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December 14, 2007
The Anarchist Cookbook of the nursery? (updated)
An entertaining illustration of the difference between Brits and Americans is on view with reactions to a book entitled, Forbidden Lego: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against. Fox News reports the book promises
It seems the Brits regard the book as a shocking and threatening development:
I'm sorry, but this is just silly. I never did get the Daisy air rifle I craved, just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, but my friends and I survived slingshots and other home made weaponry without turning into sociopaths. Boys like to propel objects over distances. It's part of being a boy.
Americans seem to be handling the book in stride, and it is selling well. If I were nine years old or so, the book would be on my wish list.
Update: Cliff Thier points out that strange language of the Evening Standard: "Lego is set to turn slightly more sinister..."
More sinister? Meaning Lego already is sinister? Apparently so.
Update: Reader Charles Campbell writes:
I love Legos. I've been building models from provided sets and my own sense I was too young to remember. When I was about 12, I built several small 'space ship' designs of my own that I even photographed just to keep them. I had a few town sets, and one big shuttle launch pad (with its very own space shuttle, ahhh those were the days) that I attempted to glue together for permanence. It didn't work out so well, but at least I tried.
This morning, my daughter and I put together two of the Mars Mission sets officially licensed by Lego. One set has a launcher for a small rubber ball that will propel that ball right across my small apartment. The other as two small 'missiles' that can be fired with a simple flick of the finger. In addition to the transformation of the smaller set and the multi-part feature of the larger one, these sets go far beyond what I was able to enjoy as child. Spending time with my daughter, putting these sets together, has been wonderful. I hope to do much the same on future weekends spent together. So, with that, let me just say that Legos aren't just for little boys. Little girls can love them just as much.
I may have to find this book and see what I can build using it, those designs sound like a lot of fun. Bring back those childhood days. Growing up in the country and with boys a lot more rough than I was, we always seemed to find recreations that could have hurt any one of us. Target shooting with everything from air guns to rifles was probably the worst, even with the strong teachings of gun safety all of us were required to go through. Bike racing, driving my dad's old pick-up through our back field, four-wheeling. How about bottle-rocket wars? Or the zip line we installed from the top of the half-falling barn with a pvc pipe handle?
Yet, somehow I've managed to grow up a well-adjusted adult. I never managed to get hurt worse than the occasional bruise or cut. I also find that I have a lot more self-confidence than a lot of my peers, and a lot less fear of failure. Maybe, what our men (and women) in training is a little more boisterous recreations. Might just be good for 'em.
I say, all of us get a hold of this book and pass the good word. After all, even the dimmest of well-raised and adjusted children understand the difference between playing and reality, right?
A society that looses the state to criminalize schoolroom horseplay is guilty not only of punishing children as grown-ups but of the infantilization of the entire citizenry.
Update: Reader Marilyn Barnett writes:
This school of child-rearing has been around for nearly a century, as this Saki short story (1919, posthumous) illustrates.