The Miami Herald proves today that the wheels have finally come off the little red wagon at One Herald Plaza.
I thought the editors at the paper had plumbed the depths of banality last month with a couple of stories that had no business on the local front page.
But two stories in today's paper prove that I was wrong.
Consider this story on Miami Beach cops collecting DNA from school kids. The Herald's Jennifer Lebovich explains that police believe that having a child's DNA can help them should a child go missing.
Lebovich fails to offer up any counterpoint such as the fact that there's a probably enough DNA in a child's bedroom or bathroom should the unthinkable happen.
And she never even touches on the fears that some civil libertarians have about government collection of too much personal data on citizens.
Instead of real reporting she offers up these cutesy lines:
[Officer Phil Elmore] gets ready to rub the two plastic swabs on the inside of her cheek and take a sample of her DNA.See kids, helping Big Brother gather your personal data can be fun!
''It'll tickle and you can giggle, but don't close your mouth,'' Elmore told the girl in the classroom at North Beach Elementary school.
And: ''It was fun 'cause I like taking pictures,'' said Samara Usmani-Smith, 6. ``You never get to see your fingerprints on the computer.''
But now for the coup de grâce!
Herald writer Kathryn Wexler and videographer Emily Michot have found a "spa" where young girls learn how to be snotty little divas.
In the video, Adriana Cohen, the owner of Le Petite Spa explains, somewhat inarticulately, that she was deprived of the spa experience as a child.
So now she wants every young girl to experience how refreshing and relaxing it can be to put cucumber slices over their eyes.
Never mind that these little girls will probably turn into self-absorbed, materialistic divas soon enough. Cohen wants to speed that process up.
Some of her "patrons" are as young as 4 years-old.
To Wexler's credit, early on in her story she does include a view opposing this sort of nonsense:
Diane Levin, a professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston and an expert on societal influences on children, thinks places like Le Petite are damaging to young girls.Thanks Miami Herald for reminding us that brainwashing can be fun!
"When you're talking about a 4-year-old going to a spa or getting spiffed up and everyone says, `you look so pretty,' they learn that's what you do to be successful. They're not going to develop to their fullest potential if they think the most important thing is how they look," she said.