The Lord Of New Mexico

In his book, The Lord of the Flies, William Golding tried to show how civility created by man will inevitably fail and how man will always turn to savagery during diversity. In his novel, Golding shows us how a group of school children trapped on a deserted island attempt to govern themselves and fail miserably. It hinges on the subjective studies of human nature and demonstrates how individual needs will triumph over the welfare of the group as a whole.

In its infinite wisdom, CBS Broadcasting has reincarnated “The Lord Of The Flies” in the form or their new reality show “Kid Nation,” scheduled to air in September. Instead of a deserted island, the reenactment takes place in an abandoned ghost town in the desert of New Mexico. Why New Mexico? It seems that New Mexico may have the most liberal child labor laws in the U.S.

In the original screen play there were seven main characters who attempted to govern themselves. In the CBS version there are forty-children ranging in ages from eight to fifteen. They are set loose for forty days. Except for the producers, camera crews and emergency personnel, they will have no contact with the outside world. Just as in The Lord of The Flies there was a war raging in the distance (WWII) so too in Kid Nation Iraq looms in the distance.

The parents of the minors were asked to sign a twenty- two page agreement that surrendered their right to sue the network if their child was injured, contacted a sexually transmitted disease or even died during the taping. The agreement also gave CBS the right to administer medical treatment to an injured child even if it included surgery. It did not make any promise about the qualifications of the medical staff. The kids also missed up to forty-days of school. There were no tutors on staff, which is standard operating procedure on Hollywood sets for children of school age. They were required to make up all school work they missed. Each participant was paid $5000 for their appearance. However, the agreement had a confidentiality clause that warned if any child or parent violated it, they would be liable for a five-million-dollar penalty to the network.

My question to you is, Would you let your child appear on this show under these conditions? Yet, CBS has already started a search for the next forty-kids. My suggestion to the parents of the child who may want to appear in the next episode is to follow Nancy Regan’s advice, “Just Say No.”

So here is CBS in a New Mexican desert, working minors fourteen-hours a day seven-days-a-week for forty-days at $9 an hour. You can make more than that flipping hamburgers.

Suddenly, there is a firestorm surrounding CBS’ production of “Kid Nation” which recently began to boil over when the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office confirmed it was launching an investigation into whether CBS violated state labor laws during production. A child advocate group has also called for individual states, where the children reside to investigate whether truancy laws were violated.

In CBS’ first reality show, “Survivor”, you had adults who had already learned the social skills needed to act with decency trying to outwit one another. Look what a disaster that turned out to be. (My Opinion) What can we expect from a group of minors, some of whom aren’t old enough to boil water on their own.

Paul Petersen, best known for playing Jeff Stone on The Donna Reed Show, has joined the growing chorus of outrage over CBS’ forthcoming reality series Kid Nation. A longtime children’s rights activist, Petersen says CBS violated child labor laws.

“Children working for 40 straight days, parents deliberately kept away, in the middle of the school year,” Petersen said, “The size of this travesty is almost breathtaking.”

Having endured his own travails as a child actor, Petersen, now 61, founded A Minor Consideration in 1990 to offer support to troubled child performers and lobby for protections against exploitation.

Beyond the legal issues, he also worries about potential damage from the media exposure: “Does anybody seriously think that, on Sept. 20, the day after Kid Nation premiers, these 40 children are going to have a good and pleasant time at school?”

Given that CBS essentially asked for the controversy, is Petersen playing into the network’s marketing scheme?

“Maybe I am,” he says. “Except that there are 40 real, live children involved. And if this ever comes to court- and it very well might-CBS is a drop-dead loser.”

Kid Nation Executive Producer, Tom Forman, calls the criticism “inaccurate and wildly premature” and denies there were labor violations. “The kids don’t have SAG cards,” he says. “They took part in an experience. We followed them some of the time with cameras.”

That sounds like a poor excuse to me. Summer camp is an experience, not a reality show that will make CBS millions in sponsorships. In addition, when my children went to summer camp, my wife and I were not required to sign a 22-page agreement surrendering our parental rights.

The question that must be asked is, Is this really entertainment or is it child abuse?

In The Lord Of The Flies, the group was confronted with looking for a beast, which one of the youngsters said he had encountered on the island. Look no further my friends, in The Lord Of New Mexico the beast may be CBS.

And, that is my opinion, What’s yours?

Michael Solomon is a former NYPD Detective. He is the recipient of 19 awards for Excellent and Meritorious police work. During his tenure in the intelligence division, he was assigned to protect the Shah of Iran, and Madame Chang of Taiwan. He has personally met four U.S. Presidents. He was assigned as the intelligence officer to the U.S. State Department during treaty negations between the United States and Turkey. He holds a Bachelors Degree Magna Cum Laude in Behavioral Sciences, from the New York Institute of Technology and a Masters with Distinction in Public Administration from Long Island University.

In 2003, he was cited by both houses of the NY State Legislature in a Resolutions as Humanitarian of the Year for his charitable contributions to his community. – He has published two books. “Success By Default”, – The Depersonalization Of Corporate America. His second book “Where Did My America Go?” explores the hypocrisy in American politics. – He has been the subject of numerous magazine and news articles. In 2006, he was named as Time Magazines “Person of The Year.”

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