Hiding statues in order to save the children
Somewhere in this great land of ours there must be an organization called the Society to Keep Children from Seeing Things. Not that I have been able to find its headquarters or identify its officers, but it does seem to be an active outfit that emerges from time to time.The most recent outbreak has come in Littleton, Colo., on account of plans to honor a local war hero, Navy SEAL Danny Dietz, with a statue in Berry Park. Before we get to that, however, we ought to recall some earlier outbreaks.About four years ago, state Rep. Ted Harvey of Douglas County ventured into a Virgin Records store, and was shocked to find “blatant triple X-rated covers right there at eye level for any 5-year-old to see.”Children must be protected from viewing this, he decided, and so he sponsored a bill that would have made it a crime “in displaying in a commercial establishment any materials that are harmful to minors, to fail to take commercially feasible measures to prevent the display of the materials to minors.”Harvey went into some detail as to what was harmful to minors. Suffice it to say that images of body parts used for the natural production and feeding of children are images that are harmful to children, according to Harvey.The protection racket popped up again last year in Loveland, where there was a statue called “Triangle” by Kirstin Kokkin. It had three people – a man and two women – none with clothes on. Two were standing, their feet together, as they leaned back and held a third high in the air between them.It was about as sexual as a high-wire act at the circus, and the sculptor said it symbolized the interdependence of people, rather than anything sexual.But “If you look at it, it’s pretty clear the intent of the statue is sexual,” said one detractor, Dan Danowski, who wanted it moved because it could be harmful to children who might pass it on the way to nearby schools. Nowhere could I find the specific damage children might suffer from exposure to a statue, though. Perhaps we should consult the Greek and Italian authorities as to how they heal the children damaged by their statues.Now we get to Danny Dietz. He grew up near Berry Park in Littleton. He was part of an elite fighting unit, the Navy SEALS. The 25-year-old warrior was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. He and three other members of his unit were ambushed by guerrillas. Severely wounded, he fought for 45 minutes, providing cover for one of his team members to escape. Posthumously, he received the Navy Cross.A statue of him holding an assault rifle is scheduled to be dedicated on July 4 at the park.And some parents don’t like that. “If I’ve got a 4-year-old at the playground, I feel it would be a threatening image that would frighten her,” said Emily Cassidy Fuchs, who has opposed the location.In my experience with my own 4-year-olds, back in the day, they can get quite frightened by things that shouldn’t scare them, like the Bogey Man that haunts bedrooms when the lights go off at night, and they don’t get frightened by things that should scare them, like the river along Salida’s Riverside Park during peak runoff. In other words, there’s no logic connected to what scares 4-year-olds, so it’s hardly a basis for sane public policy.Further, if statues of soldiers with guns are unfit for the eyes of children, then it’s time to cancel school tours of our state Capitol. Out on the grounds there is a statue of Joseph P. Martinez, a Coloradan who won the Medal of Honor for bravery during the Aleutian campaign in World War II. He’s holding a rifle.So also is the bronze figure of a generic Union soldier facing south. He’s flanked by two bigger guns – Civil War cannons. Old artillery appears in broad daylight elsewhere in Colorado; I pass a cannon in a park on every excursion to Cañon City or Gunnison, but I haven’t seen any accounts of terrified children in those cities. Indeed, sometimes I see kids playing on the cannons.Obviously, the Society to Protect Children from Seeing Things has a lot of work yet to do, which unfortunately means that it is not likely to vanish anytime soon.Ed Quillen is a writer in Salida, Colo., where he produces regular op-ed columns for the Denver Post and publishes Colorado Central, a small regional monthly magazine.
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