Recently a member of the Minnesota Legislature–I forget who, and it’s not really important–asserted that the state needs a booster-seat law. It’s “to protect our children,” you see. The Star-Tribune editorialized that substituting political judgment for parental judgment is “a small price to pay to protect our kids.”
Excuse me, but whose kids are we talking about?
One of my favorite comedy sketches of all time is Bill Cosby’s Chocolate Cake for Breakfast, in which he describes an unusual morning at his house. Rather than cook eggs and bacon for his children, he gives them some leftover chocolate cake. He rationalizes his decision this way: “Eggs. Eggs are in chocolate cake. And milk. Oh goodie. And wheat. That’s nutrition!”
After he then mentioned giving his four-year old grapefruit juice to go with the chocolate cake, some people in the audience gave scornful howls.
His response is one that every parent should recite to those who would expand the power of government in the name of protecting children: “This is not your child.”
In recent years, Cosby has gained prominence for his stinging rebukes to men who don’t live up to their familial responsibilities. How each father treats his own children does have social ramifications, so a rebuke or commendation is fair game, if it occurs within the context of a civil society.
To his credit, Cosby hasn’t called for politicians to force men to adopt a certain style of parenting: Should they be stern or soft? Required to change diapers? Forbidden to engage in playful wrestling on the floor? Human beings are too complex, and the political process is ill-suited to have the state take on the function of parents. Freedom of the family from state intervention is a bedrock of freedoms we take for granted, including economic freedom and freedom of thought.
So if you think that children should be in booster seats until age 4–or age 12, for that matter–have at it. Set up a web site and a foundation. Purchase advertisements and talk up your cause on radio shows and in community groups.
But don’t forget: they’re not “your” children.
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