Coburn Wades Into Adult-Baby Freakshow

We missed this earlier in the week, and that’s too bad. It’s maybe the most instructive story about life and politics to come down the pike in a long time.

First, it’s a good bet most of our readers don’t watch Taboo, which is a reality show the National Geographic Channel puts on. Call it a hifalutin’ freak show if you like – basically, they go around and find oddballs and freaks and put them on TV. Generally speaking, it’s like watching paint dry – but then most of reality TV is that way. This might be the worst of all, though.

About three weeks ago, the show had this segment…

What wasn’t included in the show, the Washington Times picked up on after Sen. Tom Coburn got hold of it and decided to write a letter.

A key senator has asked the Social Security Administration to investigate how people who live their lives role-playing as “adult babies” are able to get taxpayer-funded disability payments — after one of them was featured on a recent reality TV episode wearing diapers, feeding from a bottle and using an adult-sized crib he built.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican and the Senate’s top waste-watcher, asked the agency’s inspector general to look into 30-year-old Stanley Thornton Jr. and his roommate, Sandra Dias, who acts as his “mother,” saying it’s not clear why they are collecting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits instead of working.

“Given that Mr. Thornton is able to determine what is appropriate attire and actions in public, drive himself to complete errands, design and custom-make baby furniture to support a 350-pound adult and run an Internet support group, it is possible that he has been improperly collecting disability benefits for a period of time,” Mr. Coburn wrote in a letter Monday to Inspector General Patrick P. O’Carroll Jr.

Yep. You’ve got it. Your tax dollars are supporting this guy’s freakshow lifestyle and his Baby Vila crib-improvement projects. You’re also supporting the food bill for these two morbidly obese welfare potentates.

So Coburn decided a teachable moment was in store. And Mr. Thornton’s reaction?

“You wanna test how damn serious I am about leaving this world, screw with my check that pays for this apartment and food. Try it. See how serious I am. I don’t care,” the California man said. “I have no problem killing myself. Take away the last thing keeping me here, and see what happens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag.”

Thornton says he tried to hold down a job – he did 18 months as a security guard once – but “trauma stemming from childhood abuse, combined with other mental problems, made it impossible for him to hold the job, and he has been receiving SSI payments for most of the last 10 years.”

This guy runs a web site for other adult-baby types. He says he only updates it four times a month. He didn’t say he couldn’t update it more than that; he chooses not to. Apparently somebody needs to write an “Internet Marketing For Babies” book he can read, with lots of pictures of furry animals in it.

One thing which is somewhat hopeful about this story is that the general reaction to Coburn’s publicizing it has been favorable. You’d expect the lefties to take up for Thornton and call Coburn a bully, but so far that hasn’t happened. Consider the reaction New York Magazine had to it…

Like the rest of the world, Coburn was greatly disturbed by 30-year-old “adult baby” Stanley Thornton — who was featured on NatGeo’s Taboo earlier this month — but mostly because he and his roommate/”mom” are receiving Social Security disability benefits. Coburn has written a letter to the Social Security Administration, demanding an investigation into whether this baby-man really deserves to suckle from the government teat, as it were.

He has a point there. Just because Thornton enjoys playing with toys and pooping in a giant diaper all day, doesn’t mean that taxpayers should have to support his bizarre lifestyle. On the other hand, you could certainly make the case that, despite the ability to run errands and build obese baby-man furniture, Thornton suffers from a mental disability that precludes him from holding a job.

The comments were pretty favorable to Coburn’s position as well. A few samples…

“I have no problem killing myself. Take away the last thing keeping me here, and see what happens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag.”?

Now, you are just being a big baby! Stop it! STOP IT!!!!

And…

Please mark your calendars, because Hell has officially frozen over. Here goes:

These people don’t deserve to be on public assistance. I watched that thing. That is ridiculous that they get public aid. I’m sorry. Score one for the dark side; this is taking advantage of the system in my opinion. There are people here who lost their homes to flooding, Hurricane Katrina, fires…they get three f.cking days of Red Cross help and spend the rest of their time trying to get money to help them for sh.t that they can’t control.

Take your f.cking diaper off, go on a diet, get a job and stop making people who need real support look stupid. Seriously.

And…

There are giant Little Mermaid bodybags? Cool…

OK, the last one might have been in poor taste, but you get the idea.

We’d be remiss without a quick nod to the fact that yeah, Coburn is engaging in a little shameless political theater. And yeah, he’s beating up on this Thornton guy so as to generate a headline or two. Coburn’s a good guy and sincere in his mission to weed out government waste, and this is in his wheelhouse, but this does look a little like stomping on baby chicks. So while he’s right on this, we can admit that yeah, on a certain level it’s OK to feel a little uncomfortable about it.

Is Thornton disabled? Well, let’s say this – he’s unemployable. But unemployable people are not incapable of earning a living. This guy is the way he is because he chooses to be. He gets a check from the government to subsidize an antisocial and deviant lifestyle, and because of that check there are no consequences to that lifestyle – or at least none which appear to trouble him. The fact he agreed to publicize that lifestyle on television ought to give an indication how troubled he is by it.

But he says in the video that he used to think he was crazy. Funny how he doesn’t anymore. Could that be because he’s no longer worried about earning a living?

This cat isn’t crazy at all. He’s embraced a lifestyle almost everybody else on the planet would consider beneath contempt. And he’s doing it on your dime.

Mind you, there is no small amount of social pathology at work here. It’s not healthy for this guy to crap in a diaper and spew baby-talk all day. But if that’s how he wants to life his life, it really isn’t our concern. We’re disgusted by it, but it’s none of our business. What makes this situation worth our attention is that check he gets. It’s offensive in the extreme that we have to pay for this twice a month.

And what’s worse is that when Thornton is no longer getting coddled by the carnival barkers at National Geographic but being asked some more pointed questions by a U.S. Senator and the Washington Times, he’s no longer singing happy tunes about how he’s just fine and this is just some lifestyle choice he’s making but all of a sudden he’s suicidal and despite the show’s demonstrating how functional he is he has to minimize his capabilities down to nothing.

Pathetic doesn’t even begin to describe it. Contemptible sounds too cold. Outrageous is right, but not exactly sufficient.



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