The Babyminders

Slattery stood on the roof of the burning building and raised his fist as he shouted to the night sky…”FREEDOM! FREEDOM FROM TYRANNY!”

On the street below, a crowd had gathered. A lone voice wafted up from the throng: “Why? What’s your beef?” The voice belonged to a shortish bespectacled man named Nelson O’Malley, who worked as an accountant in one of the top firms in their futuristic utopian society, but who had thus far failed to find a suitable mate, and so lived alone in a plasteel habitat tower with three cats and a sizable collection of holographic hermaphrodite porn.

“What’s my beef?” Slattery replied incredulously. “Do I have to spell it out to you people? We live in a–”

“I’m sorry, did you say ‘spell’ or ‘smell’?” asked a woman in the crowd. “It’s kind of hard to hear you since you’re seven floors up.”

“Spell!” Slattery cried. “Look, the point is, we live in a society in which the very act of child-rearing has been taken away from us! The government prohibits couples from raising their own children, and instead forces the children to grow up in special state-run institutions where they are locked away from all contact with society until adulthood!”

“Well yeah,” Nelson replied, “but the kids receive a top-notch education 24 hours a day from highly paid and well trained professionals, as well as a non-denominational program of moral and spiritual guidance which stresses cooperative approaches to problem-solving and a humane, respectful attitude towards other human beings. In addition, the kids are taught strict rules of proper public behavior, including intensive training in etiquette and sensitivity!”

The crowd murmured approvingly. “But our children are locked away from all contact with us!” Slattery insisted.

“Most of us actually don’t mind!” the woman responded. (Her name was Marjorie Klein.) “We can actually eat a meal in a restaurant or go to a movie without being serenaded by some squalling brat, and we never have to watch some woman breastfeeding her baby in the middle of a bookstore!”

“Plus,” Nelson added, “ever since sociological studies revealed that 75% of parents secretly wish they could dump their puking, shitting babies into the nearest dumpster, mandatory institutionalization of children has actually reduced infanticide and cases of so-called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by nearly half!”

Slattery rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Geez, I never really looked at it that way before.”

“Sheeyah,” rumbled the cop-bot as it rose up behind Slattery, “you should maybe have done that before you decided to torch this baby food factory.”

“Oh,” Slattery said, “I thought it was a government building or something. My bad.”

The cop-bot arrested Slattery, and he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in a minimum security prison by the Judge-o-Meter. Later, flying cars were invented.