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Leashed today, oppressed tomorrow
Scripps Howard News Service


May 13, 2005

So I'm at the mall the other day to buy a book. That's a bunch of pages bound together containing a variety of ideas and human thought and imagination. Heh-heh.

Anyway, I'm coming out of the store, and I see a woman ... well the only way to describe it is ... she was walking her kid.

She wasn't taking her kid for a walk. No. This mall kid was in a harness on a leash. Mom was 10 steps behind the little nose-miner, who was straining so hard against the harness he looked like a bulldog muscling through his territory.

This, my friends, is what we've come to. We've created such a messed up society that children are unsafe and parents are scared to death to walk in any crowd.

And as I watched that mom hold on for dear life as she was pulled along by her toddler like a prison guard with a hound dog on the scent, I suddenly felt sad. And hungry. But mostly sad.

This is how it's passed on, I thought. The idea that freedom can be controlled by fear. And nine times out of 10, fear seems to win.

I see them everywhere now. Soon that harness and leash won't just be for mall crawling or crowded airports or parks. We'll be putting kids on an umbilical leash as soon as they can walk. They'll create kid walking parks and McDonald's will sell happy-leash meals.

And one of two things will happen. Or one of five things. Hey, I'm not about limits, man.

Some leash-lifer will either grow up to be a politician who fears the exploration of the possibilities around him, thereby causing him to come up with some freedom-sucking idea like the Real ID Act. Or he'll be a politician who takes the whole harness-and-leash thing to an unhealthy level in his special, secret "private" time.

Any way you look at it, I'm sorry to say, some harness boy is gonna become a politician. Or a cage dancer. Or both. OK. Maybe just a dog walker.

Now, I'm not saying I know how to raise kids. I mean, if I had kids _ shiver _ I would have given them the freedom to play only in the backyard, made sure they had no bad influences like, you know, friends, and home-schooled them like the Amish. That's right. Online shopping only.

How do I know I would use these paranoid skills from the no-one-is-safe Book of Fear? Well, I use the same kind of parenting on my cat, Chico "The Bear" Garcia. He's never been outside, he has no grooming buddies and would probably kill me in my sleep if he had thumbs. Chico is a cat who started out quite normal but whose meow now sounds like he's channeling Edward G. Robinson.

"Mee-yow, seee."

So instead of putting you through the ramifications of my paranoid parenting skills, I chose not to have children. I know. You're welcome.

As good an idea as the harness and leash seems to be now, it has the potential to become like the straitjacket being tightened on our democracy. The leash and harness can only lead to more of the same for future generations.

There'll be more interest in such lame distractions like dumb-bunny runaway brides, Brad and Angelina, Jane Fonda's kinky sex stories and who was eliminated on "Survivor." Meanwhile, the government will continue to silently rip up the Constitution and pass bills that require us to submit to daily retinal scans and weekly Homeland Security colonoscopies.

All I'm saying is I think some kids on leashes might grow up to be adults willing to be led around on choke chains held by the greedy hands of some omnipresent corporation like Disney or Wal-Mart or Burger King that will lobby to tattoo bar codes on their foreheads.

It's seems like a leap but ... Ooooo, Burger King. Great. Now I'm hungry again. Sad, but hungry.


You can e-mail M.J. Wilde at mjwilde(at)

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