May 21st, 2009

Advisory: This Post Contains Stickers

While I was visiting my parents, I saw that Green Day’s new album came out. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, the CD got to my house right about the time I did. Last night, I finally opened it.

I kind of laughed at myself when I did because right there on the front was a parental advisory sticker. Not that I had any intention of playing the CD around my mom and dad—not likely to be their cup of tea.

My parents have mostly been too oblivious to bother with censorship. I read what I liked and listened to what I liked with very little interference. Although the last time I ever asked someone the meaning of a word I didn’t know was the time I was reading Shogun and asked my dad what fornication meant. His answer, that it was a long version of the f-word, embarrassed me so badly that I chose ignorance or dictionaries from then on. To his credit, he didn’t seem to think it was a bad question.

Just now, though, I came across this article. WalMart is acting in loco parentis, which I translate as “like crazy parents.” I am annoyed.

See, I’m a parent, too. (But you knew that already…) I am not offended by parental advisory stickers in themselves. That’s kind of like being offended by movie ratings. I might take a closer look at something my kids were listening to because of the sticker, not because I’d forbid them to listen, but because I’d want to know if it was just swear words or something else. A CD that included hate speech or violent language toward women or extreme sexual content might make me have one of those meta-conversations with my kids: “Do I need to tell you that I don’t approve of this stuff? That I’ll be really really upset with you if you think this way?” They roll their eyes and say, “Duh.” I have good kids.

I don’t want WalMart dumbing down my conversations with the kids. Controversial topics allow us to see how we think. I have a chance to articulate my views and the reasons behind them and to listen to theirs. I don’t always agree with their points of view, but I’m hardly going to change their minds by treating them with disrespect. They’re too smart to accept my opinion just because it’s mine. They’re too smart to be corrupted by a Green Day CD.

And, thankfully, they’re also too smart to shop at WalMart.