Intellectual Chernobyl represents the full spectrum of right-wing crazy: the vacuous stupidity of Marybeth Hicks or Jackie Gingrich; the blood-curdling rage of fat white guys like Doug Giles and John Hawkins; the insane, untethered "I smear shit all over myself and why do the editors keep taking 'spick' and 'towelhead' out of my columns?" ranting of Michelle Malkin and Star Parker; the fake non-partisanship of John Stossel and Michael Medved; and the grandfatherly crankiness of Dennis Prager. That DP comes off as one of the more reasonable voices on IC is less a compliment than an indictment of his surroundings. But it's true. He's a hybrid of Andy Rooney and Morty Seinfeld, as likely to complain about Congress as to complain about how the kids listen to their damn boom-boom music instead of Chopin. DP was in pure Andy Rooney form when watching Super Bowl commercials this year, apparently, and a cranky old man does not need to try very hard to find something to bitch about during that extravaganza of offensive masquerading as clever. That's how we end up with "The Doritos Ad was Not Funny", which also happens to bear the most abstract title for a creative work since Snakes on a Plane. I hope you're ready for 1000 words of recollections about The Good Ol' Days and the occasional anecdote about Paul Harvey, because here we go.

By far, the most popular ad shown during the latest Super Bowl was the Doritos "House Rules" ad. Tens of millions of Americans saw it as hilarious.

Is there some evidence for this? It is not only the most popular but "by far." Something tells me this is based on a double-blind survey of Dennis Prager's wife – who I am forced to assume is named Lorraine – and his collection of ointments from the 1950s. The ad was pretty popular, but why leave it at that when you can make shit up?

That is unfortunate. Anyone aware of the manifold social pathologies the ad depicted did not find much to laugh about. Here is the ad:

I will note two things. First, I actually agree with DP. The ad was insulting. Second, when he says "Here is the ad" there is no link to the ad. I am not sure he understands YouTube. I am not even sure he has a solid handle on VHS or microfiche yet. But here is the ad.

A man knocks on a door. A pretty woman answers it. He hands her flowers and she thanks him. He has presumably come to take her out on a date. She introduces her young son to the man and excuses herself. She walks back to her room. The camera focuses on her shapely legs, quite visible given that she is wearing a miniskirt. The man stares, indeed leers, at her legs and makes a facial gesture suggesting, shall we say, sexual interest. The boy, who appears to be about 5 years old, sees this and drops his toy. The man sits on the couch and helps himself to a Dorito. The boy walks up to the man, smacks him hard across the face and says, "Keep your hands off my mama. Keep your hands off my Doritos."

Is is nice of DP to summarize this for his aged audience. But it certainly could be called offensive, what with the Diff'rent Strokes-style negro slang dialect, single mother who appears to be about 14, and leering rapist-to-be male.

Here are the major elements of dysfunction this ad depicts.

Good. Here we go.

First, a child smacking an adult across the face is not funny.

What the fuck.

Seriously? Is this, like, a problem? This is an issue? An epidemic of child-on-adult slappage is America's most pressing social problem. It narrowly edges out our 15% unemployment rate and the alarming shortage of Barnaby Jones re-runs in Dennis Prager's mind.

It is, in fact, one of the last things society should tolerate.


5. Man-on-dog
4. Sass, backtalk, and/or guff
3. Murder
2. Females appearing unveiled in public without a male chaperone
1. Children slapping adults

I will deal with the widespread defense of the child's action — "he was only protecting his mother" — later. In real life, a child who hits an adult needs to be disciplined.

O…K. I am very hesitant to agree, but…I agree.

If a child did that to me, I would grab his offending arm and apply enough force to make it clear that he will never do that again.

Well, we were just barreling down Cranky Boulevard and we took a sudden right on Creepy. What does "apply force" mean? Are you cranking his arm behind his back cop-style? Squeezing it until something comes out the end like a tube of Crest?

After I mentioned this on my radio show, some psychotherapists sent me e-mails disagreeing with these views. They noted, for example, that "violence breeds violence."

I bet DP knows better than those fancy-pants with their degrees and books and infrequent application of force to young arms.

Some cliches are true; I find this one meaningless. The truth is the opposite: Immoral violence breeds violence; moral violence (such as just wars, police work and appropriate parental discipline) reduces violence.

Like that just war in Iraq! That reduced the ever-living shit out of violence in Baghdad. Police use of force also has a lengthy track record of reducing violence, as evidenced by our increasing incidence of the former and plummeting rate of the latter.

So to summarize: you should use force against kids because it will work out as well as law enforcement and the Iraq War.

I am well aware that vast numbers of Americans (and Europeans) believe that engaging in any physical discipline of a child is wrong. I, too, held this belief for most of my life, and I never hit or spanked either of my sons.

The remainder of this column is dedicated to making you very, very skeptical of this claim. Or imagining what kind of tortuous, proprietary definition of "violence" he concocts to exclude the heavy sack beatings to which he routinely subjected his children. I bet his kids are real well-balanced.

I have changed my mind because of all the fine people who have called my show or written to me about how they were spanked and now believe that they are better adults because of it.

OK. Not only is this completely retarded and piss-poor evidence under the best of circumstances, DP's argument is "I believed something until lots of people told me not to so I changed my mind."

It is a given that I do not defend physical — or any other form of — abuse against a child. Of all the world's evils, child abuse may rank as the greatest. But a properly administered spanking is not abuse.

Dennis, this is far, far from a given. And you are about to prove it.

The New York Times recently published an article titled "For Some Parents, Shouting Is the New Spanking," in which it noted that many parents now regularly scream at their children in part because they cannot spank them. I am not at all certain that being screamed at by a parent is an improvement over spanking.

And scientists at the University of Logic have determined that being neither screamed at nor spanked is an improvement over either.

The Doritos kid deserved a physical response from this man — as in pressure on the offending arm.

Still don't know what this means, still kinda creeped out by it.

With regard to the argument that this man was not the boy's parent — and the terrible fact that there is far too much hitting and abuse of children by stepfathers and boyfriends — I do not believe that only parents may physically respond to a child.

Awesome. I mean, I don't see how this could go wrong. Let's give anyone who can legally buy cigarettes carte blanche to "apply force" to children and I'm sure that everything will work out great. Reeeeeeal great.

Teachers, for example, should be permitted to do so

SWEET! This was done when the Baby Boomers were in school and look at how completely not emotionally screwed up or violent they turned out!

I was physically dealt with by a number of teachers, and in every case, I deserved it.

Saying "I deserved it" is the most convincing possible evidence that someone is not abused. Let's see if that holds up in court. Or, you know, reality.

I also did so as a camp counselor — to great effect.

*falls off chair*

*rubs eyes*


Anybody? Anybody mildly troubled yet? Or does sending Billy and Suzie off to Lake Winnepasaki for 12 weeks of campfires, wallet-making, and Dennis Prager's "Great Effect" sound like a good idea? Something tells me this also involved the application of a lot of pressure.

And so should the man whom the child in the ad smacked. In an ideal world, all adults raise all children in some way.

Hit back. That is a fantastic life lesson. Hit back or you are failing the children.

(The remainder of the column covers the racist stereotypes, which I both agree with and am mildly surprised that DP would catch. Although he probably threw it in to deflect criticism from his remarkable creepiness.)

So, to summarize: children slapping adults is an problem of pandemic proportions. Any and every adult is deputized to apply some kind of physical retribution to children. There is no risk that adults will start to lose whatever inhibitions they may have against hitting kids. Dennis Prager did not hit his kids, as he told us to make us think he is father of the century, but he slapped around, "applied force" to, and, who are we kidding, probably sodomized a bunch of summer campers.

I'm glad we had this talk. Stop waving that rake at the kids on your lawn, Dennis. Wouldn't it be better to apply a different and perhaps more emphatic punishment?


  • "That reduced the ever-living shit out of violence in Baghdad…" That is classic Ed. Keep it coming!

    …somehow the public service announcements on Hulu about how great camp is… seem even less helpful. As if I want my hypothetical kids to grow up to become actors on a show like Gray's Anatomy. Blegh!!

  • Oh my god, who could think of a more important issue right now?! Forget global warming, health care, Afghanistan, the recession. What we REALLY need to address is the urgent problem of kids not being domestically assaulted enough these days. It's time to stand up for domestic violence. Those weak-kneed lefties have had their fun trying to protect women and children from being battered in their homes, but now it's time to fight back for domestic abuse. What a public service Prager is doing!

    What a morally vacuous troglodyte.

    You know, I don't mind conservatism in itself. In its best form it perhaps represents a plausible worldview. What I am so tired of is the intellectual mediocrity we are getting from the right these days, the mediocrity oozing from talk radio and right-wing websites. It hurts my brain. I never thought I would miss William F. Buckley, but at least he wasn't a fucking moron.

  • Comedy is hard, it's true. This ad tried to work by the laws of funny (the unexpected, the role reversal, the physical pain) and for some viewers failed, due to the same shortcomings as the Superbowl Bridgestone ad: it has some ugly resonance, it was a tired gag ages ago, and those things deflate hilarity.

    While I would love to expound on what is funny, what is hip, and what is up with Dennis Prager, I will instead leave you with my favorite feminist joke:

    Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    A: That's not funny.

    (I get to tell it, because I'm a feminist. ☺)

  • I actually tend to agree that parents sometimes (as a last resort, in a non-abusive manner, according to common sense, etc.) should spank their kids. While I'm certainly not of the "wallop them till they learn to repress their emotions" school of thought, there is something to be said for kids not acting like little shits, and in some cases (for instance, my brother and I when we were young) the only way to prevent such shit-acting is a firm smack to the behind.

    Of course, I don't actually like children very much, so perhaps I shouldn't be the judge.

    In any case, I certainly don't think it's appropriate to discipline someone else's kids. The mere suggestion of that is both ridiculous and, as you point out, more than a little creepy. Just because I think maybe a kid ought to be smacked doesn't mean that it's my job or my right to do it. My job is to go back home, have a glass of whiskey, and be thankful for birth control.

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    "If a child did that to me, I would grab his offending arm and apply enough force to make it clear that he will never do that again."

    Yeah you SHOW that kid!! Why not employ a Kimura lock and dislocate the little bastard's shoulder?! HUUUUUUUUUUUUUR!!!(traditional conservative battle-cry)

    Seriously though, after reading about the authoritarian personality, no matter how much I find the idea to be bullshit, it does seem true that conservatives LOVE punishing people, often with violence. This is a recurring theme with these people. They are constantly writing about kicking ass and taking names, to the point where I begin to suspect that these people had serious issues in the locker room at gym class.

    I think the following sentence, taken from an FJM-style critique I wrote of another conservative backlash article, sums up this modern conservative analogy pretty well(it was itself inspired by the text of a conservative chain e-mail)

    "This paragraph, aside from the sexism, is yet another typical conservative tough guy rant. It appeals to the kind of middle class white male who wears Tap-Out clothing and can be heard waxing philosophically about how "if a Muslim terrorist came into this bar I'd be all like…ALLAHU AKBAR THIS! And I'd pull out a .45 with the Black-Talon hollow points and blast him back to Arabia!!!"

    Of course these conservative fantasies are bizarre and annoying, but Prager is bragging about the violence he would do to what appears to be a six-year-old. Yes, it's perfectly normal to pick up your date at her house, and immediately administer corporal punishment. Can't you just imagine Prager being stuffed into a police car while shouting, "THAT'S HOW WE DID IT IN MY DAY!!!"

  • Oh, we're talking about the content of the ad, now, and about dual-penetration's opinion about it, rather than about his writeup?

    With some firsthand experience:

    "I will never again spank my son. Oh, it got the desired results, tonight. And, no, it didn't physically hurt him. But psychologically, it was horrible for both of us. He was crying almost uncontrollably for 5 minutes, and the look of horror in his eyes at his father spanking him? Never again. I will not crush his soul to achieve order. And I will not become a dominator."

    So, there. (But I'd rather we discussed what a tool Dennis Prager is, how hilariously Ed illustrates this, and some third thing so that my statement seems more balanced.)

  • "Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    A: That's not funny."

    Well, it would be, if a man had written the punchline…

    Anyway, glad to see this tripe addressed, even though the people who would benefit from it won't read it and wouldn't pay an attention to it if they did. These are the guys who believe what they believe (until it conflicts with their clique's opinions). For God's sake – what is spanking, anyway? It's a tool to train kids how to behave the way you want them to. The goal is the behavior modification, not to make the adult get revenge for his manifold failures and frustrations. You don't use a chainsaw to prune flower heads (well, most of us wouldn't, anyway). Adults are supposed to be adults, not teenagers. Be a grown-up, for God's sake; think, be judicious, control yourself. "You hit me, I hit you back" is a three-year-old's idea of behavior training. 'One-size-fits-all' punishments are lazy, stupid parenting, and I would be ashamed to say that I'm too dumb to choose the proper tool for the job. Of course, these are guys who admire Dick Cheney, a vicious, tiny-minded asshole, so I shouldn't be surprised.

  • Well, after my WTF?!? It's a goddamned add, who the hell cares reaction, my next reactions are:

    – She looks closer to 24 than 14, so lets take away that element of creepiness
    – Of course that guy wants to score. Is anybody surprised by that?
    – He is a guest in the home, and needs to be polite, even if the kid isn't
    – He aint gettin nowhere wih momma if he gets into a smack down with her boy
    – He has no basis for acting in loco parentis, even if he is an alleged adult
    – Any physicality he employs would rightly be viewed as assault, with possible jail time pending
    – I like the kid. He's got spunk.

    – Conservatism, at its best, has never offered a plausible world view. Today's intellectual nihilism only appears worse than the intellectual nihilism of the past because it is not disguised by William F. Buckley's polysyllabics. This looks like snark, but I am deadly serious.

    – the answer is none – feminists are not afraid of the dark.


  • So, I just learned that one of the world's greatest evils is child abuse, yet still a lesser evil than refraining from child abuse. Or from just wars. Violence is awful, but not as awful as refusing to engage in moral violence.


    The University of Logic called, Denny. They want to preemptively deny you admission.

  • Mr. Wonderful says:

    Praeger is a smug reactionary (is there any other kind?) whose solutions to real, present-day problems are myths about the past. They help him feel, at the end of a hard working day, wise–and wisdom is the repressed right-winger's consolation prize for not being clever, sexy, or as smart as the cool kids.

    Note that it never occurs to him to suggest that the slapped adult say to the kid, "You want your Doritos all to yourself? That's very selfish, but okay. You want me to be nice to your mom? Fine. Say so. You don't hit." No, this is a chance for righteous patriarch Dennis to proudly (and unfashionably–that's the best part) assert the superiority of the old ways, in blithe indifference to five thousand (if not 200,000) years of human history.

  • I agree with jazzbumpa.

    I mean, 14? Really, Ed? I think you've been watching a few too many soap operas where 25 year olds play 14 year olds. She did not look 14. If she did, then I'm a freaking pedo.

    Also, the leering at her? Jesus. I know us liberals are supposed to be good feminists, but I don't think we help the situation by pretending that physical attraction does not exist. When was the last time you or DP went on a date??? I've been married for a while now and I still stare at my lovely wife doing mundane things because… I think she's hot! What's the hell is wrong with that? Rapist to be? Gimme a break!

    The rest of the FJM was good though.

  • I may be inferring too much, Prager's piece reads like the 'arm pressure' he utilizes is a firm but gentle dragging motion, guiding rascally tyke to where he can be appropriately disciplined, Uncle Touchy's Naked Puzzle Basement.

  • Mr Wonderful: There's also the frothing-at-the-mouth, bug-eyed reactionary type. You know — the "I want my country back," "Where's the birth certificate?" kind.

    Parrotlover, I concur.

    Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    A: [Shrieking rape whistle.]

  • I'm a little on the fence about this issue. I've dealt with a lot of children in a classroom setting, and I know that the biggest concern with the trouble makers tends to be a lack of discipline at home. Part of growing up involves pushing boundaries (and I was always a shit-disturber myself), but this requires that the boundaries actually need to be set. The ad didn't really deal with any of this – it was running a gag which impacted in entirely the wrong way, and the fact that Prager decided that child discipline needs to sound like borderline molestation/physical abuse is pretty disturbing.

    I see that website like Fox News – something that parodizes itself by how ludicrous it is and one I can't imagine people taking seriously, although I suppose it must have some retarded supporters.

    Thanks for the laughs anyways – this was a fun article to read.

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:


    "I may be inferring too much, Prager's piece reads like the 'arm pressure' he utilizes is a firm but gentle dragging motion, guiding rascally tyke to where he can be appropriately disciplined, Uncle Touchy's Naked Puzzle Basement."


  • All credit for "Uncle Touchy's Naked Puzzle Basement" goes to Patton Oswalt. All credit for being a straight fucking creep/head counselor at Camp Strokenpokem For Firm-Bottomed Boys goes to Dennis Prager.

  • It is kind of rude to just start eating someone elses Doritoes. I'd have hit the fucker, too.
    It's also kind of weird to get all pissed off by an ad on TV.

  • Mr. Wonderful says:


    Yes, but those clowns aren't even reactionaries. They're the lunatic fringe– hysterics, paranoids, nutbars, and amateur psychopaths, for whom politics or religion are contexts in which to act out their pathologies. Praeger, compared to them, is Aristotle. But only compared to them. Compared to a reasonably intelligent, honest person–or to my dogs–Praeger is a lying, posturing, self-infatuated propagandist.

  • "I also did so as a camp counselor to great effect."

    I suffered through summer after summer of bored 19-year-old camp counselors who amused themselves by finding ways to torment the kids in their charge, but I cannot imagine one of them being allowed to hit us. How old is this guy again? Where was he a counselor, Camp Crystal Lake?

  • "Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    A: That's not funny."

    The first time I read that joke in a magazine — Mother Jones, maybe? — I laughed out loud, and a lady nearby asked me what was so funny. I told her, and suddenly reflected on the fact that the lady who'd asked me was an endodontist who was waiting for the anaesthetic to kick in before giving me a major root canal.

    For a moment, lying in the chair, I wondered if I had been horribly imprudent. Fortunately, she laughed too. And she's an excellent endodontist.

  • Yet another reason to be grateful – Dennis Prager was not my father.
    My husband and I adopted our two sons from foster care here in Alameda County, CA. When you adopt such children, you are expected to be able to discipline them without corporal punishment, for reasons that likely suggest themselves. It's been a challenge, but it seems to be working.

  • I'm sure that's Denny's recipe for the start of a healthy relationship – if you're dating a single mother who invites you home, don't feel you have to restrain yourself from leers creepily at her body when she's not looking, and eating her child's food. If the kid thinks you're a creep and stands up to you, just physically assault him.

    That'll be a date all parties will remember – at least well enough to recount it in court after charges are filed.

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