So who should kids believe, the Legislature or a 'Dog with a Blog?'

One passes endless bills to protect them, the other says they're way smarter than clueless adults

Todd Dorman
Published: February 13 2014 | 8:13 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:36 am in
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So the Iowa House has swiftly moved to protect kids from e-cigarettes.

The bill, House File 2109, prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under age 18. E-cigarettes are devices that heat liquid containing nicotine, forming vapor that simulates tobacco smoke. There’s no tobacco, and instead of smoking, users are “vaping.”

They appear to be safer than cigarettes. But they’re also a fairly new product, so keeping minors from buying them seems smart.

But it’s not enough, according to some House Democrats, who sought broader limits and hoped to regulate e-cigarettes exactly like tobacco products. Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, sought to bar the sale of tobacco-free and nicotine-free e-smokes to minors. Rep. Chip Baltimore, who has the best name in the Legislature, also had the best quote.

“Once you remove the cancer-causing smoke from the equation and once you remove the addictive nicotine from the equation, what you’re really regulating is a plastic tube with humidity,” the Republican from Boone said.

You can always count on the Legislature to pass some sort of bill protecting kids from some new danger. This Legislature also is considering a bill that would bar Iowans under 18 from using tanning beds, as well as a measure that would allow parents to see kids’ library records. In the past, lawmakers shielded kiddies from piercings and tattoos, along with soda in school vending machines, cellphones in cars and the dire specter of Four Loko.

And yet, it all seems sort of unnecessary. That’s because, at my house, our TV often is tuned to The Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. According to most of the shows on those networks, it’s the adults, parents in particular, who need safety scissors and mitten strings.

That’s because, basically, we’re idiots.

It’s the kids who have all the brains, sense and, oddly, enormous financial resources. They produce award-winning web shows with mind-blowing technology, take secret cross-country airline trips and handle lucrative entertainment careers with seemingly no parental involvement. That’s probably because their parents are self-absorbed bungling dunces who can’t tie their own shoes. Dads, in particular, are pathetic punch lines.

In one particularly insidious show, “Dog with a Blog,” the hapless parents are so crushingly dumb they don’t know that their family dog has the ability to speak fluent English and writes a blog.

Yes, I am an old, cranky scold. And yes, I am jealous that the dog is a better blogger than I am.

I also know this stuff is nothing new. Kids are supposed to like kids shows, so marketers can effectively pound their products into those spongy little minds. And kids love watching clueless adults thwarted by savvy kids.

But it also must be confounding for kids. The popular culture tells them they’re smart and in charge, and that their desires and preferences are always most important. And yet, the governmental regulatory complex says they should be bundled in Bubble Wrap until about age 30, and that their desires and preferences actually are clear and present dangers. You rule the world, just don't go outside unsupervised.

Imagine if pop culture were just a little more positively parental, and if the government was less so. And now you’re wondering what sort of vapors I’ve been inhaling.

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