Arguably the viral story of this past week has been the tale of five-year-old Miles Scott, aka the San Francisco Batkid. Scott, a leukemia patient whose brush with fame comes courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, reportedly spent a day capturing fake “criminals” from Batman’s Rogues gallery, before being celebrated at the San Francisco Civic Center by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. The total cost of the tot’s dream? $105,000.
Unfortunately, at least one San Francisco official seems to think it was a waste of money.
Meet San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, one architect of a proposed Bloomberg-style soda tax in San Francisco, who responded to Batkid’s story with the following rather huffy tweet: “Waiting for Miles the BatKid & Wondering how many 1000s of SF kids living off SNAP/FoodStamps could have been fed from the $$. Join us 11/21 for the SNAP Challenge & Food Security Task Force hearings! #onlyinsf ##sf
The public outcry was immediate, with Mar’s detractors accusing him of denigrating the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and even the San Francisco Chronicle referring to him as an “extra villain” for the Batkid to vanquish. Mar, for his part, only barely backed off.
"I probably should have started the tweet with, 'Love the Batkid,' to be clear that I support brave young kids," Mar told the San Francisco Chronicle.
This isn’t the first time Mar has been criticized for being a wet blanket where children are concerned. Along with his proposed soda tax, Mar’s fanatical focus on banning or regulating even slightly unhealthy foods led him to create a ban on Happy Meal Toys in early 2011. This latter policy earned him mockery from even the liberal-leaning Daily Show.
In the segment, Daily Show reporter Aasif Mandvi accused Mar of “literally creat[ing] a nanny state. To get a toy, you’re gonna have to eat your fruit and vegetables.”
And in the same segment, even famed liberal San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom called Mar’s ban “A bad idea. You’re getting into private business decisions. It is not the role for government to decide what’s in the best interests of kids. It’s the role of parents to decide.”
Yet perhaps more revealing with respect to Batkid are Mar’s views on police work. Mar came under fire in 2009 for authoring a resolution voicing support for the so-called “San Francisco Eight,” a group of Black Panthers responsible for the death of San Francisco Police Sgt. John Young. With the Batkid clearly inspired by Batman, a pop cultural figure whose entire modus operandi consists of extralegal apprehension of genuine criminals, it’s not difficult to see where Mar’s convictions might be rubbed a bit raw by the display, and even more so when you consider the money being diverted from his pet area of food politics.
Will Mar’s tone deaf admonitions about the Batkid sink his political career? Time will tell. However, one wonders if a new Batman villain – the Nanny – might be in order as an addition to the caped crusader’s rogues gallery.