Outlawing ‘Sexist’ Toy Displays: California’s Latest Loony Crusade - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Outlawing ‘Sexist’ Toy Displays: California’s Latest Loony Crusade
Los Angeles protest protesting California lockdowns, May 1, 2020 (Matt Gush/Shutterstock.com)

The Golden State once was known as a land of prosperity and opportunity. Its politics was mainstream. A majority of Californians voted for Ronald Reagan four times, twice for governor and twice for president. Alas, that California disappeared years ago. Today, with overwhelming Democratic political control, the state is an over-the-top, unredeemable people’s republic.

For many years, San Francisco electoral contests have been between traditional liberals and loony leftists. When GOP voters support the former, there is a chance of denying the mayoralty to a Marxist-wannabe hoping to turn the city into a mini-Cuba. Taxes might go up, but at least the means of production will remain in private hands for another couple years.

Now this political model governs the state as well. With the system of open primaries, some elections end up between two Democrats. Do you vote for the Trotskyite who wants to spread the wonders of socialism nationwide or the Stalin-acolyte who believes in socialism in one state? Gov. Gavin Newsom appears to be a bit of the latter, determined to shut down California but unconcerned if other states allow normal life to continue. Will nearly sane progressives continue to accept his costly, draconian policies? The upcoming recall will tell.

There remains no social experiment too ludicrous or dangerous for California politicians to perform on Golden State residents.

It is the state legislature, however, where most lefty loons roost. For instance, two years ago Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez decided to declare war on freelancers. Although elected in once-conservative San Diego, she apparently trends on the Marxist side, though of which variety is unclear. After all, she loves the proletariat so much that she wants to make many more corporate drones. To achieve that, she introduced legislation to force independent contractors and freelance workers out of work. All in the name of “helping” them, in a balmy, totalitarian, and very California way.

Gonzalez’s nutty law, signed by Newsom, demonstrated how progressive social engineers so often run rampant, in this case requiring companies to hire people if, for instance, they contributed more than 35 articles a year to a publication. Alas, Gonzalez and her crazy crew engaged in magical thinking while treating people as laboratory rats writ large. In this case, the social engineers apparently assumed that if the Vestal Virgins of the public interest made freelancers more expensive and imposed additional burdens on business, employers who were otherwise evil, unscrupulous, and profit-mad would docilely embrace government regulation and turn everyone affected into more expensive full-time employees.

To no one’s shock but Gonzalez’s, many firms simply stopped hiring California-based freelancers. Trusted, efficient, and long-term workers suddenly found themselves without work. Oops! (I can sympathize since I got my start as a freelance writer long ago while a law student at Stanford.) Having expected accolades and hosannas for her efforts, Gonzalez was shocked when she did not experience love from those who were supposed to be rolling in government-mandated riches. Uber and Lyft even led an initiative campaign that Californians passed in November, exempting these firms from the law.

Fresh from that campaign, which upended thousands of lives, California’s legislative inmates moved on to new social experiments. Invincible ignorance is impossible to cure, as Gonzalez’s crazed colleagues continue to demonstrate. Indeed, what would the rest of us laugh about if California did not remain a policy laboratory for the demented and deranged? There remains no social experiment too ludicrous or dangerous for California politicians to perform on Golden State residents.

At a time when their state has been suffering from both rampant COVID-19 infections and disastrous pandemic shutdowns, two Assembly members, Evan Low and Cristina Garcia, discerned an even greater emergency facing California: separate toy and clothing sections for boys and girls. Naturally, they proposed legislation to right this terrible wrong.

Just think: For decades the horror of sexist toy displays has scarred Americans across the fruited plain. Never mind global wars, hot and cold. Racial discrimination and Jim Crow. Social unrest and political division. Budget irresponsibility and rising debt. The minds of young children have been perverted into believing that girls usually like dolls and dresses and most boys want trucks and cargo shorts. The horror! The terror!

Californians are lucky that the state chooses to house the mentally deranged in the state Legislature. Who better to write laws that jail and fine the rest of us? As Low said last year — he has been on a crusade against iniquitous toy sexism for some time — “This is an issue of children being able to express themselves without bias.”

Consider, say, the mental harm done to little girls who long to own swords, guns, and action figures but who must endure the horrors of traversing aisles labeled “boys.” No doubt, as a result of this shocking injustice, legions of traumatized kids across the state are unable to express their emotions! Rather, they have grown up like little North Korean automatons, silent sentinels in school.

Low since raised the stakes, claiming that the legislation “is not only important in regards to addressing perceived societal norms but also ensuring that prejudice and judgment does not play a prominent role in our children’s lives.” Ah, the evils of “prejudice and judgment” in toy displays. Of course. How did I and so many other Americans miss this massive injustice? We should be thankful for the courageous and perspicacious insights exhibited by Low.

It is painful to think about how many warped, sexist adults emerged from the terrible system of “prejudice and judgment” present in most every department store in America! The reinforcement of terrible stereotypes! The projection of bias! If only we had listened to earlier social prophets in the mold of Low and Garcia, America’s entire history would have been different, a quick march to collectivist, socialist utopia instead of suffering through dystopian capitalism, topped with ostentatious sexist oppression. The persistent failure of Golden State citizens to achieve human perfection has had terrible consequences, requiring Sacramento’s intervention.

Obviously, great injustice has been done, and the entire social order must be upended. Companies must be penalized and employees must be re-trained. (In contrast, distress generated from complying with left-wing dictates should be seen merely as a tiny inconvenience to be joyfully borne by those honored to be chosen for the privilege of participating in a grand social experiment.)

Though Low and Garcia have diagnosed the problem, they still lack the courage of their convictions. They would merely fine a business so irresponsible as to divide toys by sex for the convenience of customers seeking gifts for children. Wouldn’t it be better to jail terrible social miscreants, those who callously visited “prejudice and judgment” upon helpless lads and lasses?

Perhaps reeducation camps are needed for not only business owners but also their workers. After all, the latter have spent years demonstrating virulent sexism when attracting customers, responding to customer queries, and leading families to children’s products. This terrible crime against humanity must be stopped at any cost. Indeed, why not target buyers with so little social conscience as to shop at such establishments? Being a grandparent is no excuse! These criminals should at least be required to engage in a bit of Maoist public self-criticism.

Moreover, why stop with children’s sections? Every department store exhibits clothes by sex. Surely this is a criminal outrage against all that is good and just in America. Without such not-so-subtle sexism, men likely would be trying on dresses in droves. Women would be flooding the heretofore men’s suit section. Men would be grabbing panties and bras. Ties and t-shirts would be flooding off shelves into the hands of women. We finally would achieve what Americans have long desired without knowing it: clothing equality, a new woke nirvana.

Seriously, though, the point is not that there is anything wrong with unisex displays of toys, clothing, or anything else. For instance, Target already moved in this direction. Whether for social preference or commercial advantage, other companies are free to follow suit. But whether they do or don’t should be a private decision, not political controversy determined by an ambitious class of social authoritarians.

Government in California increasingly reflects the philosophy that everything in life is a political decision to be decided collectively. The space for individual liberty, personal choice, idiosyncratic desire, irrational whim, and more of what makes us human is constantly shrinking. Social engineers like Newsom, Gonzalez, Low, and Garcia won’t be happy until they get to pass upon most every personal decision by every state resident to ensure that it is morally uplifting and, even more important, socially acceptable.

Assume Low’s and Garcia’s bill passes and takes effect next January 1. Henceforth, Newsom — or his replacement, whether conventional progressive or commie-lite — will send forth the newly created display police to eradicate the slightest hint of sexism or any other preference in the advertisement of toys and clothes. This great leap forward for social justice could lead to demands that Sacramento push further “reforms,” such as banning sexist toy commercials, adult clothing sections, implicitly sexist establishments that market products generally seen as women’s or men’s (e.g., Victoria’s Secret and Home Depot), segregated bathrooms, and even use of harmful sexist language such as “man/woman,” “he/she,” and “him/her.”

California headed into the political abyss years ago. The only question is, how deep will be the descent? To judge from the moronic laws regularly emerging from Sacramento, the state’s nutty solons have not yet hit the bottom. Unfortunately, the Golden State has lost its sheen.

Doug Bandow is a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and author of The Politics of Plunder: Misgovernment in Washington and The Politics of Envy: Statism as Theology.

Doug Bandow
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Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.
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