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A look at today's world of parenting

Some of the recent lowlights in the world of parenting:

· Guess who's offering advice on how to be a good parent these days? Why, it's none other than Madonna. Yes, the person who is responsible for the sluttification of an entire generation--with near-total personal irresponsibility, spawning everyone from Britney Spears to the Bush twins--is trying to tell others how to be strict with their children. Well, I don't freakin' think so.

I never really minded that Madonna had less talent than a morning-shift stripper (not to mention pretty much the same act). I just figured that there's no accounting for taste, and people can listen to whatever they want. She was actually pretty straightforward about what she was selling, which certainly wasn't a great voice or groundbreaking music. But, I'm sorry, you can't piss on morality for 25 years and then turn around and say, "I'm such a good parent; I don't let my kids watch TV. Everybody should do the same."

It doesn't work that way. Kids learn by example, and you're not a good one. If you want to dump on your kids because of all the crap you did wrong, knock yourself out. Just don't try to share your "parenting" tips with the rest of us. You need to take your ghost-written children's books and drift. Nobody's crazy for you; you don't offer a ray of light, and just be happy knowing that you're the embodiment of a lucky star.

· The Arizona Daily Star couldn't find any real news to run on its front page a couple of Sundays ago, so it ran this huge article about people for whom home-schooling isn't a big enough screw-you to society. The latest moronic movement is known as "unschooling," where kids stay at home all day and don't learn squat.

Someone once said that when zealots form a firing squad, they assemble in a circle. Well, that wholesome circle of home-schoolers is tightening, and the unschoolers are holding the rifles (although we're not entirely sure if they know which end of the rifle to hold).

To their credit, most homeschoolers are rejecting the notion of unschooling, wherein parents claim that their kids will "learn when they're ready to learn" and will do so by themselves and at their own pace. For this trendy new slice of child abuse, we can all thank our state legislators, who apparently will sign off on any crackpot scheme as long as it gives a middle finger to teachers.

You know the definition of a hopeless dilemma for an Arizona state legislator? Deciding whether to stand for the national anthem if it's being performed by a public school band.

· High school basketball season starts this week, and it's always nice to get off to a good start. But this one kid I know is missing the opening week of the season, because his parents took him to Hawaii to watch the Wildcats play.

Let me just say that if I ever decide to take the voices up on their offer to make me Emperor of America, every single parent who takes their kid(s) out of school so they can go shopping or visit non-ill relatives or go to Disneyland in non-peak times will go to jail. And I'll put you in with that creepy guy from Prison Break. OK, I know that there's more than one creepy guy on Prison Break, but one generally comes to mind more often than any of the others.

· All the aforementioned parents need to be slapped, but they pale in comparison to a woman from Bakersfield, Calif., who has home-schooled (ahem) her 13-year-old twin daughters to be white-supremacist musical performers. Billed as Prussian Blue, the Gaede sisters sing about Jewish conspiracies, masked black men breaking down your doors and turning your fear into hate. Their latest release: "Aryan Man Awake."

Some of the lyrics to this ditty go: "Where freedom exists for only those with darker skin. When a mother's only children belong to her no more. Who will stand beside us when the war begins? Who will face the end and watch a Valkyrie ride forth?"

This is hot stuff. Now if they could only get Dr. Dre to lay down the beats ... naw, probably not.

Anyway, the goose-stepping Olsen twins are named Lynx and Lamb, which is probably enough to trigger that taking-kids-away-from-their-mother thing that they sing about. I read somewhere that they have a sibling, Dresden, who was named for the city that the allies firebombed after Hitler refused to see the handwriting on the wall and stop the bloodshed.

Speaking of Hitler, Prussia was actually the last part of Germany to hold out against him. The Prussians didn't do so out of any particular sense of nobility; they just didn't want to hand over any power to the little schnit.

So if you see a kid with snot trails screaming in the shopping cart while his mom figures out which cereal to buy, cut him some slack. Things could be much worse.

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