Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Today in Awful Parenting

When I'm trolling through the wires for the AP headlines that keep you entertained -- and thus distracted from the real work I'm doing behind the scenes to achieve global domination -- I often come across incredibly depressing news. This is because, and I hate to be blunt, most people are stupid or evil. Many are both.

I normally spare you the most distressing material, because that's not what I'm all about. My optimism is a real but incredibly fragile and therefore precious thing, like a praying mantis or Mary-Kate Olsen, and I like to protect it as much as possible, which sometimes means consciously not thinking about the aforementioned stupid, evil hordes. But a trio of stories right within inches of each other today screamed out to be noticed. Here is the lead paragraph of each one. I warned you, this isn't uplifting stuff (particularly the last one):
A woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to swinging her 4-week-old son like a bat to hit her boyfriend during a fight, fracturing the infant's skull in the process.

Police say a man repeatedly stabbed his teenage wife, then gave the knife to his toddler son and told him: "Now you stab Mommy."

"I've got her, and you're not going to get her." Beth Johnson heard those words from her ex-husband Monday, shortly before he crashed his rented single-engine plane into his former mother-in-law's southern Indiana home, killing himself and the couple's 8-year-old daughter.
The only consolation in any of those stories was in the second one, when we learn that the toddler refrained from stabbing mommy. Good kid.

Dan Savage has written eloquently about the insanity of believing that having parents of both genders is inherently preferable to being raised by a same-sex couple. He even has a regular feature on The Stranger's blog in which he highlights stories just like those above, pointing out how silly it is to block same-sex couples from adopting in a world where children have to be taken away from so many cave people.

But that's not the point of this post. The point is, I'm not in a position of any power whatsoever, and I know this is a fascistic notion to the core, but doesn't some rudimentary test of parenting skills (or, you know, just non-homicidal impulses) seem like a good idea before we let people breed? Isn't all the inevitable deepening of the coastal shelf bad enough? Can't we try to screen out...well, the three guys mentioned above, for starters?

I got lucky. My parents are awesome, and not just because they've never commanded me to stab someone. I mean, they're awesome even compared to other good parents. But today's headlines remind me of the sentiment expressed by Keanu Reeves' character in Parenthood:
You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car -- hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.


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