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The Parent Trap

2010-01-20 14:10

While watching too many hours of Battlestar Galactica over the Santa season, I found myself siding with the Cylons. I had to admit, the skinjobs had a point. There’s very little humane about humanity, so if we ever created an artificial intelligence, we might have a hard time convincing them that we’re a species worth saving. Whether we end up like in The Terminator, The Matrix or BSG, I can see myself defecting to the robots, and doing whatever I can to rid the galaxy of the human scourge. Nothing personal.

This attitude is probably one of the many, many reasons I have absolutely no desire to preserve my gene pool with my penis, and as usual, I'm the exception. Most of us give in to our unreasonable and selfish desires to procreate, despite the fact that we know the world is overpopulated, and overflowing with unwanted ankle-biters who would probably sell their wide-eyed little souls for a lice-infested blanket, just so they’d have something to sleep under as well as feast on the next day.

But instead of generating more mothers like Angelina Jolie and Mia Farrow, who together adopt a new kid every two and a half minutes, the world gives us Nadya 'Octomom' Suleman, Kate 'My Vagina is a People Production Line' Gosselin, and most recently, Susan 'One Foot in the Grave and Losing my Balance' Tollefsen. "Who?" you ask. "Well," I reply, "she's the 59-year-old British teacher who's having in vitro fertilisation treatment so she can pop out another unit before her cervix withers to dust.

Of course, this has caused a bit of a public outcry. Although 90-year-old men can overdose on Viagra, fertilise any woman who can stomach the sight of their wrinkly asses, and the only public response will be envious admiration at their ability to still pump out some swimmers without having a fatal stroke, women are still socially bound to their biological limitations. Viagra is perceived as enabling, but test tube fertilisation is still besieged by moral and religious prejudice. Come back, feminism – all is forgiven.

Why Tollefsen is going through with this, and why the rest of us feel obliged to pass judgement on her can be answered singularly. We see ourselves as parents in much the same way as we see ourselves as drivers. "I’m totally brilliant at it," we all think, "but the rest of the world should have their licence revoked."

But because you don’t need a licence to become a parent, any dumbass can have babies – and any dumbass often does. Even *I* could become a parent. I’d bring it up to be a good atheist, teach it the basic tenets of misanthropy and how to make bombs from the stuff you find in the cupboard under the sink. I’d dye its hair bright green and call it Vas-Deferens – or if it’s a girl, Fallopia. I’d be totally brilliant.

And nobody would be able to stop me from being the great parent I think I’d be. The reason why there's no such thing as a parent licence is simple: because if there were, nobody would be good enough for anybody else. Prospective parents would be turned down at one office because they believe in corporal punishment, and at another because they don't. A parent licence would be incitement to violence, because nobody's list of people-who-shouldn't-be-allowed-to-breed includes themselves. Nobody's going to respond, "Yes, you're right, I’d make a terrible parent - thanks for saving my proposed children from the inadequacy of me."

No, there'd be chaos. The streets would run red with the blood of the innocent. You know what parents are like.

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