Make America’s Children Props And Billboards Again! Or Rather, Let’s Not…

trump rally Westfield

I hate this.

Using children as props for adults to make their own political or commercial statements is unfair, demeaning and an abuse of power. Oh, maybe putting kids in T-shirts with messages they neither understand nor have consented to convey is not as bad as this exploitation of children for publicity value, perhaps, or this exploitation of kids by their parents, a website and a shameless comedian.  And I know that politicians using his own children as their clueless and unconsenting mouthpieces has a long and shameful history, with such landmarks as President Jimmy Carter trying to use his young daughter Amy as the agent of his own position during a Presidential debate with Ronald Reagan, to Ted Cruz’s employment of his daughters in a campaign video that inspired Washington Post political cartoonist Ann Telnaes to portray the little Cruz girls as monkeys.

Nevertheless, I do hate this stuff, and I’m calling for a cultural consensus that using children as billboards, mouthpeices or props for advocacy purposes, no matter what the cause or context, is wrong. I would like to see politicians, advocates, organizations and movements that use children in this manner pay a steep price in lost contributions and support, until the message is learned that the tactic will not be tolerated. I would like to see any parents who volunteer their kids for this demeaning duty to be properly and decisively shamed.

The photo above is an easy place to start; after all, this was at a Donald Trump appearance in Westfield, Indiana,  and a substantial percentage of the public hates Trump already.

It’s not like the kids are wearing shirts spelling out “GIVE PEACE A CHANCE,” though that would be equally unethical.


Pointer: Prof. Mike McGregor

11 thoughts on “Make America’s Children Props And Billboards Again! Or Rather, Let’s Not…

      • Or any order such as “Great Make Vote Again For America Trump” is probably just as legible for Trump supporters…

        How far down the continuum does this ethical line get drawn?

        At the very far end such as children’s clothing wearing the manufacturer’s logo (which is not trademarking…it’s advertising)?

        • Vote Again, Great America! Make For Trump!

          I’m pretty extreme on this issue. I’ve argued with Paul Peterson that child actors should be banned, not just regulated. How much money will Carl on “Walking Dead” have to pay to shrinks after being raised in that environment?

          • So, should I interpret that is “yes it is unethical for children’s clothing to bear branding logos”?

            And yes, Carl should be removed from Walking Dead, and not just for his sake. But for all.

            • I have to think about the branding issue, since the alternative may be rags or naked kids. I refuse to buy logo clothing for myself or my son, and barely tolerate the Ne Balance sport shoes that are the only one to fit my feet. It would be unethical to have a child wear logo apparel to advertise the line.

  1. Before this particular idea got any traction (which I agree with) would not our culture first need to agree that children have value as individuals? From the disappearing children all the way up to the abortion issue, today’s children are still portrayed and seen largely as pests, possessions, or at best, pets.

    • Children are used situationally to justify and/or amplify everything. Lying along your point is the infamous “We have to do it for the children,” “No child left behind,” “If even one child’s life is saved…”

      Children are alternately more valuable and less valuable than adults depending upon what situation they’re in; victims, fetuses, billboards, etc. The uses to which politicians put our kids is schizophrenic and unethical in every way, not to mention fallacious and idiotic.

  2. Using children for political purposes is wrong, has been wrong, and will always be wrong. There is no cause or case in which it may be considered acceptable.

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