It's becoming increasingly difficult to separate reality from satire. Three times in the last 24 hours, I've had to do double-takes to make sure news headlines I was reading were from mainstream media sources and not send-ups from comedy sites like The Onion or its Canadian cousin, The Beaverton.
"Fidel Castro Still Not Dead" is just bad journalism, ranking up there with "Plane Doesn't Crash" and "Leafs Don't Win Stanley Cup." Stating the obvious is not news.
"Former Red Power Ranger Allegedly Kills Roommate With Sword" is as absurd as it is tragic. That the suspect is identified by his D-list celebrity status is a sad commentary on modern cultural priorities.
"Toronto Girls Hockey League Tells Coaches Not to Touch Players" goes beyond absurd. The blanket ban on gestures as simple and harmless as tapping a player on the shoulder or helmet to congratulate them for a good shift is another exasperating example of the lunatics running the asylum. Common sense is in such short supply that it should be added to the rare earth section of the periodic table of elements.
How did we get here? High-profile sexual abuse cases involving former NHL players Theo Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy dramatically raised awareness of child predators exploiting the minor hockey system, resulting in more rigorous screening and monitoring of volunteers. That's as it should be, but draconian decrees like zero tolerance on physical contact between coaches and players is not only idiotic - it's counter-productive, because it creates an atmosphere of mutual discomfort and mistrust.
That's not what I want for my kids, which means it's up to me to get involved. We have a right and a responsibility as parents to dictate the terms of our children's upbringing, and to call out educators and other outside-the-home authority figures who impose their own prejudices and hangups to our children's detriment. The alternative is another generation of "victims" who view everyone and everything with suspicion and value entitlement over responsibility.