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June 17, 2010


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In honor of Father’s Day
How about an annual ‘mating season’ for U.S. men?

I always pause to admire the twin neoclassical facades on the north side of Logan Circle — The Free Library and Family Court. On any given weekday, the two buildings are a bustle of people coming and going, and I think to myself, “Maybe if people spent more time in the former, they’d spend less in the latter.”

In spite of the availability of free education, many young people still find it hard to be productive and easy to be reproductive. And all of this is nothing new. When Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, started Father’s Day in 1910, it was because she was upset by widespread mocking of fathers in popular culture as lazy, sleazy and drunk (Oh my!).

At first, Father’s Day was met with laughter. The holiday was gathering attention, but for the wrong reasons. It became the target of much satire, parody and derision. In fact, the day did not even become a permanent national holiday until President Richard (“Tricky Dick”) Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

Some would say that fathers could once again use an image boost, thanks to the antics of the likes of Tiger Woods, Jon Gosselin, John Edwards, (former New York Governor) Elliot Spitzer, (South Carolina Governor) Mark Sanford and the seemingly endless supply of virile idiots who regularly display their considerable stupidity on TV shows like Maury Povich and Jerry Springer.

And the stereotypical irresponsible father is not just an American phenomenon. Just watch any news story about poor people coming together to improve the quality of life in some little town or village almost anywhere in the world. They’re all women. Where are the men? Watching football? Out testing a new gun? Hello?

In the U.S. in 1960 there were 10 million fatherless homes. By 2003, this figure had climbed to 25 million. This has led to the situation where one in three families is fatherless, and over a half-million American children are languishing in foster care, prompting President Obama to state on Father’s Day, 2008, “Any fool can have a child.”

Oh well, at least Father’s Day is good for the economy. The Associated Men’s Wear Retailers proclaimed in 1980 that they had achieved their goal: the one-day event had become a three-week commercial event, a “second Christmas.” Without the coordinated efforts of the Council and other retailers supporting it, the holiday might well have disappeared.

A quick perusal of Father’s Day gift items online reads like a catalogue of the seven deadly sins: alcohol, tobacco, firearms, meat, leather, Viagra ... and cufflinks. Some offerings, like the ”beer-holster,” combine two categories in one.

I came up with a few ideas of my own for Father’s Day card captions: “Have You Seen This Man?” “Who’s My Daddy?” “This Card is Good for One Free Vasectomy,” and “Please call Maury at 1-800-DNA-TEST.”

Of course, I would never be so crude as to propose requiring a “license” to have children. That would be utterly un-American. I would support, however, an annual “mating season,” running from, say, July 1 through August 30, during which all U.S. males wishing to reproduce would be required to swim upstream (like the salmon) via inland waterways to Canada to find mates.

The benefits are obvious: the strong (and buoyant) would survive and reproduce; Canada would get a much-needed population boost, and the U.S. could at least partially offset the number of illegal aliens pouring in across our southern border.

I call this the “Harris Plan.” I expect it to be implemented soon. You don’t have to thank me now, I’ll take my reward in Heaven. But if you insist, a beer-holster would be nice.

 

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