02/24/2011 07:35 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Winter's Tale

Okay sweetie, get in under the covers. Daddy is going to tell you a nice bedtime story.

Once upon a time there was a -- well, yes, I suppose "Once upon a time" is a pretty well-worn introduction to a story, but calling it "trite" and "lacking in imagination" seems a bit unnecessary.

If you insist though, let's say that "far, far away, in the land of winter snows..." Yes, Daddy knows that's not such a huge improvement, but Daddy's going to keep going with the story, anyway.

So far, far away, in the land of winter snows, there lived a snowman.

Well, yes, sweetie, he was white; he was made of snow, snow is white. No, I don't think that reflects on Daddy's deeply-internalized racial prejudices. I think it reflects on what snow looks like.

Would you like it better if he were a black snowman? Fine, then, we'll call him an ashman -- he looked just like a snowman, but he was made out of the chimney-dust that fell from the sky near the factory, and so, like the soot, he was black.

No, Daddy was not implying anything about black people by saying the snowman was made out of soot -- how else do you expect a snowman to be black? Snow is crystallized water, it doesn't come in colors.

Okay, okay, settle down, Daddy didn't mean to snap, he just didn't understand how important it was for the snowman to be black. What? Fine, he didn't understand how important it was that Daddy "present a balanced, non-discriminatory racial model for you in this and all other stories." We'll say the snowman is black, and that's that. How's that sound?

Alright, so this black snowman woke up one day feeling a little thinner. He'd always been a fat round fellow, but this morning, when he looked down, he could see all the way to the ground below him.

No, honey, Daddy would never make light of the obesity epidemic sweeping America. Once you're my age, you absolutely understand that there's no "magic pill" for weight loss, short or long term. Besides, Daddy never said anything even remotely indicating he thought of the snowman's size as being tied to his value, so that accusation seems, at the very least, premature to Daddy, if not unfair.

And frankly Daddy finds it both offensive and remarkably revisionist for you to suggest that his comment on the snowman's size is once again a thinly-veiled instance of racism -- if you'll remember, Daddy was going to have his fat snowman be white, like every other snowman ever, until you insisted he do otherwise. Also, Daddy finds the concept that he's somehow "racializing obesity" ridiculous.

This snowman was going to be fat, and wake up thin, no matter what color he had been. If Daddy's stereotyping anything here, it's the concept that temperatures above freezing result in snow and ice melting. Daddy will gladly admit to "sweeping generalizations" in the matter of how heat affects frozen water.

You know what? Daddy's moving on. So the snowman woke up thinner, and he said to himself "something is up, I have to-"

No, you know what, Daddy does not feel like parsing his unwitting perpetuation of masculine/feminine gender disparities. In fact, Daddy is starting to think the best option would be for you to tell yourself a story. Then you won't have to hear about anything prejudicial or upsetting. How's that sound?

Alright, so goodnight. Daddy loves you.

What's that? Oh, sorry sweetheart, "goodnight, my pretty pretty Sleeping Beauty princess."

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