Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is Raising "A Kid off the Grid" Child Abuse?

I became aware of the Nickelodeon program "A Kid off the Grid" from this takedown of it by Lewis Black on The Daily Show:

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Leaving aside the "indoctrination" of the kids, or "teaching," or whatever you want to call it (I don't really care about the politics), isn't keeping your shit in a bucket unsanitary? That's third-world stuff, where the life expectancy is in the mid-40s. Instead of teaching kids to shit in a bucket, why not teach them that "researchers have discovered that, over the long term, being richer often translates into being greener." Or teach them about upcycling. Or freecycling. Or this planet green stuff.

But collecting their shit in a bucket? Really?

The show featured a group of kids who live at an "Eco Village" called "Dancing Rabbit." (Here is the show's press release, presented as an editorial or article or something in a newspaper called "The Memphis Democrat." That's some good reporting right there.) I don't know if the kids at Dancing Rabbit collected their own shit in a bucket or not- I haven't seen the show. But I wonder why it is that teaching kids to collect their filthy, stinking, disease-ridden feces in a bucket is not considered child abuse. Earlier this year, some kids named Adolph Hitler, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie were "removed from their home by New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services." Were those kids collecting their feces in buckets? Then, about a year ago, the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Texas was raided because of alleged child abuse. Were those kids collecting their shit in buckets?

Obviously I don't equate raising your kids to be racist, or raising them to be polygamists, with raising your kids to be environmentally aware. We should teach our kids to be environmentally aware. But going "off the grid" is, by definition, a separatist movement- these people are separating themselves from "the grid." Most of the rest of us are on the grid.

And teaching your kids to shit in buckets? Isn't there an argument to be made that that's child abuse?

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