February 28, 2009

What is the sound of one hand on a children's TV show host?


IN THE COMMENTS: "The Absence of a Hand was in my Age... a most disfiguring & distressing Calamity, especially to a Lady." Yes! Our ghost Sir Archy is back!


Jason (the commenter) said...

Hey kids! You know how your mom tells you not to chew your fingernails?

Leland said...

I don't think the parents complaining are capable of understanding logic, much less explain logic fallacies they might see on tv. Instead of turning off the tv, or changing the channel, these parents call the television company to complain about what is on their television.

Xmas said...

But can she dance?

Darcy said...

Wow. Shame on those parents. Pretty disgusting.

rhhardin said...

She should be an economist.

George M. Spencer said...

Bree Walker, that TV newswoman with ectrodactyly....looks like she's been hanging out at Camp Casey in Crawford.

"Bree’s Brew: What You Need to Read to Know THE TRUTH!"

Sir Archy said...

To Professor Althouse.

Dear Madam,

Pray forgive the long Absence of an old Correspondant.  Many are the Obsequies & Duties of a proper Ghost upon the Astral Plane, to which I was suddenly call'd.  I fear that during these past Months, I had quite completely abandon'd the Gentleman whose Brain I habitually haunt, and left him with but little Recourse when several Persons enquir'd of a Word or two from me.

I will say, as the Ghost of a Gentleman dead these 260 Years and more, that I have seen many a poor Cripple struggle mightly with an Affliction.  The Relief of the worst of physical Handicaps in my Day had already been undertaken by means of Improvements to artificial Limbs & Teeth, Glass Eyes, etc.  Indeed, those crippl'd by Gout found their best Respite some 35 or 40 Years after my Death by the invention of a finish'd Model of the Wheel-Chair by Mr. Merlin at London.

Additionally, nothing warms a sympathetick Heart more than to see the Puzzles & Blunders of the Deaf and Blind overcome thru Skill taught by means of perspecatious Instruction, which was already well-advanc'd in my Lifetime.

The Absence of a Hand was in my Age, however, a most disfiguring & distressing Calamity, especially to a Lady.  A Gentleman might brag that his was shot off at Blenheim, or that he lost it in a Fight with a Corsican Banditti; but a Lady, ever conscious that her Appearance often meant her Fortune, had little Recourse to such Boasting.  Indeed, Ladies' Deshabille in my Age left the Forearms and Hands expos'd, such that a Disfigurement could not be hidden.  When fully drest, a Lady might have kept a Deformity out of Sight by means of a Muff or a Shawl, something impossible in the Course of ordinary domestick Life.

I recall that Her Grace, the Dutchess of —— lost several Fingers of her Left Hand in a Shooting Accident, when the Barrel of her Fowling Piece unaccountably burst.  Never to be deterr'd, she took to wearing Ladies' Polish Costume, then รก la mode at Paris.  This Sort of Dress had long & loose Sleeves, and was accompany'd by a voluminous and colorful Shawl, so that the Wearer might conceal any number of physical Defects, several of which even perfectly form'd Ladies in every Age have been wont to disguise.

By way of Closing, I should say that the generous Preoccupation of this modern Age to give Preferment to afflict'd Persons ought to extend to the Dead.  I have just return'd from the Astral Plane, and you should know that the greatest ghostly Complaint was the Uselessness of their present Conditions.  What little Trouble would it be, Madam, to employ several of us as Presenters on Television?  Always having taken Delight in Children, I myself would be most agreeable to act as Host of a Show for impressionable Youngsters.  Think on the Improvement they would receive from the many tales I could tell, and from the Knowledge that the Dead ought not frighten them at all.

Always intent to avoid giving Fright to you or any of the Audience, at this, your Theatre of Topicks (as I call it),

I am,


Your most humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

Host with the Most said...

“I would never tell anyone how to talk to their children, or how to be a parent. I think that's a very personal thing. But what I would say is that having a disabled person on a channel like CBeebies presents an intimate opportunity to discuss disability with their children in the security of their own home, rather than, say, on the bus, when the kid shouts ‘What's wrong with that man?'.”

In today's world, where our liberal betters tell us that children should be taught everything that liberals want taught despite parent objections -

sex ed in elementary school,

Cindy has two Mommies (6 if she's in Utah)and a Sheep,

America was founded by evil white Europeans,

2 Presidents = one Black Civil Rights Leader when it comes to honoring with holidays, et al -

why would anyone object to someone with disabilites teaching children?a

Host with the Most said...

And as to Bree Walker:

She can have whatever politics she wants, but

those lips are horrifying!

paul a'barge said...

Hey, Sir Archy ... bugger off, mate.

Trooper York said...

Well that's not the sound Pee Wee Herman made when he was using one hand.

former law student said...

My church held a carnival every summer, with the same rides every year. The merry-go-round operator was missing his right arm. We would ponder the loss as we went up and down and around and around, glancing at him while he adjusted the throttle of the gas engine that propelled it.

But I don't remember being scared, just a bit mystified.

This was not the only limb-misser in our world. At church, I'd see the younger sister of my classmate Kevin, walking along with one artificial calf, as if she were part mannequin.

Supposedly this was a birth defect, but this was not the sort of thing I dared ask about directly.

John Lynch said...

One of childhood friends had no left forearm. His hand started on the elbow. He had five fingers on each hand, with no thumb. I didn't notice.

I think adults are going to be far more freaked out than children.

Lol at her being an economist. Heh.

Simon said...

At risk of being thought unsympathetic, I think there's something to the parents' complaints that showing this on a program aimed at very young children "[i]s forcing them to discuss disability before their children [a]re ready." To be sure, Burnell has a good (delivered with well-rehearsed nonchalance) response: “having a disabled person on ... [TV] presents an intimate opportunity to discuss disability with their children in the security of their own home, rather than, say, on the bus, when the kid shouts ‘What's wrong with that man?'” Pointing out that children will be exposed to disability one way or another is persuasive, but another part of her response misses the mark. While Burnell might “never tell anyone how to talk to their children,” the parents are complaining that they are having to have the conversation at all, not that the content of that conversation is being dictated.

Thus, while I'm inclined to agree with Burnell, for myself, I also think we should not be so quick to dismiss the parents' concerns. This shouldn't be framed as a question of tolerance, or made about Burnell as an individual. The right way to look at it - a fortiori when one considers that this is a state-run broadcasting facility paid for by taxpaying parents - is as a question of parental discretion. Parents, it might be thought, have a natural right to decide to shelter very young children from abnormality and deviance, even if we might think such a course unwise. See, e.g. Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 91 (2000) (Scalia, J., dissenting) ("a right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children is among the 'unalienable Rights" with which the Declaration of Independence proclaims 'all Men ... are endowed by their Creator'" (alteration in original)); Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 761 (1997) (Souter, J., concurring) ("the rights of parents to direct their children's education without unreasonable interference by the States" are fundamental rights). Indeed, without a sense of what is normal as a reference point, one must wonder how children will develop a sense of what is abnormal or deviant - which, one must suspect, might well be the point.

Kirk Parker said...

While I'm mostly in sympathy with Burnell here, and think the complaining parents are industrial-strength idiots, I am a bit troubled by this:

"'I knew it would be controversial, but I didn't expect it would escalate into this kind of chaos..."

Ummm, nine whole complaints in a country the size of Britain, and you think that's chaos?

Kirk Parker said...


I rarely find myself in disagreement with you, but you are way off base on this one! Surely the parent's unquestionable right to "direct the upbringing of their children" extends to the question of whether or not to let them watch the Beeb, not whether that the 9 complainers can compel the million-fold-more-numerous non-complainers to rearrange the world so that the complainers don't have to exercise that discretion.

chickelit said...

There are real people missing limbs out here. My kids see them. I let them watch Todd Browning's Freaks. They were fascinated. We talked about it afterwards. No biggie

George M. Spencer said...

Had a visiting middle school English teacher who came to classes once a week to teach creative writing.

Guy had potbelly, white hair, stump for a forearm.

He waved it around.

No one dozed off in that class.

Little kids will watch the TV show just for its freak-out value.

In the olden days, people must have seen horrible disfigurements all time time...coal mining accidents, farm accidents, war wounds...

This seems to be the modern way to introduce the small ones to life's many horrors.

One of us! One of us!

reader_iam said...

the parents are complaining that they are having to have the conversation at all

These parents are whacked.

Simon said...

Kirk and Reader: all I'm saying is that there are arguments on both sides, given the unusual status of the BBC as a publicly-owned broadcaster. If this was on a privately-owned station, there would be two answers to the parents. They could change the channel, or, in another sense of the word, they could try to change the channel, by buying stock in the broadcaster and complaining to the management qua part owners. Here, however, the parents are part owners after a fashion, to the extent that the BBC is considered publicly owned, and to the extent there is a difference between public and state ownership, its policies are as subject to public complaint (and public policy dictates) as any other government body would be.

I'm not a libertarian, and I recognize that parental discretion is far from absolute. As I've said before, I think government regulation is appropriate in either of two contexts: when such regulation increases market efficiency, and in traditionally-regulated areas. The state has a traditional interest in regulating parental discretion, but only to an extent; the state can require schooling, for example, but I don't think that the state can mandate attendance at any particular school, so while a regulation that homeschooled children must pass certain tests would be permissible, a prohibition on homeschooling would not. (By this standard, could the state refuse to accept some of the more out-of-control naming choices by parents?) Here, we have something of a gray area, and while I'm not saying that I come out on the side of the parents, I do think their concerns are legitimate and shouldn't be waved away as kooky.

reader_iam said...

Your argument is elegant and I do see your point, Simon ...

... but I'm still for waving away (their concerns AND their complaint).

Sometimes I just go with my gut and (and what I, anyway, see as) common sense.

Simon said...

Sure, and the point you made in another place about classmates in state-subsidized preschools is another very strong counter argument.

Roberto said...

What do these complaining parents do when they encounter someone who's disabled in public?

Shield the young one's eyes?


Ann Althouse said...

At my high school, we had a substitute teacher with only one arm. We were cruel and called him a stubstitute teacher.

Simon Kenton said...

Reader Iam
"the parents are complaining that they are having to have the conversation at all

These parents are whacked."

Sort of, Reader. I was irritated not because I had to have the conversation, but because I had to have it when my daughter was 8: "What is a blowjob, Daddy?"

Thank you, President Clinton.

reader_iam said...

Simon Kenton: Interesting equation.

Tell me, would you complain about a limb-impaired or limbless classmate in your child's preschool class, or playgroup or Sunday School class, or whatever, on the grounds that an unwanted conversation on your part might ensue? If so, what's your prescribed solution?

reader_iam said...

Because, you know, if you don't protect your child from that, the next thing you know they'll be asking about blowjobs.

reader_iam said...

Me, I hate the fact that my son has to be exposed to his grandmother's awful, obvious deterioration due to ALS (complicated with, as it turned out, unrelated abdominal surgery, botched, which left her with a weeping wound for a bit). Hate it. (For that matter, I hate the shit I experienced at an early age, for the same reason, which follows.)

The reality(-ies) of life can be a real bitch. Whom to complain to? From what authority to demand intervention?

Life often sucks, Simon, and regardless, in the end, you die. What, precisely, would you like the authorities to do about that? Either way? And what the hell are you thinking, to suggest that shunting off the "cripples," the "abnormals," "the disturbing" and so forth can possibly protect against that?

Are you daft? Or simply scared dishonest?

reader_iam said...

And, Simon Kenton, it's only in the most, most, recent, recent of times that children have been so sheltered from the realities life. That sheltering is the anomaly. It was never the norm. Your attitude is not the result of conservatism; it's the result of progressivism.

Ever think about that?

reader_iam said...

And what of kids born w/o limbs, or impaired in some way, or different somehow, or whatever? What of the conversations THEIR parents have to have with them, at timings likewise not of their own choosing? Not restricted to, but including, the reactions of people such, as, say you? What of THAT, Simon Kenton?

Or are those unchosen & unchosen-times conversations "different" somehow? If so, how so?

Freeman Hunt said...

I agree with reader.

I saw plenty of people who were deformed or missing limbs when I was a young child just by being taken around town. One of my father's longtime employees was a woman who had been burned over her entire body as a child (nightgown caught fire.)

I don't see what the big deal is. She's missing a hand. So what? Lots of people are missing hands. I don't even see how that's a hard conversation to have with a kid. "Yup, some people out there are missing hands because something happened to them."

And reader is, I think, especially right about it being new that children are sheltered from the harsh realities of existence. People are born, people die, people have accidents. It's okay for a kid to know that. I don't see the good in creating a fantasy world a la Siddhartha's father's palace.

Freeman Hunt said...

What drives the desire to create this fake world anyway? Secularism? As we're less equipped to deal with harsh reality, we shrink from it, sanitize it?

Freeman Hunt said...

Or I may have that exactly backwards. As we sanitize our worlds and shield ourselves from harsh realities, perhaps we become more secular...

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

Did Sir Archy ask for Caspar's job?