EDITOR’S NOTE: The Kingdom of Heaven may be unto them, but Florence King ain’t buying. No siree, she does not like children. Let us repeat: She really does not like them.
Want proof? Then plunge into this Misanthrope’s Corner classic–first run in the December 11, 1995 edition of NR. See for yourself why the Great Misanthrope believes the word “child” and the phrase “shapeless, hairless, falsetto runt” are interchangeable.
And when you’re finished laughing, go ahead and get your copy of the complete, unedited, unabridged collection of Miss King’s curmudgeonly oeuvre. We refer, of course, to STET, Damnit, The Misanthrope’s Corner, 1991 to 2002, a big (518 pages!) beautiful book that is simply a must for every Florence fan. It is available only from NR, and can be ordered securely here.
Thanks mainly to this column, most people now believe me when I say I’m a misanthrope. A few even believe me when I say I favor absolute monarchy and the divine right of kings, but nobody believes me when I say I have a visceral aversion to children. I’ve stated it unequivocally in several books but people still pass it off as a curmudgeonly pose.
Okay, I’ll try again: I consider pedophilia an unforgivable crime. How could anyone be sexually attracted to a shapeless, hairless, falsetto runt?
Americans have made such a fetish of children that adults no longer count–not even in body counts. Janet Reno approved the Waco assault because “there were kids in the compound.” Afterward she was castigated because “there were kids in the compound.” A CNN broadcaster watching the conflagration cried, “My God, there are kids in there!”
Last summer a Philadelphia ice-cream vendor was shot to death by a robber. A cop told ABC News: “It was lucky that no children were killed.”
Jeff Smith, TV’s “Frugal Gourmet,” dropped a skillet and immediately said: “I don’t mind accidents in the kitchen as long as there aren’t kids around to hurt themselves.”
Recently, my little corner of the world was shaken by the discovery of a man with fifty pet cobras in his basement. Quoth a neighbor in our local paper: “My God, there’s kids around here!” (My God, there’s a great line in Elsa Lanchester’s autobiography: “I held a baby once. It felt like a bag of hot snakes.”)
The same disregard for adults marked Democrat attacks on the Contract with America: “They’re abandoning America’s children! . . . They want to take food out of the mouths of children! . . . They’re coming for the children!” Even PBS funding was cast in puerile terms. It was Sesame Street and Sesame Street alone, they implied, that the GOP was gunning for. Rumpole of the Bailey, the most adult show on all of television, was never mentioned.
Network commercials portray children as the only reason why adults should avoid accidents. First we had Goodyear’s “So much is riding on your tires,” then “My daddy loves me so much he bought a Volvo,” but the prize goes to the Aetna insurance company, which simply displays a list of the kinds of coverage it offers, with no sound except a baby gurgling off-camera.
The same theme runs through public-service ads. Think you might have cataracts? Better get them taken care of so you can see your grandchild (gurgling sound off-camera). As for smokers, who have been at the bottom of the triage list all along, we are now warned that the danger we pose to co-workers is nothing compared to the danger we pose to children, to which I say, “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet.”
America has gone beyond the child-centeredness of the Fifties. Now we are child-defined, a condition that makes many adults sound as if they have actually turned into children.
Bill Clinton on Whitewater: “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Hillary Clinton on Whitewater: “I know nothing bad happened.”
FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, advising local and federal police to stop competing with each other: “Play with your friends, be fair and honest, and share your toys.”
Every major newscaster now employs the infantile euphemism, “the N-word.”
Defending Lani Guinier, Dana Cunningham of the Legal Defense Fund said of the queen of racial gerrymandering: “Lani is the kind of person you want at your children’s birthday party, because when the kids start fighting over a game, she will figure out a new game. A game nobody loses and everybody loves.”
A househusband writing in Newsweek’s “My Turn” calls paternity leave “a spicy stew of belches and smiles” and describes the fun of grocery shopping with his little one (“We squeal at the celery”). This joy was made possible by the Family Leave Act, without which he would not be “trading coos with my daughter.” He ends with a coo to his readers, explaining that he must stop writing now because “little wet slimy hands await.”
No wonder we tolerate pornography. It’s the only way left to say “Adults Only.”
Politicians can no longer get away with kissing one baby per campaign stop. Now they must visit nursery schools and sit in tiny chairs with their knees under their chins. The spirit of enforced diminution is evidently hard to shake off. George Bush worried that Anita Hill’s lurid testimony might have been heard by “little children,” which was topped by Ross Perot speaking in another context about “tiny little children.” How much smaller can they get?
A politician, says Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times, must “demonstrate that he loves children more than Mother Teresa loves children.” The hands-down winner is Rep. Robert Dornan, who, in the middle of a C-SPAN tirade against Long Island Rail Road gunman Colin Ferguson, suddenly interjected, apropos of nothing: “I remember his name because it’s my grandkid’s–Colin.”
Child worship is the American woman’s gross national product. She thinks she’s the sexiest creature on earth, but sexy women have better things to do than swarm over children.
They are more like Queen Victoria, who, far from being repressed and frigid, possessed that rare form of female maturity that enables a woman to love a man more than a child. In a letter to her oldest daughter she freely admitted: “I often grudged you children being always there, when I longed to be alone with dearest Papa. Those are always my happiest moments.”
American men are desperate for women like this, but what they get is a self-inflated neurotic growling Joan Crawford’s signature line: “I’ll do anything for those kids, ya hear me? Anything!”