An embarrassing effort in the Herald Sun the other day, with David Penberthy turning a bill by Bob Brown to “ban fast-food advertising and competitions from children’s television and websites” into somehow stopping parents from being able to buy confectionery at all:
It would remove the power of discretion from adults, many of whom, this one included, see absolutely nothing wrong with giving the kids the occasional junky snack, or indeed the occasional junky meal… as many parents will quietly admit under a certain degree of sufferance, sugary treats can sometimes play the same role in parenting as cigarettes do inside jail, in that they can occasionally be traded in return for good behaviour – tidy your room, clean out your school bag, and so forth.
Such practices will probably soon be illegal if the likes of the [Obesity Policy Coalition] and Bob Brown get their way, meaning time-poor parents will lose a handy weapon in the war against unruly kids.
Remember, what Brown was actually calling for was a ban on ADVERTISING these things during children’s programs. Not a ban on lollies. Children are not exactly critical consumers of advertising, and advertisers are very good at manipulating them. This might be a good thing for the confectionery companies, and the advertising agencies, and media organisations that sell advertising space… but restrictions on such advertising aren’t exactly a restriction on parents’ freedom.
Still, if you ignore the reality for a moment, it’s a much more dramatic – and colourful – story to pretend that tyrant Bob Brown is taking away your access to Smarties. And, in the end, isn’t excitement more important than boring old reality?