Service of Time and Place: Is Something Still Funny with Kids in the Picture?

September 29th, 2016

Categories: Children, Food, Humor, Travel, Treats

Todd Schnitt, co-host with Len Berman of the morning drive show on WOR 710 radio in NYC, deplored the slogan on a tee shirt that a young woman wore on the plane he, his wife and two kids were boarding recently. It promoted the F-word within a snarky comment. He was irritated that his kids had to see it.

He’d wished the crew had asked the woman to either wear her shirt inside out or buy another one at an airport shop as he’d read that other flight attendants had done the same. He also mentioned women boarding commercial flights in ridiculous décolleté who have been told either to cover up or leave.

Schnitt is no prude: He isn’t afraid of the racy story. He seems obsessed with Anthony Weiner and others caught in twisted situations of a perverted sexual nature. He reminds those who object—usually women–that his audience is young to middling-aged men.

A day later an out of town friend told me that he was choosing some chocolate cupcakes for a five year old from a bakery often filled with kids buying treats. [He’d forgotten to recognize the child’s birthday and was seeing his dad and wanted a surprise at the ready.] “We call those Prozac cupcakes,” said the counterman. 

This friend doesn’t shock easily either, and even though he knew the baker picked what she thought was a clever name in an attempt at humor—as in desserts named “death by chocolate”–he wondered whether his choice was right for a chocolate-loving child and about the appropriateness of the name in the first place.

Do you think Todd and my friend are being prissy? Have we lost our compasses as to what’s funny–when–and in what context?

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10 Responses to “Service of Time and Place: Is Something Still Funny with Kids in the Picture?”

  1. David Reich Said:

    Good post, raising some tough questions.

    Sometimes the concept of free speech gets stretched to the limits. While not like shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater, use of obscenities or dressing on the edge pose tough challenges.

    I have occasionally asked someone to tone it down when they’ve been loudly cursing in a place where there were young kids — mine or others’. Those polite requests have been met with varying degrees of civility, ranging from apologies to outright physical threats. Sometimes, the best thing to do, if you can, is just remove yourself from the area.

    It’s a bit trickier when someone is wearing a shirt with an obscenity on it or if someone is wearing an outfit that is not appropriate for wear in the general public. Again, it depends on the situation. If, say, someone wears something inappropriate to a school or church meeting, someone in charge could ask that they cover up. But that’s impossible to do in public places like the street, a train station or even a shopping mall.

  2. Nancy Farrell Said:

    I understand where Todd and your friend are coming from but there are lots of things I wish I didn’t have to discuss with my daughter and yet I do. There are bad drivers ready to run us over in crosswalks so I tell her I don’t want her driving that way when she is old enough to learn. She learned what heroin is from an anti drug poster on a commuter train. I was happy she mispronounced it but I guess it’s a discussion that has to happen some time especially since can read. Another poster on a subway to and from camp this summer was advertising a museum with an adult theme. She sees plenty of things every day that she disagrees with but I’m not ready to decide that there should be censorship. She noticed a store at the beach was only selling one presidential candidate’s T-shirts and it isn’t the candidate she’d like to have win. I told her that wasn’t a very good business decision if it made her want to stay out of the store but she will meet people in her life who do not think the way that she does. She also believes she “shouldn’t have to see” men without shirts on in public even if they’re running or working in their yards. We are still arguing over whether or not it was “mean” of me to give money to a soup kitchen and a food pantry instead of giving the money directly to people we saw living on the streets in a major city recently. So we discuss what ever comes up when ever it comes up. And because she is a pre-teen she usually decides that I am wrong. I’m hoping she grows out of that!

  3. hb Said:

    What you write is far beyond me, that I’m dumbfounded. You have assembled a vast accumulation of my admittedly reactionary pet dislikes all into a few short sentences.

    The list starts with talk radio and especially show hosts the likes of Todd Schnit, and does not end with writing on clothing or vulgarities in speech or writing of any sort. Then you throw in undressed women on airplanes. (Many of them are undressed on the streets too, and what about those male slobs with their fatty selves bulging out all over. Vulgar nudity is fine in abstract expressionist art, in the bedroom, at the brothel or perhaps on the beach, but not in public.) And you top that off with Prozac cupcakes and Anthony Weiner.

    I know that everyone has a mother that loves him, but there is a limit, and he’s beyond it!

    Good job.

  4. Martha Takayama Said:

    There is no accounting for taste or lack of it . The t-shirt is simply vulgar and the height of bad taste. It is hard to understand why anyone would wear it. It is not a pleasing sight for adults and uncomfortable at best for encountering it with children.

    Schnitt on the other hand seems to suffer from lack of judgment, hypocrisy and bad taste. He should worry about other things if his obsessions are as you describe.

    The cupcake episode is tasteless and also simply lacking in common sense or good judgment. I haven’t noticed anything funny in any of these vignettes.

    Are we nationally short of material as well as (good) taste and judgment?

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You are braver than I am to confront people speaking loudly and rudely in public. There was a great conductor on Metro North who would tell the passengers to leave such people to her–not to get involved. She is now retired, and was a small woman and no spring chicken when she said it but she had authority in her voice and offenders listened. Were there only more like her.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You sound like the bravest and most thoughtful of mothers and your daughter is so very lucky to have pulled you in the mommy lottery. I suppose I envision a Pollyanna world where people don’t cause mothers and fathers to explain things before they are ready to do so.

    Maybe the retailer with only one candidate had sold out all the T shirts that represented the other one? [Dream on.] The retailer didn’t deserve her business and I’m impressed that she noticed this.

    As for your giving money to the soup kitchen and not directly to people on the street–there are more and more of them in NYC of late–charities urge you NOT to give to individuals as so often you may feed a drug or alcohol habit, for example. Your money is sure to go to best use when you give to a charity that is set up to help such issues–or perhaps to help the homeless person find a place to sleep and clean up as well as eat and direct them to a job where they can earn money and feed themselves. There must be websites that promote this point of view to help reassure your sensitive and remarkable daughter.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ve identified so many of your pet dislikes in a few paragraphs? Wow.

    You are right to also point out men who dress inappropriately. After my nephew gave me an iPhone, I started to take photos of people on the streets who didn’t chose clothes that enhanced their physiques. I didn’t dare take frontal shots for fear of being punched, however, though I suppose I could do so by pretending to take a selfie. But then who would want to see such nauseating photos?

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The young woman in the tee shirt no doubt thought she was a riot or she wanted people to look at her. In any case, she made enough of an impression on a talk show host that he mentioned her and as she walked through the airline terminal, she no doubt attracted plenty of looks and even comments.

    I loved your puns. And I agree with you: I don’t think the examples generate even half a smile.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Both are “prissy” fellows. Perhaps they are throwbacks to the ’50s, where even then, children were well aware of “bad” words, and using them fluently. To bring Schmidt up to date, the “F” word is used so frequently today, that it has no impact. A further study of that word shows it’s been around for centuries, and should never have made such a commotion. The woman sounds like an idiot hoping to draw attention to herself. However, what she wears is none of his business.

    The friend is too sensitive. Or perhaps he’s feeling trendy, since the current style appears to be “offended” or “outraged” at the slightest suggestion of non PC speech or behavior.

    Should a tasteless shirt and the mention of Prozac be the worst thing to happen to these two, they may count themselves as among the luckiest on the planet.

  10. Anonymous Said:


    I don’t think my friend was trendy as much as concerned that he was selecting a gift for a child with a name he could live without for a five year old. I remember standing in Barnes and Noble scanning a pile of books for ages before choosing one for a child because I wanted to be sure that the subject matter and images weren’t offensive to me. A shortcut is to find out what books organizations like The Christophers identify with their awards as you can’t go wrong.

    The broader question is what is it about the people who select to wear such clothing or name products poorly, inflicting their bad taste on others.

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