If you haven't read the column yet, here it is.



To the editor ...

I like the fact that you've never read a Cat in the Hat, or Dr. Seuss book, but proceed to form an opinion anyways. Just a heads up here, its a comedy. Kids aren't the same as they were fifty years ago, or even yesterday. Times change, and it's just a movie. That you havn't even seen.

Get real.

November 25, 2003


Nicholas Strakon replies

I, too, rather like the fact that I've never read a Dr. Seuss book, but I would protest that the remainder of Mr. Daryl's first sentence is substantially wrong, or at least imprecise. What I have formed toward the Dr. Seuss books amounts to a suspicion more than an opinion. Call it at most a very small opinion. I hope Mr. Daryl will allow me to keep my very small opinion — after all, it is based on what I know about Mr. Geisel — and not send me out to grill some 8-year-old Seuss littérateur on the nuances of left-wing propaganda, however enlightening such an encounter might be.

Mr. Daryl also takes me to task for not having seen the movie. But, excuse me, I did see the scenes that I described. Is Mr. Daryl saying that they are not in the movie? Or that I made them up? Ah — perhaps he is claiming, as so many seem to claim in such circumstances, that they have all been taken out of context, stiffened tail and all, and are therefore meaningless.

My interlocutor points out that times change, and that children aren't the same as they were 50 years ago "or even yesterday." I hope he doesn't think I am unaware of that. Mr. Daryl seems not to be disturbed at all by the direction of the change, or even by the fact that the children have changed for the worse since "yesterday." As must be clear from my column, I am mightily disturbed by it, and I'd like to help stop it and even reverse it. He and I shall have to remain in disagreement on that subject.

"The Cat in the Hat" is "just a movie," Mr. Daryl objects. I confess I find that approach most irritating. In the past when I have described and criticized some outrage perpetrated by the telescreen, one or two of my correspondents have asked me why I waste my time writing about such things — it's just TV! I wonder where they think most Americans derive most of what they know, or think they know. Hint: it's certainly not from the schools (on the other hand, that is probably just as well). Silly little movies and TV shows have a serious and massive influence on the culture. As for Mr. Daryl's assertion that the movie is a comedy, I just don't know what to make of that, except to ask, So what?

There is one thing I need to thank Mr. Daryl for. He does direct me to "get real," but he refrains from directing me to "lighten up." That is good, for if he had done that I should have had to become very, very grave.

November 28, 2003

I just watched the short animation "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" with my 11-year-old son. The Grinch's heart was two sizes two small, and Boris Karloff narrated and did a brilliant job. I'm 43 and view it every year at Christmas. It reminds me of my wonderful childhood, and I'm creating one for my boy. Back then, the tree was lit, we were munching popcorn, and we were laughing in between commercials. And that family of ten fell in love with Max the dog, who never spoke a word in Dr. Seuss's much-loved cartoon. It's a classic. Though I have a small family now, the fond memories continue.

Watching The Cat in the Hat get a b*ner looking at a picture of the kids' mother doesn't remind me of my childhood. That is not to mention the other coarse, gross stunts by the movie's Cat. The sixth-graders at a nearby private school will be taking the kindergartners to the movie. Got that? I said private school.

Right now, my son is watching "Spartacus." He has seen "The Cowboys," "Lord of the Flies," and any number of Marx Brothers and Pink Panther movies. We no longer watch TV programs of any kind. If you want to give your kid a childhood, help retain his innocence, and allow him to develop without comparison of others, be vigilant and guide him. It is your duty and obligation as a parent. My son quit laughing during Saturday morning cartoons because they were getting vulgar. Did you hear what I said? He wasn't laughing, because they weren't funny, any more than "The Cat in The Hat" is. The training must be paying off, because he's not interested in seeing that movie. He is recognizing trash and avoiding it ... on his own. Now, on to classical music ...

Nancy J. Diemer
Cleveland, Ohio
November 29, 2003;
posted December 16


Nicholas Strakon comments

Miss Diemer's report amounts to some evidence, contra Mr. Daryl's assumptions (see above), that radical cultural and moral degradation among children is not some sort of irresistible geological process. Of course that is not to say that resisting the degradation is easy. In fact, in the circumstances of today's super-toxic culture, parents and others responsible for children must exert their imagination (and stiffen their spine) in order to resist it at all. I invite other readers to tell us what weapons and tactics they are using as they fight the good fight in their own "last ditch."

December 16, 2003

Thanks to Mr. Strakon for his common sense, a rare commodity these days. People say that kids are different today, and yet people also complain about the way kids are today. A baby is born as raw clay and is shaped by the influences around him, and those influences are placed around him by adults.

There was a time when adults appreciated innocence in a child and worked to preserve it as long as possible, because they were smart enough to recognize that that time of innocence was the happiest time of their life and that that happiness was a gift they wanted to pass along to their kids. Today, however, there seems to be a move on, as Bill O'Reilly puts it, "to harden our children."

Parents are under huge pressure; the world is throwing trash at their kids faster than they can shield them from it, and make no mistake about it, those throwing trash are not doing it for art's sake or for the sake of the child. It's all about money. I am appalled that the true art of Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) and the great lessons that he gave to our kids should be twisted and perverted into yet another device aimed (whether intentionally or not) at hardening our children.

Ron Rossi
December 6, 2003

Nicholas Strakon replies

I thank Mr. Rossi for his observations.

His contention that "it's all about money" is, I think, an overstatement. Some of those responsible for the anti-culture do what they do because it's what they want to do: the world they're making is the world they want to live in and see others struggle to live in. But Mr. Rossi's statement does have the considerable virtue of reminding us that the purchasing and consuming decisions of millions of parents and children are necessary in order to make the anti-culture profitable. Those decisions mean that the anti-culturists luxuriate in palaces and exert enormous influence, instead of languishing as gutter bums and alley perverts whom no one outside the local police court has ever heard of.

The parents and children are buying what they like; the question is not why they buy it but why they like it. Now, though the purchasing and consuming are themselves voluntary, I do not deny that important elements of coercion are involved. In terms of the formation of preferences, the manipulation of knowledge, and the distortion of the moral imagination, those coercive elements are found perhaps most notably in the program of many state schools designed to ruin and barbarize the children in their grasp.

In accounting for the collapse, or demolition, of our civilization we'll never be able to completely solve the chicken-and-egg conundrum except to conclude, pretty vaguely and unsatisfactorily, that our demise was initiated by the actions of certain individuals. Perhaps more ponderable is the fact that, once initiated, the progress of our demise has depended on the continuing and habitual actions of many, many individuals — including sellers and buyers.

December 16, 2003

To the column.

Return to the table of contents.