While I was working in a dental surgery yesterday I noticed that on the walls there were numerous posters encouraging children to brush their teeth and to eat non-sugary snacks. Three in particular caught my attention.
The first one was of Pippin the Dog, from the children’s TV programme ‘Come Outside’. Beneath the drawing of Pippin it said
Pippin the dog eats fruit and vegetables to keep his teeth healthy.
I don’t really know what kind of dog Pippin is, but from the drawing I would say some kind of mongrel. So he may be a very unusual dog, but I have never come across a dog that eats fruit and veg.
The second one was of Winnie the Pooh and some of his friends. Beneath the drawing it said
Pooh Bear and his friends only* eat fruit and vegetables between meals. (* my emphasis)
My knowledge of Winnie the Pooh is about fifty years old and my memory may be faulty, but my recollection is that Pooh’s favourite between meals snack was a honey (or Hunny) sandwich, not fruit and veg.
The third one was of Snow White and beneath that drawing it said
Snow White only eats apples
I don’t know if Snow White only ate apples, but she definitely ate one, and a lot of good that did her.
I fully understand that the purpose of these posters is to encourage young children to eat healthier snacks rather than sweets, but is telling lies to children justified in the greater cause of healthy teeth?
Should we tell children that Father Christmas doesn’t exist, even though the fantasy doesn’t seem to do any harm, and most kids do not seem to be too traumatized when they find out for themselves?
Are any lies justified? The current Wikileaks data dump seems to show that governments in general think that certain lies, or obfuscations of the truth are justified. I am in two minds about the disclosure, because I do think that there are certain things that it is legitimate for governments, private organisations, or even families and individuals to keep secret. On the other hand a lot of the material that has been released is embarrassing , The Duke of Pork’s foul-mouthed rant for example, rather than threatening national or international security. And how secret can the data be when it is posted to an Intranet that about three million people, including a Private First Class, have access to?
Ultimately, I do believe that in private life, and government and corporate life, there are things that should only be shared within a small circle, kept secret in fact. However, the bias should always be to openness and transparency, especially where the information is merely embarrassing. Strangely enough I feel that in the end concealment of embarrassing material ultimately leads to more embarrassment than transparency. I think that last year’s M.P.’s expenses scandal is a case in point. A fully open and transparent system of expense claims would have never allowed the scandal to occur in the first place, but we did not have that in place and probably still don’t. The thing that made the release of the documents worse, for the M.P.s involved, was the long and hard rearguard action that they put up in the attempt to prevent the release of material they knew was going to show them in a bad light.
Keep secret only what really needs to be kept secret, and make sure that if it has to be kept secret only the people who need to know have access, otherwise release it all into the public domain, most of it is probably pretty banal anyway. I don’t think that I have read anything on the Wikileaks release that either surprised or shocked me. Sorry I was mildly surprised at the extent of the Duke of York’s vocabulary, but then his father has previous.