominently, that you are attempting to make some comment about this person’s worldview. I object to the notion that the type of car one drives, or the stickers on that car will be much of a predictor either way as to whether or not that person is likely to be a jerk. Some of the most intolerable people I’ve ever met had worldviews similar to my own. At the same, I’ve met plenty of people with very opposite views that I didn’t like either, and my reasons for not liking them had little to do with their opinions on important issues.

    Also, even if the person in question were pure evil, I still would have blocked out the license plate. (This website if viewable to the general public, after all).

  5. Dan says:

    I second Andrew. It’s easy to get irritated when these people tell you off. But I doubt that even Lenore Skenazy, the national archivist for stuff like this, would call these people “pure evil”. More like sanctimonious and pestering.

  6. wintercow20 says:

    Why does this person deserve the courtesy of me blocking out their license plate when she threatened to call the police on me? And why do they deserve being treated like reasonable human beings when she ran away after I asked her name and why she cared so much?

    Growing up where I did this person would have been punched in the face – I thought I was being a “good boy” for restraining myself from doing that, or at least from deflating all of her tires.

    I used to feel more like Dan and Andrew. I really did. Not anymore. But rather than depress all of you I’ll end the comment here.

  7. RIT_Rich says:

    Pittsfield Ma. That’s all you had to say. That’s loony-toon central even by Ma standards.

  8. chuck martel says:

    Why should her license plate not be visible? It’s a public thing, there’s nothing secret, or even private, about an automobile license plate. What wintercow should have done was take her photo and put that in this blog, so on the off chance that one of us should be unfortunate enough to encounter that harridan we would know who we were dealing with. In fact, people should photograph others that are classless jerks and these photos should be posted to regional websites organized around their offenses. Additionally, photographs of all government employees, with their name and place of work, should be posted on websites so we can know who the parasites are among us.

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