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Baby Stanley: Metaphor of the Year

Watch that video. It’s a short National Geographic clip about Stanley Thornton, an obese, diaper-wearing grown California man who calls himself an “adult baby,” and who lived with a morbidly obese older woman who played his Mommy. She cuddled him and gave him his baboo when he wakey-wakeyed. “Mommy” died in July, and after Sen. Tom Coburn saw this nut on TV, he asked the Social Security Administration to review Thornton’s case to determine if he really ought to be receiving disability checks, given that he demonstrated woodworking skills in the program (Thornton designed and built his own adult-sized baby crib). Thornton had previously threatened to kill himself if the government took away his welfare check.

The Washington Times reports that Baby Stanley has now passed disability review, and can continue sucking at the taxpayer’s teat. Excerpt:

John Hart, a spokesman for Mr. Coburn, said Tuesday that the senator, who is also a medical doctor, is still puzzled by how “a grown man who is able to design and build adult-sized baby furniture is eligible for disability benefits.”

“Yet, the problem is not with Mr. Thornton, per se, but with the politicians and bureaucrats who have coddled him,” Mr. Hart said. “Disability fraud effectively steals from those who are truly disabled, while weakening the economy for everyone.”

Baby Stanley keeps a website for “the AB/TB/DL lifestyle” — that’s Adult Baby/Teen Baby/Diaper Lover — where he and his exotic ABTBDL confreres can practice diversity online. On it, he explains that he was found to be disabled because of documented psychological illnesses that began prior to the advent of his Adult Baby hobby.

Well, maybe so, but I suspect that Sen. Coburn is onto something. All I can say for sure is that in all my days, I have never seen a more fitting living metaphor for the state of American culture at the present moment than an overgrown California blubberbutt who infantilizes himself, publicly celebrates his bizarro fetish as just another lifestyle option, and threatens to kill himself if his government check stops coming. Baby Stanley, I salute you: you are America!

UPDATE: Mr. M.H. from Dallas, Texas, writes to ask if crunchy cons could approve of taxpayer largesse supporting Baby Stanley’s lifestyle. Why, yes indeed — but only if Baby Stanley commits to wearing cloth diapers, naturellement.

UPDATE.2: Baby Stanleyism in popular culture! In the sublime “Waiting for Guffman,” Corky St. Clair requests $100,000 from the town council to stage his musical, but  the council turns him down, inasmuch as the town’s entire annual budget is $15,000. Watch his speech.

UPDATE.3: The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson says whether or not Baby Stanley is genuinely disabled, the Social Security disability program is badly in need of reform, because a lot of people who aren’t really disabled are milking it.




about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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