Bad Examples

Should it be illegal to expose people to damaging ideas?

I blame John McEnroe. Seeing him on television, I was drawn into tennis. Like many other boys, I spent hours on tennis courts. I even started working part-time to fund the habit, spending most of what I earned on tennis balls. I’m among the lucky ones. I quit at 17. Others went on playing, chasing a hopeless dream. They missed out on going to university. Now they are tennis coaches, earning a pittance and having affairs with middle-aged women.

Why were we exposed to McEnroe? We were only boys. How could we resist the pressure to play tennis, to wear short shorts and elasticated terry towelling headbands? Broadcasting McEnroe should have been illegal.

The French seem to have understood. A law progressing through the French parliament bans modelling agencies from using skinny models. This will protect French girls who would otherwise be forced to copy them. Being skinny is bad. People should not be allowed to encourage it with skinny models. Of course, being fat is bad too. I wonder why the French parliament did not also ban fat models. And fat actresses. Don’t they know there is a global obesity epidemic?
Tennis and fat aren’t the only areas where setting bad examples should be illegal. One of our neighbours wears short skirts. Some people say that how a woman dresses is no one else’s business. They are wrong. I have a 12-year-old daughter. When she sees our neighbour she will be forced to wear short skirts too. Shouldn’t 12-year-old girls be protected from this pressure to wear short skirts? In a society that cares about children, women cannot be allowed to dress as they choose. The government should issue a national dress code.

And what about Jennifer Lopez? For years she has been making women with small or unshapely bottoms feel inadequate. Many have been forced to undergo surgical procedures to make their bottoms larger and rounder. Surgery! Yet our politicians just sit back and let Ms Lopez go on and on, year after year. And I need hardly explain the terrible social cost of the decades-long toleration of Dolly Parton.

The French parliament has taken an important step. More must follow. There are so many bad examples to ban.

Underrated: Abroad

The ravenous longing for the infinite possibilities of “otherwhere”

The king of cakes

"Yuletide revels were designed to see you through the dark days — and how dark they seem today"