Jewish World Review March 28, 2001/ 4 Nissan 5761
Overzealous policies make all men targets
IN our hyper-vigilant world of zero tolerance, pedophiliac
paranoia and incest sensitivity, everyone's a pervert
until proven innocent. If you've had the extremely bad
judgment to be born a male, you're automatically
Two recent examples seem to prove the rule:
Earlier this month, an executive for a headhunting firm
traveling on British Airways was asked to move when
he sat next to two unaccompanied children. The man
hadn't talked to the children or thrust candy into their
innocent little mugs. He hadn't touched them. He had
merely sat down beside them.
Apparently British Airways has a policy against such
brash -- and possibly lewd -- behavior. A spokeswoman
for the airline said the company created the policy
against seating men next to children in response to
concerns about sexual assault. On airplanes?
Meanwhile, back on Earth, a single dad from Maryland
last week was halted by a Target store employee when
he tried to accompany his 8-year-old daughter into a
woman's dressing room. Jim Schmidt, who has been a
single father for seven years, says he always helps his
daughter try on clothes when they go shopping.
But he can't in Columbia, Md., where this Target store is located. The employee
who stopped Schmidt wasn't worried about father-daughter molestation, however.
He was concerned about an even more serious problem common to males,
though we usually associate this particular affliction with mythical teens in the
'50s who go by the name of "Fonz."
"You can't go in there," the watchdog told Schmidt, "because men can use
mirrors to look up women's dresses." Another mirror incident nipped in the bud!
Schmidt, an executive with a mental-health consortium, had a spirited discussion
with the employee and a store manager, and subsequently has contacted
Target's corporate office asking for apologies for both him and his daughter. He
also has contacted fathers' rights groups and is considering legal action.
"I was humiliated," Schmidt says. "Being a single dad to a daughter is
complicated enough without this. I've shopped for clothes with her a hundred
times, and it's never been a problem before. If they think they have a problem
[with mirror stalkers], then they should choose a more passive method of solving
The Target employee, though notable for single-handedly disproving the theory of
evolution, wasn't enforcing specific company policy, according to a Target
spokesperson. When it comes to who goes into dressing rooms with whom, it's a
Clearly some people have better judgment than others. On the other hand, the
Target in question is in the same state where public-housing rules forbid
opposite-sex siblings sleeping in the same room after one of them reaches
puberty. Sexual deviancy, you know. It's everywhere.
Target has referred Schmidt to a Guest Service Leader at the store where he was
embarrassed in front of his daughter. British Airways has apologized to the man
who was asked to change seats. Apologies are nice, but idiots -- and absurd
policies -- are dangerous.
In our overzealous efforts to protect children from real predators, we've created a
world where all men are considered potentially deviant, while children are taught
to suspect even their own fathers. For the sake of these same children, shouldn't
someone be teaching them to beware of
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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