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Monday, December 01, 2003

 

The battle over The Butter Battle Book rages on

Not content to slunk away and admit defeat, Armed Prophet came roaring back this morning with a lengthy response to this post from last week. The subject at hand? The effects of Dr. Suess and children’s fables on impressionable tots. AP argues that Suess’ “Butter Battle Book” warped him into to becoming a preadolescent liberal. While the dispenser of neo-conservative-flavored sooths has extended the olive branch, the little devil on Blog’s shoulder is still screaming for conquest. Victory must be ours!

In his response, AP argues that, unlike children’s books, which are evidentially revered and loved like family members by most, video games are disposable entertainment without relevant themes. First off, if he doubts the impact of gaming on kids growing up in the ‘80s, he need look no further than X Entertainment or these statistics. 20-somethings have not given up their devotion to pixilated Italian plumbers. He’s also bound to find at least one vintage Nintendo ringer in his favorite Beltway bar. Mario, Link and all the rest are still as revered as any of Suess’ creations.

Maybe video games don’t have the same philosophical impact on children as the moral lessons of Suess. If AP is willing to open this can of worms, he must also acknowledge that games encourage children to be more violent. What child of the “Me Decade” didn’t impersonate Link on an elementary school playground? Perhaps more relevant is the impact of television and movies. Blog spent most of free time circa 1986 bouncing from couch to couch over carpet "lava pits: while swinging a beach towel whip. AP probably did his own fare share of Indiana Jones impersonations during the mid-80s. We all know the classic urban legend of the kid who jumped off a roof trying to impersonate Superman.

If a mere book can influence the politics of a developing mind, applying AP’s argument, then ALL media can due the same. Still, if Suess turned AP into a liberal, why didn’t the “violence is the only solution” dictates of GI Joe turn him into a schoolyard Cobra Commander?

Later in his argument, AP makes the mistake of mentioning religion. While he uses the impact of these "fables" to explain their overpowering influence, he fails to acknowledge their immersive context. Christians don’t just read the Bible once and toss it on a shelf, they attend church services, associate with like-minded colleagues, devote a good portion of their free time pouring over the principles of their religion and encourage their children to do the same.

AP admits that he grew up in a liberal household in a predominantly liberal community. The “Butter” book was only one part of the constant onslaught of left-leaning politics he was weaned on at an early age. Video games don’t convince people to join the military, comics don’t send cascading off roofs and Dr. Suess did not make AP a liberal. His environment and his parents did. A single book cannot form a child’s politics and perceptions. The predominant beliefs of peers, media and family do.

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